Happy father’s day. Originally rooted in honoring St. Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father, in the 1500’s by the Catholic Church, an official recognition did not come in the United States until 1972 when signed into law by Richard Nixon. Why celebrate? I believe at the core of every man beats a heart for justice. A heart implanted by the divine too often twisted by sin but yearning to do justice.
Dads are providers. No one needs to teach them this. Nothing wounds a man deeper than losing a job or the means to provide. Too often we attack men. We call them “deadbeat dads”. One Facebook Page railing against such dads has more than 10,000 followers.
We create a vicious cycle. Men hear they are worthless deadbeats who run from responsibility. At their core men want to be responsible. But without support, role models, and broken systems that make earning a living wage difficult, the default becomes abandonment. No excuses, but we need to break the cycle.
We must help men understand, their desire to provide comes from a God who provides. “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Acts 14:17
God promises to meet all our material needs. But the desire to provide built into men goes beyond money. God wants men to lead families in justice, kindness and humility (Mic. 6:8). He wants men to reflect the heart of their Father who gives daily bread but desires kingdom living (Mt. 6:9-13).
This is the subject of my friend Dr. Tony Evans new movie Kingdom Men Rising. Watch the trailer and gather a group to live stream from Lifeway. Join Tony at our Open the Gates fundraiser on Friday, October 4 at Drury Lane. Considering being a sponsor of this major event to demonstrate to others the importance of justice that breaks cycles.
One Dads Story
I’ll call him David. Others might call him a deadbeat dad. David has a 3 year old daughter. The mom told him to get lost. David did. Then he ran into the mom and daughter at a WalMart. His heart broke. He saw how the girl did not have a father. He wanted to change that. But he did not have the money or knowledge to do the right thing. Fortunately he found a gospel justice center.
David walked in and could not believe how well he was greeted. He was overwhelmed by loneliness. He had no father or family and his heart ached. One of our advocates helped him see that just as his daughter needed a father, David needed a heavenly father. Dads make mistakes. But we have a Father who rescues and restores us in relationship with himself and others. David prayed to accept Jesus.
The lawyer is helping David establish a relationship with his daughter and provide support. He also gave David his first Bible and provided homework to read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and return to take the next steps in the paperwork and report on what he is learning. That’s breaking a cycle!
Dads desire to protect. Every teenage daughter knows this. In our broken world this desire is too often twisted. Protection becomes power and a desire for control. This leads to the harassment or abuse of women. Sin causes this injustice. No excuses. Justice changes the story. Justice returns the built in desire of God to protect others.
In Justice we stand for the poor and vulnerable. “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” Ps. 12:5. Dads demonstrate this best when they lead in serving the poor and needy.
From their earliest memory my twin sons, Daniel and Joseph, have watched me serve others. They have joined in serving. As small children they would sit with other children while typically their mom met with a lawyer. They entered into the world of their neighbor. As they grew older, we served together in multiple other community service ministries. Whether hanging out with other students who were homeless, or stuffing bags for Feed my Starving Children, they learned to be other focused.
An imperfect dad
I am not a perfect dad, but I have a perfect Dad. His instruction guide to me is the Bible. That guide has two major themes – idolatry and injustice. Both require me to be selfless. I must die to myself and not allow anything to come before my father. That is an idol. Removing that is understanding the gospel. Good news that I can surrender my life to a perfect dad.
But I must not treat salvation as a golden ticket to heaven. God has me on Earth for a purpose and that purpose is to serve others. We must use our time, talent and treasure in the loving service of neighbors in need. That is justice. Justice restores what is broken and rights what is wrong. The desire to protect built into every dad’s heart.
Honestly it is hard to be a dad today. Without a doubt men fail. But in a rush to question maleness, we are undermining the beauty of being a dad. Dads persevere. When things get tough, men rise to the occasion. They demonstrate courage and self-sacrifice. They gladly lift others up.
Dads matter. I know I am blessed because I have a dad. He is as imperfect as me. But he loves his heavenly father and served as a faithful servant and pastor for 40 years. He continues to volunteer regularly in the service of others. He remains faithfully married to my mom. They both have experienced challenges in work, health, life and ministry. But he perseveres. Dad presses on in the race toward his eventual homecoming. I know he will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Mt. 25:21.
I pass this lineage of blessing down to my sons. I pray that if the Lord is willing they will have children one day to continue this blessing. Whether you have a heritage of faith or are the first generation in your family, persevere. God is in the change business. Break old cycles. Trust God, do justice and give your Father in heaven all the glory. Happy Father’s Day.