Jun. 20, 2021

From Dad jokes to exhortation about and to fathers

Today is a day that we honor fathers. Since I am a father and should be honored, I thought I’d take the liberty to begin with a few dad jokes.

A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet and says, "My dog is cross-eyed. Is there any thing you can do?" "Let's have a look at him." says the vet. So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes. Finally, he says, "I'm going to have to put him down." "Just because he's cross-eyed?" asks the man. "No, because he's really heavy,"

An invisible man married an invisible woman.
The kids were nothing to look at either.

Two hydrogen atoms meet on the street. One says, "I've lost my electron."
The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive..."

Two antennas met on a roof, they fell in love and got married.
The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

I went to buy some camouflage pants the other day but couldn't find any.

Dad jokes are one thing, but being a Dad is no joke. It is a great privilege and an awesome responsibility. While not everyone is, will or can be a father, everyone has or had a father, no one got here without one. Ephesians 6:2 says:  HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise) What is the promise? In Exodus 20:12 God says:  “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” What do we do though with the commandment to honor our father and mother if we have not experienced parents deserving of that honor? For me, I can’t answer this from experience, but will try to answer it from scripture.

Many people have been hurt or disappointed by less than honorable fathers. That can lead to a poor view or lack of trust in the heavenly Father. Jesus taught us to pray saying Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We should not allow our experiences or circumstances with earthly things or people to negatively affect our view of heavenly things and God. We should never judge God by the failures of people.

Keeping in mind the promise of the commandment to honor our parents, it is vital that we find a way to honor them, even if their actions are not worthy of honor. For our own sakes, we need to forgive those who have hurt us. If we have a father who has not done well in their role modeling the love of God, the only way we can heal is to forgive rather than judge. In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus says:  “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says:  “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” If we hold unforgiveness, even for what the world considers unforgivable, we will be accountable for the sin of unforgiveness.

Whether the one who hurt us is still here or has already passed on, is not really important for us to forgive them. It is not always necessary that we forgive others face to face. True forgiveness was modeled by Jesus on the cross when in Luke 23:34 He said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” True forgiveness is an action between ourselves and God. It is not always necessary for us to confront others with how we were hurt. We don’t need to point out how they hurt us and receive and apology in order for us to forgive.  Like Jesus we can say, Father,  forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. As Jesus said on the cross: “It is finished.” We need also through forgiveness, to allow our wounds to be healed and finished.

Scripture says that God no longer remembers our sins. Hebrews 10:17: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Unfortunately our human minds don’t work that way. We may remember, but we need to also remember that it is covered by the blood. Finished through the cross. While reconciliation is what is best, forgiveness may or may not end up in complete reconciliation between ourselves and others. Just because you forgive someone does not necessarily mean you need to embrace them. The most important thing is that forgiveness causes reconciliation and restoration between ourselves and God. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” 

I want to finish up today with some words of encouragement and exhortation to those who are fathers. Again, it is an awesome privilege and responsibility. It is not only about biology. Many who do not have children, teachers, coaches, mentors, brothers, uncles and so on, are still fathers and spiritual fathers. Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Probably the most sure way to provoke children to anger is to treat them with anger. There is a poem written by Dorothy Law Nolte Children Learn what they live.

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn. If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight. If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.(and I would say insecure) If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty. If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence. If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate. If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice. If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith. If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself. If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.  As fathers though we are to be much more than friends to our children. We are to:  bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. The word disciple means a disciplined one. The discipline and instruction of our children, is for the purpose of making disciples of Christ. We need to recognize that children will imitate what we do and say. It is vital then that our actions align with our words in their sight. I believe that one of the worst things a parent can say to their children is do as I say, not as I do. In truth, when we say that, our words have no longer have meaning.

In John 14:7 Jesus says:  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”  Hebrews 1:3  He (Jesus) is the radiance of His (the Father’s) glory and the exact representation of His (the Father’s) nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. That’s the standard we should try to attain, that we would be the representation of God’s nature. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says:  Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. That’s the model we want to be for our children. Did you ever notice that we tend to look like, sound like and act like the people we spend time with? My wife spent a lot of time down south and even though she’s been up here for over thirty years, if you get her around someone from down south, that southern drawl will come back. That’s just our nature, we become more like those we spend time with. Psalm 37:4 says: Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. We find joy when we align ourselves with God by delighting in Him. Additionally, the more time we spend with God, delighting in Him, the more we will look like, sound like and act like God. Our minds are like computers, whatever we enter into the program, is what will come out when we execute.

As we close today consider: There are two great lights created by God to illuminate the earth. The sun by day and the moon by night. The moon has no light of its own, it is really just a reflection of the sun’s light. Because of that its light is reduced. It can be blocked or restricted by clouds or by the earth itself. The surface of the moon is not made of a perfect reflective material, so the light is distorted and diminished. Reflection also causes refraction of light. Many times people say that we are the reflection of God’s image to the world. But like the moon, if we only reflect God’s light it is diminished and distorted by our flesh. Rather than moons, as sons and daughters, we should shine the light of the Son. We should strive to be transparent so that the light of Christ who dwells in us could shine clearly and brightly to the world.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;  The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;  The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”  Amen.