2 Corinthians 5:1-10 - "A Word for Christian Fathers"
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[Members: Please see 2 Corinthians 5 the sermon titled "A Word for Christian Fathers"]
You are familiar with the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy's marriage was a saga of bitterness. His wife carped and complained and clung to her grudges until he could not bear the sight of her. When they had been married almost a half a century, sometimes she would implore him to read to her the exquisite, poignant love passages that he had written about her in his diary forty-eight years previously, when they were both madly in love with each other. As he read of the happy days that were now gone forever, they both wept bitterly.
Is there anything sadder than to look back over a lifetime of neglected opportunities--wasted years when love could and should have been nurtured--and regret that you "blew it?" Some of you know what I am talking about.
This is Father's Day. Dads don't get the respect that they used to. Remember "Father Knows Best"? For many fathers, those were the good old days. A few years ago, a college professor conducted a careful, two year study that asked children aged four to six: "Which do you like better, TV or Daddy?"
Forty-six percent of the youngsters indicated that they preferred television.
I like the story about the ten-year-old boy who answered the doorbell at his home one day. When he opened it, there stood a strange man on the porch. The man said, "Son, you don't know me, do you?" The young man said, no, he did not. The man replied, "Well, I am your uncle on your father's side." To which the young fellow replied, "Well, I am glad to meet you, but you are certainly on the losing side."
Dads don't have it as easy as they used to, perhaps. But how important Christian fathers are! A study of church attendance sometime back showed that if both Mom and Dad attended church regularly 72 percent of their children remain faithful to the church. If only Mom attended regularly, only 15 percent remained faithful. So the church is thankful for Christian fathers. And so are Christian mothers, needless to say. The number of young women having to raise children in a single parent household nowadays is startling. Of course, it is not always the mother who is raising the children. Again, we can be thankful for Christian fathers who take on their share of responsibility for nurturing their young.
I do not believe that St. Paul was directing his statement in II Corinthians 5; 17 only toward fathers, or only toward men in general. If he were writing today, I believe that he would have written, "If any PERSON be in Christ, he is a new creation . . ." This great text is for single men and single women, and married persons, and widows and widowers, as well as father and mothers. But in light of this special day, I hope that the fathers will take note…
[Members: See the sermon titled "The Love of a Father"]
It is not easy being a father. One cynic, speaking from his own experience, noted that children go through four fascinating stages. First they call you DaDa. Then they call you Daddy. As they mature they call you Dad. Finally they call you collect.
Today we salute fathers. Dads, we love you. The role of a Christian father is more important in today's world than ever before. It is a different roll than in earlier generations. In most households today Dad is called upon to play more of a nurturing role in caring for children. If Mom works outside the home, Dad must take a more active role in doing household chores. Dad is no longer "lord of the castle." Hopefully, however, he has not been reduced to being another of the vassals.
Today's father needs to be nurturing of his children, supportive of his wife, and yet at the same time provide the spiritual leadership of the home that the Bible accords to fathers. It is a rare man, a special kind of man, who can combine all three of these qualities. We salute Christian fathers this day. Your family needs you more than ever before.
The most common image that Jesus used in describing God was that of "Father." It makes me think that Joseph must have been a very special kind of father. We center much of our attention on his mother, Mary, but Joseph must have also combined those very special qualities of strength and gentleness that we associate with Jesus. Jesus had a very keen knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures. In the Jewish home it was the father who had the primary responsibility for his son's religious instruction. Of course we know that Jesus had an unique relationship with God. Still, I have to believe that Joseph, though barely mentioned in the Gospel narrative, was probably an influential role model for Jesus. Why else would Jesus have chosen the imagery of "Father" to portray God?
In Matthew 10: 29-31 we have one of the most important Scriptural reminders of the love of our Heavenly Father for His children. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?" Jesus asks, "And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." What a moving testimony to the very intimate love that God has for each of us.
1. Sparrows Do Fall from Skies
2. Life’s Problems are Not Punishment for Our Sins
3. We Never Fall Beyond the Watchful Eye of the Father.
Rev. Richard Fairchild tells about a story that appeared years ago in the Christian Reader. It was called “Priceless Scribbles.” It concerns a father who touched his child’s life in an unexpected way. A young boy watched as his father walked into the living room. The boy noticed that his younger brother, John, began to cower slightly as his father entered. The older boy sensed that John had done something wrong. Then he saw from a distance what his brother had done. The younger boy had opened his father’s brand new hymnal and scribbled all over the first page with a pen.
Staring at their father fearfully, both brothers waited for John’s punishment. Their father picked up his prized hymnal, looked at it carefully and then sat down, without saying a word. Books were precious to him; he was a minister with several academic degrees. For him, books were knowledge. What he did next was remarkable, says the author of this story. Instead of punishing his brother, instead of scolding, or yelling, his father took the pen from the little boy’s hand, and then wrote in the book himself, alongside the scribbles that John had made. Here is what that father wrote: “John’s work, 1959, age 2. How many times have I looked into your beautiful face and into your warm, alert eyes looking up at me and thanked God for the one who has now scribbled in my new hymnal. You have made the book sacred, as have your brother and sister to so much of my life.”
“Wow,” thought the older brother, “This is punishment?” The author of the story, now an adult, goes on to say how that hymnal became a treasured family possession, how it was tangible proof that their parents loved them, how it taught the lesson that what really matters is people, not objects; patience, not judgment; love, not anger.
Richard Fairchild, adapted by King Duncan
The Patience of a Father
I remember reading about a guy who stopped in the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up a couple of items for his wife. He wandered around aimlessly for a while searching out the needed groceries. As is often the case in the grocery store, he kept passing this same shopper in almost every aisle. It was another father trying to shop with a totally uncooperative three year old boy in the cart.
The first time they passed, the three year old was asking over and over for a candy bar. Our observer couldn't hear the entire conversation. He just heard Dad say, "Now, Billy, this won't take long." As they passed in the nest aisle, the 3-year-old's pleas had increased several octaves. Now Dad was quietly saying, "Billy, just calm down. We will be done in a minute."
When they passed near the dairy case, the kid was screaming uncontrollably. Dad was still keeping his cool. In a very low voice he was saying, "Billy, settle down. We are almost out of here." The Dad and his son reached the check out counter just ahead of our observer. He still gave no evidence of losing control. The boy was screaming and kicking. Dad was very calmly saying over and over, "Billy, we will be in the car in just a minute and then everything will be OK."
The bystander was impressed beyond words. After paying for his groceries, he hurried to catch up with this amazing example of patience and self-control just in time to hear him say again, "Billy, we're done. It's going to be OK." He tapped the patient father on the shoulder and said, "Sir, I couldn't help but watch how you handled little Billy. You were amazing."
Dad replied, "His name is Wesley. I'm Billy!"
Roger W. Thomas, A Father's Faith
A first-grader asked his mother why his Dad brought home a briefcase full of material each night. She explained that he had so much work to do that he couldn't get it all done at the office. The youngster pondered this soberly, then asked, "Well, why don't they put him in a slower group."
Parents, remember this. If you can't say no to some claims, your life will drip away like a leaky faucet. You won't make much of a splash anywhere.
Bill Bouknight, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
What Are You Passing On?
At the first church that I pastored, I had the job of mixing feed to supplement my income. For a period of about two weeks, each day that I came home from work, my two boys, ages 2 and 3 would look at me, smile, and would say, "Boy, dad, you sure are dusty!" I would reply, "Yes, I sure am dusty." Then I would get cleaned up.
I didn't think too much of this until I was washing my car and saw my oldest son doing something very strange. He was picking up the gravel and stones that were in our drive and rubbing them into his pants. I asked him, "What are you doing?" He replied, "I want to be dusty like you dad!"
I realized that if a child would look up to his father for being dusty and want to copy his father, a child could look up to his father and follow him for anything. What are you passing on to your son?
Jerry L. Steen
Is God Like Daddy?
Think of a four-year-old coming home one Sunday after a lesson that taught about God as our Heavenly Father. Sound theology would quickly note that God is neither male nor female, but youngsters do not concern themselves with theological niceties. A four-year-old hears "Father;" the only father he knows anything about is the one that lives with him and says, "Pass the biscuits, please;" so he asks..."Is God like Daddy?" Wow! What a heavy load! But a good load to consider on Fathers' Day...and a good one to consider when we realize that what Daddy is can become a role model for our children's concept of God.
This Is Not a Race
Clovis Chappell, a great preacher of a previous generation, used to tell the story of two paddleboat steamers. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, crew members made disparaging remarks about the slowness of the other boat. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made.
And the race began. The competition was keen as the boats roared down the Mississippi. One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising crew member took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. Their boat began to catch up, so they made fuel out of more and more cargo. They finally won the race, but in the process they burned their cargo, the very material they had been hired to transport.
Parents, our primary mission is not to win a rat race, but to faithfully care for those persons entrusted to us, especially our children.
Someone Who Loves You
In his book, Disappointment with God, writer Philip Yancey relates a touching story from his own life. One time on a visit to his mother--who had been widowed years earlier, in the month of Philip's first birthday--they spent the afternoon together looking through a box of old photos. A certain picture of him as an eight-month-old baby caught his eye. Tattered and bent, it looked too banged up to be worth keeping, so he asked her why, with so many other better pictures of him at the same age, she had kept this one.
Yancey writes, "My mother explained to me that she had kept the photo as a memento, because during my father's illness it had been fastened to his iron lung." During the last four months of his life, Yancey's father lay on his back, completely paralyzed by polio at the age of twenty-four, encased from the neck down in a huge, cylindrical breathing unit. With his two young sons banned from the hospital due to the severity of his illness, he had asked his wife for pictures of her and their two boys. Because he was unable to move even his head, the photos had to be jammed between metal knobs so that they hung within view above him--the only thing he could see. The last four months of his life were spent looking at the faces he loved.
Philip Yancey writes, "I have often thought of that crumpled photo, for it is one of the few links connecting me to the stranger who was my father. Someone I have no memory of, no sensory knowledge of, spent all day, every day thinking of me, devoting himself to me, loving me . . . The emotions I felt when my mother showed me the crumpled photo were the very same emotions I felt that February night in a college dorm room when I first believed in a God of love. Someone is there, I realized. Someone is there who loves me. It was a startling feeling of wild hope, a feeling so new and overwhelming that it seemed fully worth risking my life on."
King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
Not Now, Honey
I am going to read a quote to you first and then tell you who said it: A small child waits with impatience the arrival home of a parent. She wishes to relate some sandbox experience. She is excited to share the thrill that she has known that day. The time comes; the parent arrives. Beaten down by the stresses of the workplace the parent often replies: "Not know, honey, I'm busy, go watch television." The most often spoken words in the American household today are the words: go watch television. If not now, when? Later. But later never comes for many and the parent fails to communicate at the very earliest of ages. We give her designer clothes and computer toys, but we do not give her what she wants the most, which is our time. Now, she is fifteen and has a glassy look in her eyes. Honey, do we need to sit down and talk? Too late. Love has passed by.
The person who wrote these words was Robert Keeshan, better known to America as Captain Kangaroo.
According to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, a father's involvement with a child increases the child's IQ, the child's motivation to learn, and the child's self-confidence. In addition, children with involved dads are more likely to develop a sense of humor as well as an "inner excitement."
Victor Parachin, "The Fine Art of Good Fathering," Herald of Holiness, February 1995, pp. 32-33.
Mark Twain's Father
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
Don't Eat the Forbidden Fruit
Whenever your kids are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God's omnipotence didn't extend to God's kids. After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing he said was:
"Don't what?" Adam replied
"Don't eat the forbidden fruit." God said.
"Forbidden fruit? We got forbidden fruit?
Hey Eve! We got forbidden fruit!"
"DON'T EAT THAT FRUIT!" Said God.
"Because I am your Father and I said so!" said God, wondering why he hadn't stopped after making elephants.
A few minutes later God saw his kids having an apple break and was angry.
Didn't I tell you not to the fruit?" the First Parent asked.
"Uh huh," Adam replied.
"Then why did you?"
"I dunno," Eve answered.
"She started it!" Adam said.
Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own. Thus, the pattern was set and it has never been changed.
What Does A Father Do?
I received a letter from a single mother who had raised a son who was about to become a dad. Since he had no recollection of his own father, her question to me was "What do I tell him a father does?"
When my dad died in my ninth year, I, too, was raised by my mother, giving rise to the same question, "What do fathers do?" As far as I could observe, they brought around the car when it rained so everyone else could stay dry.
They always took the family pictures, which is why they were never in them. They carved turkeys on Thanksgiving, kept the car gassed up, weren't afraid to go into the basement, mowed the lawn, and tightened the clothesline to keep it from sagging.
It wasn't until my husband and I had children that I was able to observe firsthand what a father contributed to a child's life. What did he do to deserve his children's respect? He rarely fed them, did anything about their sagging diapers, wiped their noses or behinds, played ball, or bonded with them under the hoods of their cars.
What did he do?
He threw them higher than his head until they were weak from laughter. He cast the deciding vote on the puppy debate. He listened more than he talked. He let them make mistakes. He allowed them to fall from their first two-wheeler without having a heart attack. He read a newspaper while they were trying to parallel park a car for the first time in preparation for their driving test.
If I had to tell someone's son what a father really does that is important, it would be that he shows up for the job in good times and bad times. He's a man who is constantly being observed by his children. They learn from him how to handle adversity, anger, disappointment and success.
He won't laugh at their dreams no matter how impossible they might seem. He will dig out at 1 a.m. when one of his children runs out of gas. He will make unpopular decisions and stand by them. When he is wrong and makes a mistake, he will admit it. He sets the tone for how family members treat one another, members of the opposite sex and people who are different than they are. By example, he can instill a de
the community when its needs are greater than theirs.
But mostly, a good father involves himself in his kids' lives. The more responsibility he has for a child, the harder it is to walk out of his life.
A father has the potential to be a powerful force in the life of a child. Grab it! Maybe you'll get a greeting card for your efforts. Maybe not. But it's steady work.
Erma Bombeck, Field Enterprises
FATHER'S DAY: A TRIBUTE
Today is Father's Day. A day of cologne. A day of hugs, new neckties, long-distance phone calls, and Hallmark cards.
Today is my first Father's Day without a father. For thirty-one years I had one. I had one of the best. But now he's gone. He's buried under an oak tree in a west Texas cemetery. Even though he's gone, his presence is very near--especially today.
It seems strange that he isn't here. I guess that's because he was never gone. He was always close by. Always available. Always present. His words were nothing novel. His achievements, though admirable, were nothing extraordinary.
But his presence was.
Like a warm fireplace in a large house, he was a source of comfort. Like a sturdy porch swing or a big-branched elm in the backyard, he could always be found...and leaned upon.
During the turbulent years of my adolescence, Dad was one part of my life that was predictable. Girl friends came and girl friends went, but Dad was there. Football season turned into baseball season and turned into football season again and Dad was always there. Summer vacation, Homecoming dates, algebra, first car, driveway basketball--they all had one thing in common: his presence.
And because he was there life went smoothly. The car always ran, the bills got paid, and the lawn stayed mowed. Because he was there, the laughter was fresh and the future was secure. Because he was there my growing up was what God intended growing up to be; a storybook scamper through the magic and mystery of the world.
Because he was there we kids never worried about things like income tax, savings accounts, monthly bills, or mortgages. Those were the things on Daddy's desk.
We have lots of family pictures without him. Not because he wasn't there, but because he was always behind the camera.
He made the decisions, broke up the fights, chuckled at Archie Bunker, read the paper every evening, and fixed breakfast on Sundays. He didn't do anything unusual. He only did what dads are supposed to do--be there.
He taught me how to shave and how to pray. He helped me memorize verses for Sunday school and taught me that wrong should be punished and that rightness has its own reward. He modeled the importance of getting up early and staying out of debt. His life expressed the elusive balance between ambition and self-acceptance.
He comes to mind often. When I smell "Old Spice" aftershave, I think of him. When I see a bass boat I see his face. And occasionally, not too often, but occasionally when I hear a good joke, (the kind Red Skelton would tell), I hear him chuckle. He had a copyright chuckle that always came with a wide grin and arched eyebrows.
Daddy never said a word to me about sex or told me his life story. But I knew that if I ever wanted to know, he would tell me. All I had to do was ask. And I knew if I ever needed him, he'd be there.
Like a warm fireplace.
Maybe that's why this Father's Day is a bit chilly. The fire has gone out. The winds of age swallowed the late splendid flame, leaving only golden embers. But there is a strange thing about those embers...stir them a bit and a flame will dance. It will dance only briefly, but it will dance. And it will knock just enough chill out of the air to remind me that he is still...in a special way...very present.
The Flip Side of Love
A lot of damage can occur in a family. Parents can be hurt. Children can be hurt. But there is always hope in a home where forgiveness is present. John R. Aurelio, in his book Colors!, gives us a beautiful portrayal of this side of God.
On the sixth day, God created Father Adam and Mother Eve.
On the seventh day, as God was resting, they asked Him if He would give them something special to commemorate their birthday. So God reached into His treasure chest and took out a sacred coin. Written on it was the word "LOVE."
On the eighth day, Father Adam and Mother Eve sinned. As they left the Garden of Eden, they asked God for an assurance that He would not abandon them.
"You have the coin," He told them.
"But, the coin says LOVE," they answered. "We have lost love. How ever will we find it again?"
"Turn it over," God said...
The conclusion to this illustration and for many additional illustrations and sermons for Father’s Day can be accessed at www.Sermons.com.