Growing up with a dad is so important. I was blessed to have a dad for most of my life. There are so many things we learn from our parents about how to live life, and be successful. Parents help to shape their children and guide them to know right and wrong, to make good decisions and to learn skills, habits and abilities.
Children also can learn negative things at home and can experience lifelong damage as a result of a parents actions, inactions, words or beliefs. Being in ministry I’m constantly reminded about the many hurting broken families in this world. The real hardships and struggles that many people go through. Growing up without a dad or a mom is very hard.
Having a dad that has faith in Jesus and lives his life for Him first is a precious gift to his children. I was blessed to grow up in such a home. My dad loved the Lord and and taught us to do the same through his actions and words.
My dad passed away a few days ago and it’s caused me to think back to my early years at home and my memories of my dad. I have to say I’ve actually smiled more than I’ve cried so far. Looking at the many pictures has triggered some great memories about my dad. The times of gathering as a family, eating Sunday dinners together (meatloaf made a regular appearance). I also remember going to church as a family, doing family devotions together and praying for our extended family together. I remember the Christmas gatherings with food and presents, and dad would always read the Christmas story about Jesus.
As I grew older we still got together on a fairly regular basis. For a while we went to dad & moms place every Tuesday night for supper. We would eat and laugh and talk about what was going on in our lives.
As I and my brothers got married and started families these gathering times were less frequent but always special when we did get together.
As I think about my dad there are so many lessons I learned by simply watching him and listening to him over the years. Here are a few that are special to me and that I have taken on as his son.
- Work hard and Provide for your family – My dad drove truck for most of his life. He worked hard and gave his best at all the jobs he had. He learned to drive and loved the open road and seeing the country. The people that worked with my dad saw how reliable, honest and trustworthy he was. My dad’s CB handle was the Wood Chopper, I don’t know why, maybe because he snored so loud or maybe because he worked so hard. He logged over a million miles and rarely complained, steady and reliable. Because he drove long distance sometimes we was not home a lot during the week. That is what made the weekends so special for us boys.
- Eat good food and enjoy life – My dad liked to eat! I get my shape from him. He liked most kinds of food and really enjoyed my moms cooking. He called my moms cooking eating at Susie’s Diner. He loved sandwiches and soup. He also loved breakfast, eating eggs and bacon. I am the same way. Dad also liked to laugh and joke. He loved to share a good joke and laugh.
- Be a Man of Integrity – My dad was a man of character and integrity. If he said he was going to do something he did it. If he made a mistake he would admit it. If he needed help he would ask for it. He told the truth and expected us boys to also be truthful. I was a bit of a challenge as a kid growing up. Dad was always gentle but firm. I don’t ever remember him saying a bad word or putting me down or even yelling at us. He would punish us when we where bad, but he also showed love and compassion.
- Serve God and other people – My Dad was very active in his local church, serving in many different capacities. He was a song leader, something he learned growing up. He sang in a men’s quartet for a number of years and then used that gift to serve his local church. He also taught the adult Sunday School classes many times over the years. He also served in leadership at his church as the Administrator and then as an Elder. He used his influence to encourage people and mentor people over the years as well.
- Be Humble – My Dad was very humble and did not want to be the center of attention. He was content to work in the background, but was willing to step up when he had to. Anyone that knew my dad knew that he was a kind, gentle, wise man.
- Be a man of Faith – The best thing about my dad was that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. He loved the Lord and had a personal relationship with Jesus. That was the most important part of his life. His faith guided every other part of his life. His faith impacted his marriage of 55 years. It impacted the way he raised his three boys. It impacted how he worked and how he served. What I saw in my dad was an unswerving faith. He loved to talk about end times and read prophesy books. It makes me smile to know that he is in heaven and with Jesus and knows exactly what that is like. I love to think about how he is seeing many family and loved ones that are also there and that some day I will get to see him again.
Because of his faith in Jesus, we do not need to be troubled. Yes we hurt and are sad, but what a tremendous gift he has given to our family. To know that he is now in heaven, because of his relationship with Jesus.
In John Chapter 14 Jesus said these words to His disciples after he told them he was going to die.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the place where I am going.”
One of his disciples named Thomas asked the question many of us would ask. We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Because of my dad’s faith we do not need to be troubled, we know he is in a much better place and is serving God in heaven as we speak.
Jesus made it very clear that there is only one way to heaven and that is by believing and receiving Jesus Christ.
You see, there are two things that are going to last forever, One is your spirit. The Bible says that God placed eternity in hearts of men. That means we will live forever somewhere; either in the presence of a loving God or separated from Him forever and ever. We were made to last forever, our brains do not know how to process death and that is why we must go through the grieving process. Our brains were not wired for death.
It all depends on what you do with the person of Jesus Christ.
The second thing that will last forever is the Word of God. The Bible says that the grass will wither and the flower will die, but the Word of God will stand forever.
I believe that Dad would want me to share the four things that God wants you to know from His word. Because he loved his family and friends he would be very concerned about all of you following him to heaven to be reunited again some day. He would want all of you to know what he knows.
First, God wants you to know that He wants you to experience Peace and have eternal life. God loves you, and He wants you to experience His peace as a way of life. The Bible says, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The second thing God wants you to know is that you are separated from God by your Sin.
Sin means missing the mark. Sin is also the selfish attitude of ignoring or rejecting God and going our own way. Our sin causes a gap between us and God.
God did not make us to be robots and force us to serve Him. He gave us free will and freedom to choose. We often choose to disobey and go our own way. When you disobey God, you and I sin, and that separates us from God. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. That puts all of us in the same boat.
Many times we try to overcome this issue of sin by doing good things. If I could just do some good works then maybe I could tip the scales and God will let me in. “I am basically a good person, I haven’t hurt anyone and I try to do the right thing most of the time.” So we work hard at being good, but how good is good enough? We can ever know for sure if we have done enough good to make the cut. So we try to bridge that gap between us and God with good works, never knowing if I am good enough.
The third thing that God wants us to know is that the answer to this problem of sin and separation from God is Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the only answer to the problem of separation from God. God knew we could never be good enough on our own. He had a plan all along, He sent his perfect son to take our place, to stand in that gap for us. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty our sins require. It has been paid in full. Jesus has bridged that gap that separates you from God. The Bible says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And in the book of John Jesus said “ I tell you the truth, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
The last thing that God wants you to know is that you can receive Christ. You can receive Christ as your Savior and Lord when you believe in His word and trust in only Him to save you. The Bible says: “To all who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” What an amazing gift.
To receive Christ you need to admit you have missed the mark, be willing to turn from your sin, believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross as the sacrifice, covering all your sins, and rose from the grave, defeating Satan and death and finally through prayer, invite Jesus to come in to your life and receive Him as your Savior.
Maybe you have never really accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. Maybe you don’t know if you would go to heaven if you died today. By sincerely praying a simple prayer and believing it with all your heart you can have that assurance today.
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you. I know I can’t pay you back and make it right. I believe that you paid for my sins by dying on the cross. I am truly sorry for all my sins. Right now I open the door of my heart and ask you to come in and forgive me. I want to follow you as best I can. Thank you for giving me the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Thank you for saving me right now. In Jesus name Amen.
My last memory of my dad was him slowly standing up giving me a hug and saying I love you. I’ll treasure that the rest of my life.