Summary: 2009 Father’s Day Sermon

(Slide 1) As I begin, I have to ask if anyone watched the end of last week’s NASCAR race. I think that there is a life illustration in that spectacular finish!

For those who did not watch the race, it became a race to see who would not run out of gas first. But with around 2 laps to go, the leader ran out of gas (and finished, I believe 22nd). Then on the last lap the new leader (who had been passed about 4 laps earlier for the lead) ran out of gas! This allowed the new 2nd place driver, who is about my age, to pass the now fading lead car and take the checkered flag!

(Here is the life lesson, “Just because you are over 50 does mean you’ll run out of gas first!”)

I also cannot let this day pass without remembering 9 years ago on this holiday I came and preached my candidating sermon to you. The time has quickly gone by and I pray that we are all closer to God than we were then. I also pray that we love God and others more now than we did then.

This morning I have four people who are going to come and share about their dad and in that sharing they are going to share one lesson they have learned from their dad. A lesson they have passed, and continue to pass, on to their kids. I suggest that we listen for that lesson and consider it one of their gifts.

Jesus had something pointed and poignant to say to His audience and us about a father and his gifts. (Slide 2) We read it Matthew 7:11, “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

A bit of context here as we begin.

This chapter is part of Christ’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’ that began back in chapter 5 with what we call the ‘Beatitudes.’ When we come to chapter 7, we encounter two oft-quoted passages back-to-back. The first passage is about the log and the speck and the second passage is about asking, seeking, and knocking. As a bit of perspective, I suggest this morning that we think about these two passages from the perspective of relationships and how we resolve conflict and make progress in our relationships; our relationships with one another, others, and the Lord.

In line with my remarks of two weeks ago, I think that we can observe that character is very much part of Jesus’ statements because He addresses conflict and character in the opening verses; then He moves to persistence and character in the seeking, knocking, and asking; and then makes a connection between character and family relationships. As He does so, He makes a very clear statement about the character of God, “how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

As we prepare to hear Phyllis, Dana, and then Dick and Rex this morning, I would ask us dads to consider the gifts we are giving our children these days and if they are the right kind of gifts. (Slide 3)

(Speakers share.)

Thanks -----,-----,-----, and ---- for sharing!

As we move toward our conclusion this morning, there is one gift that I think we need to give our kids to help them live the right kind of life.

I was recently reminded of the need to give this gift during a conversation with another colleague about the hectic schedules of today’s families and in a book by Bill Butterworth who calls this gift the gift of commitment… to the right things.

In his book, The Short List: In A Life Full of Choices, There Are Only Four That Matter, Butterworth tells of the time when he came home to his family after another weekend speaking engagement when his then youngest son decided to start talking at the Monday evening meal.

‘Hey, Ma!’ were his first words. Then, turning to Bill, he said ‘Hey Bob!’ Butterworth was stunned. Says Butterworth, “His mom and I looked at one another blankly. She broke the silence by saying somewhat facetiously, “You’ve been on the road too much.”

The encounter left him to realize that all of his weekend trips (he was booked at one point to speak 38 out of 52 weekends) plus his 50-hour workweek had created a situation in which his youngest child was becoming a stranger. He made some changes but a divorce eventually (and unfortunately) took place. But it forced him to ask this question, (Slide 4) ‘How Will My Children Remember Me?’

Jim Wallis, in a recent internet column, talked about the calendar being ‘a moral document.’ He is well-known Christian leader and author but he tells the story of taking time to be with his one son after an exciting championship winning Little League game to hit some more balls. Darkness sat in and so they took a walk. As they returned home, he found his youngest waiting up for him, “Dad, could you and me practice pitching tomorrow? I’m getting pretty good!” My morning,” says Wallis, “had just been planned.”

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