Family

Family is a Reflection of God’s Goodness

unnamedYet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8:6). 

I am blessed to have a beautiful wife and two healthy children. They are more than I deserve. What a treasure it is to have a family who looks up to you and prays for you on a daily basis. It’s a privilege to be called their Dad.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an interview for a job at the hospital. Right before the interview I felt nervous. Then I got a text message from my wife, saying: “We are praying for you.” After that message, I felt calm and confident. What a blessing it is to know you have a family at home rooting for you to succeed!

My family is a reflection of God’s goodness. He is our heavenly Father. He is our comforter, redeemer, healer, advocate, Savior, fill in the blank (Ps. 18:1-2,Jn. 3:16, 14:26; 1 Tim. 1:15).

God loves us more than we can comprehend. He wants to have a relationship with you. Have you ever thought about trusting Him to be your Lord and Savior? Do you doubt God’s goodness?

If so, here are some verses to remind you of His great love. 

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—

1 John 4:9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, there are many people in this world who grew up in a broken home. They don’t know what it’s like to be cared for. I pray that they would come to know you, their Heavenly Father, as a God of peace and grace. A Father who loves unconditionally. A Father who is compassionate and patient with his children because thats who you are. Open their eyes to this truth. I pray all this in Jesus name. Amen.

The Fear of the Lord Produces Wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy one is understanding (Prov. 9:10).”

In the Bible, the word “fear” has many connotations. For instance, fear can mean respect in the way an employee views his or her boss (Josh. 24:14). It can refer to a scary or dreadful situation (Deut. 5:25). Lastly, fear can be associated with a deep sense of reverence or awe (Isa. 6:5). Fearing the Lord is a mixture of all three.

Jesus explicitly said in Matthew 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Of course, the one who has authority over our eternal fate is God.

When I got in trouble as a kid, my Mom would send me to my room until Dad got home. My room was right above the garage so when I heard it open, I waited in anticipation for my Dad to call me downstairs.

“Chad, get down here now!” he would yell. I would slowly walk downstairs into the kitchen. “Sit down,” he retorted. When I would sit down, he would always say to me with his index finger tapping the table, “Look at my eyes. Did you disobey Mom? Were you being disrespectful to her?”

“Yes,” I nervously responded. He answered back, “You need to change your attitude and apologize to her right now.” I ended with, “Yes sir.” And that was the end of our discussion.

That moment of fear made me change my attitude and led me to ask Mom for forgiveness. Immediately afterwards, our relationship was restored. Thus, discipline from my Dad was a good thing because the goal was reconciliation. It also gave me wisdom to resolve this situation in a positive way.

This analogy is true with our Heavenly Father. When we disobey Him, he gets upset. Sin is really distorting God’s creation. For instance, when we lie, we distort God’s law of truth. When we lust, our minds pervert it’s original intent for marriage. Since God is holy and good, He must hate what is unholy and evil.

While God hates sin, He desires all people to repent and believe in the gospel. Scripture says God is not slow in keeping his promise. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).

Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of action. Instead of lying, we tell the truth. Instead of falling for the temptation of greed, we act generously towards our neighbors. Healthy fear, knowing that God will judge us for practicing evil, motivates us to do what is “good, true, and noble” (Philip. 4:8).

God’s whole goal is to transform us into His image so He would be magnified on the Earth. Will you let him do that? Then fear God and you will begin to grow in wisdom and holiness that brings honor and glory to Jesus. Have a blessed day!

Is Divorce Ever an Option in the Christian Life?

Case study: [1] Julie and Tim have been married for 10 years. In the last year, Tim has been verbally abusive towards her. Just last week, Tim went completely crazy. Julie told him to cut the grass outside and Tim got upset and started yelling at her. As he yelled and became more frustrated, he threw his phone at her. He missed her, knocking a hole in the wall. They both knew he had gone too far. Now, Julie is convinced that God is telling her to divorce Tim.  How would you handle this situation? I have written out my own response. Feel free to comment below.

Julie, I understand you are worn out with the lack of change in Tim’s demeanor. When Tim gets verbally and physically abusive, it endangers you and others around. This intimidation can cause you to feel unwilling to continue this relationship. I can’t imagine the difficulty you are experiencing right now, even to the point of giving up on Tim altogether.

I also know that God has the answer to your dilemma. Jay Adams, a certified biblical counselor, talks about the Scripture’s ability to guide us, either directly through a Scripture passage, or with certain themes in the Bible that help us make the most Christ-honoring decisions.[2] For instance, the Bible makes it clear in Exodus 20 not to murder. Therefore, this command should be avoided, no matter how you feel or what you think “God told you” in some dream or revelation. His word never contradicts His character. Murder is always wrong. However, there are Scripture references that don’t speak directly to all personal decisions. For instance, should you be a teacher or a doctor is not specified in the Bible.

What about divorce? Does God have any specific Scripture references that speaks on this issue? Yes. In Malachi 2:16, God says “I hate divorce.” Matthew 19:6 states that what God has brought together let no one separate. There are two specific verses, however, that seem to indicate God allows divorce in the case of spousal death and adultery (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). Then again, Ephesian 4:32 seems to indicate that even if adultery is committed, a couple can learn to forgive and rebuild their marriage.

As far as we know, Tim has been faithful to you. He hasn’t committed adultery. He has hurt you in other ways. His verbal and physical abuse have gotten out of control. If this abuse is ongoing, I would tell the proper authorities. You may need to separate for a season until Tim repents of his violent behavior towards you. However, I don’t think there is Scripture warrant for you to divorce him. What do you think?

After Julie expresses how she feels, I would be sympathetic. I do not want to undermine her feelings. When Tim threw a phone that barely missed her and knocked a hole in the wall, he had indeed crossed the line. He is a current threat to her safety. I think it would be proper for her to separate for a “season” in a safer condition while Tim gets help, but I would advise Julie not to get a divorce. Hopefully the conversation will lead to reconciliation and their marriage can be saved.

[1] These names have been changed to protect their identity.

[2] Jay Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling, p.24.

What does the Bible say about leadership roles between a husband and wife?

Christianity elevated the status of women more than any other religious or political system during the first century. Jesus’ disciples included several women (Luke 8:1-3), a practice very rare among the rabbis of his day. Not only that, but Christ’s first recorded disclosure of his own identity as the true Messiah was made to a woman (John 4:25-26). This woman, Mary of Magdalene, was an outcast Samaritan. Not even Jewish women would talk to her.

Moreover, Jewish tradition enforced women not to talk to outsiders or teach them their religion. Rabbi Eliezer wrote in the 1st century: “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman. Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity.” Jesus overthrew centuries of this tradition. He taught that women and men both had equal value, but different roles.

In this paper, I will explain the biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood from both an egalitarian and complementarian perspective. I will argue that the complementarian perspective is the most biblical position.

There are two basic thoughts. The first theological view is called complementarianism. It argues men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and other areas of service. For instance, women have been naturally created to nurse and care for their children. The man has been designed to use his strength to work and protect his family. These roles are different, but both are of equal value. The Bible makes it clear that Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons yet distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:18).

The second theological view is called egalitarianism. It states that “all humans are equal in fundamental worth and social status,” according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. To defend this argument, proponents quote Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11, which both state “there is no distinction between Jew or Greek, bond or free, and male or female, for all are one in Christ.”

Egalitarian advocates might argue women and men are both capable of governing and teaching roles within the church. If a woman is not allowed to have leadership power over their husband, some feel this is discriminatory and wrong.

I believe the Complementarian position is the most biblical for several reasons. First, God created both male and female anatomically different, which shows a distinction to begin with.

Second, while the Bible demonstrates the high value and dignity for both genders (Gen. 1:26; Gal. 3:28), it does affirm the principle of male headship in the family and church community (Eph. 5:21-33; 1 Tim. 2:11-15).

Third, the Trinity displays the role of headship, with the Son submitting to the Father, even though both persons are co-equal and fully God. God’s nature should be an example for us to follow with the wife submitting to the husband just like Christ submitted to the Father.

Fourth, The Danver’s statement says it succinctly: “In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and core for their wives; wives should forsake resistance to their husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husband’s leadership (Eph. 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).”[1]

I believe it’s important to recognize the distinction between male and female roles. Both genders are created with a purpose that can only be fulfilled if they are willing to accept how God created them. It’s indisputable that males and females are equal in their value and worth. And it’s not that men have special privileges over women when they have been commanded by God to take on a leadership role. In fact, men are called to sacrificially love their wives and protect them.

Unfortunately, men either abuse this power or they become passive and cowardly. In my opinion, it works best when the woman allows the man to lead, and when the man leads in a humble, gracious, and loving way that gives the most glory to God.

[1] The Danvers Statement – www.cbmw.org/core-beliefs

 

Fatherless Generation: Where are the Heroes?

Superheroes

Superheroes (Photo credit: Theen …)

I was fortunate to be raised in a wonderful, supportive family. Growing up, my parents never missed my sporting events, birthdays, prom nights, college orientation week, graduations, wedding, birth of my son, and everything in between. I will always remember when my father was the coach for our Baseball youth league. He built a Baseball diamond, a Field of Dreams, in our front yard. His mission was to provide other teams the option to practice on this field for free so more parents would get involved and the kids would have a positive environment to learn life skills. He was successful at this mission and was a hero for the community. Of course my parents were not perfect, but I know they did their best.

Where are the heroes today? John Sowers, author of the book Fatherless Generation: Redeeming Story discusses the negative impact of growing up without a father. He states: “What happens when our givers of life give us a lifetime of tears?” Instead of being heroes, some fathers have become villains, ravaging their families through violence, incarceration, drugs, or running away from their responsibilities to take care of their children. Here are sober statistics that reveal the destructive consequences when a father is absent in the home.

Statistics

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
  • 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)

Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.”

Men, it’s time to step up and take action for our future generation. We can be heroes to our own families by loving, supporting, and leading them, but don’t get discouraged because all of us will fail and make mistakes. That’s why we must rely on the strength of our heavenly Father, the ultimate SuperHero of the story of life. He is our strong fortress (Prov. 18:10), rock (2 Sam. 22:2), refuge (Ps.61:3), and never grows tired or weary (Isa. 40:28). He is like a reservoir where we can collect His infinite wisdom, strength, and love to distribute in the lives of our family and communities. Men, let’s be courageous!

Practical Steps to Fatherhood 

1. Find time every day to ask your children, “What did you do today?” or “How was your day?” Just a few minutes of interaction and building that relationship is worth more than gold.

2. As men, we are tempted to either work too much and create an idol or work too little and breed laziness. It’s important to find a balance so you can support your family while also working around your hectic schedule for “family time.” I suggest literally writing “family time meeting” in your schedule and take it more seriously than your work meetings. You know that if you didn’t show up, you would get fired. You may not get fired from your family, but don’t take advantage of the grace given to you.

3. Start up community projects that will make an impact for the next generation. My father had a dream to build a baseball field and he did. Are there any ideas that you have that will make a positive influence for your city?