Steadfast Provider – Rock in the Storm – Faithful Father Series

Steadfast Provider

As a father we provide for our children in many ways. It is east to think, ‘Well they have a roof over their head, food in their belly, and clothes on their bodies. I’m doing alright.’ and to a certain extent that is true but the logic is flawed. We provide more than tangible things for our children and must do so in a steadfast manner. Consider Matthew 7:9-11 where Jesus is speaking about how a father would not callously mistreat his children. A child asking for bread would get such, and not a stone in its place! Jesus confronts the iniquity of man directly in Matthew 7:11 where he is speaking to his following including the apostles and calls them evil, he does not mean this harshly but that in comparison to the perfection of the Father, man is evil. Yet he is not berating them but cautioning them out of love. Telling them that even an evil man knows how to do good  for his children because he has the child’s best interest at heart sometimes at least. Finally Jesus compares this action to God and how we should be like him giving in abundance to our children in a loving manner and not one done in anger.

The Christian who is steadfast, unmovable in the Word, goes forward to a discharge of his known duties, no matter what his feelings may be.

C.E. Orr

Jesus showed us that God wants us to be givers, not takers. This is important because a steadfast provider is not one that gives to get something in return. They give freely, with no expectation or reward. Christ laid down his live, giving an ultimate sacrifice so that humanity could take the chance to redeem through salvation and living as Jesus did. In 1 Timothy 5:8 Paul is writing to Timothy about his ministry at the church in Ephesus and cautions the church about the treatment of their relatives especially household members. Paul states it outright and it is true, to not provide for your relatives, especially members in your home is a blatant denial of the faith you profess. Paul goes on to say that this violation of duty is worse than an unbeliever of Christ, and I agree!

Being a parent is a lot of work. I’ve come to know this over the time that I met my wife and her children. It’s been four years and I have had ups and downs learning to be a father and that the world is not black and white but full of many gray areas. It is our duty to educate our children about these things in life so that they are not easily swayed by duplicitous individuals. The call for steadfastness does go beyond provisions and lessons you actively teach because children are super observant. How many times have you used a bad habit and your children have emulated it? Yeah, me too. It does happen and so it is clear that how you act in times of difficulty also teaches them good and bad behaviors. Living as Christ did is hard and does require a steadfast will to continue on in the face of adversity.

I posted recently about spending a month or more in prayer because I was trying to create a better connection with God. Not because I was afraid that God was not listening or had forgotten about me. It was because I wanted my kids to understand several important things about prayer. First, prayer is nothing you should be embarrassed about. Second, prayer works, it is that simple. Next, prayer can be done any where, any time. Last, and most importantly, it provides a direct communication to God which is so very key to being a Christian. My family has reaped the rewards of that, my children make no fuss about praying at a restaurant and do so loudly…I am sure some patrons would say too loudly but hey, my kids love Jesus and that is what matters. They pray at night and we read stories from the Bible every night.

I don’t always feel like doing those things, praying, reading Bible stories or even reading the Bible on a personal level. That is a flaw of mine and it is because of the same reason others give, I don’t feel like I have enough time to get things done. It is often said Satan’s greatest victory is convincing man he does not exist. I would argue his second greatest victory especially in the modern world, is preying on humanities drive to be greater as a means to disconnect Christians from God for worldly pursuits. The world moves fast and we may feel like we do not have the time but we have to be intentional in creating the time. This behavior, this intenationalist attitude, is the point, being steadfast in spite of my feelings and emotions. My desire to be this way is directly influenced by Jesus, consider, he knew he would be beaten and betrayed, he knew he would be disgraced and he knew that he would be crucified and slain for being a dissident. Yet he was not swayed and carried through with his Father’s design.

Steadfast Providing is more than food and a roof over your families head. It is cultivating a relationship with and teaching about Jesus with your family. Steadfastness is continuing to do these things and intentionally laying out lessons even if life just seems to suck sometimes, it can and it will. Jesus didn’t give up, to live like him means you should not either. Lean on your spouse and support one another. Marriage was designed to be a mutually beneficial connection that is blessed by God, use that grace to your advantage.

This is the last portion of the Faithful Father Series and I hope that it has touched you positively in some way and had encouraged you to a father who is a living example of Christ, that teaches the truth to your children while guarding them and leading them in a manner that raises them to respect authority instead of hate it. All of that has to come with being a compassionate friend to your spouse and children. Fulfilling those duties will go a long way to ensuring you have been a steadfast provider of your family. Times will be difficult but hold fast to the confession of your faith and the rewards you receive would humble any earthly king.

Loving and Leading – A Compassionate Leader – Faithful Father Series

Leading and Prayer

Leadership is a subjective skill because the base definition of it leaves it as an open-ended trait. Men can posses the ability to lead people in different ways. God has a way of raising up people to lead that others simply never expected. Every married man has a command from God to be leading his family spiritually. We must love them well and show them compassion. We are to be a vicar of Christ and we can see how the parent-child relationship is simply summed up in Ephesians 6:1-2.

To summarize it children honor their parents through obedience and fathers are called to rear their children in the Lord and to not provoke them to anger. Anger does not inspire obedience so the onus is on you, me, us to teach children how God wants us to live, to act and react to life and it’s trials.

Loving and leading means we should not set out to antagonize our children and frustrate them. I’ll be honest, sometimes I find this hard. These little humans find the best ways to get at our nerves and sometimes we retaliate in an ineffective and selfishly satisfying manner. Mimicking your child in a fussy type voice after they’ve done everything but what you asked of them serves no purpose but I’m fairly certain I did it on a whim a few nights ago with Ella. It is literally arguing with a smaller version of yourself.

The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.

John Stott

Jesus did not do that with his disciples when they disobeyed. He reacted in love, chastised in patience and commanded them in kindness. Those three parts are what makes up a person that is leading their family in love.

Leading in Love

Let’s count the ways that Jesus could lead us out of anger, can you? I can’t. Humanity has done some terrible things from the disobedience in the garden, killing God’s son and the atrocities we see play out in history over things from skin color to a certain toy that our children want for Christmas. It is easy to forget that behavior like that is learned behavior. Anger, rage, hate and other negative emotions are all things we have learned and passed on to our children via our actions, the things they see and hear and how we respond to their questions about those things. Each time we allow that to continue we are saying that those emotions while unavoidable are completely okay to express in negative behavior.

Instead we should be teaching them that emotions are uncontrollable parts of ourselves but how we express those emotions we have complete control over. That starts with us controlling our own reactions and we should not look to a child for authentication that our parenting of behaviors is working if our own behavior does not emulate how we want them to react.

Chastise in Patience

Discipline is something that must be proportionate to an offense. Discipline out of anger is in fact not discipline at all but abuse. How that discipline occurs is completely up to the parents. Some parents spank their children among other methods of discipline and some do not. The Bible does not say it is required or that it is a sin. Please do not use Proverbs 13:24 as a reason to relentlessly wail on your children in the misguided attempt to say corporal punishment is okay. The ‘Rod’ referred to is discipline in general and a warning that without firm and decisive discipline a child will become accustom to getting their way. This can lead to behavior related issues that in common speech today equates to a child being referred to as a “spoiled brat.”

Consider Jesus’ reaction when Peter walked on water with him and faltered (Matthew 14:29). What was Jesus response? A rebuke made in love. Peter should have had faith in Christ and when the wind distracted him and he took his eye off of Jesus he began to waver. When he cried out for saving Jesus did so. He surely could have let Peter drown or angrily demanded his obedience and belittled him but he did not.

It is really easy to just retaliate in a physical manner when you have a stubborn child but there are non-corporal means of discipline. These non-physical methods take more time, more commitment and more patience than a swift whack on the rear end but they are effective. We should devote time to understanding which is best and when/if we should use one or the other. Jesus did not need save humanity. He did not need to be beaten and murdered and yet he offered himself up as a permanent sacrifice for our sinful nature. He bore ridicule with integrity and was leading his disciples in love. When they stumbled he chastised them in patience and when the time came his commands to spread the gospel were done in kindness.

Command in Kindness

Our children have natural feelings for us such as love and fear. They love us because of all the goodness we pour in to them and there is fear for the wrath they drum up when disobedient. That fear does not need to be paralyzing and in fact it shouldn’t. They are our children, even when they know they are in trouble we want them to have comfort in the fact that our commands, our discipline, or reactions are done out of love for them.

When you discipline do you take the time to tell them why it was wrong? Do you explain better was of going about things? These talks are important because they allow our children to know that they are loved and being cared for. It allows them to understand that a goal can be accomplished in many ways and very likely within the confines of what is acceptable. When you take the time to show them these things you are leading them in a positive way without fear but with kindness.

The greatest leaders are the most humble. You can get things done through sheer will and brute force but we have to consider the effects of those kind of actions. You have to consider the legacy you leave. Will your children think that dad was a hard man or will they think that even though I did lots of stuff he was patient and loved me and supported me. I fall somewhere in the middle, we are a work in progress as long as we want to be. What I want is my children to know that I love them, I expect them to behave in a manner consistent with the Bible and that my dreams are that their dreams become a reality.

Integrity Required

All of the stuff we have talked about today cannot happen unless we are men of integrity. Integrity is the living of your internal life and external life in parity with one another. It is easy to put on a Christian front and pretend you are leading a righteous family for God. Living that life at home, away from the eyes of the public is the harder of the two. If you can manage to do that you can lead your family in love, you will be capable of chastising your children in patience and commanding your family in kindness. Stay focused on God, what He is and the work Christ commanded of you. The moment you do not your leadership falters like Peter on the water. Hold fast the confessions of your faith and make disciples through that faith.

Walking the Walk – Living Like Christ – Faithful Father Series

Walking the Walk

You talk the talk but are you walking the walk? It is an age old idiom and as we continue the Faithful Father series we need to move beyond simply talking about God and the work Jesus did to acting upon those words. Our children learn so much from us at home because they spend so much time with us. Eli has picked up on some of our behaviors and Ella articulates herself like an adult because that is how we speak with her at home. To be a good father we have to capitalize on those sponges in their head while they are young. The best advice on how to do that comes from Paul in his  first epistle to the Corinthians where he urges the church in Corinth to be imitators of him for he is an imitator of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.

It is not the only piece of sage wisdom Paul gives the Corinthian church, in fact there are all kinds of phrases in 1 Corinthians that we all quote and reference from time to time. Paul was nothing short of prolific in his walk with God. He didn’t get there easily though and walking the walk of a Christian father is not something you segue in to, pretend to be good at and then get an awesome participatory trophy.

Christians, we are prone to give platitudes because we believe we are “showering people with love” but are we really? Where is our heart in those words? Where is our heart in our actions following those words? I have to wonder how often we say things but don’t follow up when it comes to God. If we do not fulfill the words, “I’ll pray for you.” we are quite frankly, shunning God’s love. I’ve been guilty of it, I would find it hard to believe that anyone I’ve met who is a Christian is not guilty of it too.

You can thank the world for that. There are so many distractions that those promises are easily forgotten. Forgetting about God seems almost impossible I mean, He is everything! We do not truly forget about God but the devil is really good at distracting us. Out of sight, out of mind is a bit on the nose but it is exactly how we treat the words we speak to others and then fail to follow through. Our children see that, they hear it, they see our inaction and think it is the way they should act.

Walking the Walk

So how do we fix it? You solve inaction by action. I can share with you a story of how I personally turned my inaction and platitudes in to a chance to teach my children action and why it is important to walk the faith and not simply regurgitate things we learn in Bible school.

A few weeks ago we were picking up some things from Michael’s craft store. We left the parking lot and everyone got in, buckled and all that good stuff. When we turned the corner of a median in my rear view mirror my wife and I saw a pair of ladies walking and one fell as she stepped off the curb. She didn’t get up. I swung my car around and pulled in to a parking spot right there. My wife and I got out and the kids stayed in the car.

When we got near we could see the woman was an older lady who had been wearing sandals. She had tripped up and fallen. The reason she was not moving is because her left arm, which she was laying on, was in pain and very likely broken. We blocked traffic coming both ways while an ambulance was called. My wife is a nurse so I stepped back and let her do her thing (which she is awesome at btw) and checked on the kids.

They were in the car and only knew something had happened. They needed to be assured that everything was alright. We talked, I told them the woman’s name and what happened to her. Ella was worried for her and I told her I know, I was too but it was time for us to pray. My kids like praying to God. I try to teach them not to rush their prayer because God deserves our time, all of it. They are kids of course and prone to all things done quickly because two minutes is an hour in their world. They closed their eyes, we prayed for her quick healing and safe journey home.

It was a sweet moment where God happened even in a time when someone a few feet away was in pain. I never told the woman we prayed for her. I don’t think we need to tell people that all the time, we simply do it. If someone is on your mind, pray for them. If you hear about someone who is facing a trial, pray for them. You do not need to go back and tell them you did, it takes away from the focus of placing your love in God’s hands and shines a light on you instead.

The whole point of that story I think is that the solution to our problem of speaking it but not doing it, is to do it then and there. Hug them, show them real love and pray for them, pray with them. Right then. Not later at home when you’re going to struggle to remember. When you’ve barely survived putting the kids to bed or running ragged all day. Include your children if possible so they see what you are doing. They’ll learn and it will have the potential to make them some of the most prayerful people one day and that is not a bad thing at all.

The Son Can Do Nothing

Jesus tells us directly in John 5:19-23 how the parental relationship involving action vs. inaction works. He was speaking of Himself at the time of His words. He had healed on the Sabbath and the Jews were angry with Jesus. He told them that the son can do nothing on his own but that the son does as he witnesses the father doing. The Jews were riled up because Jesus claimed to be the son of God and His words placed Him on the same level as God.

Take a step back one day and observe your child(ren) and see how they act. Is it like your spouse? Is it like you? It can be eye opening and also a scary thing. They are going to pick up on your habits both good and bad. Their behavior and actions are on your level. That is why walking the walk is an important cornerstone of being a faithful father.

We repeat what we learn just as I emphasized in the last part of this series where we went over teaching our children the truth of Jesus. Now we must show them how to act like Jesus. Lip service may win over the heart of someone temporarily but loving God-filled action is a matter of the heart and not the mind. If we teach them to do all things from their heart and not their emotion we get rewarded with Godly children serving a world full of pain in ways that pleases the Son and the Father. Walking the walk and showing God’s love is a powerful thing that we cannot mistreat.

Teaching Truth – Faithful Father Series

Teaching Truth

In the introduction of this series I discussed just a piece of where this was headed. God has given man a defining set of characteristics that a father should not only be aware of but strive to be. A father who teaches is the most defining role we play in our children’s lives. It gives us the chance to really put our love for Christ in to practice and teach the next generation. As a father you need to be an educator. That education comes in many forms such as first words from your toddler, primary school and hopefully your child’s married life. We do that by teaching truth to our children and that truth starts with the greatest commandment.

It is not that God has developed an inability to speak but His stubborn children have employed selective hearing.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-5 God has given Israel their greatest commandment. It was to love God with all our heart and soul and might. It is a command to place God first above all things. It is also a reminder to Israel that the nation has often turned from that behavior and done it’s own thing. It’s why they ended up in Egypt after all, men forgot to continue teaching truth or they simply did not care.

This commandment is more than just a reminder, it is a way of life. Two verses define how we should live as Christians. Those verses are called the shema by Jewish practitioners. The word shema means ‘hear’ in Hebrew and makes complete sense. When we fail to abide by God’s greatest commandment we can no longer hear Him.

I’ll highlight my recent hearing issues so that I can give an idea of what I mean. I don’t ever want someone to come across this and think ‘that guy is on a high white horse,’ and I am not, this site allows me to share my struggles hoping men like me learn and grow just as I do. My kids have found out that as brother and sister they want to be as caustic as possible some days. It is a weary battle that has stressed Bethany and I to the point some days where I want to lay waste to their hopes of ever getting in to the swimming pool my brother and I constructed for them this summer. There have been times where I’ve told them unkindly to be quiet and jumped to conclusions on who should be reprimanded for some behavior or another.

In every one of those instances I chose to ignore how patient God is with us and emulate that with my children. That is what teaching about God is all about, unwrapping his nature and showing children why they should try to live like Jesus lived. The truth is that God is benevolent when we do not deserve it. That does not mean that you allow your children to run roughshod over you and become a doormat. It means teaching them better behavior through other activities that do not always result in a spanking. It means putting God first in your actions and letting them know that what they are doing or have done is not honoring Your wishes for them and by proxy their disobedience is displeasing God.

Life is not idyllic and the pretty picture above of the dad reading the Bible to his children is clearly a stock photo but what it represents matters. You have a father who is taking time out of his day, spending it meaningfully with his children and teaching them about God. He is teaching truth to his children. He is doing it, not the church. The church is mans partner is a partner to the endeavor to teach our children about God. They should not be the only source and if they are, we are failing as parents.

The world provides us a wonderful amount of distraction that we intentionally dive in to every day. Most of that attention is a diversion of things we ought to be doing. No child comes out of the womb wishing they had an absentee father. They grow up  believing that behavior is normal because that is their experience. Absenteeism is not restricted to a father who leaves. In fact I would like to submit that a father who stays but shows little interest in the rearing of his children causes more damage than the one who ghosted his family.

Teaching Truth

Proverbs 4: 1-4 calls for our children to be attentive listeners but it is something they learn through us. Their desire to listen to what we say is derived directly from how we address teaching them. Children need their mind flexed and not just fed information. You overcome that by asking them questions and engaging them. I wholeheartedly believe we do a disservice to them by reading them Bible ‘stories’ that take a dive headfirst in to prosperity. God doesn’t promise us protection from harm or even physical death. His promise is the reward of Heaven through Christ’s death in place of our own damnation.

Stay in the word with them every day. Memorize important verses. Pray. Be kind and understanding to your wife. Show them how much you love your wife so they have a good understanding of what husband and wife should be and not what society expects them to be. All of these activities are teaching. They watch, they emulate, they learn to repeat your behaviors.

The Gospel Coalition goes over missteps we all make in more detail. Check it out!

What we learn, we repeat. Are you happy with where you are in your children’s lives? Can you do better? I can, I believe every one of us father’s can. It starts with teaching the greatest commandment. Put God first by teaching truth to your kids.

Faithful Father Series: Introduction

Faithful Father

There are no more terrifying roles in a man’s life than those of husband and father. I mean let’s be honest, we can really make life difficult for the ones closest to us if we do not guard ourselves against the enemy. In fact, we can make their life suck by not being a faithful father and devoted husband. As a step-parent I am constantly guessing myself on how I am raising my children. It is not because I feel that I am a bad parent or that my heart is not in the right spot. It is a huge responsibility to raise children while dealing with my own issues of being a “step” parent.

I will be honest, I have no love for that term and it stems from overhearing people say things like, “Well that isn’t his dad anyway, he’s just a step-parent.” or any other derivative that attempts to sabotage the place a man has in his family. God put him there, not you. God is you father, and let’s be clear, He adopted us as Paul clearly tells us in Ephesians 1:5 “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ.”

God has been good to me, I have not had to hear that towards me personally and pray I never do. I was raised calling my step-father “Dad” and not anything else. My kids call me “Scott” or “Scotty” and I hope one day that it gets replaced with “Dad” because I am that for them. I get it here and there when they are in bouts of excitement and it makes my heart swell.

Small rant aside, my heart is not to say that biological father’s are not to be given their due because they should. The purpose of this series is to empower Christian fathers to be faithful to the duties God has spoken of, for them to strive for. This series addresses the fact that it doesn’t matter if you came from a split home, an abusive father, a father you don’t even know, or a well-meaning Christian father who may have failed at God’s will for that position in his life; all of those circumstances shaped you today but they are not who you have to be. You can build your family legacy apart from that and be the faithful father God has called you to be.

It takes work, lots of hard, self-less, prayerful, self-sacrificing work but at the end the legacy you can leave is a family full of God and love.

Characteristics of a Faithful Father

So what does it take to be that man God calls you to be for your children? Over the next seven weeks we will discuss the characteristics of a faithful father highlighting each one. A preview of what God wants from a father figure is;

All of those things combined is a tall order but God wants his children to not only love him but to love others and to spread His message. That cannot be done without all of these things together. We like to use the phrase “Great Risk for Great Rewards” and I cannot think of a greater reward than being a faithful father who has raised God loving children who have a desire to seek Him and spread His work to the world.

Men to Know: Barak

Barak

Sometimes I find it helpful to reiterate why Men to Know focuses on uncommon men. We get so lost in the men we commonly associate with the Bible. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and the Apostles. The exception to that of course is Jesus Christ because his life was without blemish where other men have failed. He is an uncommon man in every good sense of the word. Not to diminish that I have to ask what about Barak? Barak who? No, I do not mean our current President Barack Obama but Barak from the Old Testament. Barak appears in the Book of Judges because, well, he was a judge. God put him there for us to learn from him, a man of faith.

Men to Know: Asaph

I’ve thought about the future a lot lately. I am a planner, so that is part of my nature but what about the things I can not plan for? What can I do that will be effective after I am gone? These kinds of questions have been heavy on my mind because I am now married and the responsibility of the children I am raising, the bride I am honoring are in my thoughts. The legacy I want to leave is one that places God first and the glory to Him with no question. So what does this man Asaph have to do with that? He accomplished what I want to.

Men to Know: Diotrephes

Good Host Diotrephes

Diotrephes, that is not a name that rings a bell. It didn’t for me anyway. I’m not a learned scholar of God’s word but I do the best I can to learn more so when I read about Diotrephes I just kind of had a “huh, interesting” moment. You can read about Diotrephes in 3 John 1:9-11, yep just two verses.

Context

The whole idea behind the third epistle is to shed light on two very distinct ways that churches were being towards guests. That one is welcoming (Gaius) while the other is not a gracious host. The guests that the epistle speaks about in 3 John 1:5 are believers. The word for “brother and sisters
used in Greek is adelphoi which refers to brethren in God’s family.

Diotrephes

Diotrephes loved being first. So much so that he would not welcome any one as guests to the church he tended. Those outsiders would bring influence and that would challenge his authority in the church. Not only did he turn away guests but he did his best to spread dissension among his flock about people wanting to visit. If those people tried to help those outsiders he would throw them out of the church. He loved power and put it above Christ. It’s easy to say, “He shouldn’t do that.” because we know that putting anything above Christ is wrong. There is more to Diotrephes that we can learn than just he usurped Christ in his heart with power.

Servant Leadership

This was the non-obvious thing that Diotrephes was missing. He was not applying the words Christ spoke (Matthew 20:26-28) that He emulated throughout his life on earth, Diotrephes was not being a serving leader. Even businesses today understand the benefits of this type of leadership and it was not being applied in the most important place,  God’s house. The Son of Man left his place in heaven, lived among us and even washed our feet. That wasn’t enough, He chose to then die for us (Mark 10:45). None of which we deserved and yet he chose to serve us so that he could lead us back to God.

Conclusion

The third epistle of John compares Gaius to Diotrephes and urges deperately for Gaius to follow good examples. God’s given us the very best role model we could ever have. He’s a perfect one, His Son. We must be gracious and discerning hosts. As men we must lead our family, our church by serving them. This is why we are called to love our wives as Christ loves the church. Christ has no bottom floor to how far he would go to cement the church under God’s authority. He leads the church with every intention of elevating it to God’s glory. By shunning others Diotrephes was trying to get in the way of Gods’ desires. There is no record of whether Diotrephes ever turned from those destructive ways but in the here and now, if we can aim to live like Paul tells us in Romans 12:9-13 we can fulfill our duties as hosts to our adelphoi and to the unbeliever we can show them what Christ was really all about.

Men to Know: Joash

Joash

Charisma is a dangerous thing, not only for the person who exudes it but also for the individual who soaks up that energy. I wonder, how many men live their religion vicariously through someone else. It’s easy to do; I’m guilty of it. We get wrapped up in the charisma of someone we see as a model of Christianity. The Bible addresses this in the life of Joash (Jehoash) of Judah, and I feel that it is a firm reminder that there is but one place our faith should fall, and that is with God. Not through another man but for Him directly otherwise we fall off the path God clearly sets for us.

The life of Joash is briefly but clearly laid out for us in 2 Chronicles 24: 1-27 (Parallel can be found in 2 Kings 12:1-21) but I want to focus on a few important verses that highlight my point. Context is super important and knowing the situation around what I am talking about is important. It holds me accountable for understanding the Bible and what God is telling us through the Bible. Too often the Bible has been quoted out of context and used in a way God never intended.

Context

Joash is the son of King Ahaziah of the Northern Kingdom. Israel was split into two kingdoms at this time. His father was murdered and Joash’s aunt Jehoshebamanaged to hide him away at the Temple. There he was raised by his aunt and her husband, the priest, Jehoiada. At the age of seven Jehoiada revealed that Joash still lived and managed to place the boy on the throne. Jehoiada loved God and did his best to raise Joash to love God as well but what he did not realize is that Joash followed him and not God (2 Kings 12:2).

Joash After Jehoiada

After Jehoiada died, who would be there for Joash to lean on? While he was a boy when he became king he had been stewarded by a man far wiser than he. He had not learned to be self-sufficient in making decisions and more importantly, he did not know how to shepherd his faith. He began listening to the advice of the princes of Judah who convinced him to abandon the temple that he had spent so much time and energy to assure it was built. God sent prophets to turn Joash and the Kingdom back on the right path, and they were ignored. The son of Jehoiada whose name was Zechariah was filled with the Spirit, and he rebuked the people for their wickedness. Joash commanded the stoning of the son of Jehoiada who was every bit a father to him. He had forgotten how good he was treated (2 Chronicles 24:22).

Isn’t that how we are? So willing to accept the love and kindness, God showers us with, and yet we killed His Son. It’s not like God just let Joash fall into sin without trying to help him. He sent a multitude of prophets all telling Joash to turn back and ultimately Joash’s’ heart became so calloused he commanded the killing of someone God had sent to him.

Faith in anyone other than God is no faith at all.

Faith is the complete trust and confidence in someone or something. That means that someone or something must be perfect in every way otherwise doubt creeps in and then as soon as you feel that doubt you have lost faith. What Joash did was view Jehoiada as his source of faith instead of the vicar that he was. There is nothing wrong with telling someone that you have faith that they can accomplish a goal. You should as a point to encourage them and pray with them.

Our faith is a personal commitment to God and only God. We can love and be a fan of someone especially a person of God who inspires us. When we begin usurping that commitment then we have wandered. It’s especially worrisome when you have a non-believer such as Joash was and follows what a man says as faith instead of putting himself in a position of faith and believes he is saved. It’s dangerous.

Make sure your faith is on firm ground men. Your family looks to you for leadership in all aspects of life. Secondhand faith is a poison we should watch for in ourselves and others we love.

Teaching Forgiveness

Teaching Forgiveness

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. – Colossians 3:13

Kids ask the darnedest things. Sometimes I don’t even know how to answer them in a kid like manner. I was talking to Bethany about that on the way home from a coffee run to Dunkin’ Donuts. While we were driving Elijah asks out of the blue, “Scott, Why did they kill Jesus?” He is deep like that. The death of Christ was terrible and every martyr since has died because people fear the truth and have lived a life of lies. It is one of many reasons that Jesus was slain. So how do you answer that for a child who is only 3 but asks about God and loves God in the way only children can? How do you go about teaching forgiveness in a way that glorifies God without losing the message that Jesus came to give?

Don’t be a Pharisee. You tell them the truth and you live it. You go about teaching forgiveness as Christ does. I struggle with how to answer some of his questions. Not out of lack of knowledge but in how to share it in a way he can comprehend but I think I did alright. He is at that stage where lying is commonplace unfortunately. So why not use that? I told him that people killed Jesus because they were strong and had lots of power . They gained that power by lying about God’s word and using it to make people believe something they couldn’t live themselves. I would be remiss to admit there was an ulterior motive there to teach him not to lie.

I went on to tell him how lying hurts people and that Jesus was killed out of fear. Fear that all the things those powerful people had won falsely would be taken from them. Jesus was teaching us to love one another above all things because God had sent Him out of love to save us. Which led to another question, “Did Jesus love the soldiers who kilt him?” This kid…

He did (Luke 23:34), He asked for their forgiveness even while they slew Him. I still saw no reason to not tell him that. I explained to him that Jesus forgave them for hurting Him, for not knowing what they were doing. Jesus came to save the world, not the Jews, not the believers, everyone (1 John 2:2). We in many ways teach this kind of forgiveness to our kids, or we should. Children are ignorant to the world, many of the things they do and we teach them by forgiving them and telling them why it was wrong.

We have no desire to brag, teaching forgiveness is a cornerstone of rearing Christian children. My children know about the forgiveness of the prodigal son, they know about the parable of the unforgiving servant but most importantly we make sure they know about the forgiveness of Christ.

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