Faith of a Father

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


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How well do you still see in the dark?

man in the dark
In this post I want go back to my study in Ephesians.  I left off at Ephesians 4:16 so I want to pick it up from there.
About a month ago our family gathered together with friends to enjoy an evening around a bonfire.  We had a great time.  Although it was a little on the cold side, it was a good evening.  That night the kids even pulled out their instruments (banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle) and played along with another friend that brought his large bass. Everyone seemed to have a great time eating chili, drinking hot drinks and fellowshipping with other believers. Of course the evening began in the light but over time, as anyone walked away from the fire, the darkness would engulf them.
At the beginning of the event the boys and a few of us old guys played some football in the front yard.  It was easy to see the ball for awhile but over time as the darkness crept in it became more and more difficult to see.  The older guys gave up shortly thereafter for fear of getting hurt while the younger boys played on in what seemed to be complete darkness.
Ephesians 4:17-19
 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:   Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
In Ephesians chapter 4 Paul told the Ephesians how to walk worthy of their calling in Christ.  He encourages them to have meekness, longsuffering and uphold one another in love.  He describes our unity in Christ and then outlines spiritual gifts that we have in Christ. After all of this, Paul brings his readers back to the basics; he reminds them of who they were before Christ.  As unbelievers they were ignorant to God because of the blindness of their heart.  They once lived in darkness but now live in the light.
I consider our world today and how so many willingly walk in darkness and how this verse can apply to them.  I find it so easy to point fingers at the world, but as I look at this verse, I must consider the audience to whom Paul was speaking, he was speaking to believers.  He is reminding them to not walk like the world, and don’t think like the world.  The world is blinded by their willful ignorance of God and is willingly following their hardened heart’s desires.  He is saying this should not be so of the believer.  I wondered for a second why would Paul take the time to tell the Believers at Ephesus not to walk as the Gentiles (world), they were Christians.  My conclusion is that even though we see in preceding verses that the Believers were following after Christ, Paul was giving a warning of the potential dangers that could befall them.
As Christian’s we are born into the light of the wonderful Grace and Mercy of God, but until we are raptured into heaven one day, we continue to live in a sinful body and a sinful world.  It is this sin nature that is a continual pull on the believer and if we are not careful we too can be drawn back into a dark corner of our sinful life without recognizing the subtle changes in our walk.
Although some individuals lose their sight through a tragic injury or accident and go from light to darkness in an instant, most people lose their sight very gradually like the boys that played football that night.  Yes, they knew it was getting dark but to them, it was no big deal, they could “handle it”.
As parents, it is our responsibility to train our children to walk in the Light of God’s Word and to recognize when the darkness of this world begins to creep in.  Often the question may not be, “Is it sin?” rather, “Is it the right timing or best thing to do?”
The following are a few questions to ask ourselves on a daily basis:
1.      Do I want to serve the Lord today, or myself?
2.      Did I feed on God’s word today to fill me with His ways and thoughts?
3.      Have I prayed that He would direct my path today?
4.      Is what I have done or about to do:
          a.       good for me?  How?
          b.      good for others? How?
          c.       beneficial for me or others?  How?
          d.      affect faith and witness to others? How?
          e.      does it glorify God, How?
          f.       does it honor my parents (if applicable)? How?
          g.      will it bring me closer to God? How?
          h.      Scripturally permissible, but is it likely to be a stumbling block to those around me?
5.      Do I have that still small voice speaking to me about what I have done or am going to do?
Asking ourselves and teach our children these types of questions can give us insights into whether something may or may not be of God.  Asking the follow up question of How, helps us to get specific and not brush off the question as easily.
We all have blind spots in our lives.  If you haven’t already, why not partner with someone close to you that can give you honest and loving feedback so that iron sharpens iron?
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Arrows of Faith – Launched

faith of a family facebook ad

I like the idea of symbolism.  I like the idea of having a tangible item to remind me of an important spiritual message.  By having something visible, it is not only a reminder to me but also a potential opportunity to be a catalyst for conversations with others.

About 5 years ago I was really struck by the passage in Psalm 127:4 that says, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.”  At my oldest daughter’s high school graduation, I spoke about this passage of Scripture and gave my daughter a store bought arrow and quiver signifying that we were launching her out into the world.  To be honest, a black 32 inch arrow with blue fake feathers really didn’t impress me.   So, over these last five years I started slowing developing an idea in my head.

This store bought arrow and plastic quiver really wasn’t what I had in mind as a display piece symbolizing Psalm 127:4.  I could tell it would be just too big for most rooms, and well, it just looked cheap and “store bought”.  I came up with the idea of having a shorter arrow displayed in a quiver, accompanied with a picture frame to display a photo of our children.  I couldn’t find the types of short arrows that I wanted, nor a quiver to fit them so I began the search on how to make the arrows using authentic arrow shafts, feathers, sinew, and tips.  I had a pretty good idea of how to make a quiver out of leather and lacing, I was able to located a supplier for the picture frame and found a local engraver to assist with the engraving of the names on each individual arrow.  Through trial and error and numerous variations of each product, I believe that I have designed a product that I hope many will enjoy for years to come.

It is my desire that these products will be something cherished by parents and children alike.  I trust that you will consider these as a reminder of the awesome responsibility that we as parents have in rearing our children.  As I said in a recent post, we as parents are launching our children into the next generation, into a generation or even generations that we ourselves may never experience.

Take a few minutes to review our “Arrows of Faith” and visit our new website:   www.faithofafamily.com   Please feel free to share the link with your friends.


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How many children should you have?

large family

As I come to the end of this short series, I’d like to make a few comments about verse five of Psalm 127.

 “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

As I mentioned earlier on in this series, it is not my place to tell anyone how many children they ought to have, this is a decision between each couple and God.  God knows each circumstance and what is best for each family. It may be two, five, ten or zero.  As a Christian I do believe we should seek God’s will for our family size and not be swayed by the world or even good intentioned but busy-bodied Christians.

Even prior to us being married, my wife to be, Sherry, had repeatedly said over and over again that she wanted a lot of children.  After a difficult delivery with our third child, the doctors told us that it would be too dangerous for Sherry to have any more children and that there was a good probability that Sherry could die from another child’s birth.  Ten months later our fourth child was born and several more years later our fifth child.  In God’s wisdom, additional children are not to be.  So although I respect those who have many more children than even our family, having a large family is not a “competition”.  Nor is it necessarily an indication of a family’s commitment to the Scriptures or a greater love for children but it may just be God’s plan for those particular families.

Having said this, let’s review the beginning of the verse we are discussing:  “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:” As we know arrows are what is placed into a quiver and the previous verses referred to our children as our arrows.  I like to call them “arrows of faith” because they can be a reflection of our faith as we train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  The Bible is telling us that it is a joyful thing to have a lot of children.

So here are some benefits of having a full quiver, whatever the Lord’s definition of a full quiver is for your family:

  1.  A full quiver can bring much laughter and fun to a home.  Yes, this can be so with a small family, but imagine a family with a household filled with children varying in personalities and spiritual gifts.  As a family, there are times when many if not all of us just sit in the living room together and laugh with (and sometimes at) each other.  We enjoy each other’s company (usually) and find it hard if on those rare occasions we cannot travel on a vacation together.  Laughing is a part of our family fun.  Although I must say even as the more “reserved” one in the family, I can have an occasional crazy outburst.
  2. Having a full quiver means numerous siblings.  Of course this is obvious.  When there is an only child, best friends must be chosen very carefully from outside the home.  Let me ask, can there be any better best friends then siblings?  I don’t think so.  We live in a transient time and often times families are required to move due to a job or other reasons.  One of the big concerns for parents is how will the move affect the child or children.  When your children are best friends with each other, this definitely can help during the transition of the move. Again, how great is it when our children can have their own siblings as their best friend !
  3. Having a full quiver can bring security in our old age.  As families, God’s design is for the parents to care for their children, and when the parents are old, the children should care for their parents, as much as physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually possible.  While we would all love to grow old and have a perfect relationship with our children, we are all human and at times can get a little cranky and annoying and not always the most pleasant to be around. One parent with a slew of kids said to me, “It’s great having a bunch of kids.  When we get old and need a place to stay, we’ll have many homes to stay at so we won’t be a burden on any one of our kids.” I guess that is what you call retirement planning.
  4. As the world continues to battle against the family, they often will use the idea of over population to encourage smaller sized families.  According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 60% of the thousands polled believe the ideal family size is four or less, two parents and two or less children.  About 33% of those polled believed the number of children per family should be greater than two.  Only 2% indicated that five or more children was a good family size.  I say all this to say, although I have no statistical evidence only anecdotal, it would appear that if the world tends to discourage the idea of having many children, I look at Christians that are having large families as an opportunity to have greater influence in our communities and around the world as our Christian population grows.  The key is not only do we need to rear “Arrows of Faith” and prepare to launch them into the next generation but also to be a godly influence to those around us right now.  America isn’t lost, and I see a great opportunity for us as Christians to be influencers in our nation, but we must first start within our own families and from there spread a godly influence outward.  I have said it before but I’ll say it again here.  It is important to vote godly influencers into political office, but it is not as important who sits in seat of the White House as it is who sits in the seat of our own hearts.

I am sure that other points could be made, but let me end with this:  I like symbolism.  I like the idea of having something tangible that can remind us of some important truth and that is why in the near future I will be launching a new project offering something that can be a visual reminder that our children are “Arrows of Faith” and that as parents it is our responsibility to prepare to launch these arrows into the next generation!

Stay tuned as I fine tune some details and launch this project.


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Launching Faithful Arrows into the World

arrow globe JPEG

Psalm 127:3-5

 “Children are compared to “arrows”. Now, we know that sticks are not by nature arrows; they do not grow so, but they are made so; by nature they are knotty and rugged, but by art they are made smooth and handsome. So children by nature are rugged and untoward, but by education are refined and reformed, made pliable to the divine will and pleasure.” –George Swinnock, 1627-1673, nonconformist, puritan, pastor

As I have read a number of commentaries on these verses, I have found that most writers (such as Matthew Henry and Charles Spurgeon – The Treasury of David), discussed that the arrows (children) are for the defense of the family and protection for the parents in their old age.  Although I would not disagree with these godly men, I believe that there is much more to the analogy of our children being arrows then just for defense and protection.  I believe there is another aspect that I would like to discuss here.

Unlike swords, clubs, lances or knives, arrows are not used for close combat.  Archers were able to reach great distances with their arrows, and with skill used these arrows to hit targets that they themselves could not physically reach.

drake-s

In 1983, Harry Drake held the “foot held” flight record of 1 mile 268 yards.

The Bible is clear that our Christian life is a battle (Ephesians 6) and that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Like arrows sent to hit targets the archer cannot reach, our children, when prepared, are to be sent out to do great damage to Satan’s kingdom that we as parents will never reach.  The ultimate goal of any Christian should be to glorify God.  This is why I believe that it is important that we take the saplings we are given and instruct them in the ways of the Lord, to mold them into the SHAPE that God has for them (not how we want them to be).  So that one day, when we shoot them from our homes and into the future, into a time and place where we will never go, that they will be ready to take flight, fly true and hit the mark that God has intended for them.

Each of our children is a miracle, given to us by God for a purpose, to glorify God in a way that we cannot.  As the arrow is not designed to sit in a quiver and never be used but is to be shaped and prepared for a purposed launch, so must our children be shaped into a mighty weapon of faith to be launched into the next generation that the enemy mentioned in Ephesians chapter six might be damaged, and God glorified.

Parents, how are your arrows being shaped?  Are we preparing our children to walk in the ways of God, so that in His timing,  they might be launched, and might fly straight, true to God’s Word and be a mighty weapon for God?  What are you doing today, what am I doing that might enable our children to be prepared for their launching into the next generation?

 “Well doth David call children “arrows”; for if they be well bred, they shoot at their parents’ enemies; and if they be evil bred, they shoot at their parents.” –Henry Smith. 1560-1591,regarded as the most popular puritan preacher of the Elizabethan London.


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SHAPE of Arrowheads

arrowhead

The third and final part of the arrow I’d like to discuss is the broadhead, otherwise known as the arrowhead or point of the arrow.  Of course the purpose of the arrowhead is to penetrate the target and depending on the target, it will depend on what shape of arrowhead is used for the task. And so it is with our children, depending on their “SHAPE”, God will use each child in His way to further His kingdom.

The Bible likens the Christian life to a war against Satan and the evil in this world.  Like an archer using the wrong arrow at the wrong time, we as parents with extensive prayer, Scripture study, seeking God’s wisdom and direction, need to help guide our children to His purposes, not ours.

Ephesians 6:11-12  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Some arrowheads are used to go deep within the target and can do massive damage.  Other arrowheads are used for a precision attack.  There are even some arrowheads called blunts that are not sharp at all and are used on birds and small game as not to destroy the flesh of the animal.  There are many purposes for arrows, and each arrow is crafted by the Fletcher for a purpose.  So regardless of your child’s shape, God has a mighty purpose for their life.  It is up to us as parents to help each child learn their shape.  As parents, it is our responsibility to know our children and to understand their shape, or who they are.  If we do not know and understand our children then we are doing a disservice to them.

If each child is an arrow, what kind of arrowhead are they?  I’m glad you asked.  The following information is not original with my father in law, Pastor Larry Brodie, but it is information that he has shared many times over the years with many people and groups.

Take a look at each letter and make a list for each:

 S = Spiritual gift(s))

Rom.  12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,

1Pe 4:10  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

What is your spiritual gift(s)?

H = Heart beat for the Lord; passions for life and ministry

Mt 6:21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

What is your heartbeat?

 A = Ability (skills and ability, “God given” and “learned”)

Mt 25:15  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

What are your skills and abilities?

 P = Personality traits

1Cor.12: 6  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  14  For the body is not one member, but many. . . 18  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

What are your personality traits?

E = Experiences in life, especially painful ones

Rom. 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  2 Cor. 1: 3-4 – Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

What are your significant experiences?

Why not take a few minutes and before considering your child(ren), go through and answer these questions for yourself.  If you have older children, maybe use this as an opportunity for each child to reflect on themselves and make some notes.  This would be a great discussion for the family.

As you will find through this exercise, each of our children, each of us are uniquely different.  As parents, we must be careful not to press our children into a future path of our wants, desires and even our pride over what God has planned for them.  I am reminded of the recent TV shows about child beauty pageants and how mothers live out vicariously through their daughters live, or how fathers try to live out their dreams through their sons on the sports teams.  Of course as solid Christians we would say we would never do that, but do we?  How often do we as parent “expect” our children to go to college or pressure our children down a particular career path or “ministry” path because of our own desires and even our own pride?  Are we trying to launch an arrow in a direction and at a target for our own purposes and desires or are we willing to search out God’s desires, learn and understand our children’s shape (type of arrowhead) and encourage each child to pursue God’s will for their life?  Dad, Mom, are we willing to give God complete control over our children’s lives or are we trying to deceive ourselves into believing we know what is best?  Father knows best, the question is, are we willing to surrender the future of our children to our Heavenly Father?


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Directing your Arrows

As we continue in our series of Psalm 127:3-5, I want to comment on two more parts of the arrow before we move on to the next topic of discussion for these verses.

The use of feathers or other materials on an arrow is for aerodynamic stability and is call fletching.  Without this stability, the arrow’s path will be less directed and therefore less likely to hit the intended target.  Each feather is referred to as a fletch.   Like the shaft, historically each fletch is made of natural products, in this case feathers, although now days synthetic feathers are often used.  Each feather or fletch can be attached with either a silk thread or some form of glue.  At the fletcher’s choosing, they may decide to put each fletch on the arrow at an angle to create a spin to assist in accuracy when shot.

Continuing with the analogy of our children as arrows, as the fletching helps to provide stability in flight and accuracy, so Biblical laws and principles provide to our children stability and accuracy in their lives.  An arrow can be shot without fletching or with one feather attached, but it’s accuracy is then forced.  And so it is with children, rules without principles bring forced obedience and likely rebellion.

I have seen over my many years how Christian parents often claim to understand the importance of God’s Word in the lives of their children and begin to set all kinds of rules for them to follow.  These parents often fail to understand the difference between two small prepositions, on and in and how this works out in the lives of their children.  Putting God’s Word onto someone’s life typically demands their compliance and is often viewed as a burden and rebellion will usually ensue.  But learning your child’s heart and then teaching and instilling God’s Word into their life encourages them to accept God’s Word for themselves and then it becomes their own values and own beliefs.  Learning the whys (principles) brings the arrow (child) balance.  Ephesians 6:1 talks about children obeying their parents, but verse 2 discusses honor.  The two must go together.  I believe that while compliance to rules can be forced, honor has to come from a belief in the heart.

Do you remember the story of the little boy that was told by the teacher to sit down?  As he was sitting he said to his teacher, “I’m sitting down on the outside but I’m still standing up on the inside.” He complied but his attitude was still sinful.  I’m reminded of a saying we have used in our home.  “Obedience without honor is disobedience.”

We have all heard the comment that character based on principles are who you are when no one else is watching.  Here’s my take on the difference between rules (laws) and principles:  “Rules (laws) are made to be obeyed, Principles are made to be lived by.”

How does all this relate to feathers on an arrow?  Like feathers being used to bring stability and accuracy to an arrow, the rules and principles that we as parents instill into our children very well may direct them the rest of their lives.  If we are not teaching our children God’s laws and His principles and only teach the law (rules), our children will not understand the whys and will take direction from the world in an attempt to provide stability to their life, therefore our children need to be grounded in the fully Truth of the Word of God.

Joshua 1:8  “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Psalm 119:105 , “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

2 Timothy 3:16,17  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God might be throughly furnished unto all good works.”

 So how are we doing?  Are we providing Godly direction to our children’s lives?  Are we forcing obedience (law) without honor (principle)?  Are we giving them one feather and expecting them to follow rules without principles?  What can you and I do this week to improve our influence in the direction of our children’s lives?

I hope these posts have been a blessing to you, even in a small way.  Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts.