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Father’s Day

June 19, 2016 | PB

God, as our heavenly father, gives us the greatest example of fatherhood. This Father’s Day we are looking at the different aspects of God’s fatherhood towards us, and the privilege men have in representing the father heart of God, not only to their own children, but to the fatherless as well.

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Sermon Notes

One of my toughest moments as a father came many years ago when my second oldest, Ryan, was about 10 years old. I was in a meeting here at church when the secretary came down and pulled me out. She told me Ryan had been hit by a car. I immediately drove home in a matter of seconds.

Can you just sit here and let us look at you for a few minutes?

That’s what it seems to be like; just a few minutes.

Here’s one thing the Lord says about Him being a father…

Psalm 103.10-14 “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”

God is a Father, as a matter of fact, the ultimate Father. As such, any earthly father has an example, a pattern to follow as we see God acting as and being the Heavenly Father.

So where do we see God being a Father?

The first example is in what we just read in Psalms 103.  We find that the Lord pities his children.  That brings us to our first characteristic of a father.

  1. A father is present. That one aspect of fathering is most underrated. There’s a proverb that states this: a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. That’s from Proverbs 29.15. The one thing that an earthly father can do to up his game is to be more present with his children. Yeah, but present in what way?
    • Time. A father is actually there, with his children, underage or adult. As in physically present. That takes a priority decision about your time. You can’t be physically present all the time. But when you decide that you’ll be there at the important times and for as much time as possible, you’re being a father. Meals, homework, good nights and good mornings, into special occasions.
    • Attention. A father is actually there when he’s there. He’s emotionally present. Cell phone. Listening, actively listening and reacting.

Kids are more on their own overall than ever. Parents are working so many hours, involved in so many things. Or fathers are simply completely absent. No wonder that so many people growing up now bring shame. They are twisted out of shape simply because they are left out and left alone to bring themselves up. Be present, fathers!  We can’t be God, but note what He says to His children: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God is a Connector. The goal of being present is connection, real connection with your children. So if they’re little, you get down, physically, to their level. If they’re older, you age appropriately to get wherever they are, to whatever they’re interested in. Even if you’re not. Don’t let them know that. A secure connection is what God has established with His children and that’s what you provide to yours by time and attention. Engage them. Speak their language.

God has “visited” His people.

  1. A father provides. Oh yeah, I know. He opens his wallet all the time. They think I’m the bank, no, the government.
    • Wisdom. There is something every father has that his children don’t. Years of experience. Earned judgment. From the school of hard knocks. I wouldn’t go that way, no, been there, done that. And every child needs an education, beyond what a father might be able to specifically provide but provides through the choice of a school, teachers and mentors. Provide those!
    • Resources. Yes, money and food and clothing, but just the right amounts. Some fathers feel that they need to provide everything and in the process teach their kids that they are entitled to everything without working for it. For some it’s a substitute for genuine connection to give a gift or money. That’s how I show love. No, that’s maybe how you avoid real interaction and connection.
      • And then there’s genuine neglect of food, shelter and proper clothing. Where a biological father spends his resources on himself or just won’t work and improve himself so that there’s a solid provision for his family. In Thessalonians it says that if a man doesn’t provide for his own, that he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Ouch.
    • Identity. You get your sense of identity from your father, in particular. This is who we are. This is who you are. One of the characteristics of this fatherless age is that people are insecure about who they are and they’re often looking way too hard for a person to idolize to give them identity. A person who gives someone an identity substitutes for a father. Sometimes that can be good and sometimes it isn’t. We’re susceptible to someone trying to manipulate us when we aren’t secure about who we are. We often say that we’re looking for, searching for, who we are. Fathers give and recognize identity. They say “we’re like this” and “we do things this way.” Or I see this gift in you, or you’re really very good at this.
      • Insecure people are most often looking for a title, a position and a status to try to fill a hole in their soul and give them identity. They can’t seem to just “be.”

Provide spiritual advantages through Sunday school, Bible reading, prayer and a good example of a spiritual person yourself. The most important provision is the spiritual provision.

  1. A father protects. That really means that a father stands in the gap between children and whoever or whatever is trying to eat them up. Sometimes it’s physical. Like making sure your children don’t bully each other and setting a culture of no teasing or taking advantage of a younger sibling. Step in between and don’t let them duke it out.
    • Or help them with a situation that’s too difficult.

One of my sons was going to high school at Brockport. He came home one day and described to me an incident in a classroom where the teacher just lost it, got angry and threw some desks around. After doing some research to see if he was innocent or provoking, we found out that he was innocent, we learned another student had gotten this teacher out of control. The next day I arranged a meeting with the principal and vice principal. I explained my son’s version of the story, with him present, expressed my concern for the teacher, and said that he at least needed to apologize to the students affected, my son included. He did. The very next opportunity.

Would that have happened if I didn’t step in? Maybe not. But all our kids knew that I would stand with them.

This is a tough, scary world. Enemies are often quietly behind the scenes looking for ways to get to our kids. Internet, social media, TV, movies, books and everything else needs a leash so that they don’t bite our kids. Friendships and relationships are the most important area for us to guard, as right relationships help and wrong relationships derail. But you can’t choose their friends for them, right?  Ah, we do. When we protect.

Does God do this? You bet He does. In Psalm 121 there are some fabulous father statements. Like “The Lord is your keeper” in verse 5. The English word “keeper,” “keep,” or “preserve” is used six times in that Psalm. The Hebrew word in the original is the word “shamar” which means “to look at you with attention, with defense, preservation and active help at the ready.” God will shamar you. Fathers, you are called to shamar children.

All that being said, let’s say the obvious. This is a fatherless generation we live in. Fatherlessness is the reason that we see such a rise in violence, prison populations and difficulties in classrooms. It’s the reason that we’ve departed from common sense and it’s the reason that sheer godlessness is rampant. So what can we do? I mean, they’re not our responsibility, right?

God is a Father to the fatherless, He says. If it’s His example we’re following, we are called to be fathers to the fatherless of this generation. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you take kids into your home, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t either. You reach to any child, any young person you can, and be present, provide and protect. No, you won’t be able to do that with every fatherless one. But you can do that for some.

  1. No matter what, connect with God as your Father. And in that, connect with spiritual fathers through genuine relationships as God leads.
  2. Be a father to your own children.
  3. Be a father to other children, younger people, as God gives you opportunity. There are some people that shouldn’t have direct contact with children, any children. But that’s rare. Even if we aren’t really great with kids of any sort, we can come behind them in prayer, finances and encouragement, through the covering of their parent or parents. Be a hero to many. Plug into kids’ ministry and other established avenues where you can father. If you’re a grandfather, uncle or older brother to someone who really needs a father you can step appropriately into those lives.

When you do so you’re being like God. God identifies Himself as a “Father to the fatherless.”

  • Do you need ministry because your father wasn’t present in your life, even if he lived in the same home you grew up in?
  • Are you struggling because you’re a single mom and you’re trying to be both father and mother to children?
  • Are you willing to embrace the call to fatherhood, even if you never really had a great example? You can learn from the best!