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       Senior Pastor Phil Roland


              Pastor Ray Scott


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          In a Eastern Tennessee graveyard there is a gravestone that says,
“Remember as you walk by, As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so shall you be. Remember this and follow me.”
He said that written under it was a note that said,
“To follow you I’ll not consent, until I know which way you went.”
          There is a headstone in a central Pennsylvania cemetery that reads:
“Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake; stepped on the gas instead of the brake.”
A headstone in New England reads,
“The children of Israel wanted bread and the Lord sent them Manna. Old Clerk Wallace wanted a wife and the Devil sent him Anna.”
One in Chattanooga, TN says,
“I came into this world without my consent and left in the same manner.”
Many things can be engraved on our headstones or said about us when we die, but I cannot imagine anything better being said about anyone than what was said about Enoch in Hebrews 11:5

5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5

Noah had a similiar epitaph in Scripture,

8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.   Genesis 6:8 NKJ

They were approved, having pleased God. Can you imagine it being said after you die, that you pleased God? Can you imagine God's Word saying that you found grace in the eyes of the Lord?
Can you imagine, after you die, or after you leave, having God inspire someone to write about you,
“He walked with Me, I approved of him and he pleased Me?"
For a Christian, I cannot imagine greater praise than that.



          It is said that Benjamin Franklin wrote his hoped-for epitaph in his diary as an adolescent:
The Body of B. Franklin, Printer; like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost; For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended By the Author.
But in the end his gravestone simply said,
“Benjamin and Deborah Franklin.”
          Last October my brother Don and I stood at the gravesites of my father, my mother and my brother, Ken. When I thought of epitaph's for my father, his death was no unexpected and sudden, we couldn't think of what to put on his gravestone. At last we thought of something. When the small plane he was in went down, his body was thrown out of the plane caused by the ruptured fuel tank explosions. His arm was upraised as if his charred body was reaching up in prayer. We decided on "Into Thy Hands I commend my spirit."  This epitaph is at the foot of his grave on a small foot stone.
          If I chose an epitaph for my mother it would be, "She loved her husband fiercely and her children completely."   If I chose an epitaph for my brother Ken, it would be, "He loved his music with complete passion." My sermon today explores what sort of epitaph we would put on our grandfather's, father's and our own headstones. It's painful to consider this on this day as we honor fathers, but the exercise is thought-provoking and challenging. 

Pastor Phil  <><<




June 17, 2017 - Father's Day
Sheepfold Ministries - Pastor Phil Roland
Deuteronomy 30:11-20; Esp. v.16

"Today's sermon is about what we leave behind after successfully marrying, supporting a family, and blessing them. What will be said after our leaving? In today's text we find several ways we can develop a Father's Epitaph.  <><<

EPITAPH, an inscription or written tribute in memory of a person on a tombstone or in a piece of literature. An example of an epitaph is a loving poem written about a deceased friend.

16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
The First Father's Day Epitaph in the verse is. . .
I.  LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD - Epitaph: He loved the Lord
16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God. . .
          A. Jesus' Great Commandment Paraphrases v. 16
37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,
              with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great
              commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor
              as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the
              Prophets."    Matthew 22:37-40
          B. How do fathers show they love the Lord?
                    1. We love God's Word and live it
                    2. We love our wives
                              a. We spend time with them
                              b. Apostle Peter says we 'dwell with them' - 1 Peter 3:7
                    3. He loved his children
                    4. We love and honor our parents
                    5. We love worshipping with God's people
          C. Gary Smalley in "The Blessing" writes 5 ways to bless children
                    1. Give them a Meaningful Touch
                    2. Give them a Verbal Message
                    3. Attach a High Value to them
                    4. Picture a Special Future for them
                    5. Give them an Active Commitment
          D. We love worshipping with God's people
                    1. The Lord's Day will find Dads and Kids in God's House
                    2. Not just up to moms to get kids into active worship

The Second Father's Day Epitaph in the verse is. . .
II. WALK IN HIS WAYS  - Epitaph: He walked in God's Ways
16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways,

          A. Charles Sheldon wrote a book in 1897, "In His Steps"
1. Plot Summary:
                      When a homeless man interrupts the comfortable routine of the                                   First Church of Raymond, the congregation are thrust into a
                         journey of discovering what life is like beyond Christianity as usual.
                          A homeless, destitute man walks down the center aisle of the                                       church, challenges them about walking out the Christian Life, falls                               and dies.
                          The pastor challenges his congregation to live one year walking,
                          In Jesus' Steps,
2. Recent History of Sheldon's phrase, What Would Jesus Do? 
3. Phrase, WWJD, became a reminder in the 1990's
                    4. WWJD became a moral reminder to walk in Jesus' Love
          B. As a Father Walking in Jesus' Ways extends beyond the Church
                    1. Walking in His Ways extends to the Home
                    2. Walking in His Ways extends to the Job, Workplace
                    3. Walking in His Ways extends to the Thought Life
                    4. It extends to Inpulsively Doing the Right Thing Consistently
          C. Walking in His Ways is more than Reformation
               Reforming, getting your act together
                    1. Walking in His Ways is Restoration
                    2. Getting back to the basics
                    3. Going to the Cross, getting on your knees and renewing                                      your original covenant with Him
                    4. Walking in His Ways is Starting Again to walk with Jesus
                    5. Allowing yourself to do what He would do

The Third Father's Day Epitaph in the verse is. . .
        Epitaph: He kept God's commands and ordinances
16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments,

          A. We have hid God's Word in our hearts - Psalm 119:11
                    11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
1. We fathers treasure God's Word in his heart
                    2. Didn't just keep God's Commands, statutes and judgments
                    3. They were constantly on our minds and in our hearts
          B. You hide that which you treasure
1. Normally we hide what is of great value
                   Eg. A California couple was out walking the dog around their
                      property in 2013, when they stumbled across eight buried                             cans—with an estimated $10 million worth of gold coins

                      inside. A year later, the rare coin dealer approached by the
                      anonymous couple went public with the find on Tuesday. The
                      long delay from find to fame was partly because of questions
                      about how strong the couple’s claim to ownership was for the
                      roughly 1,400 gold coins, dated from 1847 to 1894. And it
                      turns out that, in many cases, finders really are keepers.
2. We learn scripture like an ant stores food in summer
                 3. Meditating and Memorizing
                 4. Jewish men wear Phylacteries on their arms and                                    foreheads as a reminder not to forget God's Word
                          (A small leather box containingHebrew texts on vellum.)
                 5. Learn the Word of God, know it, walk in it
         C. A Godly Father's Epitaph
1. He loved the Lord
                 2. He Walked in His Ways
                 3. He Kept Gods Commands and Ordinances

We have Treasured Your Word, Oh Lord

16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.




Deuteronomy 30:11-20 (NKJV)
11 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'
13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'
14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,
16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,
18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.
19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
20 that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."


Abraham had God's favor
Genesis 12:3 (NKJV)
3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Jacob had God's favor
Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

David had God's favor
1 Samuel 13:14 (NIV)
14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."

There are many celebrities with famous tombstones. Here are some noteworthy epitaph examples:
“That’s all folks.”—Mel Blanc, the man who voiced the characters of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, etc
 “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”—John Wayne, from an interview he gave. Originally, he wanted his epitaph to read “Feo, Fuerte, y Formal,” meaning “Ugly, Strong, and Dignified.”

“There goes the neighborhood."  Rodney Dangerfield

“If I take wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.”—Charles A. Lindbergh
“The Best Is Yet To Come.”—Frank Sinatra
“Free at Last, Free at Last / Thank God Almighty / I’m Free at Last.”—Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior



Gary Smalley's book, "The Blessing."
Meaningful touch
A Spoken Message
Attaching High Value
Picturing a Special Future
An Active Commitment

I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. 
He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning...to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears,
but said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars..the house...the cash. 
What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you'd like to change? 
For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile...remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life's actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

by Linda Ellis