Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - Fathers are mortal Children all remember their fathers in special ways. My brothers, sister and I were fortunate enough to grow up on a farm that my father worked for over 55 years. Because of the fact I am 8 years younger than my nearest sibling, we each will remember our own specific things about our time growing up with our father.
My memories begin as a young child always trying to manipulate my way into going with dad wherever he was going, much to the dismay of my mother who just wanted me to take a nap. I often times got my way and had the opportunity to sit next to him in the 1963 Jeep Cherokee we used on the farm. It was the vehicle he taught me to drive in and the vehicle I watched him work on hours upon end because we didn't have enough money to buy a new one or even a "newer used" one.
I sat up nights in my room listening to the sound of the tractor as he baled alfalfa at so that there was enough moisture to keep the leaves from falling off, but not enough to cause the hay to rot. I loved seeing those lights in the field because I knew my dad was behind the wheel.
Each summer, I had the job of crawling up inside the combine to grease different zirts that dad "couldn't reach." He made sure to brag on how good a job I did and I was proud of the fact I was his helper.
Working cattle, hauling hay, building fence; each has a special memory for me because I was helping my dad and, in my mind, that was the most important thing in the world.
I would worry about him when he would go down to our 550 acre pasture and would be gone longer than I thought he should. I can't count the number of times I set out looking for him expecting to find the worst, while praying to God that I would find him OK. I'm not sure why I worried. My dad was stronger physically than anyone I have ever known; arms like a rock, nothing he couldn't do. In my mind, he was immortal.
In 1993, I experienced a day that will forever haunt me. At that time, I was traveling every week to El Paso, TX for work. Why I was in my office in Oklahoma City this one day, I can't tell you. I called my parents house at noon just to check in. My mother's voice had no variation in it's tone from any other time I talked with her, but her word's were chilling. "Mom, how's it going?" Mom replied. "Not so good. The doctor thinks your father has had a heart attack."
I was numb. Did I really just hear those words? I asked her if I heard her right and she assured me I did. I asked her where he was, only to find out he was in his chair in the living room. Speed limits meant nothing to me as I raced to their house, on the way calling my wife and asking her to meet me there. As I walked in the door, I saw him curled up in a ball (the effects of the heart attack), not able to control his emotions. This man, who was immortal to me, was going to die if we didn't get him to the hospital.
My father will turn 80 next January. But that day in 1993 shook the very foundation of how I had always looked at this man. This rock of a man, my protector, my defender, my shield will some day no longer inhabit this earth.
I am thankful to God these are not the only memories I will have of my father. I remember waiting for him every morning as he spent time reading his bible. His knowledge of the Word was and is amazing. He was a teacher and elder in the church where I grew up. But most of all I remember him as a man who would NEVER compromise God's Word. It doesn't matter how one feels about the subject, it matters what God's word says.
He has left that legacy with me that I am trying my best to pass onto my children so that the Lord's church can thrive and reach the potential God intended for it to have.
We need more Christian fathers.
What could help spread the cause of Christ more than Christian fathers making their homes truly Christian. Fathers ought to give the highest of priorities to being what God would have them to be and to bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
Crucial to the church’s ability to do the job, which the Lord has given it to do, is the kind of “job” which fathers do in the rearing of their children. What happens in the homes of Christians largely determines what the local church will be able to accomplish in the spreading of the gospel of Christ. This includes not only what happens between husbands and wives, but also what happens between parents and children and between brothers and sisters.
It seems clear that there is a great deal of unhappiness in the homes of our nation – even in many homes where both husband and wife are members of the Lord’s church. A large amount of the unhappiness is caused by the fact human’s look to materialistic gain for happiness. It is the responsibility of Christian fathers to teach their children that humanity must find its happiness not in things but in the Lord (Luke 12:15, Eph. 1:3, Gal. 2:20).
The Godly example of a Christian life is a powerful factor in leading children to God. Fathers and mothers “preach” and teach not only by what they say but also by what they do (Matt. 5:13-16, II Cor. 3:1-3, I Pet. 3:1-2). Every parent needs to regularly ask themselves, “What am I teaching my children by what I do?” Children are keenly observant and will recognize the discrepancies between what we say and what we do. Our children may hear what we say but they most certainly will see what we do.
The Bible – as God’s infallible message to man – is all sufficient to provide man with the knowledge he needs to live in such a way so that he might spend eternity with God (Rev. 2:10, Gal. 6:6-9, Gal. 5:16-23, II Pet. 1:2-11). That being the case, the Bible teaches what Christian fathers should be like.
1. Being a good father 1.1. Let us consider these facts provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: 1.1.1. More than one-fourth of American children – 17 million – don’t live with their fathers. 1.1.2. In 1996, 42% of female-headed households with children were poor, compared with 8% of families with children headed by married parents. 1.1.3. Girls without fathers in their lives are 2.5 times more likely to get pregnant and 53% more likely to commit suicide. 1.1.4. Boys without fathers in their lives are 63% more likely to run away from home and 37% more likely to use drugs. 1.1.5. Boys and girls without a father's involvement are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to go to jail and nearly four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. 1.1.6. The average American father spends only 7 ½ uninterrupted minutes per WEEK with his children. 1.2. He accepts being the role of leadership in the family 1.2.1. Eph. 5:22 – 6:4 1.3. He accepts being a father with great joy. 1.3.1. Proverbs 17:6 1.4. He accepts the responsibility that goes with being a father. 1.4.1. Love – Luke 15:11-32 1.4.2. Nurture – Is 1:2, Numbers 11:12 1.4.3. Teach – Deut. 6:6-7 18.104.22.168. Kindness – by being thoughtful and considerate at home 22.214.171.124. Honesty – by keeping promises and living as he directs others to live 126.96.36.199. Courage – living unafraid and trusting God 188.8.131.52. Justice – by being fair to all alike 184.108.40.206. Teach children how to cope with life in all its relationships - with parents, brothers and sisters and friends. Christian fathers should be always careful that these attitudes are spiritually instilled and that his children learn to face life with assurance and self-confidence born of a strong faith in Christ. 220.127.116.11. Godliness – by living obediently to God (I Tim. 4:12) 1.4.4. Instructs – Proverbs 1:8, I Thess. 2:11 1.4.5. Train – Proverbs 22:6 1.4.6. Find time for his children 1.4.7. Provide for his family 18.104.22.168. Physical needs - I Tim. 5:8 22.214.171.124. Spiritual needs – Deut. 32:46-47 1.4.8. Be patient – Eph. 6:4, Colossians 3:21 1.4.9. Discipline – Total training of the child 126.96.36.199. It must be established that the father, as well as the mother, is the authority over children. 188.8.131.52.1. Ask yourself, who controls the actions of our household, the parents or the children? Who runs the house? 184.108.40.206.2. Father’s must be a strong, controlling influence in the home and, as children grow older, a father’s hand on the reins becomes increasingly important. Boys especially need a strong image to identify with. 220.127.116.11. Punishment and reprimand are elements of discipline. 18.104.22.168.1. Make sure the child understands that the discipline is done in love not anger and that the discipline is based on disapproval of the action, not of the child themselves. Discipline is necessary but must be exercised patiently, and for the good of all concerned. 22.214.171.124.2. Harshness and bitterness – ruling with an iron hand will only serve to provoke children and run them off. 126.96.36.199.3. Bible instruction for discipline: 188.8.131.52.3.1. Prov. 3:12 184.108.40.206.3.2. Prov. 22:13 220.127.116.11.3.3. Heb. 12:5-9 1.5. He knows how to cry 1.5.1. He is no less a man when he cries over the right things. 1.6. He can admit when he is wrong
Two great men of the Bible show what kind of influence Godly fathers can have on their children.
First, there is Noah. In a corrupt world that caused God great sorrow, we find Noah finding favor in the eyes of the Lord. For over 100 years he builds an ark to save himself and his family from a flood. Yet there had not been a drop of rain drop from the sky up to that point. Noah's faith and trust in God was so great, it not only saved himself, but his entire family.
Second, there is Abraham. Asked by God to sacrifice the son for which he had spent years praying for, he proceeds according to God's instructions without hesitation. How Godly an influence was Abraham on the life of his son? When Isaac found out he was the sacrifice, he didn't whine, he didn't cry, he didn't try to run away. His faith in God was a reflection of Abraham's and he allowed himself to be tied to the altar awaiting the fate of a lamb.
Godly father's make all the difference in this world. If you have one, thank God for him. If you are a father, what memories will your children have of you? Will it be earthly accomplishments or will it be the work you put in ensuring your spiritual life is pleasing to God?