Grace & Peace 03/28/2015

father_babyAs the spiritual head of the home, fathers are first and foremost responsible for the spiritual training of their children.  This means we teach our children how to be humble, how to talk with God, how to be accountable, how to repent, how to forgive and receive forgiveness, how to be in a healthy relationship with a wife (mom), how to discern God’s will, how to trust God when times are tough, how to resist temptation, how to worship and praise God, how to give an offering to God, how to have hope when things are beyond difficult, how to be a family.  Now that is quite a list.  And there is so much more.  The first principle to Godly fatherhood is to “be the head of the wife.”  Ephesians 5:23.  Paul goes on to explain what he means.  “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkly or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.”  Ephesians 5:25-28   Husbands need to make their wives the highest priority in their lives, responsible for helping her to become “holy and blameless.”

This first and foremost means we should honor our wives, especially in front of our children.  Our children need to see how important we think their mom is.  This single principle will train our children to learn respect and honor for other people, and this is Godly!  So how do we honor our wives?

First, we understand our wives enough to know what pleases them, what excites them, what brings tears of joy to their heart.  Then we create opportunities for them to experience this honor IN FRONT OF OUR CHILDREN.  Sometimes it is something as simple as flowers, or helping in the garden, or giving her a break at the end a an exceptionally hard day by bringing dinner home, or starting the day off right by making breakfast in bed.  Do these things and your children will soon make both of you breakfast in bed, scary but awesome.

Our efforts at honoring our wives need to be intentional and far more frequent than we think.  We need to ask her, “What do you want to do tonight?”  And sometimes, we need to solicit the help of our children to surprise mommy with something she will love, and not just on birthdays.  I run through literally thousands of times we did this in our family.  My son Matthew learned at an early age that if he hid, he could scare the pee put of his mom and then we would all laugh.  So he did this everywhere; home, store, church, everywhere!  It became a love language for the two of them.  He still does it and now it is really funny because she is in a wheelchair and cannot run away.

Grace & Peace March 14, 2015

dad_handOver the next couple of months I will be blogging about fatherhood.  We have all heard the statement, “any man can have a child, but not everyone who has a child is a father.”  There are literally hundreds of Bible verses about faithful fatherhood.  If we want our children to grow up emotionally and spiritually healthy, dads need to be VERY involved in their lives.  We live in a society filled with the reality of life without dad.  Children are 63% more likely to commit suicide, 85% more likely to have a behavioral disorder, 71% more likely to drop out of high school, 70% more likely to be imprisoned, and the statistics go on and on.  Absentee fathers are destroying our culture.  So far all that society has done is go after the presenting problem, the children.  The root of our problem remains that fathers are not training their children.  We have now come to the point where the adults never had a father and so do not know anything other than selfish ambition and unhealthy control.  If this is ever to change, our understanding of the role and nature of the father has got to transform.

Principle number 1:  LOVE YOUR WIFE    “The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.”  Ephesians 5:23  Fathers (husbands) are the spiritual head of the family.  It is our responsibility to make sure our family lives out a Godly life together.  We are the ones who train our children.  We are the ones who teach our sons how to be Godly men and our daughters how to love a Godly man.  We are the ones responsible for discipline and correction.  We are the ones who will be held accountable for the spiritual health of our families.

I cannot tell you now how many times I have heard a man tell me that God stuff is woman’s work.  It usually goes like this:  I make a call to the house to offer encouragement or an invitation to something.  The man answers the phone.  As soon as I say I am from the church, he says, “let me get my wife,” often in the middle of my sentence.  Men remain disconnected from God and only show up as a concession to their spouse on Maybe Easter or when their daughter is singing.  These spiritually careless men soon find their sons saying, “I do not need to go to church because dad does not go.”  On the surface, some dads might think this OK.  The reality is, they are creating sons who establish their own rules for life and often the rules are self-centered.  Next time I will look at some of the things dads can do as spiritual heads of the home.

Grace & Peace February 23, 2015

maryAnd now we come to the final woman in Matthew’s genealogy, Mary, the mother of Jesus. Even Mary is not without a little controversy. Centuries old debates have raged about the role of Mary in our faith journeys. Catholics revere her and even worship her. Prayers in her name and even to her. Protestants talk about her every Christmas when we reenact the Christmas story and even give her a nod as one of the women who watched Jesus die. Her story begins as simply as it could. She was a young girl asked to carry a heavy load. God chooses her! Now that is always a heavy load. He chooses her to birth the savior. And in that choosing, he choses her to suffer the heartache of a mother watching her son crucified. I have always thought it a bit cruel when a parent has to bury their child, whether from war, or an accident, or illness. It is unnatural. But this must have been horrendous. Not an illness, or an accident, not a result of something your son had done or a mistake in judgment, this was just cruelty and injustice rearing an ugly head.

Ahhh, then the light. How did she feel that first Easter? Her grief? Became? Joy? Mary, blessed are you among women. For through you, joy to the world!

Grace & Peace February 16, 2015

Though Bathsheba is not listed by name in Matthew’s genealogy, she is noted as “the one who had been Uriah’s wife.” We hear the scripture praise David many times over for his Godly heart, yet this story in 2 Samuel 11 casts a cloud of dispersion on David’s heart. He commits adultery; actually, others try to talk him out of being with her but he insists. Bathsheba gets pregnant; David has her husband Uriah killed in battle and marries Bathsheba to cover his crimes. The child dies and David mourns. Later, Bathsheba gives birth to Solomon. God does surprise me. How in the world could David be seen as a hero of faith? He made some huge mistakes, sinned boldly, arrogantly sought his own way at the cost of others. None of that sounds much like a Godly heart.

Yet he repented as vigorously as he sinned, even more so. When he sinned publically, he repented publically. In my life, when I have seen these sorts of things happen in the church, I have wondered if public confession is even enough. My heart always breaks for Bathsheba. Later in the story she has to fight for Solomon to be blessed. Nothing is easy for her. I sometimes think her name should have made the list.

Then I remember, she is at least a footnote, and perhaps a footnote should be enough. I think most of us would be more than happy to be a footnote in someone else’s life. Being the headliner is not God’s call on all of us. And as I read, headlining always comes at a great price. So I think I am satisfied simply doing as I can where I am.