Tag Archives: Father’s Day

The Best Father Is the Father of Us All

Christians are commanded to confess their sins “one to another.” So, here goes. I hereby confess that I have at times succumbed to the temptation to be a kind of Father’s Day answer to Christmas’s Ebenezer Scrooge.

As a father, I’m perfectly pleased to see the day coming; it’s as a preacher that I can get grinchy about it. Father’s Day is tough.

Every year, here comes May, and here comes Mother’s Day. Fine. I don’t begrudge our moms the first spot in these quasi-holidays. Good moms have much more than earned much more than a Sunday a year when we honor and encourage them in their ultra-important role. From a preacher’s perspective, it’s not hard to find in the pages of Scripture a bunch of world class moms. (Granted, after you’re on your thirty-second such sermon in the same church, it’s a tad harder.)

But then hardly a month rolls by, and it’s Dad’s turn. Father’s Day seems to have some roots way back in the Middle Ages, though the American version is mostly a “Johnny-come-lately-we-probably-oughta” afterthought to Mother’s Day. The dad under my hat enjoys the day. If some of the kids/grandkids come, and I get to cook a steak, catch a nap, and veg a bit, I’m happy.

As a preacher, the day is good news/bad news. Children’s sermons can be difficult. Too many kids have slugs for fathers. It’s no secret who the “sexual revolution” lets off way too easy, and who pays the high price for “free love” with no commitment.

For the day’s sermon, well, really great fathers in the Bible are depressingly hard to find. And bad ones are bad for the same reasons bad dads have always been bad. A deadbeat is a deadbeat in any time period, whether he is the equivalent of the guy whose kids go hungry while he pays for his next tattoo or a guy who is a Fortune 500 exec who gives his kids absolutely everything but himself.

Joseph, Jesus’ “step-father” was an exceptionally fine man, but he drops out of the picture pretty early in the Gospels. Pretty desperate, I once preached a Father’s Day sermon using Jonadab, son of Rechab, as an example of one of Scripture’s finest fathers. But his name and his interesting story are pretty obscure (see Jeremiah 35).

Almost all of the greatest men of Scripture were fathers, but maybe the Father’s Day lesson that looms largest from Scripture is cautionary: Greatness in other areas in no way guarantees greatness as a father. Dads, if “success” comes at the expense of our children, it’s an awfully steep price not worth paying. As has been said, it’s pretty pathetic when a “‘big shot’ at the office isn’t even a ‘pop’ at home”!

Most preachers have figured out that they can “get away” on Father’s Day with just a kindly tip of the hat to good dads. A whole sermon is not required. (Don’t try that on Mother’s Day!)

Honestly, with so many deadbeat dads a dime a dozen, a good dad really does stand out. And the best example of fatherhood in Scripture is worth more than all the rest. It’s no accident that Scripture, from one end to the other, portrays God as the Father of us all. Absolutely loving. Absolutely merciful. Absolutely gracious. And always there for us all. What a Father!

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


How Much Does God the Father Love All His Children?

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God loves his children so completely that he could not possibly love us more and he will never choose to love us less. We are absolutely secure in that love. Why is that so hard for us to believe?

It’s as if we were an orphan in 18th century England who has been bought out of the poorhouse, taken out of the sweatshop, by the kindest gentleman in the world. We’ve traded our rags for the finest clothes and our swill for the finest food. We’re almost afraid to close our eyes at night for fear that we’ll wake up and find that our redemption from poverty has all been a dream.

We see all the luxuries and privileges that go with what the kind gentleman says is our new position, but it just seems too good to be true. And there are many tell-tale signs that we really don’t even believe it yet ourselves. We sleep on the floor and not in the bed. Surely that bed is too good, too soft, too plush for gutter snipes like us.

But still the kind gentleman urges us to take up our place in the household—to eat his food, ride his horses, sleep in that beautiful bed, read his books, listen to his music, walk in his gardens, and he tells us that as the adopted son in this household and estate, all of these things are not just his, they are ours. We can hardly believe it! We begin to try to think of ways we can earn our keep, but nothing we could do would ever even begin to be enough.

Slowly, though, the gift of sheer mercy and grace and love begins to work its way quietly and deeply in our souls. And we awake one morning to realize that the kind gentleman has sometime in the night lifted us from the floor where we were lying and placed us in the soft bed that he calls ours.

As morning dawns, we’re almost unconsciously smelling breakfast smells. Our eyelids are starting to flutter as the door opens quietly, and, thinking we’re still asleep, he says quietly, “I love you, child.” As we come fully awake, we look into his face and are met with eyes full of pure love, more beautiful than the song of the birds in the garden just outside our window, softer than even the thickest down comforter, warmer than the morning sun streaming through the windows.

We’re almost surprised to hear our own little voice say, “Father.” And suddenly we realize that, though we could never in a lifetime of lifetimes earn the gifts that he has given, we have just given him the only gift we could ever really give, the gift that means more than life itself to this one who has given us new life. We have given him our love.

And though we’ve already felt grateful to him, now since that bright morning, our gratitude is deeper, richer, and more filled with joy. And whenever we eat his food, and ride his horses, and walk in his gardens, we know more deeply than ever before how truly they express to us his love. We know that every glimmer of love and joy and laughter in our lives lights up his heart with joy.

For he loves us so completely that he could not possibly love us more and he will never choose to love us less, and we are absolutely secure in his love.

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

  

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Best Father of All Is the Father of All

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Sunday is Father’s Day, and I’ve found myself thinking of Dad more than usual. That’s saying something because I already think of him every day.

My father was the finest man I’ve ever known, and being his son is undoubtedly the second finest blessing of my life, which has been filled with blessing.

The most noteworthy thing about our best blessings is this: They are undeserved. They are gifts of God’s grace.

Of the many conclusions that can be drawn from this grace-truth, two are obvious.

1) What did I do to be born my father’s son? Not a thing.  So . . .

2) Why should I ever allow myself to be even remotely prideful about being his son? Refer to #1.

I have never drawn a breath of this world’s air at a moment when I had to wonder if my father loved me with all of his heart. I wonder what life on this globe would be like if all sons, all daughters, could, with deep gratitude, say the same thing? It would be infinitely better! It would almost be heaven.

If, like so many, you didn’t have that blessing, I’m sorry. Neither you nor I can change that now. But we can do two things that will make a world of wonderful difference, change both the present and the future, and have beautiful and eternal consequences.

First, whatever relationship we fathers have had with our own dads, we can be very sure that our sons and daughters (and grandsons and granddaughters), of whatever age, know we love them deeply.

I know that’s not always as easy as it sounds. The fathers we had are, well, the fathers we had. For good or ill, in ways that are delightful or daunting and depressing, and maybe all of those things at once, we fathers tend to be fathers like our own fathers were fathers. No surprise.

But a second truth can change everything. Refer to the second paragraph of this column. Being the son of the finest man I’ve ever known is, I’m sure, the second finest blessing of my life. But the best blessing of my life is one that you and I share: We are the children of the finest Father of all.

That means each of us has a Father who loves us completely and whose love we can share with our children and their children.

As children of our Father who is love, we are loved. Always.

As children of the best Father of all, we are accepted. Always.

The wounds so many people bear because of deeply flawed fathers find healing through the best Father’s sacrificial love and the wounds his Son willingly bore on a cross so that through faith we could truly be children of our Father.

By the way, once we realize that we’ve already got a perfect Father, it’s probably good to realize that earthly fathers can be far from perfect and still be amazingly fine gifts from the Father of us all. I’ve known some dads who I thought should be horse-whipped. I’ve known more who could use a little slack. It’s cheaper than a tie but better even if it’s harder to give.

 

        You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


Some Father’s Day Reflections on Fathers

Shelburne Portrait

Well, here comes Father’s Day. Honestly, I don’t much need a calendar, a card company, and a proclamation or a few for me to wax reflective about fathers and fatherhood.

I’m a fellow who thinks that perhaps the most poignant verse in all of Scripture is the heart-rending cry of the great king who was also a father and would have cast aside a thousand crowns to save his son: “O Absalom! My son, my son!”

For that matter, I’ll even admit to leaking a quiet tear or two toward the end of more than a few episodes of my favorite TV show Blue Bloods. Why? Because this “police show” actually centers on family, is bold enough to portray a family’s Christian faith respectfully, and, most of all, focuses on a father’s relationship with his kids. That’ll get me every time. Besides that, Tom Selleck and I are obviously peas in a pod.

The special day for fathers is fine, but I rarely take a breath on any day without realizing that way up high on the short list of the best blessings the Father put into my life is my father. That I would be the son of the finest man I have ever known is a gift of pure grace. I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t, and don’t, and couldn’t, deserve it in the least.

If you’ve had that same kind of blessing, and I hope you have, then you know the proper response for that kind of father is humility and eternal gratitude to the Father of us all. You had a giant step forward from the moment of your birth in experiencing and learning about the love of your heavenly Father. No small blessing, that.

But I hope you know that you DO have the best Father of all, no matter the quality of your earthly one. And, if you’re part of Christ’s Body, the church, the blessing is multiplied as he has promised “fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters” far beyond our merely human allotment! What an amazing family! All because of our amazing Father.

Fathers, and all of us, hear a lot these days about teaching kids to believe in themselves. I know what folks mean, and, yes, low self-esteem can cause a wad of problems. But I wonder if we’re not coming at this, as usual, from the wrong way around.

G. K. Chesterton was right when he said that if you want to find someone who completely and absolutely believes in himself, all you have to do is find the craziest inmate in the asylum. Truly sane people believe in Someone much bigger than themselves.

My father took care of my “self-esteem” issues by getting the focus right himself. It would never have occurred to Dad to waste time navel-gazing, agonizing about whether or not he believed in himself. My father was far too busy helping his family, and many others, believe in the Father of us all, the One who absolutely loves, values, and counts each child as precious. “Self” esteem is pretty thin stuff compared to knowing for sure that your Father esteems and delights in you.

 

  You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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