At Gateway Church in South Austin we celebrated Father’s Day and Juneteenth!
So Happy Father’s Day!
We realize that this day can be hard for some of us. Some of us have had hard relationships with our Dad or no relationship with our Dad or perhaps we recently lost our Dad or we’ve always wanted to be a Dad and that has not happened for us…
The beauty of faith is that we can develop a relationship with God where He can be with us in the midst of our pain or disappointment. We can even build our life on God in a way that He meets our deepest needs – even those unmet by our relationships with our parents, siblings, friends, spouse, kids, or coworkers.
And if you are a Dad, we are at our best when we emulate our Heavenly Father.
And we have a lot of great Dads in the room. So thank you to the Dads in the room who have helped your kids find faith and grow in faith.
I want to encourage you:
Each of us can be a source of strength for others – whether or not you are a Dad or a Mom or a boss or whether or not you have any authority in someone’s life.
We can become more like our Heavenly Father to others by building a solid foundation of faith on Him.
This past series we talked about the four practices every Christ-follower needs to develop in their lives – following the Spirit of God, in the Scriptures, in intentional community where you can be fully honest with others and where you are on mission together, and living generously with our time, talent, and our finances.
All of those point towards a vibrant relationship with God. Every relationship drifts if we aren’t intentional.
In marriage date nights can be the antidote to drifting. Calling our parents on a regular basis can be the antidote to drifting.
Spending time together can be the antidote to drifting away from your friends.
With our relationship with God it’s about trusting Him that keeps us from drifting.
Trusting Him involves knowing what He wants for us and living that out.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
Let me give you an example of how the Bible can play a critical role in how God speaks to us and guides us.
When Deborah and I were dating it was the early 1990s so we wrote letters to each other. No FaceTime or emails or texts. It was so exciting to get a letter from her! Every day I went to the mailbox just hoping there would be a letter!
That was the main way we communicated because we lived 100 miles apart and it was long distance to call each other, and I’m cheap so that rarely happened. She lived in Irving and I lived in Waco. They seemed so far apart in those days!
Now what I discovered was that absence does not make the heart grow fonder. For a time absence can be what helps you realize you don’t want less of this person in your life but more. Even still, prolonged absence can actually lead to doubts and drifting apart.
Now in the summer of 1992, I applied to be a summer missionary in Russia. The Soviet Union had just collapsed, and there was an opportunity to go there for 10 weeks. The problem was my parents wanted me to work half the summer so I could only go on summer mission trip for 6 weeks. The only 6 weeks option was in Dallas.
I grew up near Fort Worth. Dallas was the last place I wanted to go!
I was really upset with my parents. I mean I was an adult now! I was 20! I should be making my own decisions! Of course my parents were still paying all my bills while I was in college. I was just responsible for paying for gas, dates, and fun with friends. But I had bought my own car and I didn’t want to work at the same grocery store I had been working at since I was 16!
The challenge was that I was really trying to trust God with my life. I was really growing a lot as I was spending more and more time with God in prayer (sometimes with groups of friends we’d pray all night) and in the Scriptures. In fact I had memorized key verses at around 17-18. At 19 I memorized the Sermon on the Mount and now at 20 I was trying to memorize all of Ephesians. It was about this same time that a verse I did not like in those days, but I really like it now struck me as God’s Word to me about what I should do that summer:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”” – Ephesians 6:1-3
So I humbled myself. Rather than heading off to Russia and rather than just not going anywhere at all, I worked at Kroger half the summer and went to Dallas as a summer missionary.
Here’s what’s amazing. That summer is when I fell in love with Deborah. We were able to see each other the entire summer. It didn’t really dawn on me until just before the mission trip, for the first time in our relationship I would be living in the same area code as Deborah. Even from Bedford near Fort Worth it was long distance to call her in Irving. Now we would be able to talk all the time for free!
Take that AT&T!!
That summer we went from slowly getting to know each other while dating other people to exclusively dating and by the spring of the next year we were engaged.
In fact, I’ve got the craziest story to take you back into that time in my life. My brother was dropping off his son for orientation at Baylor University today when he decided to look for the desk that he had written a love note to his wife a long time ago. There are several desks in the Student Center that have been around for years that include some messages. Pic: Desk
Instead he found what I wrote to Deborah in 1992 when I was a student at Baylor and what she wrote to me in 1993!! He had no idea we had even written in there!
What are the odds?!
Why do I bring that up?
If we aren’t careful and intentional, we drift in our relationship with God. One of the key ways we stay connected with Him is reading the letters written to us – the Scriptures and through prayers which are like phone calls with God, the Creator of the universe.
John Lee shared about that here two weeks ago and I shared at our North Austin campus if you want to go back and listen.
But it’s not just about reading the Scriptures, it’s about living out what we read.
It’s about living out what we say we believe even when it’s hard – even if we don’t feel like it.
Trusting God means following Him wherever He wants us to go.
It is just like God to ask us to forgive people we do not want to forgive.
It is just like God to ask us to pursue a relationship with someone we don’t like or who has hurt us.
Our wounds from relationships from our past affect our relationships in our present and in our future.
That’s why we talked about intentional community and living generously the last two weeks.
When we decide to give up an hour or two a week to serve or to connect, we will grow and we will heal!
To help us understand more about trusting God even when it’s hard and in light of Father’s Day, I wanted to interview a special guest, my daughter Trevi.
Thank you so much for being willing to be interviewed this Sunday and for singing Build My Life!
So what is God calling you to do?
If we don’t trust Him and move forward with the last thing He shared with us, He cannot give us what comes next!