Princeton University

Courageous Living – Courage versus Complacent

Key Verse:
Genesis 12:4: “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him.”
This past Father’s Day, President Barack Obama encouraged fathers to be more involved with their families, noting “Father’s Day reminds us parents that we have no more solemn obligation than to care for our children.”
His words of encouragement were tempered by the reality he lamented: “far too many young people in America grow up without their dads, and our families and communities are challenged as a result.”
 In 1960, only 11% of children in the U.S. lived apart from their fathers. By 2010, that share had risen to 27%.
According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), more than one-in-four fathers with children 18 or younger now live apart from their children.
 Among fathers who never completed high school, 40% live apart from their children. This compares with only 7% of fathers who graduated from college.
 Most fathers (63%) say being a dad is harder today than it was a generation ago.
And the public gives today’s dads mixed grades for the job they are doing as parents. Only about one-in-four adults say fathers today are doing a better job as parents than their own fathers did. Roughly one-third (34%) say they are doing a worse job, and 40% say they are doing about the same job.
According to the NSFG, nearly half of all fathers (46%) now report that at least one of their children was born out of wedlock, and 31% report that all of their children were born out of wedlock. In addition, some 17% of men with biological children have fathered those children with more than one woman.
Incarceration Rates. “Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families…those boys whose fathers were absent from the household had double the odds of being incarcerated — even when other factors such as race, income, parent education and urban residence were held constant.” (Cynthia Harper of the University of Pennsylvania and Sara S. McLanahan of Princeton University cited in “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.”Journal of Research on Adolescence 14 (September 2004): 369-397.)
Suicide. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of the Census)
Behavioral Disorders. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (United States Center for Disease Control)
High School Dropouts. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
Educational Attainment. Kids living in single-parent homes or in step-families report lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall social supervision than children from intact families. (N.M. Astore and S. McLanahan, American Sociological Review, No. 56 (1991)
Juvenile Detention Rates. 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
Confused Identities. Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely that those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity.(P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, Fatherless Children, New York, Wiley Press, 1984).
Aggression. In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed “greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.” (N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).
Achievement. Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. (One-Parent Families and Their Children, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, 1990).
Delinquency. Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families in which the biological mother and father are married to each other. By contract, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never married. (Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social Services, April 1994).
Criminal Activity. The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States, CUNY, Baruch College. 1993
The temptation among Christian men and women is to hang our heads and say “What can we do?” Our society is so off course, there is nothing we can do.
Henry Ford , the founder of the Ford Motor Company, said
“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”
God is looking for men and women who believe that with Jesus Christ NOTHING is impossible.
 The next four weeks is not about being average.
 It is not about settling.
 It is about reaching upward with everything we have, grabbing God and saying LET”S GO!
God is calling us grab his arm and soar upon Eagles Wings!
It is my desire that our church families step out in faith and live courageously.
I am not calling for a subtle, internal alteration but a total life change.
Warren Wiersbe: Believing God doesn’t mean sitting down and enjoying a comfortable feeling while we think beautiful thoughts. Believing God means standing up and facing an impossible challenge without fear of what might happen when we obey God’s will.
Isaiah 50:5-7 (ESV) The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
Being a courageous father or courageous follower is a certain way to invite the attacks of Satan and the scrutiny of a watching world.
This morning we will look at a man who was not afraid to step out and follow a God whom He could not see. He left family, he left comforts, he left ease to live in a stinky goat hair tent the rest of his life.
His life went from average to being courageous. He refused to let the world’s idea of success define his life. Instead, He turned his back on the comforts of the world and chose to courageously follow God
If you chose to Courageously follow God, you will face difficult challenges, but you will have full access to God’s supernatural strength.
I am calling to our entire church, whether you are married, single, divorced, empty-nesters—to all believers who desire to be courageous Christians.
Over the next four weeks we are going to paint a powerful picture of what Courageous Christianity and parenthood are all about.
Now is the time for men and women, boys and girls to unapologetically and unashamedly:
Genesis 11:31-32 (ESV) Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.
Terah and his family were on their way to the promised land (without even realizing it) but along the journey settled in Haran. From Abram’s journey to the Promised land we will see a Courageous Response and a Complacent Response to what God calls us to do., offer a complacent response and a courageous response.
1. Courageous Christians Follow God’s Promise Into The Unknown (Gen. 12:1-4).
 Complacent says, “Stick to the status quo.”
 Courageous says, “Grab your stuff, and let’s go!”
Genesis 12:1-4 (ESV) Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Hebrews gives us a more vivid picture of the courage of Abraham
Hebrews 11:8-9 (ESV) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
Abram never made it past Haran with his father. He had never seen Canaan before, and following God would mean going to a land that was full of unknowns.
The likely thing for Abram to do was to stick with the familiar family territory. Life seemed good for the sons of Terah in Ur of the Chaldeans. Archaeology reveals that Ur was a prosperous place.
Although Abram’s father had set out for Canaan, he stopped halfway and settled in Haran, never reaching the promised land (Gen. 11:31).
Genesis 11 gives us the genealogy of the firstborn for each generation from Shem to Abram. Terah was the firstborn of Nahor, who was the firstborn child of Serug. That long history of firstborn status would have yielded quite a household. Following his father’s death, Abram would have born the responsibility for maintaining the wealth of his father and for managing the abundant household.
The difficult task for Abram, then, was to step out and leave the land of his father. He was the eldest son and would have likely been the key leader for a large extended family. At 75, he was advancing in age and still had no sons. Regardless, Abram went (12:4).
The promise of God was the drive. With a promise like that, who wouldn’t go? Those who were afraid? Those who did not trust?
Abram was in neither camp because he heard the call and the promise of God and obeyed (12:1-3).
He was willing to follow the voice of God and step out into the unknown, the difficult, the foreign.
 You can give into fear, but you will never grow in FAITH. Fear is the enemy of FAITH
 COURAGE responds to fear with faith. FAITH activates the SHIELD of GOD!
DADS, we need to know the Promises of God! We need to Hear the Voice of God!
Children need fathers (parents) who know the promises of God and who willingly follow those promises regardless of the risk.
The obvious goals for dads today might be a 401k and college tuition for their kids, but God might be calling dads to step out on faith and go into the unknown.
We can continue with business as usual the way the world prescribes, or we can pay attention to Scripture and dare to be people who really obey God. The difference will be a life that is average, and even acceptable compared to the people around you, or a life that is EXCEPTIONAL because you have experienced the SUPERNATURAL POWER of GOD!
The best thing parents can do in front of their children is to follow God, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense.
 My Dad and the IBYC-He kept his eyes on Jesus.
2. Courageous Christians Follow God’s Power Against The Impossible.
 Complacent says, “It can’t be done.”
 Courageous says, “With God, the battle is already won.”
Abram passed through land that was already inhabited. Moses was writing about 700 years after the fact and would have had a point of reference for Canaan that included the beastly nature of the warring inhabitants.
Common sense would have spoken doubt into the promise of God because the land of promise was already full of people (Gen. 12:6).
Regardless of the obstacle, the courageous response is belief in God. His Word and His promises can be trusted. Trusting God always manifests itself in worship (v. 7).
Genesis 12:6-7 (ESV) Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
 The battle cry of the believer is sacrificial worship.
Worship can only be done in Spirit and in Truth. It is not something you do just because you are happy, or things are going your way.
Abram passed through the heart of Cana. He saw the inhabitants, saw their barbarity, their cruelty. He saw the giants. He saw the obstacles. He probably wondered what he was doing there.
God appeared to him in his despair and assured Abram that God was going to give the land to his children.
 At that moment, he built an altar and worshipped.
To worship God was instinctive. Abram didn’t have the prescriptions for worship outlined by the law of God in Leviticus. But he had an encounter with God that prompted worship.
Before God ever fulfilled the promise, Abram worshiped. He worshiped in sacrifice and in faithful obedience.
 He didn’t have a road map or a trip itinerary.
 He simply followed the voice of God.
I watched my Dad go through some tough times. I saw my
IRS, knee surgery, John, he always looked unto Jesus. He prayed. He worshipped!
Children need parents who worship, not just when God provides results but also when God only provides promises.
We can trust that His promises will be fulfilled and that they are for our good.
3. Courageous Christians follow God’s plan for the future.
 Complacent says, “It’s about now, and it’s about me.”
 Courageous says, “It’s about the future and my family.”
The average response to the call of God is, What’s in it for me?
All of God’s promises to Abram were future tense. Abram had a fairly good indication that God’s promises would not be for his immediate future but instead indicated a long-distance promise.
It would take nine months minimum to give Abram a son and then many years before that son would bring grandchildren into the equation. Abram could naturally sense that being the “father of nations” was a long way off but perhaps still in his lifetime.
The Negev was a difficult place to live. Although it was suitable for herding, it was not a proper place for farming. In the meantime, complacent would not have been content living in difficulty and waiting for the promises of God to unfold. Complacent is often impatient in times of stress and looks for comfort.
The courageous follower knows it’s all about the big picture and looks forward to what God will do in the future even when the present is full of challenges (Heb. 11:8-10).
According to the writer of Hebrews, Abraham didn’t receive the promises of his faith before he tasted death (11:13).
Hebrews 11:13 (ESV) These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Instead, he died while exercising faith that God would keep His promises. Courageous gets the big picture and sees that the marathon is more important than the sprint.
 The Testimony Of God Was Abraham’s Only Interest.
Abraham is heralded in Hebrews as the father of faith for looking ahead to a different reality and living life in light of that reality. Our faith fathers were men who could see Him who is Invisible, and believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Living in the present with the future in mind is difficult. Knowing that the decisions you make as a dad or parent bear greatly on generations to come is startling at least and stressful at best.
Having a heavenly perspective about life is key to protecting our future and our family.
I have been asked how I got so interested in Myanmar. My preparation for a sermon led me to reacquaint myself with Adoniram Judson. He was a missionary to Burma in the early 1800’s. It was at a time in my ministry when I was extremely frustrated by the childishness of the people in my church. Some people were not getting along over what I considered really childish things. It had happened at a time when things were starting to happen, new people coming, and I was getting excited about what the Lord was wanting to do. BAM, then the conflict hit. My business was really going well, taking a lot of my time, and I was thinking that this Pastoring thing wasn’t worth it.
Complacency is not an option. It is no longer an option for the church that wants to go forward. God is calling us to step out in faith and do the hard thing in raising our families and in obeying God as believers.
 Stepping out in faith may cost us friends. It may cost us status. It may cost a lot. But what it gains us is access to the fulfilled promises of God and a perspective on heaven.
What it costs us to live courageously is ultimately always worth it.
 Choose between Comfort and Courage
 Choose Between being common and someone who courageously makes a stand for Christ
One summer morning as Ray Blankenship was preparing his breakfast, he gazed out the window, and saw a small girl being swept along in the rain-flooded drainage ditch beside his Andover, Ohio, home. Blankenship knew that farther downstream, the ditch disappeared with a roar underneath a road and then emptied into the main culvert. Ray dashed out the door and raced along the ditch, trying to get ahead of the foundering child. Then he hurled himself into the deep, churning water. Blankenship surfaced and was able to grab the child’s arm. They tumbled end over end. Within about three feet of the yawning culvert, Ray’s free hand felt something–possibly a rock– protruding from one bank. He clung desperately, but the tremendous force of the water tried to tear him and the child away. “If I can just hang on until help comes,” he thought. He did better than that. By the time fire-department rescuers arrived, Blankenship had pulled the girl to safety. Both were treated for shock. On April 12, 1989, Ray Blankenship was awarded the Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal. The award is fitting, for this selfless person was at even greater risk to himself than most people knew. Ray Blankenship can’t swim
1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV) Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Andrízō – To behave courageously. Vines: “to make a man of”
“not so much in a physical sense as in the convictions of our spiritual life”.
Men, if you want to demonstrate to your family that you are a man of convictions, you will need to demonstrate it to them in your actions, your attitudes, your behavior. If you have not been demonstrating, then begin anew. Take a stand publicly with your family, and then ask them to lovingly help you be a man of conviction.
Being Courageous begins with simple things. Like when your daughter or granddaughter makes a simple request:
“Daddy, would you dance with me?”
Maybe it’s in a public place while you are waiting for someone, maybe it’s at an inconvenient time when you are late for a meeting.
Would you stop and get out and go over to her and take the lead.
Or would you say you will just watch.
My guess is many would say they’d just watch. I admit there have been times when that’s all I’ve done. Shamefully.
A Courageous Man comes to grip with his responsibilities before God for his family, and even his children’s families.
Courageous Men put the needs of their family first, in order to protect, and encourage them to stand firm in following God
Do your children and grandchildren see you as a Courageous Man? Do they know you are not afraid to follow God, to name Jesus Christ as the one you follow in all your ways?