The Importance of Dad

The Importance of Dad

In the human family, it is the father who affirms us as male and female and as persons. It is the masculine voice we are listening for at puberty and thereafter, that time when we are separating our sexual and personal identities from that of our mothers. But when we’ve failed to get the needed affirmation, we can rest assured that there is available to us the healing needed … in the Presence of God the Father, when we learn to listen and obey Him, we are affirmed as real men, real women, real persons … God the Father, who has the Power of Being, heals and affirms us.

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Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

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." As we approach Fathers' Day (though this is for moms & others also), let's take a break from the blog-type format.  Let's do a little digging into the Scriptures.  You may like this study for your own devotions or as a small group.

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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.

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

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

Living as Abba's Child: "darling little children"

Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!” I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans.  We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us.  We live as orphans in a scary world.  But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.

In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”.  The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons).  The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.

Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.

What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)

1.  1John 2:1

2.  1John 2:12

3.  1John 2:28

4.  1John 3:7

5.  1John 3:18

6.  1John 4:4

7.  1John 5:21

Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.

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

Now look again at the second chapter.  In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.

So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord.  John pictures it as different stages of human growth:  babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers).  Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. 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 2:13-14

List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:

1.   babes, infants =

2.   young men =

3.   fathers =

While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth.  Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.

1.    Baby Christians

2.    Maturing young Christians:

3.    Fathers/mothers in the faith:

Meditate on this central thought of 1 John.  Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

If you are studying with a group:

1.    What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need?  Why?

2.    Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John.  Discuss any that jump out at you.

3.    Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in?  Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?

4.    Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?

Pray for each person immediately after sharing.  Invite the Lord into the area of concern.

 

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]

Living as Abba’s Child: “darling little children"

Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!”

I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans.  We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us.  We live as orphans in a scary world.  But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.

In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”.  The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons).  The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.

Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.

What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)

1.  1John 2:1

2.  1John 2:12

3.  1John 2:28

4.  1John 3:7

5.  1John 3:18

6.  1John 4:4

7.  1John 5:21

Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.

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

Now look again at the second chapter.  In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.

So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord.  John pictures it as different stages of human growth:  babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers).  Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. 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 2:13-14

List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:

1.   babes, infants =

2.   young men =

3.   fathers =

While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth.  Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.

1.    Baby Christians

2.    Maturing young Christians:

3.    Fathers/mothers in the faith:

Meditate on this central thought of 1 John.  Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

If you are studying with a group:

1.    What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need?  Why?

2.    Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John.  Discuss any that jump out at you.

3.    Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in?  Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?

4.    Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?

Pray for each person immediately after sharing.  Invite the Lord into the area of concern.

[First posted May 12, 2011]

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