My Father Made Me...
MY FATHER MADE ME…
Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd
Cortland Church of Christ / June 19, 2016
In many circles fathers get a bad rap and, sadly, sometimes it is well-deserved.
Terry Pluto, who is a long-time sports writer for the Akron Beacon Journal (one of my favorites) is also a man of faith.
He has also authored the book, “Faith And You” - - a collection of short essays on faith in everyday life.
One of the essays is his book is titled, Can God Be A Father?
In his service to God as a believer in Christ, one of Terry’s outreach efforts is to minister to those imprisoned.
He tells how many of those incarcerated don’t want to hear the Lord’s prayer (the model prayer in Mt.6:9f).
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Some of them (and perhaps even some of us) hear these words and think,
“If God is like my father, I don’t want any part of him.”
Terry notes, “When you hear some people tell their fathers’ stories, who can blame them for rejecting God as Father?”.
Many of those imprisoned were abandoned by their fathers. Some of them witnessed their father beat their mother.
A number of them were abused by their father - - mentally/emotionally, physically and or sexually.
Many had fathers who were cold and distant and utterly disinterested in the lives of their children.
So to minister to prisoners on the topic of the fatherhood of God is not an easy assignment.
It is a message that seldom resonates.
In Lk.11:11-12 Jesus taught,
Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?
Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?
Some will hear this text and say, “Sounds like my dad, I needed a pat on the back and I got a boot in the behind.”
Of worse yet, “I have no idea what this means, I never had a father to give me anything.”
On Mother’s day inmates like to receive cards to send out to their moms. But on Father’s day it’s a different story
- - very few want cards to send out because no one in their lives is worthy of being honored on that day.
Pluto (Terry Pluto) ends this painfully hard-to-read essay on a high note.
In Ps.2:7, David writes - - (God) said to me: Thou Art MY son, today I have begotten Thee.
Terry tells of visiting one day with a friend who grew up in foster homes and never knew his father.
After a period of petty crime and drug dealing and a heartbreaking divorce, he became a Christian and found new life.
“He now has six children and a solid marriage and is one of the people whom I admire tremendously.”
The two of them talked about a mutual friend who had stepped in to father a child who was not his biological son.
“We saw this young man pulling a wagon, with the boy on his back. Both were laughing.”
His friend, the father of six, exclaimed, “Now that guy is a real hero.”
Pluto adds, “Both of these men will not flinch when they hear the words, God the Father.”
I hope the same can be said for all of our dads … and for the children of our fathers.
What a blessing it will be if we are able to raise up young boys and girls, who love hearing about their heavenly Father.
Such is the task of you dads - - to so teach and to so lead (by your example) that this word “father” will be cherished.
Eph.6:4 records this important exhortation to fathers,
…Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture (discipline) and admonition of the Lord.
In Heb.12:7f, the writer addresses the need for Christians to accept the discipline of the Lord.
It is for discipline that you may endure; God deals with you as sons;
For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
vss.10-11 - - (Just as our fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them,
(God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;
Yet to those who are trained by it, afterwards (it) yields the fruit of righteousness.
Discipline is seldom easy to receive, but neither is it easy to administer.
While no one longs for a father who is a tyrant, all of us down deep inside yearn for a dad who is a disciplinarian.
Not one who doles out harsh and unreasonable punishment - - fathers must not provoke their children to anger,
but dads who discipline us when we need it, with love and kindness, concerned for our well-being.
The apostle Paul writes in 2Thess.2:7 & 11,
We proved to be GENTLE among you … EXHORTING and ENCOURAGING and IMPLORING each of you as a father would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
Paul also reminds children (Col.3:20) - - be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.
In Eph.6:1-2 Paul writes, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right … Honor your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
When David nears the end of his life, he offers parting advice to his son. David knows that shortly his son Solomon will rule in his stead, and as a loving father he desires to pass on a lifetime of experience & wisdom which will help his son.
David’s final words spoken to his son Solomon are found in 1Kgs.2:1-3 - -
I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.
And keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments,
His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the law of Moses,
so that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn.
David’s son Solomon would himself later write (Prov.4:1):
Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father and give attention that you may gain understanding.
Prov.6:30 / My son, observe the commandment of your father, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother.
Prov.23:22 / Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Ps.127:3 declares, children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Alongside of that text it would be good to note Prov.17:6, which states, the glory of sons is their fathers.
I want to close this Father’s Day sermon with one more story.
This one comes from a book written by the noted historian, Stephen Ambrose.
Among his many books is “D-Day”, concerning the invasion of Normandy in WWII by American and Allied troops.
He also authored biographies of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
One of my favorite books that he wrote, “Undaunted Courage”, is about The Lewis & Clark Expedition.
Mr. Ambrose died in 2002 at the age of 66. One of his last books is titled, “Comrades” (given to me by Phyllis Flask).
It is collection of chapters about male friendship between brothers, fathers, heroes, sons and pals.
The last chapter in this book it titled, Father And Son.
I close with this story because it reminds you fathers (and all of us) that it is never too late to change.
Ambrose tells of his early life with his father.
His dad was a doctor in Whitewater, WI, where he worked as a general practitioner for about thirty years.
Stephen Ambrose tells how when he was about 50 years old, he (Stephen) lived in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
There he encountered lots of snowbirds from Illinois and Wisconsin who were former patients of his father’s.
? Always, they wanted to tell me what a great man my father was. No one else in the world except his patients knew…
To me in my childhood he was less a saint or hero, more an ordinary guy with too many faults. He approved of nothing that I did, disapproved of almost everything, and let me know in a loud voice where and how I had let him down.
He was the volunteer doctor for the local football team on which Stephen and his brothers played.
But to the Ambrose boys, Dr. Ambrose was not there as a rooting father, but just as stand-by doctor.
Stephen writes, “I wanted him to be like the other fathers in town.”
”If we wanted to ice-skate, we learned by ourselves. So, too, if we wanted to hunt or play basketball or football.”
Dr. Ambrose expected Stephen to go University of Wisconsin medical school as he had done.
To pledge his fraternity, Psi U, and to live in the Psi U fraternity house as he had done. Stephen went to the
University of Wisconsin in Madison but Psi U had no openings so he pledged Chi Psi, to his father’s disapproval.
Stephen started out in medicine but then in his sophomore year he changed his major to HISTORY.
To make a long story short, Dr. Ambrose finally came around and accepted Stephen for what he was and longed to be.
Stephen’s father soon became his greatest supporter and biggest fan.
In his own way, and without ever insisting upon it, he made me a historian, something I’ll never be able to repay him for.
Dr. Ambrose traveled with Stephen to historic sites all around the world, as he did research for his books.
Some of you dads know in your heart of hearts, that you have failed in being the kind of father God wants you to be.
It’s never too to start anew. You can’t turn back time, but you can do your best to make up for lost time.
How often sons and daughters look at their father who has become the greatest grandfather in the world.
They can’t believe it’s the same man that raised them, but they are grateful for the change.
So, to all of you dads who are doing your best, we applaud you and thank you for being really good & godly fathers.
To those of you who know you’re not what you could be and should be, think long and hard about Dr. Ambrose.
And, even more, think long and hard about the voice of God in Scripture that is calling you to rise up a be a man of God.
Lk.1:17 writes of the ministry of John the Baptizer, saying,
It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him (Jesus) in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of righteousness;
So as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.