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June 2005

silktielgThe third Sunday of this month is Father's Day. Years ago, we discovered that in prison Father's Day is not as popular a day. Hallmark sent our chaplain thousand's of free cards for the men, but we couldn't give them away. We discovered that only a few of the men were in contact with their fathers.

Our Father's Promise

The Old Testament ends this way: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.1

These closing verses of the old covenant show the importance that our heavenly Father places upon the father and child relationship. This union began in the Garden of Eden with Adam and his Creator Father. It was a time of comfort, communication and commitment until sin entered Adam's heart and their relationship was broken.

This prophecy in these verses was fulfilled in three ways: 1) John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah, in the spirit and power of Elijah, enabling many of the children of Israel to turn to the Lord; 2 2) Elijah appeared at the Transfiguration of Jesus, our Messiah;' and 3) An Elijah like figure will appear at the end times, calling down fire from heaven. 4 These verses are precious promises for those who will return to their heavenly Father by receiving their Messiah, but the harshest warning to those who refuse Him.

Jesus Shows Us The Way

Our heavenly Father sent His Son to show us the way back to a perfect relationship with Him. He wanted to make sure we knew He loved us, and that we could come to Him anytime in prayer. Jesus tells us, "if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" 5

Jesus shows us the perfect example of a father. He even says, "I and my father are one.6 He teaches us how to treat our mothers by the way He treated His mother. He shows us how to have compassion on the poor and the sick. He shows us how to treat the little children and to be the perfect dad. He shows us how to be a good shepherd in ministry always caring for the sheep. He shows us how to love by laying down our lives for one another. He shows us things to come by giving us the Holy Spirit. 7

Those of us who trust the blood of Christ to provide the penalty for our sin and receive the Holy Spirit can claim our heritage all the way back to our spiritual father, Abraham. The Apostle Paul writes: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith... And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." 8 What a blessing!

My Family's Heart

My family's heart was always turned towards me, so I am one of the fortunate ones. My dad was always a very soft-hearted man. He was a very hard worker, providing for his family even at the end of the depression. I was born in 1945, and Dad gave me his middle name. Times were hard after World War II, but I helped my dad around the family gas station and general store from an early age. I remember my wonder years, from season to season, sharing the love of my family.

Some of my fondest memories with my dad were during fishing trips. We lived only a mile and a half from a lake north of Dallas. He'd take me down to Elm Creek late in the evening. We'd drive as far as we could and then walk with our poles, tackle box, lantern and minnow bucket. I can still hear the gas lantern, the frogs and the fish jumping. We'd sit there on the bank together sometimes catching two crappie fish at a time. We'd come home with a full stringer of fish. Dad would clean them and at least once a week, mom would fry fish in corn meal.

My family was always involved in church. This kept our hearts turned towards God and each other. I went to church every Sunday and sometimes during the week, plus vacation Bible school every summer. I could sing all the old hymns and say the Apostle's Creed from memory, but I still did not know the Lord Jesus Christ personally. I was more interested in playing sports and stretching my wings, but "... the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.9

My Heart's Desire

My heart turned from my family when I went off to college. I was away from the influence of my parent's morals and free to discover life on my own. I became very self-centered. I lived my life based on looking good, feeling good, being right and in control. After three years in college, I ran from my parents in fear of failure. I was afraid I could not live up to their expectations. As Job said, "... the thing I greatly feared came upon me.10 I broke their heart by committing my crimes and going to prison, but dad and mom never turned away.

My family never stopped praying for me, always loving me unconditionally. My mom wrote believers she heard on the radio and saw on the television. They asked everyone to pray for me. She wrote me letter after letter telling me about Jesus and how God loved me. I started receiving letters from Christians all over the country. The Lord came for me from all directions with the Gospel message. For the first time, He was truly getting through to my heart.

In many ways, my heart had turned back to my family soon after my crime. I knew I had made a tragic mistake, but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I tried to fix my heart in many ways, but not until the Lord touched me in May of 1975, did I truly know that my heart was not only turned back to my earthly father, but also to my heavenly Father. My parents saw how Christ had changed my life before their death, and though I had shamed their lives, I know they were actually proud of the Lord's work in my life. I had not only experienced God's unconditional love from them, but from God. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.11

Our Father's Heart

I can not stress enough the importance of experiencing our Father's heart. One thing we know for certain is that God's heart is filled with love for His children. The more we experience God's love, the more our heart is changed and the more we can do what we should do in life.

In recent days, the Lord has reminded me of how I am to care for and respect those in my midst, using the life of the Apostle Paul as an example. He wrote to the Thessalonian church, saying, "...we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God [love], but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us... as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged everyone of you, as a father does his own children.12

Let us ask our heavenly Father to make this a very special Father's Day. If you don't have a relationship with your heavenly Father, simply bow your head and tell Him of your new desire. Ask Him to also give you a new desire for a better relationship with your earthly father. The Lord may lead you to write him a letter or give him a call before seeing him on Father's day. This can be a revolutionary month for God's love to abound in your heart, so He can free you to reach out to everyone around you with His anointing of love.

A Prayer For You

"Heavenly Father, I come to you in the precious name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I thank you for turning our hearts to You and towards each other. And thank You, that You have washed our family in the blood of Your Son. You have clothed us with Your righteousness and anointed us with Your Holy Spirit. I present myself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You. I ask Your continued blessings on us and protect us from all evil and all harm. I ask that you continue to minister Your love and peace to us. I ask all these things in the precious Name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

Footnotes:

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Mal. 4:5-6
Luke 1:16-17
Luke 9:28-36
Rev. 11:1-7
Like 11:13
John 10:30

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John 16:13
Gal. 3:13-14, 29
Isa. 59:1
Job 3:25
Rom. 5:8
1 Thess. 2:7-8, 11

 

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