Father's Day 2017...my thoughts.

Today is what they call Father's Day, a day where we give dad's a nod of affirmation.

According to most accounts, the first Father's Day was celebrated in Washington State on June 19, 1910.  A woman by the name of Nonora Smart Dodd came up with the idea of honoring and celebrating her father who was in the civil war while listening to another Mother's Day sermon at her church in 1909.  She decided that the next year she was going to give props to her pops as well.  Her mother had died during the birth of one of her siblings and so her dad played a huge role in her life.  He was her everything.

So that explains how we got here to this day where we make much of these influential men in our lives, imperfect as they may be.

I have a good dad.  He grew up in the Catskill Mountains of New York on a farm.  He had two older sisters and a younger brother.  It was the grueling yet simple life of farming that bound their family together.  He was the only one of his siblings who did not stay in the farming business upon graduating college.  His sisters married farmers and his brother dove head first into farming himself eventually marrying the daughter of a dairy farmer.

Just like Jesus called Peter away from fishing for fish to fishing for men, my dad was called away from taking care of cows to taking care of people.  It was still pastoring in the deepest sense of the metaphor, just a different pasture for a different purpose.

He came to know Christ in a college bible study (where he met my mom) and fixed his crosshairs on directing his passion for teaching toward ministry in a small Christian School.  He served as a Christian School Principal for 26 years before moving to another church to take on the role of the lead pastor where he served until he retired after his liver transplant forced him to take a step back from the rigors of ministry.

But he still loves the local church and he and my mom can't help but get involved in ministry wherever they find themselves.  They were truly shaped by God to serve people, to shepherd people.  to farm the land of people's hearts cultivating the soil of their souls making them soft for the seeds of God's truth.  That's all I've ever know them to be.

My dad's disposition isn't like mine, nor his drive.  We share many of the same values and even the same loves, but if you put me side by side with my father the outside appearance of things wouldn't naturally align in your mind.  However, if you go very deep below appearances, I find my deepest belonging in the same things that exist in the makeup of my dad.

I love the out of doors, especially the woods.  I have a penchant toward appreciating stupid humor and trying to make people laugh...witty little statements to get a smile makes my day.  Dad is constantly cracking jokes and most of them are pretty lame, but it doesn't matter whether you're launging with him or at him, his ultimate joy is inducing laughter.  I'm a lot like that.  It's actaully hard for me to get comfortable in an environment until there is some nonchalant laughter where we're not taking ourselves too seriously.

I love the local church and I think I have my parents to blame and to thank for that depending on which day in ministry you catch me.  The church can drive me nuts when things are going sideways and people are dropping like flies, but there is an indominable love for the church that eclipses all my misgivings about her.  She is the beautiful and broken bride of Jesus and I plan on serving in the local church faithfully just as my parents did all the days of their earlthy life.  Even in retirement they are active in being a part of the bloodstream of God's body.

They never missed church.  Never.  If they were sick, they went to church.  If we were sick, we went to church.  If the church doors were open, we were at church.  I remember having week long revivals every night of the week and though few would attend every one, you could count on 6 from the Holdridge clan showing up as a sign of support.  But it was so much more than support, my dad and mom were hungry to learn more about God's Word, they loved to be near the teaching of God's Word wherever it was shared.

So one thing that I remember getting from my dad was a love for God's Word.  As I said earlier, he was the principal of the Christian School I attended from K-12 and we had to memorize Scripture throuhout the year and quote it in front of the whole school body.  I hated that, but it did keep me accountable.  We memorized books like Philippians, Ephesians, James, I John, various Psalms, the Sermon on the Mount, you name it.  Large portions of Scripture were committed to memory--from the King James version no less!  The Bible was central and authoritative.  It was quoted in my home when a situation would come up and we were all lobbing out our opinions and emotions...the Word had the final say.  I remember hating it when my parents would quote Scripture when we were in the heat of the moment.

If we didn't want to go to church it was : "Don't forsake the assembly of yourselves together."
If we were not listening it was: "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry."
If we weren't being nice to each other it was: "Be kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another."
If we we being harsh with our words it was : "A soft answer turns away wrath." or "Even a fool is thought wise if he opens not his mouth."
If we acted out it was: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc"
If we were getting spanked it was: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him." (despised that one!)
If we were challenging their authority it was: "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." (dang!)
If we were drawn to sin it was: "Flee youthful lusts that war against the soul."

I literally could go on and on...my mom and dad had a Scripture to support everything they did.  They held the Bible in high regard, that was never in doubt.  And I beieve my love for the Word is rooted not so much in hearing great teaching from the pulpit, but hearing consistent teaching from the kitchen table.  My dad would never discipline us without quoting Scipture to give the Biblical rationale for the punishment.  I hated it, but looking back, those times anchored me.  I wasn't being disciplined just because my mom and dad were angry, I was being disciplined because I broke the heart of God.  It caused me to care about God's heart.

I think I would say this to close, my Earthly Father caused me to trust my Heavenly Father.  I don't think many sons can say this.  Usually they have so many questions about their father's integrity and have been so wounded by his words or actions that didn't reflect God's heart that when God is referred to as our Father, it doesn't sit well with them.  Not me.  When I hear that the Father loves me and will never leave me or farsake me, I take it to the bank without asking questions.  It's rooted in having a dad that loved me and never abandoned me.  Even when I would break his heart, I was forgiven and welcomed back into it.  I was the joy of his life even though at times I was the bane of his existance. (believe me, I wasn't the easiest son to raise!)  I never questioned his devotion to me, still don't.  So when it came time to transfer my affection to my Heavenly father, there weren't many glitches.  That speaks of a constancy of love and a consistency of faithfulness in my father.  When I think of a father, I think of faithfulness, love, and joy.  That's because my dad exibited these attributes.

So I'm grateful for a Father's Day to reflect on my Dad.  He's been a great dad and his presence in my life even to this day is a stablizing force for me.  I want to honor him by living my life with a similar devotion and passion.  I want to build on what was built into me and take that investment and reinvest it into my children and church.

So thank you, Nonora Smart Dodd, for having the courage to honor your dad back in 1910 and starting a tradition that lives on today.  It creates a space in time to thank God for what this special man means to me and how much he matters to me.

I love you, Dad.


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