We give our thanks, Creator God, for the fathers in our lives.
Fatherhood does not come with a manual, and reality teaches us that some fathers excel while others fail.
We ask for Your blessings for them all and forgiveness where it is needed.
This Father's Day we remember the many sacrifices fathers make for their children and families, and the ways--both big and small--they lift children to achieve dreams thought beyond reach.
So too, we remember all those who have helped fill the void when fathers pass early or are absent; grandfathers and uncles, brothers and cousins, teachers, pastors and coaches and the women of our families.
For those who are fathers, we ask for wisdom and humility in the face of the task of parenting. Give them the strength to do well by their children and by You. Amen.
Happy Father's Day!
I have to tell you my Father's Day joke. There was this nice Jewish father who did all the right things. He raised his son to be a good Jewish boy, but the kid went to the neighborhood Baptist church.
The father goes to his Rabbi to ask what to do. The Rabbi says, "Funny you should ask me. I too had a son, I spent a fortune, sent him to all the best schools, and tried to train him to be a good Jewish son. But alas, he was a bit of a rebel and ended up going to the Unity Church down the road."
So the father asks the Rabbi, "So what did you do?"
The Rabbi says, "Well, I talked to God about it."
And the father says, "So, what did God say?"
God said, "Funny you should ask me..."
There are many fathers mentioned in scripture; fathers who shaped history. These were fathers who planted the seeds of faith in their children and impacted their lives forever. Because God took the seeds that they had planted and grew these children into the adults they were destined to be.
Isn't it our greatest desire that our children might grow up to be better people that we have been? And what about our grandkids, nieces, and nephews? Isn't it our responsibility to prepare them for life by teaching them the Truth of God?
Dads, grandpas, great grandpas, it is never too late to have an influence on those you love.
PREPARE THE SOIL
Any gardener knows that the first step of planting is to prepare the soil. And you, fathers, are that soil. To pass on faith, you must have faith. To pass on values, you must have values. You must be living Universal Principle if you wish to pass it on to your children. They learn by example, not by what you say.
The home environment is very important. Statistics say that children who see physical violence between their parents are six times more likely to abuse their own spouses after they marry. If those children were also hit by their parents, they are 12 times more likely to be abusers.
Good soil is broken up and soft. As fathers, you need to know yourself and be honest with yourself. You need to be loving and yielding. Clarence Budington said about his father, "He didn't tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it."a
I know kids seem to want a lot of stuff, but it's not the outside that counts. It's not what you have, but who you are inside that influences a child. If a father has genuine love, the child feels safe and nurtured. If a father has genuine faith that is consistent and open, the child learns to trust.
So instead of worrying about what you have or how clean your house is - try doing some inner house cleaning. Clean out the cobwebs within you so that you can offer an example to your child that will help them grow into strong, psychologically healthy adults.
SELECT THE SEED
The next step for a gardener is to select the seed. You have to decide what you are going to plant. (Galatians 6:7) "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow."b No matter how hard you try to produce excellent lettuce - if you plant carrot seeds, you will get carrots.
We are planting all the time. Every idea, every fear, every desire is a seed planted in the fertile soil of Universal Mind. The trick to getting good results, is to make a conscious decision about what you are thinking, what you are planting. Because you are always planting something.
Some time ago Readers Digest told the story about a company with a wonderful advertising plan. They mailed out post cards with a mustard seed glued to it. The caption read, "If you have faith as small as this mustard seed in our product, you are guaranteed to get excellent results and be totally satisfied."
A few months later one recipient of this promotional piece wrote back to the company and said, "You will be very interested to know that I planted the mustard seed you sent on your advertising card, and it has grown into a very healthy bush producing wonderful tomatoes!"c
It never fails - you grow what you plant! So, as a father you would be wise to follow (Philippians 4:8) "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."d
Dr Phil McGraw is fond of saying, "Catch your kids doing something good and praise them for it; instead of always trying to catch them doing something wrong."e
PLANT THE SEED
(Hebrews 11:20-21) "By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, "bowing in worship over the top of his staff."f
The next step for the gardener is to plant the seed. You must consistently and continually plant seeds through what you say and what you do. You have to teach it and you have to model it. If your words are not congruent with what you do, think, and feel - then the message will never get to the kids.
Universal Principles are more 'caught' than 'taught.' You plant seeds by what you say, but the greatest seeds are sown by the life you live. Show them that there is a law of cause and effect in your life. Show them that by giving you receive. Show them that you attract to you, what you think about all the time.
After planting the seed the gardener needs to find a way to promote growth. You need to create the right conditions to stimulate good growth. You would not expose your tender plants to the harsh elements, so why your children?
One of the best atmospheres for growth that I know of is the Unity teaching. It is spiritually and psychologically healthy because it teaches self-esteem, responsibility, and a wholesome attitude toward God.
We water our plants to keep them healthy and growing. And we water our children by giving them faith in God. (John 4:13-14) "Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."g
Good gardeners also weed their gardens to keep their plants healthy. And we must know that weeds are going to enter into the lives of our children. Fathers can't protect their children from the world forever. But we can pull out the weeds as they start and not let them take over.
PLAN FOR HARVEST
Then the gardener plans for the harvest. We always sow with the harvest in mind. You wouldn't bother to plant tomato seeds if you didn't expect to harvest tomatoes.
So as fathers, you need to know your goal and be consistent with your kids. (Proverbs 22:6) "Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray."h
And, as all gardeners know, you must have patience. We never give up on our children. It says it so well in (Galatians 6:9) "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up."i
So I would now like to pay tribute to the men we know. I have the names of men that were mailed in that I would like to acknowledge now. If you are present and would like to come up to pay tribute yourself, please do so. So, for myself I light this candle in memory of my grandfather and my dad. Is there anyone else who would like to add a man to this list? Please come forward now to light a candle.
As you look at this group of candles, think of the men in your life who have influenced you, inspired you, strengthened you, and loved you. Men who have planted ideas in your mind and watched you grow. Men we loved and hated. Men we blame for all our faults and weaknesses and thank for all our strengths and talents. Men who weren't perfect but did the best they knew how to do. And so, we grew, blossomed and produced fruit. And so, we thank them.
I think the fathers of scripture must have done all the things a good gardener does. They prepared good soil and had the courage to do what was right and loving for their children. They knew they could not plant everything in their lives. Time is so short, so we choose the seeds of faith in God and national identity. We plant them as often as we can. Enough seed, and surely something will grow. God provides the watering and fertilizing and weeding. We plant with our eyes on the harvest and our children surprise us with their magnificence.
God, our Father bless these men, that they may find strength as fathers.
Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.
Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect. Amen.
aClarence Budington "Bud" Kelland (July 11, 1881 - February 18, 1964) was an American writer. He once described himself as "the best second-rate writer in America."
cReaders Digest is an American general-interest family magazine. The magazine was founded in 1922 by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace.
ePhillip Calvin McGraw (born September 1, 1950), better known as Dr. Phil, is an American television personality, author and the host of the television show Dr. Phil.