Sermon at Kinmundy United Methodist Church on June 16, 2019 …
Title: Father’s Day
Text: Hebrews 12:5-11, John 20:21, Matthew 28:18-20
Audio link – Right click, open in new tab to play: [Kinmundy]
Right click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: [Slides]
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?
What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?
and of course, I know you know this, but everything that I’m about to say about fathers and how they love their children is also true of mothers who love their children. In your family, maybe it was your mother who did this, and your father did that. Everybody’s different. But the reason I wanted to share this on Father’s Day is the Scripture talks about this as a Father’s love referring to our Heavenly Father, so let’s dial back just a little bit.
On the day of Pentecost, there were 120 followers of Jesus. For three years, He had started with calling 12, and at the end of his three years of ministry, there were 120 committed disciples who were ready to do God’s will, but they were also waiting for the Holy Spirit’s power to fall upon them because God works through the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t depend on us, but it depends on God working through us, and that day, 3,000 people were baptized because I want to say not just the Holy Spirit falling but because of what Jesus had done among them for three years. This is the culmination of the three years of the work of Jesus. And earlier, he had said to them, “As the Father had sent me, I now even so send you.” And I think that God is still sending us. Jesus is still sending us to go and be and do around us everything that Jesus did. We’re repeating the same thing. So now, I want to ask the question, “What are we waiting for,” because the power of the God that fell on us at Pentecost is still here. So why is the Pentecost outpouring of the witness not happening?
And here’s what I would say would be my answer. You and I have a different experience than the disciples had. You see, they had spent three years with Jesus. And on the day they were given this task, the Great Commission to fulfill, the day they were told to go and make disciples, they knew what to do. Jesus had told them, “I’m going to teach you how to fish for people.” They knew exactly what they were to do. And now in the church, if you listen to it, we’re all talking about what the church needs to be about is the making of disciples. The church needs everyone to go out and make disciples. The church needs for disciples to be brought to the church. You know what we say today? Let’s let the church make them Christian. God so loved the world that He sent a Sunday school class. God so loved the world that he sent a committee. God so loved the world that he sent a preacher to give a sermon. Oh, and all those things are good, but there’s one thing that gets missed if we expect the church to help people become Christian. And the thing we miss is just very simply missed. It’s not what Jesus told us nothing wrong with [inaudible]. Especially with sermons. Sermons are great, right. Nothing wrong with sermons. But it’s not what Jesus told us to do. Take a look there at verse 20. He told the disciples, “You’re supposed to teach that person everything I taught you, and especially everything I commanded you, and especially you’re not just supposed to tell them about the idea, you’re supposed to teach them how to do it.” I still remember my father teaching me how to tie my shoes. That’s what we’re told to do. And you see here’s the sad reality if you ask people in church, if you ask me, “Who taught you how to be a Christian?” Most of us might name a pastor, but it wouldn’t be someone who taught us one-on-one. Someone is supposed to take you by the hand and day by day teach you everything you’re supposed to know in order to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Someone is supposed to do that. It involves a lot more than a sermon. You know sermons are good. An individual is supposed to take a special interest [inaudible]. And most of us, honestly, can’t point to someone who took him by the hand and showed us how to follow Jesus. Because that’s not what we imagine should be done.
So how long does it take to grow up as a Christian? Well, Jesus took three years. In three years if we began to do this we’d have a church like the one that was gathered for the day Pentecost. Of course, it’s also possible Jesus had 12, and they had become 120. Maybe Jesus taught them how, and then watched over them while I taught others how, and then watched over them while they watched over– telling others how to provide this personal mentoring, love and influence. And we don’t obey that. And I find myself in lots of conversations with my brothers and sisters who are preachers, and they don’t understand this. Because it’s such a different way of looking at things. The normal way of looking at things as the church does that. Well, friends, that’s a little bit like what happens if the public schools raise your children. Can you see the problem with that? But I’ll be honest with you, most teachers would tell you they’re about the only raising some children get.
You see, Jesus said that we are supposed to teach them. But what’s happening in our society today, and I’ll tell you frankly, I believe is the root of almost every problem we have. The root is this. We are not teaching the children, and so they are having to learn for themselves how to be a grown-up. And guess what, they get it wrong because they’re not getting the [inaudible], but they will need [inaudible]. Here’s the verse, Hebrews 12:5. I turn to this verse whenever I feel that I’m really suffering, and I’m suffering unfairly because it redirects my attention. Hebrews 12:5, and have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? Well, please understand, that means both sons and daughters. Women, you do not get off. Have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as children of God both sons and daughters? My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor lose courage when you’re punished by Him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves and chastises every son whom he receives. Now let’s take just a minute and step back from the way most people would read this. Because since earthly fathers are human, most of us have probably been unfairly disciplined. Some people have had fathers that think that the more often you spank the kid, the better off they are. That’s not what I’m suggesting. But if our Heavenly Father is perfect, this verse has something to teach us. So when you look into the Greek, the concept of discipline is to help us to grow up. There’s the motivation. But that word punish doesn’t mean punished. That word punish means to be corrected, to have your understanding adjust. It means to be rebuked, to be told exactly where you are wrong, have said what is wrong, have done what is wrong, so that you can be aware of the wrong. Then comes this verse, for the Lord disciplines him who he loves and chastises. This one’s a little harder to deal with because the word chastise literally means to be tied to a post and whipped. Something we would never allow today. But here it says the Lord whips every son whom he received. What could that possibly mean? Here’s my opinion. Children have a concept that is called magical thinking. Now before you start thinking about Harry Potter, it’s not that they think they can do magic. The phrase Magical thinking comes from psychology refers to believing that whenever a bad thing happens, you did it. Then whenever bad things have happened, somehow you caused it. Therefore, it’s all your fault. Because that mom or dad who we want so desperately to believe loves us, they would never do a bad thing toward us. So it must be my fault. And so what I think this verse means is that when bad things happen to us, we would benefit from pretending that God is doing this. Because magical thinking is [harmful?] and if we think God is doing it, well, if you look into James, what James says, when we suffer, it’s as a consequence of what we have done. But at the same time, this verse says, blame God. Why? Because I think the mindset that God wants is not for us to blame ourselves, not for us to blame someone else, but for us to have the mindset that says God is letting this happen for a reason. What am I supposed to learn? ‘Cause this is correction. This is teaching. This is meant to help us to grow and do better. what am I supposed to learn? And I think that’s supported by the rest of the verses. Here they are. By the way, take a look at that face. Dads, have you been there? Oh, yeah. It is for discipline that you, His child, it is for discipline that you have to endure. Why? God is treating you as children, because what child is there who the father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. I think a plainer way to say that is this; you are living as if you do not have a father. Because part of what it means to have a father is to help us to understand the truth about what we’ve done, and then help us to rise above it and to learn from it.
And also, in some way, very frankly, to help us understand the truth of what part of others have done to us that help us to rise above the way other people have made us a victim. We want the Father’s involvement in our lives. Besides this, Paul wrote– we do believe the book of Hebrews is written by Paul, but it doesn’t say do, do I just said that Paul said this. But the author of the book of Hebrews, besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we’ve respected them. Shall we not much more be subject, shall we not much more give respect to the Father of spirits and live? For they, our earthly parents disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure. But He, God the Father, disciplines us for our own good. And what is our own good? To share His holiness. That word also means wholeness. It means health. it means happiness. God wants us to learn a lesson for all kinds of good and wonderful reasons.
And here is the rest of the story, the moral of the story, so to speak. For the moment, all discipline, all correction, all reproof seems painful rather than pleasant. It’s a lesson that is not enjoyable. But here’s the promise from God. Later today, except maybe later today. Not today, but later. Maybe not this week, but later. You can put the word eventually. That discipline yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness, a word that means wholeness. A word that means Holy. A word that means healthy. Later, the lesson results in the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Consequently, to prevent your child from ever having a bad day teaches them the wrong thing. To treat your child in such a way that every day is a wrong day or a bad day, that’s wrong [too?]. But the end result of God teaching us even if it’s a hard lesson to learn is that we will benefit from [inaudible]. So how does this happen? Typically, preachers want to go right on to what people should be learning. And that’s when they think that people can learn it in a Bible study or a Sunday school class or in Seminary. But what we should be learning, of course, is what Jesus commanded us to do. But I really think the very first question is this one, who? Matthew 28:20 says that someone should play a role in our lives, not [unlike?] a father, who is there to talk to us and to help us and the guide us. There should be that person in your life. Who is it? Well, here’s the thing I want to tell you today. You don’t know who it is. I will be that person. I will meet with you every single week to talk about what you’re going through and to pray with you. I will spend time with you every single week. Well, Pastor Dave, how is that possible? It’s possible for two reasons. First one is, eventually it’ll be in group. I don’t have an hour every week for each person individually. But Jesus never did things individually. He always did things with people in groups. And here’s the second reason that I’ll tell you because it’s possible to do. I am offering to spend this time every single week with every single person here. Do you think I will have anyone take me up on that? I have offered to do that before over the past years that I’ve been here. But nonetheless, I want to make that offer. So there’s no mistake. If you do not have someone who will take you by the hand and show you how to be a Christian, I will be that person. And sometime between now and next Sunday if you’re interested in that, please let me know. And we’ll figure out a time to meet. Because everybody needs someone who will do that. Because Jesus said we should [be doing it?]. Everyone needs someone to show them the ropes, to show them the way. But as sort of a general illustration, let me tell you what typically is a part of that spiritual parental role. And that’s because children need parents. This is a view of 4th Street. It goes on down. And see it going across there? That’s Illinois 37. That’s the highway. The last time my daughter’s daughter-in-law was here with my granddaughters, she and I were going somewhere. I had no idea where. It might have to Walmart. It might have been to ALDIs. I don’t even remember. But I know we were going down 4th Street. And I said, “Now, when you get up to the highway, turn left.” And she kept going toward the highway. And [inaudible] she got closer to the highway, she even started to speed up. And I finally yelled at her, “Stop!” Can anybody tell me why I yelled stop? There’s a stop sign there. And she was 10 feet from the intersection and not stopping. And 20, 30 feet down the highway coming at us in 50, 60 miles an hour was another car. We were about to die. Now, thank God she didn’t listen to me because she didn’t stop. We would have slid right in the intersection. Another car would’ve hit us. But being a smart driver, she floored it and flew across the highway [laughter]. Now, guess what happened?
I don’t know.
Somebody overnight stole the stop sign. Nonetheless, it was missing. So when she heard, “Turn left when we get there,” she had no idea there was a stop sign there because there wasn’t. And here’s the thing about us parents. We know where the stop signs are. You need someone in your life to warn you where the stop signs are because there’s things we need to stop. Can’t wait for Oprah to do it. Can’t wait for the newspeople to do it. Can’t wait for someone on Facebook to do it. Got to be someone in the car in your life. Children need parents because parents know where the stop signs are even if the sign is missing. And we did not die that day for which I am very grateful. Boundary rules because, again, what are we talking about? Spiritual parents teach rules to children about how to live so that children will live and happy and blessed lives. Boundary rules are rules that guide the choice of what to do and what not to do. Some of them are green lights. Go right ahead. This is what you should do. Some of them are red lights. You need to stop. But we need someone in our lives who will help teach us the boundaries, who will build a fence, keep good things in, and to keep bad things out. Someone needs to do that in your life and my life. Stopping rules are rules that help us to turn around because we can go back and have a do-over. Someone needs to teach us these rules. Prioritizing rules, they help us to make decisions they ranked the options to help us decide which of multiple pasts to pursuit. Every time you pull up to a yield sign, it doesn’t mean to speed through it. It means you have a thoughtful decision you need to make, and life is full of these. Who teaches you the criteria to make a wise decision? Someone [inaudible]. Finally, there are process rules. We’ve already talked about this. There’s a lot of different ways to make pancakes. Some of them are the right way, like from scratch, and then there’s probably a hundred different brands of Bisquick. But there are different ways to do things and maybe you should start with Bisquick and work your way up to scratch. And maybe you work your way up there to Julia Child recipe. Lots more better. But you’re trying to fix your life the same way that young man is trying to fix his car. It’s so [inaudible] work. And you need someone to explain how to do it. You know why? You never want to turn kids loose with a wrench and a car. Before you know it, the parts will be all over the ground. Okay, daddy, teach me how to put it back together. Well, not every daddy knows how to do that [laughter]. But before your life comes apart, you need someone to help you so that you learn how to put things back together because see, there’s a certain order of things that works and there’s a certain way to do things that works. And I remember my dad working with me with tools, and so I learned how to do these things because he was there to teach me. You need someone to be there to help you to learn the same thing. If you want your car to work, if you want your life to work, sometimes you need someone to teach you. Because if you don’t, then you are trying to learn it all yourself, and that normally doesn’t work so well. Because someone is supposed to take you by the hand and personally teach you what you need to know. Happy Father’s Day. That’s what the children of today need. That’s what you and I need, is for someone to take us by the hand. Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, I thank you that for every child in the world, there is a father. Sometimes, fathers can’t finish the work that they start. Sometimes, they pass away. Sometimes, they move away. But Lord, I ask that you would bring into the life of every child, no matter how old they might be. An individual who would help them to know the process, the way to do the task. An individual who would help them with boundaries to know when they need to stop, to know when they need to go, to know how to make the best decision, to know when they should stop and turn around and do it over. Help us, Lord, to have the blessing of someone in our life to fill that empty place in our heart of the person that helps us know what to do. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.