Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Fathers Day!

As we approach Sunday June 15, 2014 we prepare to celebrate Father's Day.  In a world where far to many children are growing up without a father, I just wanted to share a little of my heart and suggest a couple of resources that have been helpful to me.

Nobody's Perfect
My Dad loves me.  Of that there is no doubt.  Never has been.  He has not had it easy.  He spent most of my growing up years as a Pastor and some as a teacher and both professions brought their challenges to me.  As well as many other odd jobs along the way.  He worked a lot.  Not because he was a work-a-holic but because it was necessary to put food on the table and pay the bills.  And because the Lord always called him to small churches that did not generally pay a ton.  But he did what needed to be done to take care of his family.  Mistakes were made along the way but that's life.  There are things that I learned not to do, as is true in most families and will certainly be true for my children from mistakes that I have made and will make.

But there are definitely things that I learned to do and am still observing from his example now.  For example, in forty years of marriage things have not always been perfect but, both Mom and Dad have remained faithful to their covenant vows that they made before Almighty God so many years ago.  My mom has had many medical problems in later years and Dad has worked hard to provide for her all along the way and be there for her through it all.

My brother pointed out that our Dad passed along a solid example of working hard and doing what it takes to strive to support your family, all the while trying his best to lead us spiritually and be available to parent as well.  It was a difficult task, of that I am certain.  There were four of us and we did not make it easy sometimes.  While there are things that we could look back on and wish for something different, it is not constructive.

When you become an adult and you look back, you realize that God had a plan for everything that you went through.  He gave you your parents, flaws and all, to help mold you into who He wants you to be.  So it is hard to remain bitter when you understand the sovereignty of God in all things.  And to Dad's credit, he has tried very hard to let us know that he is aware of his imperfections, often in hindsight, but when he realizes error he is humble enough to try to make things right if there is anything that needs to be made right.

I am thankful for all of the experiences that I have had, for better and for worse, because who I am today and what I understand about life and ministry is molded tremendously by what I learned growing up.  And to top it all off, I know my Dad loves me and is proud of me and the life that I am striving to live.  You can't ask for much more than that.  Thanks Pop.

Myself as Daddy
For me, becoming a dad and learning the in's and out's and do's and don'ts has definitely been an adventure thus far.  There are many things that, by the grace of God, I feel I have done pretty well with thus far.  Yet there are sooooo many things that I wish I could have a do over for.  The Lord has blessed me with two phenomenal boys ages nine and five.  Many of you know them or have met them.  They are good looking, talented, and brilliant and I see their mother and I in them, for better and for worse, every day.  There is nothing more thrilling, entertaining, and frightening than realizing that you are looking at a mini  me.  The talents and good personality pieces are good, but then there are the bad inclinations such as temper, laziness, or hardheadedness that you wish had not been passed down.

There has been a video on Facebook that shows children of all ages calling out to their daddy's.  It brought me to tears.  Though we are sinfully prone to taking it for granted, there is absolutely nothing sweeter than the sound of your children calling your name, running toward you and wrapping their arms around your leg or neck.  I love walking in the door and my children screaming my name with glee because I am home.  Just today, my youngest was out on the playground on his last day of school, but when he saw me coming, he took off and sprinted toward me as hard as he could go.  I love that.

Like every parent, my biggest fear is messing them up.  I regret every wasted moment and fear the ones to come.  I pray continually, and yet not enough, for the Lord to help me be the father that they need me to be because I know without Him, I will absolutely screw them up.

A Faithful Father
Yet there is peace, deep down, that I am not on this journey alone.  Neither are my children.  We are not dependent on each other exclusively.  Just like my Dad knew and still knows, I know as well, that we have a faithful Heavenly Father who has been in control all along.  While I played a role in conception, scripture tells me that it is God who knit my children together in their mother's womb just as He did for me(Psalm 139).  He is the true creator of me and my children and He had a plan for all of us before time began.  Not only that, but I now know that He chose me for himself and for His glory before the creation of the world.(Ephesians 1:3-6). I believe that He has chosen my children as well.  How do I know?  Call it a gut instinct at this point founded on what I know of who my children are at this point and how I see God working in their lives already.  But, at the end of the day, I know that my God is faithful and true and that nothing will happen in the life of my family that he did not ordain and that He is not in complete control of .  He is a great God and I trust Him with my life and the life of my family.

I truly don't know how parents do life without faith in Jesus.  There is an inexhaustible hope to be possessed via God's gracious gift of knowing Him and having salvation made available through His Son.  This sin-stained life is hard enough, even with strong faith in a living God.  Sometimes people still loose sight of hope and their faith can waiver.  It must be terrible to have no hope at all.  Working in a hospital, you can sometimes see the difference in the way those with a strong Christian faith handle suffering and loss compared to those who have no hope outside of themselves and what this world has to offer.

But our God is faithful and He provides resources to help us learn to be the parents we need to be.  First and foremost He gives us His word brought to life by His Spirit.  All the hope, power, and instruction that we need for life and Godliness has been made available to us through His word and by His Spirit(2 Peter 1:3-10).  

Then, as if that were not enough(which, of course, we know is not true),  He gifts people to help us understand and apply all that He has made available to us.  He sets before us flawed, examples that act as mirrors in which we can see ourselves and see resolutions to ourselves in them.  He does this in real men of God who have been where we are and He does it through stories in movies and books.

For me, a blessing of a resource has been found in the movies by Sherwood Pictures.  You may have heard of them.  So far there are four: Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and then Courageous.  In every one of these stories we have examples of men struggling to be good husbands and fathers and we see examples of God working in and through them, bringing glory to His name.

The latest one, Courageous, was most directly aimed at calling men to be men of courage.  If you have not seen it, you should buy it and watch it over and over again.  It will change your perspective on who you are as a man and how you are allowing or even better, how you are actively causing that to influence others.  It is a call to action.  It is a call to arms.  In that movie the characters make a resolution about the kind of men they want to be to their families.

They wrote a  book called The Resolution that fleshes out those commitments in a very powerful way.  The pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, Michael Catt, wrote a book called Courageous Living that is also very powerful.  I highly recommend both of them if you are looking for instruction and inspiration as a father.  The movie and both of those books did and still do press me forward to be the kind of godly man that I know my family needs.

Wrapping It Up
One of the primary scriptures that is the theme for the movie comes from Joshua 24:15.  It essentially says, "choose you this day whom you will serve.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".   That is my heart through thick and thin.  I want to be a living example of what a man who is striving for godliness and holiness should look like for my children and for my wife.  I want to make Jesus real to them by my example.  Oh, I fail daily.  But, by God's grace I will never stop striving to that end.

I want to end this blog post with a copy of the resolution that the men made in the movie and the last speech given by the main character from Courageous, Adam Mitchell.  After experiencing tragedy and seeing first hand what the effects of a lack of commitment to being a godly man can be, he feels compelled to uncover what the bible calls men to be to those around them.  These are the thoughts and the challenge that He brings to those who would be men of courage.

I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my
•I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the
spiritual leader of my home.
•I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my
life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
•I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of
their minds, and all of their strength.
•I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
•I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
•I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
•I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
•I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
•I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a
man answerable to God.
•I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His
•I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for
the rest of my life and for His glory.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15



No comments:

Post a Comment