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 Rest of the Gospel: God's Process of Growth (Chapter 15)

Chapter 15  God's Process of Growth Key Verses:

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

Key Question:

What is Christian growth?

Read chapter 15 and answer the following:

1. Have you been tempted to believe that Christian growth occurs in only one certain How did that look to you?

2. What was the result of trying to put a box around God’s process in you?

3. Dan talks about three stages of growth from First John 2:12-14. What did God say to you through this description about God’s process of growth?

4. What does it mean to you that “God takes us in love” (p. 168)? What is God saying to you through that statement right now?

5. Think of two or three difficult circumstances in your life right now. Have you accepted that God is working on you to your benefit in each of these, or are you resisting God’s work? How does He want you to respond to Him in each circumstance?

6. Is there a contradiction between Christ living in us, as us, and Dan’s call to obedience on page 168? Why not?

7. Are there any areas in which God is calling you to be a responder to Him, to be obedient? If you have not yet responded, what has that done to your windowpane?

8. On pages 169 and 170, Dan says that God causes us to grow as He “uses the storms in the soul” to drive us to a place of inner rest. In what areas of your life are you not at rest? How is God telling you to respond to Him in those areas?

9. In what ways is your soul still turned outward, its attention on the body and the world? Is there an area or two in which you hear the wooing of God back to Him? What would it look like for you to respond to His wooing?

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.

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