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.

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Compassionate Friendship – Benevolent Bonding – Faithful Father Series

Compassion = Benevolent

Bonding with our children is so important that the Bible made sure we understood the need to provide benevolent bonding for our children. Proverbs 22:6 tells us what that bonding can lead to.

I consider my home an institution and I think that men should look at their own home that way as well. Consider the children you are raising and that they learn from you and your wife. Together you are forming who they are, what they value and how they interact with the world more than any other persons God has put in their life. This foundation, this institution, should be a benevolent one that aims to guide our children in God first. Way easier said then done man.

You have to be intentional about it, this whole series is built on the hope that as someone comes across me sharing my life, they find inspiration that is the catalyst for improving their relationship with God, wife, children, family, and friends. On one hand you have authority and discipline but you must also be compassionate with those same people. Especially your wife and children, I mean, you don’t have them except by God’s grace. That is the way we need to approach this series. We are not seeking to judge how lucky those are around us but the reverse. How lucky are we to be surrounded by those we love because God placed their paths and our paths together?

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

George Washington Carver

Compassion is Not a Weakness

We live in a world that views aggressiveness as strength and compassion as a weakness but I tell you it is not. The expression of either of those traits is entirely situational and my belief that compassion is a strength almost always comes from a singular Biblical reference. In Psalms 103:13 fathers are called to show compassion to their children just as God does to those who fear Him. There is a reason why God uses compassion so often in the Bible. Even when Jesus gave the Pharisees a good tongue lashing over their lofty perch in Matthew 23 he wept for Jerusalem in the last three verses of the same chapter (Matthew 23:37-39).

Compassion is an inspirational emotion that can drive us towards goals. It can help us recover from being distraught and it makes us better people. Francis Schaeffer said, ‘Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.’ He is completely justified in that statement, there are groups that exist, specifically the Westboro Baptist Church who we are just going to call a hate group, use the Bible to treat people as if they were so far from God’s forgiveness that they have no hope and will burn in Hell. Now does that sound like Jesus? The man sat with whores and outcasts throughout His ministry. He was compassionate in all things he did and that is part of why the disciples followed Him. He was strong and meek, authoritative and compassionate.

Compassion = Benevolent Bonding

We cannot spend all of our time critiquing and correcting our children. They are kids who will make mistakes just like adults do. I lose sight of that sometimes on days I feel like they are testing all the barriers at once. At 5 and 7 that can seem like it is every day but I know that is not true, we just have a tendency to focus on the short intense spurts instead of viewing the overall picture.

Bonding with your children is an intentional activity and not something you can assume will happen because you are a parent of that child. We are always so busy, doing what? Work? Personal interest? Just not wanting to do anything because we just need a break. I’m guilty of this, and trying to change it but how often has your child wanted you to do something and you make an excuse? It’s so easy to say later or anything that puts it off until they forget or give up.

Sometimes the things our kids want us to do are just plain boring. Sometimes it is messy (a lot of times at our house!). We are missing out on a critical time with our children when we do this. They thrive and learn and grow every single time we set aside other things and make intentional bonding experiences with them. You’re going to make memories that to you may seem small but to them it will be profound. That reminder you get from them when they say “Hey Daddy, remember when…” is humbling and something we overlook in our daily parenting routines. We sabotage our change for benevolent bonding.

Parent and Friend

We can be our child’s parent and we can be their friend. We may not be their best friend but we have a compassionate friendship and a benevolent bond that even their very best friend has. We just need to continually pour in to our children the love Christ has shown us. The poor outlook of a parent being a friend to their child comes from the parent enabling irresponsibility. You’re 50, you don’t need to go to the club so you can watch women twerk.You also shouldn’t be operating on the premise that your child is going to be drinking or smoking weed so why not do it with them when you can control it. That control is illusory, a powerful tool of the enemy. All you are doing is saying those behaviors are okay.

If we want long-term healthy relationships with our children it spring from intentional time spent with them each, intentional time spent with the family. It does not come from giving them gifts and condoning their poor behavior. As a father my goal is to teach, love, sometimes discipline but mostly love. We wear many hats as parents. Sometimes we even have to wear birthday hats on your forehead and pretend to be a unicorn.

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Respected Authority – Discipline and Honor – Faithful Father Series

God's Authority

When we speak of authority as Christians we must consider the differing levels of authority in the home. These are easy to delineate but I can guarantee that I, like others struggle with them. The first and absolute authority is God. If you are a Christian and you believe that you are the final authority in your home, you are wrong. I’m not a finger pointer though because I do it too and it is a pride thing for me. I work hard for my family, for the things we have and enjoy but all of that is God’s providence. There is no splitting hairs in that statement, your life, my life exists because he created humanity. Without that, there is nothing. Yet we lose perspective of that daily in life.

Authority of God

God has authority over all things but what is authority and who has it? Authority is the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. There are several types of authority we are completely under the influence of in our life and they all come as a gift from God. The Government as we see in Romans 13:1, The legal system (Judges) as seen in Romans 13:2, authority of the church (Titus 5:1) and Family/Parental authority in Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20. These are clear and undeniable, it is plainly stated in each of those verses. The authority of God is unequivocal and He has delegated authority (Daniel 4:17) to some institutions on earth. While church, the government and the legal system are topics we may cover another day we are in the Faithful Father series so parental authority is the topic of the day.

Define Parental Authority

I can think of no more important passage in the Bible for defining parental authority and obligation to your children than Deuteronomy 11:1-19. In this passage we are commanded to love and serve the Lord by keeping the rules and commandments given to us. Deuteronomy 11:2 specifically charges us with teaching our children these things. Then Deuteronomy 11:19 tells us when and how we should teach God’s word. The short answer, always. Our authority is only through God’s power and our children will not understand or respect that authority unless they are taught about where the authority stems from.

One of the ways I have been trying to help my children understand the chain of command on a spiritual level is by posing several questions when they have done something they probably should not have. The biggest one right now is lying. Our conversation goes something like this;

Child commits some act.

Me: Did you do this?

Them: No (They are lying, I know, I witnessed the problem.)

Me: What is the thing I dislike the most?

Them: Lying

Me: When you lie, who do you lie to?

Now at this point they know the answer, I have explained to them that every time they commit some act of disobedience they are breaking a commandment. They know that by lying to me they are not just displeasing me, but more importantly, God.

Them: God, Jesus, You, Momma

Me: That’s right, so i will ask again and remember, I am not going to get angry but I am going to be disappointed that you would lie to me and by lying to me you are displeasing God.

Usually after that they tell the truth, we talk, they still lose something they like doing because I am a firm believer in cause and effect. My goal is to first follow God’s command that I bring my children up under His instruction and discipline (Ephesians 6:1, 4). Parental Authority is the distribution of God’s will through the husband and wife. It is not a place of superiority and it is not about having a specific position in the home.

Culpability

The parents position in a home is not one of merciless dictator, husbands are to love and sacrifice for the wife as Christ did for the church. A wife is to help her husband in all things. They raise children under God’s will. These are symbiotic relationships and not one-way streets. We often see that position as a perk and forget that it carries responsibility.  In all places where God has given this power of authority there is also a requirement that individuals in that position will come to account for their actions.

Society is kept safe with laws, this practice was in place from Creation when God gave a single law and man failed to obey. Laws serve multiple purposes, they protect individuals and they protect society as a whole. Society creates laws when it believes an action or set of actions are causing a significant amount of harm to individuals and to society. Those with authority must understand that they have a duty of care to those under their influence and any abuse of that position answers to God. God rewards those who use that position to protect and bless those under their influence (Luke 12:42-48; 20:9-16).

Husbands, seek to not be spiritually passive. Engage with the Bible and with God daily. Engage in discussions with your wife about God, daily. Consider this, if your wife has more knowledge and is more spiritually mature than you, you will have to answer God’s questions of why you were not leading your family spiritually. This does not mean to just step back and defer to your wife in all things connected to God. Instead it is a call for you to dig in and do what God made you for. Loving Him, protecting what is His (your wife and children) and leading them to Him, through His word.

Applying Authority to Yourself

The authority, as a husband or father, you are given has nothing to do with your position in your family but has everything to do with your character as a person, as a Christian. The greatest leaders are servants. Jesus made the case for that in Mark 10:42-45 and we see this in the most successful businesses as well. There are two types of leaders, those who focus on supervision, organizing and performance. These are transactional leaders, they may be efficient but not effective. The other type of leader who works with people to identify needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of a group. These are transformational leaders.

A servant leader is both of these things and a husband should strive to be both of these things. There are times where supervision of your children is essential but more often than not you need to inspire them to be better, not just command them to. The best way to do that is to show them how, by committing yourself to doing the things you want them to do. Give them a vision of what God wants from His earthly followers and then drive towards that goal.

Wrapping Up

I am not perfect, I just share my thoughts on the Bible and what God is telling me needs to be communicated. Ask these questions of yourself to make sure what you are doing is based on servant leadership and not narcissism;

  • Have I given it all to God? Am I the slave of Christ? There is no room for partial obedience in God’s heart.
  • If I am in a position to exert authority am I abusing it? Or am I using it under the weight of knowledge that God will call me to answer for how I am treating those under my authority?
  • Am I serving those I am over? Am I practicing the humbleness that Christ displayed while he was persecuted and slain?
  • What is my character saying about how I use that authority? Am I leading my family by obeying God’s word first?

Authority is not a fickle subject. It is something that God has clearly defined in the Bible and has given us direction about. Authority done in a manner befitting Christ brings discipline from those subject to it. If a leader, a husband, is doing this he will have honored God’s desire for the position he has been placed it. It can be difficult to remember that desire when we are angry but we have to hold fast to our confessions of God’s love and use them for good and not the crushing of another’s spirit.

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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.

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The Watchman – Faithful Father Series

Swords for the Watchman

When you look at the feature image what do you see? A bible, a sword? Perhaps like me you see two swords. One to symbolize the combat faced in the world physically and one to combat the world spiritually. These are the tools of a watchman. These are the tools of a Christian. They are the tools of a faithful father who must guard his family against intrusion from enemies in both a physical world and the spiritual world. They are the tools he can and should use to educate his family for the now and for eternity.

“Be Watchful.” the Bible shows us in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 and when I attended Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory I had a chance to gain a deeper understanding of these verses. This monthly seminar that culminated in a retreat (I could not attend unfortunately) was a 6 Sunday study base don James McDonald’s ‘Act Like Men‘ book. It’s also something I think is important to touch upon in our Faithful Father Series as we are charged with protecting our family.

Did you know that one of the first sins man committed was not being watchful? In Genesis 2:15 God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and Adam’s duty was to work it and keep it. Naturally, we assume the plants and animals but this includes all things in the garden. Including Adam himself and his helper, Eve. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Adam’s duty was to protect God’s creation and yet he failed. He allowed Eve to eat the only fruit God had forbade them to eat. Not only did he allow but he participated. He was watchful but certainly not in the way God intended. He was not vigilant in his duty.

Being watchful is an exercise in God’s command to be vigilant against the enemy. In the first epistle of Peter we are told frankly (and people say the Bible is a mystery!) that we need to be watchful of the devil and what happens if we do not (1 Peter 5:8-10). Yet it also tells us the rewards we will receive if we are.

Act Like Men

Watchman and Education

Part of being a faithful father is teaching our children about the Trinity and the importance it has in our lives. The reality is that our children are never one hundred percent under our watch. It is our duty to prepare them for this world in more than just education. Painting a rainbows and butterflies picture of the world sets a child up for failure. We have to find a balance between allowing them to experience life and protecting them from harm.  One of the hardest things to do is allow your child to fail but it is also a chance to teach them that failure is an event that happens to everyone except God. It is an event that does not mean the end but is a chance to learn, implement new methods and to try again.

The Bible is full of great failures and then those who failed are given a chance to rebound. Often times when they have put their faith in God, they do. Moses, David, Jonah, Peter, and more. All men we consider great examples of sinners turned to God who did great works. All men who, had they given up would be but a vague mentioning and an almost forgotten memory.

Moses was a watchman of God’s chosen, the Israelite’s. He was charged with keeping them safe and turned to God during the exodus from Egypt. When they faltered God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to give them an understanding of God’s desire for them. David, Jonah and Peter were all men who God wanted to use as watchmen who would protect his people or warn them. Each stumbled and each also ran. They also found out that you cannot hide from God. They ran out of fear of the wrath God could have laid on them. What they really found was that God is forgiving in ways man can not even imagine.

That is something we should be teaching our children isn’t it? Unexpected grace. It is not something we just have in us, it is something learned. Even now I have to remind myself that how my children perceive life is so innocent and that when they do wrong it usually is not out of maleficent desire. They fear disappointing us but when we use it as a chance to show them that even in anger we can find compassion to let that anger flow away we show them that a response of fighting fire with fire is not the sole solution to their problems.

The Watchman has Long Term Goals

We can cover physical protection another day and we will, however the protection of the soul takes precedence. Our bodies are husks when we die and while we will do our best to preserve them until that time comes we need to cement our eternity more. We should teach our children to embrace God in a way that does not invoke fear of Him. The image of a Catholic nun going ham on a kid with a stick comes to mind. That is what we do not want to do.

I can’t give you a 10 step to salvation plan because I’m not God. I’m not even a pastor. I’m a guy who loves God, loves people, and wants men to embrace their heavenly father; then use that to empower their families for long term growth under God’s love and righteousness. My wife often calls me crazy for my long term planning and maybe she is right but one thing I know she appreciates is the time I take to talk to the kids about God and how our faith affects us long term.

Planning is Biblical (Proverbs 19:2, Luke 14:28) and it requires time, thought, patience and desire. The time I take to talk about the Bible with our children is being invested in who they are. It helps me plant long term growth in their lives and prepare them in ways that the world doesn’t teach. We have to teach our household to seek the Lord in all things and especially in times of weakness.

We should not just pour the word of God in to our children and friends but the most important vessel in our home, our wife. If she is the crown of our household then the care we take for our children, the desire to share God with our children, the exercises in devotion to her should be ten-fold that. Children are an amazing blessing from God but the relationship with our spouse is paramount to anything this world offers. A family, like a bridge, is only as strong as its supports and the parents together make a formidable pillar (Luke 11:17).

Prevent Rust

God has given us the tools to protect our family in all the ways that we need to. Becoming lazy and allowing your swords to rust does not just affect you. It affects all of the souls under your roof. Every person you love suffers when you do not provide direction or leadership in your home. Sometimes it will feel like a never ending loop when your children are tattling on one another but loving them in those difficult times is how you make progress in mindfulness. It is a chance to teach them why they won’t become more favorable because of ratting out one another.

Proverbs 27:17 is an often quoted verse about accountability among men. It is a fantastic and simple direction God has given us. It is also hard to follow because in the eight words of that verse we are to open ourselves up to others. Not in just a friendly manner but to reveal our heart, our dreams and our sin. That last bit is what men struggle with. It’s what every person who knows God or wants to know God struggles with. Recrimination is a terrible thing and it is not for a Christian to ridicule a person who has come to them and shared their sins. Instead we seek to help and prevent the continuation of the sin.

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.

Charles Spurgeon

Iron sharpening iron means we seek men to help build one another together. This is why Just Hold Fast exists and why I open myself up every time I write here. I want to help, I want to be helped. A rusty blade is more dangerous than a sharp one because it is unwieldy and causes unintended damage. A sharp blade is an instrument of surgical precision allowing the warrior to defend what is his by God’s grace.

We need to be watchful that our walls are not broken and when that happens, because it will, we seek to mend them quickly and then fortify them to prevent it from occurring in the same manner.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Our Conflicting Nature

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” – Genesis 1:26

This is one of my favorite parts of scripture because it sets apart man from beast. The way that God created man is different than how he created everything else. In Genesis 1:11-25 while God is creating the flora and fauna, the birds and fish, and all of the land creatures He is doing so with His will and creating them in “their likeness” which is important. God created man and woman differently as we can see immediately in our reference verse. Man was created in God’s image, in His likeness, in His nature. That doesn’t mean we are god’s or have the power that God wields, it is about character.

Man’s creation was not simply the will of God. When He created man He touched the dust that was the Earth and formed man with His hands and then He did something that was not done with any other creation. He breathed life in to man. God gave a portion of Himself, his nature, for our life (Genesis 2:7). Man’s creation was serious and done with great care and solemnity. Man was created to intentionally be the ruler over all that God had created on Earth. God imbued in us His character. We were created pure because God tells us He cannot commune with sinful beings (Habakkuk 1:13) but before the Fall man communed with God. We were, for a time, everything that God expected of us. Even though He was aware of what we would do.

Our Nature

It is any parents dream, at least in my thoughts, that their children be wise, good and as sinless as possible. God did not even give us knowledge of sin at our creation. That knowledge was given to us through the Fall when man ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The one thing we could not touch or have, one fruit. Yet we could not stop ourselves. Adam stood by while Eve was deceived and then he partook willingly of the fruit. We certainly have a curious and independent nature.

Adam and Eve then did just like my kids do when I ask them that terrible question, “Who did it?” Adam blamed Eve who in turn blamed the serpent. From this one choice, Man did all the things we try to do when we are sinning. They hid from God like we think we can hide our sin. They blamed someone else for their iniquity when they realize that God would find them wherever they go.

God who is always just, did exactly that. He punished the serpent and cursed it, He punished Eve and cursed her and finally He punished Adam and cursed him. I cannot tell you how many times my own father did this when something happened and no one would fess up. In fact, “I don’t know” was a troublesome person in my home as a child. Our nature since the Fall seeks sin because it is gratuitous and immediately rewarding just as eating the fruit was to Adam and Eve.

Final Thoughts

God’s intention was for man to commune with Him always but as a Father we must allow our children to make their own choices. Even if we know they are sinning they must make the choice not to. What is important is that as a parent we are there to teach them the ways of the Lord and not the ways of the world. We are all born in to sin but that doesn’t mean we are hopeless. Jesus gave us a clear path to God so we must guide our kids to make the right choices. We hope that their knowledge and love of God will dictate how they live their life. What we put in to their education of God will reflect what they get out of it. Praying every day and explaining why something they have done is a sin and why God does not love sin. These things reinforce the Christ-like embodiment we strive for. Our nature is to seek God because that is what we were created for but because of our desire to do our own thing, we fall.  We get up and learn that God was right. He welcomes us back and loves us. We have a conflicting nature in that we do want to pursue God but we stumble often. He will forgive us of that if we accept the Gospel and then take meaningful steps towards living a God-centered life.

Daily Devotional – Child of God

God's Child

To be blessed with a child is the most precious gift next to our salvation that God bestows on us in this life. What do you love more than anything? For me it is my kids. I am not taking away from my love for God at all. I believe it is a different kind of love. You can’t fully explain either. They both make your chest swell and your eyes fill with tears. The difference I think is in how these differing loves affect us.

A Child’s Love

A child’s love can provide soothing peace after a long day of work. It’s one of the first things I look for when I come home. I set my backpack down and if they don’t know I am home I shout, “Where’s my kids?!” and then the pounding of feet and I am tackled. Even if I were sore I would happily bear that pain as they crash into me because there is no place I’d rather be. Until later in the day they don’t like what I have to say and throw a huge tantrum! That’s where things diverge, our children and even we forget our love when other emotions take over. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or to defend yourself against. My boy tells me he doesn’t love me when he is not happy with my choices for him. As a father you know that is just not true and even though it stings you smile and tell them you love them anyway.

God’s Love

Is perfect. It doesn’t change even if we curse the things He has chosen for us. Even when we decide not to live for Him and then come crawling back. It is the same consistent love over and over. That is why He is the perfect Father. He will run to meet us if we truly want Him there. That is why the parable of the Prodigal Son is so powerful. Man was God’s child before the Fall and afterward the only way we can be adopted back in is through the heartfelt desire of His grace and love. He thought nothing of his son’s desire to run off and sow his wild oats and he thought nothing of his son’s return except that he was home and he could love on him once more.

Final Thoughts

God let’s us have those glimpses of His love you know. Like when you hold this angry red child fresh from the womb and you want to bawl more than they are. When you are at the bottom of the depths of your despair and there is no way out, that whisper in your heart, that urge in your mind to become better, to become one with Him. When you’re at church and the music wraps itself around you and you can’t help but raise your arms up. That’s just a tickle of His love. It’s effervescent and the only way to capture it is to be like David and go after God’s own heart. To seize the chance to say, “Here I am Father! Love me! Allow me to love you!” When you get to that place, you’ll experience love in a way you could never imagine.

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