hausvater 2c horiz 800x300

Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

Sermons

Onward, Christian Fathers!


Adapted from a sermon first preached for Father’s Day 2008.

Father’s Day, a day to honor dads. Too often, however, preachers use Father’s Day like a blunt club to beat dads over the head with their responsibilities. I heard the story about one dad who after leaving church on Father’s Day remarked, “Man, if that’s Father’s Day, then the first day of duck season ought to be called ‘Duck’s Day.’”

I have no intention of berating fathers. In fact, I have this sneaking suspicion that deep down a lot of dads already feel inadequate and inept. I suspect a lot of older fathers are living with regrets, and if they had the opportunity to do things over, they would do it differently. Criticizing dads would unnecessarily make the guilt worse.

Deep down I think most men realize the primary responsibility for teaching their children the Christian faith rests on their shoulders. The problem, however, is we don’t know what to do about it.

You see, deep down I think most men realize the primary responsibility for teaching their children the Christian faith rests on their shoulders. The problem, however, is we don’t know what to do about it. We don’t know what to say and we feel silly when we try to say it.

And ladies, if you’ve ever criticized, belittled, or even rolled your eyes at your husband’s attempt to teach the faith, you have essentially guaranteed he will not try it again. When a man attempts to do something he already feels inadequate to do and his wife belittles his attempts, he gives up because this is what he hears: “You are worthless, brainless, and incompetent. You are a sorry excuse for a man and are in no way worthy of my respect.”

These words sting like daggers in the heart. To put it in terms a woman would understand, it would be like a husband saying, “You are fat, ugly, and totally unlovable. You are a horrible mother and are in no way worthy of my love.” That wouldn’t feel too good, would it ladies? Husbands hate feeling stupid in front of their wives and the only way to ensure it doesn’t happen is never to take the chance again.

Society hasn’t helped. Rare is the commercial or TV program that portrays a strong, competent, Godly man. Painfully common are the ones that portray the oaf, the loser, the lout, the boor, the fool, and the klutz. It’s no wonder men give up.

Adding to a father’s difficulty is the modern portrayal of God. He has been completely feminized. In some cases, He is even called “she”! Jesus is depicted like some soft, sissified guy covered in skin cream and hair gel. He is portrayed as someone we can fall in love with, someone we can like, someone soft and gentle and even cuddly.

Maybe that view of Jesus seems to work for some people, but it’s not a God too many men can get excited about. Most men aren’t thrilled by the prospect of walking through a garden holding Jesus’ manicured hand. I have to admit, I’m not too excited about that portrayal of God.

Just look at the number of men in church. Women far exceed the number of men in worship. I think some men stay away because they don’t want to hear about a nice, gentle, genteel God.

While the Scriptures do depict God as loving and gentle, they also portray Him as mighty and fearsome. It’s that image of God I think we need to reclaim; a strong God is a God men were created to respect.

While the Scriptures do depict God as loving and gentle, they also portray Him as mighty and fearsome. It’s that image of God I think we need to reclaim; a strong God is a God men were created to respect.

Just consider for a moment some of the ways the Bible describes God. In Exodus 15:3, the Israelites sing, “The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.”

Over 250 times the Bible refers to God as “Lord Almighty.” I think that translation is a bit misleading. When people hear “Lord Almighty,” they usually imagine a strong God. While that’s true, there’s more to this name.

The King James Version renders it “Lord of Hosts.” That’s closer. A more descriptive translation would read, “Commander of the Heavenly Armies.” We worship the One who is in charge of the armies of heaven! We he calls out “Attention,” millions of angels salute.

The Scriptures tell us God fights for us (Deuteronomy 1:30). They tell us God is King–King of the universe (Psalm 10:16; 47:2,7). That He raises nations and leaders and He deposes them. The Scriptures boldly declare God reigns over every man and every animal.

In some places God is described as a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24). Ezekiel describes this vision of God (Ezekiel 1:27-28):

I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Psalm 46—which, by the way, is the Psalm on which Martin Luther based “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”—says, God “lifts His voice, the earth melts.” In Job 38 God graphically describes His sovereignty over all creation. In other places, God is described as a “stronghold,” a “rock,” and a “fortress.”

He is the God who embarrasses Baal, deposes Dagon, zaps Zeus into oblivion, man-handles Molech, and annihilates Ashtoreth. No other god can match His might, His awesomeness, His authority, and His clout.

This, men, is the God we worship. He is not a wimp. He is not effeminate. He is not timid. He commands our respect and He will be feared. This God has gained victory for you. But He has done it in the most surprising way – the cross.

This, men, is the God we worship. He is not a wimp. He is not effeminate. He is not timid. He commands our respect and He will be feared. This God has gained victory for you. But He has done it in the most surprising way – the cross. Paul tells us, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, [God] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). God has gained victory over the devil and every false god in the cross of Jesus. And Jesus was no softy. He knew how to swing a hammer, set block, and work until his hands were blistered and permanently calloused. He walked hundreds of miles every year in 100 degree heat. He regularly climbed mountains to pray. He was physically fit and built with a muscled frame.

And He claimed to have at his instant disposal twelve legions of angels–that’s roughly 82,000 angels. Jesus was no sissy. He was a force to be reckoned with. He took on the devil and won. He took on our sin and overcame it. He stared death in the face and death backed down. On the cross He gained victory for His Father and for you. This Father has made you a father. Teach your kids this. The Commander of the Heavenly Armies has made you a father and He has enlisted you in His army. He has given you His armor.

Paul boldly declares in Ephesians 6:10-18:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Covered in God’s armor, you have been given marching orders. Paul says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). These are your orders given to you by your Superior: train the next generation of soldiers. Teach them how to stand against the devil, how to fight back, and how to win. Teach them to stand firm on the foundation of Christ’s merits.

This instruction requires an enormous amount of time. Our world has long sold us on “quality time”; quality time, however, doesn’t adequately train a solider. To train a soldier, you must dedicate quantity time. It requires teaching, training, drilling, and practicing–and a lot of it.

Psalm 127 even calls children arrows. Then it says, “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:5). In other words, well trained children are like a quiver full of straight arrows; they are priceless when the battle comes, and the battlefield is before us now.

Where do you begin? Read the hymns. Read ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God.’ Read ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’ Read ‘Rise! to Arms! With Prayer Employ You.’ Read ‘Ye Watches and Ye Holy Ones.’

Where do you begin? Read the hymns. Read “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Read “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Read “Rise! to Arms! With Prayer Employ You.” Read “Ye Watches and Ye Holy Ones.” Turn to the section that says “Church Militant” or “Church Triumphant.” Read those hymns and then read the Scripture passages referenced on the bottom right corner of the pages. That’s a great place to start. But fathers, our Commander has given us one more order. More than training children to be quality soldiers in God’s army, our Commander orders us to love the children’s mother with fierce intensity. Let them see your love for her–whether she deserves it or not. Your love is to image Christ’s love for His bride, the Church. Children need to see fierce loyalty and intense commitment.

These are our marching orders.

And women, respect him like a valiant soldier and he’ll act like one. Regard him like a pea-brained private and he’ll give up. Just ask yourself, when was the last time you told your husband you respect him? Try it sometime and see how he responds.

Men and fathers, we have our orders. God wouldn’t give them to us if He didn’t think we could do them. And standing in His armor and marching with His Spirit, we can. So, let’s march. Onward Christian fathers. In Jesus’ Name, the victory already is ours for the taking. Amen.

 

Pastor Jonathan Conner of Zion Lutheran Church in Manning, Iowa, serves as Vice President of The Hausvater Project.

Pin It



TAGS: Fatherhood

Click for a Printer-Friendly Copy