The Best Father’s Day EVER!

Orlando ICC celebrating around the water after three amazing baptisms!

Orlando ICC celebrating around the water after three amazing baptisms!

The Orlando International Christian Church wishes all of you dads the “Best Father’s Day Ever”! First hand, I can tell you being a father of four amazing kids is an honor and a privilege that comes with all the incredible joys and years of special memories that can never be forgotten. In addition, fatherhood comes with sadness, pain and at times an overwhelming sense of dread.  As men, we seek to lead our families and be who we are called to be: the leader, the solution finder, the man with the plan and basically the guy who takes the heat for all good & the not so good of our families! Who would have thought “dread” could come with being a father? In the scriptures we can see both the joy and dread (often times) that our God has even as He is the best Father ever. “I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’  I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 3:19-20

Our God sees us as His joy and yet endures and incredible amount of pain and suffering when we go astray. From the beginning of time His creation (you and I) has turned against Him and forsaken the greatest Dad that ever could be. The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. Genesis 6:5-6 Yet, He persists in His perfect love for us- His children. What a Father!

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The Orlando ICC welcomes to the kingdom Ted and Kathy Green (top) and the Farrell family (bottom): From top/left: Amanda, Peggy, Brandon, Jonathan and Esther! Both families recently moved to the Orlando area!

The word, “father”, which is also a most honorable title, is used 1079 times in the Bible. We all have an image of “father” in our minds eye and can imagine either great men from our memories or horrible men who may have hurt us deeply. Either way, the clarion call from the scriptures is for us to be in love with the true One and Only Father of us all who is perfect and incapable of sin. But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. Isaiah 63:15-16 Easily seen is Jesus’ heart for His Father; Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.   John 5:17-23 Let us imitate his incredible love and respect for his Father and become like him.

Men are called to be leaders and fathers like our Father in heaven. So often men fall short and then run from the responsibility and seek the “man cave” route when things get tough. The call is for us fathers and future fathers to come out of the caves and be the men God believes we can be…the men he MADE us to be! Many years ago I read a book entitled, “Mighty Man of God” written by Sam Laing. It changed my thinking and in time aided in changing my life as I began to realize who God believed I could be and how easy it was to fall into the trap destroying men and families. The trap of sin, complacency and cowering to fear that decimates men and fatherhood rather than as God intended. Following is an excerpt from the Introduction:

“The condition of manhood in our world is deplorable. Men are viewed as superficial, shallow louts. A goofy, foolish object of pity, the masculine gender is the butt of countless jokes and subject to an endless stream of ridicule. When was the last time you saw a man portrayed as a hero, as a person of dignity, honor and grace? Of noble and sacrificial virtue? No, the picture is one of a lustful, vulgar vagabond who neither wants, nor is capable of, real friendship and commitment. Devoid of love and loyalty, men are represented as without real friendships with one another and without allegiance to women and children. Power hungry, brutish, violent, greedy, sports obsessed, conniving, lazy, aloof, cowardly, depressed…need I go on? And this is the being created in the image of God, who was given care and dominion over God’s creation, who was told that he was a little lower than the angels! We can only join with David as he lamented the demise of a great man in his life by saying, “Your glory…lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19).

Rejoicing as they enter God’s kingdom! Clockwise from top left:  Odayne (center) is restored,  Brady (second from right) is baptized,  Ricky (center) is baptized, and Louis (second from left) is also baptized!

Rejoicing as they enter God’s kingdom! Clockwise from top left: Odayne (center) is restored, Brady (second from right) is baptized, Ricky (center) is baptized, and Louis (second from left) is also baptized!

As men, we must admit with shame that there is a very real basis for these charges. We have failed to be what we should be; we are guilty of every one of these accusations- and worse. If a gender can be indicted for its crimes, then as men we must all together hang our heads and cry out, “Guilty as charged!”

Sometimes I think the women of the world, with God joining them, must themselves the question, Where are the men? Where are the men who will marry women and stay with them, faithful until death? Where are the men who will love their wives and stand beside them to raise the children and build a family? Where are the men who will lead our nations and guide our governments with wisdom and dignity? It seems like men of the courage, honor and eloquence of a Lincoln or a Churchill are no more. The presidents and leaders of today seem unable to remain faithful to their won wives, much less inspire a nation to greatness.

Where are the men of God’s kingdom? Where are the men to lead the way in evangelism, in prayer, in love and in faith? Is it not the women who so often set the pace in spirituality; in numerical growth and in hearts devoted to God? Where are the men to marry the thronging crowds of singles women in our churches? Are the single brothers in our fellowship mired in the same morass of selfishness and immaturity as the men in the world around them? Where are the men who could rise up and be leaders in our churches? Are they too wrapped up in their own pursuits, too concerned with making money and being comfortable? Where are the great heroes of faith we need to inspire our teens and our college students and to inspire us all? We call out for them, and sometimes it seems there are no men out there to answer our cries.

I believe the true men are out there. I know they are! I believe some of them are reading this book. You may have been sleeping the sleep of selfishness, or chained in the bonds of fear, or locked in the prison of low vision, but I believe you are out there. I believe you are waiting to hear the call of God, the call to the glory of manhood, the call to rise up, the call to run and not grow weary, to soar on eagle’s wings.

bradyKeyannaThis book is a call for you to ascend to the heights of dignity and nobility that God intended for you when he made you. It is a call to forsake the paths of selfishness and vulgarity and become a hero who thinks of himself last and others first. It is a call to grow, to change, to step out and step up. It is a call to greatness, to be free of the chains of pride, — Christian and KeyAnna’s beach baptisms!

fear and sensuality that have too long bound you. It is a call to conquer your weaknesses and fears, to leave them forever in your past as you forge onward and upward to your true destiny- to become a mighty man of God!

Personally I challenge every brother in this congregation to read this book and many like it…to scour the Holy Scriptures and look for the truths about true fatherhood…to search for and find the heart of the greatest Father of all and strive to become like Him…to transform away from the path to being pathetic to the path of being powerful for God and the families we influence! Each one of us men, whether a father today or not quite yet- have the potential to literally change the course of history as we change. Your family hangs in the balance. The future of your mother and father, sisters and brothers are at stake. If you are already a father, your wife and children need you. They need you to be awesome and ferocious, willing to fight off the attacks of Satan who wants nothing more than to destroy you and your family.

The East/AMS sisters welcome Jennifer Dennis (center) to the kingdom!

The East/AMS sisters welcome Jennifer Dennis (center) to the kingdom!

I am deeply moved to consider the amazing family God has given me. He blessed me beyond my wildest dreams! Helen, my wife of 20 years is an angel of a woman- she is truly “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone” and “a helper suitable for him” Genesis 2:18, 23! She is my best friend, my #1 support, my biggest fan, my most honest and loving critic, the mother of my children and forever the love of my life. God, the Father has been good to me. My four children daily blow my mind and are more than a joy! Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5 To be allowed to be a father is an honor I can never be grateful enough for. It is also the most challenging undertaking I have embarked upon. Only through the examples in the Bible and in men I respect deeply have I found the hope and courage needed. I pray daily about becoming the father I need to be… Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people. Isaiah 64:8-9

Some fantastic books that have helped me grow and continue to change over the years are: “The Measure of a Man” by Gene A. Getz, “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge, “Raising Awesome Kids in Troubled Times” by Sam & Geri Laing and “Raising a Modern-Day Knight” by Robert Lewis. These books, the amazing Word of God from the Bible and years of discipling by men and women who have loved me and my wife continue to allow me to change and grow as a father and as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I urge each man today to seek the Lord with all your heart and find in His word the path to fatherhood that will allow you to be the BEST FATHER EVER and to be able to have THE BEST FATHER’S DAY EVER!

He (our Father) stoops down to make us great,

Matt Sullivan

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