HONOR YOUR FATHER
Today is Father's Day, so I would like to honor all Fathers - but I would like to also honor our Father in Heaven.
For it says in (Malachi 2:10) "Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? ..."a
God is the Creator; the Infinite; the Eternal. God is not a person, but Principle. He is the underlying, unchangeable Truth, (James 1:17) ".., with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."b
God as principle is absolute good expressed in all creation. When we know God and (John 4:24) "... worship him ... in spirit and truth."c, we recognize Him as this great goodness, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. (2 Corinthians 1:3) Blessed be ... God ... the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation,"d
Charles Fillmore says that "God is personal to us when we recognize Him within us as our indwelling life, intelligence, love, and power."e This is God individualized in man.
When we identify ourselves with Him as our indwelling Father, He seems to us to be personal; however, it is not in a personal sense, but in the universal identification of ourselves with Him that we come into the God consciousness. The personal is limited. The universal, or God consciousness, is unlimited.
God is that from which all love springs. His character is taught in the name Father, representing the love, protection, and providing care of God for man, His offspring. He is life and love and wisdom and power and strength and substance.
We don't see God with our physical eyes except as He manifests Himself through His works. We bring His attributes into expression, we who are His children and who are like Him in essence. If we would make of ourselves channels through which He can come forth into expression and manifestation, we must endeavor to raise our thought and feeling to God's level.
THE CHRIST FAMILY
On one occasion as Jesus was teaching the multitudes, word was brought to Him that His mother and brothers wished to speak to Him.
(Matthew 12:46-50) While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."f
Here Jesus seems to deny the bond of blood relationships and to recognize only spiritual kinship. This is not what I am saying about recognizing our Father in heaven. Jesus was just giving us a greater conception of kindred. The ties of common belief, aspiration, and work are as strong as those of blood. Jesus' words give no ground for the assumption that He refused to see His family or that He loved them less because He recognized a bond of kinship with His followers. He did not overlook His obligation to His mother; even on the Cross He made provision for her care. His remarks give us no justification for repudiating family or relatives, but they do imply that we should enlarge the scope of our love to include persons who are our friends and co-workers in the establishment of a spiritual world.
So our Christ family can include God as our Father, our Father as our Father, and it can include others who are Fatherly to us, or who hold the same beliefs that we do, or who belong to the same organization or group that we do.
So you may be buying LOTS of Father's Day cards.
FATHERS OF ALL KINDS
Fathers come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and types. But then, so do all people - and their differences don't make them any more or less valuable.
Look at the group that Jesus got together - it is a wonder that they could work together at all. Philip was a scholar. Matthew was a tax collector, so the others would have considered him a traitor to his people. Simon (the Canaanite) was a member of a nationalist group, the Zealots. Judas Iscariot was not even from Galilee but was an out-of-towner who most likely brought his own customs into the group. And yet, Jesus saw through all of that and saw the value of each of the twelve.
Our Fathers have been like that - an odd bunch; maybe not what we would have wished for; maybe not as good as the neighbor's Father - but each had value.
I mean look at the bunch that God worked with throughout scripture, and every one of them were used for a higher purpose.
Abraham was too old. David was too young. Moses stuttered. Hosea's wife was a prostitute. Amos spent his time pruning sycamore trees. Elijah was depressed. Jonah ran from God. Noah got drunk. Jacob was deceitful. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Solomon was too rich. Naomi was a poor widow. Samson had long hair. Elisha had none. John the Baptist was too stern. In many people's eyes, Jesus was too lenient. Martha was a worrywart. Mary was lazy. James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven on their adversaries. Peter was afraid of death. Lazarus WAS dead. And Thomas doubted. But God used them everyone and recognized their value.
MY FATHER'S PROMISE
Guideposts Magazine had a Young Writer's Contest for college scholarships. The third-place winner, Kenneth Proctor, wrote a wonderful story called "My Father's Promise". It is a story of his frustration and pain with his alcoholic Father. He starts it off with a little boy, himself, throwing a tantrum in the doorway of a small apartment as his Father leaves, again, to go drinking.
That night the opening of the front door woke him. Footsteps stumbled across the tile floor of the kitchen. His Daddy was home. Hearing the click of the light switch, he hid behind his eyelids from the glaring kitchen light that spilled into his room. He knew his Daddy was drunk.
His Father, believing he was asleep, knelt next to his bed as quietly as he could in his condition. The smell of alcohol burned his nose and caused a ball of tears to rise in his throat. But he forced that ball down knowing that it wasn't the time to cry. The silence in the room seemed to last for years. His father was trying to say so many things. He was trying to express his love. He was trying to tell him how much he meant to him. Little Kenny hoped he was trying to tell him that he meant more to him than the alcohol on his breath.
His Father's words were so quiet, yet they filled the room, "I'm sorry, son." Kenny could feel eyes full of pain staring into his face. The ball of tears returned to his throat, but he could not cry. He could not let him know he was awake, that he had heard. His father left the room, turning the kitchen light off on his way to bed.
Kenny opened his eyes to the darkness and the tears fell. They covered his face as they had that afternoon. He cried that night not only for himself, but also for his family. And then he prayed, "God, help my family. Help my baby sister, help her not to hurt, not to cry like me. Help Mommy, please help Mommy. And help Daddy to be my daddy" That night in his room, God promised him that he would bring his daddy back to him; and he believed.
For two years these scenes repeated themselves. Kenny would come home from school to find a new six-pack on the kitchen counter. He hated everything about those bottles, their unseen hands holding his father, their unheard voices ridiculing him. He wished he could sit on that counter forever, claiming it as his. Maybe then there would be no place for the beer, and it would feel unwanted like he had and leave forever.
During those two years he continued to pray for his family. He prayed for strength, help and happiness. He prayed that God would take away the beer and the trouble. He prayed every prayer that he could think to pray. He kept on believing that God would bring his daddy back to him like he had promised.
Then gradually, he noticed the six-packs of beer on the kitchen counter beginning to grow few and far between. His father's devotion to alcohol was abandoned in the wake of his newfound devotion to his family. God answered his prayer. For the first five years of his life his father was a drunk. He drank away his past, his bills and his son. In August 1989, his father entered detox. He has not seen his father drunk since then. God gave him his father, and alcohol will never take him back.
Kenny said that it was really hard for him to write this story. He said that when his dad read it, he cried. He never knew he was awake that night. It brought them closer.
So, like Kenny, we may not have had a perfect Father - but we have always had our Heavenly Father to go to, and God is NOT a dysfunctional parent.g
(Exodus 15:2) "The Lord is my strength and my might,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father's God, and I will exalt him."h
Ask Kenny, he'll tell you this is true.
YOU WILL NEVER HEAR A DAD SAY THIS
(Romans 8:14-17) "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ--..."i
So for Father's Day I would like to give you A list of the Top Ten Things You'll Probably Never Hear a Dad Say:
# 10. Well, how 'bout that? . . . I'm lost! Looks like we'll have to stop and ask for directions.
# 9. You know Pumpkin, now that you're thirteen, you'll be ready for unchaperoned car dates. Won't that be fun?
# 8. I noticed that all your friends have a certain "in your face" attitude. I like that.
# 7. Here's a credit card and the keys to my new car - GO CRAZY.
# 6. What do you mean you wanna play football? Figure skating not good enough for you, son?
# 5. Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend . . . you might want to consider throwing a party.
# 4. Well, I don't know what's wrong with your car. Probably one of those doo-hickey thingies--you know--that makes it run or something. Just have it towed to a mechanic and pay whatever he asks.
# 3. No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit your bellyaching, and let's go to the mall.
# 2. Whaddya wanna go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend.
And the # 1 thing you'll probably not hear a Dad say:
Father's Day? Ah, don't worry about that, it's no big deal.
So, I would now like to pay tribute to the men we know. I have the names of men that I would like to acknowledge. 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 honor of Robert Caldwell, my father. Is there anyone else who would like to add a man to this list?
As you look at this garden 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.
So, in honor of Fathers - we are having a Father's Day BBQ right after the service. Please stay and join us.
d2 Corinthians 1:3
gKenneth Proctor My Father's Promise