Under a swift sunrise…

And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 1030). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.

Behold the King…

But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near; ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him. And then Faramir cried: ‘Behold the King!’

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 968). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.

“Don’t Provoke Your Children” – Ephesians 6:4a

The text this morning’s sermon comes from Ephesians 6:4. These are the words of God:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
If you are new to Lake Wylie Baptist normally, we preach though books of the Bible expositionally. That is, we normally work consecutively through books of the Bible a few verses or even a chapter a week. We do that because the Bible is God’s own self-revelation to us and we take it seriously.
But occasionally, as need arises, we will address various topics in the life of the church. For the next three weeks we’re preaching a series called Parenting Tune Up for two important reasons: First, because God has blessed our congregation with many new families with young children. We want to equip and encourage you parents in the role God has assigned you.
Second, we live in a world that is pursuing high-handed rebellion to God as our Creator, designer, and purpose-giver. And in that war on the authority of God on of the hottest battlelines is that of the family. Our culture is desperately trying to redefine what the family is in such a way that anything can be a family, and eventually nothing will be a family. And over the last two years we’ve seen our culture actively undermine the authority of parents—we’ve especially seen this undermining take place as school boards have treated parents as intruders and threats.
Imagine a king, living up in the castle, and down below in the village are a bunch of peasants who hate the king. They want to remove the king from the throne and kill him, but they can’t. He’s up on the hill, behind the fortress walls. The peasants can’t get to the king, so what do they do? They burn him in effigy down in the village. That’s what’s happening in our nation. God is in heaven, and our nation has rejected his authority—but they can’t get to him. So, instead they are burning his image down here in the village. They’re destroying manhood and womanhood. They’re redefining the family. And so it is the job of those peasants who are loyal to the king to put his image, his design, his definitions on display.
So, this series will equip you with some tools for parenting, and it will equip you with some spiritual and Biblical ammunition to fight back against a culture that has shaken it’s fist at the Maker of heaven and earth.
This first week will focus on parental duties from a high level, so let’s summarize the text:
The first text we read was Ephesians 6:4. These words, written by the Apostle Paul, are situated within Paul’s larger teaching on the household (husbands, wives, children, parents) He’s explaining God’s design for the family. He gives both a negative and a positive:
• Fathers – this can also be applied to parents.
• Do not “provoke” – exasperate
• Roman world gave fathers virtually unlimited power over children, and even sell them as slaves or command the death penalty.
• We don’t have that power, but the admonition still applies.
• It’s negative – don’t do this. Don’t irritate them towards anger.
• There’s balance here—you must exercise authority, but you aren’t to be a terror to your children.
• “bring up” – lit. “nourish, or bring food to” What is it that nourishes a child?
Discipline – training by rules and regulations enforced by rewards and punishment. Also, nurture—you do this as a mother caring for a baby.
Instruction – also admonition- lit “verbal teaching” it’s the verbal teaching of the Lord. You are to teach them the Word of God.
Parents represent God to their children. Our Heavenly Father is our model for our earthly parenting.
Children will look at how their parents treat them, and believe God relates to them in the same way.
** Portions of the List Above Come from a John MacArthur teaching I Have Found Helpful
In the Ancient Roman world, children were treated like property. They could be bought and sold as slaves. In other words, the implication was total ownership. And Paul says, “Don’t exasperate them, because ultimately they don’t belong to you, the belong to the God who created them, so teach them his ways.”
In our world we are seeing the opposite error. We are seeing the intentional limiting of parental authority and power. Our world is not committing the error of the Romans, that children are the property of their parents. Instead our world is increasingly saying, “Children are the property of the state. We know better than parents what is best for them.”
So, get this: our response is not, “Our children belong to us, and we know what is best for them.” The proper response is, “Our children belong to the God who has created them, and he knows what is best for them. And he has entrusted their care, their education, their nurture to parents.”

Parents, God has given you vast authority over your children, but it isn’t limitless. He says bring them up in the Lord’s instruction, but don’t exasperate them.

So, very quickly—what are some ways parents exasperate children?

• Overprotection. Fence them in. Never trust them. Parents… your goal is to gradually release your children into trusting adulthood.
• Excessive rules/punishment – reasonable limits to your rules and punishments. Kids cannot remember 35 rules. Punishments are not to be cruel and unusual.
• Unrealistic Achievement Goals – Pushing achievement, sports, academia. Don’t use your children to fulfill your dreams.
• Over-indulgence- Giving the child everything he wants.
• Inconsistency and Arbitrariness – Make sure your expectations
• Discouragement: 2 Ways:
> Never give your child a listening ear. Parents, you need to understand why your child is doing what they are doing.
> Never reward them. Never praise or honor them, or incentivize good performance. They’ll lose motivation to do right.
• Favoritism – Jacob/Esau “Why can’t you be like your brother?” Don’t compare your kids against one another.
• Failure to show grace for immaturity. Know the different between a mistake and a sin. When the 4 year old knocks over a glass of tea at the table, that isn’t rebellion… it’s just poor manual dexterity. So, they can’t fold the laundry the way you want it done. Let them goof up a little.

• Physical Abuse

We’ll focus on Paul’s positive instructions to bring children up in the Lord in the final week.

Not all of you parents had the best models. Maybe you had a Father, that exasperate you, or a mother who neglected you. God has now blessed you with houses full of children and don’t feel up to the task. Where do you begin?
• Keep short accounts. Don’t let sins pile up.
• When you provoke your children—confess to them. Repent. Ask for their forgiveness.
• Many children grow up and leave the church, not because their parents sin against them—but because their parents sin against them and never repent. They never model grace.
Parents—you have a perfect heavenly Father—who never provokes his children to wrath. And you have a perfect Savior who bore God’s just wrath against your sin, so that you could become an adopted child of God.

“Practical Wisdom” Part 2 Ecclesiastes 11-12

“Practical Wisdom” Part 2 Ecclesiastes 11-12

Here, at the end of the book, Solomon helps us think about aging. And the headline of his teaching is this: a wise person prepares for the end from the beginning. Life is short, so how can we make the most out of it?


The text for the sermon today is Ecclesiastes chapters 11 & 12. Our reading will be chapter 12. These are the words of God:

12 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. (ESV)


Here, at the end of the book, Solomon helps us think about aging. And the headline of his teaching is this: a wise person prepares for the end from the beginning. Life is short, so how can we make the most out of it?

Moving back to chapter 11, wise people prepare for the end by honoring God with their possessions. They live generous lives (casting bread upon the waters) The wise have stuff without the stuff having them. (11:2) They make wise investments and avoid get-rich-quick schemes. “He who observes the wind will not sow.” Don’t wait for perfection, just work hard. (11:3-4)

These kinds of preparations need to begin today because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring And making wise investments comes with zero guarantees (11:5-8)

Young people, enjoy your youth. You will never have less cares, less aches, less needs, than you have today. So, walk in your strength, make big plans, commit all of them to the Lord. (11:9-10)

As chapter 12 opens, Solomon gives us an extended metaphor for aging. He likens it to the fall of a great household. The “housekeepers,” our hands, are now feeble. The “strong men” our backs and legs can no longer sustain weight, the “grinders,” our teeth can no longer chew, and our eyes, or the “windows,” grow dim. We can’t sleep soundly as we once did, the slightest peep of a bird wakes us, and eventually even great joys like music no longer please us. (12:4) Not only are we afraid of heights like ladders, we may even fear falling while we walk. The “almond tree” blossoms, our hair turns white or gray and the desire for sexual intimacy wanes (12:5)

Whether we want it to or not, the body prepares for the day of death, when our body returns to the dust from whence it came and our spirit returns to God, from whence it came.

So, remember your Creator before this day comes. Remember him in the days of your youth. Instead of trying to be master of everything, be mastered by what is most important. Fear God and keep his commandments. God is bringing you and everything else to its proper conclusion. (12:12-14)


If I asked you to meet me tomorrow at noon in Uptown you’d have every right to ask, “Why?” Your time is valuable and you’d want a good reason for making the trip up to the city, spending an hour with me and travelling back home. And yet, most people in this world live their life, spend all their hours without asking, “Why? What am I doing this for? Toward what is everything driving?”

Is there meaning to life or not? And it can’t be “what I want it to be.” If there is no one or nothing outside of us directing and giving meaning to life, then life is meaningless, and made-up meanings are just self-deception.

We are left with two options: either life has meaning and we can come to know it because God communicates it to us, or nothing really matters. This is the conversation we need to keep in front of unbelievers.


If life is a gift from God who will bring all things into judgment in the end, then our duty in life is preparation. Of course this means physical preparation: saving money, living generously, and enjoying life while we have the strength to do so. But all of those physical preparations fall under the umbrella of spiritual preparation. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God,” said Augustine. The great reality we are to prepare for and consider is that we are created beings. There is a Maker. This world is imbued with design and purpose. And we are to fear God. This is the beginning of wisdom.


Parents, right behind loving the Lord and your spouse, comes the responsibility of teaching your child the fear of the Lord. You are raising an immortal worshipper who won’t simply outlive you by a few decades in this life but who will live on forever in the life to come. This is a weighty and glorious duty.

You who are closer to the finish line, God’s great call on you is to gift your wisdom to the young. Though you may not work in an office or raise young children anymore, you have a legacy to leave as you pray for, counsel, and encourage the coming generation of the faithful.

The church is called into all the world to preach the gospel: the good news that though human beings have rejected God and fallen under the curse of sin, God is the great redeemer who sent his Son to reconcile us. How’d he do it? By giving perfect obedience to his Father, and receiving the rejection we deserved.

How do we prepare? Come. Come to Jesus. And the gospel makes us fit to come, whoever we are.

Young? Come!
Old? Come!
Joyful? Come, and increase your joy.
Anxious? Come!
Despondent? Come!

The beauty of it smote his heart…

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 922). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.

Plain hobbit-sense…

In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 901). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.