Tag Archives: moms

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.


“My Mother Was a Daughter of Encouragement”

 

One of the most important leaders, and one of the very finest men, in the early days of the Christian church was a man named Barnabas. This good man’s name meant “son of encouragement,” and he blessed the church by living up to his name.

If Barnabas was the “son of encouragement,” I’m quite sure that encouragement’s daughter was my mother. Mom died twenty-five years ago (hard as that is for me to realize), but her encouragement lives on.

Near my desk sits one of the last birthday cards I received before Mom’s passing. In her uniquely beautiful hand (I’ve never seen more beautiful script) are written these words: “We love you so much! Every day we thank God for you and all you have meant to us and to the family. You are so sweet, so gentle in a manly way, so caring, and just so very special. Every day we pray God to bless you, to guide you, to give you strength, and, always, to be so very close to you. Love, Mom.”

May I hasten to admit that my mother’s opinion of me was much inflated! But that was another of her gifts to me. She looked for the best in me and my siblings, and her praise helped us to reach for the best in ourselves. Every day I thank God for her love and encouragement which are still as real to me as breath.

Mom gave me lots of precious gifts. She gave me life. She taught me to love words. And she nurtured in me faith in the One who gives life direction, purpose, and joy.

From my earliest days, she read to me, immersed me in and taught me to love the great stories from the Bible. She was smart, too. When my younger brother and I were small, she’d read the wonderfully paraphrased stories from books like Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible, rather than bore us out of our minds with words we could not understand. We never thought “The Bible” and “boring” were words that went together. I still have the pictures from A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories indelibly etched in my mind. (Those books and many others are still available. One of the very best more recent children’s Bible story books is The Story for Children (Lucado, Frazee, & Hill).

Mom was sure that since God gave us the capacity to laugh, we ought to use it. She taught me that to be serious about God means to refuse to take ourselves too seriously and that laughter washes away pomposity and repels Pharisees.

Mom taught me that people are more important than issues and that folks ought to be careful about thinking that their molehills are God’s mountains.

She gave me so many good gifts, but surely one of the best was her unfailing encouragement. No matter how long I live, I’ll be “playing to her”—not in a pathetic attempt to measure up, but joyfully sure that, whatever I accomplish, she’d be the first one to say, “Well done!”

I hope you’ve received the gift of encouragement from your parents. More important, moms (and dads), I hope you’re giving this beautiful gift to your own sons and daughters every day.

 

       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.


Happy 100th Birthday to an Amazing Mom!

 

Mom-Chris-1994-1-small

On August 15, 2015, Wilma Jean (Key) Shelburne, my mother, would have been 100 years old.

Now this gets dangerous. As an English major, I’m delving into what for me is higher math. But Mom passed away in 1992, over 23 years ago. Amazing that it’s been that long! She was 77.

The grandson born on her birthday, my son, just turned 32 on their birthday. He was 7 when Mom passed away. If some of my math won’t fly, I’ll not be surprised, but time surely does. And, no surprise, I still miss my amazing mom.

I suppose that in one way or another most of us “play to our mothers” all of our lives. Whenever cameras pan across cheering crowds, the signs folks hold and the words they mouth are, more often than not, “Hi, Mom!”

It’s no accident, on a much more poignant note, that many survivors of bloody battles tell of hearing the wounded and dying lying between the battle lines in “No Man’s Land” crying out for their mothers.

Anything we do, whatever we accomplish, no matter how sweet the success, is for most of us sweeter when we know our moms know about it. Moms are, after all, our biggest fans. They are the leaders of our cheering sections, the un-elected but unimpeachable presidents of our fan clubs.

I’m no exception. In a couple of weeks, my third recorded album, a music CD entitled “For Sentimental Reasons” will be in my hands, and I’m pleased and thankful about that. (I hope some other folks want it in their hands, too!) But it would be an even sweeter experience for even more “sentimental reasons” if I could play the record for Mom. She’d like it. A lot.

Mom was, to borrow author Joyce Landorf Heatherley’s term, one of my very top tier “balcony people.” Always encouraging, supporting, cheering, inspiring, motivating. Always loving.

I know she loved the rest of her kids, too. Fiercely. But let’s be honest here. My surviving siblings just need to face the fact that Mom & Dad’s first three kids were basically a practice group, and that when, seventeen years after the birth of the third, #5 came along, it was clear that he was brought on board primarily just to be a companion and playmate for #4 who was, may I humbly say, sort of the culmination, sweet spot, and focal point of the whole process. Even if I did show up as a “Now, dear husband, don’t forget to breathe when I tell you this” surprise.

My little mama was amazing. Smart. Spunky. Faith-filled. Articulate and great with words. She laughed easily when the time was right, which was often. Sometimes she laughed when the time wasn’t “right” but some wise and wry soul needed to laugh to clear the air of nonsense. She was the defender of the underdog and the scourge of the sanctimonious. She taught us not just to know the Bible but to know the Savior.

I don’t know what other amazing blessings God bestowed on August 15 way back in 1915. But the one I know about was enough to make it a really, really fine day.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!  By the way, click “Play” on the bottom of the Home Page for a song sample from the new album! 

 

 

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.


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