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Posts tagged ‘Fathers’ Day’

The Greatest Father In History

God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), but He’s also seeking godly fathers after His own heart.

A Protective Father

Scripture is clear about God and His nature as a protective Father. The Bible says that He is “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5). God also knows how to answer our prayers; it can be yes, no, or not now. It might even be, “I’ve got something better for you,” or “No, you’ll hurt yourself. All we need to do is to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent” (Matt 7:7-10)?  Verse ten points out that God will not give us something that will hurt us. We can ask, seek, and knock, and He still won’t give us a scorpion. A stone and bread may have looked similar in Jesus’ day, so we may not always recognize if something we’re praying for is really good for us. God always knows. Human fathers are protective fathers, but none approach God as a Father, so “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3).

The Return of the Prodigal Son (1773) by Pompeo Batoni.

A Forgiving Father

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the father was waiting and watching for his son to return…knowing that in time, he’d come. Jesus says that the prodigal finally “arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:10). Rather undignified in the day to have a father running out to meet a returning prodigal. Instead, fathers would be waiting to give the boy a lecture and the dreaded, “I told you so,” but not so with a forgiving father, as God the Father is. The Apostle John writes, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). It’s not hard to find places in Scripture where it shows “what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1). Earthly fathers are forgiving, but not in the way that God the Father is.

A Blessing Father

God blesses us beyond measure in Jesus Christ, so we must rightly say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3). Believers understand that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). The Apostle Peter writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3). If we just look around us, we can see that God as He cares for His creatures. A simple example is to take a “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they” (Matt 6:26)? Of course you are.

A Disciplining Father

Love and discipline go hand in hand. That’s why we’re told to “not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3:11-12). Rather than despise God’s discipline, we should recognize that “Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law” (Psalm 94:12). The Book of Proverbs is rich in the study of discipline and love, but so is the New Testament. You often see one with the other, like in Hebrews 12:6 which says, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof” (Heb 12:6). At times, it might feel like “The Lord has disciplined me severely” (Psalm 118:18a), but in reality we know that “he has not given me over to death” (Psalm 118:18b). The fact is, “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Prov 3:11).

A Comforting Father

I hope you had a comforting father. If not, we know that God the Father is comforting. He was thinking of us by sending His Son as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), so God is a comforter. The Bible says that it is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3-4). God comforts us in our afflictions, but He uses others as a means to do so. He may also use us to comfort others in the same way we received comfort when we needed it. Just as a human “father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). We can also take comfort in the fact that “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:9).

Conclusion

God made mankind radically different from the rest of His creation. The Triune God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen 1:26). God’s relationship with mankind is infinitely different than animals. We can know God through Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul quotes the Old Testament prophet Hosea (1:10), writing, “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor 6:18). Still not sure about what the Father is like? Jesus says “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’” (John 14:9b). When we read about Jesus, we read about the Father. He is a protective Father; a forgiving Father; a blessing Father; a disciplining Father; and a comforting Father…and abundantly, a Father of love (1 John 4:8, 16).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is an ordained elder of the Brethren Church and a Pastor and Prison Minister in the State of Kansas, but also a writer at Christian Quotes and What Christians Want to Know which address questions about the Bible, and a published author of four books. He also plants ministries like nursing home ministries, Outreach for the poor, and other evangelistic activities, and check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

Fathers’ Day

Join us this Sunday, June 16, 2019 at 11 am at Central Church!

Happy Father’s Day

Everyday Ways Dads Can Say “I Love You”

 

Dads sometimes find it challenging to express the pride and joy their children bring them. Some, like John Wesley’s father, wait for big moments to share what we feel. Taking some small steps will help dads (and moms) share their love for their children every day.

Proud papa

By most accounts, John and Charles Wesley’s dad, the Rev. Samuel Wesley, was not the warmest guy, but there were at least two times he expressed his love for his family.

The first came when John and Charles were very young. Following a horrific house fire, the Wesley family gathered in their garden. John Wesley would later remember that when Samuel saw that his wife and children were all safe, he cried out, “Let us give thanks to God! He has given me all my eight Children: let the house go: I am rich enough!”

A father and daughter share time together while serving a prayer ministry.

Dads can find many ways to connect with their children, including serving together in a prayer ministry. File photo courtesy of Bob Dickson and his daughter Rachel, Madison (Georgia) First United Methodist Church.

The second came 17 years later when John Wesley was elected to a fellowship at Lincoln College. Through the fellowship, he would receive free room and board, students to teach, and a salary for life, as long as he remained single. This was a big deal!

Two weeks later, Samuel wrote a letter of congratulations to John, whom the family called Jacky, gushing, “Wherever I am, my Jacky is Fellow of Lincoln.”

Dads, however, need not wait for milestone events like a life-threatening fire or a prominent promotion to express their love and pride to their children. With some small steps, fathers everywhere can develop skills to share their hearts with their children every day.

Easy tips for dads (and the rest of us)

 

Bedtime blessing: When children are small, many have bedtime rituals. Parents have them take a bath, brush their teeth, and then maybe they read a story and say a prayer together. Dads can add a special blessing to that daily rhythm. Something as simple as “The grace of Jesus Christ enfold you this night” (United Methodist Hymnal 879) can be an expression of not only God’s love for them, but yours as well.

Morning ritual: Family schedules can be crazy. When the kids reach a certain age, afternoons and evenings are filled with games, recitals, practices, rehearsals, play dates, homework, and more. Mornings may be the only time the whole family is awake and together. Take some time each morning with your children. Share breakfast. Talk about the day ahead. What are each of you looking forward to or dreading? Then pray for God’s grace to be with you and your child in the day ahead.

A father and daughter were ordained during the same ordination service.

The Rev. Tiffany Nagel Monroe and her dad the Rev. Alan Nagel share much, including being ordained the same day. Photo by Hugh Scott, Oklahoma Annual Conference.

School matters: School is the center of a child’s experience for 13 years in the US (and beyond for some). During this season of life, it is pretty easy for dads (and moms) to get caught up in the results—test scores, grades, honor roll, etc.—but much more happens in school. Relationships are formed, deepened, and lost. Interactions with adults and peers sometimes go well, but not always. Responsibilities and challenges are met sometimes and other times become learning opportunities. Stay involved. It shows interest in that which takes most of your child’s time and attention.

Undivided attention: Most families struggle to find one activity that everyone enjoys. That’s a great opportunity to spend one-on-one time with each child. Play catch with your athletic daughter and listen with your musical son to his favorite band. Lose a round in their favorite video game or watch their favorite movie for the 40th time. One of the basic needs children have is for the attention of their parents. Time we spend focused on them is an expression of love.

Seize every opportunity: Let’s face it, some dads overthink things. Often, while internally debating whether this is a good time to say it, or how to phrase it properly, the moment passes. Don’t wait. Simply say, “I’m so proud of you.” Without thinking, blurt out, “I love you.” We teach our kids that words matter. Share some great ones with your children.

The power of touch: Not only do words matter, but so do hugs, hands placed on shoulders, and kisses on the forehead. Sometimes the child will squirm. For seasons, you may have to stop the kisses. But finding ways to keep in physical contact with your children can be a great way of expressing love and pride without saying a word.

The Rev. Samuel Wesley may not have been the warmest father.

The Rev. Samuel Wesley may not have been very demonstrative of his love for his family. Image public domain.

Model love: Parents know they are never off the clock. The eyes in the rooms down the hall are monitoring them to learn all aspects of behavior. Work to grow in the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—and thereby model the love of God to your kids.

Why wait?

Samuel Wesley may not have been the most effusive parent. History, however, offers glimpses of the love for his family in his heart, and the pride he took in the accomplishments of his children. Dads can learn from Samuel not to wait for monumental life events to express their love to their kids. Instead, fathers can find ways every day to let their children know how much they love them and how proud they are of what they do.

Special thanks to the Rev. Matt Tuggle, Director of Family Ministries at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, for contributing to this story.

*Joe Iovino works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact him by email or at 615-312-3733.

This Fathers’ Day – Be a Better Man!

All of us, men and women know we aren’t all we want to be in our Christian lives.

To help us along, here are some links to a variety of resources to help men grow in their spiritual lives.  Such contemplation might not be a cuddly, upbeat way to celebrate Father’s Day, but it might have an eternal impact that is far more important.

Be a better man

Explore or start a personal relationship with Jesus

http://www.whoisjesus-really.com/

http://www.needhim.org/who-is-jesus

http://goingfarther.jesus.net/

 

Grow in the Basics of Christianity

http://christianity.about.com/od/newchristians/p/christianbasics.htm

http://bible.org/

http://www.keepbelieving.org/resources.htm

http://goingfarther.jesus.net/

http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-ray-pritchard/five-excellent-bible-study-websites-11633090.html

 

 Start or become involved with a Men’s Ministry

http://www.menoftheword.org/starting_mens_minist.html

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/161203-yvon_prehn_dont_kill_your_mens_ministry_before_it_starts.html

Learn to defend the Christian faith

Two great sites that will answer your questions and prepare you to answer others

http://www.str.org/

http://www.equip.org/

Recover from an addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous

http://www.aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=1

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery is a biblical and balanced program that helps us overcome our hurts, hang-ups, and habits, please note that the current website status is not reflective of the quality of the ministry.

http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

Overall resources for recovery, good explanation of Celebrate Recovery

http://www.drug-rehab-center-hotline.com/celebraterecovery.html

 

Pornography, sexual addition, related issues

http://www.pureintimacy.org/pornographyaddiction/

 

Download an ap with daily Bible encouragements and other resources

http://www.join1millionmen.org/resourcesorder-today/

 

Help with internet filters, accountability, online help

http://www.mensministry.info/pornography.html

http://www.menofintegrity.org/porn.html

 

 

 

 

The Best Shave Ever: A Father’s Day Remembrance

ShavingIt would not be a long visit. Dad was in the hospital. The cancer had come back, and the outlook was bleak. “I know you’re busy Richard, the holidays and all,” Mom had said, “But I think Dad would like to see you.” She didn’t have to finish the sentence. She never did anyway. I knew. I was on the next plane.

You’re never quite prepared to see you father in the hospital. You’d rather be bowling, or golfing, or working in the gardens together — anywhere else. That was in the past now. He smiled when I came into the room. “I’m glad you came, Son.” I leaned over his bed and gave him a hug, careful not to hurt him. We had never been hugging men; but that, too, was in the past now. “I’m glad I’m here.”

We talked nonstop. It was unusual for us. In the past we could spend hours side by side, and just a few words would suffice. In the season that we had grown apart we didn’t talk at all. Now the shared memories came spilling out as we put the finishing touches on our relationship. There was a procession of visitors — neighbors, friends, his pastor, even one of my old girl friends. Every one had a story, and it surprised me how much laughter and how little sadness was in the room.

The two days went quickly, too quickly. I stopped in at the hospital on the morning of the last day before heading to the airport. We were quieter. The words weren’t necessary for what we had begun to feel. “I’ll have to be going in a little while.”

“I know. It’s OK, Son. It was good to see you.”

“Can I do anything for you before I go, Dad?”

He hesitated, then said: “Yes, would you be willing to give me a shave? I haven’t had a good shave since I got to the hospital.”

I was stunned. As a child I loved to watch my daddy shave. We’d stand in the bathroom in our underwear. He’d lather up and then soap my face just like his. And while he shaved, I pretended. It was a silly, sacred ritual — a bonding that I had all but forgotten. Now he was asking me for a shave.

I found his old razor and the tube of shaving creme in the kit he had brought with him — they were so familiar even after all these years. I filled a bowl with hot water and found a face cloth. With the bed raised, the pillow fluffed and a towel spread under his chin to keep him dry, I began the ritual. First the face cloth, warmed with the hot water, wrung out and held gently to his face to soften the whiskers. Then a little bit of water on the face to receive the cream. When I opened the tube, it was the same aroma I remembered as a child. Dad’s eyes were closed but he was clearly enjoying this. I spread the creme and prepared the razor. I was so afraid that I would cut him. He was so trusting. Dip the razor in the water, shave a few strokes. Dip, shave. Dip, shave. It didn’t take that long. When we finished shaving, I got some clean hot water and washed his face. He put his hand up and felt his face and smiled. I handed him the mirror and he took a long, satisfied look. “Son, that’s the best shave ever. Thanks!

Soon it was time to go. We hugged, gently. “I love you, Dad.” “I love you too, Son.” We had only lately learned to say that. It felt good. What felt better was the trust that had finally established itself between us — a trust that had made it possible for a son to give his father the best shave ever. It is a holy remembrance, sacramental even. Love is like that — born in due season of common things made holy by the amazing grace and surprising Presence of God.

The Rev. Richard Garland

The Rev. Richard Garland is a retired United Methodist elder who currently lives in Rhode Island. You may read more of the Rev. Garland’s essays on his web page “From Where I Sit.” He is also a composer, and a number of his works are on the Discipleship Ministries worship website.

 

Happy Father’s Day

Fathers Day

Happy Fathers’ Day – Lessons from Joseph

Detail of stained glass window of St. Joseph and Jesus from Church Sainte Marguerite in Le Vesinet in the Departement Yvelines, Ile-de-France.

Detail of stained glass window of St. Joseph and Jesus from Church Sainte Marguerite in Le Vesinet in the Departement Yvelines, Ile-de-France.

Little boys clamor to play the wise men in the Christmas pageant before agreeing to play him.  In a typical Nativity set, he can be easy to mistake for a shepherd.

No question: The reserved, unobtrusive Joseph tends to hover in the background in our retellings of Christ’s birth.

But Joseph gets his due in the Gospel passage Matthew 1:18-24.  This is Joseph’s big scene, and the example he sets still offers lessons for Jesus’ disciples — and fathers — today, say scholars and pastors.

“Like others in our salvation story, God turned Joseph’s life over, but Joseph always had a choice to follow or not,” said the Rev. Jarrod Johnston, an avowed “liturgy nerd and associate pastor of communications and young adult ministries at First United Methodist Church in Arlington, Texas.

Johnston wrote about Joseph in the sermon series Hope is on the Way, which the United Methodist Board of Discipleship shared in Advent last year.  “(Joseph) chose to take a risk for God, and that’s an example we can all follow.”

‘A righteous man’

The Holy Family’s beginnings were anything but Christmas-card perfect.

The Gospel of Matthew makes clear that Mary’s pregnancy was a scandal.  Sure, she was with child by the Holy Spirit, but Joseph either did not know or did not believe Mary’s story.

So, the couple’s engagement was falling apart, and the Virgin Mary faced the strong likelihood of becoming an unwed mother.  In first-century Galilee, such a broken home could have dire — even deadly — consequences.

Matthew also says Joseph was “a righteous man.”  That means he was obedient to the Torah, the law of Moses, say biblical scholars.

“You need to understand that betrothal in his culture is the first act of marriage,” said Ben Witherington III, a New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.  “So it really is a matter of divorcing Mary, and there must be a sufficient cause, in this case, assumed adultery.”

Witherington, who is also an ordained United Methodist elder, has written more than 30 books on the New Testament, including a commentary on Matthew.

He points out that it was significant that whatever sense of betrayal Joseph might have felt, he wanted to part ways from Mary “quietly.”  The alternative would be to press charges against her before the local religious elders, not only publicly humiliating Mary but also putting her at the same risk of stoning faced by the adulterous woman Jesus later encounters.

“But still she will have been shamed and seen as damaged goods thereafter,” Witherington said, “probably impossible for her to marry in that locale thereafter.”

A heeder of dreams

Nativity FigurinesNevertheless, as Matthew shows, Joseph was open to heeding fresh guidance from God.  In a dream, an angel tells Joseph that the child his betrothed is carrying was indeed conceived by the Holy Spirit and will be the Immanuel promised in Isaiah.

“Dreams in the ancient world were understood (for the most part) as means of divine communication,” said Derek S. Dodson, the author of “Reading Dreams: An Audience-Critical Approach to the Dreams in the Gospel of Matthew.”  “The Matthean dreams are not symbolic nor in need of interpretation.  They are visitant dreams that give directives to Joseph, who simply obeys.”

That openness to God is one of his key attributes worth following.

“(He) is open to doing what the heavenly vision suggests, even though now it may cost him his reputation as a righteous man,” Witherington said. “This says something about his courage and faith in God.”

Joseph’s attention to his dreams continues to save Jesus’ life.  In Matthew 2:13, he follows a dream’s warning to flee with his family to Egypt and escape the murderous Herod.  When Herod dies, Joseph receives a dream to return.  Finally, he obeys a fourth dream to settle in Nazareth and avoid Herod’s successor, Archelaus.

An adoptive father

In short, Joseph acted as a very loving father to his young and vulnerable son.  And make no mistake: Joseph was more than Christianity’s first “stepdad.”

By taking Mary as his wife and naming the child Jesus (the name given to him in the dream), Joseph was claiming the divinely born child as his own, Dodson said.  In other words, Joseph adopted Jesus.

That’s one reason Jesus — through Joseph — could trace his genealogy through King David’s line, Witherington said.

Joseph’s act of adoption particularly resonates with Johnston, the Arlington pastor. He and his wife are looking into the process to foster a child with plans to ultimately adopt.

“There is as great a need here in our home country as there is anywhere in the world,” Johnston said. “But this idea of adoption isn’t just something that has to do with taking children that aren’t necessarily of your flesh and blood into your home.  In a sense, through Jesus Christ coming to earth, taking on our flesh, going through the process of birth, death and resurrection, we’re all adopted siblings of Christ.”

Joseph provided one of the first biblical testimonies to the power of adoption into the family of Christ.

Faithful to God

Statue of St. Joseph in St. Henry Catholic Church, Nashville, Tenn.

Statue of St. Joseph in St. Henry Catholic Church, Nashville, Tenn.

But the Bible only mentions Joseph in passing once Jesus begins his adult ministry.   In Matthew 13:55, Jesus’ hometown neighbors initially dismiss him as the carpenter’s son.  The Bible makes no mention of Joseph during such important moments in Jesus’ ministry as the wedding at Cana or his way to the Cross.

The implication, of course, is that Joseph had died long before these events.   Perhaps for this reason, the tradition has arisen that Joseph was considerably older than Mary when the two wed.  Many crèches show him with a gray beard.  In any case, it makes sense that Christians would associate Joseph with home and family given his role in providing the Christ child with a safe and loving place to grow up.

Perhaps the most significant thing about Joseph and Mary is that God chose them for their sacred role in Christ’s life.

“God picked him and Mary for this solemn responsibility in parenting Jesus, and they both accepted the challenge,” Johnston said. “For Joseph, it’s a big leap, but in the example of other saints, he believes and says ‘Yes’ to God.”

K.K. Yeo, New Testament professor at United Methodist-related Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary near Chicago, like so many others, sees Joseph as an exemplar of faith.

“Faith is honoring God and people; faith is also integrity and responsibility,” the biblical scholar said. “At the end of the story, faith for Joseph is obedience of trust in God.”