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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Matt's Messages - Boys & Girls

“Boys & Girls”
November 12, 2006

As I said last week, Heather and I have decided that November is Church Family Appreciation Month. You got to appreciate us in October. We appreciate you this month.

Last week, we appreciated the way that you take good care of our family. This week, I’d like to appreciate the way that you work together as a team to do evangelism.

When this church puts their heads together and decides to reach out in a concerted effort into the community with the gospel of Jesus Christ–it’s a delightful wonder to behold.

All I have to say is words like: JESUS Video Project, Wild West Day, Lew Sterrett at the Clearfield County Fair, Family Bible Week, and new this Summer: West Branch Community Days.

And while we have a long way to go in our evangelistic outreach as a church, it is a real joy to lead you as your pastor when you are so concerned about the lost that you work together to reach out into the community with the gospel. We appreciate that about you. Gospel/Evangelical is your middle name.

I invite you to open up your Bibles with me to Genesis chapter 1, Pew Bible Page #2.

I want to talk this morning about “Boys & Girls.”

In our Home Improvement Series, we have moved from the primary family relationship–the marriage–into the other important members of the Christian family, the children.

Last week, we studied Ephesians 6:1-4 and talked about what I called: “The Family Dance,” children obeying and honoring their parents, their parents (fathers especially) not exasperating but bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Those are the basic family dynamics that can fill our homes with joy.

I could go on an on about them for weeks.

But today, I want to talk about the differences between boys and girls and the trajectories of manhood and womanhood that we want to be sending them on.

You do know that there is a difference between boys and girls, don’t you?

You bet there is!

But there is also a lot of confusion in our world about gender, as well.

A few weeks ago I read this from the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Park Day School is throwing out gender boundaries.

Teachers at the private Oakland elementary school have stopped asking the children to line up according to sex when walking to and from class. They now let boys play girls and girls play boys in skits. And there's a unisex bathroom.

Admissions director Flo Hodes is even a little apologetic that she still balances classes by gender.

Park Day's gender-neutral metamorphosis happened over the past few years, as applications trickled in for kindergartners who didn't fit on either side of the gender line. One girl enrolled as a boy, and there were other children who didn't dress or act in gender-typical ways. Last year the school hired a consultant to help the staff accommodate these new students.

‘We had to ask ourselves, what is gender for young children?’ Hodes said. ‘It's coming up more and more.’

Park Day's staff members are among a growing number of educators and parents who are acknowledging gender variance in very young children. Aurora School, another private elementary school in Oakland, also is seeing children who are ‘gender fluid’ and hired a clinical psychologist to conduct staff training.” [HT: Al Mohler]

This, brothers and sisters, is deeply disturbing.

And the fundamental answer for this disturbing problem is on the first page of the Bible. Genesis 1:27.

God has made all of the rest of creation and is ready to create the crowning apex of His masterpiece. And He makes humankind. Genesis 1:26

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ [Here’s our verse:] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” [NIV]

Genesis 1:27: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Notice: only one human race, equal in dignity and worth created together in the image of God.

Notice: only one human race, but created by God in two different complementary genders: male and female, man and woman, boy and girl.

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Isn’t it interesting how often we return to Genesis when we are talking about the family? It all starts here, doesn’t it?

On a fundamental level, boys and girls are created the same. Both in the image and likeness of God.

But also on a fundamental level, boys and girls are created differently. And everyone is either one or the other.

And it’s completely confusing to children to not help them to understand that!

On a fundamental level, boys and girls are created the same. Both in the image and likeness of God.

But also on a fundamental level, boys and girls are created differently. And everyone is either one or the other.

Now, that fundamental similarity and yet difference is not only in creation but also in redemption.

Male and female are saved the same way through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28), but they also reflect their salvation in different ways as they mature in Christ.

A godly man and a godly woman are not the same thing!

God tells us what a godly man looks like in the pages of His word.

And He also tells us what a godly woman looks like.

And while they have similarities, they also have real differences.

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

And that’s still the plan.

Now, why do I bring this up during a series on the Christian Family?

Here’s why:

Christian Parents, we must raise our boys in the direction of godly manhood.

And, Christian Parents, we must raise our girls in the direction of godly womanhood.

Fundamentally the same and yet fundamentally different.

Fundamentally the same in godliness and fundamentally different in gender-ness.

Now, what does it mean to raise our boys to be godly men and to raise our girls to be godly women?

What does that look like?

Well, it’s hard to summarize and hard to take you to just one passage of scripture to get the whole picture.

But at the risk of oversimplification, I want to suggest one word for each gender to summarize the biblical distinctives of godly masculinity and godly femininity.

First, I want encapsulate biblical masculinity with the word: RESPONSIBILITY.

In the amazing book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (pdf version here), John Piper has this definition: “At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.”

Now that is a carefully thought-through summary of the biblical data.

“At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.”

Responsibility, especially here, in leading, providing, and protecting.

That should be at the top of our lists in parenting boys.

What Dr. Dobson calls “Bringing Up Boys.”

The main thing we need to be teaching them is to assume responsibility for leading, providing, and protecting women in ways appropriate to their differing relationships.

Turn with me to 1 Kings chapter 2. Pew Bible Page #327.

King David was about to die. So, he called in his son, Solomon, who was soon going to be king. What do you think he wanted to tell him?

If you were a dying man with a last chance to talk to your boy, what would you want to say?

1 Kings chapter 2, verse 1.

“When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth,’ he said. ‘So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: 'If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'”

How about that for your last words from your dad? “Be strong, show yourself a man!”

That “be strong” is strong in courageous character.

And “showing manhood” was his taking responsibility to obey God’s laws and to lead, protect, and provide.

In the next section, Solomon is given orders to bring justice into his kingdom and to protect and provide for those who need it.

Solomon was being given a great responsibility and was told, “Show yourself a man.” [See Randy Stinson's excellent article on this.]

Responsibility.

Now, the word, I have picked out for godly femininity is one that I actually made up myself: RESPONSIVITY.

And by that I mean responsiveness.

John Piper defines biblical femininity this way: “At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.”

Now, that’s a mouthful, but it’s very helpful. I’ll read it again.

“At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.”

I call it responsivity and it comes, in large part, from Genesis chapter 2.

Do you remember what God said when He decided to make Eve?

He said (Genesis 2:18), “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

A helper. Now, that may not sound like much, but that same word is used in the rest of the Old Testament for God Himself when He comes to be the Helper of Israel.

It’s a very important role to play to help someone, to be supportive, to aid.

Responsivity.

Carolyn Mahaney (C.J.’s wife) writes in her first-rate book Girl Talk [Visit her blog by the same name], “As women, we have been specially equipped to provide strategic, effective, and valuable help and aid to those around us. We are God’s handpicked support staff for creation. When we operate and serve in a supportive role, we will experience the joy of fulfilling God’s design.”

That’s really good. “God’s handpicked support staff for creation!”

Responsivity.

Notice, of course, women carry responsibilities!
And men are called to some kinds of responsiveness.

But there is a special role of responsibility that God has hard-wired into manhood.

And there is special role of responsivity that God has soft-wired into womanhood.

And, Christian parents, our job is to raise our boys into that kind of leadership and our girls into that kind of supportiveness.

Now, I’m concerned about this enough to have give a whole sermon to it because I think there is a lot of confusion about gender out there and that biblical manhood and womanhood isn’t on the radar screen of a lot of parents.

It needs to be on our radar screen.

We must raise our boys in the direction of godly manhood.

And we must raise our girls in the direction of godly womanhood.

Now, how do we do it? What are the strategies?

I’ve got four points of application this morning.

#1. MODEL IT FOR THEM.

We need to be examples of biblical manhood and womanhood for our kids.

Let me ask you a question.

Guys, what kind of a man do you want your son to be?

Be that kind of a man. He’s watching.

My son, Drew, has told me that he wants to be a godly man like me.

I want to be a godly man so that he knows what that is!

Now, let me ask you another question.

What kind of man do you want your daughter to marry?

Be that kind of man. She’s watching.

I know that the most powerful thing I’m doing in shaping whom my daughter will marry is loving and leading her mother.

The same is true for you, ladies.

What kind of a woman do you want your daughter to become?

Be that kind of a woman. She’s watching.

What kind of a woman do you want your sons to marry?

Be that kind of a woman. They are watching.

I have great hopes for whom my boys will marry because they have a Proverbs 31 woman in their home and will have high expectations for the qualifications they are going to be looking for.

We must model it.

Where do you need work in biblical manhood or womanhood?

What are you doing to “show yourself a man” or develop your “support staff” nurturing role?

This Fall, I’ve been convicted of my need to keep my domain in order. I’ve set a bad example for my boys in having a messy desk, a messy shed, no hubcaps on my mini-van, and a lawn that looks like a jungle.

A godly man takes responsibility and rejects passivity in his domain. So I’ve been coming up with lists of things to do around the house and knocking them out one at a time.

I know that my wife appreciate them. But one of the main reasons I’m doing it is because I know that my boys are watching.

#2. TEACH IT TO THEM.

Biblical manhood and womanhood are biblical subjects that we need to teach to our children.

For guys, I recommend 3 major places to go.

First, study the kings of 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, and 1st and 2nd Chronicles and pull out all of the principles and lessons on manhood that you see there.

Second, go to the Proverbs. The proverbs were written from men to men about how to be men. They are probably the most manly part of Scripture there is.

Solomon keeps saying, “My son, do this. My son, don’t do that.” Great counsel.

And the third place is the pastoral letters: 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus. There we have young pastor-types receiving instruction about how to lead and what to look for in character traits for men.

When I was in college, I wrote out the character traits of 1 Timothy chapter 3 on the side of a box on a shelf in my room and looked at it every day of my college life.

It says this, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, [a one-woman man], temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.”

Teach that to your boy.

Have him memorize it. And say that this is the goal. With the exception of the gifting of “apt to teach” all of this is just the godly character it takes to be a leader in God’s family.

At our home every night after a family prayer and some singing, we split up into a different groupings for “Bible stories.”

I take the older two kids and read them a Bible story on Robin’s bed.

And then I take Drew into my room and we kneel beside the bed and talk about a Bible story, what’s going on in Drew’s life, and what it means to be a godly man.

Drew loves it. And we have one particular book by Jim and Elizabeth George that has a picture with a different godly manhood trait depicted on each page--God's Wisdom for Little Boys. Drew has the thing about memorized.

And then after Drew is done, it’s Peter’s turn. And then I pray for Isaac.

And I’m trying to teach them what godly manhood is from the pages of Scripture.

For the ladies, I recommend 3 other major places to go.

The first is the Old Testament women who hoped in God. Sarah, Ruth, Abigail, Esther, etc. Notice how they go about what they do.

The second is Proverbs 31. Many books have been written about how that passage teaches women how to be women who fear the Lord.

And the third is the Pastoral Letters! [Interesting how that works, huh?] There is a lot of instruction in those letters about what ladies are supposed to be like.

The biggest one is Titus chapter 2. Turn there with me. Pew Bible page #1181.

Paul tells Titus what to teach different people in church that he is serving. And he is supposed to teach the older women certain things that they are supposed [what?] pass on.

Titus 2:4, “Then [the older women] can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

There’s your curriculum, ladies. Teach your girls that.

Model it. And then teach it to them.

Notice what it says is the goal of teaching your girls to be biblical women like that:

“So that no one will malign the word of God.”

This is a gospel issue. Biblical manhood and womanhood either confirms or distorts the gospel.

So we must model it for them.
And we’ve got to teach it to them.
But that’s not enough.

We’ve got to train it into them.

#3. TRAIN IT INTO THEM.

It’s not enough to just talk about it with our kids. We’ve got to put practices in place that develop biblical manhood and womanhood in our kids’ lives.

Now, these practices are going to vary from family to family and culture to culture.

For example, guys might design a way of using hunting and fishing and four-wheeling to teach our boys about biblical manhood.

And ladies might design a way of using crafts or relationships or clothing to teach our girls about biblical womanhood.

Not that girls don’t like hunting or boys don’t like relationships. But there are often culturally advantageous ways of training this stuff into our kids.

Robert Lewis in his excellent little book Raising a Modern Day Knight recommends the establishing of what he calls, “Manhood Ceremonies” to train boys into manhood.

There used to be a lot of those sorts of things. But now there aren’t. He recommends creating our own.

One that we do is that when I go away for a meal, my oldest son, Andrew, is in charge of the prayer at meals. He is the man of the house. And he’ll pray or ask someone else to pray at meals just like Daddy does.

He has to totally respect his mother and obey her as his mother at the table, but because this is his job, she defers to him unless he’s being foolish and he leads her in prayer at the table.

That’s a practice, a small one, but I hope for it to yield great dividends in biblical manhood in my son.

The key with training is to ask your son or daughter to do something that is appropriate for their calling before God and then to hold them accountable for it and encourage them when they do it.

That’s a big part of it. Encouraging them.

And blessing them.

Especially with your presence.

And this is especially true for dads.

Be there. Be involved. Be in their lives. Know what’s going on.

I guarantee that 99 out of a 100 boys and girls who don’t know whether or not they are boys or girls, there is a dad who is not in the picture, at least in the way that he should be.

Dad’s, here’s a way to train it into them.

Take your girls on dates.

Why should they go out with a boy when they are 14 and won’t get married to him anyway?

Teach them what a date should be like (minus the romance), by dating your girls. From the time they are 4 or 5 on.

Training isn’t just guys training guys and gals training gals. Moms, you are one of the most important people in your sons’ lives.

You have an opportunity to shape a leader. Don’t miss it.

Model It For Them.
Teach It To Them.
Train It Into Them.

And #4. PRAY IT FOR THEM.

Because like everything else in this crazy thing called the Christian family, it’s God’s work. If anything good happens, it’s because God has done it.

Pray for biblical manhood and womanhood for your boys and girls.

Part of that prayer may be prayers of repentance.

Perhaps you’ve not been trying to direct your boy towards biblical manhood with all of the responsibility of leadership, provision, and protection wrapped up in it.

Perhaps you’ve not been trying to direct your girl towards biblical womanhood with all of the responsivity of supporting, submitting, and nurturing bound up in it.

You’ve been following the world’s pattern for boys and girls which is whatever seems right to someone at the time.

You know, the gospel addresses us even here.

Jesus died for our failures in parenting our kids in the way that they should go.

And Jesus came back to life to give us the power to pick up right where are and move forward and do what we can now.

There is grace and mercy at the Cross.

And there is grace and power at the Empty Tomb.

Power to raise our boys, while we have them, to be godly men who lead responsibly.

And power to raise our girls, while we have them, to be godly women who support responsively.

And when we do, the “word of God is not maligned” (Titus 2:5).

The Gospel gives us the forgiveness and the power to raise our boys and girls.

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