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Modeling maturity: Godly men of faith
Scripture: Titus 2:2,6
Track 4 of 9 in the Living as disciples in the "here and now" series
Running time: 30 minutes, 52 seconds.
Men stepping up and being counted on

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, January 25, 2004
"Modeling Maturity: godly men of faith"
(Titus 2:2,6 )
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett

I read with interest the brief excerpt out of Pete Rose's new book. Let me just begin by sharing a little of it with you. On Sunday's in the Cincinnati area where I grew up, dad played soft ball for Gum's Café and all the other real men joined him. Among them were two of the greatest guys I ever met, Doug Zimmer and Eddie Brinkman, Sr. Our families all had father and son ball players all from the same neighborhood. Mr. Brinkman played short stop just like his son, Eddie Jr., who went on to play in the majors for fifteen years. When I was starting grade school Mr. Zimmer's son Don, played American Legion ball and was tearing up the league with monster home runs. Don later signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and has since become a household name in baseball. When dad, Mr. Zimmer and Mr. Brinkman weren't playing sports, they'd sneak over to River Downs Race Track or Old Latona Raceway to play the ponies and they always took me along. We'll come a little further into the excerpt. I continued to go to the track with my dad and Mr. Zimmer throughout my teenage years and even more frequently after I broke in with the Reds in 1963. Sure, gambling was a big part of the attraction. But while I enjoyed the races, I enjoyed the camaraderie even more, The track was filled with wonderful characters who reminded me of the folks I grew up with. Folks who lived hard and who played hard.

It's the power of example. As you know, there is a significant debate going on about whether or not Pete Rose ought to be allowed back in to baseball. I'm just pointing out where it all started. His father, and men like him, who modeled for him a lifestyle that he chose to adopt.

We live in that kind of world you know, where we are deeply impacted by the people around us for whom we have high regard. We live in a world where there is an enormous amount of question about that thing we have called integrity, character. The model that other people present for us, that we choose to follow. There was an article that came out in USA Today Magazine back in July. It starts out with a definition of integrity and says, we face a societal crisis evidenced by scandal after scandal because of the lack of integrity. Then he just goes on to list a small number of them. Ex-President Bill Clinton admits that he lied under oath when questioned by the committee investigating the Monica Lewenski affair. The resumes of people listing their credentials when looking for jobs are notorious for false statements. Joseph Ellis, the Pulitzer prize winning historian and professor of Mt. Holyoke College publically claimed that he had been a platoon leader in Vietnam. That was a blatant lie. At that time he was in the United States studying. Sandra Baldwin, the first woman to head the U.S. Olympic committee admitted that she lied on her official biography that she had an earned doctoral degree. Three football coaches in universities with high national status were cited by U. S.. News and World Report as falsifying their resumes. Then there was evangelist Pat Robertson who claimed that he saw combat in Korea. He didn't. A recently revealed Richard Nixon tape caught the world renown Billy Graham telling the President that the Jewish stranglehold of the media was mining the country and must be broken. Graham said he didn't recall the occasion but if he said it, he apologized. Author Doris Kerns Goodwin who wrote The Fitzgerald's and Kennedy's in No Ordinary Time (??)disclosed that she had copied passages from other works without proper acknowledgment. Facing relentless criticism, she resigned from the Pulitzer Prize Board. Author Stephen Ambrose, historian, Band of Brothers and others admitted that he failed to adequately cite correct sources in his works.

We live in a world where the issue of honesty, of integrity, of character, is at best lacking but has become public fair. Some of you probably have taken the time to observe a television program and if you haven't seen the program, you've certainly seen the advertisements for something called "Joe Millionaire" where the whole premise of the show is a lie. He's supposed to be wealthy. He's not! And we call that entertainment – living out a lie.

Some of our more recent famous and heroic people have been called into question from Sammy Sosa's doctored bat to whether or not Bush even had any clue that there were nuclear weapons in Iraq.

We want to spend two weeks, today and next Sunday talking about the power of influence. The role of older Christian adults and their impact on the next generation. Men to men and women to women, which seems to be the model that's followed in this opening part of Titus 2.

If you want to look at that, we're going to read just the first few verses to try to set the stage for what we're going to do over the next couple of weeks. In talking about the importance of being Godly people and the importance of choosing those whom we follow very carefully.

Titus 2. The first statement is to Titus himself. You (Titus) must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. You must teach that which is healthy teaching, he says. And what is healthy teaching? Healthy teaching is this. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they 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.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

Some translations include the next brief phrase. . . . .to be self-controlled in everything. . . .before the transition is made.

It seems to me that when we focus upon the men, ladies forgive me, we're gonna talk men today and men, next week we'll talk about the ladies because it seems that this is how that text divides. It's a quite natural kind of combination – older men, younger men, younger women, younger men. It's a Greek construction that ties the younger men and the older men together. And the basic premise that I want to suggest to you is very, very simple. It takes men of integrity to produce men of integrity. It takes men of character to produce another generation of men of character. And there's just no getting around that any way that I know how to see.

And one more time we come to a text where culture so clearly clashes with scripture. You'll recall Chapter 1 in Titus is all about a society where all men are lazy, evil brutes and gluttons, where there is false teaching, not sound doctrine, bad example after bad example, after bad example. And Titus comes along and says to the men in Crete. The older men are to be models for a younger generation. It takes men of integrity to produce men of integrity.

Now I do not know how to distinguish for you between who's an older man and who's a younger man. You'll have to make that call on your own. My guess is, it's a bit relative. Some of the ancient philosophers actually identified it as somebody over 50. That seems to me to be a very artificial distinction about age. That used to sound very old. That now sounds very young. So it's a matter of it being relative.

I think I mentioned to you one of my life's best experiences was down in southern Illinois as a college professor filling in on Sunday – Sunday after Sunday I would typically go to churches without preachers. Typically churches with older people in them and they would say, I don't know why we can't get a nice young man like you to come be our preacher. And I was standing in the doorway and some sweet elderly lady was shaking my hand and out was coming this wonderful statement – I don't know why – I know what she's gonna say except that she says I don't know why we can't get a nice older fella like you to be our preacher. I don't know what happened. Some magic line had been crossed. I don't know anything about.

You'll have to decide in the context where you live, if you fit the older or the younger, or maybe both, if you're in a multiple generation family.

See, the point is, we need older men of character. You decide if you're an older man and you decide if you're a man of character. Listen to the description. Verse 2 again. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Just hear the terms. The first word is the word for restrain. It is specifically a word that comes out of the realm of those who drink alcohol. It is sometimes translated in the New Testament as being sober. Someone who has self-control, particularly in an area of their life where so often people lose control. It's not a statement about whether it's okay or not okay to have a drink of alcohol. That's not even an issue in this text. In fact Paul will say to young Timothy in one other text in another book, if you've got a stomach problem Timothy, take a little wine for your stomach. This is not about the right to drink or not to drink, this is about restraint. It's about self-control.

I grew up in an alcoholic family. I know all about lack of constraint and lack of restraint.

My uncle was the meanest drunk I have ever met in my entire life. You just prayed that you never ended up in the same house when he was under because you were gonna get it whether you were part of the family or not. Long leather belts that reached all the way across the bed, no matter how many kids were in it. I watched all of my life the lack of self-control.

I don't have a perspective that has any room in it for men who do not know how to control their life. Older men are to be self-controlled. They are to have restraint. They're to know how to curb their own appetites. They're to know how to live a life (here's the second term) worthy of respect. Sometimes this word that's used in this text is translated noble. It's sometimes translated honorable. One of the words that is used outside of the New Testament for this word worthy of respect is the idea of being lofty, elevated, lifted up. I know some people like that in my life, don't you? I don't have time to name the vast majority of them. I'll name one that Evan Horner knows – that both of us, I think, hold in extreme high regard. E. H. Chamberlain. . . One of the most godly men I have ever met in my entire life. Committed to the worship of the God of the universe. Committed to service. . . .pouring out his life. A man of deep, abiding character. The kind of person for whom you would have absolute respect. Among other reasons because he was humble enough to know who he was. President of a Bible College. Founder of two bible colleges on major editorial boards across the United States for Christian magazines. On the advisory board of two or three major missions in this country. This guy was just respected by everybody. Sitting in the nursery on the floor in a three-piece blue suit letting little kids crawl all over his lap because they didn't have enough room in the nursery at the National Missions in the North American. . . when he could have been sitting on the stage. Worthy of respect.

Noble. . . venerable.

The second time this comes up, it is actually a different word. He says, Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled . . . . .. But it's a different word for self-controlled. It's one that indicates being measured or orderly. Having your life directed in some way. Having things lined up so that they make some rational sense. It's a word that's used repeatedly in this text, in fact, about every major group here including the young men where it seems to have a strong statement about being able to curb your passions. And they're to be healthy, sound it says, authentic, real in their faith and in their love and their endurance. Their to demonstrate what it means to really trust.

What does a generation of younger men need? They need men whom they can look to who demonstrate what it means to really trust God. To have an abiding faith that God will get you through this.

My great fear is that we're losing that generation. Not a lot you can do about the fact that people get older, that people die. My experience is that, that generation born back, you know, before the forties are a generation who came through the depression, who came through world wars, who understand what it means to demonstrate genuine trust and endurance. We need a generation of people who are developing that kind of faith in God that they will step out and do which God calls them to do only because God calls them to do it and there is no other reason for it.

We need some men who are modeling for us absolute integrity in their love for people, in their faith and in their dependance. And frankly, we need some younger men who have watched older men because if we don't have older men of character, we'll never have younger men of character.

So Titus 2:6 says, In the same way, likewise, . . . encourage, urge, plead with, beg these young men to be self-controlled. To curb their passion, to harness it, to place it within some boundaries, and, you and I both know that a young man's passions are pretty hard to curb. The question is, can we curb them within the right boundaries and the only place that can happen is in the context of an older person, showing them what that boundary is like. Young men, we need some courageous decisions to be men who curb their passions, who harness their feelings, who look at older men for example, and then determine that is the style of life that will be honorable and worthy of respect. And we make decisions today so that one day down the road somebody might look to us and say, there's a man like an E. H. Chamberlain, Kenneth Beckman, or you put the names in your spot.

But that happens today. You don't become a man worthy of respect by waiting for fifty years to pass and hope that it comes out well on the other end. You become a person of dignity and respect who is honorable and venerable by making every day decisions to demonstrate what it means to live under the control of God.

What a powerful need we have for mentors in our own lives. It's an interesting, interesting remark. Listen to the implication. This is back in the discussion about Peter Rose when he went in to see Selig, the baseball commissioner. It's when he confessed that he actually did lie about betting on baseball and actually had done it. Selig recalls conversations with Bart Geomyidae, who's the one that was responsible for Rose being out of baseball. He said that Bart was troubled over the entire ordeal. This is a quote. You could bring any other player in this office and tell me that he bet on baseball games and I would have understood. But not Peter Rose. Pete is synonymous with the name of baseball. How could he possibly commit such as act? Doesn't Pete understand that he's Pete Rose?

And the answer is NO. He didn't understand. He didn't understand the power of his influence any more than most fathers understand the power of their influence. Any more than most older men understand the power of their influence over a young man's life. My guess is that my father, when he forgot to pick us up, because he was off drinking someplace, had no idea the impact that was leaving on a nine or ten or eleven year old's life. But the problem is we have to know that. Every man in this audience has a younger man watching him carefully whether he knows it or not and deciding whether or not that's what they want to be. Or worse yet, inheriting that whether they want it or not.

There's a remarkable family told about in the People Magazine from this last week or two. This is a family that has adopted 25 special needs children. I'm just letting that sink in for a second because that just blew me away. Twenty-five special needs children. Oh – they're all BOYS. Now I don't understand that. I had three girls in my house. I don't know what 25 boys would be like. What makes this couple even more extraordinary is that they had to overcome their own personal adversity. In 1987 a diving accident left the father paralyzed in all four limbs. Rather than wallow in self-pity he serves as a role model for the boys directing them as they prepare supper and tutoring them in algebra. When one of the boys, Hunter, was having difficulty completing even one of the most basic tasks, Jim would offer up encouragement. He'd say, it took me three months to learn how to brush my teeth after my accident and then Hunter would keep working. It's the power of influence.

At the risk of you not knowing any of the people I'm about to mention, I'm going to take the risk of mentioning a small number of people who have had that impact in my life. Donald McCrae (??) one of the most generous men I have ever met in my life. Carl Kurl(??) one of the biggest men I ever met with the gentlest hands I ever touched. Carlos Ellis - one of the most selfless men I ever run across. Tom Dudley - a man more committed to truth than any other man I ever met. Jack Perry (??) - an old man, who in his eighties, used to go to the nursing homes in order to encourage the old people. Kenneth Beckman - who taught full time, preached full time, loved full time, cared full time and modeled a ministry ethic I will never forget. Gary Jaeger - my preacher who at 6 ft. 7 in. burly motorcycle rider taught me that it was okay to pray in public right in front of God and everybody else.

Men who have had incredible impact in shaping who I have become. I'm not there yet. I hope some day to live up to their example. I've asked Edwin to come and talk just a bit about people who have influenced him and the importance of mentors in the new role that he has down at Edwin & Lee(??).

Edwin's comments here

The challenge this morning is really very simple. Men be men. Be men of integrity, of character. Develop the qualities of character in your life because there's a whole generation coming behind you who will have to have your model. Model integrity at the home. Be a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather. Open up your life to the possibility that you could invest in somebody else. We have a whole host of kids who meet every Sunday around this place who could use a good male figure just like yours and it starts in the nursery. It goes through all of those ages and includes the time in the warehouse with junior high, the senior high. There is a place for you to be useful. Camp, CIY, your own personal investment through Edwin at Edwin and Lee or at other places. There are ways for you to take seriously what God is calling for us to become.

Men worthy of respect. Men of integrity who can be useful in generating another generation of people of integrity.

One of the things that most intrigues me about Jesus is that I think he was a man's man. I don't know what pictures you've seen of him but I think most artists have done him an injustice because I don't think they have measured a man who was a carpenter to have had the ability to endure a life that endured. The man was a man and that man modeled soundness and faith and love and endurance.

It takes a person of real grit to be a Christian. It is not the easy way out. It is not a soft man's world. If you want to follow Christ in this world you'll have to be a man or a woman of real character and he's calling you to that. To make it your passion, to follow him wherever he takes you.

As you know this is family Sunday. You've seen some kids and there'll be lots more of them the next two hours. It is also our parent dedication day in which we're going to pray together for families who are brand new at this thing, at least with this child and we're going to commit ourselves to minister with those families, to be the support system that family needs, as a congregation of people. So two things are gonna happen right now. We're gonna sing and if you have a decision you need to make for Christ, you're welcome to come. If you need to talk about what you need to do to be what God calls you to be, well, then please come and make that known or make it known later.

But while we sing there are some parents we're going to ask to come forward, so if you'll come forward while we sing, we'll prepare for our dedication time.

Let's stand.