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Sermons from my PawPaw, Granddaddy, and Dad

by Kyle Childress

Just the other day an old friend found me on Facebook and said “A pastor! Who would have ever thought!” That reaction caused me to pause and reflect on my days as a teenager and what I might have said or done that would have made someone be surprised that I am now a pastor. I’m sure it was nothing more than the average response that anyone might get when you find out that an old friend has now responded to a calling so radical as preaching. I didn’t grow up in a family of pastors, as far as I know there has never been a pastor in my family. Neither of my grandfathers were big church goers and my Dad hardly ever even went to church with me as a child. But that doesn’t mean they never preached a sermon:

The only recollection I have of my grandfather on my dad’s side is of helping him wash his white Mercury Comet. I couldn’t have been much more than five. I just like any other five or six year old, was haphazardly washing one little spot here and there and missing more than I was washing. Then it came time to do the tires. I washed one with the same carelessness that any five year old would and was so proud that it was now clean. My grandfather then knelt beside me and said, “Son, the car is never clean until the whitewalls shine!” He then instructed me on how to make them as white as snow. He passed away soon after that, and I don’t know if he ever knew but he preached a sermon that day that has forever been etched into my mind. One could say maybe it came straight from Matthew 23:26 “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish so that the outside of it may become clean also.” NASB We so many times try to spruce up or spit-polish our lives with a little washing here and there, but we are never fully clean until the whitewalls shine, until, we are clean from top to bottom, inside and out, ready for eternity. That can only be accomplished through the forgiving grace of Jesus Christ.  Great sermon papaw!

My grandfather on my mother’s side was a gentle giant! He is most likely responsible for my tall stature and “big bones” as one might say. Many of his grandchildren are over 6 feet tall. He was a hard worker. Grandaddy as we called him, was a carpenter and pipe fitter by trade and later in life owned a small lumber business that he basically ran with only the help of my grandmother. I will always remember the few times I got to hang out with him at the lumber yard. He would give me small little tasks like making sure all the plumbing fittings were in the correct bins and every once in a while getting to punch the buttons on the old cash register. The greatest thing about those days as a child were the old “Tom’s” jars that sat on the counter. In those jars were peanuts, crackers, and candy. At any time of the day, you could get peanuts or crackers out of the jar and a Fanta Red, Fanta Orange, or a Coke out of the old ice box in the corner. It didn’t matter if you had earned it or not, he seemed to relish in the opportunity to provide it for you. Matthew 20:1-16 tells a similar tale of the workers in the field. Each had been there for a different amount of time, and they all got paid the same. Verse 15 and sixteen read: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous? “so the last shall be first, and the first last.” NASB I did not have to earn the Peanuts or the Fanta Red, he was going to give them to me no matter what. So it is with Salvation, we can’t earn it, but it is Christ’s to give. Great sermon Grandaddy!

There are so many things I could write down about my Dad, he was definitely not a Minister of the Gospel but he did “preach” on many occasions; basically any time he got a chance! Some might call them rants or raves but let’s just call them preaching sessions for this discussion. He taught me many things over the years about character and what a man should be. He taught me several trades and worked me hard at times. But the biggest impact he ever made on me was not something he said or something he taught me but something he did. In 1980 my dad was in a serious car accident; he had some 27 fractures and many cuts and scrapes. He and his best friend were hit head on by a drunk driver. My dad was the only one that lived out of that accident. He spent over two months in the hospital flat on his back in traction. It was my freshman year. I had worked extra hard that year to try to make the starting line-up of my basketball team at school. My dad had been at every basketball game I ever played from the time I was in third grade. He would miss my first High School game and then quite a few after that. That experience was a learning and growing time for the whole family. It was just before Christmas that year that the doctors told him that he could finally go home, but he would be in a body cast from the chest down. It just so happened that I had a game on the evening he would come home, so I could not go with my mom to pick him up from the hospital. Just before tip-off that night the double doors of the gym opened, and my mom pushed my dad through and into the gym. He had not been home yet, he was in a cast from the chest down, I am sure he was in pain, but he was there!! That night he showed he showed me that I was the most important thing to him at that moment over and beyond even his own comfort. I will never forget that. It has always been one of the greatest memories of my life. I have tried to live that same example in my own life. John 5:19 says; So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.  The love of a father has more power that anyone can imagine. Over the years I have tried to show my children that they are important to me, more important than my own comfort or desires. Great sermon Dad!

I hope that every sermon that I have ever preached has spoken to someone. But my greatest prayer of all is that the sermons of my life will impact my children and others. Dad’s you are important, your role in this world is life changing, as King David told his son Solomon as he was passing from this earth in regard to building of the temple, “Do the Work!!”