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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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

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

**"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.

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

You might also like:

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

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]

Loving and Being Loved

man with flowers
man with flowers

Last year on Valentines Day, I ran to Kroger to pick up a few needed items.  As I got out of my car in the parking lot and walked across the lot to enter the store, I saw a man leaving, carrying a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers!   For some reason, it moved me to tears. Here was a middle-aged, short, stocky guy...not handsome at all....not romantic looking or attractive in any way.  And yet, I realized he was incredibly blessed because he LOVES someone.

Maybe she's a wife, a sweetheart, a daughter, a mother...but he has SOMEONE to love.

And maybe she loves HIM in return!

Love is a gift...both sides of love -- loving and being loved.

If you love someone today...let him/her know!  If you are loved by someone today...be thankful!

Above all, dear friend, know that you are loved by your God...be thankful and let HIM know!

conversation hearts
conversation hearts

We love because He first loved us! 1 John 4:19

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!


Little Things: A Boy, a Bink’, & and a Blessed Bedtime

Little things...a binkie
Little things...a binkie

God cares about “little” things. I think it was DL Moody who once said that the big things aren’t too big for God’s power; but the LITTLE THINGS aren’t too little for GOD'S LOVE!

I’ve found that to be true in my own life over the years.  A few months ago, I saw that to be true also in the life of my four-year-old grandson Evan.  Several incidents, seemingly unrelated, occurred in his life proving that our loving Heavenly Father cares about this little boy and the “little” things he cares about.

0094
0094

One of these incidents had to do with a lost bink’. What’s a bink’, you ask?  Well, the formal name is … binkie. You know, the pacifier that, really, four-year-old little boys should no longer have.  But you also know how that goes… (I remember my little brother Billy being coaxed from his “bink” as we traveled through New Mexico with the promise that his bink would grow into a cactus.  I’m not sure the promise worked…but that’s another story).

Anyway, one Tuesday (our regular day together), Evan and little brother Carter were starting to snuggle down into the “campsite/nap area” on the floor on our lower level.  All of a sudden, the heart-stopping realization came upon us…NO BINKIE!  It had been several weeks since he had been here with it…maybe he took it home last time…maybe Mommy & Daddy decided to sneakily put an end to it all, I thought. Well, maybe now’s the time to end this wonderful tradition (binkies for nap-time at grandmas' houses only).  I began in earnest to prepare Evan for the inevitable.

Evan had other ideas: “I NEED my BINKIE to REST!”  My heart went out to him…I looked and looked.  Really, I did!  In the usual places and unusual places.

Again, making eloquent attempts to prepare him for the worst, I did what any desperate grandmother would do….I prayed!  “Lord, if you want Evan to have his binkie, please let it be here and let it come to light!”

binkie on couch
binkie on couch

Immediately one more place came to mind…the couch!  The last time Evan was here had been before Christmas for supper with Mommy, Daddy, and Carter.  We were all watching a children’s Christmas special after supper.  Snuggled cozily on the couch, he had received a “dispensation” from his parents about his bink…after all, it was Christmas!  So remembering this, I went upstairs and turned over ONE throw pillow…there it was…Evan’s precious bink!

I ran downstairs and said, “Guess what, Evan.  I prayed and Jesus found your bink!”  His face lit up…one happy little boy and one cozy nap with his little brother, thanks to a loving Heavenly Father who loves to give good gifts to His children…even little ones!

Evan and Carter 0109
Evan and Carter 0109

Every good & perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. James 1:17

As a footnote, a few days later, Evan said to his mom, “Mom, I lost my bink and God found it really fast!”

…out of the mouths of babes You have prepared praise for Yourself. Matthew 21:16


There are Dads...and then there are DADS

jeremy reading
jeremy reading
beach boys
beach boys

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

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

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