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Fathers Day
Pastor's corner
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Happy Father’s Day!  Those words are echoing through the community all morning, accompanied with breakfast in bed (Cheerio’s with chocolate milk, burnt toast and hand drawn pictures of adolescent abstract art, rendered by a future Picasso) or, perhaps, with a slender box containing the world’s ugliest tie. In an earlier era, when school electives carried a higher value and priority, one might receive the odd handcrafted ceramic ashtray (emphasis on the word “odd”).
This Father’s Day will be one of the more memorable ones for me. Today marks the first opportunity I have to share something with my family that I have been anticipating for a long time.  It is sort of a rite of passage.
I am the father of four children, two girls and two boys.  They are, one by one, racing toward their teens (my oldest already made it) with fervor I did not think possible.  As each one crosses that threshold, their mom and I will challenge them in several areas of personal responsibility. We will charge them with taking specific consideration of all of their actions, and ownership of that responsibility as they continue toward adulthood. Become responsible with your finances (save and give rather than spend and take). See your efforts in the classroom and the marketplace as investments in your future.  Build your relationships God and with people with the same thought in mind.  Choose wisely into whom you invest your heart.  Understand the rewards of a chaste and righteous life.
Further, we will offer them a token of that commitment – a ring, to be worn as a visible reminder of the value of the life they have and the promise they make.
For my oldest daughter, my wife took her to choose a ring. (This, after weeks of consideration as to what sort of ring she would like.) They made a day of it, dining and talking, and shopping, mostly conversing about the things I just discussed and her future. One day all too soon, Cindy will make the same journey with my youngest daughter.
For the boys, the responsibility of the ring is mine. This is where the Father’s Day thing come s in.  I am the seventh generation of full time ministers in my family.  That was a weighty responsibility. For as a kid, there was this overwhelming sense of “what if I don’t want to be a minister when I grow up?”  My dad was awesome.  It was a feeling he remembered well and was determined to walk me through it.  In fact, he did all he could to talk me out of ministry, stating that if he could, I had no business being there.
Still, I have this wonderful gift of heritage – not from the standpoint of ministry but just the standpoint of godly fathers who have given great wisdom and strength to their generations.  It is something that I am determined to carry on and pass down to my sons.  I married that thought to our rite of passage and our covenant ring, and decided that I wanted the ring to serve as a reminder of that heritage.  I sat down with my boys and together we designed a ring with symbolic markings that represent our family heritage and our beliefs.  They will receive their ring during their rite of passage.  However, today is the day that I am able to share with them the rendering of that ring – which we have worked on so diligently together.  It is beautiful.  
More so, on this particular Father’s Day, my father has journeyed to visit with us and share the day and will be there for the unveiling of that rendering.  Three generations in the same room at the same time will take a few moments to consider the value of the life given to them and the love and even the “grit” that has been passed down through the generations.
It is a personal moment, but one I am determined to share with you today, for this reason.  As you celebrate Father’s Day, you should also realize you have a heritage.  God is our Father, and what better heritage could be offered than the one He gave?  He gave us Jesus, who sacrificed His life that we might have the best opportunity for a right and prosperous life.  He gave us His Word, which is an instruction manual on how to make right decisions like the ones I mentioned earlier, and take ownership and responsibility for the outcome of your life; choosing rightly to recognize that as long as it’s all about you and not others, you will never realize the joy that was created for you.  His ring is communion, which is to serve as a consistent reminder of your heritage…life and relationship with Him built through commitment to Him.
Father’s Day may not be your best day.  Not everyone as a good story about his or her natural father.  But God’s word is clear. He will be a father to the fatherless.  He is our Father.  He gave us life.  Think about that and take time to honor Him as you celebrate this day.

Byler is the senior pastor of Bethesda Church in Hinesville.
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