Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Father's Day Special

Volume 4 No. 223 June 12, 2014

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Father's Day Tribute by Capt. Dr. Jacob Mathew - Mariners Ridge in Hawaii Kai
Father's Day Tribute to My Father
by Capt. Dr. Jacob Mathew
Photo taken at Mariners Ridge in Hawaii Kai.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword: Father's Day

Sunday, June 15, 2014, is celebrated as "Father's Day" in U.S. Father's Day has become a global event thanks to the advent of the Internet and the shrinking of the world. We may recall that Sunday, May 11, 2014 was celebrated as the "Mother's Day."

The idea for creating a day for children to honor their fathers began in Spokane, Washington. ...

THIS SUNDAY IN CHURCH

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 15)

3. Sermons for This Sunday (June 15)

Sermons for the First Sunday After Pentecost

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-pentecost.htm

4. Reflections on the Gospel Reading for Sunday - "The Bread of Life"

"What does it mean to pray for our daily bread?"

The Lord's Prayer, the prayer Jesus used to instruct His followers how to pray, is well known among Christians. Many recite it in unison as a form of liturgy; others meditate on each portion in their private time with God or view it is a model of the components of prayer. The prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. One portion of the prayer says, "Give us today our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). ...

FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL FEATURES

5. Inspiration for Today: The Best Dad

Feeling appreciated is enormously important to adults as well as children. So much so that we often don't think enough about what we'd most like to be appreciated for. ...

6. Priests of the Domestic Church: A Father's Day Homily

Just as Jesus called laborers into the field to reap an abundant harvest of souls, He calls husbands and fathers who are lost to use the navigational tools of prayer, forgiveness, and mercy to find our way back to our Father in heaven. Just as Jesus called men to the priesthood to serve His Bride the Church, the same Jesus calls men through baptism to be priests of the domestic church, the church of the home. ...

7. Father's Day: The Model Father

Is there any model (for fatherhood)? The answer is yes .... and no. There is no such thing as a perfect human father. Some do it better than others, and, as a result, this comes easier for them. None of us is perfect. I try hard to be a good father, and I fail. But I am not giving up. As a Christian, I know I can't do it perfectly. But I do have a model. ...

8. Tribute to a Faithful Father

Here is a fragment of the legacy of truth imparted to me by my father. And I hope that you will see before we are done that the word "imparted" is no mere transmission of information, but involves a whole life of demonstration of what he taught. I will mention eleven precious truths imparted to me by my father. ...

9. Our Father in Heaven

The Bible calls Him God the Father. We are called His children and are encouraged to approach Him with the heart of a child, trusting unreservedly and expecting good things. Our earthly fathers are meant to be a reflection of our Father in Heaven. ...

10. A Father's Sacrifice

Fathers have an immeasurable impact on the lives of their children. Always believe in your children. Help them to understand the cost of sacrifice and how it is given as an act of love - the greatest being God's sacrifice to us through His Son. ...

11. The Image of The Father

Each one of us is created with the image of God indelibly imprinted on our souls, so that, in some miraculous and inexplicable way, the diverse expressions of God that are you and you and you and me all come together to illustrate the mystery, to live together in community as we do our best to display for the world all the possibilities that the divine imprint on all of us could mean. ...

12. The Good Dad: Your Kids Want You

It's no wonder that 92 percent of those polled by the National Center for Fathering say that dads make a "unique contribution" in their children's lives, and that 70 percent see absentee dads as the biggest family or social problem in America. So what do we do about it? ...

13. A Prayer for Fathers

 

14. Poem: Daddy

....Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it ... DADDY!

REGULAR FEATURES

15. Recipe: Glazed Carrots

A simple, but elegant, recipe. Can be used as a snack or as a side dish. Great for picnics.

16. Family Special: Rules to Live By in Marriage

The best way to prevent problems in your marriage, I believe, is to set rules for yourself and live by them. Without them – without safeguards to protect your marriage – it's sure to become a much weaker version of what it set out to be. ...

17. About Malankara World

Foreword: Father's Day
Sunday, June 15, 2014, is celebrated as "Father's Day" in U.S. Father's Day has become a global event thanks to the advent of the Internet and the shrinking of the world. We may recall that Sunday, May 11, 2014 was celebrated as the "Mother's Day."

The idea for creating a day for children to honor their fathers began in Spokane, Washington. A woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd thought of the idea for Father's Day while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Having been raised by her father, after her mother died, Sonora wanted her father to know how special he was to her. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. Her father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father's Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.

Although Mother's Day was celebrated with great importance, Father's day is often forgotten. One time a little boy was asked to define Father's Day and he said, "Its just like Mother's Day, only you don't spend as much on the present."

Perhaps, the diminished role of father's day is because, in many American homes there are no dads. We may have a generation of children growing up without experiencing the role of the dad. More than 24 million daughters and sons in America live in homes without their father, according to the U.S. Census data.

This is unfortunate because children need both dad and mom; each play a unique role. Studies have shown that 63 percent of teen suicides are from fatherless homes; 90 percent of homeless children and runaways are from fatherless homes; and 71 percent of all high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.

In fact God knew the importance of the father; He had ensured that Joseph would be there to care for Jesus and to teach him when Jesus was young.

A father has several roles in the family. Some expect a father to be perfect. Unfortunately, most of us fathers are like what late Irma Bombeck described: "Daddy was a clumsy creature, but he was safe at any speed."

That's the way most fathers are. They are not quite good enough. There is no perfect father, except one. The parable of the prodigal son gives a vivid picture of the perfect father. The article, "Father's Day: The Model Father" given below describes this in depth.

Scientists have studied the role of mother in child's development extensively. The role of the father is not that well understood. The June 11, 2014 issue of Wall Street Journal had a fascinating article titled, "Roughhousing Lessons From Dad." The author Sue Shellenbarger describes in detail how fathers teach Risk-Taking, Boundary-Setting and other lessons by playing with their kids. The child bonds with the mother first, as we all know well. Many researchers believe that the dad's bond is expressed a little later, when the father serves as a secure base allowing the child to explore and take risks. This is hard to study in a lab. Animal studies, however, show that baby rats deprived of 'rough-and-tumble' are more aggressive and lack social skills as adults.

One important role of a father is the role as the priest of the domestic home or family. Fathers have the responsibility of teaching the children about the traditions. When we read the old testament, we can understand this concept well. I would like to quote from an article by Michael Youssef, Ph.D. on "The Priesthood of the Father."

Job is an excellent example of a man who loved his family and wanted God's best for each one of them. He also understood the role of the priesthood of the father and never hesitated to take responsibility for his loved ones.

He was up early in the morning in order to spend time with God. He worshiped the Lord and offered sacrifices for his wife and children. He was aware of their personal needs and he was a committed provider.

There are three things a man should do as a family priest:

1. He needs to cultivate a strong commitment to the Lord. God must be first in His life. If he has allowed anything to come before God, then he will not have the godly wisdom he needs to provide for those he loves.

2. He should cultivate compassion and be sensitive to his family's needs.

3. He needs to cultivate consistency.

Job never swayed in his devotion, commitment, and love for the Lord, and you can have the same type of lifestyle.

Dr. Ravi Zacharias in his "Father's Day Message, 2014" described the duty of a father:

On this occasion of Father's Day, I call upon every man to do his duty: his duty to those who are in his care and his duty toward whatever task is in his trust, regardless of the personal cost. I pause, myself, to reflect upon ways in which I could have served my family better. I wish I had done that in more ways than I did. Watching our children live out their lives for God is a thrill that cannot be gainsaid.

My concern at this stage is for our youth. They live in a world akin to a tantalizing buffet line of seductions. How do they have the wisdom that enables restraint and discipline? Institutions seem accountable to nobody but themselves. That needed wisdom must come from within the home. That's where instruction and the impartation of love, responsibility, and duty must begin. This will be a far better world if every man would do his duty to our young.

On a personal note, the cover picture of this issue is a fathers day card made by my son, Capt. Dr. Jacob Mathew (Madhu) two years ago. Madhu had gone to Hawaii, his dream destination, to do his residency in Internal Medicine after completing Medical School. As an avid photographer, he spent all his spare time photographing scenes of Hawaii. When Father's Day rolled around in June, he penned a poem and framed that in his favorite photo, one he took at the Mariners Ridge in Hawaii Kai and sent that to me. I had kept it in a treasured collection. When I was looking for an appropriate cover photo for this special edition of Malankara World Journal, I thought what would be more appropriate than that treasured poem in that beautiful background. Thank you Madhu!

In Orthodox Church, in addition to the earthly father, we also have spiritual fathers (our priests and bishops) and our heavenly father. On this Father's day, let us remember and thank all of them for the role they played in making us who we are today.

We wish everyone a "Happy Father's Day."

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

THIS SUNDAY IN CHURCH
Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 15)

Sermons for This Sunday (June 15)

"I am The Bread of Life"

Reflections on this Sunday's Gospel

[Editor's Note:

This week's Gospel Reading is from John 6:26-35. It is one of the "I am Statements" of Jesus in the Gospel of John; in fact it is the first one. This topic was well covered in Malankara World Journal Issue 200 special. You can read it from our archives here. More sermons on this topic is found in our model sermon collection. Because Sunday is also the Father's Day, this issue of Malankara World is dedicated to Christian Fathers. So, rather than having a lengthy article on "the Bread of life", I thought it will be more interesting to examine the following question.]

"What does it mean to pray for our daily bread?"

Answer: The Lord's Prayer, the prayer Jesus used to instruct His followers how to pray, is well known among Christians. Many recite it in unison as a form of liturgy; others meditate on each portion in their private time with God or view it is a model of the components of prayer. The prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. One portion of the prayer says, "Give us today our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).

The first, and most obvious, meaning of this request is that God would sustain us physically. Jesus was perhaps alluding to God's provision of manna, which was given every day in the desert (Exodus 16:4-12; Deuteronomy 8:3; John 6:31). We recognize God as our provider and rely on Him to meet our daily needs. This does not mean that we expect God to literally rain down manna on us but that we understand He is the one who makes our work fruitful, sometimes even meeting physical needs in miraculous ways. Shortly after instructing His followers how to pray, Jesus talked to them about anxiety. He said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? . . . But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:25, 33). Interestingly, in the Lord’s Prayer, the request immediately preceding the appeal for daily bread is for God's kingdom to come.

Requesting daily bread is not only about physical provision. It can also refer to asking God to provide for our less tangible needs. In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Good parents provide not only what their children need for physical life, but also for practical, emotional, and relational needs. God is the giver of good gifts (James 1:17). "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).

God has already met our greatest spiritual need, that of forgiveness and restoration, through Christ (Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; John 20:31). But He does not stop there. Jesus calls Himself the "Bread of Life" (John 6:35). "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind" (John 1:4). Jesus says He came to bring us abundant life (John 10:10). Not only are we saved for eternity, but we also experience a restored relationship with God now. We seek Him daily, and He renews us day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). The branch is continually nourished by the Vine (John 15:5).

Yes, God sustains us physically and meets the less tangible needs of this life. More than that, He fulfills our spiritual needs. He is the bread that satisfies our spiritual hunger. He sustains our hearts. When we ask God for our daily bread, we are humbly acknowledging Him as the sole giver of all we need. We are living day by day, one step at a time. We are exercising simple faith in Him to provide just what we need, when we need it – for every area of life.

Source: GotQuestions.org by S. Michael Houdmann. © Copyright 2002-2014 Got Questions Ministries - All Rights Reserved.

FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL FEATURES

Inspiration for Today: The Best Dad
Years ago I heard a story of a dad named Paul who gave his young son a small chalkboard to practice writing on. One evening his son called out from the bedroom, "Dad, how do you spell best?"

Paul answered him. Moments later, the boy hollered, "How do you spell kid?"

Finally he asked, "How do you spell ever?"

When the boy showed him what he'd written on the chalkboard, Paul expected to see "I'm the best kid ever." Instead, the boy beamed as Paul read the message: "You're the best dad a kid can ever have."

Paul recalled that it was one of the best days of his life. In fact, he had to buy his son another chalkboard because he wanted to save this message forever and hang it on his wall. It's still there.

Feeling appreciated is enormously important to adults as well as children. So much so that we often don't think enough about what we'd most like to be appreciated for.

Being appreciated at work is a big deal. Who doesn't want approval and respect from one's boss and coworkers? Beyond the economic value of raises, promotions, and commendations, praise can be gratifying and motivating. That's why good employers look for opportunities to acknowledge and thank employees for their contributions.

Yet as meaningful as work recognition is, if you could choose between winning your child's "Best Mom/Dad a Kid Can Ever Have" award and being named "Best Employee," which would you choose?

The point is not to belittle the pursuit of approval in your business life but to remind you how much more meaningful it is to know you're important to and appreciated by the people who love and need you the most. Your most important job in life is to be worthy of that appreciation.

Being the "best ever" mom or dad, husband or wife, or friend – it doesn't get any better than that.

by Michael Josephson, www.charactercounts.org

Priests of the Domestic Church: A Father's Day Homily

by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers

In the days before global positioning systems, Mapquest, and Google Earth, men were stereotyped as reluctant to ask for directions. You know the scene: a couple is driving somewhere and, unable to find their destination, the wife turns to her husband and says, "Honey, maybe we should stop and ask for directions." The husband, dismayed that his wife would dare challenge his sense of direction, stubbornly says, "I know where I'm going!" This would go on and on until they eventually found the place or fell so far behind schedule that they would have no choice but to stop at the nearest gas station for directions.

Thanks to modern technology, those days are gone forever! In this day and age it's virtually impossible to get lost. However, a GPS may be able to get you from Portland to Chicago; Mapquest may be able to get you to your favorite downtown restaurant; Google Earth may show you the best route from New York to Australia but no amount of technology in the world will get you from earth to heaven!

What Jesus says in the Gospel is true of many men today: we are "troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." [1] When a man would rather spend time looking at pornography or "hanging out with the fellas" than have any meaningful relationship with his wife and children, he is lost. When a man approaches dating as a conquest, where the primary goal is to "hit it and quit it," he is lost. When a man becomes wealthy at the expense of the poor, he is lost. When a man under the influence of drugs or alcohol beats his wife, passing on a legacy of violence and abuse to his children, he is lost.

Just as Jesus called laborers into the field to reap an abundant harvest of souls, He calls husbands and fathers who are lost to use the navigational tools of prayer, forgiveness, and mercy to find our way back to our Father in heaven. Just as Jesus called men to the priesthood to serve His Bride the Church, the same Jesus calls men through baptism to be priests of the domestic church, the church of the home. A husband and father should exercise his priestly ministry through "the offering he makes of himself and his daily activities." [2] This offering should be united to Christ's offering in the Eucharist "for their work, prayers, and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily labor, their mental and physical relaxation, if carried on in the spirit--and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne--all of these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." [3] The main job of the priest is to offer sacrifice, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should lead fathers to intimate and personal relationship with God, uniting him so closely to Christ that the Eucharist becomes the very soul and center of his spiritual and family life.

The priest of the home must accept the responsibility of living "the Gospel in faith and proclaiming it in word and deed, without hesitating to identify and denounce evil." [4] Christian parents are the primary and indispensable catechists of their own children. Fathers are not only called to preach the Gospel but also, and above all, to live the Gospel by setting a good example for their children. If our children see us living the Catholic faith with fidelity and joy, then we can be sure that our example will be worth more than a thousand words and have confidence that our love for Christ will be written into the hearts of our sons and daughters. When we do this, the Catholic faith will become more than a fond memory that fades with time. A father's living witness to covenant intimacy will become his enduring legacy, a precious gift for his children, and a sure sign of hope in God's endless mercy and love.

Before any of this can happen, we fathers must have the courage to take the first big step: we must dethrone the reign of sin in our lives so that we can welcome Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. Any man can be a daddy but it takes a real man to be a father, and the sooner we earthly fathers begin to appreciate the great gift we have been given and begin living the mission of service to our families--when we begin to make a gift of ourselves to our wives and children, and participate deeply and personally in the Fatherhood of God--the faster we will arrive at a civilization of love and a culture of life.

I remember the day my relationship with my father changed forever. When I informed him of my decision to join the Benedictines, not only was he disappointed; he was angry. What he said went something like this: "You're going to do what?!" He then reminded me: "You are the first person in the family to go to college. I spent all that money sending you to one of the best universities in the country. You studied economics and business, and instead of making something of yourself, you are going to waste your life in that monastery living with a bunch of men? What's wrong with you? What am I supposed to tell my friends?" I won't repeat what I said to him but on that day he became like Lazarus in the tomb; he became dead to me.

Many years later when my EWTN series debuted, my father received lots of phone calls: "Isn't that your son on TV?" My father, who, as far as I knew, only set foot in a Catholic church on his wedding day, began watching my program. Then he began watching the Mass. Then he started watching reruns of Mother Angelica. Then he started praying. My father, a professional entertainer, decided to stop singing Caribbean music and started singing and recording Gospel music exclusively. Then, like Lazarus coming out of the tomb, he called me and we spoke for thirty-one minutes and twelve seconds, which is the longest conversation we've had in almost twenty years. He spent most of the call talking to me about his relationship with Jesus.

A few months ago, I was shown the awesome power of prayer, forgiveness, and divine mercy. After years of not having a meaningful relationship with the man who destroyed our family, I met face-to-face with my father. I did not hear the words of repentance that I so longed to hear from him. Instead, this talented and gifted musician who was lost and who only now after seventy-four years is coming to faith in Jesus Christ, showed me the meaning of fatherhood by his example when he sang this song:

"O Lord, sweet Jesus, have mercy on me.
My eyes were wide open, yet I failed to see.
Dear Lord, I beg you have mercy;
please, have mercy on me.

I am so sorry. Lord, forgive me.
Please show me the way.
I can't go on living this life without you.
Sweet Jesus, please tell me what to do.

Lord, I'm depending on you.
I want to live a life that's honest and true.
I will let nothing stand in my way.
Sweet Jesus, please hear my prayer.

O Lord, teach me how to pray,
I beg you, because at times I know not what to say
but when I think of Calvary I know my Jesus loves me.
Dear Lord, I beg you have mercy."

ENDNOTES:

[1] Matthew 9: 36.

[2] Christifideles Laici, n.14

[3] Lumen Gentium, n.31

[4] Christifideles Laici, n.14

Source: Ignatius Insight

Father's Day: The Model Father

by John A. Huffman, Jr.

Scripture: Luke 15:11-32

We are a society searching for a model father.

Sociologist Michael S. Kimmel, writing in the June, 1986, issue of Psychology Today, states:

"America is suddenly having a love affair with fathers. Bathing, perhaps in the afterglow of Kramer vs. Kramer, we see fathers as safe and nurturing, exactly the emotionally expressive men that feminists suggested they should become. No longer the 'forgotten parent' of earlier psychological studies, father now shares center stage with mother in a flood of books about the joys of co-parenting and joint custody, or the political correctness of becoming a househusband. In fact, mother had better be careful or she'll be pushed to the wings."

Is there any model (for fatherhood)? The answer is yes .... and no. There is no such thing as a perfect human father. Some do it better than others, and, as a result, this comes easier for them. None of us is perfect. I try hard to be a good father, and I fail. But I am not giving up. As a Christian, I know I can't do it perfectly. But I do have a model.

One day Jesus told a story that is probably the most appreciated story in the entire Bible. It has come to be known as the "Parable of the Prodigal Son." We find it recorded in Luke 15:11-32.

I have, on various occasions, used this story as a preaching text, coming at it from various perspectives. I've talked about the Prodigal Son, noting the tendency in some of us to rebel and run away from God's love, entering into a far country, wasting the tremendous inheritance the Lord has given to us in disregard of the price we are paying and the heart of God which is breaking on our behalf. This story, viewed from this perspective, tells us how we can come back to the Lord, our resources exhausted, finding Him loving and waiting for us. It's never too late to come home.

I've preached on this text from the perspective of the elder brother, referring to this as Christ's message to mildewed saints. Isn't it easy to be like this cold, calculating, work-ethic, self-righteous character who did things the way they were supposed to be done, scornful of his younger brother's profligacy, living with a "good-riddance to bad-rubbish" attitude? How stunned he was when the young prodigal returned home only to get a banquet prepared in his honor. How resentful you and I can be, when we've tried to do everything right, when we discover that God embraces, in even deathbed conversions, persons who have wasted their lives. The elder brother puts a mirror up to me, showing me how maybe my motivation for good works wasn't out of love for God and desire to be in relationship with Him but out of pride, arrogance, and self protection.

I've preached about this parable from the perspective of the "waiting father." He stands as a parabolic representation of God. I tried to probe the divine-human interaction of the way in which God deals with you and me in our wild acts of rebellion and in our cold, cynical, calculated self-righteousness. God has a word for both the prodigal and the elder brother. It's an important word in which He calls us both back to ourselves and what it is to be in relationship with Him.

However, during the last few weeks, I have come to this parable from an entirely different perspective. I have been looking all over the place for something more than theory about what it is to be a model father. Suddenly it dawned upon me that it is possible to revisit this parable and see in it the ideal representation of what it is to be a model father. Here we have the father, of whom Jesus tells this story, interacting with his sons in a way which gives insight to you and me of how to be model fathers and, in a broader sense, model parents.

I. The model father teaches the truth from infancy up.

Jesus did not tell this story in a vacuum. He was telling it to Jews, Jews who knew the Old Testament Scriptures, men and women who were familiar with the Mosaic Law. Basic to this great heritage is the parental responsibility to expose one's children to the teachings of the Scriptures, both in precept and in action. Just before entering the Promised Land, Moses reminds the people of Israel:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Discipline is essential to this teaching. Moses incorporates these words into his address. "Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you" (Deuteronomy 8:5). And he warns not only fathers but mothers to live themselves under the authority of God's teachings.

As we live under His authority, what we teach our children about the ways of God takes on more existential relevance to them. If I teach them one mode of conduct and live under a different mode myself, they will see the hypocrisy of it all. I must live under the teaching and the discipline of God, even as I endeavor to faithfully teach and discipline my children.

II. The model father has respect for individual autonomy.

What would be your reaction if one of your children came to you, thumbing his nose at you, demanding that you give him total freedom and his fair share to finance his rebellion? That's a tough one, isn't it?

It was not unusual for a Jewish father to distribute his estate before he died if he wished to retire from the actual management of his business affairs. Under the law, there was a clear delineation of his financial responsibilities. The older son must get two-thirds and the younger son one-third. But there is a certain demanding attitude, is there not, on the part of this younger son? He is saying, "Life is too short for me to wait for you to die or to retire. I am going to get it anyway. Give it to me now. I'm bored. I'm hemmed in. I want out!"

The father could have said no. He could have tried to blackmail him, telling him how much more he would have in the long run if he stayed around home. He could have played the comparison game, saying, "Why aren't you a good son like your older brother? What are you trying to do, break your mother's heart?" You know those little games we play!

No, this father was prepared to stand by the teachings and the humble modelings that he and his wife had shared from the infancy of these two boys. He was willing to evaluate each one of them for who they were as individuals. He knew their strengths and weaknesses. He was prepared to let this young man be an adult.

After all, he himself was human. He had had a father who had raised him. He had his own individual sibling rivalries with his brothers and sisters. He knew the feeling of being compared. He knew what it was to want to be his own person. And he knew what it was to rebel.

We don't know the nature of his rebellion. We don't know much about his past. Perhaps he at one time had been a prodigal. Perhaps he at one time had been the elder brother or some interesting blend of both of these personality types. He, too, had his secret sins as well as his more obvious shortcomings.

He wasn't perfect. He knew that God, in His creative design, had not made human persons robots, automatons, who function as mechanical men and women. To be created human was to have freedom to obey or to disobey. This model father had respect for the individual autonomy of each of his sons. So, without preaching a doomsday sermon, he divided his estate. He gave his son what he wanted, and he bid him farewell.

III. The model father won't stand in the way of consequences.

Apparently he had money, and he had servants. He could have played a manipulative game. He could have assigned one of his servants to shadow the rebellious kid, carrying various disguises, going wherever he went, making certain he had no idea he was there, keeping an eye on him and then reporting back what was going on, letting him know if things went well or if things went poorly.

He could have kept track of his associations, so that he wouldn't squander the fortune, thinking, "I've worked hard for all this money, and no son of mine is entitled to waste it." He could have had little anonymous reminders put in his way if he began to get in trouble, "Your father wouldn't like this, would he?" If things got real bad, he could have had him brought home, thinking, "His mother and I could never live with ourselves if we knew our son was hanging out with prostitutes or becoming an alcoholic or catching a venereal disease or marrying outside of our faith." At the first sting of homesickness, he could have had him reminded of his mother's hot chicken soup and the fact that there is always plenty of work here at home.

No, the model father won't stand in the way of consequences. He is not in the business of premature rescue. As much as his heart is breaking, and he knows that there is trouble ahead, he lets go.

I ask you and I ask myself: Is this the kind of father, is this the kind of mother we are? Are we willing to faithfully teach and model? Do we respect the autonomy of our children as they come of age? Are we willing to let them walk away from us, no longer nurtured and controlled by us, but free to live in a tough, hard world unprotected?

The reality is we haven't got much choice. If we don't let them go, they are going to rebel anyway, aren't they? How much better to take the initiative and say, "Hey, this is your life. I've done the best I can. It hasn't been that good at some points. You know my weaknesses and my mistakes. Forgive me for them. It's your life. You know what I believe. I am willing to cut the strings of control. You are free to be who you choose to be, to do what you choose to do, and live with the consequences. You know I love you, and I always will. I may not have always handled you correctly, and I will make my mistakes in the future. But I am your dad."

With a big hug and perhaps a few tears, we are prepared to send them off to seek their own fortune, to face whatever may be the consequences-positive, negative, or in between.

IV. The model father has a love that refuses to give up.

Most of us have a breaking point. We can put up with just so much nonsense. We are patient up to a point. We have hope up to a point. We are willing to be tolerant up to a point.

The fact is that our children have the God-given freedom to go their own ways and never come back. We cannot force them to show us honor. At the same time, God pity the son or daughter who has a parent who has given up on them. Very few experiences could be more devastating than to be disowned by one's parent.

We are called to faithfulness, the same faithfulness that is modeled by the father in this story. Just imagine how the plot would change if the father took the attitude of, "Okay, this is the way my son wants to have it. I'll go along with it. I think it's dumb. He's making a terrible mistake. He is entitled to do it. That's it. But he better never come back here again. I'm done with that ungrateful kid."

Instead we see the father faithfully carrying out his ongoing responsibilities. He is not chasing after the prodigal. But he is daily aware of his breaking heart.

It's important for us to learn how to live with a broken heart. Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble. Take courage, I have overcome the world." There is a realistic candor in the biblical teachings. We are alerted to the reality of life. None of us is free from trouble. We are called to continue doing what God has called us to do, while at the same time, we are privileged to scan the horizon just hoping for that reunion with the rebel.

We may have caused some of the rebellion. If so, we need to make our overtures. Perhaps a phone call or a letter that says, "I'm sorry. Forgive me for what I said. I love you. I want a restored relationship with you." I am talking about an initiative that frees the young person to accept it or not accept it. Others have already communicated that love and vulnerability. For you, it's just a matter of going on and fulfilling the responsibilities which you assumed.

Somehow, I am never able to rid myself of the picture of that father who, as he worked his field, was constantly scanning the horizon. Jesus alerts us of that fact. For He says, "But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion and ran and embraced him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). His was a love that refused to give up.

V. The model father is forgiving.

What would your reaction be if your child did to you what the prodigal did to his father? Being a preacher, I have a sneaking suspicion that I would probably have written a sermon titled, "I Told You So!" I would probably be prepared to deliver this on a moment's notice.

The father in Jesus' story avoids a vindictive attitude. Instead, love explodes within him. He has compassion. He runs, embraces his son, kisses him.

The son gives the speech he has carefully prepared, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:18). The father doesn't linger even a minute over the son's acknowledged sinfulness and unworthiness. He is not interested in saying, "I told you so!" Instead, he is overwhelmed with a joy that floods through his system. He can do nothing but rejoice.

VI. The model father is a celebrative person.

He doesn't even give his son a chance to ask to be a servant. He calls for the best robe. In the Hebrew tradition, that robe stands for honor. He calls for a ring. The ring stands for authority. If a man gave another his signet ring, it was the same as giving him power of attorney. He calls for shoes. The shoes stand for a son as opposed to a slave. The children of the family wore shoes. Often the slaves didn't. The slaves dream, in the black spiritual, of a time when, "All God's chillun got shoes." Shoes were the sign of freedom. He calls for a banquet, a feast to make merry, "for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (Luke 15:24).

Are you a celebrative person? I need to work more at this. I am inclined to approach things with that Calvinistic work-ethic. I am not certain that I could have been quite as spontaneous and exuberant as was this model father. I think that I would have to wait to have the party until I had checked into his recidivistic rate. I would want to know whether or not he had really come clean or if he would turn right around and break my heart again. I think I would put the party off for a few months.

I'd give him a job. I'd try to measure how good a job he was doing. After all, it wouldn't be fair to his older brother, my son who had been so faithful, to have this big extravaganza. I guess what I am saying is that I don't like some things I see in myself when I compare myself to this model father. I have to learn. I have to grow. I have to develop, as I take a close look at this biblical example.

VII. The model father is willing to live with ambiguity.

We don't know the end of the story. We do know that the other son got angry. The father had to live with that anger. The other son viewed this as unfair. He wasn't the least bit interested in being part of the celebration.

Jesus had a very interesting way of bringing this story to a conclusion. It ends with the father's response to the elder brother's sneering accusation that there had never been a party for him but that this no-good brother who had devoured the father's hard-earned money with harlots ends up getting the fatted calf killed in his honor.

What's the father's response? He acknowledges the faithfulness of the older brother. He makes no demands for performance on the younger brother. Life goes on.

None of us knows the future, do we? Being a father, being a mother, has no sealed and signed guarantees. We are called to live with the ambiguity which is built into relationships. The model father accepts this as a fact of life and moves on, faithfully doing and being what God has called him to do and be, no matter what the significant others in his life choose to do and be.

Our final reward isn't the privilege of sitting back and saying, "Wasn't I a good father?" Granted, we'll have some joys that come from the hoped-for friendship with our children. But the final reward will be when the real model father, God himself, looks us in the eye and says, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into your eternal rest."

Remember that the model is God. You and I are not God. We are not perfect. The key is that I am willing to say, "I am sorry," when I am wrong. The key is that I am willing to stand by the children God has given to me when they are wrong.

Source: Preaching.com

Tribute to a Faithful Father

by John Piper

As children move out of childhood into adulthood, the way we honor our fathers is by tribute and care, rather than primarily in the category of obedience. Today I pay tribute to my father even as the days of increasing care have come…

My aim in this message is threefold. First, in obedience to Ephesians 6:1-2, to honor my father.

The second part of my aim is to inspire fathers to be worthy of this kind of tribute - to help you see the glory of your calling to exhibit the fatherhood of God to your children and lead them to faith and Christian maturity. I pray that Christ will take what I say about my own father and will use it to make you better fathers.

Third, my aim is to glorify the fatherhood of God whose fatherhood is the source and pattern of all human fatherhood. Human fatherhood exists to display the beauty of God's Fatherhood…

Here is a fragment of the legacy of truth imparted to me by my father. And I hope that you will see before we are done that the word "imparted" is no mere transmission of information, but involves a whole life of demonstration of what he taught. I will mention eleven precious truths imparted to me by my father.

1. There is a great, majestic God in heaven, and we were meant to live for his glory not ours.

Most of these truths that I will mention are rooted in my memory of particular texts that were branded on my mind at home. Few texts were more often on Daddy's lips in relation to me than 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

I am sure that in heaven some day the Lord will make plain the unbreakable chain of influences that led from that verse when I was a boy to the mission statement of this church: "We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ." This won't be the only influence you will see of my father on that mission statement.

2. When things don't go the way they should, God always makes them turn for good.

Even more prominent in my growing up was the presence of Romans 8:28 in our family: "God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose."

I have several vivid memories of this truth. One was in 1974 when I rode with my father in the ambulance from Atlanta to Greenville with my mother's body in the hearse following behind. They had just been flown in from Israel where Mother had been killed in an accident and Daddy was seriously injured. All the way home, for three and a half hours, he would weep and talk and weep and talk. He was 56. They had been married 36 years. And when he talked it was Romans 8:28. I remember the very words: "God must have a reason for me to live. God must have a reason for me to live." In other words, God governs our accidents and makes no mistakes.

I will never cease to be thankful that I heard and saw the truth of Romans 8:28 in my father's life, "When things don't go the way they should, God always makes them turn for good."

3. God can be trusted.

How many times did I hear the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths." And Philippians 4:19, "My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

I can see us as a family when I was just a child. We were all (Mother, Daddy, my older sister, Beverly) sitting around a card table my parents' bedroom folding letters and stuffing envelopes which would be sent to pastors asking them to consider having my father come lead their churches in evangelistic meetings. This was Daddy's life - he was a full time evangelist - and our livelihood. The answers to these letters meant bread on the table and paid bills. Then we prayed over these envelopes and Daddy closed in a spirit of utter confidence: God will answer and meet every need. He can be trusted.

He told me more than once of a financial crisis when I was six years old in which he almost lost everything. And he said that God used Psalm 37:5 to sustain him and bring him through: "Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act."

And so I saw and I learned: God can be trusted.

4. Life is precarious, and life is precious. Don't presume that you will have it tomorrow and don't waste it today.

My memory of my Father's preaching was that he always began http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-pentecost.htmp://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-pentecost.htmp://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-pentecost.htmh humor but within seconds he was blood earnest and talking about heaven and hell, and sin and Christ and life and death. One text above all others rings in my ears with terrible seriousness. He squinted when he said it and his mouth pursed tightly the way it does after you taste a lemon: "It is appointed unto men once to die, after that comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). It made a huge impression on me as a boy.

The motto on Daddy's college wall was, "The wise man prepares for the inevitable."

The plaque in our kitchen when I was growing up was: "Only one life 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." …

5. A merry heart does good like a medicine and Christ is the great heart-Satisfier.

That's a quote from Proverbs 17:22. My father has been the happiest man I have ever known. Here is the kind of things he said in a sermon called "A Good Time and How to Have It."

Right from the start, let's get one thing straight; a Christian is not a sour puss. I grant you that some of them look and act that way, but you simply can't blame God for it.

Some folks seem to have been born in the objective case, the contrary gender and the bilious mood. …

What a legacy of joy my father has left!

6. A Christian is a great doer not a great don'ter.

We Pipers were fundamentalists without the attitude. We had our lists of things not to do. But that wasn't the main thing. Here's what my father preached in a sermon called "The Greatest Menace to Modern Youth."

Millions insist upon thinking that Christianity is a negative religion. You don't do this and you can't do that. You don't go here and you can't go there. To the contrary, the Bible constantly sounds the triumphant and positive note. "Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only."... "Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do with all your might."

God wants us to be doers, not don'ters. A Christian who is only a don'ter is a sour saint who spreads gloom wherever he goes. A don'ter is usually a hypocritical Pharisee. Years ago, I heard the late Dr. Bob Jones say. "Do so fast you don't have time to don't." That sums it up.

That left an indelible mark on my life. We had strict standards, but I never chafed under them. They were not the point. Enjoying Christ, doing good, and loving people was the point. The rest was just fencing to protect the good field of faith and purity.

7. The Christian life is supernatural.

I have one precious DVD of my father preaching. It is a message on new birth. John 3:7 "Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'" Becoming a Christian was not a mere decision. It was a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

And therefore he believed in prayer - crying out to God to do the miracle of the new birth. We prayed together every night as a family, because the great need in life is supernatural, divine power to live with joy - and that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, not a work of our own.

I saw that my father's work was not a human work. It was divine work. Impossible work. But with God all things are possible.

8. Bible doctrine is important but don't beat people up with it.

At this point he admitted openly to me with grief that our fundamentalist tradition let him down. There was great truth, but too many of them were not great lovers. I can remember him saying: If they only understood Ephesians 4:15, "Speaking the truth in love." So from as early as I can remember he showed me the importance of both right doctrine and the way of love. They must never be separated.

9. Respect your mother.

If you wanted to see Daddy angry, let one of his children sass our mother. He not only knew the command of God to honor our mothers; he also knew the extraordinary debt that every child owes a mother. Time and again he would compare true love not to married love but to mother's love. He knew the price my mother paid for him to be away so much. Therefore, he would tolerate no insolence or disrespect toward her. I trembled at the fierce gaze in his eyes if I said something sarcastic to my mother.

10. Be who God made you to be and not somebody else.

My father was short, a good bit shorter than I am. But he was content and could joke about it. The one I remember is that he said he was part of a football team as boy, and the name of the team was "Little potatoes but hard to peel." I think God delights to make short men great preachers. (Remember John Wesley!)

For me this contentment with being who God made you to be meant freedom. He never forced me or pressured me to be an evangelist or a pastor or anything else. His counsel was always: seek God and be what he has made you to be. And then what your hand finds to do, do it with all your might for the glory of Christ.

I close with one more truth, the central truth of my father's life. This was what he preached and what he loved. So I will let him preach it one more time to you as we close:

11. People are lost and need to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

My father was an evangelist. His absence from home two thirds of the year (in and out, in and out) meant one main thing. Sin and hell are real and horrible, and Jesus Christ is a great savior. Here's a direct quote from my Dad:

In my evangelistic career I have had the thrill of seeing people from all walks of life come to Christ. I have seen many professional people saved. I have knelt with Ph.D.'s and led them to Jesus. College professors, bankers, lawyers, doctors. I have seen them all saved.

Then I have seen many from the other side of life come to the Lord. I have put my arm around drunkards in city missions and prayed with them. I have sat by the bedside of dying alcoholics and led them to Christ. I have seen the poor, the forsaken, the derelicts, the outcasts all come to the Savior. Yes, God takes them, too. Isn't it wonderful that anyone who wants to can come to Christ." (Grace for the Guilty, p. 111)

Perhaps you never had a father like this, but right now you hear your heavenly father calling, "Come home, come home!" Father's Day would be a good time to stop running and come home.

I thank you heavenly father for my earthly father. What a legacy he has left to me and my children and grandchildren - and to this church. O, raise up fathers in this church with great legacies of faith. In Jesus Christ. Amen.

Source: Desiring God Staff

Our Father in Heaven

by Sindhu George

The Bible calls Him God the Father. We are called His children and are encouraged to approach Him with the heart of a child, trusting unreservedly and expecting good things. Our earthly fathers are meant to be a reflection of our Father in Heaven.

God the Father – our Heavenly Father is the perfect model of fatherhood. Psalm 91 says that we can live in His shelter. We can rest in His shadow. The psalmist says that God the Father is faithful. He does not change. He does not falter in His care. We can be sure that He will always be there when we call for Him. He is always stronger than the enemy – whether prowlers in the night, armies in the daylight, disease or natural disasters. He is always by our side to hold us up and keep us on our feet, never letting us get lost, protecting us by His presence.

You may not have had the benefit of a strong earthly father. Not every man is able to live up to this perfect model no matter how hard he tries. Men make mistakes and often fall short of the lofty calling of fatherhood. You may not have had a father at all, but you do have a Heavenly Father. The Bible promises that we all can look to God the Father for help in times of need. When we are frightened or unsure; when we in unfamiliar places; when there are dangers looming around us, we can cling to His pant leg in unqualified trust and rest in the shadow of His great presence.

A Father's Sacrifice

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

For decades, Sam Rayburn was recognized as one of the most powerful politicians in America. When asked by a reporter to recount the most important moment of his life, his thoughts went back to his father as he began to tell about the day he left his East Texas home. He was 18 years old and on his way to college. His father was a man of few words but full of wisdom.

Standing on the train platform, both men looked down at Sam's suitcase that was nothing more than a bundle of clothes tied together with a rope. It was obvious the family did not have much money. Sam's presence was really needed at home but the elder Rayburn knew the opportunities awaiting his son were many and could only be experienced by his willingness to allow his son to leave.

As the train arrived and Sam prepared to get on board, his father reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a fist full of dollars and placed them in Sam's hand. There were 25 single dollar bills.

"Only God knows how he saved this money," Sam later said. "We never had any extra. He barely earned enough for the family to live on. It broke me up, and I often wondered what he did without; what sacrifices he and Mother made so I could go to school."

Fathers have an immeasurable impact on the lives of their children. Always believe in your children. Help them to understand the cost of sacrifice and how it is given as an act of love - the greatest being God's sacrifice to us through His Son.

Prayer:

Father, help me to be a person who reflects Your love and sacrifice to others, especially to those in my family. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command" (John 15:12-14).

My Devotional; © 2013 Leading The Way  

The Image of The Father
Thomas Troeger, a Presbyterian pastor and gifted preacher, tells a story of an experience he had once. He wrote:

"One day several years ago I was in a department store buying myself a new shirt when a complete stranger walked up to me and said, 'You must be Henry Troeger's son.'

"I looked at this person and I said, 'I don't believe I have ever seen you.'

"He said, 'Oh, no, you have never met me at all, but a long time ago I worked with your father. I was a close colleague of his and when I saw you across the aisle of the store, I said to myself, "I'd know that face anywhere. You are the very image of your father."

"For several weeks after that, I would sometimes be going down the street, and maybe come around a corner, and catch my reflection in a store window. I started to see myself with the eyes of someone else. It is not like looking into the mirror in the morning. I would come around the corner, catch that reflection and I would think, 'That's Henry Troeger.' All of a sudden I would be seeing how I bore the image of my father."

And so it is with us.

Each one of us is created with the image of God indelibly imprinted on our souls, so that, in some miraculous and inexplicable way, the diverse expressions of God that are you and you and you and me all come together to illustrate the mystery, to live together in community as we do our best to display for the world all the possibilities that the divine imprint on all of us could mean.

Source: Amy Butler, A Curious Community

The Good Dad: Your Kids Want You

by John Stonestreet, BreakPoint.org

When I was a kid, Republican Vice President Dan Quayle decried the glamorization of single-parent families on popular television shows such as "Murphy Brown," and he was mocked, on air, by Murphy Brown herself.

Well, today, a lot more people are listening, and a lot fewer are mocking. The statistics are just too clear.

In large parts of America, we have two or three generations of boys raised without their dads. In fact, 15 million kids in America live apart from their biological fathers - or one in three American children. A whopping 44 percent of children in mother-only households live in poverty, compared with just 12 percent living in intact homes. Further, 85 percent of prisoners have no relationship with their dads, while 63 percent of teen suicides come out of situations in which father is not at home.

It's no wonder, then, that 92 percent of those polled by the National Center for Fathering say that dads make a "unique contribution" in their children's lives, and that 70 percent see absentee dads as the biggest family or social problem in America. So what do we do about it?

Well, Jim Daly, the president and CEO of Focus on the Family, answers that question on this week's installment of BreakPoint This Week. He says the answer to societal breakdown begins at home. Jim, who's been on the program before, has written the outstanding new book, "The Good Dad: Being the Father You Were Meant to Be." Now note that Daly wants to help us become good dads, not perfect ones. In "The Good Dad," Jim talks about his own struggles, both as a son and as a father.

Jim was abandoned not by one dad, but by three. He writes, "When my stepfather walked out of our life forever, he told us he couldn't deal with it. That, to me, is the antithesis of fatherhood. God calls us as men to deal with discomforting situations such as the ones fatherhood can put us in."

And yet Jim wasn't condemned to a life of crime or poverty, which is very good news for those dads who fall short, as well as for their children. How in the world did Jim not only survive the experience, but end up thriving?

Jim also impressed me by his hopeful, yet thoroughly honest approach to being a dad. He said fathers have three basic roles - leadership, provision, and protection—but they must be undergirded by commitment.

In the book Jim tells the story of Todd, a youth pastor and father who had just finished rappelling with his junior high group and was headed out the door of his home for another church activity. Todd stopped, knelt in front of his four-year-old daughter, and asked her to pray for him to share Jesus with teenagers. And her innocent response stopped him in his tracks: "Oh, good, Daddy!" she said. "When are you going to stay home and share Jesus with me?" It was a wake-up call for Todd, who felt called to quit "the ministry" for a position with GM that allowed him to spend more time with his family. That's being a good dad!

And how do we fathers begin to "share Jesus" with our families? In the interview, Jim gives us some battle-tested advice on connecting with the heart of our children. We can start by sitting down and speaking with our kids about what we're doing well and what we're doing poorly. Honesty is better than so-called "perfection."

And we need to be willing to carefully evaluate how we invest our time. For example, as Jim says, if we spend our Saturdays, Sundays, and Monday nights watching football, our kids will likely conclude that football is more important than they are. Can you blame them?

But back to the good news. As Jim says, you don't have to be perfect to start "sharing Jesus" with your children. It can feel clumsy and uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, what your children want and need, is you. And our Heavenly Father stands ready to help.

About The Author:

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of 'Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview'.

A Prayer for Fathers
Most gracious Heavenly Father,

We thank you for our earthly fathers, those to whom you have entrusted the responsibility to provide loving protection of their families and guidance of their children. We thank you, also, for our priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood is so vital to the faith of your people.

May our earthly fathers imitate the manly courage of Abraham, Jesse and Joseph, and all the holy fathers of the past in providing wise counsel to the children you have given to their care. And may our spiritual fathers be guided by the examples of Saints Peter and Paul, all the Apostles and their saintly successors. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast love for you, for their families, and for all your people throughout the world.

Assist all fathers of families, all spiritual fathers, and all Christian men, that through your Grace they may steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of your Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on them.

As you, our Heavenly Father, so loved the world, sending your only Son to be our Savior and Redeemer, we ask you to help all men to imitate His fatherly gentleness and mercy toward those who are weak; His humility, perfect obedience to your Will, and fearless witness to your Truth. May their lives be examples to all of heroic faithfulness to you.

We ask your blessing on all those to whom you have entrusted fatherhood. May your Holy Spirit constantly inspire them with justice and mercy, wisdom and strength, fidelity and self-giving love. May they receive your Grace abundantly in this earthly life, and may they look forward to eternal joy in your presence in the life to come.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son and Our Lord, AMEN.

Source: WFF.org

Poem: Daddy
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,

Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it ... DADDY!

Source: Janice Mathew

REGULAR FEATURES

Recipe: Glazed Carrots

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

A simple, but elegant, recipe. Can be used as a snack or as a side dish. Great for picnics.

Ingredients

8 medium-size carrots, cut diagonally in thin slices
4 tablespoons apple juice concentrate
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1-3/4 cups water
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water

Directions:

1. Put carrots and remaining ingredients except cornstarch mixture in a medium-size saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are tender, but not soft.

3. Add cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.

Yield: 4 servings.

Source: Gloria Rose: 'Cooking fro Good Health'

Family Special: Rules to Live By in Marriage

by Brent Rinehart

No one likes rules. That's why you so often hear the saying "Rules were meant to be broken."

As parents, we see it played out on a regular basis. Our kids often have a knack for breaking rules the same way we did when we were their ages. The go-to excuse for my daughter when she breaks the rules is to claim it was an accident. Of course, it was not. She sits on a "throne of lies," much like the Santa imposter in the movie Elf. It's not a good situation for her. The truth is she didn't like the rule, so she chose to break it.

As adults, sadly, we have moments when we aren't that different. We make decisions by weighing the consequences and choosing whether or not to risk it. We evaluate the risk of getting caught and whether or not the punishment is bearable. This is a daily occurrence for most of us, especially the ones who drive on the Interstate regularly, setting our Cruise Control to an exact number above the speed limit.

In other cases, in the heat of the moment, we develop tunnel vision and fail to consider the risk or consequences at all. In all likelihood, that's the situation with my daughter – tunnel vision.

Making those choices is much easier when it's black and white. But, how do you handle it when it's gray? The only way to handle gray areas – areas where there aren't hard and fast rules – are to make up your own rules and stick to them. This is a much-needed task in our marriages, as there are plenty of gray areas we all have to navigate.

The best way to prevent problems in your marriage, I believe, is to set rules for yourself and live by them. Without them – without safeguards to protect your marriage – it's sure to become a much weaker version of what it set out to be.

Consider your marriage as a house. If not maintained, it will slowly deteriorate. My wife is great about encouraging me to stay on top of some of the things around the house that need to be done. At our last home, I didn't do much to maintain the exterior. As a result, when it came time to sell, the outside wood trim was full of dry rot.

Dry rot is the weakening of wood caused by fungus. Perhaps you've dealt with it at your own place. The best way to prevent dry rot damage is to reduce or eliminate excess moisture in the first place, before it becomes a problem. Sure, you can repair damage done to your home by rotting wood. But it's costly. The better solution is to prevent it from occurring at all. And, the only way to do that is to keep a close eye on it and protect it from the beginning.

Our marriages are the same. Without regular upkeep, they will slowly rot around the edges. Eventually, they'll weaken. In some cases, they might appear strong, but when tested – as when you poke your finger into a rotted window sill – you'll find mere shards of what existed before.

One of the best ways to monitor your marriage and prevent its deterioration is to set certain rules for yourself. This is not about trust. Sure, you should trust your spouse and your spouse should be able to trust you. (That's why this is not a directive to set rules for your spouse!) Instead, this is about guarding your heart, as it says in the Scriptures" "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life" (Proverbs 4:23).

I have the utmost respect for Billy Graham, who, early on in his ministry, had the foresight to set a few rules. These rules were not an attempt to be legalistic, but rather they were put in place to safeguard the ministry to which God had called him. One of those rules was to avoid even the appearance of any impropriety when it came to the opposite sex. Neither he nor a member of his team was allowed to travel, meet, eat or be alone in any context with a woman who wasn't his wife.

What if we decided to take a similar course to help protect our marriages?

So many marriages hit bumps along the way or fizzle altogether when people allow in "the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom" (Song of Solomon 2:15). Those little foxes slowly creep in and nip away at our marriages.

For many, those "foxes" are inappropriate relationships with members of the opposite sex. They may start off innocently – a tweet, a Facebook message or text. But, all relationships start somewhere. And, any spark can turn into a fire.

In my own life, I have a number of rules I try to abide by to prevent having to worry about these situations. In my life, my wife supplies all of my needs relationally, so there's no purpose in me having close relationships with women. In my view, it's a slippery slope. That's not to say I don't have friends who are women. It is to say that I never have a need to be alone with them apart from my spouse or share things with them I wouldn't share with my wife.

Another example pertains to speech. I make it rule not to comment on another woman's appearance. Doing so communicates two things: you are looking, and you like what you see. Save those comments for your spouse, who so desperately wants to hear them.

These are just a couple examples of the types of things that need to be done to guard our hearts in our marriages. There's so much truth in the lyrics of the song "Slow Fade" from Casting Crowns:

It's a slow fade / when you give yourself away / It's a slow fade / when black and white are turned to gray / And thoughts invade, choices are made /A price will be paid / When you give yourself away /

People never crumble in a day / It's a slow fade

Whenever, those little foxes start to creep in, just think about those promises you made on your wedding day. Don't allow those vows to fade. Don't give yourself away to anyone other than your spouse. We should all set a few rules for ourselves to prevent that from happening – to prevent our vineyards from being ruined. It may just save your marriage.

About The Author:

Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com.

Source: Live It Devotional

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