Summary: We need to build better fathers who understand how extraordinary their heavenly Father is and make him extraodinary to their children.
Building Better Fathers
June 15th - Father’s Day
Dads, do you we need to be rebuilt? Remember the TV show “the Six Million Dollar Man?” The hero, Steve Austin, was all mangled up in an accident and some super-scientists built him into a better man using bionic technology for six million dollars (hence the name). He could run faster than speeding cars, leap over security fences and bash through walls. You could always tell when that show had been on because all the kids in the neighborhood were running around in slow motion going, “nanananananah!” pretending to leap over trees.
As a group, the fathers in our country are pretty bad off today. Countless moms, by necessity, have become the physical, emotional and spiritual mentor for their children because the average father spends about 17 minutes with his children on the weekends. Fathers aren’t taking responsibility for raising their children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Last month a Barna study found that 85% of parents believe that they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children religious beliefs. However, the same research revealed that a majority of parents do not spend any time during a typical week discussing religious matters or studying religious materials with their children. Now, to a certain extent, the church has done a poor job of helping them out, but where are the dads pounding on pews, demanding assistance with their god-given responsibility? All too often they’re busy with other matters while mom is dragging bedraggled and sleepy children to worship, teaching them to pray and showing them Jesus. And how do we get off the hook by saying that we’re busy supporting our family, earning a living, tinkering in the garage or on the computer? Could it be that the missing generations of young people in our church are partially the result of our neglect?
The reality is that fathers need to be rebuilt, like Steve Austin. We must learn better how to father in a way that gives God glory and raises children to be what he wants them to be.
But how do we Build Better Fathers? Barna writes this: “…parents are not able to guide their children spiritually because the parents are struggling with their own faith development. “When it comes to raising children to be spiritually mature, the old adage, ‘you can’t give what you don’t have,’ is pertinent for millions of families. The rebuilding process comes as fathers renew their relationship with the heavenly Father. That’s why we’re going to look at a little of the Lord’s prayer today.
Matt 6:9 Jesus said, "This, then, is how you should pray: "`Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, (NIV)
Your Father is no ordinary dad!
I don’t know how much time you’ve spent contemplating the Lord’s Prayer before, but its beginning is very significant. How does Jesus instruct us to address God? Not “Mighty Master,” not “Great One,” but “Father.” You’d think we should address him more formally, but Jesus tells us to call him “Father.” Besides that, Jesus instructs us to call him “OUR” Father. The God you pray to is YOUR Father, YOUR Papa, YOUR Daddy. There may be a lot of daddies out on the Soccer field, but only one of them is mine. The Almighty God is MY daddy.
I know that this concept of “our Father” is difficult for many of you. That’s because your earthly father gave you a bad impression of your Heavenly Father. Maybe your father reclined in a lazy boy all afternoon, ordering you to run for more beer. Maybe your father was a drunk and made a fool of himself. Maybe he held you one night and hit you the next. Maybe he fathered you, but never was a father.
But this Father is different. As powerful as he is, don’t be afraid of him. Yes, we were born his enemies, victims of sin, orphans of our own disobedience. But he loved you, chose you and adopted you to be his own child. Galatians says, “But when the time had full come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” God made his own Son give up the mansions of heaven, so that you could be his adopted son/daughter forever.
And he sticks to that commitment. Remember the Prodigal Son? How did the Father greet the rotten, rebellious boy? He ran out to meet him. Max Lucado writes, “Though the boy is willing to stop being a son, the father is not willing to stop being a father…One arm holds the boy so he won’t fall, the other holds the boy so close he won’t doubt…The child may have been out of the house, but he was never out of his father’s heart. He may have left the table, but he never left the family. Don’t miss the message here. You may be willing to stop being God’s child. But God is not willing to stop being your Father.” (Lucado, p. 12) No matter how much we screw up, he will not give up. That’s why 1 Corinthians says (when talking about God’s love), “Love is patient, love is kind…it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Psalm 103 adds this: “As far as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a Father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” There is no failure he will not forgive, no mistake he cannot mend. When we come limping back with the baggage of our belligerence, he runs out and embraces us with total forgiveness. Sure, he chastises us, but always with the goal of drawing us closer to him and training us for life.