Skip to main content

It’s going to be great but who’s ready for the word of God? Yup. So, it is Father’s Day as you can probably tell. This morning, maybe you woke up you’re woken up by your kids and they rushed in and they wanted to give you presents or maybe you got a phone call because your kid is all grown up and living somewhere else and they’re kind of greeting you with happy Father’s Day.

I kind of got my Father’s Day a few days early when my kids all came home with these big cards that they got from Kings Christian College who loves our school kings. Yep and so they all had this card. One was like said I love you dad from my head to my toes and it had tomatoes on it or something.

Anyway, so I opened Riley’s card who is my eldest. She’s eight years old and so I open it and it says like, I love you Dad because you do this for me and that for me and it had a drawing on it and I kid you not, the drawing was of me sitting on the couch watching TV eating chips. And she’s like, look, dad, I drew your favourite thing. And I oh I don’t know if I like the fact that my kids see me this way and she’s like, and it’s your favourite chips too and I could tell it was actually my favourite chips that she drew.

Anyway, I was like, I don’t know if this is sending a good signal. Maybe I need to go to the gym or have a hobby or something and then, my son gave me his card, his three, and it was all scratches and scribbles and he was very excited and pretty much it said, I love you Dad because you take me to daycare. Cool. Bare minimum achieved.

Um and then my middle child, Maya, who loves to draw, gave me the card and it said all these nice things in it. And then it had all these like scribbles and drawings on the side. And she’s like, dad, what do you think? And I’m like, great. It looks, looks really good. So, that, is that our house? And she’s like, no, that’s you. Father’s Day, right? Oh, goodness.

Now, this isn’t a sermon about my kids drawing techniques but it does make me think of God our father and how sometimes we like to draw him but we draw him in a way that sometimes may not be who he is. It may be a way that he doesn’t recognize that we present our pictures of God, of who we see him as and we’re like, here you go, God and he looks at and he says, that’s not me actually. I don’t see it. I don’t there’s more to me than that.

You know, John Nagel wrote this. It’s sad but it is true. When people today hear of God being referred to as father, it often creates more mental barriers than open hearts. Unfortunately, for more and more in our culture, the term father, it causes individuals to think of someone who is absent, abusive, addicted, or all of the above.

Not everyone got to have the amazing dad experience in this room and I want to acknowledge that today and I’m sorry that that was your experience but thankfully, you have a heavenly father who looks out for you and loves you. Amen.

Or maybe you had a fantastic but even the fantastic dad that you experienced maybe doesn’t even measure up to who God is. It’s kind of like we approach God with our rough scribbles and say, this is who I think you are.

But you know, there’s a story in the Bible, a very famous story, probably the most famous when it comes to fathers, right? It’s the prodigal son in Luke fifteen and we’re going to read it this morning because I think this sums up what I’m going to share across the morning. So, let’s go to Luke fifteen verse eleven and it says:

Luke 15:11-32 NKJV

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

So, they began to celebrate. Doesn’t that story always give you the big, warm, and fuzzies, right? It’s a nice story and there are a few things that I think we and the prodigal son get wrong in this story that we miss. You know the first one is, the son asking for his inheritance. We read that and we think, oh, I can’t believe he has the guts to do that. I can’t believe he would do that to his dad but actually, that custom wasn’t exactly unheard of at the time but it had special circumstances.

So, a son could go to their father and say, give me my share of the inheritance. Give me my share of the estate but what they would expect in return for that is that the sun would stay and look after the and the dad. That was what his role was. So for him to take the inheritance and run off was not a good thing. As well, this instance didn’t affect him. It affected his family’s whole standing in the community because the community would look at the son who’s just taken off and didn’t fulfil his family obligations and think, well, I wouldn’t have let my kid do that.

So, the dad’s name got diminished because of the son’s behaviour and after years of being his son, he to the worst about his dad. That I’ve gone through this horrible period of wild living, losing my money, basically eating slop, and I’m going to make my way back home and I just hope, hope that my dad would let me come back as even a servant. If he could just maybe do that.

And we know from the story as we read on, that the dad is filled with joy, and excitement for his son to be home. And he wouldn’t even hear it. He heard the practice speech, but he’s like, no, no, no. We’re going to get the sandals, we’re going to get the robe, we’re going to get your ring, we’re going to sacrifice our best food for you. We are going to have a party and celebrate. That is the God who he is. You know, for some of us here, we relate to God in a way that may actually be outdated.

It’s like the God of our teenage years is the God we still serve today Or the God when we were young adult is the God we serve today. Or heaven forbid the God who you who he was to you when you were a kid is the God we serve today. Where it’s like we didn’t allow God to grow out. We didn’t allow to flesh out and become more than he is. We have this crude, rudimentary drawing of who he is and that’s the God we relate to but I want to encourage you this morning, we are going to draw God again.

We’re going to draw again that God wants you to look at him with fresh eyes and refresh and see him for all that he is and that you would have a booming, flourishing relationship with him with the God who meets you right now where you’re at. You know, for some of you, you may have come to this place and you’re new and you haven’t been to church in years and you step into this place and you remember what God was like at your previous church and you remember maybe he was restrictive. Maybe he had a lot of rules. Maybe the music was different when you came to the church and you come in here and it’s like a shock to the system because it seems like there’s this whole other avenue to who God is.

I want to encourage you, to draw again this morning. Draw again because God has more for us. Amen? Amen. Amen? So, the first thing I want to share, if we’re going to draw the father again, is we draw as we go. We draw as we go. You know, I remember one of my not-so-finest parenting moments and we all have a lot of those, right? Everyone’s with me. Yes, yes, nod your heads, great. No one got through unscathed. I remember when my daughter Riley was two and this was one of the first times that we actually lost one of our kids, right? Who’s been there? Good. I heard yeses. Thank you. Thank you for your support.

So, we went to Kmart. Good old Kmart and I needed to go get some photos printed out. Jess needed to go look at some clothes and Riley decided to go with Jess to check out the clothes. Now, the thing about Riley was at the age of two, I was by far her favourite. Jess, well, Jess, you attest to this? Yes. There’s a video that Jess took of Riley going, hey, Riley, who’s your favourite? And she’s like, daddy. And then she’s like, what’s daddy? Favourite. Like that.

So, Jess took Riley over to the clothing section and I went to get some photos printed. I printed them off. I came over to find Jess and Jess is like, I can’t find Riley and I’m like, what what do you mean you can’t find Riley? And she said, oh, she was with me I turned a corner and then suddenly she was gone and so we’re just looking all over Kmart and little did we know that little Riley, little two-year-old, lovely Riley, had decided to find me. So, she had looked all over Kmart and started making her way out of Kmart to look for me which is scary, right?

But thankfully, praise God. Someone from our church managed to be near the entrance of Kmart and walked by and said, Riley, what are you doing? And so, to the walk of shame basically, bringing my two-year-old daughter to us and saying is this your daughter? And we’re like, oh yeah, yeah. We’re responsible parents. We know what we’re doing. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. She was just checking out the entrance while we were all the way at the back. Okay, we’ve all probably had some of those experiences, I hope.

But Riley is a two-year-old. I would not trust to go anywhere, right? I would be on her. Like, I would be right by her side usually. 100% of the time. Um but Riley, as she gets older, I trust to go out and do things. Like, there’s going to come a time where it’s fine for her to go to Pacific Fair by herself. Maybe not with my credit card. There are going to be times when she gets to go do things on her own and I don’t have to be by her side. Because we trust her and we know she’s caught something.

With the prodigal son, you could tell he was not ready. When he went out, he almost did the opposite of what you would expect for a son of his stature. He goes out and does this wild living. He spends freely. He loses all of his money. He’s living in slop. As he went out though, the great thing is he began to have a reflection on how good his home life was. On how good his father was and it began to flip.

You know I think the dad in the story knew he wasn’t ready yet. But as he went he discovered things about himself. You know we have a God who encourages us to outwork him. You know he’s the only God out of all of the religions you would come across and I’ll talk about this in a second. All of the religions you will come across. He’s the only one that says test me in this in Malachi 3. Says test me in this. He is a God who says put me to the test. I will show you my goodness. I will show you that I am faithful.

There are other gods with lowercase G’s who the mere mention of any doubt or fear or worry about them. Oh, you’re out. You’re diminishing me. You’re a terrible follower. But we have a whole book. We have like lamentations and Psalms. Where it’s people who’ve gone through incredibly hard circumstances and ruined God. God allows that because sometimes we need to actually work out and walk out the things of God’s that we actually get a clearer picture of who he is.

You know, with our journey, we’ve shared this before. We were in the hospital for six months when Riley was born because she had three open heart surgeries too at that time and I remember, we walked out of our faith at that time and I didn’t realize how strong my conviction and my faith were until I spent six months in a hospital in the intense Care Ward. Day to day seeing my daughter go through that. And but through it all my faith was strong and I understood and I had a greater firmer foundation of who he was.

For some of us, we have not taken our faith out for a walk in quite some time. It’s like a pale pasty thing inside. It hasn’t had sunlight for a very long time. Some of us need to go. We need to go and experience God in that difficult circumstance where we’re just trusting in him. Some of us need to go and bring the word of the good news of the gospel out into the world and see how God is going to give you wisdom in that. We need to go. Amen.

Turn to the person next to you and say, you need to go. You know, in Luke seventeen verse eleven, it says, now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, 10 men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, Jesus, master, have pity on us. When he saw them, he said, go show yourselves to the priest. As they went, they were cleansed.

As they went. Can you imagine being in the position of those men having leprosy going up to Jesus and saying, oh, you know, take pity on us and he’s like, okay, you need to go and as you go, you’re going to get healed, you know? And so, you kind of feel a bit awkward because you’re going to the priest and the priests are like the gatekeepers to community and society. If you go up to them and you’re completely healed, they will allow you back into the greater society but if you go up to them and you still have leprosy, you are shut out.

So, you can imagine the tension of them kind of going, okay, Jesus, so, so you want to, do you want to go. Okay. I feel like you forgot one thing though. I feel like you forgot to heal us though. If you, you know, will you get healed and then we go see the priest and then we get led back and just, no, okay. But as they went, as they went, they were healed. For some of us, you don’t know God in all the ways you want to know God but as you go, you will begin to discover great things about him.

You’ll begin to discover the goodness and faithfulness and the intimacy you seek. You’ll begin to discover that he is the God of your breakthrough as you go some of us want a relationship with God where he gives us everything at the word go. But he’s actually telling us to go. Amen. He wants us to be people who walk in faith and on his word.

I even remember this story of there was this pastor in Ireland who had a church and one Sunday morning he came to his church and said to them church for the next two months we’re not going to meet here for church. What we’re going to do is each week we are going to go to a different religion and attend their service. Now imagine if Pastor Ben came back and I’d announced that you would not see me again right, Okay. Thank you Pastor Ben.

Anyway, so the congregation were a bit confused and they’re like, why? Why are we doing this? What what’s going on? And he’s like, I want all of our congregations to go and we are going to go to the Mormons and we’re going to let them evangelize us in the service. We’re going to go to the Church of Scientology. We’re going to go to every religion you can think of which is a bizarre thing and so what happened was the congregation went each week to a different religion and sat in the church and you can imagine the ministers of those churches being like all like just really giving their A game sermon wanting to lock in this congregation.

But the point of why he did it the minister who kind of did this whole experiment said to his congregation after church happens and after we experience it this is what I want you to do. I want you to sit there and I want you to ask some questions. Questions like what is your perception of Christianity? What has been some of your encounters with Christians? What was it like they make you feel? How does it feel to be somebody of your religion? Do you feel persecuted? What is it like to live in your shoes?

And the funny thing was he said, their congregation were turning up and the people that were visiting thinking they were going to like get to evangelize them but it was actually, they were evangelizing them into becoming better Christians because they were walking out God. Now, we’re not going to do that experiment here. We’re going to say King’s Proud. We are kings# right? Yup, but I love that they actually put themselves in a place of vulnerability and said, how have you perceived God?

How is your with God being because of Christians. I want to walk this out and I want to work it out. And for some of us in this room we need to walk out and work out our relationship with God. Put it out in the sunlight and allow ourselves to see what we truly believe about God. How we truly relate to God and we might be surprised. We might be encouraged too but we might be surprised. Amen.

You know it would be incredibly confronting for some of us in this room to ask those people around us. If I was the only Christian you ever met what would you think God is like? What would you think God is like? Is he warm? Is he engaging? Is he encouraging? Is he strict? Isn’t he authoritarian? Who is he? And maybe we’d be scared of the answer but maybe it’s a good question to ask. Because that’s the God we’re walking out. And maybe there’s more to God than that. Are you with me? Yeah. The second thing is that I only have two points this morning. When we draw the Father again, we need to change the story.

Now, we’re obsessed with our phones, right? Who brought their phone to church? Yes. Yep. A lot of hands. The heaviest smartphone users, click, tap, or swipe on their phone, 5, 427 times a day. This is according to some research. That’s the top 10% of phone users. So, one would expect it to be excessive. However, the rest of us still touch the things. 2 thousand six hundred and 17 times a day on average. The research firm specializes in consumer reactions to products and recruited ninety-four android device users. Android and installed special software on their smartphones.

The tool tracked each user’s interaction over five days all day. The company says in a blog post on the website that by every interaction we mean tap, type, swipe, and click. We’re calling them touches. Averaging out the numbers. The affirmation figures mean the heaviest users are touching their devices a couple of million times in one year. Probably the interesting thing in all of this was the people surveyed completely underestimated their phone touching. While they were initially shocked by the numbers, 41% said it probably won’t change the way I use my phone.

Have you ever, if you, who’s the iPhone users in this place, give me a shout-out. Yes. We are mighty and we are strong. Do you ever get that thing that comes up the little notification screen time? I remember getting it the first time and looking at it because it’s a thing that measures your use of how long you use it and the interesting thing was, it comes up with a thing saying, you know, you’ve been on it this many hours and I looked at it the first time and I thought, oh, that’s not that bad. That’s pretty good.

I’m pretty proud of myself and then, I realized it said per day, not per week and then it wasn’t so proud of myself anymore. I was like, oh, but the funny thing is, some of us look at it and we’re shocked and we think, oh, I gotta change my behaviour but for others, we’re like, well, it’s not really going to change my story. I’m still going to do it. I’m still going to use it. Is anyone still using it just as much as they always do? Yeah, it’s pretty bad. It’s not good.

You know, I love how in the story, there are three people and they all have a different perspectives. So, first, we have the prodigal who believes he’s no longer worthy of his father’s love and the most he can hope for is his father’s pity. Um and so, he comes up against this opposing narrative with his dad because the dad presents a different story. Where he loves the son. He embraces the son.

But the last one is the sun. The other sun. We see a little later his older brother who has the story of like a victim where he’s like how can you welcome him back? Why would you do that? Like you’ve never done that for me. All the stuff you’re doing for him. Like I don’t understand it. I don’t get it. The dad gives him a different narrative and says my son you are always with me and everything I have is yours. He wasn’t a slave. His dad was not withholding from him.

Actually, yes, it was unfair but it wasn’t about being unfair. It was about extending grace towards his son and there’s this great preacher who says this, that the father retells the stories of both the sons. He reframes each of their expectations, their hopes, and their defeat. He draws out a new narrative and they have to decide if they’re going to embrace it or run away from it. One of the beautiful things about God is he tells us a different story.

He tells us a different story. And it’s up to us whether we are going to embrace it or run away from it. Are we going to embrace the new story God is doing? You know in Isaiah 55:8-9 it says:

Isaiah 55:8 NKJV

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

God is always going to have a different story. There is always going to be a different story. You could be in hard circumstances right now and you think you got it figured out but God will always have a different story because his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways are different from our ways. Are we going to embrace the new narrative he gives us?

You know, for some of us in here, you may hear sermons where you’ve heard the prodigal son a million times. As soon as I said, we’re going to read from Luke 15. You’re like, oh. I’ve heard this in Sunday school. I heard it through my teenage years. I heard it from my 20s when I was an adult, a parent, whatever. I’ve heard this so many yeah but have you embraced it? Have you embraced it? Sometimes we hear sermons or teaching and we think oh I’ve heard that before but have we actually embraced it? Have we given it a hug back?

Because you know in the story it leaves things ambiguous. So he welcomes the son back but we don’t see how the prodigal son tracked with that. The older son kind of copped it on the chin there but we don’t see what his pathway was beyond that. We don’t see if they truly embraced the new narrative that the father was giving them. For some of us in this room. We need to embrace the new story God’s given you. Sometimes we read the word and we don’t think it applies to us.

Sometimes we read what God is saying and we think that’s not me. And so we put our hands down. We don’t embrace him back. I want to encourage you this morning. We need to be people who understand. God will always have a different narrative and it’s a better one. And we need to get our arms up and embrace him fully. I don’t know what your story is and how you’ve come into this place. Maybe you’ve had bad experiences with fathers. Good experiences with fathers, whatever it is but I want to tell you, your heavenly father is far greater than all of that and he loves you and he has a plan and a purpose for your life and then no matter what your story has been up until this point, he is going to write you a new one.

Maybe how you’ve drawn God, this picture of God, you show it to him and say, this is who I think you are. This is what I’ve experienced and I’ve gone through with you and you’ve been at a distance from me or you haven’t listened to me. You haven’t heard my prayers but I want you to know, God heard every prayer he sees your drawing and it’s incorrect. It’s incorrect. His ways are higher. He thinks differently to us. If you in this room have never known what it is to follow a God who loves you and is for you, never experienced that. I want you to have that option this morning.

Because this morning it’s Father’s Day and we’re celebrating the dads of the house but we’re celebrating the biggest dad of all. Our God. And our God looks at our drawings and he doesn’t judge us for it. He wants to lead us on a path of something different. Something greater. He has a better story for you. I made a decision when I was 13 years old at a youth event. I had a desire and hunger in my heart to know God.

And I remember it was a bushfire night. I badgered the youth leaders for two hours straight to make me a Christian. Because I was so excited that I had the opportunity to know my Godfather. You know? My Godfather. My father God. And so at that night I made the decision to follow Jesus and I never looked back. For the past what is it? How old am I now? The past 24, 25 years. I’ve known it is to walk in lockstep with God.

I’ve known what it is to experience him in different ways. As the God of my teenage years, the God of my adulthood, the God of my parent years and I want to encourage everyone in here. I don’t know how you relate to God. I don’t know what your picture is of God but I can tell you what, we don’t have the complete picture. God is so much more than we could ever imagine. You know, there’s even a song we sing where it’s I can’t believe how good the Lord is. Who knows that song? For some, I, you know, I’ve heard people to it out there who go oh I can’t believe how good the Lord is.

I can’t believe he made a statement like that. Can’t believe it. Of course, we believe. No, you can’t. Because we don’t know the full breadth and width of our God. God has so much more. God meets us in our circumstances with his goodness and his faithfulness and we are blown away every single time that God cares for us that much. Let’s change the story. Let’s get our arms up and embrace what God is doing in our world. Amen.

Ps Sean Casey

Leave a Reply