Tag Archives: Mother’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.


“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.


It’s May, and Here Comes Mother’s Day!

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I might as well confess: I like writing Mother’s Day columns and crafting Mother’s Day sermons almost as much as I like eating asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower.

I know those veggies are supposed to be good for you; I just have a hard time imagining the poor starving soul who first took a look at a cauliflower plant and said, “Hey, Billy Bob, you know what? I think you could eat that stuff.” Yeah, you could probably eat milkweeds, dandelions, and crabgrass, too, but why would you really want to? If you toasted them long enough, you could probably make croutons out of grass burrs, but what’s the point?

Careful now. On the advice of my attorney, I should mention that nothing in this column should be taken to in any way imply, suggest, or indicate any smidgeon of doubt or even any mental reservation regarding the advisability of a day set apart to honor those dear ladies hereinafter in this document referred to as mothers.

No kidding. Really.

I’m all for mothers and motherhood. And I think that setting a day aside to honor them in a special way is, yea, verily, a good idea. I even spent time one time co-authoring a gift book honoring mothers (and thereby learning that greeting card publishers pretty much have that base covered).

But though there are some heartwarming blessings that come to pastors who serve in one church for a long time (Easter Sunday—I can hardly believe this—marked my thirtieth year here!), a preacher’s gotta be more creative than I am to come up with thirty new ways to say, “God loves moms, and I agree with him!”

But he does, and I do. I’d just like to be able to find a new and better way to say it!

What I need is a new way to say that I could spend my whole life praising God for his gift to me of a loving mother, and it wouldn’t be long enough to adequately thank him for such a blessing.

What I need is a new way to say that the poorest person on earth is still rich if he, like me, has never had to go to bed a single night wondering if his mother loves him.

What I need is a new way to say that I thank God with every breath of every day that my mother loved me enough to love God and my father even more than she loved me—and that’s saying a lot.

What I need is a new way to say that, even though Mom’s been gone for almost twenty-five years, her laugh, her touch, and her love are as real to me as my next heartbeat.

What I need is a new way to say that my life, my children’s lives, my grandchildren’s lives, and the lives of generations yet unborn will be blessed because my mother was the right kind of lady, the right kind of mom.

I still need a sermon idea. But I thank God for giving me what I needed more—a great mom.

 

       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.

 


“Mom Knew That Love’s Growing Season Is Forever”

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Mother’s Day is just a few days away, but my memories of my mother don’t need any calendar or greeting card company’s prompting.

Memories rushed in yesterday with particular power because I was doing something Mom would have dearly loved, something she taught me to do, with someone she never met but who she would love with incredible love, someone I can hardly wait for her to meet.

I was planting flowers with our little five-year-old granddaughter Brenley.

We were taking a chance. I know this. To plant anything in our country before Mother’s Day is to walk on the wild side and live dangerously.

But plant we did. Out in the back yard. We dug down into the soil of two whiskey barrel planters, set in our plants, and watered them with water from our rain barrels.

We were standing there, our hands covered with mud, Bren holding the “loppers” as I showed her where to separate our “cuttings.” And we had time to talk.

That’s one of the best things about planting stuff together. You’re working for a common goal, looking forward to what God will do to make the world and your little corner of it more beautiful, and you get to talk while you’re doing it. We dull grownups need to spend all the time we can talking with little people. They know what’s really important.

And that’s when it hit me: “Bren, your MawMaw Shelburne, my mom, would have loved this! She loved to plant things and watch them grow, and she’d REALLY have loved doing this with you!”

Memories flooded in, countless times in my childhood when Mom would take my brother and me out to the back yard, and we’d dig, and plant, and water—and talk. Mom was Rembrandt and her yard was her canvas. I think the only things she loved more than her growing plants were her growing kids and grandkids. So she just grew them all together.

A lot of what Mom knew about growing things, she learned from her parents.  Grandmother Key was always on the lookout for rocks with hollows in them, perfect planters for her little cacti. For larger planting projects, the instrument of choice, both for Mom and Granddaddy Key was a grubbing hoe. I remember setting the plants out and then “grubbing” little dams around them to hold the water in. I remember playing with plastic Army men around those dams, earthen barricades prone to frequent flooding. Drowning was far more a danger to my troops than any enemy action.

Granddaddy was much more rancher than farmer, but he certainly knew how to grow things. And I’m not sure who loved those rare and precious collaborative gardening times more, the father or the daughter. One thing was clear: they loved the time together.

Mom knew that Paradise was a garden, a place to grow love. And love grows forever.

 

        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.

 


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