What is the Father Like?

FarSideGodComputerSmallOn Sunday we looked at who the Father is. Many of us have this idea that like this comic shows that the Father is in heaven ready to smite. That if it weren’t for Jesus, the Father would be angry with us. That the Father’s natural disposition is not being nice like Jesus, but anger, wrath, and punishment. But this is not the picture Jesus paints of his Father

We began exploring how the Father is one who goes looking for the lost, and hurting in Matthew 18:12-14. In this passage Jesus is clear that the Father’s desire isn’t for anyone to be lost. That he notices you, and comes to seek and find you when you wander off. The posture of the Father is one of yearning, inclusion, and finding, not vengeance and “smiting”.

The second passage we looked at is Matthew 7:7-11. In this passage we see a Father who loves to give good gifts. And this matters because so often we have this feeling that God is stingy, uninterested, or that we need to “work harder” (more prayer, fasting, or faith) for God to answer our prayers. But Jesus reveals a Father who is generous, active, and approachable. Jesus reveals a Father in heaven who is filled with abundant generosity not scarcity. And this is a picture we need to get straight and hold onto.

The third passage we looked at was Luke 6:35-36. Here we see something that we often forget. The Father is merciful. Jesus is so clear, and succient reminding us the Father is merciful. The Father is not full of wrath, and anger but full of mercy. Jesus isn’t the nice one, while the Father is the angry one. Jesus reveals who the Father is, and he is clear that he is merciful. So whatever else we do with some of the other complex passages in Scripture we need to be clear on this: the Father is full of mercy.

And finally, the last passage we looked at was the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. This really summarizes all the other passages. That when the son demands his inheritance the Father’s generosity is so deep, he is even willing to give when it hurts and will be taken advantage of. We see also that the Father searches and looks for his son, like a lost sheep. We also see the Father welcome home the son with compassion and love and mercy, not judgment and wrath. We lastly see the Father being full of forgiveness.

So the main point on Sunday was to centre on the picture of the Father as revealed by Jesus. One who is loving, generous, merciful, and forgiving. This is our Father in heaven and this should change how we live.

Dads, we need to be Fathers like the Father in heaven.

Parents we need to parent like the Father in heaven.

Christians we need to live and follow the “house rules” and “house values” of our Father in heaven. We need to be about mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and love as well

So on Sunday we gave the challenge to get closer to the Father, and live like the Father. This is a good reminder to us because we need to get rid of the idea that God is sitting by a computer ready to smite. We need to get centred on the Father that Jesus reveals.


Sermon Notes

Big Idea: The Father is loving, generous, merciful, and forgiving

Take Aways…

  • We have a wrong picture of God the Father
  • Our picture of God the Father needs to be based in the revelation of Jesus Christ
  • If our picture of God the Father is off, so will our lives.
  • The Father’s reaction isn’t to smite but to find
  • Heaven is not about scarcity, but abundance, and gift, and generosity
  • The Father is merciful
  • Jesus didn’t die because the Father was angry, Jesus died as an expression of God’s love not anger
  • The Father Jesus reveals is loving, merciful, generous, and forgiving.
  • Next Steps: Go to the Father. Thank our fathers. Live like the Father
  • The greatest tragedy of our lives, is that we forget who we are. Henri Nouwen

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? What picture did you have of the Father in your mind before today’s sermon? Was he generous or stingy? Kind of angry? Forgiving or judgy? What has shaped your image of the Father? What image / passage most resonated with you today? What has changed in your view of the Father after today? What questions do you have? How can you live more like him?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about what God the Father is like. How he is loving, generous, forgiving and merciful. Tell them this is who he is, and who you want to be like. Make a promise to them to try to live like their Father in heaven.

Challenge for this Week: Get close to the Father, and live like the Father

What does the Father Look like?

tb4ff34_erschaffung_adams_092006On Sunday for Father’s Day we are going to be looking at one topic: who our heavenly Father is. And this is such a crucial thing, because if our picture of the Father is off, our lives will be off as well. And so many of us have deep-seeded feelings that deep down God is vengeful, angry, or waiting to punish. But this is not the Father revealed by Jesus Christ.

So on Sunday we are going to spend some time exploring who the Father is from Jesus. And hopefully for those of us who are dads, this will make us better dads. But more importantly, for all of us who follow Jesus, we might be able to live better lives.

So before we get there on Sunday – why not take a look at these passages because these are the passages we’ll be exploring to discover who the Father is.

  • Matthew 18:12-14
  • Matthew 7:7-11
  • Luke 6:35-36
  • Luke 15


My Failures as a Father

733823_10152715963490643_1800426956_nOn Sunday for Father’s Day we looked at my failures as a Father. We looked at three major ones I’ve had in: attention, ownership of reactions, and affirmation.

The first failure was how I noticed Hudson had to get my attention often when I was at home. I was at home, but not “at home” really. But this isn’t the example of God. We never have to grab God’s attention, convince him to look our way, or ask for his time. We always have it, and isn’t that a wonderful feeling? Knowing that when you turn to him he is already fully there invested and listening? What if we took that practice into our relationships? That’s one failure, and one example of a place where I think we can all grow and change our relationships.

The second was with ownership of reactions. Whenever my boys do something wrong and I get that feeling of anger, punishment, or judgement welling up within me. I know that I have work to do inwardly. My boys can’t make me yell, can’t make me mad, can’t make me act ungraciously or without gentleness. I need to own those initial gut reactions. Or put another way, anything that comes out of me, is because of me. That’s how Jesus puts it in Matthew 7 that trees bear fruit from what’s within. That means my boys, your boss, your spouse can’t make you act meanly. That’s our personal responsibility to own. So what I realized is that before I can ever help guide my boys in the right direction, I need to ask Jesus’ advice, focus on my own stuff, get it right and then help my boys. Jesus uses the example of getting rid of the plank in our eye before trying to get out anyone else’s speck. What he’s saying is own and deal with your stuff, your junk, your less-than-Jesus-like reactions, then deal with others. So I learned I need to start with me before I can be really in the right space to help my boys.

The last failure I’ve learned from is lacking affirmation in my boys. It’s not that I don’t affirm the great things in my boys, I do, but not enough. As I read the gospels and the New Testament, Paul, Jesus, and other writers are consistently and constantly affirming who we are in Christ. They say we’re new creations, holy, pure, loved, chosen, desired, adopted, and fully connected to Christ. They are constantly reminding us who we are. And I need to do that with my boys. I need to constantly be reminding them of who they are, so that they know how to live. I need to tell them that they are good, loved, smart, fun, and beautiful so that they will begin to believe it about themselves, and live up to it. In essence, I need to affirm in them who they already are, and who they are becoming.

We ended with simply recognizing how powerful, if we just learned from these three failures, how our lives could impact others. What if in our significant relationships we show deep attention? What if we always deal with our stuff before ever helping others with their stuff? What if people realized that we are always affirming who they are and who they are becoming? How might those actions change your marriage, your children, your family, friends, and neighbors? I think it would change them a lot. If when people looked at you they see someone who gives full attention, who gives deep affirmation, and always seeks to live more Jesus-like. I think living like that is worth striving for, and for me I’m going to. Not only for me, but also for my boys. They deserve a dad like that, so I’m going to do my best to live that out.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Show attention, affirmation, and ownership of reactions in relationships

Take Aways…

  • Failure #1: A Lack of Attention
  • The Prodigal Son had the Father’s attention even when he wasn’t there
  • We never need to grab God’s attention; we already have it.
  • Failure #2: My Initial Gut Reaction
  • Our reactions might be normal, but not Jesus-like.
  • What comes out of us is because of us
  • Failure # 3: Lack of Affirmation
  • I affirm who he is becoming
  • Have you been giving people your full attention?
  • In trying we will be improving.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What was new? What failures have you learned most from? What would you add to Andrew’s examples? Which of the failures do you think you struggle with most? Where is God calling you to grow? How can you show some signicant relationships your attention, affirmation, and personal ownership of your reactions?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and talk about your kids about today’s sermon. Be sure to start off by telling them the ways you know you have messed up and failed. Ask them for their forgiveness and how you will be trying to do better. Take a moment and model vulnerability, confession, and trust.

Challenge for this Week: Pay attention, Affirm, And Own your Reactions


Father’s Day, Failures, and a New Future

321418_10152829471805643_695467691_nSunday is a special Sunday: it’s Father’s Day. I know this isn’t an easy day for everyone. If, like me, you’ve lost a father it can be tough. If you never really had a father, had a difficult father, or you desperately want to be a father but it hasn’t happened – I know all of these things can make Sunday difficult. Yet I also know for many of us Sunday can be a celebration. So recognizing all the complexity on Sunday I want to explore an odd topic: my failures.

On Sunday I want to be open and honest and share with you how I have failed as a father, and what that has taught me about God and relationships in general. I’ve only been a father for 3 short years, and 6 months with 2, but even in three years you can falter and fail even with the best intentions.

I know it’s an odd place to start with failures, but if you’re at all like me I learn so much more from my failures than sometimes my successes. And as I’ve faltered as a father my boys have been teaching me so much about God, myself, and all my relationships. So this is what I really want to take a look at on Sunday because failing doesn’t bother me. Not learning from my failures bothers me. I will make mistakes, and mess up – that’s life and parenting. But my hope is always to grow and change. So on Sunday we’ll open up some of my failures so that together we might all learn some important biblical principles around attention, affirmation, and owning our reactions.

Of course I’ll be sharing stories, of my boys painting the carpets and stories from Jesus. So I hope you can join us. But before we get there why not spend sometime and think through what failures have you really learned from? How have you changed? And most importantly, are there people you can share these lessons with so that we might all grow together?

Lessons from My Father: See Good, Give Grace, and Celebrate

Yesterday we talked a little bit about what my dad taught me about God. I shared three lessons that I’ve learned about my heavenly father from my earthly dad.

The first was that God changes us by reminding us of who we are, not who we aren’t. In Colossians 3:12 God calls us holy, dearly loved, and chosen. God reminds us who we are and how he sees us. He doesn’t see us as half-holy strike outs. He doesn’t see us as people he has to love. He doesn’t see us as half wanted wannabes. Instead, he sees us as holy, loved, and chosen people. Being reminded of who you are is what leads people to change and grow. There is a great clip that shows this from the movie Blood Diamond. What’s happened is this young boy has been taken as a child soldier and forced to do terrible things. This is the scene when his father finds him. Listen to how he talks to him.

I love the line, “I am your Father who loves you, and you will come home with me and be my son again”. This is just like our heavenly Father. God the Father doesn’t begin by reminding us of all the ways we’ve failed, messed up, and sinned. He reminds us of who we are in Him and also who we are to him. He reminds us how he sees us as holy, loved, and chosen. That like Solomon in that clip reminds his son Dia, “You are a good boy.”

The truth is that people live up to our expectations of them. And if we only see people as screw-ups and wash-outs, why should they act any differently if we can’t believe differently about them?

So the first lesson was to remind people of who they are and what we see in them. The second lesson was that grace is meant to be given. We love to give grace to nice people, deserving people, or people who earn it and ask for it. But this isn’t grace. Grace is a gift that covers a wrong, that reconciles, and redeems. Grace can’t be earned, it is a free gift. So we talked about how if there is division, tension, or problems in a relationship to think about this question: “What would it mean to give a gift of grace to that person?” It doesn’t mean pretending that nothing is wrong, but instead rising above the wrong and giving a gift of love.

And lastly, we talked about how we need to learn to celebrate. Celebration, throwing parties, and connecting isn’t just fun, it’s actually Godly. In the Old Testament they had celebrations every single month. In the New Testament the Kingdom of God is often related to a party. And in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father throws a lavish party instantly to welcome home his son. The point is that God is into good celebrations, great connections, and a fun party. So we need to as well.

So this week go out and remind people of who they are, give grace, and celebrate. And as you do this, watch as people are changed, because you’ll be living and acting just like our heavenly father…

Father’s Day Sermon

This week I’ve been thinking about this question: what makes a great father?

This is important to me as a father. My hope is that when Hudson looks back on his memories with me growing up, and all through his life he will see that I left a legacy. The question is how do you do that?

This is a picture of my dad with my son. And when I look back on my relationship with him I realize what a huge impact and legacy he has left with me. He was a great father through doing a few simple things. He gave me his time and attention. Such a simple thing but so difficult to fully do. He actually valued my input and treated me not as a child but as someone with value. This encouraged me and helped me to mature in a way I never realized until recently as I look back. Maybe the biggest thing he taught me though was about God.

My dad was a pastor but taught me so much about God in the way he lived, talked, and what he did. So on Sunday I want to share some of those lessons with you. I want to share about what my dad taught me about God and who He is and how it’s still shaping me today.

Maybe this week it’s a good time for you to reflect and think about what your dad taught you. But I also know that not all of us were blessed with dads like mine. In that case then,reflect on our heavenly Father and think about what he’s taught you…because the best dads in the world learn from him and live like him…