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Summary: Lessons from my father that also translate into spiritual/biblical lessons from our Heavenly father...

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Lessons from Dad

TCF Sermon

June 19, 2011

Father’s Day is not just the masculine counterpart of Mother’s Day.

As one example of this reality, here’s one young boy’s definition of Father’s Day: It’s just like Mother’s Day only you don’t spend so much.

Dads don’t always seem to get the same level of appreciation on Father’s Day as moms do on Mother’s Day. And you know what, that’s OK, isn’t it, guys?

In our elders meeting this week, Bruce asked if we were going to get roses for all the dads here this morning. He wasn’t terribly disappointed when the elders decided not to do that.

The story is told of a father of five children who came home with a toy. He got his kids together and asked which of them should be given the present. "Who is the most obedient one here? Who never talks back to Mom and does everything that Mom says to do?" the dad asked. Thought about this for a moment, and then all of the children said together: "You play with it Daddy!"

Father’s Day sermons feel significantly less risky than the minefield you have to navigate when preaching on Mother’s Day. Yes, there’s still the sensitivity to the fact that not all of us had great fathers, or we may even have painful memories of our dads.

But preachers can take a different approach to Father’s Day from the pulpit than they can with Mother’s Day. One of those approaches I remember vividly was the approach that Brother Bill Sanders used to take when he preached on Father’s Day. It’s appropriate to remember Bill, TCF’s first pastor, on this first Father’s Day after he went to be with the Lord a few months ago, because Bill was the consummate dad.

But first, to really appreciate his father’s day sermons, you have to consider the kind of sermon he typically preached on Mother’s day. On Mother’s Day, Bill would, quite appropriately, talk about honoring moms, honoring women, what wonderful blessings they were, how amazingly they went about their roles as mothers. His mother’s day sermons would just gush about the blessing of the women and mothers in our lives.

On Father’s Day, Bill would have a different approach. He’d use Father’s Day to tell the men "hey guys, get your act together. Serve your wives. Love your children, be a man. Be God’s leader in the home. Man up."

Clearly, honoring your mother is very biblical. But so is honoring your father. In thinking about this message this morning, I thought of my own father.

My dad’s name is also Bill. He’s William C. Sullivan, just like I am, but his middle name is Clyde. I’m told that my parents didn’t want to saddle me with that as a middle name, so even though I’m also William C., my middle name is Craig.

He’s 82 now, born in San Francisco in 1929. He’s lived a remarkable life, and when I think of my father, especially now in the light of the faith I live, I can in retrospect see that my Dad significantly shaped my life in so many positive ways. Not just my dad, of course. My mom did, too. I am without a doubt in many ways a product of my parents - of the way they lived their lives, the choices they made, the values they lived and taught.

Some of what my parents taught me was spoken in words at some point, but I would have to say that much of what I learned from Dad was caught, not necessarily taught verbally. It was reinforced by words at times, but it was mostly the example of what my Dad did, the choices he made, the way he lived his life, that played such a significant role in shaping me.

I learned a lot of lessons from my Dad, but this morning I want to highlight a small sample of those lessons, which I believe are not just life lessons, but spiritual lessons, which means they don’t just apply to the fathers here today, but to all of us. Because ultimately, whether or not we had good fathers to learn from and emulate, we all have a heavenly Father whose life lessons can be clear to us. They were modeled, too, much like many of the things I learned from witnessing my Dad through the years.

Our heavenly Father’s life lessons were modeled in His Son, the Word made flesh, Jesus, who lived among us and showed us what the Father is like. And this record we have, the Word of God, recounts all those life lessons to us.

The first lesson I want to highlight this morning as a lesson from my father is this:

1. My dad taught me the importance of family

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