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Friday, June 17, 2011

Red geraniums in barrel
I took this photo of bright red geraniums on an Amish farm in eastern Lancaster County.

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"As A Father Deals With His Children"
"For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory" (1 Thessalonians 2:11,12).

Yesterday I had an interesting visit that heartened me regarding the extension of the love of Christ that is being demonstrated in scores of ways all over the world today. In the course of our chaplaincy visit a man shared with me a huge long-term responsibility he has recently undertaken. In his late fifties and having already raised three children to adulthood he and his wife have adopted two young children born with the most undesirable label, "crack babies".

Gene WeberThis Sunday is Father's Day. My dad went to be with the Lord in 1998. He was a big man of relatively few words, yet as I note the characteristics of fathers to which Paul was appealing in the above text, I recall seeing them in my own dad. I sure miss him and look forward to seeing him in the ultimate reunion when I'm called home.

Paul never mentions his own father in any of his writings recorded in the New Testament and actually gives very little explicit teaching on fatherhood. Yet in the daily verse he lists three characteristics of fathers as an example of his own ministry among the Thessalonians.

As we consider the descriptive role of a godly father, let us ponder these three essential character traits of fathers who desire to raise their children for the Lord, "encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God."

Today I honor my father by illustrating ways in which he demonstrated these characteristics to me.  Although quite personal we hope it will prompt memories that you may have.
1) "Encouraging": I had an accident while at Bible College in which I injured my knee.  This resulted in emergency surgery and several days in the hospital followed by a painfully slow recovery.  At one point I was very, very discouraged and despondent. Actually I was wallowing in self-pity. I spoke to my dad on the phone and received some meaningful words of encouragement, along with a much needed rebuke, as he shared with me a mature perspective on life's trials.

2) "Comforting": Of course both parents have these duties and in many ways we may associate receiving loving words of comfort more with our mothers.  It's harder for me to recall comforting words or gestures from my dad, but a related memory comes to mind indicating my dad's love for his wife and family. In 1967 Mom took my sister and me on a train to California to see my oldest brother Mike and his family. My dad stayed home to work. He missed us a lot while we were away and when he met us at Union Station in Kansas City upon our return it was the first time I ever saw him cry. That was a side of him I had never seen and it has remained with me to this day.  His tears were a demonstration of love that he had a hard time verbalizing though as he got older he was able to tell his kids "I love you."

3) "Urging you to live lives worthy of God":
My dad came to faith later in life really after I left home so I really can’t recall many verbal lessons of a spiritual nature as I was growing up. He was a skillful pipefitter and was knowledgeable in many other areas as well.  I recall going to work with him in the hot Kansas City summers and observing his faithfulness, responsibility, integrity and hard work in caring and providing for his family. Biblically this is certainly a component in living a life "worthy of God" and is so needed today.
Do you see these characteristics in your own father? We realize there are those of you who cannot identify with this kind of father figure and a message like this may have a painful component. What a joy that we can all look to our heavenly Father! 

But there are many others who've been blessed by such a relationship with their earthly father. If possible, why don't you personally honor your father by recalling some instances when this happened and share it with him in person, by telephone, through a written letter or a personal tribute.*
Fathers, what a powerful model is taught in our daily text. Please consider them.
* How are you at encouraging and comforting your children?
* Do you urge them to live lives worthy of God?

These are a big part of your Scriptural mandate as a father. Let us be found faithful in the godly task before us!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Heavenly Father, may words of encouragement, comfort, instruction, and exhortation flow from our lips so that we may spur others on in the faith, most especially our own children. We pray that You would help Christian fathers everywhere to verbalize their faith and live in a way that honors You and shows others where their source of strength lies. Help them to be the spiritual leaders of their homes so that a harvest of righteousness and peace will be upon their households.  We pray this in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Brooklyn with granddaughtersBrooksyne's recollection of her Dad: My dad worked long hours as a farmer and truck driver and played very little with his children as I was growing up. But as a retired grandfather he made up for his lack of play with his grandchildren whom he smothered with love.  Ester, along with her younger cousin, Courtney, put Daddy in a loving bear hug in this photo.  He was bearing with it but also enjoying the loving moment (a year before his death in 1999.)  
Every year when we celebrate Father's Day I give thanks to God for my godly heritage. While living in the badlands of New Mexico my great grandfather led my grandfather to faith.  Farming on the mountains of Arkansas my grandfather led my father to salvation.  While growing up in the plains of Oklahoma my father taught us to live for Christ.  And now for the past twenty-two years Stephen and I have had the greatest privilege of raising Ester in the ways of the Lord as we've ministered in the Northeastern region of the US for nearly 35 years.  Five generations, spread all over the U.S. have declared, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"  There is no greater blessing! This Sunday I will carry my grandfather's Bible to church, as I always do on Fathers Day, in remembrance of my Christian heritage.  Daddy left the treasured Bible to me upon his death in 2000.

Ester and her dad (Christmas 2010)
Here's a recent photo of Ester and her dad.

* Times like this I customarily remind our readers concerning writing a tribute. Here's some information on writing a tribute as well as links to two tributes I have written; one to my parents and another to a friend.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Father's Love"
 Video  Bob Carlisle

"The Family Prayer Song"
 Video  Maranatha Singers  This song has the words to Joshua 24:15, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

"Remember Mercy"
 Video  Brian Doerksen

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  Steve Green

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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