The Good Father

Posted on 06/16/2019 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


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IN HIS HANDS
Original Music and Lyrics by Obie Philpot
Edits and Additions by Benjamin R. Faust

He has the whole world in His hands
He has the whole world in His hands
He has the whole world in His hands
He has the whole world in His hands

So why should we worry
and why should we fear
When our Heavenly Daddy
is always so near
He is near
He's so near
He's right here!

He has my brothers and my sisters in His hands
He has my brothers and my sisters in His hands
He has my brothers and my sisters in His hands
He has the whole world in His hands

He has the little bitty baby in His hands
He has the widow and the orphan in His hands
He has the business man and beggar in His hands
He has the whole world in His hands

He has the rivers and the mountains in His hands
He has the oceans and the valleys in His hands
He has the seasons and the ages in His hands
He has the whole world in His hands


MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS
by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
but wholly lean on Jesus' name

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
all other ground is sinking sand
all other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
all other ground is sinking sand
all other ground is sinking sand

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh, may I then in Him be found
Clothed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne!

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
all other ground is sinking sand
all other ground is sinking sand


BREATHE ON ME BREATH OF GOD
by Edwin Hatch
edited by Benjamin Faust

Verse 1:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with Life anew,
That I may love the things You love,
And do all that You would do.
And do all that You would do.

Chorus:
Breathe on me, Breath of God
Breathe on me
Breathe on me, Breath of God
Breath of God, breathe on me
Breath of God, breathe on me

Verse 2:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure, (and)
Until my will is one with Yours,
As I walk in Love with You.
As I walk in Love with You.

(Chorus)

Verse 3:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
And as this earthly mind grows still, (and)
I glow with Your fire divine.
I glow with Your fire divine.

(Chorus)

Verse 4:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
As I rest Here with You,
And dwell with You in Perfect Life
That touches Eternity.
That touches Eternity.


*** Choose your connection speed and listen to the audio to hear the introduction. ***


We are so thankful today for love, and for life. We are thankful for those who have been in our life to teach and guide us.

For those of us who had good fathers, we are so thankful for their examples, and for their selfless love.

For those of us who might have had bad fathers or none at all, we are thankful that our goodness and our worth do not depend on another person.

And we give thanks for the fathers who are listening in today, and hope they’ll be both encouraged and challenged to become the best fathers they can be, and then to continue becoming even better still.

Amen.


You may be seated.


Well, as we already mentioned, today is Father’s Day. And in the past, we’ve praised fathers in general, and pointed to examples we thought were perfect representations of what a father should be.

But I’m sure you’d agree that there are some really bad fathers. Some are willfully absent. Some are verbally, emotionally, and/or physically abusive. Some are self-centered, insecure, and narcissistic. Some fathers simply should not be fathers.

And if any of that describes your father, you might recognize issues in your life today which you might blame on him.

But regardless of your history or role, hopefully you’ll find something useful in today’s message. It is for the good fathers who want to be even better. It is for the bad fathers who want to become the parent they should be. It is for those of us who have or had a father, whether good or bad, present or absent, alive or dead, which is obviously all of us.

And I would like for us to consider seven points, exploring examples of both good and bad fathers, and then we’ll conclude with a challenge to us all.


1. Love

Most fathers want to be loved. That goes without saying, because it’s pretty clear most people want to be loved.

A bad father might demand his children love and respect him or be punished. This could be caused by insecurity or some sort of mental illness, but regardless of the reason, demanding love and respect are a form of abuse.

But a good father would act in such a way that love comes naturally (which, by the way, is the only way true love forms at all). And if his children do not love him, he will look within to see what, if anything, he is lacking, or how his interactions with them might need to change.

And if they still don’t show him genuine love no matter what he does, he might be sad, but would never even consider punishing them for it.


2. Obedience

Most fathers want to be obeyed. Hopefully because they want to protect their children, or possibly because they want to control others.

A bad father might become angry when his orders are not followed or are followed incorrectly or not quickly enough.

But a good father would explain to his children the reason for his rules and the principles by which he formed them. And when they disobey, his response would be appropriate.

For example, if Johnny did not wash behind his ears, if his father is good, would he take away all his toys and ground him for the rest of his life? And a good father would not make a rule at all demanding Johnny parts his hair only on the left side and that he writes only with his right hand.


3. Belief

Most fathers want to be believed. After all, don’t all of us want people to believe what we say?

For this example, let’s pretend the father is in the military and has been overseas since before the child was born. The mother is dead, and the caretaker has never seen or heard the father. And when the father sends letters, they all come from a local mailing address, not from overseas.

A bad father might punish his children for not believing the letters are really from him. He might be angry if he finds out the child doesn’t think he’s even alive or suspects some other man might really be their father.

Let’s pretend that bad father just returned. “I don’t care if you believe me now,” he yells at little Susy, “you should have believed I was alive before I came home! I provided enough evidence to you already!” And then he carries out a severe punishment on the unbelieving child and kicks her out of the house.

But a good father would go out of his way to provide as much undeniable proof for his children that he is, indeed, alive, and he would understand the child’s doubts.

And when he does return home, he would be happy to answer all the child’s questions. And, being with the child in person and talking with her face to face, he would give him as much time as needed to believe he is, indeed, his or her father and that he is, indeed, good.

So do you demand unquestioning belief from your children? I encourage you to step back and take some time to reason.

Even when wanting their children to believe the myth that Santa Clause is real, the parents who tell that untruth provide evidence in the form of presents around the tree that they can see, touch, and experience in the real world. Certainly a good father would do the same for something that is actually true.

Be that good father, mother, or caretaker, and provide hands-on evidence that what you claim to be true actually is. That will help your children later in life to not accept false things as true.


4. Forgiveness

A bad father might hold grudges or demand some sort of price be paid for disobedience before he grants his children forgiveness.

Would you insist your children beg you for forgiveness? Maybe so. But I hope you will re-examine that stance.

And, believe it or not, there have been fathers out there who were so twisted that, perhaps based on ancient traditions, demanded the children’s pets be killed before he could let go of his anger over their disobedience.

But a good father is patient, kind, and does not keep an account of wrongs. He forgives before even being asked for forgiveness. And if one of his children is having a problem obeying a rule that is there to keep them safe and to keep them from hurting others, he explains the reasons behind the rule in a way the child can understand, and works lovingly with the child to help them do better.


5. Self Image

A bad father might tell his children that whether or not they act good, they are bad and they deserve to be beaten and abused for the rest of their lives, and they’ll avoid that only if he decides to have mercy on them. He would demand they constantly tell him how good he is, and would insist that if they ever do anything good, it’s him, not them, because they are bad and only he is good.

But a good father, no matter how badly his children may act, will praise them and give them the credit for their own accomplishments. He will never ask them to tell him how good he is, because he is not an insecure narcissist. Instead, he is simply consistently good, acknowledging when he messes up, and his children know it and love him for it.


6. Protection

Bob, Tommy and Julie’s father, left his children alone in a deserted park. In that park was a psychopath, one who Bob knows very well.

In the middle of the park, Bob left a large bag of candy, which he laced with deadly poison. And before leaving them alone, he told Tommy and Julie that he put a bag of candy in the middle of the park, but they aren’t supposed to eat any of it. He said he left it there so they could have a choice in whether to live or die.

Of course Bob knew the psychopath heard every word, and would probably try to talk the children into eating it.

Are any of you having a flashback to any old horror flicks? Sorry for the extreme example, but at least you probably get the point that this guy is really, really evil.

But a good father… obviously wouldn’t do any of that. Instead, he would realize his children were not as strong as an adult might be, and that they are likely to be deceived by a cunningly friendly man who explains to them why eating the yummy candy is safe and will make them grow up smart and strong.

The good father would keep any guns locked up, sharp knives out of reach, and dangerous medications on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet or in a locked drawer. Not because he thinks his children are bad, but because he knows they are human and they are new to the world and naturally curious.

And he most certainly wouldn’t leave the doors unlocked and tell a psychopath to pitch his tent in the backyard. Instead, he would make certain they were safe from harm.


7. Knowledge

Have you ever heard a father respond to his children’s questions about his rules and his actions with statements such as, “Because I said so! You wouldn’t understand. I’m just smarter than you. Don’t you dare question me! I’m a good parent, therefore everything I do or have ever done is good and right, and how dare you suggest otherwise!”

Well, I hope you realize those are not good things to say, and they reflect a faulty perspective on the part of the parent. Answers like these are lazy, controlling, and manipulative, and I hope you’ll consider how using answers like these are bad parenting.

But a good father will explain his rules with patience and in a way his children, regardless of their level of intelligence, can understand. He will foster and believe in his children’s ability to reason and to figure things out, and he will give them every tool they need to do so.

He will welcome questioning and even criticism from his children, and he will either fully explain why he did things they thought were wrong, or he’ll admit when he might have not taken the right course of action.


I’m confident you all recognize these things to be true regardless of what type of parental figures you’ve had. And I’m sure you’d agree that not having a positive father figure is not a good reason for anyone to continue being a terrible parent themselves.

So my challenge for you today is this: stop looking to bad parents, whether alive on this earth or just a thought, memory, or fantasy in your head, as your role models. You don’t have to be like them, regardless of how good and right they or other family members might insist they are.

Instead, recognize evil for what it is, regardless of how high of a pedestal you or others might have placed the one on who practices it. And start becoming the person you know you should be, treating others with fairness, understanding, compassion, empathy, and love.

We’re all on a journey, and none of us have arrived. But we are right now where we are right now. And in this moment, I encourage you to give yourself permission to be mistaken, to be wrong, so that in doing so, you will empower yourself to learn, change, and grow.


Let’s end today’s service with a time of reflection, as we examine ourselves to see if we have been filling our roles in ways that build up others and allow them to learn, grow, and become their best selves.

And as we spend these few minutes together, let’s accept the challenge to let go of our imagined need for a good father or mother, as we let the fact sink in that we can be those things for ourselves -- not making unreasonable demands of ourselves, but showing ourselves unconditional love, and choosing to look up only to those whose words and actions consistently show themselves to truly be good, while showing kindness and respect to everyone regardless.

If you’d like someone to talk or minister with you, feel free to instant message one of us; or if you’re listening outside of Second Life or later in the week, go to almcyberchurch.org, click the prayer room or pastors’ offices link, and contact us there.

Whenever you need to leave, you’re free to do so, and if you can stay until after this short time, you’re invited to meet us for a time of fellowship in the room to your left.

But for now, come to the front or stay where you are, and let us embrace all that is good.