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Summary: I’m speaking especially to fathers, for I’m convinced that not until fathers get their act in order will we see a real change for good in our homes & in our society.

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MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER

CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX

Ephesians 6:4 is a passage of Scripture that probably ought to be read every Father’s Day. It is a passage addressed directly to fathers. Here is what it says. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training & the instruction of the Lord."

Today is Father’s Day, & on Father’s Day we often look around for a model father, someone who presents the image that we think a father ought to present. But sometimes that is difficult, isn’t it?

ILL. I can remember back in the 60’s when Robert Young played "Father Knows Best" on TV. He portrayed the ideal father. Do you remember? He was always shown wearing a coat & shirt & necktie, even at home. His wife baked cakes & cookies, & kept the house spotlessly clean. Whenever the children had problems, she always told them, "Wait until Dad comes home & he’ll have the solution." And he always did. He always spoke with great wisdom & knew just what to tell his family to do.

ILL. But in recent years, the closest thing to a model father we have had was Dr. Huxtable in the Bill Cosby Show. And in his book about fatherhood, in the chapter titled, "A Baffling Question," Bill Cosby wrote,

"So you have decided to have children. You have decided to give up quiet evenings at home when you listened to good music & read good books. You have decided to give up lazy weekends when you just held each other in your arms & assured each other of your love."

"You have decided to give up candlelight dinners where you could finish complete sentences. You have decided to change all your couches into trampolines. You have decided to give up your pursuit of the reproduction of fine art, & start coping with the pursuit of the reproduction of yourself. Why? That’s the baffling question."

He went on, "Poets tell us that one of the reasons that we want to have children is because we desire immortality. Yes, I must confess that I asked God for a son to carry on my family name. And God did exactly what I asked Him to do. But now there are times when I ask my son not to reveal his identity. I beg him, `Make up a name. Tell them anything, but don’t tell them you belong to me, whatever you do.’"

"Immortality?" he says. "Now that I am the father of five, my only hope is that I will live long enough to see all five of them leave home."

APPL. Maybe you have felt that way, too. Home is sometimes a maze of personalities & confusion & reactions.

ILL. Irma Bombeck tells about a daughter in the family who cries out so that all can hear, "Has anybody seen my new sweater?" Her father answers, "You mean the one that cost $65.00?" Her sister says, "You mean the one you won’t let me wear?" Her brother says, "You mean the stupid one that makes you look fat & ugly?" Her grandmother says, "You mean the one with the low neckline?" Her mother says, "You mean the one that must be washed in cold water by hand?"

They’re talking about the same sweater, but they all said something different, & none of them answered her question. Is your home like that?

ILL. Maybe you’ve heard the old story about fatherhood that says that when a child is 4 years old he says proudly, "My dad knows everything about everything." When he is 7 he says, "Dad knows almost everything about everything."

When he is 12 he says, "Well, it’s only natural that Dad doesn’t know everything." When he is 14 he says, "Dad is old fashioned." When he is 21 he says, "Dad is hopelessly out of step with the times." When he is 25 he says, "Maybe Dad does know something about a few things." When he is 35 he says, "Maybe we ought to call Dad & check this out with him." When he is 50 he says, "I wonder what Dad would have thought of this?" And when he is 65 he says, "I sure wish I could talk to Dad again."

APPL. Today I’m speaking especially to fathers, for I’m convinced that not until fathers get their act in order will we see a real change for good in our homes & in our society. But of course, the rest of you can listen, too.

PROP. So let me make 4 suggestions to you today. I’m speaking as an old man looking back on his fatherhood experiences, & as an expert now that my kids are raised, sharing with you from my vast wealth of knowledge.

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