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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Grieving in Fathering

I as wrote a couple of days ago, there is much I have learned about God's character through being allowed the honor, privilege and responsibility of being a father. As any parent knows there will be seasons when fathering (parenting) can be very difficult.
One of those seasons has "sprung up" in my fathering. The pain of a child estranging themselves from the family is painful. I doubt that I fully grasp the circumstances and I also know that dark secrets are part of the issue that has developed.
As I contemplate what I must deal with I realize that the Father has dealt with my own "secrets" and blatant disregard for His will and desires for my life. Of course, His will and desires and completely righteous. While I would like my will and desires for my children to be the same I still wrestle with my own self-will.
God has never abandoned me. He still guided me while I thought my "secrets" were hidden, even from Him. Natural consequences did take place and I will have to be willing to allow the same thing for one of my children. I can't rescue, funny how God doesn't jrescue either until we call. That is what I what to prepare my heart for, being ready to rescue as soon as the call comes. I do hope the call comes sooner than later. I pray for my child and I hope it closely resembles the thoughts of God as He has dealt with me. I pray that the reconciliation and restoration of my son to myself and the family resembles how God has always done that for me in my relationship with Him. If you see my son, tell him I love him.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grateful to be a Father

I've not written in almost three weeks so today seems appropriate to get back into the groove. I'm contemplating the improbable blessing I have received in being a father. Few people deserve this less than myself, yet the Lord of my life has granted me the incredible privilege, blessing and responsibility to be the father of four of God's people made in His image.
Fatherhood has really helped me to better understand the character of God. When my first son was born I was about just of two years into my faith in Christ. I still struggled with the concept of unconditional love (I'm sure that isn't uncommon) mainly because I didn't seem to possess the capacity for giving the same type of love. Yet, the moment they put my newborn son in my arms I felt overwhelming love for this little person who could offer me nothing. Well, that is not completely true. He could give me poop, pee, and puke. He had nothing of value to offer me, yet I loved him completely.
When I think about it, I often haven't offered God much more than what my oldest could offer me in his infancy. Yet, despite this, God does love me unconditionally. He does not call me to perform and I don't have to beg for His attention. He is giving Himself completely to me and as I grow and mature my relationship deepens with Him.
That is the route my relationship with my children is like. Unlike God I come up short in my fathering. Yet, with God's grace, my efforts to love, to support, to encourage, and to simply be there, seem to overcome the shortcomings. Additionally, my love requires that I discipline, even punish, but also teach and train (sometimes to their chagrin) and I am starting to observe them seeking my advice and weighing it (this is still work in progress!).
God is also like this. While He remains our Lord, He desires (for us) a relationship in which there can be open communication. In that process we grow in our appreciation of Him and He returns blessing to our lives.
Another thing I've learned is that I must love each of my children equally, but I must love them differently. Whether you look at it through the lens of "love languages" or just the fact they have different personalities I have had to learn to "love" them according to how they receive love. They all have very different talents, interestes, and personalities and I have to take care to value those differences and not "cookie cutter" my fathering. I need to tailor my love to special design
God has used for each of them.
Isn't that what God does for us? He does treat us each differently, but never at the compromise of His character. He also has a desire to fulfill our passions, as long as they will not compromise our character! Isn't this what parenting is all about?
I am so grateful to be a Father. Not just because of the great kids I've been allowed to father, but because it has taught me more about God than anything else except God's Word. In fact, I think God has used fathering to be the application of His Word.
I hope you will seek out my Father. You will find constant wonderment in His love for you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Unimaginable

Fourteen years ago, tomorrow, I was terminated from a the ministry I was allowed to lead. It was an extremely difficult situation, but I wouldn't call it "devastating." It certainly shook me and I seriously questioned myself. After all, I was fired from being a youth pastor. Two perspectives, and some very faithful friends and my wife, kept me upright and continuing the course I am still pursuing.
Once perspective was simply this, God is in charge. My situation didn't surprise Him and He had certainly carried people through much worse situations. While I couldn't fathom what post youth ministry would look like I was certain He would lead me if I would follow.
The second perspective was this, what I was doing in ministry was right. It was biblical. It was the way ministry should be done. That doesn't mean I was doing everything correctly, it just means that the ministry philosophy, the theological moorings, were sound.
To this day I am so grateful for Jim Westgate, Jim Hutton, Jan Van Oosten, Francis and Mike Ribera, Kurt Gregory and Robin, and most importantly, my wife Lisa for believing in me. Their prayers, their friendship, their love, and their confidence in me held me accountable and motivated me to continue on the journey I still travel, and will continue to travel.
Bad circumstances cause most people to develop tunnel vision. Sometimes that is very good because it serves as the means to get out of the mess. My focus wasn't on the termination but making the situation that was being given to me work out well. I say "me" very loosely, it was the people already mentioned and the power of the Holy Spirit working through me. I hope that most of the time I was a willing servant in the process.
This Saturday, virtually marking the 14th anniversary of that firing, I am being granted a doctorate in the very ministry which seemed to contribute to my termination back then.
That is "The Unimaginable" situations God brings about for those who will strive to follow Him. We don't have to do it perfectly, I sure haven't. But He has this incredible capacity for grace and mercy to overcome those shortcomings and magnify the issues of obedience.
I never even considered, or dreamed, or imagined that this could be happening for me. Yet, with God being God, He had it figured out all along the way.
I am humbled and grateful to be counted as one of His. I hope if you are struggling right now, this could provide you the door to the peace that transcends all understanding. God is there with you. Just follow Him.