Here is a printing of my “Men of Faith” Prayer Breakfast Message from this week
Faith Baptist Church – Men’s Breakfast July 2014 Kaiserslautern, Germany
“Where Will Our Sons Be?”
Gentlemen, being a Father is the one of the greatest things we will ever do. As a Father, we have the opportunity to impact Tomorrow, and Impact Eternity.
There are many great men in scripture
Eli was the High Priest of Israel for 40 years, he served the Lord with distinction. He was the priest who raised Samuel. Who told Samuel how to listen to the voice of God and say “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” … Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. While Eli accomplished great things for the Lord, his Sons were scandalous 1 Samuel 2:12 says Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord … You can read the rest of their deeds, but the problem was that … Eli, instead of aptly correcting them, he gave them duties in the Temple of the Lord … and in 1 Samuel 2:29-31
1 Samuel 2:29–31 (NIV84)
29 Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’ 30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your family line
He succeeded in ministry and failed as a Father
Gideon is another one of the great men of scripture, a warrior a man who learned to walk in obedience even when his faith was weak … but toward the end of his life, he allowed his worship to become divided and created an object of worship. We are told that he had 70 sons, that’s another story, but this man, who we talk about, even find in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, didn’t lead his sons …
Judges 8 ends:
Judges 8:33–34 (NIV84)
33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and 34 did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.
But my mind has been thinking this last two weeks of a man in scripture that is a “bit part” in the story of the Gospel. If he is but a “bit part”, his sons are barely mentioned … so why is it important?
Jesus was arrested, charged, placed on trial, mocked, beaten, and spit upon. His beard was plucked out, finally the people cried for him to be Crucified and so they placed his cross on his back, and he walked the “way of suffering” toward the place of execution.
During this, the greatest event in History, a father, finds his way into the story. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention this father, but Mark tells us something the others do not.
Mark 15:21 (NIV84)
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
A Father, Simon, from North Africa, was in Jerusalem, with his sons, Alexander and Rufus.
Where will our sons be?
Why would the gospels mention this man by name and why would they tell us WHICH Simon this was? Because he was a “certain man” that readers of the gospels would have heard of. It is clear that he became someone that they knew in the early church. There in the story of Jesus was a man carrying his cross, not a nameless man, but Simon, Simon from Cyrene. But while it is seemingly insignificant for these three gospels to mention Simon, why, even more obscure, would Mark mention his sons? For the same reason, because his readers knew these boys.
Stay with me …
Mark’s gospel was written particularly to the Romans. So, The Romans, reading this gospel, would have said, “we know Simon, and we know his sons, Alexander and Rufus …
Where will our sons be?
Simon didn’t do much else that we still know of today … but what we know of him tell us he got some things right in raising his sons … How do we know? … Well … there are many things that Alexander and Rufus probably did after that Friday morning in Jerusalem. But 20 plus years later … where do we find them?
Romans 16:13 (NIV84)
13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
Simon, did one great thing … He Led his Sons To Follow Jesus and so 20 years later … Rufus is “Chosen in the Lord” … or “A Choice Man”
Gentlemen, there are many wishes and dreams I have had for my sons the last 26 years as a father, but the most important was for them to be chosen by God, Choice men, found among the faithful and following God.
Is that what you want?
I have two sons who are very different, we have not always agreed. I haven’t always liked every choice they made, but along the way, even when struggling with difficulty, even when struggling with becoming … Praise the Lord they have still been found among the faithful.
I wrote my sons an email and asked them to speak to you and I want to share their answers … to these questions 1) as your Father, where have I led you 2) what did I teach you along the way that is most significant to you now 3) how did I do that 4) is there anything you want me to share with Fathers to encourage them in the important things?
AJ sent these answers
1) My Father has led me to be a man who loves people, loves my community, and loves The Lord. No matter what community Dad was a part of, he loved them. That is something that has been a huge part of my life. Loving people no matter the situation.
2) and 3) One of the most memorable “lessons” I ever got from my Dad was about Mercy and Grace. I remember coming home from school just knowing I had it coming. I deserved a grounding or punishment of some sort. My Dad sat me down and gave me a long thorough talk about Mercy and Grace. Explaining the difference between the two, giving examples from scripture, and relating it to my situation. Despite what I deserved, I got a gift. Not just any gift, I got a new baseball glove and a trip to the Arcade! That memory has been the most life-changing lesson I’ve ever had. Through that memory, I’ve learned that everyone deserves Grace and Mercy. People make mistakes. Loving them despite, is something my father has taught me.
4) The Joy of Succeeding will go further than the Fear of Failing. It is far easier for a person to succeed if they know when they’re doing something right rather than only knowing when they’re doing something wrong. It’s in our human nature to want to fight for achievements. We want to succeed. We want to win. Whether thats a game, an award, or just acceptance. Punishments and redirecting are great ways to teach and learn, but if they’re not paired with praises of what they’re doing right, the redirects aren’t going to stick.
Bryan sent this
I apologize for the late response, i hope this is still beneficial.
You have led me to take responsibility and ownership of my faith, my marriage and my daily actions. You taught me from a young age that my age does not determine my maturity and actions, but my character does. You taught me how to be a leader while still being under authority.
You taught me these things 1st by living them out in your own life. Growing up, and even now, i witness the example of a dad who is fully devoted to Christ, his wife, and kids. It is clear in your actions towards mom, aj and me that you first understand your role as the leader of our household, but you also understand that you are held accountable by God for the way you lead us. This taught me that even when i am a leader of men, i am still under authority.
Going beyond me simply seeing your example, you were actively involved in my development. You cared about the things i cared about (even if you actually didn’t), you encouraged me when i was down, praised me when i did right, and disciplined me then built me up when i was wrong. One of the most important things you taught me growing up was how to realize when i had done wrong, sincerely apologize, then walk in forgiveness.
Above all else you saturated my life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the moment i was born. Each of the things mentioned above were a picture of the Gospel that had so radically changed your life. When you showed me leadership, love, kindness, and forgiveness, you were teaching me what it means to be Christ-like. That is want i am most thankful for as your son. I am thankful that you loved me enough to pour the love of Jesus into me.
“Is there anything you want me to share with the fathers…”
Everything i said above about my dad is 100% true but the description above makes it seems like my dad is perfect. He will be the first one to tell you that he is not. He did make mistakes in fathering my brother and me, but the key is that he told us when he did wrong, and asked for forgiveness. He was man enough to realize his own mistakes and ask his children for forgiveness. Show your children that they are not alone when they mess up in life. Show them that you will love them in spite of their shortcomings, and they will do the same for you.
I hope this is helpful and not too late!
Love you dad!
Now, I know we’ve gone a long way … but what did this man Simon do, to lead them this way?
1. Be Present In Worship
How many things do we miss because we aren’t there? Simon was THERE, There with his Sons, There to Worship the Lord
Simon would have been in Jerusalem to worship the Lord through the Passover. He would have traveled from Cyrene, modern Libya, North Africa – 800 Miles to Celebrate Passover. But God had more in mind when he moved his heart to make that journey to worship. One writer suggests that Simon was heading in to the Temple for the 9:00 prayers
It is amazing what happens “along the way to worship”
Wiersbe says of Simon “Before Christ He had Religion and Devotion, After he had Reality and Salvation”
Gentlemen are you present in worship? Sadly many Fathers SEND their families to Church … But Simon was Present … we know that more is CAUGHT than TAUGHT …
2. Take Them With Us
Be Present in Worship, but be Present With Our sons. I know the nature of your work means you are gone, but when you are there be THERE. When you are gone, find a way to be there
I spent 8 years in Evangelism, but when I was home, I kept the boys home with me 2 of 5 days when “officing” in the house. When I traveled, I connected with them from wherever I was, I blessed them daily via phone, email, or whatever was available. I have had great opportunities to do things for and with the Lord. I have had great opportunities for worship, but I included the boys whenever I could.
We were planting a church in the south of Houston. I had my office in the house, myself and another man were praying one morning. As we prayed, I was praying for my neighbor, John, while I poured out my heart, I began to weep. Sitting at the dining room table, praying, when I finished, my head on the table, I opened my eyes, and there was my very young son, laying on the floor staring up at me, he asked “Daddy, why are you crying?” I replied “Because my heart breaks for John to know Jesus, son”. I hope my son learned something that day.
I performed concerts and spoke in churches, and I didn’t go alone, my boys went with me. October 31, 1994, we packed the car after the concert and AJ said, “Daddy tonight, when those kids gave their heart to Christ, I asked Jesus into my heart.”
AJ went with me to pray with more than one millions men in Washington DC with Promise Keepers. Bryan went with me to El Salvador on two trips, he accompanied me on hospital visits, they joined me for sharing in concerts and revivals as well as ministry in our church.
Simon, went to Jerusalem, a long trip, but he took his boys. That must have been some sort of trip, taking your boys to Jerusalem from North Africa. Look for Opportunities to bring your boys with you. Don’t just take them to YOUR stuff, go to their stuff too, engage them where they enjoy it too …
3. Get Face To Face / Eye to Eye with Jesus
Simon looked into the eyes of Jesus that day. He came to worship God through a centuries old pattern of the Passover. The Passover was celebrated with a spotless lamb, and the blood that stayed God’s judgment … But that day, he looked into the face of the LAST LAMB. Simon met Jesus, but that wasn’t the end. If Simon’s “chance encounter” with Jesus had ended there, we wouldn’t have ever known his name. But Simon met Jesus and kept meeting Jesus and led others, including his sons to do the same
Have you met Jesus Face to Face? When you look to Jesus, you will see yourself as you are, wicked and in need of a Savior, and you will see him as he is Loving and Full of Compassion, desiring a relationship with you.
Oh what that must have been like for Simon. I have no doubt that he recounted the look in the eyes of Jesus for the rest of his life.
Did you look to Jesus yesterday? Do you look to him every day?
4. Take Up His Cross
That is what Simon is famous for, he took up the Cross of Christ
Is that extraordinary? Should it be? Jesus considers it an Expectation, a Normal Thing
Luke 9:23 If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me
It isn’t enough just to give your heart to him. To take up his cross one time … no Daily. Take it Up, And FOLLOW HIM …
Peter, Andrew, James, and John pulled up their boats, left their nets and followed Jesus. Matthew left his Tax Collectors Table. I am not saying you have to quit your job … but WOULD you if he asked? Would you STAY in your job for him, for a future? Have you left the ultimate influence of all to follow the way of Christ?
Luke 9:24 whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it 25 what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very life?
Can I add, what good is it if we gain the whole world and lose Jesus, Gain the Whole World and lose our sons?
5. Tell The Story
I just have to believe that Simon was never the same again after that Friday in Jerusalem. I believe he spoke often of the face of Jesus, the privilege of service, the change in his life … but it wasn’t a one off event. It wasn’t the only thing that Jesus had done in his life. It wasn’t his only experience with Jesus, it wasn’t just nostalgia it was LIFE … and it changed his life?
How do we know?
Because there in Romans 16, Twenty years later, is Rufus, an important noted member of the Church in Rome, useful to the church, noted by Paul … there is Simon’s boy, Rufus
Jesus changed Simon’s life
Acts 13:1 (NIV84)
1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.
Why do the gospels call him by name? Because the church knew him. This Simeon, is another way to render Simon. He referred to here as Simeon called “Niger”. Niger is latin for “black”. He is a man from Cyrene, he would have been a black man. Simeon is a colleague of Lucius who is from Cyrene … Barnabas and Saul (Paul). In Romans Paul says that Rufus’ mother was like a mother to him. Where was this relationship built? There, in Antioch where Simon, one time worshipper, who carried the cross of Christ, became a prophet/teacher …
And because he followed God to Worship, Because he took up the cross of Jesus, Because he brought his sons along … they were there in the Church
Oh that Friday there was a Simon (Peter) who promised to fight for Jesus, but ran away in the night denying him. But here is another Simon, thrust into service in the daylight
Will you serve him in the daylight? Will you lead your sons? Where will our sons be?
Gentlemen, Judges 2:10 says
Judges 2:10 (NIV84)
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.
Where will our sons be?
If the generation that comes after us doesn’t know, that is Our Fault … I can’t change the whole generation, but the only way to touch tomorrow is to touch my children, your children
It is NOT easy
It IS Hard
But we CAN do it …
I share my story, not to point to me, but to say we can do it … they may not come back today or tomorrow, but don’t become weary in well doing for in due time you will reap the harvest
On Father’s Day, AJ put up a collage of pictures of me, with Lisa and the boys and this message:
This is my dad. He is a man among men. It’s a blessing to have a father who believed in me and loved me even when I wasn’t the biggest fan of him. I owe absolutely everything to him. Through him I inherited my love for people, my God, arcades, and Craigslist. Thanks Dad. 🙂
My boys Love Jesus, They Are In His Church, They Love People. Praise the Lord!
Where will our sons be?