God loves His Kids
If there is one way that Youth Pastor Scott Fane feels like he is similar to the Lord, it is in his love for his kids. Though they can be difficult sometimes, he loves them fiercely. You are God’s children and he loves you in spite of anything you do or can’t do.
You are His Kid
God Loves Us With The Heart Of A Father
Sermon notes by Scott Fane
Redemption Church Plano Tx
Good afternoon and thank you for coming to church today. If you don’t know me, my name is Scott Fane and I am a Pastor at Redemption Church. Due to my gifting, I work with young people both in our Treehouse program and GOAL which is our student ministry. I have served in this capacity for many years at Redemption Church. I also volunteered with children at Southwest Christian Church throughout my youth. Many of the 4-5 year olds that I taught there are now getting married, including one that I am going to have the pleasure of officiating in November. Time flies when you are having fun. I am also a dad. Today, I am going to talk about my kids more than I think that I ever have in a professional capacity and want to lay some ground rules.
- I am not God’s gift to parenting. I don’t know what I am doing most of the time and am convinced that those that act like they do are just “acting”
- Two of my children have special needs that I will discuss a bit today. I don’t do this to use them to tug at your heartstrings or anything like that. Today, we are discussing God’s care for us and as I unpack it, you will understand why it is applicable.
- I am not attempting to gain pity or promote myself as credible, simply because at times, things are tragic. It is my belief that as time progresses, that our situation will continue to improve and that if you end up watching this archived or something, some of the things I discuss may have gotten better.
So, now that that has been said….I am a dad.
I never wanted to have kids. I didn’t think that I would be a great dad as I regularly deal with issues when processing anxiety and anger. My wife and I used birth control for the entirety of our marriage and all three of our surprises came anyway. You can rarely ever afford children with how much they cost to raise and care for.
When Ian was born, I was so afraid and didn’t know what would happen. He was a handful, but quickly became my favorite thing. When we found out that we were pregnant again, it was a shock, but 1 was going ok, so we embraced Maxim and my favorite thing grew into my favorite things. At 2 or so, we started to notice little things that separated Ian from his peers and one famously remembered night, I came home to my wife and she was crying on the floor. She looked up at me and said “I think that there is something wrong with Ian.” We continued to keep our eyes open about these things, got Ian into Early Childhood Intervention, but moved on business as usual. At three, Ian was diagnosed as autistic and no one was surprised. Maxim had many of the same tendencies Ian had, but we held off on diagnosing him in case they were learned behaviors, but sure enough, Max has an even more severe case of the disability. When Jacqueline got sick, I joked that maybe she was pregnant. This would be impossible because we had 600$ implanted birth control. But in spite of my efforts, Jono was born almost two years ago. We were so afraid of Jono. Our first fear was what if Jono had autism? Being a boy and with our family history, odds were against him. Then when those fears seemed unwarranted we quickly shifted to “What would it be like to parent a “normal” kid?” Would he get short-changed by us having to support the other two. How could this ever work? Well, I am happy to report that almost 2 years in, I have a third favorite thing and Jono fits in great with our family. We joke that we thought that he would be the nail in the coffin, but that he became the glue to hold us together. Jono is a sweetie pie and doesn’t get much mention in this sermon, but he is about to turn 2, so it could be coming WINK. But, now you know us all.
Autism manifests in lots of different ways and is considered a spectrum disorder. It’s kind of a Forest Gump box of chocolates. Ian loves taking showers. They physically hurt Max to the point of death screams. If you brought Max a plate of sour cream and chicken tamales with spicy hot sauce on them, he would clear the plate. If you brought Ian a cheeseburger with ketchup on it, he would give it back to you stating that it is “yucky.” If you make him a burger at home, he might say the same. If you buy him the exact same burger at Burger King, he might say the same. If you order 4 or 6 cheeseburgers at a drive through, he will scream hysterically. 5 is the magic number. Max sprints, climbs, jumps, rolls 24/7 all of the time, watching the same 20 seconds of a tv show over and over because he likes the way it sounds. Ian likes to sit on the couch and play games (he is GREAT at them) with the occasional break to get up and “flap.” They look like each other, but are completely different Ian seeks out communication with strangers. Max doesn’t seek out communication with anybody unless he wants something. They call it Special Needs because they need and want things differently than others do. Max likes toys, because he likes to group them and line them up in special combinations known only to him. That’s it. Ian will not allow you to sing to him or tell him a story…period. These are my kids and although they have been a minefield, I love them.
I look out for them. I take care of them. What they want is usually the number one thing I want. That was a problem for us at first. Since they could not talk forever, it was hard not to give them things that they asked for. It got easier when they started asking for a PS4 or to go to Idaho. I love them and I look out for them because they are my children and my favorite things. They are blessings to me and although in the early years of parenting them, their badness pierced through my armor and into my anger, I changed it up and allowed their sweetness to pierce through to my love. I care about them more than anything that this world has to offer.
They offer me challenges pretty regularly. Ian is a SASSMOUTH right now and it makes me tired. Max is just as likely to lay on the carpet and sing a little song as he is to put my carkeys in the toilet, using an iphone to shove them down and then filling the rest of the bowl with toilet paper. He is creative and ca-razy. If I were to break down a couple of things that they do that drive me nuts, it would be not listening and going ham.
It’s hard to talk to them because they don’t listen. When I say this, if you have kids, you are probably like “ok, they are children…. Duh.” But autism brings it to a different place. It brings about a communication issue.
Maxim is very hard to make eye contact with. Often, and he is getting better at this, but his little brain will be firing on all cylinders with sensory overload and it’s like he isn’t even be able to see people. They are just things to be climbed, jumped on, or run around. It’s hard to get him to sit down without an electronic device to focus his attention in on. He turned six last weekend and is JUST starting to be able to focus in on and enjoy non-phone related tasks. He seems to like the phone because he can manipulate it to move as fast as his brain. If I tell him “I love you,” it is hard to even get him to parrot it back.
Ian, however, wants to communicate, but struggles with it. They say that autistic folks have a difficult time looking at your face and connecting your expressions/tone of voice with emotion. Ian will often try to persuade me to act a certain way by pulling my face into a smile and saying “see not mad anymore” or I will reprimand him verbally and he just blankly stares at me. This plays with my frustration, but I have rarely found that yelling at him ever helps him understand. It’s like, as cheesy as it sounds, if I want to try to communicate something to him, it is like a puzzle that I have to solve.
When they go ham or crazy or melt down (as it is referred to in the autistic community), it is like a temper tantrum that they can’t snap out of. Like their little bodies fill up with emotion that they can’t process because of their brain issues and stimuli in the area (IE verbal or physical correction), and they just break. Ian will straight up destroy something and be instantly remorseful as he is doing it, but continue to kick and scream and bite for 20 minutes, hysterically. It has the potential to wreck a whole half of a day if it gets really bad. They can’t come back from it. Maxim will have completely different kinds of meltdowns. When he feels wronged by a brother or parent, he will just break down sobbing hysterically and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. He will just wail as if being tortured for long periods of time and you can’t snap him out of it. This has been particularly difficult with training up our children, because there are times where it is not autism we are battling, but the rebellion of a child. Discipline often feels like a minefield and regularly unsuccessful.
They have great challenges, but I still love them. Deadly serious with my heart, soul, and mind.
NOW. Why do I say all this? Is this get to know why Scott is always tired or why he struggles with depression and anxiety? No. This is a sermon and those were illustrations. The book says
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
God loves you. The way the Psalmist likens it to is the way that a father has compassion for his children. Compassion is defined as “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others” synonyms being words like love, care, sensitivity, warmth, etc…
God cares about you like a father cares for his children.
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” — Romans 8:15-16
He is our heavenly father and he cares about YOU.
We are God’s kids and we have our challenges too. We don’t listen. Amiright? We are like Max. We get all filled up with our emotions and the things that stimulate and we run through the world, not able to see God. We make Him an obstacle to go around and over. We don’t sit still and listen to Him. In that way, we are just like Max…focused on phones. That’s actually kinda’ funny. We are like Ian. We have a hard time trying to decipher what God says and try to manipulate his face (metaphorically) to give us the desired outcome. Sometimes God will correct us and we just stare back at Him blankly. The Bible is him shouting ”I love you! I died for you! I want to give you everything” and we just stare back blankly.
Sure, sometimes my kids don’t feel loved. Ian wants to go to Atlantis. He thinks that it is just somewhere you go on a Wednesday afternoon before Connect Group. Some days, he gets so angry that I don’t leave work early and take him to Atlantis after school. He doesn’t understand the cost of everything… plane tickets, hotel accommodations, I mean some of my extended family went there for vacation and spent $3000 in one week on food…not even extravagantly eating. But Ian doesn’t understand that. I just want him to trust me and understand that I know best.
I play the lotto once in a while and it’s funny how you find yourself saying ”why doesn’t God just give me 14.9 billion dollars in the lotto? I mean that is like 6.4 billion after taxes. Doesn’t He know how much that would fix my problems? Doesn’t He know how much good that I could do with it?” I have to trust God and understand that He knows best and that good things come in His time. They always have before. Also, winning the lottery increases the chance that you will be murdered by a large percent…..but anyways…. This can be hard to apply across the board, though and I am gonna’ be real with you… Sometimes we pray for no brainer things. Healing for a loved one. I do not have all of the answers about that, but I just have to trust God and believe that even though we may not understand, He knows best. So, what I am saying is that God probably views my prayers for a Camaro like I view my son’s desire to…I don’t know…own an UZI. He doesn’t understand.
We, as people, present great challenges, but God still loves us. Deadly serious, He loved us all of the way to the cross.
So Why does that matter? Here are a few ways that God shows love for his children.
John 3:16 (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
He gave His life in our place, because He loves us. I would give anything that I have to bless my kids.
1 John 4:4 (NIV)
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
He has our back and is greater than anything that the world can throw at us. We can be strong knowing that dad will back us up.
Romans 8:35-39 (NIV)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He loves us with the love of a father. A father never truly stops loving his kids. It is an unfailing love that doesn’t go away. We cannot be separated from it.
So, what do we do with this knowledge? How do we respond? John 3:16 outlines the plan for salvation. We need to be thankful and tell others about the gift of life that he has given us! He is going to save those that believe, so we can help others be saved by helping them to believe. 1 John 4:4 tells us why we should not be afraid, so we should do it. There should be boldness and trust that God will have our back no matter the struggle. Romans 8:35 suggests that we can’t be separated from His love, so we should run towards it and embrace it. The purity and blessing that comes with the love of the Lord is something that we should be all up in. And finally, as our musician comes….
LISTEN TO HIM. Listen to God. I can’t tell you how many times that I have told Ian that I love him and he says nothing. If anything, this whole sermon writing process has given me a relatable image of God calling out to distracted, over-emotional me. I know the pain that that causes me and wish that my kids understood the love that I have for them, so that they would be compelled to say it back….disability or not and I feel God in that. I can see God the father in that and I can see myself as a child in that. So if this resonates with you at all, please come and pray to God. Listen for His voice and respond. Return the love that he has given to you as we sing and pray.