The Life-Giving Privilege For Dads

How Is A Dad Able To Be The Life-Giver For His Family?

Ross Sawyers
Jun 20, 2021    57m
A dad has the unique privilege of being appointed by God to be the life-giver for his family. But what does this mean? Join us for today's message as we dive into the Book of Micah and discover how God calls men and fathers to lead. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:08] Some of you may be familiar with the name Corrie ten Boom, and she and her family were a part of the years World War II. And her family, several of them were put into concentration camps. And Corrie emerged out of there with just an increased love for God. And she ended up speaking all over the world for decades about her experience and really how God did a work of forgiveness in her heart towards those that had tortured her and killed some of her family. And so it's a remarkable story, Corrie ten Boom. And I encourage you, if you read anything on her, several books and so forth out there on her. What I think is significant about Corrie though is her dad. And how is it that we oftentimes have the kind of courage and live the kind of life that Corrie ten Boon lived. And she actually saw this life of Christ modeled in her home. And she tells one story about her dad and he's a watchmaker. It was a season of time where they were in hardship financially. And a wealthy man from the community came to the store. When he came, he purchased the most expensive watch that the watchmaker had. Mr. Ten Boom took the cash from the man, put it in his cash box, and then he asked the man why it is that he was purchasing this watch. And he said, my old watch is broken. I took it to the watchmaker across town and he was unable to fix it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:56] Mr. Ten Boom asked him, he said, well, let me look at it. And he took his watch, the one that was broken. And he tinkered with it for a little bit and fixed it. He handed the watch back to the man, and then he also gave him his money back and took the new watch that he had sold him back from the man. And he said, sir, the young watchmaker who was unable to fix this, there will be a day when he is good at this is his dad. And the man left. Corrie was furious and complaining to her dad because they had this money that they needed to survive. And he said to her, he said, how would it honor the Lord if I wouldn't have done what I just did? You see, he modeled for her justice with that man. He didn't take advantage of him. He modeled for her how to love mercy and kindness because he spoke well of that young man across town and said, one day, he'll do well at his craft. And that flowed from a humility and a walk with God that Mr. Ten Boom had. It's no wonder that Corrie grew into the woman that she was, to have modeled for her in her home a dad who lived out what it means to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. If you turn your Bibles to Micah, I wanted Lauren to read several parts of Micah. It is one of the minor prophets, and it's a collection of really oracles of doom and oracles of hope.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:53] There's a mixture of it. And I wanted you just to get a flavor of Micah by hearing different verses throughout the book of Micah. We're looking at the minor prophets this summer. For those that might not be familiar with the minor prophets are, it’s the last 12 books of the Old Testament of the Bible. They're called the minor prophets due to their length. They're smaller and there's five other prophets that are, there's the major prophets for them and Lamentations is included in that. And those are lengthier. And so that's how we get the name. And what we've learned these past few weeks is that Jewish scholars, they actually considered this not separate books of the Bible, these prophets. They considered it one and it's the book of the twelve. And there's a singular kind of narrative running through it of a broken covenant, a refusal to repent, judgment comes, and there's always hope. And that's the beauty of the gospel today, that there is hope on the other side when there's judgment and things that are difficult. We've looked at a number of prophets to this point. And one way that's helpful for me to get a grip on these is really just think of a theme through each one. Sometimes it's hard to figure out where they fit with the kings and with the prophets and what time frame it is. We actually have a timeline for you today, but then I saw it on the screen and it's too small. So I apologize.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:17] I'll regroup next week. But I think we have a way that we can do that and they'll put this together for the rest of the summer. In Amos, there's a clear call for justice, that God's people were being unjust to their own people. And there's no question. That is the theme that runs through Amos. Joel is helpful to us to think about when a nation is in crisis. And he calls the people to weep and fast and mourn over the sins of the nation and over their own sins. In Obediah, we took a quick gander at Obediah and we see that gloating over the destruction of someone else is prideful and that often comes back on our own head. Edom was gloating over the destruction of Judah and the same enemy that they partnered with to take over Judah ended up wiping them out five years later. With Jonah, we talked about an uncomfortable compassion. And I had a neat lunch with a man this week and we were talking about this, that idea. And he was kind of wrestling through it. And here's what I would say about that. God is not uncomfortable in His compassion. God is compassionate in who He is. We're the ones that are uncomfortable. And what I was trying to get us to see last week in Jonah is to step into that discomfort if that's where God calls us. If it's a people group or another person, wherever it is that God might be saying, hey, I've got a message of mercy and grace for them and I want you to deliver it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:56] I know you don't really care for them so much, but you're still the one that's the messenger for it. And that can be uncomfortable. But in the compassion of Christ, we step towards those things and towards people that we’re uncomfortable with. With Micah, we find ourselves back around the idea of justice. And that runs through a number of these prophets. We'll look at it in a variety of ways. And then Micah has been described as a shorter version of Isaiah. So if you think about it this way, oftentimes we've been assigned novels to read in English or whatever in your school, and you figured out there's a way to get the big idea here. I can get the Spark Notes or the Cliff Notes or maybe there's a new kind of note today that I don't know that exists online. Somebody can tell me, hey, here's the new note thing. But at least that gives you the idea. And I think Micah is like the Spark Notes for Isaiah. And Micah and Isaiah were contemporaries. They were in the same city. They would have been prophesying around the same time. There's no doubt that they would have known each other, and hopefully they drew encouragement from each other. So we land here in Micah on Father's Day. I appreciate what Travis said in thinking about this can be a celebration day, it can be a day of challenge. It can be a day of pain and hurt as well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:30] Hopefully, we can all find things for which to be grateful. This is my 26th year on Father's Day without a dad. And that's a gap to not have a dad. I personally don't think it matters what age we are. I think that's a gap. I'm grateful for the years that I had with my dad, and I'm grateful for so many things. We didn't grow up in a home where Christ was the center of it. We didn't grow up knowing how to lead a family. I didn't watch my dad lead in a way that I turned around and knew how to lead my family spiritually. There was not a model for that. I think that's for a number of us. We grew up in homes where there wasn't a picture of what we talk about when dads are to lead the home with it. So really there are spiritual dads and I think that's a crucial piece to think about on Father's Day. Who are those spiritual dads in our life? And what I did, I looked at men that looked like they were doing a great job raising their kids to follow Christ. And I spent a lot of time asking how to do it because I didn't have a picture. And I think when there's a picture missing, it's difficult and it's a challenge.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:51] And I'm grateful for those spiritual mentors over the years and hopefully you've had those as well. And I would call us up today as men to have that opportunity to take advantage of when God might call us into it, to be that kind of spiritual mentor where there are sons and daughters that don't have that. And maybe God will do that amongst some of us as we continue to think about what this would look like. I also want to say today that I believe we live in a culture, and I'm doing my best. I believe we've awakened into a new world post-pandemic. And I think a good many of us are looking around saying, what happened? And this has been brewing for decades. It didn't just happen. It's like we just sat through a year in isolation and we woke up and here we go. And how are we going to do life in this new world that we find ourselves? I think it was last name Huxley wrote A Brave New World. How are we going to be brave in this new world as Christians where Christ isn't really the center of people's thinking? And so how do we do that? Well, I think part of what culture's been doing for a while is emasculating the men in our culture and making our men passive and not stepping up to lead. And God has not called us as dads, as husbands, as men to be passive. That's not His call in our lives.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:21] And I hope today more than any, we’ll be stirred afresh that men will be to walk in the way and as Paul wrote in Corinthians, to act like men. And we need to live in a way in Christ that we act like men today. And I know so many at 121 that are, that you're living out what we're about to say so, so well and we're growing in it. Many are getting started. Many are trying to figure it out. We're all in different places and I love that God takes us right here, right here. And God has called us into something and we have a privilege. And so the idea, the message today, the way I'm thinking about it, is the life-giving privilege of dads. What is the life-giving privilege that we have as dads? It might be you're a grandparent, a spiritual mentor, a dad, a biological dad, a step dad, whatever it is that God has you, a future dad, whatever it might be. I believe He's given us a privilege and Micah gives us a picture of what the expectations are for us to be the men that God has called us to be and the dads that He wants us to be. So here's what to do. In verses 6 through 8 of Micah 6. Context here, it's like a legal setting and God is bringing an indictment against His people. And He's saying, hey, look, you're committing all kinds of injustice towards each other, you're taking advantage of each other, you're taking advantage of the vulnerable.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:05] This is all what's going on with my people. He said, this is what I bring against you. And then He says, how is it that I've wearied you? Answer me, He says. Make your case with me. What have I done to weary you, God says. Based on the way they're treating Him. And that brings us to verse 6. With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? What is he saying here? There's a progression here in what he's saying. He’s saying, what do I bring? If there's this gap between me and God, if there's this gap between the people of God and God, what is it? So what do I bring? And they’re thinking like we often think. How can I pay Him off? How can I pay God off so that I can get back in right standing here? How do I pay off the attorney to get this right for me? Should I do it by bringing a burnt offering which was part of the sacrificial system? Will that do it? Will that be enough? Should I bring a thousand rams? I mean that's a crazy number of animals to come to say, if I bring a thousand rams in sacrifice, will that do it?

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:40] Or what about 10,000 rivers of oil? I mean he's amping up the numbers. He realizes this is a problem between us and God. How can I get this right? What if I sacrifice my firstborn child? Will that do it? It's crazy. But you know what? This is a prevailing thought today. If I do one good thing today to somebody, will that get God the Father to smile on me at the end of the day, if I do one good thing? What if I did a thousand good things today, a thousand good thoughts, a thousand good actions, would that do it? What if I did 10,000 things today? When I go to bed tonight, would God be pleased with that? How much good can I do to have God smile on me? Or this is what I hear so often. I'm not worthy. What can I do today that would get me worthy before God? Nothing. You won't be able to nor will I. I can't do 10,000 worthy acts today so that when I go to bed tonight and put my head on the pillow, God loves me. I got there today. No. Don't you think it's a gift even to our earthly sons and daughters when they can go to bed at night knowing that no matter how much good or how much bad they did, they are deeply loved by their dad? That's the kind of love our God has.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:50] But they're trying to figure out, how do I close that gap, how do I do that? In verse 8, he says, all right, here's what you do. That isn't going to work. I'm not after all your sacrifices of animals. I'm not after your firstborn. That's not what I'm after. So verse 8, he has told you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? This is God's requirement, and this is the life-giving privilege that we have as dads and as men. To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. And to lead others to do the same. In Amos, we talked about justice. And they were trying to get good with God through rituals and different acts of worship. God said, nah, get away from you with your hollow songs, your empty prayers, your sacrifices. You're missing the heart. And then He says, but let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream. Let justice and righteousness roll. In Micah 6:8, this would be a theme verse for the whole book of Micah. Same idea, do justice, he says. This is what God requires, that we do justice. I want to do a quick, what I'm trying to do in our awakened new world we're walking in, I want to try and make sure and be as clear as I can possibly be to explain what I believe is happening culturally that is not biblical.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:45] Against what God says is biblical. That's at least my attempt. We're in what most any of us would be familiar with, where social justice is a highlight of our culture. Voddie Baucham led men's retreat four years ago, loves the Lord, and I think he does a great job of delineating social justice and biblical justice. I think people who are about social justice can be well-meaning. I think Christians can be well-meaning. And I think there's some good things there. And then there's some things that are a miss. They're not biblical justice. They’re social justice. They can be different. And what I would challenge our men, we need to understand that so we can lead in biblical justice. So what's the difference? Social justice, if you take the word social, it's society. It's social issues. God is not the center of all of the social justice issues. It's what humans say is the issue. And so it's a social issue. And now we need to rise up, and there needs to be justice in these issues. Some of those things can be biblical, some not. Tony Evans, I love how he said it a while back, that when we think about culture, that God celebrates our different ethnicities and our different cultures to the point of sin. At the point there's sin, then we no longer celebrate that, and that's not a justice movement that as a Christian we would want to step into. We want to step into the movements that are biblical when God calls us into those.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:03] Now, what can sit underneath the social justice movement is a worldview that over the last year has become more and more clear to people, and you may still be wondering what it is. It's called critical race theory. Critical race theory says that there are two groups of people, oppressors and oppressed. It would be easy to think this is a biblical idea because what we see in the prophets are people being oppressed and there are oppressors. The difference is in critical race theory, there's only two groups of people. You're either an oppressor or you're the oppressed. God does not categorize us that way. And as someone in the hall said to me, she said, this has been difficult for me to grab hold of. What simplified it for me was to understand that in critical race theory, it's about power. It's about the oppressed flipping and becoming the oppressor. Jesus is about laying down our power and walking in humility. That's why it's a non-biblical worldview. And it is a lens that is being driven from the academic world, the cultural world. It has now collided and it pervades our culture even when we don't recognize it. And it seeps into the church because so much of it sounds good. Now, here's the accusation made against Christians or someone who would say that critical race theory is not a biblical worldview. You're just trying to get out of talking about the race problem. No. I'm not.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:01] I've been talking about it for a long time around here. Before last year, I was talking about it. And I've been talking to people of color for years now to try and understand. And to be clear, I am not afraid to make us uncomfortable as a church to wrestle through our own hearts on whether we sin or don't sin. On the race issue, I want to clarify this because someone said what they've heard me say is I'm calling everybody in our church a racist. I'm not. So let me just make that abundantly clear. I don't believe that. But we would be unwise to not look at James 2 and recognize that partiality is a sin against God. And I believe in the race issue, there are layers of sin. And if we're partial to another group of people to the exclusion of one, that is sin. Underneath partiality is pride. And pride says, I see myself as superior to someone else. It is worth checking our hearts at that point. Underneath pride is unbelief. And that's an unbelief that God has made each of us in His image and that every person is a person of dignity, value, and worth and are to be treated as such. The psalmist said, search me, O, God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious, see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting light. God, please search our hearts. And where we have any of these issues anywhere, any layer of sin in our heart, please God, break our hearts to a place of confession and repentance.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:17] That is what I've been trying to say. If you're disrespectful towards authorities like the police, search your heart. I'll say it on all fronts here. God has established authorities. Now, the human heart is the problem, and we need to deal with it at the problem of the human heart. That's where the problem lies, and then that's where problems get into everywhere else. If we ascribe to critical race theory, we'll shift blame to groups of people and say that's the problem rather than looking at our own hearts and saying sin is the problem. That needs to be eradicated, and I need to have the lens that God has. And God's lens in biblical justice is treating people with dignity and worth based on the moral law of God and motivated by the love of God. I hope that's a little bit helpful. And I think it's crucial, dads, that we understand that because it's creeping into every level of where our kids are. And if we don't understand that and know how to draw the distinction between that, we're going to leave our kids hanging. Voddie Baucham will be a good source. You may not agree with him, but he’ll be a good biblical challenge to our thinking. Thank you for letting me share that. I think these distinctions are important. So we're talking about doing justice.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:04] And as Christians, we want to be the most just people of all. And one of the things I love about 121 and what God does here is the way that justice is done. Every week this summer, if you just go outside this wall, there's picnic tables out there, and we're part of a program called Feed the Kids. Different groups from the community come and they serve there each week. And we're the base place where children are making sure that they're fed during the summer. That's doing justice. There are so many families in our church that have adopted children. That is doing justice. When we read about justice in the Bible, it's about the orphan, the widow. It's about the immigrant and it's about the poor. Part of what we need to be asking is, what are we doing for the widow and what are we doing for the orphan? So many people in our church have fostered children. That's doing justice. There’s one family in our church that years ago is they raising her own three kids, they fostered over 100 hundred children. That's doing justice. Eighth grade life group leader of girls a few weeks ago, all week long, every day they went out and did some kind of active service, delivered a meal, took food to the homeless, planted flowers, did multiple things every day, just did that as a group. And you know what? Nobody told them to do that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:37] That just came out of their group. In India right now where the pandemic is ruthless, we partner with a ministry. We have since 2004, Cooperative Outreach of India. And they're feeding the children. You can go through genesis of hope and be a part of helping feed children through what they're doing at COI. This is doing justice. This is what God has called us into. And what I've described are ways that we could do it as a group or ways we do things as a church or things we can be a part of. But mostly to do justice is as we walk day-to-day in the way we treat people, seek God out, and say, okay, God, I'm on the move today. Your love is on the move. We just sang that. And I want your love to be on the move through me. Will you help me to see with your eyes today so I don't miss anyone in need around me? What kind of justice act do you have for me today? What do you want me to be a part of as I roll through this day? For most all of us, it's more as we go that we're doing justice. Now, I think this list is interesting, the order. Because it seems to be almost backwards. They just said, what if I bring this offering? What if I do this? Well, now I'm being told I do justice. What's the difference? Now it's how many good things can I do before I'm doing justice? How do I know if I'm doing justice or not?

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:13] Which by the way, if I could say this about the justice part and about things in our culture today, the way we think today is experience and our own personal story. That's our starting point. If it doesn't square up with Scripture, then I try to figure out how to make Scripture work with my experience and my story. If you want to know what biblical justice is, you want to know what loving mercy is, take your experience and I take mine and I put the Scripture on top of it. Does that makes sense? We're flipping it. That's part of what CRT is, critical race theory. It's about our experience, our story. Because this is my story, then this. Some of us heard Ben Carson speak on Friday afternoon. Fascinating man. Grew up in poverty in Detroit, his mom with a third grade education. And look what happened with him. He’s done remarkable things over the last several decades. His mom didn't let their experience tell the story. It was overlaid with Scripture, and this is what can happen in my family no matter where I am. Do justice, love kindness. Words steadfast. There’s a steadfast love. That's what God wants us to love. And when we love that and we love the love of God, it's out of the love of God that we’ll do justice. One way we can look for our motivations and figure out, are we loving is to look at 1 Corinthians 13. This would be a good thing to do this week maybe if you have some time with the Lord and look at this.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:21] Versus 4 through 8, love is patient, love is kind, so forth. Insert your name. Is this the kind of love of Jesus that's flowing through me? It's also a good way, and a man told me this the other day at leads [inaudible], insert organizations’ names that are doing justice things in 1 Corinthians 13 and see if this is what that is exhibiting. It's a fascinating exercise. Love kindness and walk humbly with your God. Mark 10:45, Jesus said, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. Jesus came, God in the flesh and humbly entered into our world. Walked among sinful people, laid His life down on a cross, the ultimate picture of humility. So how do we love kindness and do justice? It actually starts with the third one, in relationship with God and walking humbly with God. And now I see through His eyes with compassion towards people as those who are made in the image of God and who are broken in the image of God just like I am. And there's the potential for redemption for them in Jesus Christ just like He redeemed me. And there's hope for them and there's life for them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:55] Walk humbly with our God, not just any God. The God of the Scriptures. The God who is Jesus Christ. Now, I've just shared with you what you're to do. I would argue today it's impossible for us to do what I just said. Everything I just said, at the end of the day, we probably look at it and say I fail often on these things. But Micah has some other things in here. And so I want us to do a second piece to this, and this is what we believe. We believe something before we do something because it's actually the doing, it flows out of the believing of who we are. In Micah, we have a prophecy that you usually hear at Christmas time. It's Micah 5 verse two. But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah. From you, One will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. It's here that the Messiah is prophesied, that He'll actually come from Bethlehem, the city of Bethlehem. That's where Jesus was born. The word Bethlehem means house of bread. Jesus Christ later described Himself as the bread of life. He's the one that is our ultimate substance and the one who gives us life. He breaks bread with His disciples. It'll be His broken body in which we can have life. At the end of verse 5 or the beginning of verse 5, it says this one will actually be our peace.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:42] And in verse 4, He'll be great to the ends of the Earth. Did you know that the way God views, just His lens, I want to give you another contrast of the cultural view and God's view. I have a good friend, a relationship I developed over the last couple of years. He's a black pastor in the area. I just love him. But he told me the other day, he said, isn't it sad that we've reduced diversity among races into four colors? God does not see us in colors. That is a social construct. That is not God's design. God sees us in ethnicities and cultures and people groups. And there's thousands. And God is a God who's designed a people that are a people of variety and cultural variety to be celebrated. To the ends of the earth, he said. This ruler and shepherd who's coming is one who's coming for every tribe, tongue, and nation. This is God's lens and how He views things. In verse 18 of chapter 7, we're told how we can actually respond to that ruler shepherd. Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain his anger forever because He delights in unchanging love. God is a God of unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us. He will tread our iniquities underfoot. Yes, you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:30] Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. And on the Jewish New Year, an Orthodox Jew will sometimes go out to a stream or river and symbolically empty their pockets of sin into the stream. And then they watch as the stream carries it away. And they recite Micah 7 verses 18 through 20 as it carries off their sin symbolically and buries it in the depths of the sea. That's what Jesus did for us. He allowed us to empty our pockets of sin, not into a symbolic river but onto His body on a cross. Pundits love to evaluate trades and sports. Is that a good trade or a bad trade? You could argue that God made the worst trade in the history of humanity because He took on the sin of every human being on His body. And the trade He made is if we believe what He did there, then our sins are pardoned and forgiven and released. And we're made to be the righteousness of God in Christ. What a trade. I'll make that deal on my side any day of the week. You'll take all my mess, you'll take all my pride, you'll take all my selfish, you'll take all my immorality, you'll take all my, you'll take all of it, all my divisiveness, all my envy. You'll take all of that? However many years that's been worth and however many more they'll be. Yes, I will. And I did. And it's done.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:51] And that's the opportunity for every person and to walk in it afresh. Do you believe that? When we believe that, that requires humility because it means I can't do anything to fix my situation. Now I can walk humbly with my God. I can love the same mercy that He loves. And I can do the justice that He calls me to do. Can you imagine on June 19th, 1865 what it must have been like for the slaves in Galveston, Texas to see Major General Granger Gordon ride up with over two thousand federal troops and read a different proclamation than the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued two and a half years prior to let the slaves in Texas know you've been set free? They were set free by a proclamation in 1862 that took place on January, that took effect on January 1st, 1863. But they didn't know it until two and a half years later. It was held from them. How many people today in our spheres of influence don't have any idea that 2,000 plus years ago they've been set free? And they just need somebody to open up a proclamation and say, it's finished, it's done.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:00] You can be free. Do you believe it? When you believe it, this is the life that flows from it. I want you to just get a picture from someone in our church that believes this and has lived Micah 6:8 in his family. And again, I think it's a privilege we get as dads to lead people this way. I'm confident that in our church there will be scholars that come out of our families. I'm confident there will be stud athletes that come out of our church body. I'm confident there will be people that are so artistic it'll be unbelievable when we hear about them. I'm confident we'll pay the money to get the tutors and make sure that they have the very best to be able to do all those things. What I think is the greatest legacy for a dad is that when a kid leaves us or a kid is an adult, that what they got from us is a dad who loved God with all of his heart and soul and mind, loved others as Himself, did justice, loved kindness, walked humbly with his God. It's never too late to start with that. Here's one picture of it.

Anthony Bruster: [00:43:30] My name is Anthony Bruster. I'm married to Amy. And we've been married for 21 years and have three kids. And Amy and I met at Baylor. We've been at 121 for almost four years. I remember when our oldest was born, I was in a season of my job where it was very, very busy, and I was gone a lot. I was traveling a lot. And it was difficult because my wife was at home, and our oldest suffered from some pretty severe colic and other things that just made her uncomfortable a lot as a kid. And so there were a lot of long nights. We had some friends right next door to us that really kind of became our family. They took us in. They, you know, helped us with just the daily stuff. You know? And would give Amy a time where she could go for a run or something and watch Ali while she was asleep. I just remember learning from a very early age as a parent how important it is to have people you can rely on to help you out but then also the challenge of be that person that can help someone else out. Because it it's tough to be a young parent. And I can remember being at the hospital when she was having surgery in middle school. Amy and I were in the waiting room for six hours, and, you know, we had friends that were there sitting with us all day and praying with us and just being friends, just being beside us through that process.

Anthony Bruster: [00:44:57] And I think that pretty much every struggle we've had as parents, it always makes it better when we've got other parents around us dealing with the same thing. That's one of the reasons we love our life group at 121. We have a lot of parents in there of similar age kids, and it's just reassuring to know, I think one of the biggest, you know, problems sometimes with when we get upset is we feel like we're the only one going through it. And when we're open and share our problems and are vulnerable about, vulnerable about our problems, other people can speak into that because we all have problems. And it's just a matter of are you willing to share them or not? My favorite thing that we've done as a family is getting involved in overseas mission trips. We call them vacations with a purpose. And just being able to serve as a family I think has really kind of changed our family dynamic over the years. I think one of the things we've learned from being on trips is, man, it's so much easier to parent in community with other people. Fatherhood number one to me means love. I try and tell my kids every day that I love them, that I'm proud of them. And, you know, when I just think about fatherhood in the Bible, I think about what God said to Jesus when He was baptized, which was basically, this is my son.

Anthony Bruster: [00:46:18] I love you and I'm proud of you. And I think for all of our kids, you know, there's so much negativity in the world that they can listen to or they can compare themselves to on social media. But just to hear from your parents, from your dad, I love you, I'm proud of you, you have an identity, you’re mine I think is powerful. I remember one time probably a year ago or so, I was riding my truck with one of my teenage sons. And I asked him, if there was one thing you could change about me, what would it be? And he immediately said, you're too judgmental. And my reaction was, you know, no, I’m not, which was judgmental obviously. Right? And defensive. But that one comment really got me thinking about, you know, judgment and how often when my kids tell me something, do I judge the situation? And I recognize that as one of my many flaws. And I think it's softened me a little bit in the last year of trying not to be judgmental when my kids will tell me things, just to really try and wait and hear, you know, both sides of every story. So my dad didn't really have a dad. He came from a pretty bad family background and didn't really know his dad from, you know, most of his growing up and ended up growing up in a children's home.

Anthony Bruster: [00:47:44] And so I just think God's been merciful to me because I did have a dad. And I think that some of the things that, you know, again, my dad wasn't perfect, but I always knew he loved me. And I think that God's mercy is best reflected in His love for us. You know, that despite the fact that we were sinners, He loves us so much to give his own son for us. And so, you know, I just think that His mercy on me has been to give me kids, to bless our family with three kids that I can show love to. And hopefully that's a reflection of Christ. No matter how many times I mess up as a dad, I know that I'm still trying to love them well, and hopefully that's a reflection of being rooted in the fact that, you know, God loves me and loved me enough to at least give me a chance to be a dad because it's not an easy job. And to me, that's the overwhelming measure of what fatherhood really is, which is love your kids. They're going to mess up. I'm going to mess up. So we're going to work through that together. As long as my kids know that I love them no matter what mistakes they make, hopefully they'll love me no matter what mistakes I make. And, you know, that's going to carry us through the hard times is that foundation.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:11] Any time someone will share their story and just love how Anthony walks with his family. One thing I want to encourage you if you have, I really again to think at any age to build into whatever your family dynamic is ways to serve both locally and then nationally. We put that into just kind of how we were going to lead our family, that we were going to do mission efforts together globally. And I just encourage you that when you think about vacations, however you plot out life, can you just plot in there, hey, this time we're going to do this as a family. And we partner with a ministry called Edify that Anthony's a big part of where they’re really family friendly in the way they do the mission and what they do in different places. So a lot of opportunities for us on that end. This is what I would like to do in this moment if it’d be okay. I want to pray over our dads and over spiritual mentors and whatever that might be for you. So I'm going to kneel right here and I just want to I want to pray over you and what God, just a blessing on you, Scripture over you, and that God will raise up out of here and continue to strengthen those who are leading so well, the men that God has described us to be and the privilege we have to lead in these ways.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:40] So if you want to come join me and kneel here, that would be fantastic. If you're not comfortable with that, that's fine as well. But I want to make the invitation. Father, I just love the privilege it is to walk alongside the men at 121 and thank you, Father, for the example that so many are of what it is to know you and love you and follow you. And God, I pray that for each of these men, each of the dads, Father, I pray that they would know today the depth of your love for them, that they know when they lay their head down tonight, that whatever happened today, that your love for them is not changed. I pray, Father, they'd be overwhelmed by your grace and by your mercy, that they'd receive that God from you. Father, I pray each of these men would know that you love them so much that you chose them before the foundation of the world to be your sons, that they know, Father, that you wove them in intricate detail in their mother's womb and that you have assigned to them a certain number of days for which to make the most. Father, I pray each of these dads, men would know that you prepared their heart so they could receive the good news of Jesus Christ. I pray, God, where there's any that have not received it, that that today would be that day for them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:35] Father, I pray each of them would know today that you call them son and they're blessed by you and that because Christ is in them, you are proud of them. Father, I pray today that these men would know that you have, and God, to represent you in their families and in their schools with their kids and in their workplaces and in their fun spaces. God, I pray they would represent you well, that you continue to shape and conform them to the image of Christ. I pray today, God, that they would know already that you have glorified them with yourself in eternity. Today, God, you've inscribed them in the palm of your hand. You've inscribed their name. I pray they know today, God, that they are seated positionally in the heavenly places in Christ today. The victory is already ours, and I pray God that all of us would walk in the victory that's been achieved and won for us at the cross. I pray, Father, we would know today the power of your Holy Spirit in our lives and that we'd walk in that power and that we'd be led by you. Father, thank you that you have each of us at a different point in our journey with you. And I pray, God, each person, let's be grateful for where they are today and then grateful God for what you have in the days ahead, not be afraid of that. Father, I pray none of us would waver or shrink back, but, God, we would take the words of Paul seriously and that we would stand firm and act like men, that we'd walk who we've been made to be in Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:23] Father, I pray for those who are single that they would have an undistracted devotion to you and, God, that you’d give them what they need to lead well where they are. Father, will you meet them in their loneliness and in the challenges they face in singlehood? Father, I thank you for those who are married and your Word tells us God to not embitter our wives. And I pray today that anyone that is embittering their wife, that there would be repentance in their marriage today and instead God, that we would reflect Jesus in the model of Christ in the church and that we might serve and love our wives and lay our lives down for their sake. Today, Father, I pray your Word tells us we're not to exasperate our children. So I pray, God, we would not and that we would instead build up, encourage, lift up, and lead towards you, God. Let us take that privilege and find great pleasure in it. Lord, I pray that wherever there are challenges, where there are battles with the flesh, I pray God those would stay dead on the cross today in the union we have with Jesus. Father, I pray we’d walk in the power and the authority of Jesus and not let anything else usurp that. I pray God where the world can so easily shape our thinking that instead our minds would be renewed by the things of Christ, the things of your Word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:52] And God, I pray that our love would be for the will of God today. Father, I pray where Satan and his demons try to intersect our lives and grab footholds in our lives, that we would resist that by drawing nearer to you. I pray, Father, we would recognize from the truth of your Word how to resist the schemes, the tricks, the lies, the attacks, the deceit, the murdering that comes from him. Thank you, Father, for moving us from being objects of wrath to objects of mercy. Thank you, Father, for taking us from being enemies of yours to friends of yours. Thank you, Father, for taking us from wrath and judgment to grace and mercy. Help us, God, to be yielded to you so that those things flow through us. I pray today, God, that not one of us will try any harder, but instead that we'll believe more deeply who it is that you are and what you've done and that we'd be controlled and motivated by the love of Christ today and that we'd not live for ourselves but for you who died and rose again on our behalf. We thank you. Thank you again for these men and pray, God, that we would be strengthened in our day to be bright lights and clothed with the humility and righteousness of Jesus. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Thank y’all.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
Read More
121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051