Sunday June 21 Father’s Day
This Is My Father’s World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEE5MvoT3oI
Day By Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzrhqjzQCi4
Reckless Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzVjwHx8rKU
Good Good Father https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfJrxvVnmkE
The Father’s Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0nWPUpZKbk
On the Church calendar this is the 4th Sunday after Pentecost and on our national calendar it is a day we honor Father’s.
God our Father loves us and therefore gives generously. Fathers are to be primarily givers not takers, providers and protectors not predators.
In previous weeks we have taught that:
1st, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth and that he guides us into all truth
2nd, that all truth is God’s truth – spiritual, scientific, relational, psychological. Satan has no truth.
3rd, that when we live in truth we will live in health. Truth affects the way our brain functions and impact our total health: mental, physical, relational
4th, that the Spirit communicates to us that God is Love. God created the world in love and gives generously to all – even to those who do not believe in him. The pain and chaos come not from God but have come when we turn away from loving trust and turn to fear.
We have talked about how our beliefs not only affect our souls but our entire being. Dr Timothy Jennings, a neuroscientist and author of The God Shaped Brain, has discovered in his research that our beliefs affect the health of our brains, and therefore our physical health and relational health.
God created us in his own image, with the ability to adapt and change based on our choices and experiences. When we operate on lies about God and false assumptions of the world, these false ideas damage our thinking – turn our brains away from the truth, change our neural circuitry and warp our minds and characters – we are turned away from the image of God. But also, when we receive truth we are changed or conformed back into the image of God through the working of the Spirit.
God runs the universe on certain principles or laws, constants on which life is designed to operate. These laws or constants are truth or wisdom. The primary law is love. Love generously giving the best to another without regard to self. This love emanates from the heart of God and is the base code for life. But love cannot exist in an atmosphere without truth, love, and freedom.
We are to operate our life by the truth of God’s laws. Lies, distortions, and false perspectives break the circle of love and trust. Love cannot flow where lies are retained. Scripture says we are at war against anything that sets itself up against the knowledge or truth of God (2 Cor 10:3-5). We are to demolish every argument or false idea and take it captive so it cannot do anymore damage with its lies. We are to become obedient to Christ – obedient to truth. We are at war with Satan who lies about God and offers a false perspective on the way the world works. We are at war against those lies in order to restore trust and reopen the channels of love.
In other words, we are to take captive any false idea or lies which create neural pathways that lead away from the image of God. If we stop firing unhealthy neural circuits, those unhealthy thought pattens will degrade or diminish and our characters will be transformed into Christ’s likeness. But if we continue to commit sin – even in our imaginations – unhealthy circuits grow stronger and our character cannot be healed. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is (Prov 23:7). The decisions we make in out hearts determine which neural circuits get fired. When we operate on anything but truth and love the prefrontal cortex is oriented way from truth, love is damaged and fear is inflamed. Holding on to lies prevents us from being molded and restored into God’s image.
Today in Acts 5 we see the result of a false belief system. Any idea that is believed, that does not value truth, love and freedom, leads to death. Any deity that is worshiped, other than the loving heavenly Father, leads to death.
Ananias held to a false idea of God and Saphira held to a false idea of who deserved her loyalty. In every sin and every false religion there is a faulty or distorted picture of God. Ananias held on to fear – he did not know if he could really trust God to care for his needs. He gave in to just an appearance of generosity and truth. He succumbed to the lies of Satan: that God could not be trusted, that he had to hoard and hold something back in case God did not come through. He believed that he could lie and stil gain the favor of men and God.
His beliefs caused his fear circuits to be stronger and so rather than truthful loving generosity he experienced selfishness and sought the praise of man rather than the praise of God.
Ananias is the opposite example of what a godly man should be. Ananias is a poser, wanting to look good in public but in private not trusting in God, not really generous. He tried to make sure all angles were covered …. a little prayer is good, a little church is fine but not really living in the love of God. And his belief led his wife to the same destructive end. Our beliefs have consequences.
God is a good, good father. One you can trust. One who is a good model for all dads to emulate. Jennings says there is documentation that meditation for 12 min per day on the goodness of God, results in measurable healthy growth in the brain. Choosing to believe that God is good and is for you, turning away from doubt, fear, anxiety is calming to the brain and the brain chemistry produces enzymes that act like fertilizer to building healthy brain cells. Real change happens in the mind, when the thoughts change and the brains are calmed.
In a world that offers all kinds of views on God, let Jesus be the lens through with you view God. Jesus said God is love and the Holy Spirit is the truth, giving insight into what Jesus taught and teaches. When we believe in and order our life to be in keeping or in harmony with God’s character of love that Jesus revealed, the Bible and life comes into focus.
Whenever truth is violated, love is damaged and ultimately if continued to be believed and acted upon, love and life will be destroyed. The person’s designed individuality and good is eroded by hate, lust, greed, bitterness, victimhood, etc.
Love cannot exist in an atmosphere without truth and love. This law is not legislated; it is rather one of the principles on which life operates. And our health and happiness are dependent on living in harmony with the laws of God. God never violates his own character of love. God does not take away our freedom or force us to choose his way or truth.
People who live with a belief that God is love and can be trusted are called righteous and they exert a positive influence on others. Prov 20:7 says, “The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them”. Deuteronomy 5:20 says that when your son asks you what is the meaning of the [laws of our God], the righteous man is able to tell him of God’s salvation history and God’s work in the world. Such a person instills in their family the belief in God. Dt 5:4-7 was to be recited daily in order to reaffirm their belief in God: “Hear O Israel the Lord your God is One … love the Lord” … and then later included by Jesus, “love your neighbor”.
We are living in a world that has chosen to reject the idea of God as our loving heavenly Father and even some choose to reject the idea of any God or any authority. Such living has led to hatred, racism, disrespect for law, anarchy, poverty and chaos. Rather than believing that God is love and that each person is loved and is to be valued, we chose to believe we need to make our own way in the world and get ahead. Rather than being defined by what God says about us – that we are loved, important, chosen and living with the belief that all people are also loved and are to be valued – we have chosen the way of Cain who became a murderer, and the way of Achan whose greed caused defeat and death, and the way of Saul whose fear of others led him to seeking advice from a witch.
Racism is the big news story of these past few weeks. According to some, our race, sexual orientation, and gender identity aren’t mere aspects of who we are, they are our defining characteristics. In each of these areas, we are either part of oppressed groups or we are oppressors. Overlooked in this analysis are individual choices and life situations, which often has a far greater impact on a person’s life. For example, whether or not a child grows up with a father is statistically more important than their ethnic identity. Other factors, such as religious commitment, education, sexual decisions, and family stability have profound power to shape the lives and futures as individuals, families, and whole communities. Racism and prejudice of many kinds still plagues our country and is embedded in the hearts of individuals and therefore in institutions and systems. But the world’s analysis and answers to the problem of racism violate what we know to be true about the human condition. Only the Biblical story frames for us human value, human sin, and human hope, which both allows us and calls us to confront racism wherever it rears its ugly head, without embracing a theory that sees people as nothing but their race. Breakpoint 6/17/2020
We often want the benefits and gifts of the Father (peace, harmony, unity) without bowing to his Son. People are chanting “no justice no peace” as justification for rioting. But the Bible says, no Jesus no peace. When you reject the Son, you do not get the peace of God. You can get temporary truces. You can get laws that outlaw certain behaviors but the sin will not be taken care of. And people then turn to band-aid-type solutions to the problems when we do not love and live generously as the Father has loved us. So people shout, “defund the police”, and “tear down all the statues” as if that is the problem. But we need to understand the human condition. Alexander Solzhenitsyn penned the phrase, “The line separating good and evil, passes not through states, nor classes, nor political parties.” The problem is in all of us, in every human heart. Because of sin and evil, law enforcement will always be necessary this side of the New Earth and reform of law enforcement and all institutions is and always will be necessary and ongoing.
Love and truth is the law of God that leads to real life and health. Believing in a God of love changes us to live in truth and love and impacts our behavior and influence on others.
What we know to be true from mountains of research, the most powerful head start any child can have is being raised in a home with married mom and dad. That remains the single, most consistent and accurate indicator of a child’s long-term success.
Rob Kenney didn’t have that head start. This newly-minted YouTube celebrity, with grown children of his own, had a father who walked out on him when he was fourteen. Unsure of where to go, Kenney moved in with his older brother, and slowly learned the skills his dad wasn’t there to teach him.
Realizing now what all he missed, Kenney started a YouTube channel to teach skills to young people without dads in their lives. The videos are about things dads typically teach their sons and daughters: how to tie a tie, how to change a tire, how to unclog a sink, how to shave, and how to hang a shelf.
Kenney named his YouTube channel, “Dad, how do I?” When his son, apparently aware of and willing to share the blessings he’s enjoyed with such a great father, posted a link to his dad’s channel on the photo sharing site Imgur, it exploded. In just two months, the channel has over 2 million subscribers.
According to Kenney, the response to his channel has been overwhelming, and not just from the huge number of clicks and eyeballs. The comments people are leaving on his videos, thanking him for the channel, are heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.
Both young men and young women have told him that his videos were filling a void their absent fathers left behind, and not just the how-to tips. They thank Kenney for his understanding and his affirmation. They thank him for the way he frequently tells viewers words they have never heard, “I’m proud of you.” They even thank him for the corny dad jokes.
“Thank you for being the dad I never had,” wrote one. “God bless you, sir,” wrote another, adding how he had learned that “just because you don’t have a good dad, doesn’t mean YOU cannot be one! Someone has to break the pattern.” Another observed: “Sir, you’ve unwittingly adopted the entire Internet.”
Kenney is blown away, but still humble. “I didn’t always do everything right with my kids,” he admits but he recognizes, as Intellectual Takeout did when they broke the story about his channel, America has a devastating fatherless ache. “The pain is pretty real in our world,” said Kenney. “Hopefully this will help alleviate some of it.”
Of course, I hope Kenney’s idea goes viral well beyond YouTube and well beyond the Internet. I pray this story of a dad making how-to videos reminds us of the central, irreplaceable value of fathers, and inspires other men to act as fathers to the fatherless.
After all, our response to the head start kids with loving dads shouldn’t be, “Hey, that’s not fair!” Instead we should say: “Everybody should have that.” If the Church today is to be effective in binding up the wounds of a broken culture, it will have to model and pass on the love of our Heavenly Father for the fatherless. Maybe it’s as simple as just being there to answer a question like, “Dad, how do I…?” (Breakpoint 6/19/2020)
Dennis Kinlaw, This Day with the Master, february 6,7,8 writes,
It is surprising to find in Scripture how loving and close God wants to be with us. There is much in the Gospels about the kingdom. Jesus told his disciples, “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near'” (Matt. 10:7). That God is Lord over his creation is clear. But a prior figure used in Scripture demonstrates the character of God’s kingship. Before God was King, he was Father, and his fatherhood is more ultimate than his kingship. Kingship speaks of his relationship to his creation. He reigns and will reign over it all. But fatherhood speaks of a relationship within the very nature of God that was there before he spoke anything into existence. In the bosom of eternity, before there was time or space or humanity, the second person of the triune Godhead called the first person of the Trinity not Lord, but Father. So the family is a more ultimate social reality than the kingdom. The origin of the family is not in time but in God. That is why Jesus said, “When you pray, say: ‘Father'” (Luke 11:2), and that is why new believers find within their spirit a voice born of the Holy Spirit crying “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6).
The parent-child relationship—the family—is an eternal concept, not merely a temporal or historical one. Everyone you will ever meet has a family. People come in families. Is that because God does too? The early Christians understood that he does when they began their affirmation of faith with the words “I believe in God the Father.” Do you need to allow the Holy Spirit to change your response when you hear the word Father or the word family? Some of us come from such broken families that we assume that God the Father is not good and that a heavenly family would be the nightmare of our earthly reality. It’s not true. Don’t let your brokenness keep you from finding healing in the perfect family.
The church leaders of the first three centuries emphasized the fatherhood of God. Their personal love for God the Father influenced their work, theologies, and lives profoundly. It determined their prayers, their liturgy, their doxologies, and even their creeds. Note what comes first in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God the Father.” Before an assertion of God’s sovereignty or the recognition of him as the Creator, the Source of all things, comes the affirmation of his fatherhood. The beginning of all things comes from a father. The family metaphor is primary in the early church. In the Middle Ages and still today the understanding of God as Judge and the language of courtrooms and laws predominate, but this understanding is secondary for the earliest church fathers. For them the concepts of reconciliation and healing were even more important than that of justification. The picture was far more personal and, I think, far more powerful. Elevating the picture of God as Father so it is the primary image we have of God does not diminish his other roles, but enables us to understand them better. If the Judge is our Father, the judicial process is going to be very different from a process in which he is just an impartial third party. We must remember that before God ever created a creature, he was Father. This is who he is in his essence from all eternity.
We as Christians often forget how privileged we are. We enjoy many benefits of the gospel that people in other religions never understand. Several years ago I had the honor of hearing a woman from Pakistan tell about her conversion. For many years, her husband had been a major figure in the Pakistani government. She told about reading the New Testament and how impossible it was for her to believe that people could begin a prayer with the words “Our Father.” One thing she knew about Allah was that he was not like humans. He was greater than human beings and infinitely different; human categories could never be used to describe him, certainly not one as personal and direct as “father.” She said that when she came to faith in Jesus Christ, her first response was to lift her heart and say, “Father,” and the moment she uttered the word, she fell on the floor in absolute terror of being killed for her impertinence. But instead, the heavenly Father came to her in all his love and compassion, and she heard one word: “Daughter.” She recalled, “I wept uncontrollably at the reality that God in his sovereignty and greatness could belong to me in that kind of relationship.”
He is our Father. Do we need a reminder of the depth of the love and compassion he has for us?
Steven Curtis Chapman reminds us that God as loving father is listening.
Still Listening, Steven Curtis Chapman
I would lay me down to sleep
And pray the Lord my soul to keep
And though I never saw Him there
I believe He heard each prayer
For God was great, And God was good
And I knew if I spoke the words
He would be listening
The years can take us far away
From the simple child like faith
But I am longing to return
To the place where I first learned
That God is great, and God is good
So, I will speak the words
God, our Father, once again
I bow my head to pray
You are my Father and my friend, and You hear every word I say
A prayer for forgiveness, A desperate cry for help
Or praise flowing from a thankful heart
Like each time before, I come knowing You’re still listening