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6-19-22 “Fathers and Families of Faith”

“Fathers and Families of Faith” (Galatians 1:1-10)

David Peterson / General

Faith / Galatians 1:1–10

Sermon Type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: Faith receives the gift of a new life that reflects God’s character. This is the Christian’s secret to being a father and the secret to being a Christian family.

Introduction

‘Internet Dad’ Provides Connection for Lonely People

Rob Kenney’s YouTube channel, “Dad, how do I?” went viral last year. Kenney released his first video shortly after the coronavirus pandemic was declared. He wanted to provide practical advice (“How to fix most running toilets”) and emotional support (“I am proud of you!”). But in a time defined by isolation and loneliness, his messages resonated with far more than the 30 or 40 subscribers he expected. Now he surpassed 3.4 million subscribers (4.02 million now) and 15 million views.

When “Good Morning America” referred to the 57-year-old as the “Internet’s Dad,” followers flooded him with stories about their parents, broken relationships, and traumatic experiences. Kenney said, “It breaks my heart that so many people need my channel.”

The seeds for his videos were planted in Kenney’s tumultuous childhood. When his parents divorced, his dad gained custody. His mom was legally declared unfit to parent as she turned to alcohol. Soon after, Kenney’s dad met another woman. On the weekend, he would stock up his kids with groceries and then leave them as he drove an hour away. After a year, he gathered his children to deliver a devastating message: “I’m done raising kids.”

Kenney, who was 14 at the time, moved in with his 23-year-old newlywed brother in a 280-square-foot trailer. His teenage experience was full of anger, sorrow, and confusion as he vowed to never cause his own children such pain. That pledge broadened when he realized he wasn’t the only kid without a dad around, so he doubled-down and decided he’d also help anyone else who needed a father figure.

Once Kenney reached his early 50s, feeling like he had accomplished his goal of raising two good adults. He thought he had plenty more life to live, zeroing in on the second part of his vow: to help others. His daughter says “I genuinely think he was put on Earth to be a dad.”

Over the past year, Kenney has leaned on his faith to prevent himself from feeling too overwhelmed. His early-morning habit of reading the Bible provides him with calmness and clarity. Last Father’s Day, his followers mailed him scores of cards (some handmade, many heartfelt). The fact that strangers are celebrating him at all reflects a man who found time to share his story—and a world that was desperate to hear it.

You can view his YouTube channel here.

Source: Josh Paunil, “Amid the pandemic, people crave connection. The ‘Internet’s Dad’ provides it,” The Washington Post (6-17-21), PreachingToday.com

I. Faith brings God’s reality and power into our lives (Galatians 3:1-5)

1. This reality is grace and peace (Galatians 1:3)

Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 41: Galatians (Comment)

“grace and peace to you,” may seem to be nothing more than the union of Greek and Hebrew forms of address.

For Paul, however, “grace” and “peace” had great theological meaning, as his addition “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” makes evident. In Rom 5, for example, “peace” is what characterizes (or should characterize, if the verb of v 1 is subjunctive and not indicative) the believer’s life (5:1–11) because of the “grace” brought by Christ (5:12–21). In fact, “grace” and “peace” seem to be Paul’s (and the NT’s) shorthand way of epitomizing the essence of the gospel, with particular reference to its cause and its effect.

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Because I’m Yours. The little girl who finally went to Disney World

Our middle daughter had been previously adopted by another family. I am sure this couple had the best of intentions, but they never quite integrated the adopted child into their family of biological children. After a couple of rough years, they dissolved the adoption, and we ended up welcoming an eight-year-old girl into our home.

For one reason or another, whenever our daughter’s previous family vacationed at Disney World, they took their biological children with them, but they left their adopted daughter with a family friend. Usually — at least in the child’s mind — this happened because she did something wrong that precluded her presence on the trip.

And so, by the time we adopted our daughter, she had seen many pictures of Disney World and she had heard about the rides and the characters and the parades. But when it came to passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, she had always been the one left on the outside. Once I found out about this history, I made plans to take her to Disney World the next time a speaking engagement took our family to the southeastern United States.

What I didn’t expect was that the prospect of visiting this dreamworld would produce a stream of downright devilish behavior in our newest daughter. In the month leading up to our trip to the Magic Kingdom, she stole food when a simple request would have gained her a snack. She lied when it would have been easier to tell the truth. She whispered insults that were carefully crafted to hurt her older sister as deeply as possible — and, as the days on the calendar moved closer to the trip, her mutinies multiplied.

A couple of days before our family headed to Florida, I pulled our daughter into my lap to talk through her latest escapade. “I know what you’re going to do,” she stated flatly. “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?”

I asked her, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?”

She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed.

“Are you part of this family?”

She nodded again.

“Then you’re going with us. Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong — but you’re part of our family, and we’re not leaving you behind.”

I’d like to say that her behaviors grew better after that moment. They didn’t. Her choices pretty much spiraled out of control at every hotel and rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista. Still, we headed to Disney World on the day we had promised, and it was a typical Disney day. Overpriced tickets, overpriced meals, and lots of lines, mingled with just enough manufactured magic to consider maybe going again someday.

In our hotel room that evening, a very different child emerged. She was exhausted, pensive, and a little weepy at times, but her month-long facade of rebellion had faded. When bedtime rolled around, I prayed with her, held her, and asked, “So how was your first day at Disney World?”

She closed her eyes and snuggled down into her stuffed unicorn. After a few moments, she opened her eyes ever so slightly. “Daddy,” she said, “I finally got to go to Disney World. But it wasn’t because I was good; it’s because I’m yours.”

Source: PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace By Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones

2. This reality is being rescued from the present evil age (Galatians 1:4)

The Message of Galatians (b. Christ Died to Rescue Us from This Present Age)

Christianity is, in fact, a rescue religion. The Greek verb in this verse is a strong one (exaireō, in the middle voice). It is used in the Acts of the rescue of the Israelites from their Egyptian slavery (7:34), of the rescue of Peter both from prison and from the hand of Herod the King (12:11), and of the rescue of Paul from an infuriated mob about to lynch him (23:27). This verse in Galatians is the only place where it is used metaphorically of salvation. Christ died to rescue us.

II. Faith needs to cultivated and protected (Galatians 1:6)

“You must TRAIN YOURSELF to firmly believe that he is able to do great things for you and that he is willing to do them. This KIND of FAITH is ALIVE and REAL. It will spread throughout every aspect of your life and TRANSFORM you.”

–Martin Luther, LUTHER’S WORKS, American Edition 22:21 cited in FAITH ALONE: A DAILY DEVOTIONAL

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HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE

The walls of a house are not built of wood, brick or stone, but of truth and loyalty.

Unpleasant sounds, the friction of living, the clash of personalities, are not deadened by Persian rugs or polished floors, but by conciliation, concession, and self-control

The house is not a structure where bodies meet, but a hearthstone upon which flames mingle, separate flames of souls, which, the more perfectly they unite, the more clearly they shine and the straighter they rise toward heaven.

Your house is your fortress in a warring world, where a woman’s hand buckles on your armour in the morning and soothes your fatigue and wounds at night.

The beauty of a house is harmony.

The security of a house is loyalty.

The joy of a house is love.

The plenty of a house is in children.

The rule of a house is service.

The comfort of a house is in contented spirits

The maker of a house, of a real human house, is God himself, the same who made the stars and built the world.

Frank Crane

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Skier Trusts His Father’s Voice

Jacob Smith, is a 15-year-old legally blind freeride skier. Jacob has extreme tunnel vision–and no depth perception on top of that. What he does see is blurry. His visual acuity is rated 20/800, four times the level of legal blindness. Think of the big E on the eye chart. He would need it to be blown up four times in order to see it from 20 feet away.

So how does Jacob ski like this? His family keeps him on course. On competition days, Jacob’s little brother, Preston, patiently helps him hike to the top of the venue. It’s so high, the lifts won’t take you there. Then his father, Nathan, helps him get down. Jacob has a two-way radio turned up high in his pocket. His dad is on the other end at the base, somehow, calmly, guiding him down.

His father, Nathan Smith, said:

It’s on me to make sure I don’t let him down. I have to guide him through narrower chutes or not go off a cliff. Jacob is not reckless. He knows his limitations. I think he has the ability to ski anything on the mountain, but he’s not gonna go try to do it by himself. Like, he wants to be with somebody who he trusts. He won’t ski with people he doesn’t trust.

When Jacob was asked how much he trusted his father, he replied, “I mean, enough to turn right when he tells me to.”

Source: Sharyn Alfonsi, “The only big fear I have is not succeeding,” CBS News (3-6-22)

Conclusion

HOUSE AND HOME

A house is built of logs and stone,

Of tiles and posts and piers;

A home is built of loving deeds

That stand a thousand years.

Victor Hugo

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