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Fathers Of Faith

Ephesians 6: 1-4

The idea for creating a day for children to honor their fathers began in Spokane Washington.
A woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd thought of the idea for Father's Day
while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909.

Having been raised by her father, Henry Jackson Smart, after her mother died,
Sonora wanted her father to know how special he was to her.
It was her father that made all of the parental sacrifices and was,
in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man.

Sonora's father was born in June,
so she chose to hold the first Father's Day celebration
in Spokane Washington on the 19th of June, 1910.

In 1923 the third Sunday of June was fixed as the official day,
and in 1924, President Coolidge recommended its national observance.
Today, it has a fixed place in the calendar of special days in our country.

But devotion to and pride in fathers does not need to wait for official approval.
As long as there have been families, love and respect for fathers has existed.

The attachment to mother usually speaks of love and tenderness and sacrifice,
but the attachment to father reflects pride and strength and security.

Little children boast of the strength of their fathers.
Indeed, some of their boasts have occasionally put father in a precarious position.

It is true that fathers are or should be the fighters of the family.
They must fight for food, shelter, clothing and protection for their family.

Fathers must realize that their responsibility goes beyond the physical
and assumes the nature of the spiritual, wherein may lie the greatest battle
father will ever fight.
I
If fathers could realize that maintaining a consistent faith within the family is a battle,
not a game, and would apply themselves as energetically as they do
n the economic arena, victories would be immediately evident.

One must fight today to be a champion of authentic faith.
It is relatively easy to belong to a church,
but it is extremely difficult to make a redemptive impact on a society
that fights every effort of faith.

Let's think about some equipment the spiritual father needs today in our complex society.

A father needs solitude for himself and his family.

He must fight for solitude as though his very life depended on it, for in truth it may.
Our schedules are crowded beyond belief,
our extracurricular activities have reached a ridiculous number.
Almost every man is called upon to do more than five men should attempt.

The family is on a merry-go-round of church, school, job, clubs, hobbies,
piano lessons and recitals, Little League baseball, community drives,
social entertaining, self-improvement, weekend holidays,
and thousand other things that just "have to be done."

We hardly recognize one another as we meet on our way to the next meeting.
We gulp our food, shorten our tempers, forget our prayers, neglect our friends,
and lose our religion.

Perhaps, no fathers in the history of man have had a more nebulous,
but more vital, battle than the battle for solitude and meditation.

Fathers usually determine the personality of a family.

Mother provides many aesthetic and cultural qualities
and guides the social and educational development.

But it is father who determines if the family is a fishing family,
a football family, and a unified church family.
The picture is not complete
unless the personality image of the father is present and dominant.

Fathers must accept the fact that the family becomes one of deep spiritual values
through meditation and solitude with God and each other,
only as the father leads it to do so.

It is high time courageous fathers stood firm on the battlefield of confused loyalties
and gather their families together for spiritual renewal.

Augustine gives us a splendid example:
"Then I collected myself from the dispersion to which I had given myself,
then I recalled myself from the many to the one
."

A father needs to demonstrate an example that is worthy.

He will never allow occasions to develop where his children may suspect
that he is not being honest.
He will be certain that, while he wants to be successful in life,
he will not set an example of getting ahead by using questionable methods.
He must provide his children with a stable, pattern of behavior
because they will be strongly influenced by the way he behaves.

A little boy named, Joseph, had been sent to bed by his mother
for using profane language.

When his father came home, she sent him upstairs to punish the boy.

"I'll teach that young fellow to swear, " he roared, and started up the stairs.
He tripped on the top step, and even his wife held her ears for a few moments,
as he screamed out a succession of profanities.

Then, after the air had cleared, she called to her husband,
"You'd better come down now, he's had enough for his first lesson."

Fathers must give a good example to their children for they will follow him.

Jesus said:
"Whosoever would causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin ,
it would be better for him if a millstone were hung about his neck
and he were drowned in the depth of the sea
." (Matthew 18:6)

Fathers need standards to live by.

Plato spoke of the spiritual man as struggling with two powerful horses,
each pulling in opposite directions.

The "living death" that Paul knew in Romans 7,
we also experience in our similar, inner conflicts.
We desire to live righteously and find ourselves asking
if righteousness is absolute or relative.
We want to be accepted by God and by man at the same time
and become weary in trying to discover the secret.

Our children are pulled by the latest fad and the loudest mob,
and our wives are overrun with "friendly" advice
for unwritten codes of neighborhood morality.

Somewhere, before it is too late, we must stop and come back
to the only valid codes that have withstood the centuries.
At the risk of losing prestige and being dubbed as prudish,
fathers must find, uphold and defend the ideals of applied Christianity for their families.
Ultimately, we must return to Christ as the criterion and ask, "What would Jesus do?"

A father also needs a center for loyalty and purpose.

In order to renew our fighting faith,
there must be a valid point of reference outside ourselves.
Our own strength, wisdom and experience will not suffice.
We are too small and too limited.
Our world is too provincial and too prejudiced.
Our perspective cannot visualize the forest because it keeps running into the tree.

We are desperate for an outside voice and an outside hand to reach into our confusion,
establish communion with us, and enable us to center our loyalties where they belong.

This is what Jesus did in history and what He is still doing
in the hearts of sincere believers.

We will not see the reason for solitude or honest work, or high standards
if we are loyal to less than the best.
God is the best we know, and Jesus is the way we know God.

Then, as fathers become intent upon restoring a vital faith in ourselves and our families,
let us place Christ at the center of our loyalties, our ambitions, and our very existence.

In her book entitled, Twenty-one Stayed, Virginia Pasley recounts the story
of the 21 American soldiers who defected
and stayed with the Communist during the Korean conflict.

She states that her research revealed that 19 of the 21
felt unloved or unwanted by his father (or stepfather).

Communist leaders also bear witness to the influence of father-relations on their destinies.
Friedrich Engels constantly quarreled with his father.
Joseph Stalin had an alcoholic father who never had time for him.
Trotsky was at odds with his father who refused to listen to his questions and ambitions.

It is not easy to take time to lead our children right,
or to maintain consistent standards and loyalties.
But, in view of the consequences if we don't -- it is essential that we do!

The child who never has the privilege of knowing a loving father
has a serious handicap at the point of obtaining a proper understanding
of the nature and character of God.

Dr. R. G. Lee tells the story of a father whose little son was stricken with diphtheria.
He was placed in isolation in the hospital.

It was necessary for the parents to wear a mask while visiting their little boy.
The little boy inquired, "Why are you dressed that way?"

The father replied, "I want to protect others, for you are very sick."

After some hesitation, the little fellow asked, "Daddy, am I going to die?"

The father who had taught his boy never to tell a lie said,
"That's what the doctor says."

After a great deal of inward agony, the father put a question to his little boy:
"Son, you're not afraid, are you?"

The little fellow looked up at his father and replied:
"Daddy, if God is like you are, I won't be afraid."

The family is the most important institution in our society.
Our nation will rise or fall, as the families rise or fall.

The responsibility for the spiritual stability and success for such
is too great for the mother to bear alone.

On this Father's Day, it would be well for all of us to recognize
that the help of the father is absolutely essential if the home is to be fully Christian.

We must provide for our children.

"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house,
he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel
." (1 Timothy 5: 8)

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@aol.com