Crows Nest Uniting Church
Fathers Day • 7 Sep 2014

Psalm 128
Romans 8:31 - 39

Paul Howell



FATHERS DAY address “Unconditional love, from the Father”

[Play extract from “You are my King – Amazing Love” by Chris Tomlin]

Thank you Chris for this opportunity to share this address. For those who were fortunate to share in the service with Ace Kim and the Oneheart team last month, you may recall the song just played. This song inspired my reflections for this Fathers Day address. Let me share the words in the chorus again:

Isn’t this the yardstick for the realisation of unconditional love? That is why I have titled this address.

As we read in Romans 8v.38-39:

  • For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is Fathers Day and apart from deciding which tie or underwear to buy Dad, it is great for society to pause and reflect on our Fathers and also, how am I performing in the role of Father, Husband/Partner in my family?

If you don’t mind, I will indulge with recollections of my family life so let me introduce you to the source of my inspiration and joy as I have my family in church today.

[Paul introduces his family attending the service]

Now back to my early life……..

My two brothers and I spent an early part of our life without a Father in the home, as our Father Jack separated when I was 3 years old. Mum had to bring up her three boys, of which I was the youngest and she performed this challenge magnificently as we felt secure in our family unit.

Mum was the hunter, collector and disciplinarian, but every day we felt secure in her unconditional love for us. Making ends meet would have been a great challenge but we had all we needed.

After 6 years we were blessed to have Ross enter our family life. Ross became Father to us three boys. Ross worked very hard all his life and this taught me a valuable lesson – but I also learnt another lesson - it’s not the amount of time you spend with your children, it’s the quality of that time. Ross loves his boys, now men, and we all reciprocate with that same love. He especially likes it when someone say’s, those son’s of yours look just like you!!

During this time I found Christ at an Easter camp and I was drawn by the enormity of the love of God the Father to send His son Jesus as the greatest gift of LOVE of all time. As well as my established family values I now had the life of Christ as a model to follow. The power this provides for being a husband, Father and grandfather is shared in Psalm 128:

  1. Blessings on all who reverence and trust the Lord—on all who obey him!
  2. Their reward shall be prosperity and happiness.
  3. Your wife shall be contented in your home.
    And look at all those children!
    There they sit around the dinner table
    as vigorous and healthy as young olive trees.
  4. That is God’s reward to those who reverence and trust him.
  5. May the Lord continually bless you with heaven’s blessing as well as with human joys.
  6. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren!

I HAVE BEEN BLESSED TO WITNESS THIS PSALM COME TO LIFE

The power we all have from God’s unconditional love is the answer to many of the challenges we face in society today. Each day we see references to depression, violence, addictions and loneliness, even hope less ness. The good news is that God the Father loves us, it’s unconditional and ever present. We need to take the time to build our relationship with Him as this provides assurances and confidence in dealings with our family, neighbours and importantly - ourselves.

We face many challenges bringing up children in this society. You can’t escape these challenges and I surely don’t have the answers, but I have the experience to share three insights that helped me:

1. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE - Your children respect, even rely on the unconditional love of their parents. As you lie awake at 2am waiting for your son or daughter to return home, the children must know that home is a safe haven where they are loved and embraced. As my Uncle Roy (with three daughters) told me “mate when they ring you at 3am to pick them up say yes straight way and bring them home and tuck them into bed – the inquisition can start in the morning”.

Sometimes we go through tough times and we might say to ourselves “how can I love someone who did this to me?” Then we need to look no further than my earlier reading in Romans : “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

The second insight is…………………

2. SIEZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO COMMUNICATE Never stop communicating – as children grow up the opportunities to have meaningful communication become less so grab every opportunity when it arises. When we think of Jesus’ life, he never missed an opportunity to communicate – whether it was the lady at the well, the tax collector up a tree or the disciples around the dinner table. He must have been tired, disappointed, distracted but he always communicated with love and respect. Let me share the insight of James Witt in his article… JESUS THE MASTER COMMUNICATOR: James Witt (District Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church, Oregon:

In this article James shares an insight that we can apply in our communications -
Jesus Adapted His Communication to People's Nature and Situation

“Jesus specialized in custom-made communication. He carefully and sensitively crafted His communication to accommodate the nature and life situation of the people with whom He talked.
Jesus knew people. John tells us: "Jesus...knew all men. He knew the nature of people, their inside.
He also knew their life situation, their outside, the external factors and forces which shaped them. He used this knowledge of people to communicate effectively with them.
Jesus began His communication where people were and not where He assumed they ought to be. He recognized and respected such factors as their world view, culture, previous knowledge and experiences and attention span.
He respected each person as a unique individual.
He talked the people's language, using common terms, common issues and common images (bread, wine, water.) to communicate God's Good News”.

My third and final insight………

3. LIKE EVERY JOURNEY THERE WILL BE BUMPS ALONG THE ROAD BUT joy comes from arriving at the destination together –

When we hit those bumps along the way don’t just rely on your instinct, rather pray and reflect, talk with other people who travel your road. As we get older it is our children who have to manage our bumpy ways, and I notice this happening more and more with my children and I can assure them I will generate more bumps for them to deal with!

I recently attended a training session at Father Chris Riley’s “Youth off the streets” mentoring program. I am very impressed with the framework in which they approach their work with young people who are going through difficult times. The program is aimed at moving a person through four developmental stages: Their objective is to help the young person discover greatness within , by engaging, supporting and providing opportunities to facilitate positive life choices.

Stage 1 – BELONGING establish a sense of belonging, loving others and self.
Stage 2 – MASTERY identifying and building skills and talents to achieve personal growth,
Stage 3 – INDEPENDENCE through self respect and discipline make their own positive life choices.
Stage 4 – SERVICE helping others creates their own proof of worthiness. It is meaningful that the pinnacle is reached when people start serving others.

The objective is that all four stages need to be in tact to have a self secure, pro social approach to life. As Christians we know that God made each of us in His likeness and therefore we know that greatness lies within every person.

In conclusion, Fatherhood is a blessing in that whatever investment I have made it has been repaid many times over. Happy Fathers Day and I pray the very best for all Fathers on their journey and can I leave you with this quote: