Happenings around Antioch

Love the Lord Most of All, Fathers!

A man named Steve Huffman wrote a column in our local paper several years ago about some great and not-so-great moments in the history of American fatherhood. Here’s a sampling from his timeline:

1861- Abraham Lincoln becomes president and the following year, his son, Willie, 11, dies. Thereafter, Lincoln takes great comfort in the company of his 8-year-old son, Tad, even after the boy drives a pair of goats through the White House.

1901- Teddy Roosevelt, father of 6, is sworn in as president. Of his outspoken daughter, Alice, he says, “I can do one of two things. I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.”

1950 – Harry Truman stands up for his daughter, Margaret, a concert singer, after she is hit with a scathing review in The Washington Post. “I have never met you,” Truman writes the reviewer, “but if I do, you’ll need a new nose…”

1974 – Harry Chapin releases “Cat’s in the Cradle,” a song about a dad who doesn’t spend enough time with his son who in turn grows up and doesn’t spend enough time with his dad. Across the country, men of all ages experience the ultimate guilt trip.

I love those stories, and I know it is tough being a good father. A Father’s Day card says, “Dad, everything I ever learned I learned from you, except one thing. The family car really will do 110.”

Fatherhood doesn’t look any easier when you look at the examples of fathers in the Scriptures. 

Jacob played favorites and ended up causing a family war, where11 of the brothers sold their brother Joseph into slavery. Jephthah made a foolish vow to God, promising that the first thing to come out of his doors when he arrived home from war he would sacrifice as a burnt offering…his only child, a daughter.

David, the man after God’s own heart, provoked his son Absalom to wrath, because David refused to see him or speak to him for 2 years. It ended in civil war and the death of Absalom. And one of the saddest moments for fatherhood was when Eli, a high priest and a judge of Israel, was judged by God and the nation of Israel was also judged, losing the ark of the covenant to the Philistines. Why were he and Israel judged?  God said to Eli, through young Samuel, “And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.” 

Fatherhood is not for wimps. And I know sometimes we fathers feel like we are being beat up on from all sides. We know men and fathers are reviled in the media. Sometimes men even feel like they’re not safe at church. One little boy said to the preacher, “Boy that was a good sermon. My dad slumped way down today!” 

The Bible has much to say about being a father and one of the best places to start is Deuteronomy 6. There, God tells fathers what is most important, and how to live that out before our children: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

There is one God in three persons and he alone is God. We stand on that creed and proclaim it, no matter the cost. Martin Luther, on trial for his faith said, Here I stand, I can do no other. Joshua said, Choose this day whom you will serve… Peter, on trial for his faith, said, We must obey God rather than men… Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, on trial for their lives, said, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. 

Antioch hosted some people from Voice of the Martyrs years ago, and one of them told the story and showed the picture of a 10 year old boy, living in Sudan, who was captured by militant Muslims, forced to build a fire, and then was ordered to pray to Allah or be thrown into the fire. “It is impossible,” he replied. “I am a Christian and belong to Jesus.” So they threw him into the fire. He was badly burned but survived. 

We in America sometimes run from the least amount of pushback from scoffers, not to mention violent persecution.  God asked Jeremiah this question:  If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, then how will you compete with horses?” 

Let’s stand, fathers, and love God with all that we have. Our children need that kind of father.