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 Strong Are You Making Your Arrows?

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. — Psalm 127:4 

This verse is the theme of a new venture that I am embarking on.  As I have read a number of commentaries, articles and comments about this verse, the overriding theme seems to be what the arrows (children) mean to the parents in their old age.

Before we get to this topic, I want to first discuss the topic of our children as arrows.  When my oldest daughter graduated from high school, on the night of her graduation party, I spoke a few words on this topic.  I explained that she was the first of 5 arrows being launched out into the world.  I went on to describe a few of the qualities needed in an arrow.  In the next couple of posts I would like to take some of those comments and expound on them, followed up with how Psalm 127:4 has spoken to my heart regarding the future.

Let me preface my comments with letting the readers know that I am not an archer and therefore my reflection on this topic is from my readings and observations on the topic.

As I look at an arrow, the first thing that I see is the shaft.

The shaft.  Today, the shaft can be made up of a number of materials, both natural and man-made.  “Back in the day” the arrow shaft was made from a number of woods and the selection of material by the fletcher (arrow maker) was dependent on what was available.  Just as we find diversity in the shafts of arrows, so is the diversity between, and in families.

The shaft of an arrow needs to be strong, firm but flexible, and straight in order to fly true and accurate to hit its mark.  What a tree takes in as nutrients, and how much, determines how well rooted or grounded it is and will ultimately affect the overall strength of the tree, including the density / strength of its branches.  A tree flooded regularly with water, or one that does not get enough water will be severely affected.  The same can be said of a tree that received too little or is overwhelmed with nutrients.  Our children’s spiritual strength will be determined by the kind, how much, or how little spiritual food they are given systematically.  Dumping fertilizer at the base of a fruit tree a few days before harvest time is useless and can very likely cause damage.  The same goes with our children, we can’t expect to ground them in the Word of God their senior year in high school in anticipation of launching them into the world and expect wonderful results, the cultivating, pruning and nurturing must be done over time.

It is our responsibilities as parents to learn and understand our children, and with God’s grace and wisdom, design a plan to systematically “water and fertilize” our children with the Word of God so that they can grow to be strong in the Lord.  The Bible tells us to

“stand fast in faith…and be strong” –I Corinthians 16:13

“be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” – Ephesians 6:10

and we are to be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” – II Timothy 2:1

If we expect our children to grow up to be strong in the Lord, we cannot relegate their primary biblical instruction to others.  Sadly, too often Christian parents think that because their children are involved in Christian School or in an active youth group at church, their responsibility somehow is fulfilled.  These godly resources are wonderful supplements and can be of great value to a family, but God’s plan is for the parents to be the primary instructors of righteousness to their children.  As parents, we are to carefully recognize the grain of our children, in other words, the way God has made them and get to know and understand each child individually as we nurture and instruct their lives for the future.  I know of many families that homeschool their children because they recognize that even within families, children learn differently.  Yet how often do we, do I, use a one size fits all when it comes to training our children spiritually?  Sadly, in most cases, we as fathers tend to not do as well in this area as our wives.

Have you ever seen someone try to shoot an arrow made from a very green shoot from a reed of some kind?  The moment the string is drawn back and pressure is applied to the arrow, it bends and fails in its purpose.  The world is a dark and evil place and Satan is a roaring lion, waiting to consume our children.  If we as parent fail to encourage our children and teach them to stand strong in the Lord and in His Word, when we release our children into the world their lack of spiritual strength to stand will cause them to buckle either when we release them or when they hit a target.  Parents, how are we teaching our children to stand strong?  Are we presuming that somehow our own spiritual growth is going to rub off on them?  Our influence as parents is critical, but their faith has to be their own.

I’ll end with this illustration.  With my father being pastor, I never knew anything but living in a Christian home.  I received Christ as my Savior at a very early age and never really had many doubts about it.  I went to a Christian School for grade school, was homeschooled for middle school and attended a very small Christian school for my high school years.  Upon graduation, I went off to a very small, very conservative Bible College.  Being in a Christian environment all my life it seemed like I knew all the answers to all the Bible questions.  I served in various ministries started at about the fourth grade from bus routes to a music group in college.   I transferred to a different college / university my senior year causing me to have to go an extra semester.  In that summer between my second and third semester of my senior year I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment above a little old couple.  I shared the apartment with another Christian young man (maybe five years older than me) who was working at the university.  This summer was truly a turning point in my Christian walk.  This young man named Terry played the organ at a large Presbyterian church in town and immediately I could tell his standards and mine were very different.  I think the first time I met him he was holding a wine cooler.    Obviously he didn’t come from the Fundamental, Independent, Bible Believing, KJV only, hell fire preaching, no TV, Baptist circles that I grew up in.  God knew that he was just the roommate that I needed that summer.  If you know the Schnarrs, I grew up on good lively debates.  And so that summer, Terry and I had some good lively debates about our differences.  During one of these debates, he said to me, “Don’t tell me what your parents believe, tell me what YOU believe.”  And that was a new beginning for me.  I had all the answers memorized but I didn’t know the Whys.  Why did I believe what I believe?  Over the next few years as I began to study and understand why I believed what I did, based on Scripture, some legalistic convictions I held for many years turned to preferences and some preferences became convictions.  My faith began to grow deeper.  As I began to absorb God’s Word into my life for myself, my faith grew stronger.  I learned not to take what a preacher said at face value, but to search the Scriptures for myself.  Oh, if I had only learned these things earlier in life.

Parents, are your children following your faith because it is something that is expected, or are you teaching them to learn and develop their own faith?  When the winds come, and the enemy attacks, and they will, will your children be able to stand firm on the Word of God or will they parrot only what you have told them and bend like a young green branch?  Faith is not inherited, it is planted and cultivated, one life at a time.

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How’s Your View?


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Psalm 127:3-5

3  “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  4  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  5  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.”  

I have been captivated by these passages for some time now.  As I have thought about them, there are many rabbit trails that could be taken but after hours of writing and deleting, I decided to keep my comments on these verses pretty simple.  Today, let’s focus on verse three.

 “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

The Bible tells us that our children are a heritage and a reward from the Lord.  As I think about the word heritage, I think of something that is passed from one generation to another.  At times this can refer to possessions that are past on and at other times is can be something more intangible such as a history or maybe character traits, values or beliefs.  But we should also think of the word heritage in the context of the future, the heritage that we are now building.  The greatest impact someone can have on the world is not what they leave for the next generation, but who they leave to the next generation.  Our legacy should not be based on things we leave behind, but who we leave behind when our life ends being raptured into heaven.

I am deeply troubled by that attitude that so many have for children these days.  We can look out into society and see lack of value placed on children, from legalizing abortions, to the poor educational system, from the way many discipline their children or the lack thereof.  Of course the list could go on and on. And while I am troubled with our nation in general with its view on children, I am also trouble with the view that we in the church take regarding our children.

We talk about how important our children are yet every chance we get, we send them off to worship, play and study with other people.  While some of this is not bad, in my view, based on my understanding of the Scriptures, these times should be the exception and controlled and not the norm for a family.

It is unfortunate, but even the church has fallen into the trap of “population control” and often going as far as telling God when and how many children WE are going to have.  How arrogant. Should we tell God how He should bless us? Many Christian parents won’t admit it, but often, out of selfishness and pride, we begin allow the world’s philosophy to affect our view of children and we begin to view them as an inconvenience instead of a blessing.

It is not my desire to suggest or tell people how many children I think couples should have, that is definitely between them and the Lord.  Nor will I, or should I judge anyone or imply that a certain number of children is godlier than another number. God’s plan for the Duggars is as different for them as it is for us, the Schnarrs, which again, His plan for us is much different than His plan for your family.  Regardless of “the number”, each child is a reward and a blessing from God, even the unexpected child, or the disabled or challenged child.  God has a plan and a purpose for each and every child conceived.  I know of couples who would give anything to have children but God has had another plan for their lives, and I have seen other families with numerous children yet have taken these gifts for granted.  The point I want to make today is, if children are a heritage and a reward from the Lord, how do we really view our children?  Do we point them in the right direction along the way, take them to Sunday School, drop them off at youth group, and just hope for the best?  Or do we contemplate on a regular basis the responsibility that God has given to us as parents and make corrections as needed?

I think most Christian parents that are continuously living in light of God’s Word would heartily agree and state children are a heritage and a reward from God.  But let me follow up with this topic, have you, have I, really sat down lately and contemplated the thought of who God has given to us to teach and shape, have we really contemplated the value He has placed on our children?  I know that for most, our intent is to view, act, and respond to our children in light if this verse, but I also know that the daily events of our lives and the pressures of this world so easily distract us from following through on our intent.

Far too often due to my pride, I have been more concerned about how my children look on my “display shelf” in the home or at church and how they are positioned in the world for all to see, than being concerned with how God wants to shape them for His glory.  It is too easy to get wrapped up in the day to day mechanics of parenting struggling to accomplish immediate needs that we have forgotten to take the time to step back and marvel at who God has given to us to parent.  Have we gotten too involved in routine tasks that we have failed to plan how we will shape the life or lives that God has given us?  God hasn’t given us children to parent haphazardly and then fling them into the world at a certain age, He has given us someone that, by His grace, and using us as their parents, can be shaped into something much more powerful for His purpose.  Are we taking the time to regularly regroup and view our children as God has intended us to view them?  Or are we getting caught up in the day to day mechanics of parenting and we need to press the reset button?


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Remembering Dad

I posted this blog about my father 3 years ago on Father’s Day.  He passed away the following April after a battle with cancer but I am so glad that I was able to share my admiration with him prior to his passing.  I’m also glad that my kids were able to get to know him better the last few years of his life.  Yes, some days were “better” than other days due to his pain and his frustration that he couldn’t do some things on his own or not at all, but even to the end he was an example of someone with a deep desire to learn.

Thanks Dad for your love and godly example.

June 22, 2010

As I was reading Proverbs chapter one on the plane last night and when I got to verse five it reminded me of my dad. The verse reads: “ A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”

My dad has always been a learner. I can remember way back even as a little boy my dad always trying something new. If he didn’t know the answer, he sought out the answer. If he couldn’t find the answer on his own he would find someone who knew the answer or he got a book and read until he found the answer. I remember him tell us when we were young kids about how he used to work with a friend by the name of Ken Gull during the summers of his college days. Dad said that they used to do odd jobs and home repairs for people. He said that even if they didn’t know how to do the work they would accept the job. He said one time they were asked if they could repair a slate roof. Of course they didn’t have a clue but accepted the job anyhow. Once the deal was made they sought out some old-timers who knew about slate roofs and they asked them how it needed to be done. I don’t recall ever hearing if the customer was pleased with the finished job or not but Dad always did it right so I’m sure it got done to the customer’s satisfaction. Over the years dad could do about anything, hang wallpaper, paint inside and out on a house, build churches, and do electrical and plumbing work. He learned how to be successful as a door to door sales man selling encyclopedias and he learned how to start a church with just his family. He learned how work with computer, how to make the world’s largest milkshake, burger and popcorn bags, he learned all the facets of the Jewish Seder and how it all points to Christ. Dad has always been a constant reader and pursuer of information and knowledge. Even over the past number of months as he struggles with stage four cancer, he has been getting books and reading about gardening. He continues to gets books out on CDs from the library and learns more about American history and great men of the past.

This is one of the many things that I have learned from my dad but don’t do very well. Continued learning is something that I continue daily to struggle with in my life. Oh if I would learn to be a better learner, to broaden my knowledge, to learn more about the things of God and His love for me, to have a broader knowledge of His Creation, to have a real hunger rather than a passing interest in learning.

I am thankful for the opportunity we have to homeschool our children and see their growing desire to read and learn. I’m thankful for the tender hearts that my children have for God and how they are faithful to have their own quiet time with God each day. It’s my heart’s desire that my kids would grow even deeper and in their desire to know God and then to have a desire for learning all that God wants then to know for the future He has prepared for them. My desire is that each one of them could talk with a king but also with the beggar. Not to be a stuck up know it all but a person diverse in the wisdom of God.

Thanks Dad for teaching me the importance of always learning. You truly are a man that exemplifies what it means to hear, and will increase in learning.


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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.


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E-Book Release: Lessons Learned From A Heart Attack

https://faithofafather.com/free-ebook/

New E-Book Release, to get your free PDF file click here or on the ad to the right.  Feel free to share this link with your friends and family and let me know what you think.  Don’t forget to submit your reviews to Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com


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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.”


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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.