Saturday, 24 August 2013

Where Have All the Fathers Gone?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.   Ephesians 6:4

Dennis Rainey
Occasionally I run across a blog that just resonates with me in such a way that I feel compelled to pass it on unabridged.  The following is from Dennis Rainey and his Moments with You blog.

Look at the verse above again—it contains one negative command and two positive ones. From our experience, the three commands work together; if you obey the negative command, you are able to fulfill the others as well.

We have established a list of common things a dad does to provoke anger in his children. Many more could be listed, but here are our top five:

  • Shows a dictatorial style of relating to his children, over-emphasizing authority without an underlying relationship of love, affection and fun times together
  • Exhibits a critical spirit, consistently tearing down his children with the tone of his voice and the words of his mouth
  • Is passive and neglects his children outright
  • Fails to provide clear expectations about boundaries, limits and rules
  • Fails to develop a relationship with each of his children, either rejecting or withdrawing from the relationship

Fathers need to realize that they can provoke their children to anger or guide them to greatness. It’s interesting that the same Scripture gives fathers two practical ways of developing children into the men and women God designed them to be: discipline and instruction.

When a father cares enough about his children to enter their world and develop a relationship with them and, when needed, discipline them, he expresses love to his children. When we had four teenagers at one time, Barbara leaned on me a lot when it came to discipline. And I want to tell you, it’s during these exhausting moments at the end of the day that the easiest thing to do is nothing.

The same is true for instruction. Dads, you need to turn off the television or the computer and crawl out of your easy chair to formally engage your children’s moral and spiritual education.

In much of today’s media men are depicted as dolts.  Many young men have grown up with fathers who unfortunately were guilty of one or more of the top five failings listed above.  It is time that we men upped our game, took responsibility for being the servant leaders, protectors and providers that God has called us to be. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

“There” is “Here”

The following is a quote from the September issue of In Touch Magazine.  “We live the life to which we are called, not by staring off in the distance, wondering when we’ll get “there,” but in realizing that “there” is “here.”

It is not unusual for newly married couples to bring expectations to their marriage even if only at the subconscious level.  Most often they come to the realization reasonably fast that marriage is not exactly what they thought it would be like.  Optimistically they hope that in the not too distant future they will arrive as a couple. “Arriving” implies getting to a destination, we’ll call “there”, and where married life will be what we dreamed it would be.  The problem is that most couples never get “there.”

Cute mannerisms become irritants, tolerable habits become intolerable, and as the song goes “We’ve Lost that Lov’in Feeling”. When we were dating we focused on the positive qualities of the one we so desperately wanted to marry.  Shortly after “I do” we begin to see the back side of the tapestry, i.e. all the loose random colored threads, instead of the front side which is colorful and a work of art.

As Christians what we often fail to realize is that “there” is “here”.  Here is exactly where God wants us to be.  Here is where we are going to learn to depend on Him, to rely on Him and trust in His promises.   What we hoped for is not necessarily what God intends for us. God is concerned about our spiritual growth.  I don’t know about you but I grow much more when I’m in difficult circumstances than I ever do when things are going well.  I grow more when I ask God the “what” question rather than the “why” question.  What is it you want me to learn from this experience?  God never wastes pain, He always has a purpose for what He allows or brings into our lives.

As I pursue what He has in mind, “here” starts to look a little brighter, I have a different outlook.  The elusive “there” no longer has an allure because I am living in the present seeking what the Lord would have me learn. 

Pursue is an action verb requiring intentionality.  To learn what He has in mind I must spend more time with Him, time in His Word, time in prayer, and time meditating on His Word.  I find that when I pursue Him I invariably run across a verse or parable or theme that speaks to what I am dealing with in the here and now.



Monday, 19 August 2013

Lessons from a Hero

Many of you will recognize the name of John Glenn.  He is now 90 years old.   For half a century, the world has applauded John Glenn as a heart-stirring American hero. He lifted the nation's spirits when, as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was blasted alone into orbit around the Earth.

What few know is that this three-sport varsity athlete, Marine fighter pilot, test-pilot ace, and future astronaut was an exemplary husband.  As CNN reporter Bob Greene revealed recently things were not always easy in the Glenn household.  John married

Annie Castor over 70 years ago.  Annie was bright, caring, talented, and generous of spirit. But she could talk only with the most excruciating difficulty. It haunted her.

Her stuttering was so severe that it was categorized as an "85%" disability -- 85% of the time, she could not manage to make words come out. When she tried to recite a poem in elementary school, she was laughed at. She was not able to speak on the telephone. She could not have a regular conversation with a friend.  She faced constant ridicule. In department stores, she would wander unfamiliar aisles trying to find the right section, embarrassed to attempt to ask the salesclerks for help. In taxis, she would have to write requests to the driver, because she couldn't speak the destination out loud. In restaurants, she would point to the items on the menu.

Through it all, John Glenn loved her.
John & Annie
At age 52 Annie found a doctor in Virginia who cured her.  The miracle she and John had always waited for at last, as miracles will do, arrived. At age 53, she was able to talk fluidly, and not in brief, anxiety-ridden, agonizing bursts. On the first day John heard her speak to him with confidence and clarity, he dropped to his knees to offer a prayer of gratitude.
This is a heartwarming story of a covenant marriage.  They understood what their vows meant when they acknowledged that they would stand by one another “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.”

How often do we grumble when our partner fails to meet our expectations?  How often do we allow little annoyances to color the view of our marriage? 

In 1954 Irving Berlin wrote a song entitled “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”  It suggested that “when we are weary and we can’t sleep we should count our blessings instead of sheep and that we’d fall asleep counting our blessings.”  Corny?  Perhaps,  but how much happier would we be if we focused on the good and how we have been blessed.

In an era when real heroes are scarce – thank you John and Annie Glenn.