A Tribute to My Dad on His Birthday:
Some of you know him as a friend, some as a theologian, others as a pastor. But I know him as a father.
It is his birthday today, and I want you to know the man who goes home, and immediately puts windbreaker pants on. I want you to know the man who endlessly works, yet endlessly has time for his family. I want you to know the man behind the books, behind the lectern, behind the pulpit. I want you to know him because I pray that someday I will be half the man he is.
Os Guinness wrote, “If asked what is the deepest relationship imaginable, many people would say it is between lovers, or between husbands and wives. The case can be made, however, that from a Christian perspective, no relationship is more mysterious and more wonderful, yet sometimes more troubling, than that of fathers and sons.”
I imagine when you are a father no one (besides your wife) knows you better than your kids. Your kids see behind the closed doors. Paul says in Philippians 3:17 , “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
Paul wants us to look to those who walk in accord with the Scriptures. Paul must think that watching, monitoring, inspecting, examining someone’s life shapes us. He believes that our sight affects our faith. We know this is true for we all “beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed.”
I want to encourage imitation of my Dad by telling three stories. I could praise him for his knowledge of Greek, or his numerous books, or his pastoral heart, or his hospitality, but I want to focus on things that few people know. I want to focus on the things that happened after he came home from work. The things that are done at home, these things make men who they are.
1. Family Devotion
The game started at 7:30. But I heard my Dad calling for everyone to pile in the car. It was only 6:15. I mumbled something about having to leave so early. My dad looked at me and said, “I don’t like to miss warm ups.” John my younger brother was in his Senior year at Christian Academy of Louisville playing Varsity Basketball. My dad did not miss a game. And for that matter he never missed one of mine, or my older brothers. He is on the same streak for my sister who is currently running track and cross-country.
My dad is interviewed a lot in front of crowds. Many want to know what he is like. One time someone in the crowd stood up and asked him, “Tell us one unique thing about yourself?” He laughed and said, “I am a remarkably ordinary man.”
3. Loving Wisdom
Knowing that he has written a couple of books that are 700 + pages some of you might think that I mean, “He loves wisdom.” But what I mean is that he uses his knowledge in a loving way. He communicates it to help others trust in Jesus. Here is one example from his life.
Our dog Scamper was a beagle poodle mix. My only and youngest sister Anna loved Scamper. She would dress him up and take pictures of him. When she hugged him she would curl her lips inside her mouth with all her might to let her emotion out physically. Anna told me when she was home alone she would read the Bible to Scamper in order that he would be saved. Anna had such a deep love for Scamper and trust in my Dad that she would continually ask him whether Scamper would be in Heaven. Here was my dad’s response. Full of wisdom and care for Anna, as she was truly concerned about Scamper’s eternal destiny. He would say:
“Anna, heaven in the happiest place you can ever imagine. If you cannot be happy without Scamper in heaven then he will be there. But no matter what you will be happy.”
There are many more stories I could tell. By the grace of God my Dad is a remarkable man. I pray that just by living with him some of him would rub off on me. I pray that I would be like my Father.