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— By Richard Merritt

People do what they want. Everyone makes their own priority. The almost universal complaint is there is not enough time to do everything that needs to be done. For young families, they hurry from football in the fall to basketball in the winter and then to baseball in the spring and summer. I’m not sure about the soccer schedule, but I think it has two seasons a year. Then there are extracurricular school activities like band, choir and drama, as well as hunting and fishing. In the midst of such an overstuffed life, it is no surprise that something gets left out.

People make excuses for leaving God out of their lives. When they go to worship, the offering plate appears. Some are not as friendly as they could and should be. The pews are often hard and uncomfortable (even with a cushion). The excuses for leaving God out may be seen as unreasonable when considered in the light of a sporting event. Those that go to games never experience the coach showing up at their door unless their child is potentially an outstanding athlete. No one quits going to a game because they disagree with the referee.

Some fans sit near hypocrites. They came to see their friends and what others were wearing to the game. Fans are glad to stay late for overtime hoping their team will win. No one complains when the band plays songs they have never heard before. No one stays away from games because the scheduled time is a conflict with something else they want to do.

Fans never take the position that their parents forced them to go to so many games when they were children. They would never make their own children go to games because they want them to make their own choice for themselves what sport they prefer. Fans spend money on tickets, gas, eats and motels when they get to travel to out of town games.

Somehow, Dad managed to do shift work in the beater room at the paper mill, take his family to church faithfully and then made time for us to get to the ballpark. Dad was an avid baseball fan. He also like football and basketball, but baseball was his true sports love. Dad was athletic. He was ambidextrous whether he was shaving, throwing a ball, hitting a ball, shooting a gun or swinging an ax. He taught my brother and me to hit by throwing to us as a leftie and a rightie. He rode on the back of a flatbed truck to baseball games when he played back in the 1930’s. Sometimes Dad would watch a baseball game on TV and listen to another on the radio in the late twentieth century. Throughout his life as a dad, he always gave us the example of God and church before anything else, even on Wednesday nights. Dad left me with the memory and heritage of a father that put God first.

When dads get it wrong, it affects the future and even the eternity of their children. It makes a difference in the home life and in the marriage when Dad ignores God when making the choice about family activities. “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:30, 31 KJV) The promise “and thy house” refers to the salvation of family members. When the Philippian jailer was saved, his household followed his example and were saved. Each made the carefully thought out decision to trust in the Lord for their personal salvation.

When dads get it wrong, their families often are unable to claim the promise “and thy house.” Sons and daughters learn to love sports and be devoted to it, but often do not learn to love God or think even think very much about a personal relationship with God. Some dads go to Heaven but their children do not. Dads, your family needs a spiritual leader.

Try putting God first, you’ll like it for eternity.

(Merritt is the pastor at Trinity Missionary Baptist Church.)

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