Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celebrating Father's

Another year has come and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day has passed. Several years ago, a friend of mine asked about why the church beats up the men during Father’s Day. Why is it that we remember and recognize the men of our culture that have failed; the ones that don’t hold a job and support their family; the ones that are into drugs and alcohol; the ones that are womanizers and have been with many and see nothing wrong with it; the ones that have left their homes and families. Ever since then, it’s caused me to watch and observe the way church leaders paint the condition of manhood. The contrast between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and the image painted of women and men has struck me over and over. I have yet to hear a Mother’s Day message where womanhood is not celebrated; where women aren’t praised for all that they have done and put up with and how they’ve held the family together.

No, I’m not in denial that some men have fallen short of their calling. Some have. The reality is, so have women. The question I ask is why are women celebrated and men condemned, or even reminded of their shortcomings? Not once have I heard a Mother’s Day message calling women to be a Proverbs 31 woman and how you should work to attain that standard. And then church leader’s wonder why men don’t come to church and yet admit “statistics show if the father would come to church, the family would stay together”.

I believe there is a fundamental error in this approach and the church is responsible for its role in perpetuating. I look forward to the day men of character are celebrated; or just recognized. I look forward to the day when the church paints the image of Godly character and calls men to their right position. The Bible gives the example of calling those things that are not as though they were. To speak about what men should be not as what the world projects them to be.

This point was really brought to light for me this year. I’ve always known and believed that my daughter was watching, observing, and learning what we her parents are doing. I've commented many times how amazing it is that she is like a sponge absorbing everything that is around her at this young age. I've always known it's important to spend time playing with her, feeding her, cleaning her, or just being with her. That it's important to build a strong relationship now so that later when she needs me, we have the strong relationship established. But know we've noticed she’s moved from watching what we do to wanting to do what we are doing. This year, our church played a video about kids following in their father’s footsteps. The reality is our daughter is following my wife’s footsteps also. And it’s vitally important that we do our best to demonstrate a Godly life for her. Yes, we will fall short from time to time but then we can show her how we forgive and ask for forgiveness; how we get up again from brokenness.

Over the last several decades, our nation has experienced both racial and gender movements; rightfully so as there should be equality. Anytime there is a major shift there’s a time of being out of balance, a time where we veer towards the opposing extreme before we find a true center. I believe there’s going to come a day when the church starts speaking about men the way they should be rather than the way the world sees them and men will be recognized within the church for their qualities and positive examples. And in doing so, more men will be drawn to church and more men will desire to follow the examples demonstrated and more families will stay together and our nation will prosper for generations to come.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Raising our children

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
- Proverbs 22:6

The other day, I was at lunch with a friend and we both noticed something. Something that raised the same thoughts in each of us. Something that caused us to ask how do we raise our children in a way that we can be sure they will follow God and not give into societal or peer pressures. Something that causes us to ask how much freedom do we give our children to become who God made them to be while still guiding them to be who God wants them to be.

The something isn't relevant. It could be anything from the way they treat others, to the way they dress or speak. It could be the choices they make about their friends or the things they do on the Internet. Or many other things that consume the focus of a child in our care.

As we talked, we recollected on the way different people turned out as they grew up. The ones that were raised in a Christian home and in church and have been estranged from their family and chose a homosexual life. The ones that weren't and instead raised in a dysfunctional abusive home and have turned to God. And the ones that have been raised in and out of the church that have lived a "successful" life - college graduate, married for twenty years, financially secure, family of their own.

I've heard the stories of pastor's kids that have run from the things of God when they've become adults and I've heard of pastor's kids that are fully dedicated and committed to God. We looked at the generational transformation of the last 20, 50 and even 100 years. The things that our youth does today would never have been tolerated long ago. Of course, our parents thoughts were the same about the things that we did growing up as ours are of our childrens doings.

While we didn't answer the question, we basically agreed that you do the best you can, love them and live the example you are setting, spend time with them so hopefully they feel safe talking with you about their life, guide them and discipline where necessary but also allow some reigns so they can make choices for themselves.

Any thoughts from seasoned parents? What did you do and how did it turn out?

The Garden

The Garden. Job was there. In fact, so much was against him that everyone close to him told him to curse God and die. But he stood. In spite of all that happened around him, losing his family, his health and all his possessions, in the midst of the worst of times, he chose to continue to believe God.

Joseph was there. While being thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and later imprisoned for no fault of his own, he experienced the garden. He had a dream from God and he knew it wasn't the end yet. That in the midst of all that happened, there was a better end to come; it was only part of the journey.

Jesus knew. The Garden was where He anguished so deeply over what was to come He bled through his pores! It was a time where if anything could be done differently, He pleaded to God that it would. It was a time when all who were with Him couldn't stand alongside in prayer. He was all alone. Him and God. In the darknes of the night. Asking. Pleading even. But whatever happens, let it be Your will Father, not mine.

Have you been there? Most people at some time in their life has. It's a place where you are confronted with your will versus Gods will. The garden represents the crisis of faith. The deepest of the deep. When you have nothing left to stand on, will you still stand with God? It's not a fun place; it's not a place you look forward to visiting. But it is a place most everyone at some point in their life will visit.

The question isn't, will I visit? We will have times in our lives where we question God and His power and authority in our lives. The question is who will I be when I leave the garden? Will I leave with a deeper trust in God or will I search for something to replace God with?

The one thing that has shown up for Job, Joseph and Jesus is, with the right choice, it only gets better from there. Job went on trusting God and was rewarded with a double blessing of all that he lost. Joseph remembered his dream and trusted God to bring it forth and in turn saved his family and the entire land. Jesus accepted God's will and suffered for that which He didn't deserve and through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave saved all those that call on His name and believe in Him.