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My wife and I both have the joy of celebrating our birthdays during the same month as our respective parent’s days. Mother’s Day and my wife’s birthday are both in May, and My birthday and Father’s Day are both in June.
It’s like a month long party in the Brewster home!
But maybe your relationship with your dad isn’t so great. Perhaps you don’t look forward to Father’s Day because your dad is no longer alive.
So, regardless of our relationship with our fathers, how do we celebrate God on Father’s Day?
That’s the very important question we plan to tackle today as well as describing how we can prepare for, celebrate, and disciple during Dad’s Day.
But before we do that, I’d like to remind you that The Year Long Celebration of God is a parenting resource I created for Truth.Love.Parent.
Truth.Love.Parent. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that creates free biblical parenting resources, offers training for families and those who serve them, and provides biblical counseling. And The Celebration of God is one of those free biblical parenting resources.
If you have kids or serve kids in any way, I hope you’ll check out TruthLoveParent.com. And — if you caught our last episode about celebrating God on International Children’s Day — then hopefully you realize that there are many more kids in your life than you realized. And hopefully you also realized that God would have you minister to them in one way or another. That means that TruthLoveParent.com may be a valuable resource for you as you encounter the various challenges associated with loving kids well.
And while you’re TruthLoveParent.com you can find today’s episodes notes and transcript because CelebrationOfGod.com is part of the TLP website.
And — with that — let’s talk about Father’s Day.
1. The cultural difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
As I mentioned on our Mother’s Day episode, in America we have this bad habit of focusing on all the best qualities of mothers on Mother’s Day and all the worst qualities of dads on Father’s Day.
On that episode I suggested that the most biblical approach would be to preach an even-handed encouragement and challenge since God does both.
God commends both parents and also corrects both parents. He celebrates dads and moms, and He challenges them both to be conformed more to His image.
And since the most valuable approach is the most biblical approach, then I hope pastors won’t go too easy on dads this Father’s Day. Yes, let’s give honor where honor is due, but let’s also realize that every dad must continue to grow spiritually.
But I think one of the reasons the church has come down harder on fathers is . . .
2. The cultural minimizing of fathers.
During the 50’s it was normal to hear men admonished to take charge and lead his family. Why is that? Well, because the cultural-christianity of the decade was made up of a lot of guys taking their families to church on Sunday but neglecting their fatherly duties the rest of the week.
Slowly but surely over the next few decades more and more fathers were becoming absentee. Divorce rates went up, mothers were given priority over dads when it came to custody, and soon the statistics became dire.
According to census.gov, “In 1968, 85% of children under 18 lived with two parents (regardless of marital status); by 2020, 70% did.” That means that 1 in 4 children today do not have a father in the home . . . or they may have had and lost multiple father figures. That’s over 15 million kids living without a father.
I believe this growing trend is why pastors have been so hard-hitting with the dads. And — to be honest — it’s been an earned response. Though the statistics aren’t quite so bad in the church, the number of fatherless homes or homes where the father isn’t spiritual present is staggeringly high.
Still, haranguing the guys on Father’s Day is not the way to fix the problem. Teaching men to better know, understand, and serve God is the only way to really fix the problem.
But it seems as if many nations are practically giving up on dads. America especially has become extremely antagonistic to fathers. Thankfully, there’s still a secular remnant who understands the value of present fathers. But — as I said earlier — the only way to really fix the problem is to understand . . .
3. The divine value of fathers.
I did an episode for Truth.Love.Parent. called “TLP 284: Does Your Family Mirror the Trinity?” In that episode I unpacked one of God’s purposes for creating the family the way He did — He wanted the physical family to be a representation of God Himself.
In the same way God the Father is hierarchically the leader in the Trinity, so earthly fathers are expected by God to be the ultimate authorities in the home. This is not because the father is somehow better. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equally God, and yet they function within a hierarchy where the Spirit submits to the Son and the Son to the Father. They are all equal in form though they are different in function.
Dads are no better or worse than moms or kids, but God expects the kids to submit to mom as mom submits to dad. And if dad is doing his job, he is supposed to lead the family in the same way God leads His people.
That means that a fatherless family — whether physically or spiritually — is not functioning the way God desires.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the family is in sin. The kids can’t help it if their father died, and the wife can’t help it if her husband is spiritually dead. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences when a mature father isn’t doing his duty.
I hope you’ll check out our Father’s Day Bible Reading. We’ve included a number of categories of biblical exhortation and teaching concerning fathers.
But even though God may put great value in fathers, we’ve already established that there are many men who are either failing in their responsibilities or who have died.
Can people in those situations really be expected to celebrate Father’s Day?
4. Father’s Day for the fatherless.
Whether you’re new to the show or you’ve been with us since the beginning, we all need to recognize that our worship must start with God. Can we worship God by loving others? Yes. Can we worship God by honoring others? Yes. But celebrating people must always be rooted in celebrating God. That means that He must be preeminent, and it means that we have to celebrate the person in a way that ultimately glorifies God. Otherwise, we’re only celebrating our own way and doing what’s right in our own eyes.
That means that those of us with awesome dads must make sure we honor our dads for the sole purpose of worshipping our Lord.
And that means that those of us without fathers or — at least — without good fathers, must worship our Lord even though we don’t have a father to honor.
And here’s why I really love Father’s Day, and here’s why I believe Father’s Day is actually more special for people who have no father to celebrate.
In Psalm 68:4-6 David writes, “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, Whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him. 5 A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. 6 God makes a home for the lonely.”
This was probably based on Deuteronomy 10:18 which says, “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow.”
In Psalm 27:9-10 we read, “Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation! 10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the Lord will take me up.”
Psalm 146:9 tells us, “The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked.”
Jeremiah 49:11 says, “Leave your orphans behind, I will keep them alive; And let your widows trust in Me.”
And the list goes on and on. Don’t miss the fact that God the Father is the Heavenly Father to all who believe in Him.
Romans 8:15-18 is so glorious! It says, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
If your dad was a bum, if you didn’t even know your dad, if your dad was a great guy, but he’s no longer able to fulfill his fatherly duty because of Alzheimers . . . you have all the fatherly care you need in God.
If your dad is a wonderful, Christ-honoring father . . . God is still a better one.
Unlike Mother’s Day and Grandparent’s Day, Father’s Day is an opportunity for all believers everywhere to focus on the great, majestic, perfect Heavenly Father.
So, yes. I believe God is very glorified when His people worship Him on Father’s Day.
Therefore, let’s talk about the specifics of how we can do that.
How do we prepare our hearts for Father’s Day? Check out The Celebration of God’s Father’s Day Bible Reading. Exult in the passages about the perfection of the Father, learn from the passages where God communicates His expectations for fathers, and glory in the passages where God promises to care for the fatherless.
Spend time praying for your father — if he’s still alive. If he’s a good dad, pray that God would help him to continue to mature in his sanctification. If he’s a bad dad, pray that God would soften his heart and draw Him to Christ.
If your father is gone, thank the Lord for the part his played in your life . . . even if that only means that God used him to conceive you. That in itself is an amazing gift!
If you’re a father, plead with God to teach you and reprove you and change you and mature you so that you can mirror Him in your fathering.
Put up a picture of your dad or your surrogate dads or you spiritual dad on your Celebration Wall along with a Scripture passage that will draw your mind to praising God for the godly men in your life.
Prepare the hearts of the other fathers in your life by encouraging and challenging them and strengthening them in their relationship with the Heavenly Father.
And then on Father’s Day . . .
Of course you can buy your dad a tie or socks. You can color him a picture. You can take him out to eat. But you should also spend some of that time in church. Hopefully your pastor will offer a biblically-balanced message of encouragement and conviction to help you or your dad — or both of you — to glorify God more in the leadership of your home.
Spend some time reading and discussing what the Bible has to say about fathers. Thank the Lord together for the fathers in your life and pray for their physical and spiritual needs.
Whatever you do, and regardless of the kind of man you father is or was, I encourage you to honor your father in one way or another. Send a card. Call him up. Visit him in prison if you need to. Perhaps God will use your soft heart and desire to reconcile with your dad as a way of drawing your dad to Him.
And what Celebration of God would be complete without . . .
Whether you’re speaking into the lives of other fathers, teaching young men how to be a good father, or simply rejoicing together with your fellow disciples about the awesomeness of The Father, I hope you’ll do it together.
Sharpen each other. Strengthen each other. Mold each other. Help each other be better conformed to the image of Christ.
Have a great day on Father’s Day because you serve a great God and — whether your dad is here or gone, good or bad — you rejoice in the awesomeness of God.
I’m looking forward to this Father’s Day, not just because I’m a dad or because I have a dad, but because I’m looking forward to enjoying the day in a way that promotes my Heavenly Father.
And I hope you are too.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets, and join us next time as we look at part 4 of our Celebrating God at Church series.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.