Posted tagged ‘Father’s Day’

For Whom the Bell Tolls: a change of heart

June 30, 2015

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

On Father’s Day last week my wife and I attended a church service in South Carolina.  It was a well-orchestrated time of praise and worship that included a celebration of fatherhood and manhood, yet without demeaning the significance of the “fairer” gender.

Uniquely, the service began with a video of a man playing an acoustic guitar, singing from what appeared to be a living room or office.  The song was unfamiliar to me, and I realized the reason as the lyrics unfolded.  They were freshly written to honor the victims of the tragic Bible study shooting in Charleston earlier in the week, and to encourage the families and friends of those who died, as well as all who walk in the faith.  The theme that spoke to my heart was that evil will not triumph where God’s love abounds.

The pastor stood at the conclusion of the song and explained that churches all across South Carolina were ringing their church bells that morning with nine chimes to represent those who were killed in the Bible study shooting.  He called the congregation to prayer and amid the silence clanged the bell nine times in slow, deliberate fashion, and then led us in a prayer for everyone whose lives are impacted by this event.

One would not expect such a somber beginning to fit with the traditional Father’s Day elements of a church service, but I was impressed at the way it all seemed to flow so smoothly and naturally, obviously anointed by divine intention.

Later in the day I saw news coverage of churches in Charleston ringing their bells and gathering for worship.  I appreciated the sentiment, but confess that seeing news reports could not begin to express the spirit of those moments.  In that atmosphere, in those moments, the tragedy became more personal to me than it had earlier in the week.  With each chime echoing across the sanctuary, and reverberating in my heart and mind, I was deeply moved with a mixture of sorrow and celebration; acknowledging the sadness and loss, yet knowing that God would use the crisis for His glory and for the strengthening of the faith community.

The example of wisdom and grace with which the church and its community responded to this act of evil in their midst is a model for our nation, from individual communities and people groups to the high-ranking government officials and group leaders who saw this as another opportunity to win political points rather than offer support for healing.  We witnessed members of various faiths, races, people groups, and political parties come together in Charleston for mutual edification and comfort.  They genuinely cared about each other, and they came with only one agenda: harmoniously seeking God.

If our god is politics, or personal rights, or economic gain – if our god is anything or anyone other than the one true God of Abraham, the One who was and who is and who is to come, The Almighty, then such unity and harmony will never come about.  The writing of new laws or the taking away of freedoms and rights will not cure racism or any other such ills of our culture.  It must come from the heart, not from legislation.

What we witnessed in Charleston is the re-enactment of the love of God through His only Son, portrayed by individuals who have personally experienced the measure of God’s grace and mercy, and who, therefore, cannot help but reciprocate that grace to others.  From the highest official to the common citizen, we each must make this a matter of the heart, for evil will not triumph where the love of God abounds.


Daddy’s Home

June 14, 2014

Daddy’s Home!

By Steven J. Callis


I can still hear those words in my mom’s voice, “Wait until your daddy gets home.” She probably did not say it as often as I remember hearing it, but the words were real, spoken in two different contexts.

Sometimes I was being given a warning that the worst was yet to come concerning discipline for my misbehavior. I do remember being disciplined by my mom, but there were times when she delegated that duty to dad. Between you and me, that was my preference. I had tried mom’s patience until she had “had enough.” She was emotionally involved.

Dad, on the other hand, had been working all day and came home with his mind still on the job. Mom’s delegating put him in a somewhat awkward position, needing to implement the discipline, yet having no emotional connection to the offense. I would be hard pressed to call it the “wrath of dad.”

For much of my earlier grade school years, dad often traveled on business. On the day he was to return home from a trip, mom would remind my brothers and me, “Daddy’s coming home tonight. Wait until daddy gets home!” In this setting, these words were not stated as a threat, but as a promise.

For some reason, I do recall being allowed to stay up past my bedtime, eating ice cubes with mom and playing games until we heard the car in the driveway. Sometimes Daddy would bring home a surprise for his three boys, but not always. It did not matter, really. We were just glad to see him.

I loved my parents. I was blessed with a loving atmosphere at home, and my parents did all they could for their children. Mom taxied all of us to our designated ball fields and school buildings and church events. She offered plenty of TLC. Nevertheless, I seemed to have a closer bond with my dad. He was a very special man. His easy-going manner and the reassurance of his voice were such a comfort to me.

Well, it’s Father’s Day 2014, and Daddy’s home! In 1995, my Dad went “home” after only a one-year battle with cancer. I still miss him tremendously, but I do like the sound of how we say it. Some people call it the golden streets, or maybe the Promised Land, or the Pearly Gates, but I like “home.” The Bible refers to us as aliens in this world; strangers in a foreign land because heaven, not the world, is our home.

How I would cherish being with Dad today; maybe take him out for lunch and give him a dozen golf balls as an expression of my love and appreciation. Instead, I rest in the assurance that he is at home with his Father, his heavenly Father, enjoying this day to its fullest. It cannot get any better than that! Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Happy Father’s Day

June 15, 2013

Go Fly a Kite by Steven J. Callis

It was a great day to be a 10 year old boy.  Sunshine, blue skies, white puffy clouds, breezy winds, and nothing to do!  I am not sure, sometimes, where little boys get their ideas.  I had never flown a kite before, but this seemed like the perfect day to try it.  How hard could it be?  Hold on to a string and watch the kite dance and float through the air!

It was my dad’s day off, and I knew he would be very busy.  Nevertheless, I mustered the courage and asked him to take me down to the drug store, where Uncle Perry was a pharmacist, to buy a kite and some string.  It would not take very long, and I would be out of his way the rest of the day, I reasoned.

It was a bright red and blue Superman kite.  At least, that is what I had pictured in my mind.  Then it happened: dad said no!  Was he too busy?  Did we not have the money?  My disappointed little mind wondered.  Now what was I going to do with my day?

A while later I happened out to the garage and saw my dad busy at his workbench.  I asked him what he was doing, and he replied, “I’m making a kite.”  I volunteered to help, and there we were, looking for materials to build a kite.

He had already found a clear, dingy, dirty tarp for the body of the kite, using coat hangers as the crossbows.  I noticed he also had some old t-shirts that had been transformed into shop rags.  They, too, were dirty and greasy.  He was tying them together, explaining that this would be the tail.  I didn’t even know kites had tails!

Finally, we needed string, and lots of it, he told me.  Searching beneath his work bench, he came across 3 or 4 balls of tangled string with grease spots here and there.

After what seemed like a very long time, the kite was complete.  I looked at it and tried to act excited, but there were two thoughts running through my head:  First, it was huge!  Twice the size of “my” kite, this thing would never fly!  Second, it was, well, ugly!  Not the beautiful red and blue that “my” kite would have been, but a dingy-looking piece of plastic.

We carried this monstrous ragged flying machine to the front yard that was sloped downhill toward the street.  My memory fails me at this point.  I don’t really recall how it happened, but my next memory is my dad handing me the piece of wood with string wrapped around it, saying, “Okay, it’s up in the air. She’s all yours.  Have you got it?”

He told me I could gradually let out more string if I wanted to do so – just don’t let go!  Then, something miraculous happened.  That dirty, dingy, raggedy homemade kite – flying high in the sky, began to glisten as the sun reflected off the clear plastic tarp.  It was beautiful.  A friend rode by on his bicycle and wanted to know where I got my kite.  He wished he had a kite like mine.  I proudly declared, “My dad and I built it this morning.”

I did not fully appreciate, or even realize, the lessons my dad taught me that day.  He could have taken me to the store, bought a kite, and been rid of me for the rest of the day.  That would have been a generous gesture.

Instead, he gave up nearly half of his day for me – time that he could never recover.  He chose sacrifice over generosity.  And, he left me with a lifelong memory of the day my dad and I built and flew a kite together. It would become the biggest, coolest, highest flying kite I would ever know.

Thanks, Dad, for the many ways you expressed your love for me over the years.  I love you, I miss you, and I long to see you again – please save me a seat at the Master’s banquet table.