Faith of a Father

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; – Hebrews 10:23


Leave a comment

Following the Leader

following

When our children were little, one way that we were able to keep up with them in the stores was to have them hold our hand. There were times when I was pushing the loaded grocery cart and it took both my hands to push it so I had to improvise. On one occasion when my wife was not with us, I had brought all four of our children with me (we had not had our fifth yet). I had Trent in the backpack, Amber in the seat in the cart and wanted to ensure that Ashley and Tyler would stay nearby so I had them hold onto my back pockets. As long as they stayed close and held on, they felt secure and I knew they were right with me. It didn’t matter where I led them, they were there, close by. There security was not in what was going on around them, but was in me because they could feel me, they were next to me, their Daddy.

Paul tell us in Ephesians 5:1 that we are to be followers of God as dear children and I think before we get into the extended passage and discussion, how we are to follow after God; as dear children, I wanted to discuss the first thoughts that come to my mind.

Children’s security should be in their parents. As followers for Christ, our security should be in our Heavenly Father, the perfect example of a loving father.As His child, the closer I am to Him, the more secure I am, regardless of what is going on around me. Like a child that runs off, the further I am from God, the less secure I am in His hand, not by His doing, but mine.

I John 4:4 says, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we are overcomers because of Christ and His sacrifice enabling us to become children of God. As we rear our children, we need to always remember that we are setting examples for them and should be asking them, as Paul asked us in I Corinthians 11:1, to “follow me as I follow after Christ”.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

How can our children follow after Christ if we don’t teach them?
How did I do last week?
What can we change today to help our children tomorrow?

Following in Christ’s footsteps leads us to security and ultimate victorious living.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Problem with “Andy Griffith”

So, do you like watching the Andy Griffith Show?  You know, the wholesome show with the down home humor and quaint town.  Barney, the inept deputy is constantly getting himself into trouble and Andy, the Sheriff provides his country wisdom to work out the problems of the day.  Each episode has an overriding lesson for the viewers. What’s not to like?  Over all, I think the show has some redeeming qualities but as I have watched them from time to time, there is a reoccurring problem in the foundational structure of the show that I think we need to be very careful about and particularly discerning if we allow our children to watch the show.  In many episodes I have found that subtle lies are often told and accepted.  To me, this is very troubling, particularly as this show is often extoled for its values. 

As we come to the next section of our study in Ephesians (4:25-32), I want to make a quick stop at verse 25.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Lies vs. Truth – How often in our daily lives do we hear the comment about “little white lies?”  Isn’t that we see often in shows such as the “wholesome”, “family values” show of Andy Griffith?  As seen on TV, it is unfortunately far too often so easy to bring this idea into our own homes and we don’t even realize it.

I will not elaborate on this topic, but another example that comes to mind is the topic of Santa Clause and his friends.  From the very beginning of our parenting experience, we never told our children that there was a Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny or Santa Clause for them to believe in.  We would describe Santa as a Christmas Clown or someone dressed up in a costume for fun during the Christmas season.  I’m not here to judge anyone on what you do or say about such topics but I would ask that you consider the foundations that you are laying for the future of your children’s character.

As our children get older and they are able to understand truth, should we be said to have provided them with an example of “ok lies”?  God forbid.  As parents we do enough unintentional lying without deliberately lying to our children.  If we are willing to make it acceptable within our families to tell “little white lies”, to be deceptive to the ones that we love the most, how much bigger will that deception carry over into our other relationships such as our extended family, our church family, our neighbors, and our co-workers and bosses?  The crooked CEO’s and politicians didn’t wake up one morning and determine to be deceptive to those to whom they are accountable to, their deception began in the home.

As we rear arrows (our children) to be shot into a dark world, are we honing them into straight arrows or crooked arrows?

In the proceeding verses in this chapter, Paul speaks in generalities about living a godly life, in verses 25-31 Paul gets into some specific interpersonal sins that we need to be cautious about in our relationship with others. With each sin that he warns us about, he tells us what to replace it with.  Don’t do this, but do this.  In verse 25, he tells us to put away lying but speak truth.

How are we doing as parents?  Are we keenly aware of the world around us and the deception and lies that it bombards our households with?  Are we instructing our children in truth and pointing out the lies of this sinful world and our own sinful nature?

Character is like a seed planted in a young heart.  How we feed and water it or neglect it may not be evident today, but as the fruit grows within their heart, so will the sweet or bitter flavors be known.

Those who think it’s permissible to tell white lies soon become color-blind. 

Austin O’Malley.


Leave a comment

Parts are Parts

parts

Parts are Parts, Which Part Are You?

 Ephesians 4:16

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Our body is an amazing, complex structure.  Every part of it has a defined purpose.  The evolutionists have told us in the past that we have vestigial body parts such as wisdom teeth, the tailbone, and the appendix, parts that we don’t need, or over time have lost much or all of its purpose.  Of course we know this is not true.  Try sitting down without a tail-bone, see how that works out for you.  Every part of the body has as purpose and without it, the body suffers.  Either a function does not get done or other parts of the body must work overtime to compensate.

The same is with the Body of Christ.  Every member is an important part of the body.  When we are all together and performing our function, not worried about what the other parts are doing or not doing, the Body of Christ can run better than a well oiled machine.

Try walking without your little toe.  Yes, you can walk without it but you will have to re-learn to balance yourself.  The same goes for the body of Christ, it can function without various members, but how much more can be done when it has both its arms, legs and kidneys?  To optimize the either the physical body’s performance or the effectiveness of the Body of Christ, parts are parts and all parts are needed.

I’d encourage you to go back to my December 17, 2011 post called:  Are you a Vestigial Christian?  and revisit this topic of Vestigial Christians.

Our bodies are made up many parts and everyone is needful to the body.  The Body of Christ is equally needful of every part, every member.  If we fail to do our job, to perform the function in the body that Christ has called us to do, the Body will not perform at its peak performance and others will have to compensate for our failure.

So what about you and your family?  How can your family become an effective part of the Body of Christ?  You may say that you’re too busy or your children are too small to be a vital role in the Body, but you’d be wrong.  We all have the same hours in the day, it is how we choose to spend them that’s important.  Even young children can be a source of encouragement to someone, young or old.  I’ll bet there are plenty of older saints in your church and circle of life that would love to have young people come by regularly, even for just a few moments say hello and maybe drop off some cookies.  How about ministering as a family to encourage other believers?  Here are just a few ways our family minister to the Body:

  • I serve on the Missions Committee of our church.
  • My wife encourages other homeschool mothers and is a group leader in a women’s group.
  • As a family, we go to the Salvation Army regularly and provide music for a service
  • Our daughter sings in the choir and sings solos in the church service
  • My wife and I are leaders in our Sunday School class
  • Our children play their instruments (guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle) as special music occasionally on Sunday nights, at nursing homes and in the Christian School
  •  Our oldest daughter ministers to other young women through her blog            
  • Our daughters baby sit for young mothers that attend a weekly Bible study

There are many ways even young people can encourage other believers.  What our family does may not be practical for your family, but if you’re not fulfilling your role in the Body of Christ today I’d encourage you to take some time today to contemplate how you, how your family can fulfill your role in the Body of Christ today.

Not you, not your spouse, nor your children are Vestigial Christians, as Christians, we all (yes even young children) have been given a measure of grace and spiritual works.  Have you allowed your spiritual muscles atrophied to the point of being useless and need to be build back up or are you exercising your good works?

Parts are parts, and all parts of the Body of Christ are necessary.

Have you found a unique way for your family to minster to the Body of Christ?  Why not reply with a comment and let readers know.  You may encourage others to think outside the box as well.


1 Comment

Is It Truth or Love?

TruthinLove

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Ephesians 4:15

In this verse we see that the opposite of deception and craftiness is “truth in love”.  I notice in this verse that it does not just say “truth” but “truth in love”.  It is unfortunate that oftentimes as seasoned Christians we can become inpatient with young believers and become so intent on teaching and preaching truth that we fail to show Christian love.  We fail to use the compassionate love that Christ used so often.

I grew up in a generation and in an area in the north where many sermons, particularly revival meetings, contained Biblical truth but were often yelled most of the way through the message.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need and importance of inflection in public speaking but to yell a sermon does not come across to most people as love.  In the Book of Acts we read of the Apostles proclaiming the Gospel to the crowds, and in Paul’s writings he writes with conviction and with power but his tone is a tone of compassion and love even in the midst of his chastening of the Believers.

Remember in the Scriptures where Christ threw out the money changers and called them a den of thieves?  Christ was speaking to those who were already against Him.  His response to their actions was effective because it was not his normal demeanor with them.  I don’t recall anywhere in the Scriptures where Christ spoke harshly to those He was trying to teach.  Christ spent a lot of time with His disciples and no doubt there were times when He had to be firm and very direct, but even then it was apparent that He loved them.  In observing Christ’s conduct, who is our ultimate role model for communications, I see two things:

  1. Love’s foundation is based in truth.
  2. Christ’s message was always heard by the hearer (truth without love is seldom heard)

I have often thought back over the years and contemplated something that I saw far too often.  I saw time and time again preacher’s and missionary’s children (as well as other children) walking away from the faith they grew up in.  In seeing this occur, I have come to several conclusions.  First, the Scriptures are clear that we as individuals, regardless of our upbringing, choose for ourselves the straight and narrow road or the broad highway.  No child can live out their parent’s faith.  It must be personal.  Many loving and caring Christian parents have done all they can to train up their children in the way they should go only to have a son or a daughter reject the truth of God’s Word.  The choice to turn away from God is always an individual decision.  The second conclusion that I have come to based only from an outsider’s view but seeing it often, is that many times these children lived in homes where truth is made know firmly, very firmly, with what appears to be an absence of Christ’s love with the communication of these truths.  Often times in our zeal to teach and communicate truth we fail to include the ever so important ingredient of love.

One of my struggles over the years has been with patience, particularly on occasions when I think the individual either should have gotten the message the first time or I think they are callous to the issue.  In these occasions I would typically walk away and stew about the situation that just occurred.  I must realize that in these moments I must question my motives.  Am I trying to communicate truth in Christian love or is my anger due to my own selfishness?  What is it that is angering me?

Jonathan Edwards had this to say about anger:

“We should never be angry but at sin, and this should always be that which we oppose in our anger.  And when our spirits are stirred to oppose this evil, it should be as sin, or chiefly as it is against God.  If there be no sin and no fault, then we have no cause to be angry; and if there be a fault or sin, then it is infinitely worse as against God than it is as against us, and therefore it requires the most opposition on that account.  Persons sin in their anger when they are selfish in it; for we are not to act as if we were our own, or for ourselves simply, since we belong to God, and not to ourselves. When a fault is committed wherein God is sinned against, and persons are injured by it, they should be chiefly concerned, and their spirits chiefly moved against it, because it is against God; for they should be more solicitous for God’s honor than for their own temporal interests.”  (The Spirit of Love the Opposite of An Angry or Wrathful Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13:5)

Is my motive to teach them or to get my way?  When it is my goal to communicate a principle or concept, particularly biblical ones, is my communication done in Christ-like love or in harshness?  When as a parent it is my duty to disciple a child, is it done in love or in anger?  One way to know this is; do your children fear you when they have done wrong or do they fear the consequences of their sin?

When we are teaching or preaching or even disciplining young believers, are we communicating truth in a way that they are motivated by fear or love and compassion?  Yes, there may be a time for “tough love” but being tough is only effective when the love is evident.

I’m reminded of a saying I heard many years ago, “I can’t do anything about it if you dislike me because of my position, but I can do something about it if you dislike me because of my disposition.”


2 Comments

Do You “Mark the Wall?”

measuring faith

Ephesians 4:14 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

Here we see Paul is telling the Ephesians (and us) that we as Christians need to grow up because otherwise there are consequences. Like children, due to the lack of maturity, young Christians are easily influenced by wrong doctrine and deceptive religious leaders and authors.

My father in law has told such stories of how as a young married couple he and my mother in law were easily deceived shortly after their conversions. He describes how that once saved by God’s grace, they had such a hunger for the Word of God that they reached out to a number of organizations seeking to be spiritually feed. Unfortunately most of these organizations begged for money, and lots of it, yet provide at best spiritual pabulum and at worst outright heresy. It was when, again by God’s grace that they began to attend a solid Bible Believing church that taught them the Word of God where spiritual grow began to blossom within their lives. This initial growth embedded within their hearts a spiritual discernment enabling them to rightly divide the Word of God for continued and sustained growth to maturity. If you asked either one of them today if they believed that they were spiritually mature Christians they would say as Paul says, “I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 ) but the evidence of their maturity is exemplified in the hundreds, yeah thousands individuals they have personally influenced, mentored and discipled towards the Word of God and righteous living.

While part of us wants to live in a “Peter Pan” world of never growing up so that we can ignore accountability, Paul is reminding up that this kind of thinking will only hurt our walk with the Lord. I would also add that not only will this affect your life but also the lives of those around you. If I as a parent refuse to grow in the Lord, and have little to no desire to search the Scriptures, the potential negative effect on my wife and children could be devastating.

So how are you, how am I doing on our spiritual growth chart? Yes, some people grow faster or mature sooner than others but the question is; are you growing in the Lord? When my kids were little my wife used to mark the wall to see how much each of them had grown, some looked like they never grew and we only really noticed it when we made that new mark on the wall. And of course if we left it for each child to do their own measuring, seldom if ever was it accurate. So what about you? When was the last time you “marked the wall” of your spiritual life? Do you, do I attempt to measure ourselves or do we allow ourselves to be measured against the ruler of God’s Word? Why not take some time today to “mark the wall” and see how you’re growing, you just might surprise yourself.


Leave a comment

The role of the Church: Ephesians 4:11-12

 

Ephesians 4:11-12 

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;   For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

 In these verses we read how Christ equipped the church and for what reason.  Many books have been written about the subject of these roles in the church and I could not do justice here to the topic so for those interested, an in depth study would be recommended.  

John Maxwell, noted Christian author and Leadership “guru” gives his definitions of these five roles in his “The Maxwell Leadership Bible: 

  1. Apostle:  One sent forth to pioneer and establish new works and new leaders.
  2. Prophet:  One who speaks forth God’s Word to inspire, correct, and motivate.
  3. Evangelist:  One who shares Christ with outsiders and trains others to do so.
  4. Pastor:  One who shepherds, guides, and guards God’s people as they serve.
  5. Teacher:  One who trains God’s people in the truth and teaches others to do so.

 I believe that all but the role of the Apostle are still active roles in the church today.  John MacArthur gives supporting Scriptural references to support this view: 

Six biblical reasons may be given as to why the apostolic office is not for today:

1.    The church was founded upon the apostles (Eph. 2:20)… Their role was to give grounding, support, direction – to provide the underpinning for a fledgling church. They were the church’s founders. That role was fulfilled by them and by definition can never be repeated.

2.    Apostles were eyewitnesses to the resurrection (1 Cor. 9:1)… There is no trustworthy evidence that (Jesus) has appeared to anyone since the close of the apostolic era.

3.    Apostles were chosen personally by Jesus Christ (Mt. 10:1-4).

4.    Apostles were authenticated by miraculous signs (Ac. 3:3-11; 5:15-16; 9:36-42; 20:6-12; 28:1-6)… No such miracles were ever performed – even in the apostolic era – by anyone other than the apostles and those commissioned by them.

5.    Apostles had absolute authority (Jude 17)… When the apostles spoke, there was no discussion.

6.    Apostles have an eternal and unique place of honor (Rev. 21:14).

John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, Zondervan, © John MacArthur, 1992, p. 148-151

 As we look at the roles described in verse 11 for the church, we can see how that Christ gave the church all the leadership roles needed to make the church successful for the cause of Christ.  As we consider our churches today often times the churches that seem to over emphasis one or a few of these roles above others are the same churches that have lost their spiritual balance.  Like and individual that loads up only on proteins or only on carbohydrates, the church that does a similar thing will eventually become spiritual malnourished and will become ineffective. 

 The purpose of these roles in the church is as it says in verse 12: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” 

 And to that end, let me ask you this question:

 How can a spiritually malnourished saint perform their God-given work in ministry effectively?  And if they, if you, if I cannot effectively fulfill our responsibilities as a Christian, how can the body of Christ be edified or encouraged?  Consider your church today and then ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Is my church helping me and my family to become well balanced Christians? 
  2. Is it calling sin – sin, right – right and wrong –wrong?  Or is it afraid to address sin?
  3. At times do I feel the Holy Spirit convicting me of my sin or is every Sunday marshmallows and cotton candy? 
  4. Is my church an evangelistic church, reaching out to the lost and proclaiming the way of Salvation and encouraging and teaching me and my family to do the same?
  5. Does my church reach out to shepherd the flock, getting past the superficial topics and issues and helping its members to deep dive into each other’s lives as a way to encourage, uplift, support and edify each other?
  6. Is it dividing the Word of God rightly?  Is it teaching biblical doctrine or is it teaching feel-good sensationalism?  Is it helping and encouraging you and your family to dig deeper and build your spiritual life in such a way that you in turn can disciple others?

 If your church is not helping you to eat a spiritually balanced diet, then determine if it is you or the church.  If you’re only picking the sweets from a balanced spiritual buffet, then shame on you, repent and learn to eat the broccoli.  You’ll find that it’s does a body good.

If you find that the church has good intentions but fall short, in the right spirit and with humility go to your pastor and discuss the topic.   But if your church cannot, or is unwilling to provide a balance diet as Paul has outlined in verse 11, seek another church that can and will.  You may say, but Donn, I attend a small church and you don’t understand, it just isn’t big enough to provide it all.  I know what it is like to be a part of a small assembly of believers.  I know what it is like for your family to be the only ones in attendance at a service.  I know what it is like to be a teenager and the only ushers.  Our family started a church in mid to late 1970’s in Chatham, Ontario, Canada.  We did not have the resources today but my Dad had preaching and teaching tapes available to the membership.  He had a large library that people could borrow from if they desire.  Even in small churches today there are so many resources available to us as Christians that we should not lack in our spiritual diet.  There are books, CD’s, DVD’s, online courses, blogs and websites that we can feast on.  The key to all of these is to be discerning in knowing which ones to dine on and which ones are spiritual junk foods.   Your pastor and spiritual mentors can help you to determine at which “restaurant” to dine.

 So are you being spiritually completed at your church?  If not, what are you going to do about it?


Leave a comment

Getting Back to Ephesians….

I recently finished the series entitled: Lessons From a Heart Attack and I wanted to get back into my study of the book of Ephesians.  I’ll probably intermingle other topics along the way.

 As a reminder, I have broken up the book of Ephesians into sections about relationships.  So far we have discussed the following:

  1.  Our Relationship with God = Chapter 1-2:10
  2.  Our Relationship with Christ = Chapter 2:11-3:21
  3.  And we are now in beginning of section three:  Our Relationship with Fellow Christians and the World = Chapter 4:1-5:21

 Since it has been awhile, why not go back and review some of the previous posts.  These can be found to the right under “Categories”.

 I plan to have my next posting on Ephesians within the week.