Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all you blessed enough by God's grace to have children! And happy Father's Day to all you who serve the body of Christ and have spiritual children you help nurture into the kingdom and who you mature into righteousness that comes from our Heavenly Father alone! It truly is one of the best blessings that God has bestowed upon me. He continues to show me what it means to be a father, as He teaches me lessons about parenting my kids and how He treats me, His child. My prayer is that all my brother's in Christ with kids will teach the next generation the hope of the gospel and the power of life Jesus gives to us!

I lived a certain way in the past, and so God has given me both the desire and the resolve to live differently this year. My exhortation to all us fathers out there is this: This Father's day, stay humble like Christ(Plp2:3-8) and allow others to build you up(Ths5:11). Do not exalt yourself(Pvb27:2) with expectation(Jas1:15) because you think you deserve it(Mtt5:5). We deserve no more than our sin gives us(Luk23:41). It is by grace that we are blessed with anything good(Psm103:10,11).
  • "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus[many translations say "the same as Christ Jesus"], who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:3-8
  • "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."Proverbs 27:2
  • "Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." James 1:15
  • "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5
  • "And we [the thieves on the cross] indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man [Jesus] has done nothing wrong" Luke 23:41
  • "He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities." Psalm 103:10
Allow me to expand on this exhortation. Firstly, Dads, remember to stay humble and allow others to build us up!  Sometimes we get confused about what it means to be humble.  We think a humble person is someone who rejects gifts or blessings that he is being offered because he wants to receive nothing. While that is sometimes the case (especially when someone is offering a gift which praises self above God) sometimes not excepting gifts is actually a prideful and selfish thing to do. What I mean  is while God calls us to be humble he also calls us to build each other up. So if we take our "humility" to an extreme and therefore do not allow others to serve us, we might as well say any blessing we receive is bad. Because we want to be "humble" we reject other peoples act of service and, in essence, stop them from serving when they are trying to be like Christ. But true humility will recognize that self praise is bad, and not allowing others to serve can be just as selfish. So then real humility is not just the sacrifice of self, it is forgetting that the self has needs or desires, and fully supporting Jesus' cause and his bride (the church). If we want to build up the community of Christ, we have to allow others to serve us because it is one very real way they can imitate Christ as it says in Philippians 2 quoted above. This will present others (especially your wife) as righteous servants of Christ. The distinction can be difficult to make.  Do we allow ourselves to be served so that others can be built up, or do we  allow others to serve us so we can feel loved, or served, or blessed?  Father's day, despite American belief, is not now, nor will it ever be, about Father's. Like all other special and ordinary days alike, it is about remembering the blessings Christ gave us, and celebrating Him and His blessings.  Sometimes He blesses us by allowing others to serve.

The second part of this exhortation to Fathers is to not have expectations or to exalt ourselves. This is to combat the pervasive idea in America that on Father's Day, all men everywhere have the excuse to be lazy, to neglect responsibility, and to let people celebrate us. When we have expectations about what we deserve, things can go very badly. For one, if people do not meet our expectations, we end up sad, disappointed, or upset. If we come to any celebration with zero, absolutely none, no expectations, then everything we receive will feel like a huge blessing.  We will be so grateful. It also guards our hearts against feeling like we deserve anything. If we start to feel like we deserve something, then we get proud, and celebrations don't feel like a treat, they feel like a necessity to fulfill the idea that we deserve something. I know as a father I find myself feeling like I deserve certain traditions, or rights.  Especially as an American father. Then I am reminded of my Sacrificing Savior and the call to be as He was on this earth (again Philippians 2). To give-up equality with a father, and make myself nothing is my new goal this Father's day. A far cry from my usual self seeking attitude on a day of celebrating me. Please pray for all us father's as we seek God's Spirit of sacrifice-and deny our flesh.

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