(6/15) The year 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of Fatherís Day in America. While it wasnít made a national holiday until 1972, the efforts of one woman in Washington sparked a movement to celebrate Dadís long before then.
Sonora Dodd and the first Father's Day
In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, was inspired to create a holiday honoring fathers. William Jackson Smart, her father, was a farmer and Civil War veteran that raised Sonora and her five younger brothers by himself after his wife, Ellen, died giving birth to their youngest child in 1898. While attending a Motherís Day church service in
1909, Sonora, then 27, came up with the idea.
Within a few months, Sonora had convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA to set aside a Sunday in June to celebrate fathers. She proposed June 5, her fatherís birthday, but the ministers chose the third Sunday in June so that they would have more time after Motherís Day (the second Sunday in May) to prepare their sermons. So it was
that on June 19, 1910, Sonora delivered presents to handicapped fathers, boys from the YMCA decorated their lapels with fresh-cut roses (red for living fathers, white for the deceased), and the cityís ministers devoted their homilies to fatherhood.
A National Holiday
The widely publicized events in Spokane struck a chord that reached all the way to Washington, D.C., and Sonora's celebration started its path to becoming a national holiday.
ē In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day.
ē Eight years later, President Calvin Coolidge signed a resolution in favor of Fatherís Day "to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations."
ē In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed an executive order that the holiday be celebrated on the third Sunday in June.
ē Under President Richard Nixon, in 1972, Congress passed an act officially making Fatherís Day a national holiday. (Six years later, Sonora died at age 96.) (Source:Almanac.com)
We did not buy roses but we did get all our dads a gift. This is hard for some of us as it will be the first Fatherís dad without our Dads.
I. What does the Bible say about Fatherís Day?
Well it doesnít say anything about the 3rd Sunday in June, but it does have some things to say about honoring Fatherís. Letís just briefly look at a few.
A. The first may be very obvious. It comes from the 5th commandment, Exodus 20:12. It says, "Honor your Father and Mother." The first 4 commandments speak of putting God first in your life. The last 5 speak about respecting people. Sandwiched between loving God and Loving others is Honoring our Father and Mother. To honor means, to be heavy towards, or
to give weight to. It means to be highly respectful of your parents. It includes trusting and obeying them when you are young, conducting your life in an honoring way when you are grown. It includes speaking respectfully to and about them and never raising a hand against them. And, it means caring for them when they can no longer care for themselves. That is the circle of
life that God intended. Life before Social Security.
B. Leviticus. 19:3 says, "to Revere" or the Old KJV says, "to Fear," your Mother and Father. Now I know that some of you may have had to live in fear, and I am sorry for that, but that is not what this verse means. It is the same word that is used though out the Bible for fearing or revering the Lord as in Proverbs 1:7; "The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of knowledge." Notice with me, again, It comes immediately after God says that we are to be Holy because God is Holy, and just before He says to keep the Sabbaths. To be Holy is to be set apart. We are not to be like everybody else in the world, because God has set us apart. God is Holy, He is separate and distinct from anything that is sinful or evil. God is light
and in Him there is no darkness at all. When you trusted Jesus as your Savior, God sanctified you. Did you know that? Listen to 1 Cor. 6:11, "Ö and such were some of you but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God." The Bible says you are saints. All of these words mean the same thing. They all come from
the Greek word, "Hagios" meaning to set aside as Holy. You are a child of God, God considers you set apart from the world and set apart to Him. And He wants you to live differently than the rest of the world and one of the primary ways we are to display our Holiness is by reverencing our parents. Paul will tell us in Romans 1 and 2 Tim. 3 that a characteristic of people in
the last days will be disobedience to parents. This word, "Revere," or, "Fear" in Lev. 3 means, to have deep respect coupled with a sense of awe. The rest of Leviticus 19 is about Honoring God and Loving people. It is from the chapter that we get the commandment to, "love our neighbors as ourselves," and to love the stranger among us the same way, and to look out for the
poor, and treat our elderly with respect. But again, sandwiched between our relationship with God, and our relationship with other people is our relationship with our parents. Second, only to loving God, is our honor for our parents. If you will read Exodus 20 you will see the 10 commandments. Chapter 21 of Exodus is a list of offenses that God says is worthy of death. Of the
first 4 offenses that God says is capital, the first is Murder, the second is Cursing Parents, the third is Kidnapping, and the fourth is Striking a Parent. Our God is serious about our respect and honor for our parents.
II. A Message for Dads
Now, Dads have a big responsibility according to Godís word. He is responsible to work hard to provide for and protect His family. I know that we live in a time when both husbands and wives have to work hard to provide, but according to God, the primary responsibility is Dadís. His provision is to go beyond making money and paying bills. He is to be
the spiritual leader of his home. It is Dads who are instructed to teach their children about God. It is Dads who are instructed to discipline their children as they train them to live holy and moral lives. Not all dads have done that. Maybe some of you havenít done that. But, like the old Geico commercials, I have good news, there is grace and forgiveness with God. It is not
too late to change and to have an influence on your grown children and grandchildren. While this is a day to honor you, dads, I want to take just a few moments to encourage you to be honorable. Here are just a few ways.
A. Model Grace and Humility for your children and grandchildren. Growing in Christlikeness is a lifelong goal. When you were longer you may not have been as Christ-like as you are now. There may have been more law and justice than grace and mercy in your actions when you were longer. Age has the means to reveal what is really important and what is not
and you need to model that. Be quick to forgive.
B. Share Life Lessons with your children and grandchildren. One of things about being a parent is that you donít get good at it until your children are grown and then you think you are done. What do you do with all that you have learned? We tell our children, "If I knew then what I know now.Ö" I know that some of us even learned things through Menís
Fraternity that we wish someone had told us earlier in life. Take your Menís Fraternity book and a notebook and write what you have learned that you would like to pass on to your children and grandchildren. Write a Fatherís Day letter to your children, your sons, and grandsons, and tell them what you have learned about being a dad or about being a man. Do it every year, or on
your childrenís or grandchildrenís birthdays. They will treasure those letters and save them for their children. Or share them one evening around a fire, or when you are fishing, or some other relaxed setting. Read and mediate on Deut, 6 and Psalm 78. Dads and Grand-dads, donít waste your knowledge and experiences.
C. Model Love and Servant-hood. With their mom or grandmother. One of the best things you can show your children and grandchildren is that you love your spouse with agape love, and that you care more about helping and serving her than being served. That builds security in your children and grandchildren. Hug each other in their presence. Dad, get your
wife a cup of coffee and wash dishes once in a while.
D. Pray for your family. Pray in their presence. Pray for Godís grace and love to be evident in their lives. Dads, make sure that you always ask the blessing over the meals. Dads, you pray for family when they get up in the morning and or before they go to bed at night.
E. Live by the Code. Like our Lord told Joshua, "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day
and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Jos.1:7-8, cp. Ps.1) Your children and grandchildren want to see that you are consistent and serious about your walk with God. They want to see that you walk the talk about choosing Godís way over the worldís ways in
everything you do. Do not be like what James describes as a double minded man who is like the waves of an ocean, in one moment and out the next. Following Jesus is my decision and I will not stray. Let them see that going to church, tithing, and meditating in Godís word are non-negotiables and they will honor you for being an honorable man.
III. A Message for Children of all ages.
So, how can you really honor and show the respect to your Father that God wants you to show? Gifts and cards are nice, but I believe that there are some more personal ways. I would like to share some with you.
A. If your Father is no longer living, you can Honor Him today by remembering his life and talking about your good memories of him today with your mother or your siblings or with your children. "I remember the time when dadÖ."
B. If your Father is living or dead and was not a noble Father, you need to forgive him. Maybe you need to say those words out loud to him today, or maybe as a prayer to God. Let it go. While it is not a justifiable excuse, there may have been deep reasons as to why he wasnít the man he could have been. Forgive him as God as forgiven you, not only for
your fatherís sake, but for your own spiritual, emotional and mental health.
C. Instead of, or in addition to the Hallmark cards, write your own card or letter and put in it what you have learned from your dad, or things you have appreciated from your dad. Your thoughts and words carry a lot more weight than what a card writer has printed.
D. One of the best gifts you can give your Father is not a tie, nor a fishing rod, or a Duck Dynasty tee shirt; instead, give Him your ears and your attention. Ask him about his life and what he has learned in life and what advice he would like to pass on to his children and grandchildren. You have grown up hearing and not really wanting to hear these
words, "When I was your ageÖ" But it would mean a lot if you were to ask him what it was like when he was your age and what advice or counsel he would like to pass on to you and your children.
Look with me at Proverbs 23:15-26 and letís look at some principles from Solomonís instructions to his son or to us. If you want to honor Dad:
E. Seek Godís Wisdom (v. 15). Solomon wrote this book of Proverbs to encourage his son to be wise. Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and apply it to all of life. Look at Proverbs. 1:1-7; 2:1-7, The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: 2 To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding,
3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, Justice, judgment, and equity; 4 To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion.5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and an enigma, The words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
Study the Bible, go to church and learn wisdom from the source of true wisdom and apply it to your life and your dad will be honored.
F. Make sure the words that come out of your mouth are truth, clean, wise, and encouraging (v. 16). Donít use course or crude words, especially not the F word. Donít repeat crude jokes. Donít speak in half-truths. Make sure your speech builds people up and not tearing them down and your dad will be honored.
G. If you want to honor Dad, choose to Follow Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. (vv. 17-18) There are two choices in life. The way of the world and Godís way. You can buy into the philosophy of the advertising world and seek success and happiness in stuff and popularity in self-fulfillment and self-centeredness, and the sins of society and live for
the pleasures of the here. Or you can choose to follow Jesus and trust God for the here and now, and for the hereafter. In the here and now, all your hope will die when you die. In Jesus Christ and the hereafter, all your hope is realized for eternity. If your parents know Jesus, their greatest concern is that you would know Him too, not just know about Him. Their greatest
joy will be in being able to rest in the certainty that you will all be in heaven, in the hereafter, together as a family.
H. Choose your friends carefully. Watch who you hang out with. (Vv. 20-21, cp. 1 Cor. 15:33). Paul reminds us, "Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." Itís one thing to be intentional about sharing your faith and being an influencer, itís another thing to want to be accepted and be influenced. Most people will admit that they started
smoking, drinking, or doing drugs to be cool and fit in with the crowd that they wanted to be accepted by. You will always be either a leader or a follower.
I. Choose to not drink alcohol, and it goes without saying stay away from drugs. (20:1; 21:17; 23:29-35) We can argue all day long about Christian liberty and whether a little wine or beer, or if one mixed drink is okay, but the truth is, alcohol is extremely dangerous; too dangerous to mess with. Even a little, can alter your reflex and change your
reaction and lead to danger. A Japanese proverb says, "First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man." That is the general progression. Some of you may say, I can drink just one and not want anymore, but I know from my early adult life and B.C. that if one made me feel good, two made me feel better and so on. And I never wanted my
dad or my children, to know that I was drinking. Do you want to honor your dad? Drink sweet tea, or Dr. Pepper and leave the alcohol alone.
J. In Summary, if you want to honor Dad, live your life to honor God. (Proverbs 23:24 and Lev. 19:2-3) Be Holy and Righteous. Set Sundays apart to God, be in church with your family. Seek Godís wisdom in His Word. Live by the Code, and your dad will be proud and honored and God will glorified.
God is serious about honoring and revering our Fathers. May we be serious as well and make our Fatherís hearts rejoice not just in a card or a gift, but by a life well-lived. Letís pray.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman