A Father's World | Pastor Mike Fortune | June 19, 2010


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A Father's World
by Pastor Mike Fortune
June 19, 2010

Intro Vid: Proud Dad Ted Kranz 

1.    We are always loved by Abba [1 John 4:9-10; Psalm 103:13-14; Romans 8:15]
2.    We're becoming like Him [1 John 4:11; 1 John 3:2]
3.    Don’t forget to give thanks [1 John 4:16-17; 1 John 2:24-25]
During the early morning hours of June 6, 2010, the most devastating tornado to hit NW Ohio in years took the life of five people including a 4-year-old boy and his mother, a 21-year-old woman trying to take cover at a police station, a woman in her 50s struck by debris while driving and a father in his 40s who left his family protected in the basement of his home. He left to hook up the generator to the sump pump ensuring the low flood plain wouldn't allow water into the basement and to retrieve one of the family's dogs. Sadly, debris from the tornado killed Ted Kranz instead. He is survived by his loving wife; Cynthia, children; Katie, Courtney, and Michael Kranz.

Ted was a member of St. Jerome Catholic Church. In his spare time, he enjoyed boating, fishing, golfing and tennis, and he especially enjoyed attending his children's sporting events. But it was his daughter's graduation, Katelyn, which was supposed to take place later that same day, to which he was most looking forward. She was the Valedictorian of her senior class. And will be studying Pharmacology at the University of Michigan. Because the tornado caused $100 million in damages and ruined or severely damaged 100 houses, including Katelyn's Lake High School, her graduation took place on June 8 at Owens Community College. She didn't give a speech, but did attend and was overwhelmed with the standing ovation she received with her diploma.

Her father's death reminds us that this still is a father's world. And when any of ours SO love the world that they end up dying in it, protecting those they love, people of faith and even no faith applaud. Today, on Father’s Day weekend, we’re going to do a couple things to recognize the sacrifice of our fathers. At the conclusion of my message today, we’re going to pass the plates for an offering to benefit victims of the Lake Township tornado victims. There’s a local four star charity called International Service of Hope in Waterville that we’re going to be giving the money to. And the second the thing we’re gong to do, in partnership with Kurt Schuster, is give away one free car wash to every father or father figure here today. Because in the body of Christ, in the community of saints, in the priesthood of all believers, we all have children. So don’t rush out of here today before you get that.

These are just a couple simply ways we can express our gratitude and heart felt appreciation for the love our earthly fathers and father figures have shared with us. And we do so cheerfully and more than willingly, like the crowd at the graduation, especially when our earthly fathers remind us of the love our heavenly father heaps on us first. And that’s what I was reminded of this week when  I was reading 1 John 4. So let’s start there this morning. “9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

How quickly we forget this: That God showed his love among us. That He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. John 3:16 adds that he did that because SO loved the world. And by that, it means the people in the world. Not everything in the world. We know this is true, even though Hebrews 1, Colossians 1, and John 1 says Jesus created everything in the world, because when Jesus was confronted with death in John 11:33, 35, and 38 before he raised Lazarus from the dead, the Bible says “he wept” and was “deeply moved.” The word for moved there means angry. Jesus gots angry at death. Why? Because our passage today tells us that our Father sent the son to give us life. I think that means an abundant [John 10:10] and eternal life [1 John 2:24-25].

So when we turn on the news and hear that 5 people died in a tornado in the middle of the night, we too should be “deeply moved.” We too should weep. This is not the way God wants it. What breaks the heart of God should break ours as well. What’s sad is that often it takes the death of a father of three before the multitudes applaud. And recognize the sacrifice of earthly fathers who love like our heavenly father.

But every year when father’s day rolls around, I am reminded that everyone doesn’t have earthly fathers like Ted Kranz who are active in their children’s lives and would do anything to protect them. In fact, studies reveal that 85% of prisoners, 78% of high school dropouts, 82% of teenage girls who become pregnant, the majority of drug and alcohol abusers—they all come from households with absentee fathers [Washington Times 12/19/95 - A19]. This seems to indicate that the problems children encounter are not related simply to single-parent households, but absentee fathers households!

So let’s admit it: A father can be absent while still at home. We’re not talking about the obviously bad fathers who abuse their families or abandon them. We’re talking about the ones who neglect them. Because they’re too busy climbing the corporate ladder or playing golf to bring them to church and raise them in a Christian home. The number of families in America that exist with these kinds of absentee fathers is an astounding and devastating 25.8 percent! If you were raised or are in home where your father has abused, abandoned, or neglected you, please know that this is not what God wants for you either. God weeps with you and is deeply moved by the pain many families silently absorb by hurtful fathers.

But the good news is if you’re one of the 25%, you do have a heavenly father not like that. And this is point number one: We are always loved by Abba. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Some of you know my wife is a home health care pediatric nurse. She sees lots of homes with children in them with absentee fathers. In response, she wrote this little poem she sometimes share with her clients. “Yes, you have a Daddy who loves you tenderly / And though you may not see Him, He's as real as real can be / Yes, you have a Daddy who calls you by your name / He knows everything about you and loves you just the same / Yes, you have a Daddy who gives you gifts galore / Love, joy, peace, and happiness and life for evermore / Yes, you have a Daddy who will be with you when you're sad / He can mend your broken heart and help you to feel glad / Yes, you have a Daddy who has a listening ear / And if you need to talk, He is always near / Yes, you have a Daddy who can show you the way / He will give you wisdom and knowledge every day / Yes, you have a Daddy with shoulders to carry things / And when he lifts you up you'll feel like you have wings / Yes, you have a Daddy someday His face you'll see / Then He will hold you close and say, ‘Come home with me’”

Godly fathers are compassionate fathers. Who always love. Never neglect, abuse, or abandon. Psalm 103:13-14 says it this way: “13As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Brennan Manning in his book Ragamuffin Gospel is so good on this. He  reminds us that word God inspired Bible writers to use to describe the true relationship between us and God is daddy or papa. That’s what Abba means. Abba is the transliteration of the Aramaic word for father. It occurs three times in the New Testament. It is always used as a direct address to God the Father. In Gethsemane, Mark 14:36 says Jesus uses it when He asks the Father to take away his cup. In Galatians 4:6, it is the cry of the Spirit of God in the believer. And in Romans 8:15 Paul says, “15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

Here ‘Abba’ is used in conjunction with the word Father – “Abba, Father.” Father is the translation of Abba, but by putting the two together, the address to God is both personalized and kept in the proper tone of respect. The double title has both intimacy and dignity. We are always loved by our Abba. He is compassionate. Active in our lives. He SO loved us that he sent the son to give us life abundant and eternal. He is deeply moved when he sees death and abuse. By dying on the cross, John 12:31 says the prince of this evil world was driven out. And as Christians, by faith, we can actively with our time and money help others begin to see the new heaven and the new earth invading this old one—even with its tornados and storms.

When we align ourselves this way with God, allowing what breaks the heart of God to also break ours, when we not only applaud the sacrifice of others but also actively sacrifice our time or money for others, we are becoming more and more like our heavenly Abba. And this is point number two. We're becoming like Him. Turn with me back to 1 John 4 and skip down to verse 11. “11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” John is repeating himself. He said the same thing even more specifically in chapter three. Take a look at 1 John 3:2. “2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

NOW we are children of God. Everybody knows there’s life after death. What people are wondering today is there life before death? Do we live resurrected lives? If the same power that resurrected Christ from the grave is at work in the lives of his children, don’t you think that should be observed? The lives we live before we die should prove by our deeds that we are children of God don’t you think?

Galatians 2:20 and Luke 9:23 says we can die right. Daily. We’re talking about how that works every Wednesday night @ 6:30pm so come on out for Salad for You. And while we’re learning how to surrender to God since we already are children of God, we understand that God is not done with us yet! What we will be has not yet been made known. It’s like that orange construction sign you see west bound Sylvania  “Men at work.” Well, God is at work in all of us. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says by behold Jesus, we will be changed. Philippians 1:6 promises that he will finish what he started. And Hebrews 10:14 says, “He made perfect forever those being made holy.”

But when Jesus returns, we shall be like him because God is making us like him. He is moving in our hearts and lives and changing us to become more like him. Notice: This is God’s job, not yours. He’s the one bragging about finishing what he started. Our job is not to change our spouse. Or save our father. Our job is to show love and respect. Even if we don’t always agree with what our spouse or earthly fathers do or say. That’s what honoring your father means by the way. It doesn’t mean obeying everything he says. Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” If what anyone asks of you contradicts Scripture and is not “in the Lord”, if anyone asks you to do something illegal, immoral, or unChristlike, then respectfully you must disobey! Because our job is to serve God not man. Does that make sense?

And the good news is when we do so, God promises in 1 John 3 and 4 that we can and will become more and more like him. A little poem I read recently said the same thing. Listen to this: “There are little eyes upon you, and they're watching night and day / There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say / There are little hands all eager to do anything you do / And a little boy who's dreaming of the day he'll be like you / You're the little fellow's idol. You're the wisest of the wise / In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise / He believes in you devoutly, holds to all you say and do / He will say and do, in your way, when he's grown up just like you / There's a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you're always right / And his ears are always open, and he watches day and night /  You're setting an example, every day, in all you do / For the little boy who's waiting to grow up to be like you” [Author Unknown].

And that is a sobering responsibility that God takes on behalf of his children. So you don’t have to freak out about these little eyes watching you. Because they’re only watching what God is doing in you. The problems come only when we aren’t watching God. And obeying Him and living a life of sacrifice and showing love like Abba. So we must know and rely on the love God has for us. And this is point number three: Don’t forget to give thanks for and rely on the love God has for us. 1 John 4:16-17 says, “16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.”

Don’t forget to rely on the love God has for us. He is our Abba. Do you really believe there is nothing you can do to make him love you more? Do you really believe there is nothing you can do to make him love you less? David was a man after God’s own heart. Yet, he was an adulterer and murderer and liar and oh by the way, a terrible father. During his 40 year reign, the borders of Israel expanded and the nation was more prosperous than at any other time in its history. But during that time, David’s family was in ruins. Did you know 2 Samuel 14:28 says there was a time during this man’s reign when he didn’t talk to his own son for over two years—even though they both lived within the walls of Jerusalem? Can you imagine how awkward and difficult that had to be for Absalom to know that his father did not want to see him? How many special celebrations and family gathering passed by without father and son speaking to each other?

We must know and rely on the love our Abba has for all of us. Even if our children disappoint us, we must not shut them from our face. If there’s nothing we can do to make God loves us more and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us less—as selfish and heinous as some of our actions can be like Absalom’s—why do we require more of our children who disappoint us more than God requires of us? Is that fair? Point number three is as timely today as it was when Scripture was written. Don’t forget to give thanks . We must know and rely on the love our Abba has for all of us. 1 John 2:24-25 concludes, “24See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.”

At this time, to help us give thanks and align our lives with those of our Abba’s, Glenn’s gonna come play a song and the deacons are going to pass the plates so we can collect an extra offering this week. The offering that you put in the plates right now will be given to International Service of Hope—based out of Perrysburg, Ohio. They are a local four-star non-profit organization doing great work abroad but equally impressive work especially right here in NW Ohio. Following the tornado, they responded immediately to our neighbors in Millbury—Ted Kranz’s home town.

On your way out of church today, we will still be collecting our normal church budget offering. So as you leave, you may place your tithe envelopes and offering in the box at the foot of the cross or put them in the plates the deacons will be holding by the doors at the rear of the sanctuary. But this first offering, the one we’re collecting with the plates right now, all of it is going directly to International Service of Hope—the local charity providing immediate help to the victims of the tornado that left a strip of destruction 300 yards wide and 10 miles long in Lake Township. Does everyone understand?

What breaks the heart of God should break ours. Thank you for showing love and giving thanks and becoming more like our Abba every day. And thank you to all the Godly fathers and grandfathers and father figures who by your words and deeds remind us that this still is our father’s world.