Summary: Recognizing that men need some affirmation for a change, this sermon thanks dads for 10 things.
Rev. Brian Bill
[Show video called, “Father’s Day Memories.”]
Dads, we want to say thanks today. Normally the pattern for preachers, me included, has been to magnify moms on Mother’s Day and to diss dads on Father’s Day. ABCnews.com posted a story this week about this phenomenon: “Fathers sleep a lot, and they snore loudly. When they’re awake, they like to fish or golf, but they’re comically bad at both…they’re complete couch potatoes, always watching television and hogging the remote. At least, that’s the less-than-favorable image of Dad on Father’s Day greeting cards. It’s a striking contrast to the poetic praise often expressed at Mother’s Day. Many men say they are tired of the ‘put-down’ cards and would like some affirmation for a change…”
Like Judy Dewald mentioned a couple weeks ago, I celebrate the commitment to fathering that I see in a number of young fathers. I know of many devoted dads in this church who play and pray with their kids. We want to celebrate those dads who are making disciples and want to give you some affirmation for a change.
The National Center for Fathering has recently declared a “fatherhood awakening,” citing evidence that men are rediscovering what it means to be a father. According to an extensive survey, dads today are more involved than ever before. Here are two rather surprising facts:
* In the past 25 years, the number of dads present at their children’s births has risen from 27% to more than 90 percent today.
* More than 75% of men say they would trade rapid career advancement for more time with their families.
I recognize that for many of you this day is difficult because your dad is no longer here or has dropped the ball somehow. The U.S. Census Bureau has stated that we have become a fatherless nation. 33% of the 72 million children in America will go to bed tonight without their biological father in the home. I sincerely hope that you will allow our Heavenly Father to meet that which is lacking in your life. May you experience the truth of Psalm 68:5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
The idea for setting aside a day to honor dads goes back to 1909 when a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd listened to a Mother’s Day sermon and wanted her father to know how special he was to her. Having been raised by her dad after her mother had died; she wanted to honor the hero in her life. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
My aim this morning is to both encourage and exhort dads to be about the task of making disciples because it’s much easier to become a father than it is to be one. I want to do this by putting together 10 parenting principles from three different passages that are specifically addressed to dads. We’ll begin in 1 Thessalonians 2 and then we’ll head over to Ephesians 6 and then end in Malachi 4.
Please turn to 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12: “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” The Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica to remind these new believers of how he behaved when he was with them years earlier. In the beginning of the chapter he uses the metaphor of a mother to explain his gentleness and now he focuses on his fatherly side.
Dads, here are 10 ways we want to say thanks today.
1. Thanks for being a good example. Notice in verse 10 that Paul and his ministry partners point to how they behaved among the believers: “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” They were “holy,” which means that they were set apart for ministry. They were “righteous,” meaning that their character and behavior was upright. And they were “blameless,” which is literally translated, “not able to find fault in.” No one could find anything that would stick should they try to accuse these missionaries.
My friend Brian Tumbleson is a history buff and recently told me about the kind of example Stonewall Jackson was. His second-in-command was Lieutenant General Richard Ewell, an agnostic. General Ewell watched Stonewall Jackson time after time praising God and praying without ceasing. After a certain victory, Ewell walked past General Jackson’s tent and saw him on his knees praying to God. General Ewell responded with these words: “If that is religion, then I must have it!” Disciplemaking dads know that they preach and teach through words and their walk. As someone has said, “One way to correct your children is to correct the example you’re setting for them.” Your kids will want what you have if they see you living what you have.