Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

I am writing to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

Since the month of June is Fathers Day month,  I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.  My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

So this month, I would like to share a few of them with you. But first, let's think together about "spiritual fathering."

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Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Is there anything too small for the Lord?

OK, that's not how the verse goes: 

Is there anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; 32:27; Luke 18:27)

But maybe the first is a question we should also ask. Let me share why...

The other day I was taking my daily walk down our hill, through the nature path, alongside the horse farm, through a park area with the baseball fields and grove of trees...then back again. Many times this walk is when I commune with the Lord....listening to praise music, talking with  my Savior and Friend.

And other times, I commune with friends or family via my cell phone. Also lovely and meaningful.

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Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Is there anything too small for the Lord?

OK, that's not how the verse goes: 

Is there anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; 32:27; Luke 18:27)

But maybe the first is a question we should also ask. Let me share why...

The other day I was taking my daily walk down our hill, through the nature path, alongside the horse farm, through a park area with the baseball fields and grove of trees...then back again. Many times this walk is when I commune with the Lord....listening to praise music, talking with  my Savior and Friend.

And other times, I commune with friends or family via my cell phone. Also lovely and meaningful.

Read More

Children Incognito!

Children Incognito!

In April 2005, my husband John came home from work and said, “I’m going to Shanghai next week for work!”  Now you have to know that neither John nor I had been world travelers and haven’t even really had that on our “bucket list”.  The idea of his going (by himself, mind you) to Shanghai was very terrifying…to both of us!  As he was preparing to go, he was prayed over and encouraged by our kinship/small group to trust the Lord in this test to his faith. I took him to the Dayton airport very early the morning of his departure. After John checked his bags, I cried, kissed him good-by, and prayed.

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"The Rifleman" & the Father of All Fathers

Oh hurray! It's almost 3pm! That means my favorite show is on Me-TV...The RiflemanI'm not often at home at this time of the afternoon, but when I am, on goes the TV (usually while I fold clothes or crochet) to enjoy this oldie but goodie.

What is it about The Rifleman that calls to me?  I love the interaction between the rancher/farmer Lucas McCain (the rifleman) and his middle school aged son Mark.  There's a firmness, but loving-kindness to Lucas' fathering.  You can even see it in his face...a wisdom that requires obedience, yet never harshly.  There's a "yes" face, an easy smile that passes between father and son...and a mutual respect, appropriate for the position each holds in the scheme of things. But the Rifleman is no wimp...he will take you on, especially when it comes to his dear son.

Jeremy with boys

Jeremy with boys

This kind of fathering reminds me of my son Jeremy with his boys...firm, yet loving...never harsh.  And you can tell the enjoyment they all experience with each other. And be sure he would take on anyone who would seek to harm his precious boys.

But Jeremy (and the Rifleman) would be the first to admit that they don't do it perfectly.  Frustration, mistakes, fatigue, and even down-right sin overtake even the best of dads.

But I know a Dad who has no problem with any of that! And yes, He is kind and patient even with the fathers who do.  Our Abba Father God is filled with loving-kindness toward His kiddos.

And so this Fathers' Day we celebrate God our Abba Father because all other fathers are merely pictures, flawed at best, of His almighty, tender, strong Fatherhood...

So maybe you would like to explore these scriptures to honor and appreciate the Father of all fathers.  And remember, though He disciplines us, His children (Hebrews 12:5ff), He does so in love...and even with a "yes" Face.

My Father is...

My Father is...

Mentoring Gone Awry

He must increase, but I must decrease.John 3:30 ESV

Have you had a mentor, a spiritual father or mother? Do you have one now?

spiritual fathers
spiritual fathers

I have had a few.  For the most part, they were godly, sincere, vulnerable believers who shared the Lord freely and in a spiritually healthy way.  But recently, I have been shocked by one of my long term "fathers."

Because of our differences in interpretation of several passages of Scripture, he totally cut off fellowship with me, wanting no further contact.  This aging saint had said that he was "shocked, disappointed, and somewhat traumatized" by my "rejection" of his interpretation.

To say the least, I was shocked that a mature believer would handle differences in minor points this way.  But I've found that I am not alone. In fact, two of my friends have experienced the exact same kind of thing for the same reason.

So how does spiritual fathering/mentoring go awry?  Is it control? Insecurity? Pride?

As one of my friends aptly said of his own rift with his mentor,

The main issue [was] no freedom to disagree. My journey with Jesus couldn't progress without absolute freedom to follow wherever He led.  My dear mentor required uniformity of thought/belief which is unhealthy. --Rennes Bowers

Since I am at the stage of maturity where I have the honor of coming alongside other believers, I want to learn from all of this. And maybe you do too, whether you are a mentor or being mentored!

Well, there is good news! There is a gem of a spiritual father tucked away in the gospels, one of my heroes of the faith, John the Baptist!  He shows us what a true "spiritual father" is like.

Take a few moments and read through chapters 1 and 3 of the gospel of John to see...

john the baptist pointing
john the baptist pointing

Spiritual Fathering at its best

I have observed three things about John:

1. John knew who Jesus was.

John was Jesus' cousin, yet John didn't really know who Jesus was until the Holy Spirit revealed directly to John,

Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God. John 1:32-34

Once John knew Jesus as the Messiah, he was totally "all in."  Even though a prophet is without honor in his own country, John's cousin Jesus had the priority and honor due Him.  Look at some of what John knew through divine revelation about the Lord Jesus:

Jesus is the Light ...the One who is coming, who ranks ahead of him, because He was before him ...the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world ...the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit ...Christ the Messiah, ...the Bridegroom who has the bride ...the One who comes from heaven and is above all ...the One who speaks God's words ...The One who has the Spirit without measure

The Lord Jesus Christ and all he knew about Him was what John focused on and proclaimed. John heard from the Father about Jesus the Promised One, and then John spoke from that continuous revelation.

2. John knew who he was.

John had no delusions of grandeur. When asked by the priests and Levites sent from the Pharisees who he was, John right away responded,

I am not the Christ!

Who then?

I love John's response,

I am the voice of one crying out:  'Make a straight road in the desert for the Lord.'

John knew he was a voice, unworthy to untie the sandal of the One coming after him.  His job was to testify to the Light that was coming into the world. John was a witness. That was his role, and he knew it and embraced it.

3. John never confused the two.

I am amazed at how John never deviated from his focus, despite the fact that his disciples were leaving him to follow Jesus.  He had no "Messiah complex," so to speak.  He freely released his followers, pointing them toward the Christ.

I love the imagery John used when he described himself as the "friend of the bridegroom who rejoiced at the bridegroom's voice."  He knew Jesus to be the Bridegroom who has the bride.  So John's joy was complete to point the way to Him!

As John so beautifully stated,

He must increase, I must decrease!

walking with jesus
walking with jesus

What can we learn?

Whether we are the mentors or the ones being mentored (even by messages we read and hear), we need to keep these truths in the forefront of our minds:

1. The Lord Jesus Christ is All!

As John knew, Jesus Christ is the Light, the Promised One, the Savior of the world.  He is the Bridegroom who has the bride (the "church," believers, the body of  Christ). He is the Sum of all Spiritual Things, as our brother Watchman Nee so aptly put!

2. We are all His!

All of us believers have the indwelling Christ through the Holy Spirit...from the youngest believer in the Lord to the most mature saint of God.

And like John, we each have a role to play.  God opens the way so that we can serve others in a unique way and be served by others in the body of Christ in Jesus' name.

And so, as the Lord spoke to my heart many years ago,

Respect the Holy Spirit in yourself and other believers...even young ones!

3. A healthy detachment characterizes healthy believers, young and old!

Each of us individually can learn to hear and follow the Lord day by day. Jesus Himself said,

My sheep hear [keep on hearing] my voice and I know them and they follow [and keep on following] ME! John 10:27

We can encourage each other to do that very thing, releasing our brothers and sisters to follow HIM even when their path may be different from our own.  John the Baptist did this well, didn't he?

Our own freedom to follow and our giving that freedom to others is at the heart of spiritual growth. As Andrew Murray said of abiding in Christ,

...independent of all else, because dependent on Jesus. Abide in Christ

Lord, Thank you for the brothers and sisters you have placed strategically in my life. They have loved me and taught me about you and your ways. Teach me to release others to You in Your name. You are our All and in all! Amen.

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. Hebrews 13:7 NLT

Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

I am writing to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

Since the month of June is Fathers Day month,  I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.  My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

So this month, I would like to share a few of them with you. But first, let's think together about "spiritual fathering."

In his first letter, the fatherly aged apostle John penned a tenderhearted passage on the growth stages in a believer's life.  He describes for us spiritual childhood, then young adulthood, and finally fatherhood:

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.I write to you, children, because you know the Father.I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.I write to you, young men, because you are strong,and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.1 John 2:12-14 ESV

Did you notice that he repeats two times the exact same description of the "father stage" of spiritual growth?

"...you know Him who has been from the beginning."

"You know GOD in His pure Person...the great I AM, the Burning Bush God, Jehovah!"  Nothing else is needed...nothing else distracts.  There's a total focus on the Ever-Present God and what HE is doing...especially in the lives of people.

return of the prodigal
return of the prodigal

Henri Nouwen, in his wonderful book The Return of the Prodigal Son talks about how we are each ultimately called to be the "father (or mother)" in others' lives.

...my final vocation is indeed to become like the Father and to live out His divine compassion in my daily life...every son and daughter has to choose to step beyond their childhood and become father and mother for others.  It is a hard and lonely step to take...Return of the Prodigal, p121.

Nouwen talks about three ways to truly compassionate fatherhood:  grief, forgiveness, and generosity.  All three of these characteristics require a heart completely empty of self-seeking, a heart that steps over our own stuff  and pours itself out for others.  This is where the Father seeks to take His children as they "grow up" in Him.

I love the image of "stepping over our own stuff."  It has helped me many a time in conversation or in situations to remember that as I mature in God I must be willing to step over this conflict, that slight, the other hurt, etc.  That's the way of the Father...and the way of fathers and mothers who walk in His way on behalf of His children:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

Do you have any spiritual fathers (or mothers, for that matter) in your life?  If so, thank God and imitate their faith!  If not, ask God for some...they are treasures!  And then grow to become one!

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 ESV

*More in the coming posts about some spiritual fathers, both dead and alive :)

There are dads...and then there's a DAD!

jeremy reading
jeremy reading

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

None of us on this earth has had the perfect dad.  Some of us, though, would say we had pretty darn good ones…

Someone like my friend Shirley.  She describes her dad in two words…”Charles Ingalls”.  You remember him…from Little House on the Prairie fame, the TV Dad played by Michael Landon -- incredibly wise, loving, patient, and fun-loving.

There is another dad I would say is in the “Charles Ingalls” category.  He’s my son Jeremy.  Jeremy’s two little boys, Evan and Carter, are simply crazy about him!  Now, I would say that "Babci" (pronounced Bob-chee; Polish for grandma…and my title used by all my grandsons) borders on “rock star” status with those little boys… BUT not when Daddy is around (and rightfully so)!

my men
my men

One day, I was at their house when Jeremy arrived home.  Suddenly, any attention I was receiving immediately shifted toward the front door as Daddy made his humble, but “bedlam-producing” entrance.  Both Evan and Carter ran over to him screaming, jumping up and down -- each of them vying for his full attention.  Talk about energy and excitement!  This loving, game-playing dad was being smothered by his two adoring sons!  Somehow I can’t imagine that these little guys will have many, if any, “father-issues” growing up.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

ecard-abba-father
ecard-abba-father

This makes me think about another Dad…one much more “Charles Ingalls-like” than Charles Ingalls…or my son Jeremy.  A Father who is perfect in every way:

One who is there for me with love and wisdom and strength as I walk through this sin-cursed, broken world(James 1:5; 2Peter 1:2-3; Eph 3:20-21)

One who bestows every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)

One who gives joy and delight in His presence (Psalm 16:11)

Because of His Son Jesus, I can run to Him fully assured of being received with love and acceptance like Evan and Carter with their daddy (Heb 4:14-16).

Unlike them, however, I don’t have to vie with others for His full attention, because He is uniquely my Abba (Daddy in Bible language).  Yet at the same time, He is Abba for multitudes of other sons and daughters…because He’s our Father GOD, and we are in His Son Jesus Christ(John 14:6; 1Cor 1:30).

So I ask myself, how readily do I run to my Heavenly Father as my source of joy, delight, love, and provision?  Or do I rather turn to the"Babci's" of my life…the lesser “stars”, like appearance, activities, relationships, success, comfort, attention…good gifts, but not the Giver and Lover of my soul.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God…and SUCH WE ARE! 1John 3:1

[First posted on June 15th, 2011]

Psalm 91
Psalm 91

You might also like the Abba Fatherseries and the Living as God's Child Bible study. Click for list of posts.

Thinking of Spiritual Fathers

I am writing to you, fathers,    because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

This Fathers Day I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.   My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

This year one of them, Dr. Howard Hendricks, went home to be with the Lord.  You may have been fathered by him also through his books and messages.

Back in the early 1980's, when my husband was at Dallas Theological Seminary, I had the privilege to take two classes with Dr. Hendricks ("Prof"):  Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods and the Christian Home.   His classes were immensely practical, encouraging, exciting, and motivating.  One of his quotes I have never forgotten is "You cannot impart what you do not possess."**

His life and teaching had an impact on many, many others besides myself.  In fact, people like Chuck Swindoll, David Wilkinson, and others trace their growth of their vision and ministry back to the mentoring of this man of God.  [To read the article about his life in the DTS magazine, click here.]

But these days, I'm also thinking about another spiritual father, the apostle John.  In His first epistle, the elder apostle penned a tenderhearted passage on the growth stages in a believer's life (1 John 2:12-14 ESV).  Did you notice that he repeats two times the exact same description of the "father stage" of spiritual growth?

"...you know Him who has been from the beginning."

"You know GOD in His pure Person...the great I AM, the Burning Bush God, Jehovah!"  Nothing else is needed...nothing else distracts.  There's a total focus on the Ever-Present God and what HE is doing...especially in the lives of people.

Henri Nouwen, in his wonderful book The Return of the Prodigal talks about how we are each ultimately called to be the "father (or mother)" in others' lives.

...my final vocation is indeed to become like the Father and to live out His divine compassion in my daily life...every son and daughter has to choose to step beyond their childhood and become father and mother for others.  It is a hard and lonely step to take... Return of the Prodigal, p121.

Nouwen talks about three ways to truly compassionate fatherhood:  grief, forgiveness, and generosity.  All three of these characteristics require a heart completely empty of self-seeking, a heart that steps over our own stuff  and pours itself out for others.  This is where the Father seeks to take His children as they "grow up" in Him.

I love the image of "stepping over our own stuff."  It has helped me many a time in conversation or in situations to remember that as I mature in God I must be willing to step over this conflict, that slight, the other hurt, etc.  That's the way of the Father...and the way of fathers and mothers who walk in His way on behalf of His children:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:1-2 ESV

Do you have any spiritual fathers in your life?  If so, thank God and imitate their faith!  If not, ask God for some...they are treasures!  And then grow to become one!

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 ESV

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**"PROF-isms" sayings of Professor Howard Hendricks

A belief is what you argue about; a conviction is what you die for.

You cannot impart what you do not possess.

You can impress from a distance, but you can only impact up close.

You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.

When God measures a man he puts the tape around the heart, not the head.

Jesus never discipled one-on-one.

There are many things in life you “can do” for God. And the more success you have, the more opportunities will come. (You will know more people, you will have more resources, etc.) But most opportunities are distractions in disguise. Therefore find the one thing you “must do” for God. You focus on the depth of your relationship [with God]; let Him determine the scope of your ministry A good leader has a compass in their head and a magnet in their heart. Spend the rest of your life doing what God prepared you to do. The secret to concentration is elimination.

Nothing is more common that unfulfilled potential.

Biblically speaking, to hear and not to do is not to hear at all.

The size of your God determines the size of everything.

People tell me they want to make the bible relevant.  Nonsense. The Bible is already relevant.  You're the one that's irrelevant.

Never traffic in unpracticed truth.

All people are born originals, but most die a copy.

Heaven is a Person:  Jesus Christ.

There's no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking.  Creativity takes risks. The people who are most secure in Jesus Christ shouldn't be scared to try new things.

Our problem is that we are in the Word but not under the Word.

Most people don’t think, they just rearrange their prejudices.

Your career is what you're paid to do; your calling is what you're made to do.

My fear is not that you would fail, but that you will succeed in doing the wrong thing.

You are able to do many things. Be sure you find the one thing you must do.

Your strengths develop your confidence; your weaknesses develop your faith.

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You might also like:

Living as Abba's Child: darling little children ( a study in 1John) 

Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus {a Bible Study}

The most basic of human relationships is that of parent and child.  The Parent-child metaphor is perhaps the most tender picture of our relationship with God as believers.  This is so movingly expressed in the Scriptures by the Hebrew term for Father God “Abba,” meaning “Daddy.” How appropriate then (as we go into the months celebrating mothers, fathers, and children) to take a break from the blog-type format.

Let’s do a little digging into the Scriptures.  (You may like to do this for your own devotions or as a small group study.)

Warm-up Questions: 1.    Read  Children Incognito.

2.   What are some characteristics of a child? Do you ever feel that way inside?

3.   Can you identify with the key thought?  How? “We are all just little children locked up in adult bodies, trying to live adult lives in an adult world.”

4.   What do you think about the proposed solution? “The only way we can live an adult life in an adult world is by living as a ‘child’ in relationship with our Father.”

Jesus’ attitude toward children:

Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them: for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14

Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me. Matthew 18:3-5

Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me. Mark 9:37

Jesus Himself called His disciples “little children”.  Look at the following with a smile:

John 13:33

John 21:5

How would you summarize Jesus’ attitude toward children?

Jesus, God’s Perfect Child: How did Jesus live as a Child? What can we learn by looking at His relationship with His Abba and our relationship with Him? Look at the following Scriptures to answer these questions:

1.   Jesus lived secure in the Father’s love.

John 5:20

John 14:31

John 15:9

John 17:26

Because of the Indwelling Christ (Col 1:27), I can live as Abba’s child, secure in my Father’s love.  I can love and be loved in return.

John 16:27

1John 3:1

1Jn 4:19

Rom 8:35-39

Eph 3: 17-19

Eph 5:1

Brennan Manning in his wonderful book, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat, says,

Define yourself as one beloved by God.  This is the true self.  Every other identity is an illusion. (p.40)

We may do foolish, even downright sinful things, yet as Steve Brown likes to say,

But God is still fond of me.

Can you say the same?  Do you know the unconditional love of the Father despite your brokenness?  If not, ask the Lord to enable you to experience His love which is greater than life itself.

That leads us into the next point…

2.  Jesus lived from His identity as the Son of His Father.

Jesus has been called the “Human Face of God”.  He bears the family resemblance.  His identity was as the only-begotten Son of His Father.  Jesus never lived separate from His Abba.

John 1:1,14

Heb 1:1-3

Col 1:13-15

John 5:17-30

John 8:28-29

Because I’m in Christ (1Cor 1:30), I can live as Abba’s child, finding my identity in being the beloved child of the Father.  I become like Him as I by faith yield to Him and focus on Him.

John 1:12

1 John 3:1-3

2Cor 3:17-18

Col 3:1-4

The realization that the Father has placed me in Christ His Son and that He, the Perfect Child of the Father, lives in me enables me to live day by day in union with the Father and the Son.

3.  Jesus lived with trust and submission to His Father even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Matthew 26: 36-46

Heb 5: 7-10

As Abba’s child I can trust my Father in every circumstance, no matter how mundane or dark.  I can trust in His presence, provision, and purpose.

Heb 12:5-11

Romans 8:28-30

Ps 23:4

Ps 139:12,23-24

Application Questions:

1.  What keeps you from living as a “child” in relationship with your Abba?

2.  What might change if you began living as a child with your Abba, rather than trying to live as an adult on your own?

Brennan Manning states that

The positive qualities of a child—openness, playfulness, simplicity, sensitivity to feelings—restrain us from closing ourselves off to new ideas, surprises of the Spirit, and risky opportunities for growth.

3.  Spend some time with the previous questions…and with your Abba. Ask Him to enable you to walk with Him as His beloved, vulnerable child today.

Suggested reading: Gospel of John — look at the relationship between the Father & Jesus the Son Return of the Prodigal by Henri J.M. Nouwen Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning

[first posted May 2011]

Abba's Child: Children Incognito

John at playground in Metafe 138_5764
John at playground in Metafe 138_5764

In April 2005, my husband John came home from work and said, “I’m going to Shanghai next week for work!”  Now you have to know that neither John nor I had been world travelers and haven’t even really had that on our “bucket list”.  The idea of his going (by himself, mind you) to Shanghai was very terrifying…to both of us!  As he was preparing to go, he was prayed over and encouraged by our kinship/small group to trust the Lord in this test to his faith. I took him to the Dayton airport very early the morning of his departure. After John checked his bags, I cried, kissed him good-by, and prayed.   He slowly made his way in the serpentine line through which he had to go to get scanned.  Then he would be out of sight and on to the gate.

There he was -- my tall, kind, gentle soul of a husband.  I knew he was scared, and I was scared for him. All of a sudden, as clear as a bell, the small Voice: “John is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”  What did that mean?  I would soon find out…

When I walked out of the airport to go to the car, what had been pitch-blackness (because of the early morning hour) had been transformed into the most beautiful, crystal clear, spring morning.  I just couldn’t go back home on the interstate on a morning like this!   I had to ride through the country.  So I left and went north, not knowing where I’d end up.

I soon found myself in the parking lot of one of my favorite places:  Charleston Falls Nature Preserve.  Normally, I don’t go to remote places by myself, but I sensed the Voice drawing me on.

Nate at playground in Pensacola 138_5462
Nate at playground in Pensacola 138_5462

As I walked down the path, I thought of our son-in-law, who just a few days earlier had left for Africa.  I pictured him in his Air Force camouflage, saying good-by to our daughter, his wife of less than a year.  And the Voice came again, “Nate is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”

Jeremy at playground in Pensacola 138_5427
Jeremy at playground in Pensacola 138_5427

I walked on.  I remembered our son Jeremy a few years earlier, diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 20.  He was scared but trusting God.  Again the Voice, “Jeremy is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”

Then the truth dawned upon me:We are ALL little children, locked up in adult bodies, trying to live adult lives in and an adult world.  And the only way we can do that is by living as little children with our Abba Father God!

I thought about Jesus, the Perfect Child of His Father.  How did Helive?

He lived in dependence upon His Father. Jesus said, The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing. John 5:19

He lived secure in His Father’s love. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing. John 5:20

He lived in submission to His Father’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed,  My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will. Matthew 26:39

He lived with His Father in trust & vulnerability.In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One who is able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. Hebrews 5:7

This is good news, because the Perfect Child of the Father lives in me (Col 1:27).

He lives His Child-life through me as I surrender to Him!  So now I know I don’t always have to have it all together.  I can be vulnerable with my Abba and trust that He will enable me, through His indwelling Son, to live an adult life in an adult world till He calls me home!

I love a song that Twila Paris wrote and recorded many years ago in response to a teaching by an elder in her church.  He spoke about being childlike before God.  The elder had said that we don’t need to act “tough and brave”.  We can cry before our Father and trust Him to work in our lives.  That really struck home with Twila, because she had sensed that people were putting her on a pedestal because of her rising popularity as a singer and song-writer.  And so she wrote the song, “The Warrior is a Child”.  Maybe you will be able to identify with message of this song as I did:

Lately I've been winning battles left and right But even winners can get wounded in the fight People say that I'm amazing Strong beyond my years But they don't see inside of me I'm hiding all the tears

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down They don't know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and cry for just a while 'Cause deep inside this armor The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest People say that I'm amazing Never face retreat But they don't see the enemies That lay me at His feet

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down They don't know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and look up for a smile 'Cause deep inside this armor the warrior is a child

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“You are from God, little children, and…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

[First posted on April 25, 2011]

A Word on the Weekend: "Abba" Father

open dictionary
open dictionary

fa·ther  n.1. a. A male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child. b. A man who adopts a child. c. A man who raises a child. 2. A male parent of an animal. 3. A male ancestor. 4. A man who creates, originates, or founds something: Chaucer is considered the father of English poetry. 5. An early form; a prototype. 6. Father Christianity a. God. b. The first person of the Christian Trinity. 7. An elderly or venerable man. Used as a title of respect. 8. A member of the senate in ancient Rome. 9. One of the leading men, as of a city: the town fathers. 10. A church father. 11. Abbr. Fr. a. A priest or clergyman in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches. b. Used as a title and form of address with or without the clergyman's name.

v. fa·thered, fa·ther·ing, fa·thers 1. To procreate (offspring) as the male parent. 2. To act or serve as a father to (a child). 3. To create, found, or originate. 4. To acknowledge responsibility for. 5. a. To attribute the paternity, creation, or origin of. b. To assign falsely or unjustly; foist. 6. To act or serve as a father.

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Abba, transliterated from the Aramaic. Father, my Father

open bible
open bible

There is no English word that adequately conveys the meaning of the Aramaic word, Abba. The word itself expresses a close intimacy, reserved for parents and children, perhaps Dad, Daddy, or even Da-da.

In the New Testament, it is always used to address God and is followed immediately by the translation (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).  this double expression [Abba Father] was common in the early church.

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HONOR YOUR FATHERS THIS WEEK...whether physical or spiritual!

Above all, HONOR YOUR HEAVENLY ABBA FATHER...the Father Par Excellence!

god & child
god & child

Children Incognito

John at playground in Metafe 138_5764
John at playground in Metafe 138_5764

In April 2005, my husband John came home from work and said, “I’m going to Shanghai next week for work!”  Now you have to know that neither John nor I had been world travelers and haven’t even really had that on our “bucket list”.  The idea of his going (by himself, mind you) to Shanghai was very terrifying…to both of us!  As he was preparing to go, he was prayed over and encouraged by our kinship/small group to trust the Lord in this test to his faith. I took him to the Dayton airport very early the morning of his departure. After John checked his bags, I cried, kissed him good-by, and prayed.   He slowly made his way in the serpentine line through which he had to go to get scanned.  Then he would be out of sight and on to the gate.

There he was -- my tall, kind, gentle soul of a husband.  I knew he was scared, and I was scared for him. All of a sudden, as clear as a bell, the small Voice: “John is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”  What did that mean?  I would soon find out…

When I walked out of the airport to go to the car, what had been pitch-blackness (because of the early morning hour) had been transformed into the most beautiful, crystal clear, spring morning.  I just couldn’t go back home on the interstate on a morning like this!   I had to ride through the country.  So I left and went north, not knowing where I’d end up.

I soon found myself in the parking lot of one of my favorite places:  Charleston Falls Nature Preserve.  Normally, I don’t go to remote places by myself, but I sensed the Voice drawing me on.

Nate at playground in Pensacola 138_5462
Nate at playground in Pensacola 138_5462

As I walked down the path, I thought of our son-in-law, who just a few days earlier had left for Africa.  I pictured him in his Air Force camouflage, saying good-by to our daughter, his wife of less than a year.  And the Voice came again, “Nate is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”

Jeremy at playground in Pensacola 138_5427
Jeremy at playground in Pensacola 138_5427

I walked on.  I remembered our son Jeremy a few years earlier, diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 20.  He was scared but trusting God.  Again the Voice, “Jeremy is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”

Then the truth dawned upon me:We are ALL little children, locked up in adult bodies, trying to live adult lives in and an adult world.  And the only way we can do that is by living as little children with our Abba Father God!

I thought about Jesus, the Perfect Child of His Father.  How did Helive?

He lived in dependence upon His Father. Jesus said, The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing. John 5:19

He lived secure in His Father’s love. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing. John 5:20

He lived in submission to His Father’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed,  My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will. Matthew 26:39

He lived with His Father in trust & vulnerability.In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One who is able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. Hebrews 5:7

This is good news, because the Perfect Child of the Father lives in me (Col 1:27).

He lives His Child-life through me as I surrender to Him!  So now I know I don’t always have to have it all together.  I can be vulnerable with my Abba and trust that He will enable me, through His indwelling Son, to live an adult life in an adult world till He calls me home!

I love a song that Twila Paris wrote and recorded many years ago in response to a teaching by an elder in her church.  He spoke about being childlike before God.  The elder had said that we don’t need to act “tough and brave”.  We can cry before our Father and trust Him to work in our lives.  That really struck home with Twila, because she had sensed that people were putting her on a pedestal because of her rising popularity as a singer and song-writer.  And so she wrote the song, “The Warrior is a Child”.  Maybe you will be able to identify with message of this song as I did:

Lately I've been winning battles left and right But even winners can get wounded in the fight People say that I'm amazing Strong beyond my years But they don't see inside of me I'm hiding all the tears

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down They don't know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and cry for just a while 'Cause deep inside this armor The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest People say that I'm amazing Never face retreat But they don't see the enemies That lay me at His feet

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down They don't know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and look up for a smile 'Cause deep inside this armor the warrior is a child

--------------------

“You are from God, little children, and…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)


[First posted on April 25, 2011]