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November 16, 2023
Session 2: Man Up For the Next Generation
Mike Fabarez
Ephesians 6

Purchase the CD of this sermon.


Entrust 2023, The War on Men: Building Biblical Masculinity within the Church, sheds light on the crucial, God-given, biblically defined role men play in society, the home, and the church. We see the detrimental effects of the absence of men retreating within society and abandoning the home. Explore the cultural and general impact of dismissing masculine traits, understand the importance of confident, courageous, and clear-headed men, and delve into the biblical teaching of masculinity.

More From This Series


How many of you have Philip as your pastor? I want to see… Yeah. He is a good man, and we have been friends now for a long time.

One time, he dragged me off to Northern Ireland. I had him serve as my interpreter there. He said they were going to speak English over there, but barely.

And everybody loves Philip because of his accent, right? He comes over here and charms them all. He flips his hair and just… He speaks with this accent, and everyone loves him. And it takes them three or four sermons before they figure out anything he’s saying, right? They’ll pay attention down the road, but they’re immediately hooked by that.

So when he said, “Hey Mike, would you go to Northern Ireland with me?” I thought, “This probably works in reverse over there. California guy, I’ll come over there, speak like an American, they’ll love me over there.” It doesn’t work the other way around.

It was a good trip. You made fun of me a lot on that trip because of my electronics. Do you remember that? Yeah. I got to hear him snore. We slept in the same room. It was a lot of fun. Had a good time. I love Philip.

Of course I love Owen. Owen has become a good friend of both Philip and my friend, and he… A great man and we love him so much. He’s a gift to the Church of Jesus Christ at large. I’m glad you got a chance to hear him speak. And every time he speaks on the topics that are in his books, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. So I hope you dig into his books, because they’re filled with well-researched data and information so well-put. He’s just so good at being able to anticipate the objections and be able to address those, even before they start.

So I’m just honored to be a part of this lineup today. Thank you, Philip, for hosting this. And let me see your hands, it should be everyone in the room, if you’re part of a church that’s not kindred. Let me just see who my audience is here. Look, plenty of people. Fantastic. I’m glad to see that. Not that I’m glad to see there’s a lot of people that don’t go to your church. I’m glad to see there are other ministries represented here. That’s a good thing. Really good thing.

I read an article, it caught my attention, just the title. It said there’s no GPS on a spaceship, and so I thought, “I’ve got to see what this is all about.” And sure enough, it’s an article about the fact that you just can’t pull up an app on a spaceship and kind of figure out where you’re going. If you’re going to launch a spaceship, even though there’s this thing called the Deep Space Network, which is Earth-based satellites or towers, I should say, in Spain and some in Australia, some here in California, but there’s really no way just to turn on some GPS and find your way to the International Space Center or… I mean, you’ve got to figure that out on the ground before you take off, and you’ve got to know where you’re going. Trajectory, angle, pitch, speed, all that. You’ve got to figure all that out.

And in this article, they highlighted a story of this Mars climate rover they were sending out. It was going to be this orbital rover sending out to figure out the climate of Mars. And apparently, JPL here in Pasadena didn’t get the numbers quite right from the Lockheed people over in the middle of the country, and so they launched this just barely off course. And you’ve heard the old phrase, missed it by a mile? You missed it by a whole lot more than a mile. It was a $125 million orbiter they were sending out there, and it’s poorly named as the Mars Orbiting Satellite. It is lost in the cold vacuum of interplanetary space, just because they were off just by a smidge on the day that they launched it.

And I’m here and have been assigned to talk to you about the next generation. And I hope you know, as you look into the faces of the children in the churches that you represent, the ministries that you’re a part of, or if you happen to still be in the throes of raising children in your home, when you look into those eyes, it’s worth a whole lot more than a $125 million piece of space equipment. Those are people made in the image of God. Little people that God has entrusted not just to families, although I’d be interested… I’m not usually into the crowd interaction the way I am now, but how many of you still have children living in your home? Okay, that’s great. So I want you to think about this. Those kids that are still in your home, your whole job, according to scripture, is to launch them like a warrior. You’re aiming these arrows into the next generation.

And we’ve already heard from Owen this morning that the problem that Dr. Strachan was telling us about is that things are going from bad to worse in our culture. And if you thought it was hard for us to be raised in this generation and to have our lives challenged by the pressures of culture to knock us off of course, how’s it going to be 30, 40 years from now, right, for the children that you’re raising in your home? Or I want to talk to you about just the children represented in our ministries, in our churches.

I one day sat down, just added up how many kids do we have that call our church their home. They’re dragged there by their parents, right? They’re 18 and under. And it was like 2,500 kids in our church. And I thought to myself, “What a huge responsibility that is, as a church, to make sure that we’re directing them in the right way.”

And I called this message… I don’t even know if it’s published anywhere in the title, but it’s time for men in the Church of Jesus Christ, particularly if you have some leadership influence, for us to man up about this next generation, our kids. And when I say our kids, I mean the kids that utilize our churches and our ministries as a place where they’re learning and growing and directing themselves spiritually, their foundation. It better be on course. We better direct them in the way that they should go, and we’ve got to work at this.

And so I want to turn you in your Bibles this morning to a passage that’s going to help us, and that’s a classic text in Ephesians chapter 6. And we’re going to look at this text beginning in verse number 1, and I just want to glean a few things from this text that I think will help us as we consider what’s going on here.

Now, I want you to remember the family man that’s writing this letter to the Ephesians. Sunday school grads. Is that right? Right? All the kids that the apostle Paul had.

Just remember our author here. He’s concerned about the next generation in the churches that he has some influence in. He’s very concerned to put this in the text of this letter. And of course, God’s behind all this, making sure it’s imprinted for all of us. Propositionally, for all of the church aid for us to see this and understand that this is a priority. But Paul can’t get through this letter of the practical implications of biblical Christianity without saying, “Hey, we’ve got to talk about the next generation. We’ve got to talk about the kids.”

And I know this is so familiar to you, but let me quickly read the first four verses and then just take a statement in our minds and take a snapshot of it in our minds that this is a man without children, and he’s writing to this church, which is really probably a circulating letter. It’s going to a lot of churches in Asia Minor. For them to figure out what they must think and expect about the direction of the next generation.

Verse 1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” And he does address the children here initially. “‘Honor your father and mother,'” quote, unquote, this is a quotation, “for this is the first commandment with a promise,” that’s his parenthetical edition, “‘that it may go well with you that you may live long in the land,'” which of course is a quotation of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

This is interesting now. Verse 4, “Parents, do not…” Correct me if I’m reading this wrong at any point, interactive crowd. Is that the-

[inaudible 00:07:54]. Fathers.

Yeah, but moms do most of the work, so it should… Let’s just read it Owen’s way. “Mothers, do not provoke your…” No, no, Owen said that’s not how we’re supposed to read the Bible.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.” Now you see that as a prohibition, but we’re not done talking to fathers here, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” I just love this. We have a male apostle talking now about children obeying their parents and then saying, “Hey, dads, fathers, men, I want you to not do it this way, but do it this way.”

I just love that. I mean, it’s no different in the first century as it is today. Moms are spending most of the hands-on time with the next generation, but he saddles the men, he saddles the fathers, and he says, “You better ensure that the children are raised in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.”

Now, if you’ve got kids in your home, it’s great, this is right directly to you. If you don’t, you have some hand of influence in a church, right? You’ve got to think, “This is our responsibility.” That men need to take this. If you’re taking notes, this will be a good place to start. Men need to accept, they need to embrace the responsibility of directing this next generation of Christians. Right? They’re not Christians yet. They’re not born Christians. It’s not our theology. We understand that. But these young people born in the shadow of church ministries, it is the men’s responsibility, the dad’s responsibility within the home as he takes on the responsibility as an apostle, a man who’s leading in the church, saying, “Hey, guys, in Ephesus and in every other church in Asia Minor, you’ve just got to make sure that the kids are obeying their parents, because that’s right.” This is a helpful place for us to start.

So much so is it important that everyone in the church see that the men have the responsibility. Men, first of all, have the responsibility within the church. The ultimate responsibility. We’re still complementarian, I trust, right? This is a gender-specific role. The top administrative, teaching, instructing role in the church is reserved for men, right? And so men are supposed to lead in the church. And of course, men are now supposed to lead in the home. Even when we think about parenting, men are the ones that are saddled with the responsibility. And every time we see responsibility given, we’re always reminded that accountability follows.

Think of Hebrews 13. And if you’re in any form of leadership in the church, you understand. We sense that, that we must give an account for the souls of the people in our churches. We have a responsibility because we’re going to answer for it.

And I would say the same for the children in our homes. You men that raised your hands you still have children in your home, you will be held responsible. You can’t turn to your wife and say, “Well, it’s her. It’s the woman that you gave me.” You can look up that line to realize it didn’t go over the first time very well either, right? That’s not going to work. You need to say, “The onus is upon me. These children are my responsibility.”

And let’s step back to Paul. Paul, as a leader among churches, says it’s our responsibility, dads, to make sure this happens. We have to accept the responsibility. You can’t even be a leader in the church, if you happen to have children, if your children are open to the charge of being rebellious. They have to be kept under control with dignity. They’ve got to be able to do what they’re told.

God is measuring so many things about the health of Christianity based on what the children are doing. And I just wonder how we’re doing in this. What about the children in your church? You can’t just point at the dads. Paul’s pointing here to the whole entire church. And the men in particular within those home, we’ve got to get these kids obeying their parents in the Lord, because we’re not just talking about how they sit at a dinner table, we’re talking about the whole instruction of God’s truth. They’re supposed to be raised in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. They’re supposed to obey their parents in the Lord.

And I think we just need to just start here to deputize ourselves, which really is done by God’s spirit, and say we have a responsibility. I want us to feel the onus of that responsibility and say, “Yeah, we’ve got to work on this. We’ve got to deal with this.” We’re not much for the liturgy of godparents coming out of a lot of the high churches or the Roman Catholic Church, and certainly the error of infant baptism, infant conversion. And so sometimes Protestants, the iconoclastic Protestants that we are, we steer away from godparents.

But even in the Church of England, Common Book of Prayer, you had within the liturgy of the church, a reminder that there’s supposed to be at least three other adults in every household that care about the direction of those kids. They’re called to pray, they’re called to be an example in front of these children of the Christian life. They’re supposed to direct them into proper functioning within the church, and they’re supposed to care for them if there’s a need in any way that the parents can’t meet, right? That’s what godparents do. There’s three for every household. So you’ve got two adult parents, that’s the structure, and three other adults within the church to say, “I’m taking responsibility for those kids.” I just want you to think about that.

If every person in the church recognized, “I have a responsibility not just for my own kids.” And some of you, your kids have already gone. You’re empty nesters. But you need to say, “It is my responsibility to care about all the kids within the ministries of our churches.” And we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing all that we can.

Firstly, just in accepting the responsibility, just like a dad who’s busy in the marketplace in Ephesus. Maybe he’s out there doing whatever he is doing, or as a farmer in the outskirts of Ephesus, he’s now hearing Paul say, “Hey dads, your responsibility is to make sure that they’re raised in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

So let’s just start there. I’m going to talk about manning up. We’ve got to man up to say, “It is my responsibility.” God is going to look at you on judgment day, on the bema seat judgment day of Christ, and He will say, “Let’s talk about your kids.” And then I think He’s going to say, even for people like the apostle Paul, “Paul, what did you do to help and aid and assist and push and motivate the parents within your churches to actually make sure that these kids are raised in the instruction and discipline of the Lord?”

So let’s just take that responsibility upon ourselves. Let’s care. As a matter of fact, jot this down if you’re a note-taker, 2 Corinthians chapter 11, verses 28 and 29. He says, “I have the daily pressure upon me of the anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I’m not weak? Who is made to fall, and I’m not indignant?” Do you think any message came back to Paul of some wayward 14-year-old that he didn’t hurt over?

I just wonder how you’re doing in your life. Do you shrug your shoulders and just blame it on the parents? We’ve got to take the responsibility of our congregations, our spiritual communities, and say, “I need to do more to make sure I’m doing all I can to assist.” And if you’re on the front lines in the throes of parenting, I mean, obviously. You’re the quarterback of this team. We’ve got to care about these kids.

Now, I just jump here from the author to verse 4 to know that this is saddling men. But let’s just start now sequentially through the passage. Verse 1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord,” I just love that these words are there, “for this is right.” This is right.

You know you’re living in a day… And I can just echo everything that Owen said regarding this particular subset of male leadership, and that is that I don’t think in our day you’re going to get much support from our culture that children obeying their parents is right. Have you noticed that?

That’s right.

The children’s rights movement. I mean, I have it within circles… Of course being a pastor, so many families I’m involved in, but even in my extended family, right? My non-Christian extended family. I can see people that have allowed their kids to do whatever they want, all the way down to taking crayons and markers and decorating the walls, not only of their room, but of the dining room, because they want free expression. They want these kids to do what they want. And in our culture today, obviously you can want something as a child, you can even want to cut your body parts off, and the culture is saying, “Well, Junior knows. Junior should do what he wants.” This is where we’re at in our day.

We need to start with just knowing you’re going to get cultural pushback if you’re going to say, “We’re going to just start here by affirming the rightness of children obeying their parents.” That’s how I wrote it down. I need to know that children obeying parents is right. Parents are supposed to be the guides. Parents are supposed to be the wise ones. Parents are the ones that are supposed to take the responsibility of saying, “Children, you are supposed to do this, and you’re not supposed to do that,” and that’s right when that happens. When you tell your kids, “You’ve got to be home,” let’s just talk about adolescents, “at 11:00 PM. That is your curfew. You’ve got to be there,” this is right. When they come home at 10:59, that’s the right thing.

God smiles upon children when you say, “You’re going to go there, you’re going to lay in that bed,” little kids, “and you’re not going to get up,” right? If something happens, I don’t know, and a real spider crawls on your face, right? You can scream, but you cannot get out of your bed and come down the hallway and mess with mom and dad’s time here. You can’t do that. And if that kid sits there and does exactly what you say, or you tell them, “Put the toys away. It’s time to come to the table now,” and they do what the parents tell them to do, God smiles and says, “This is right. This is the right thing.” Whatever it is, you’re getting up and you’re going to church, right? This is the right thing. You’re getting up right now and you’re doing your homework before you go outside to play. If the kids do it, if that happens, if God sees that taking place, God says that’s the right thing.

You’re going to get pushback from the culture, obviously. They’re afraid you’re going to crush the creativity or the spirits of the little children, right? The Bible says foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, and we need to recognize your job is to train them and direct them and discipline them. So we start with this, the rightness of kids obeying their parents.

Now, of course, it’s in the Lord. I’m not teaching them to help me rob banks, right? We’re not having a drug dealer thing in my house where I’m teaching them to sell crack on the corner. It’s in the Lord, right? So obviously. And thankfully, by God’s common grace, I mean, 80% at least of what most parents want their kids to do just in the normal neighborhoods of Orange County is like, “Okay, that’s a good thing.” The parents are telling their kids the right thing, at least as it relates to just the basics of everyday life.

So I’m saying when this is done in our homes and when we say this is the demand in our church and this is how we’re training parents to expect their children to obey, it’s right, and the cultural pushback shouldn’t matter. But my concern is the books that you’ll read from the Christian community telling you that it’s somehow wrong for you to insist that your children obey.

Did that raise anybody’s eyes to my face at that point? Do you know how many books are coming out right now about telling you that you telling your kids to keep your rules is nothing more than creating little Pharisees in your home? That your household is about law, and it’s not about grace. What you need to do is give them grace, because grace is what you should give them, which for them means this weird kind of erratic leadership in the home that does not, in your mind, really comport with this particular statement, which simply says when parents tell kids what to do and they do it, it’s right.

No, no, no, I’ve got to care about their heart, and I’ve got to make sure they’re converted, and I don’t want to create these little law kids, these little Pharisees doing what they should do. They should want to do it. So I’m concerned about their heart being converted and winning their hearts over. You know, when your son is taking your daughter and pulling her down by her hair to the ground and stepping on her, I’m not going to have a conversation about my son’s heart at that moment. It’s time for us to change behavior to insist that children do what parents say.

We’ve got to be careful with all that’s going on in current evangelical circles that love to say that you cannot insist that your children obey you if they’re not converted. That’s just insanity. Insanity. If you’re telling me that the approach to my children should be I’m not going to tell them to do the right thing unless they’re somehow motivated from within, and if they’re not yet converted, because of course they’re not, as little children, then I shouldn’t expect that from them, because I’m going to somehow damage their spirit or I’m going to set them up for some kind of legalistic adult theology, and I’m not really preparing them for the grace of God in conversion.

Now, I’m all about that. And you can read my book on parenting boys, which is really a lot about parenting boys and girls. About a third of it is about specific to men and boys. But I want you to realize I’m all about making sure my kids get converted. I want to do all I can humanly do to aim them toward the gospel, but it is not in any way going to violate the bottom line command that when dad says something, when mom says something, your obedience is pleasing to the Lord. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s right when kids obey and it doesn’t matter what your heart is doing. Matter of fact, it’s because your heart is all messed up, that I’m telling you to bridle your behavior.

If you send your kid when they get their permit at 15, to go down to the DMV and get their driver’s permit, I hope you’ve raised a little legalist at that point. I hope so. For the whole concern of public safety and for my wife and my kids and my congregants driving down the street, I sure hope they learn to keep the rules. And so I always want to insist on obedience. See, and I’ve tested this in the laboratory of my own house and in training parents for decades, I can tell you this is the right thing. You’re not going to damage your kids and somehow think that you’re all about law and not about gospel because you insist that children obey their parents.

If parents insist that their children obey them, the Bible… Here it is again, it is right. This is right. So we’ve just got to start there, because we’re not only going to get pushback from the culture, we’re going to get pushback from our subculture, Christianity that loves to try and move their way out of something very clean and basic in the scripture.

And I could go on and on about the realities of this. I mean, I just think about Proverbs 20:11, if you’re a note-taker. Even a child makes himself known by his acts, whether his conduct is pure and right.

Psalm 19:7-11. Everything about the law of the Lord and doing what God says, including children obeying their parents, which is the one rule they have as kids, right? When they do it, it is good in every way. Unless the parent is doing something contrary to what is in the Lord. And what is in the Lord is simply you can only do things within the breadth of your authority. You’re not creating little servants for you. We’re stewards directing them to do what is good in this world, what is good in their home, what is good in their classrooms. We want them to do what is right and good, and we’re not in any way trying to set them up for some kind of failure in their future because we are insisting on their obedience. In the Lord, that’s a whole different topic. We can talk about all the exceptions, and those are exceptions, and they don’t disallow the rule, they simply prove the rule.

Look at verses 2 and 3. Do you see the verb shift here? What’s the verb shift? Children obey your parents in the Lord. Now the verb is no longer obey. What’s the word here as he quotes Exodus 20? To honor.

When Moses brought, in 14:45, he brings the children of Israel out of Egypt and he’s going to lead them into the promised land, or he thinks he is, at least. Joshua is going to eventually do it. But Moses now brings the Ten Commandments off Mount Sinai, and one of the commandments, as we turn from the vertical commands to the horizontal commands, he says, “Listen, children, you need to honor your parents.” Well, it doesn’t use the word children, but it makes very clear here that the idea of honoring your father and mother, we’ve got to know who the receptors are. Moses isn’t dashing off to children’s church in the wilderness to give this message, and so he’s talking to adults, adults that are all around here in the wilderness who he’s just, by the time we get to Kadesh Barnea, they’re told that they’re all going to die. That generation of grownups is going to die.

And so you’ve got adult people listening to him talk about the rules of God and the rule of God, first and foremost on all of our horizontal relationships is we make sure that we honor our mother and our father. The word honor, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, means more than obeying. It’s something different than that. At least it contains obedience in particular context, but it’s about me making sure that I give them the honor that is due the position that they have in my life.

And even as Paul says if you’ve got widows and family members don’t take care of them, they’re worse than unbelievers. The idea of honoring our parents was given first and foremost to an adult audience that was told to take care of their dying and aging parents, and everyone should take that to heart. We have a responsibility for our aging parents, and a lot of you looking out at you, you probably are like me, I’ve got aging parents. They’re not as healthy, they’re not as ambulatory as they used to be, and I have to take the responsibility that my honor for my parents is really based on I’m caring for them in their old age.

And in that particular command, Paul is now taking this telescopically and he’s driving it into the home and he’s saying, “Here’s one of the subsets of that command. Children, obey your parents.” Right now, I don’t obey my parents. There’s a lot of things that they might say, “Honey, this would be good if you did it,” and I’m like, “Well, that’s nice, but you’re just an advisor to me now. I will respectfully usually not even tell you how I’m going to respond to it, but thanks mom,” and off I go and do my thing because they’re not my parents in my home and I’m not saddled to obey them. I’m encouraged in every way to respect them, and I am required by God to honor them. I am the first line of defense for my parents in every way as an adult.

But what was given as a connection to that command is a promise, and that’s why he parenthetically says, “Well, you know that command to obey your parents is given with a promise.” And the promise was, quote, verse 3, “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Now, if you make it into the land and you honor your adult parents, your aging parents, as an adult person, you will live long in this land.

Now, this almost seems, if you really think about the context, something out of the context of little kids in the home who are growing up and learning to think about adulthood. This is really about grown people thinking about caring for the generation that raised them. But I’m saying the whole point of this is the point it is right. It is right for little children to obey their parents. And here’s an example of how when you care for your parents as an adult, God says, “I will reward you. You will live a long time, you will make it to the land, and you will live there and you will prosper. It’ll go well with you.”

What’s the point? The point is that God always rewards this. And if the subset is if you have little kids in the home and they’re obeying mom and dad, God rewards this. And I’m telling you God does reward this. If my kids kept the curfew that I have as kids, guess what? God rewards them for that. If they don’t do what they want to do and the impulses their heart want to do, if the foolishness of their heart is curtailed by obeying mom and dad, God rewards that. God rewards the behavior of children doing what they’re told, whether it’s in Sunday school, in junior church, or in your homes. He’s a rewarder of those things. He always is.

The apostle Paul tells stories about his own life in 1 Timothy, and he talks about he was a blasphemer and he says this, and it’s not hyperbole when he says, “I was the worst of sinners, and God saved me as an example of God’s perfect patience.” He says that and he doesn’t say it because he’s proud of it. You know that. He’s certainly enamored with the grace of God that saved someone like him, a wretch like me. That’s true.

But if you think now as he’s considering Timothy’s childhood, who he’s writing these two pastoral letters to, he says, “Hey, remember your childhood, how you heard the sacred scriptures, and Eunice and Lois and you had this great foundation and you learned them, and even from childhood you understood that they had wisdom in it to gain salvation, and what a great child…” You couldn’t contrast the non-Christian life of Timothy more than you could Paul. And all I’m telling you is I just wonder if you think, well, Paul’s got the better testimony, or Timothy’s got the better testimony. I can tell you this, Timothy never went to bed at night thinking of the people that he murdered. Never. All right? There was nothing in his past that made him think… Though there was regret, because all sin can be scarring, but there was no scars of the magnitude of the Apostle Paul carried around, remembering who he was.

It is good for our kids to never be asked to go to a youth rally and give their testimony, if you know what I’m saying, because everyone I’ve ever been to as a teenager, we pick the worst possible person with the worst background to tell the young kids, “Here’s how horrible I was, and then I became a Christian.” Every non-Christian, obviously, is rejectable before a holy God. Everyone needs conversion, everyone needs to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. I needed it, my kids needed it, but here’s the deal, it’d be great if my kids don’t go to their honeymoon, thinking about all the girls they had bedded down in the backseat of their car. Wouldn’t that be a good thing? I would save them a little bit of suffering in their conscience.

I think for everything that my kids did not do, because they learned through the insistence, the strong manly insistence of parents to say, “You are going to obey mom and dad. We are going to do all that we can so that you do the right thing, which is to obey your mom and dad.” They weren’t converted and guess what? They didn’t become Pharisees. But you know what they did inherit in their adult life? A whole lot less of the kinds of memories that the Apostle Paul had.

And while that all can come to glorify God and God can use sin to glorify himself and all of that, I agree with all that, but don’t you want for the kids in your church not to sow their wild oats in all the sin that not only affects their conscience, but damages so many other people and so many other relationships? I want my kids to obey me when they’re little. I want every kid in our church to obey their parents, even if they have no internal motivation to obey their parents, because this is the right thing and God is a rewarder of those who do what they’re told.

And I want your kids to do what they’re told, and I want everyone in our churches to do what they’re told as it relates to the kids within your church, and I want us all to work at this because we know that God is a rewarder of those who do what is right, even if we’re not… Even if your kids reject Christ as adults. Wouldn’t it be better if they were raised in a good church and in your home? I know… What does it profit a man and gain the whole world and lose your soul? Yes, tragic, but all of that judgment in the lake of fire is based on the deeds that you have done. Wouldn’t it even be better, let’s just think eschatologically, for non-Christians to have not racked up all the sin, to use the words of Romans chapter 2, stored up wrath for themselves for the day of God’s wrath? It’d be better if you trained your kids, even if they’re lost one day, to obey.

And somehow “theologians,” quote, unquote, are writing books left and right, telling us somehow that’s injurious to the spiritual development of our kids. And maybe that hadn’t touched you and he’s getting all hyped up about something I don’t even see, but trust me, it’s out there and we need to say, “No, no, kids obeying their parents is right.” Why? Because God is a God who rewards obedient kids. God is a God who rewards obedient kids. God is a God who rewards obedient kids. He always does. And I need to see that as a good thing always. They live with less regret, they learn restraint, they learn self-control, they will ultimately be rewarded by God. God is a God who loves to reward people, even in the common grace of God, who do what they’re told.

Which by the way, even in the kindness of a kid who grows up as I did, praise God as my kids did, without all of that stuff that so many people do, who don’t get asked to give their testimony at Hume Lake or whatever, I’m telling you this, by God’s grace, it’s something that I recognize leads us to repentance, just again to quote Romans 2. God’s kindness leads people to repentance.

You are not setting your kids up for failure, or any of the kids in your church, by having them toe the line on ethics and morals that God has laid out in His word. We’ve got to make our kids obey. We have to be manly about it.

And to say that, I just want to get into verse 4 now and spend the rest of our time there. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,” right, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Let’s deal with this, do not provoke your kids to anger. Dads can unfortunately, in parenting their kids, do it in such a way that they become unreasonable, right? And what we’re saying is we don’t want to, old translation, exasperate our children, and dads have a tendency to do that.

In part, they also have a greater ability to enforce the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and that’s why I think it’s genius by God to use Paul to say, “Fathers, let’s talk to you.” Moms do a lot of parenting. I get that. But dads, you not only have the ability to exasperate your kids at a high level, you have an ability, at a very high level, a capacity to bring discipline and instruction in their lives in a way their moms can’t.

And so I’m telling you, this is for us to start… Let’s start with the prohibition. Let’s put it this way, I don’t want to be unreasonable, but just to use the theme of our conference here today, I’ll put it this way, we need to be manly, but not unreasonable, because in our manliness, we can become unreasonable. And I want to say this, I want to be manly. I want to be disciplined. I want to be a disciplinarian. I want to be firm. I want to make my rules stick. I want there to be consequences for wrong behavior, and that is a manly thing for you to do in your home. But I don’t want to be an unreasonable person, so let’s think about this.

Let’s talk about disciplinarian. You are to be a disciplinarian. What I don’t want you to be is a dictator. I don’t want you to come in and plop down on the recliner or whatever is your favorite chair in the house, and just act like you are some kind of dictator barking at your kids and quoting Ephesians 6, telling them to obey because it’s right. Right? I want you to be a disciplinarian. And a disciplinarian says there are consequences for doing the wrong thing, and I’d like to do that. I would like to say to my kids, in our home, it matters if you do the wrong thing. And if you do the wrong thing and dad comes home, you should recognize, as the old timers can remember that old show, wait until your father gets home. There should be that sense of dread when dad’s car comes home, if the kid has on his conscience infractions with his mom, right? There should be that sense of dad, the disciplinarian, is here.

Manliness is that you are enforcing the discipline of the Lord, but you’re not making them angry by an unreasonable approach, which I would say is that dictatorial attitude that so often can be brought in. And even Owen was talking about the distinction between what it is to be manly and then kind of the examples in the blogosphere and then out there in the internet that show us the worst examples of what they’re calling masculinity. And so it is with a strong dad, a disciplinarian dad.

You need a consistent… Let’s say this, you need to be firm, right, but not explosive. One of the worst things that dads can be is explosive. You need firm responses to the rules in the home, and in the church, by the way. I don’t know how many youth programs I see where the youth leaders don’t have firm rules that they keep, right? If a kid does something at camp that was on the back of the brochure before they got on the bus, you do these things, you’ll get expelled, well, then your youth leaders better make sure every kid is expelled if they do any of those things, right? This is what… We need consistency. We’ve got to have a firm leadership within our churches to make sure that young people know, even if they don’t get it in their homes, they’re going to get it in the church that there is a kind of a firmness about the rules, but not explosive.

Now, you have all the rules. One of the reasons God made you a lot bigger than your children is so that you can have that sense of enforcement that you don’t have to get mad, right? You’re bigger, you’re stronger, you’re in charge, you make the rules, and you ought to know that. You ought to accept that and you ought to say, “I don’t need explosive anger,” right? The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God, to quote James 1:19, and I understand that. And we need to be, as the scripture says, we need to be quick to hear, right, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

And I hope, if you’ve read my book or you’re going to read my book, if you’ve heard anything I’ve said ever about parenting, I’m all about being a disciplinarian, right? I’m not into timeouts. The only timeout that I think there should be had in a household is when dad has to say, “I’m going to take a timeout before I deal with this kid.” That’s a good time to take a timeout. You need to walk around the block or do whatever. But you need to make sure you’re not explosive. If anger is your problem, you’re going to create in these kids, right, an anger problem themselves. Don’t exasperate them. Don’t, in your parenting, your strong leadership, provoke them to anger. That’s not it. Consistency, not being erratic. Serious, but not severe.

So many things that I think I’d love to show you in Psalm 103, and I think we’ve got time, so let’s go there real quick. Keep your finger here. I want to get back to Ephesians 6, but look at Psalm 103 with me if you’ve got your Bibles. Everybody brought your Bibles to this conference, right? The Bible is so readily available. You have it, right?

I’m reading from the ESV, if you’re wondering, because I know Pastor Philip doesn’t read from the ESV. That’s okay. Owen and I do, so that’s good. We had a little discussion in the green room about translations earlier. We will tell you about it another time.

What am I saying? Psalm 103. That was called vamping to let you get to the passage. Did you get there? Psalm 103.

By the way, let me ask you, is God a disciplinarian?


Absolutely. Is He firm?


Absolutely. I mentioned Kadesh Barnea just off the cuff here. Think about Kadesh Barnea. They sent in the 12 spies. Ten came back, they whined. Two said, “Let’s take it,” Caleb and Joshua, and then God said, “Done. You’re done. Kadesh Barnea, you’re not going in.” And they go, “Please. We’re sorry, we’re sorry, we’re sorry. We’ll do it right next time,” just like your kids do. And what did God do, Sunday school grads? What did God do after they whined and moaned and complained? Just like He does in a lot of situations, like when David went into Bathsheba and they had an illegitimate child, and He said the child’s going to die, and David goes… What did God do? Forgiven, right? You’re forgiven, but the consequences stand. You’re forgiven. The consequences stand. You’re not going to get into the promised land.

Even with Moses himself. If you’re going to give anybody grace in the rules, it would be Moses, wouldn’t it? And He takes him up to the top, Pisgah, looks across and goes, “Hey, there it is. There’s the promised land.” “I just want to see it. I want to see it.” “But you’re not going in.”

You always think God always wants us to pray. Here’s a passage for you, God says to Moses, “Stop asking me about going into the promised land.” That’s a Mike Fabarez paraphrase. That’s a new translation soon to come out. But that’s how… Stop asking me. Do not ask me again about going into the promised land. Why? Because God is a firm disciplinarian. You believe that, right, as we look at Psalm 103? He’s a firm disciplinarian. He imposes consequences for wrong behavior, and He makes them stand, okay?

Psalm 103, verse 9, yet “He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.” He doesn’t deal with us according to our sins. I mean, we don’t get the full weight of retribution. This is not full retribution in this life as a child of God, as a lamb among the Good Shepherd leading us. Nor does he repay us according to, like an equal sign, according to our iniquities. He doesn’t do that.

As a matter of fact, you want to see how God treats us? As high as the heavens are above the earth, that’s pretty high, so great is His hesed, His steadfast love. His faithful love toward those who fear Him. Of course. He’s a disciplinarian. He’s firm. He’s absolutely a God of the rules, and we fear Him, but a lot of compassion, a lot of love. As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Once there’s consequences and once there is confession, which sometimes comes, as we just said, from Numbers 14 and also from David’s sin with Bathsheba. Of course there can be confession even before the consequences, but all of that just means He forgives us. Doesn’t mean the consequences go away. As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Look at this, “As a father shows compassion to his children.” Even dads who are supposed to be disciplinarians, who’d raised their kids in the discipline and the admonition of God, right? The Lord’s like that too. The Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. He knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust.

I understand it is hard for a kid to sit still in church. I know it’s hard for a kid to drop his toys and come to the dinner table. I know it’s hard when we put them in a room, close the door, and say, “Go to sleep.” I know you don’t… It’s hard to do that. And if you don’t remember it, you need to remember it. And even in church, even in our youth programs, even at camp, we need to know it’s hard sometimes. You better have compassion. You ought to remember the nature of children.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t, but a disciplinarian, the ultimate disciplinarian is God, and yet here’s what He says about His people. And like a dad, He shows compassion. He knows the weakness of those kids. He understands that.

So I want to take that firmness. The manliness of a man, I get it. There’s that side in which we understand the sin of our kids, and yet we’ve got to correct that.

These two words, back to our passage now, Ephesians chapter 6, verse 4, two things, discipline and instruction. The discipline. And I won’t take time to do this in detail, you look at the book that you got for free, about the idea of these two words and the distinction. Discipline certainly has, if you look through all the usage of the New Testament, has that sense of I’m correcting bad behavior. And instruction of the Lord has that sense of I’m driving them and pushing them and coaching them in the right direction.

I like to use these two words, and simply give them the synonyms. There’s correction and direction. Dads are good at correction and direction. Like when my kids got to the place, my boys in particular, where mom said, “I tried to discipline them. I can’t. It’s your job now,” I gladly accepted the role of disciplinarian. Matter of fact, I took my kids into the garage one day and when mom said, “I can’t do this anymore,” and I had them sit there, I took a piece of birch. It was like a three-quarter inch of birch, and I cut out a great paddle, fit in my hand perfectly. And I made them sit there, because they had some swats coming to them that day, and I had them watch me make this as I discoursed about Proverbs and discipline, and that became the new tool of discipline. Discipline.

Dads have a great capacity to enforce discipline in a way moms just don’t. And if you’ve got boys in particular, and they’re getting to the age of five, six, man, they need dad to enforce. Even at three and four, dads need to start taking over a lot of the discipline. And certainly when they can start to take a brain cell and connect it from infraction to punishment, they need to have that sense of, “Okay, dad is the enforcer,” and that’s a good thing.

Okay. How do we do that? We’re sitting here in Orange County, California, and pretty liberal state, last I checked, unless something changed overnight. I mean, just think about how crazy it is. I travel, like all these guys, and when I tell them I’m a pastor from California, there’s like a, “Oh. That’s awful. That must be awful.” Okay, it is. Weather’s good, everything else is bad.

But I tell them this, particularly when the book came out, I started doing a lot of stuff on parenting, I say, “Do you know even in the most liberal California that I live in, do you know that spanking your children,” which everyone gasps when I talk about spanking, “is completely legal? Did you know that?” Totally legal.

Here’s the California Welfare and Institution Code. The Penal Code of California. Division 2, Part 1, Article 6, Dependent Children, Section 6, which is in the total thing, Section 300A. Here’s what it says, right? Talk about the welfare codes of households. This is on a section on child abuse, and it says when it speaks of serious harm to a child… And that’s what it’s about. You’re not supposed to do that. It gives all of this concern about making sure we do not, as parents or custody over… guardians of kids, you are not supposed to cause serious harm to your children. It has an exception clause here. I love this. I love to show this to the liberals in my church. Both of them, and they know who they are. It says, “This does not include reasonable, age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks, where there’s no evidence of serious physical injury.” I love that it used the word buttocks in the law code of California.

Do you know that you and I are supposed to engage in a kind of correction that ensures an unpleasant consequence? And it needs that… Dads, you need to enforce this.

And I know the Bible, unfortunately in English, translates the word of the Old Testament, the Hebrew word, shebet, in some cases, it translates it rod. And all the parenting passages in Proverbs, it talks about sparing the rod.

Now, I know what you think of when you think of the word rod. I think of rebar that you put under the patio, and I picture two hands on it. And I can understand why the liberals in my church, both of them, say, “You should not do that. That’s bad,” right? I can’t picture you taking the rod to your children.

We sang about the rod. Did you know this? In Crown Him with Many Crowns. It was translated, scepter, right? Scepter. The word scepter, talking about this thing in the hand of a king, it’s a stick, right? That is what the Bible translates, in all the parenting passages, as rod. And it translates it rod also in the passages about the shepherd. Psalm 23, “His rod and his staff, they comfort me.” The staff is the big stick, right? It’s the one with the characteristic hook at the top, which they didn’t have in the ancient days, but that’s how we envision it, the cartoon of it.

Well, you had a big stick that you used for the defense of the sheep. You use it with wolves or whatever might attack. But then you had the shebet, and that was a small version of it. It was a little tiny stick. It’s also used in the Proverbs to describe the cooking utensil that you crush cumin with it. The moms would prepare the spices in the kitchen. It was called the scepter or the kitchen utensil or the shebet, the rod.

And that rod was something that was used on sheep. Even on sheep, you take the rod, which was the stick. It was the wooden kitchen spoon. And you would take that and the shepherd could use that to wrap the nose of the wandering sheep to make his eyes water to realize, “I shouldn’t go that way.”

And when I tell my kids… What I told my kids when they were young. I don’t beat them anymore. That’s a tweetable line right there. Beat them. It’s a man’s conference. I’d never say that at a women’s conference, but… I tell them this often, they got sick of hearing it, “God’s shebet hurts a lot more than mine.” The whole reason I’m applying physical pain to you as a little kid here is because God, in His world, applies pain when there’s infraction, right? I guarantee you God’s paddle is bigger and more painful than mine. I’m trying to train you.

And God was at work, training your kids that wrong behavior, damaging behavior, corrosive behavior, destructive behavior, He’s been training them in that prenatally. Does that sound like a weird statement? Right? Think about this little piece of flesh inside your mouth, your tongue, right? If you were to bite that, it hurts. You know that. These eyeballs are pretty sensitive as well. You stick your fingers in your eyeballs, it hurts. Little tiny children, floating around in the water bed of their mother’s womb, learn that when their little fingers hit their eyeballs, they feel this in their brain, ouch, right? And thankfully, God doesn’t give them teeth prenatally, but their little heart and very strong-forming jaw muscles, when they clamp down on their tongue, which they do, they learn right away, their brain says, “Ouch.” An unpleasant consequence for a potentially damaging infraction, right, they learn. They learn.

And even when they come out, they’re not in the water bed anymore, they start doing things like putting their fingers in the eye, man, and I know mom wants to put those little mittens on them. Stop. Let them do it a couple times, right? They’ll get it. God’s paddle, God’s shebet instantly, and they start to recognize. Depending on how dense your little baby is, it’ll just take a few times for this to happen, and your kid will stop. They’ll stop biting their tongue, they’ll stop putting their finger in their eyes, because God is reinforcing bad behavior, behavior that could be injurious to them by unpleasant consequences.

And that’s why the rod, by the way, the shebet doesn’t work very long with kids. And the test for that for me was, “Listen, you’ve earned five swats today. Now dad is home, and I’m not emotionally invested in all the things you did to your mom, but I’ve heard enough of it when I came in, so now it’s time for your five swats.”

And I would start to say things like this, “Would you rather have these five swats from me, or go to bed an hour and a half early and miss your dessert?” And at some point in their development, they said… Well, first, it was like, “Oh man, I would much rather…” When they were little, they said, “much rather go to bed early and miss dessert.”

But when they started saying, “Dad, just give me the swats,” that was the last time they got swats. Because all I was doing as a diagnostic was trying to figure out what’s unpleasant to you. What is more unpleasant to you? And so the discipline changes. Corporal punishment only lasts for so long to where there are other more unpleasant things. But guess what? It is harder… I don’t know. It’s hard for every parent and dad, it seems, in our day to do any of this. But it seems harder with those longer term disciplines. Like going to bed without dessert, that may be… But you’ve got to stick with it.

To raise them in the discipline of the Lord, we know this, the Lord is saying, “Children obey your parents.” When they don’t obey, there has to be unpleasant consequences. You have to enforce that.

The instruction of the Lord, I can develop this in the book as you read it, but it’s the idea of coaching them into what’s right. And I want to coach. I’m going to boldly and be a man who coaches them into what is right, directing them into what’s right.

And here’s the challenge, and I’m out of time, but let just say this, the biggest test of your doctrinal fidelity… You think you’re doctrinally sound, right? At least as best as you can be. You want to stay that way? Would you like to stay doctrinally sound? Yeah, Pastor Mike, I’d like to… Great. The biggest test of your doctrinal fidelity is your children’s trajectory and where they end up.

Here’s what a lot of parents do, I hope for the best when they’re little. I send them to Sunday school, they go to Awana, they learn the verses, they do all the stuff they’re supposed to do, and wherever they end up, what a lot of parents do, I’m going to paint a target around that and say they hit the target. They shoot first, and draw the bullseye later. And they say, “Well, I guess I have to readjust my theology to match the trajectory of my kids, because I love my kids so much. I can’t possibly think they’re not saved. I can’t possibly think they didn’t turn out well.” You need to paint the target when your kids aren’t even born yet.

This is what it is to raise godly kids, kids that obey their parents and the direction they go. And when you’re done, if they miss it by three feet or 30 feet, you need to say, “I guess we missed the mark here.” And all I can tell you is you cannot redefine your theology based on how your kids turn out. And that is the number one problem in the church, I think, and having pastored for three and a half decades now, is parents getting to the place when their kids are in high school and move off to college, that’s when they start leaving the church, because you know what? I can’t possibly continue to sit under this doctrine that says this is what Christianity is, this is what godly is, because that’s not what Junior is, and Junior is my number one idol. And if he’s not that, then I’m going to have to change my theology and find a church that’ll match my theology. And guess what? You can find plenty of churches that’ll redefine what Christianity is and what godliness is.

So direct your kids toward what is right and just man up. Even if we’re missing the mark, if they end up somewhere they shouldn’t be, I guess they ended up somewhere they shouldn’t be. But you ought to be able to say at the bema seat of Christ, “I did everything I could to train them when they were young, to keep them under control, to teach themself control. And at the end of all this, you know what? I at least raised them when they were in my household with the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.”

Our world is filled with a den of voices and cultural pressures, and if you’re in the throes of raising kids, let me just give you hope. There were synagogues and teachers of the law in the Old Testament in the seventh century, sixth century BC, that trained up at least four that we know of by name, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who launched into a Babylon that was godless and filled with idolatry, and they stood strong and they did what was right.

God knows how, to quote 2 Peter, He knows how to keep His godly ones. He can keep them. And I don’t care how bad our culture gets. It’s bad. They may lose jobs, they may lose careers, may get kicked out of school, but you need to realize God can make your kids say to the king, “Doesn’t matter what you say, it doesn’t matter if God doesn’t deliver us, we will not bow down to your idols.” You can have kids that do that. Your church can raise kids that do that, but they’re going to need some strength, some inner fortitude. They’re going to need some men who are leading in the church that know that this is what is required. So I exhort you to that end here this morning.

Let’s pray. God, please hear us. I just ask that you would get us fired up to be the kinds of men who are strong and firm, who want what is good in this next generation, whether they’re in our home, whether we’re talking about our nieces and nephews or our grandchildren or just the kids in our youth group at our church. Let us be more like those who would accept the responsibility of what they used to call godparents in the liturgical churches, and say, “I want to take the responsibility of helping to see this happen.” Every set of parents in our church, they need multiple adults coming alongside of them, saying, “I take responsibility for the development of these kids. I want to help. I want to model. I want to serve. I want to coach. I want to do all that I can to get them there.” So, God, strengthen us, help us in this, and give us increasing success and let us have more Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednegos, as they were known in Babylon, and Daniels, who will stand strong no matter what the pressure, in Jesus’ name, Amen.