Fatherhood: A Precious Commodity

by Ernie on June 14, 2014

In a world broken by sin, good fathers are a precious commodity.  I didn’t realize how much I took for granted until I got into college and then the workplace.  As my experiences broadened so did my knowledge of others sorrows.  The amount of broken homes is one of the greatest heartaches thinly veiled beneath the so-called American dream.  Provision, affection, and love for my mother were things I took for granted from my dad.  With every passing year—now as a dad with two little boys—I grow in thankfulness for my father.  And as I struggle with my own sin and desire to be an even better father, I am thrown back on the pattern of my Heavenly Father and the foundation of the Gospel.  The Lord’s Prayer is a great reminder of the pattern and foundation of real fatherhood.

 

Real fatherhood is holy.  Our Heavenly Father has a Name that is holy and hallowed by us in our actions.  Christian fatherhood causes our children first and foremost to take note that their daddy walks with God.  The presence of Christ shines from the heart and life of the holy dad.

 

Real fatherhood is inseparably tied to the coming of God’s kingdom and the doing of God’s will on earth just like it is in heaven.  Our children—when they think of us—must know that our greatest passion in life is the advance of the kingdom of grace and the doing of God’s will as revealed in the Bible.  Salvation, Christ-likeness, and obedience to the revealed will of God is number one to the godly dad.  And rather than making our children feel second place, it must be expressed in such a way that they understand that because we are built on this Rock our love and commitment to them will be unwavering. 

 

Real fatherhood is content with today’s provisions and seeks to emulate the Father’s provision for us.  As Jesus said, our Heavenly Father knows we have need of earthly things.  Christian fatherhood, while striving to better the economic condition of the home, demonstrates that happiness and “getting stuff” are not fundamentally connected and that God can be trusted when we eat today’s bread without even knowing where tomorrow’s is coming from.  Christian fatherhood lays ahold of God for the needed provisions and confidently trusts in God to provide even through—and sometimes apart from—faithful labor.

 

Real fatherhood rushes to demonstrate an eager willingness to forgive others because of the enjoyment of already-received forgiveness from God.  And that awareness of the continual forgiveness of Christ leads a godly father to demonstrate a lack of trust in himself and a crying out to God for deliverance from—and in—temptation.

 

Real fatherhood rests confidently in the fact that Christ’s kingdom, power, and glory are all now present realities—“thine is….”  Turmoil and difficulties can sometimes roll in waves over a family.  But if a father may yet show a firm confidence and commitment to God’s sovereignty, kingdom, and glory he may be the needed rock to point his family to follow his example and trust in God and serve Christ when all seems pain, loss, or agony.

 

Real fatherhood rests on the Gospel.  No mere man can ever do his full duty.  No man can ever love God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind.  But Jesus teaches us to pray “Our father”.  We come to the Father with Jesus.  We come to the Father through Jesus.  We come to the Father in Jesus.  And that makes all the difference in the world.  Because Jesus is praying for fathers.  He is praying that those who love Him and have the privilege to hold little hands in this life would have a faith that would not fail.  When fatherhood is actuated by the wounds of redeeming love, it may then approach the heavenly pattern without fear of ultimate rejection or failure.

 

So praise God for fathers that have served us like Jesus.  Praise God for fathers that have endeavored to model the Heavenly Father.  And praise God for fathers who owned their sins and showed us how to come to Jesus and claim the cleansing of precious blood.  Fathers want their children with them.  Christian fathers are headed to glory.  Honor your biological father.  And whether your Christian father is biological or spiritual, don’t forget to honor the one God used to bring you into that family that supersedes all earthly ties and brings us into that family that, once joined, shall never part again.  

 

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Facts and objectivity are rather big deals in the sales world of journalism.  Like every other part of business America, journalism outlets are competing for the attention and approval of the American populace.  So the taglines go something like “hard hitting facts” or “bringing you the scoop”.  After all, who wants to have yesterday’s scoop today in a world where old information is “so 30 seconds ago”?  What often goes unnoticed—and subsequently unquestioned—is perhaps the most important part of the business of journalism.  We can get so enamored with the presentation of a story that we forget the filter of communication—the worldview of the news stations and journalists bringing the news.   Someone has to decide what is news, and which person(s) or idea(s) will be favorably presented.

 

In the world of professing Christianity, the claim to “sticking by the Book” is very much akin to journalism’s claim to faithfully dabbling in objective facts.  If a church member or pastor is asked what they believe, you might hear something like “I believe the Bible”.  While this sentiment reflects the very biblical teaching of the centrality of Revelation to the life and thought of the Church, such responses can often leave us with a thought akin to the famous California surfer philosopher—“Whatever, dude”.  The meaning behind such a statement is often as varied as the people who assert it.

 

In the world of Bible reading and preaching, we often forget that it isn’t enough to study the Bible.  Philosophers of days past had a very wise saying—“Know thyself”.  It isn’t enough to examine the contents of Holy Scripture.  The human mind serves as a filter—a lens of interpretation—through which we understand the Word of God.  All men approach life with presuppositions—things that we “pre-suppose” to be true.  In a sense, pure objectivity then becomes impossible.  Rather, interpretation of biblical content becomes inextricably tied to the way in which we view the world and the Bible as a system, as a unified or unrelated whole.

 

The forgotten reality in Bible reading then becomes the exercise of considering our own lens of interpretation.  Various interpretive systems are known, for example, under such names as Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, and Fundamentalism.  We have all grown up under some form of thought structure that sets into our minds a basic framework for how we approach the theology of any concept, doctrine, or passage of Scripture.  And the most important question then becomes discerning whether or not the Bible presents its own system of thought.  2 Timothy 1:132 Timothy 1:13
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13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.  

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seems to assert as much when it commands us to hold fast the “outline” of sound words.  Biblical truth has an outline to it, a pre-standing structure through which we are to look at every part.  What lens of interpretive thought determines how you view passages of Scripture?  Bible reader, know thyself.

 

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The first time I can ever remember hearing “We need to get back to the early church”, I was in a place where many theological conversations have started—Starbucks.  I was harmlessly minding my own business, enjoying a cup of coffee and prepping for an engineering college course, when this phrase immediately grabbed my ears and I went incognito to cautiously hear more and get a peek at some coffee house philosophers.  As it turned out, a local charismatic church had a ministry to bring in young Christians from all over the country and put them through intensive cycles of training.  As I continued to listen, I heard questions and comments that had a ring of sincerity and truth mixed with confusion and uncertainty.  Turns out they meant really early—like, the Church in Acts.  It got my wheels turning on a question that has intrigued me ever since.  When we read the book of Acts, are we not presented with a picture of the Christian Church that causes our hearts to leap?  But just what does it mean, biblically, to “get back to the early church” of Acts?  What does that phrase men to 21st century American Christianity?  To those young people in Starbucks?  Let’s start with the biblical positives.

We Should Yearn For The Biblical Model Of Victory

Even though the book of Acts is filled with hardship and persecution, probably a large majority of Christians come away from this book excited at how God worked in such mighty ways and with an increased desire for God to move again in their own day.  While it is true that we must all be students of the Word, the Bible is more than a manual for filling our heads—it is a model for the yearnings of our hearts.  In its fullest sense, it is for head, heart, and hands.  The Bible is to fill the mind, enflame the affections, and direct the life.  But sometimes we forget that the Bible is a manual for serious and holy desire.  It is a healthy and God-honoring thing to read about how God moved in days past and yearn for that now.  Such desires help purge the life of sin and focus our spiritual lives to seriously lay hold of God.  In a day when the Church is often filled with pessimism, we can forget the obvious.  Do we have it as bad as the Church in Acts?  Is God down to 12 faithful men?  Even a few hundred?  The book of Acts teaches Christians in every generation to have unlimited confidence in the victorious march of the Gospel.

We Should Yearn For The Biblical Model Of Means

In the book of Acts, we largely see what the Church reaps and what the Church uses.  She reaps much God-given fruit.  She uses God-supplied means.  We see the Church involved in a very simple but overwhelmingly powerful ministry—a ministry that thrives because it restricts itself to the tools that God Almighty has supplied.  Preaching, praying, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper prove to be the heart and soul of religious life in the Church of Acts.  It is in faithfulness to these simple tools that the Church overcomes seemingly impossible odds.   Do you ever feel like the Church—or your own life—is stuck in spiritual mediocrity?  You know what?  There are no tricks in thriving Christianity.  It is when simple men and women take God at His Word and use His appointed means with holy desperation that God moves in mighty ways.

 

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  1. Lord, I was blind; I could not see
    In Thy marred visage any grace,
    But now the beauty of Thy face
    In radiant vision dawns on me.
  2. Lord, I was deaf; I could not hear
    The thrilling music of Thy voice;
    But now I hear Thee and rejoice,
    And all Thine uttered words are dear!
  3. Lord, I was dumb; I could not speak
    The grace and glory of Thy name;
    But now, as touched with living flame,
    My lips Thine eager praises wake.
  4. Lord, I was dead; I could not stir
    My lifeless soul to come to Thee;
    But now, since Thou hast quickened me,
    I rise from sin’s dark sepulcher.
  5. For Thou hast made the blind to see,
    The deaf to hear, the dumb to speak,
    The dead to live; and, lo, I break
    The chains of my captivity.

Author: William Tidd Matson

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Slogans are quite a handy piece of conversation starters.  One might find politicians of every stripe and affiliation asserting the necessity to “defend the common man”, commercials encouraging you to “just do it” in your choice of athletic gear, or automobile advertisements encouraging you to select their product because it is “like a rock”.  Such statements can be riveting, trivial, or even somewhat hilarious (watching reruns on Monday of Super Bowl commercials can demonstrate any or all three at once).

 

Let’s suppose we have an avid jogger who, after just finishing a 5 mile run in the city, finds himself very hungry and conveniently 10 feet from a hot dog vender.  It is quite a convenient and tasty choice to grab a couple of chili dogs and wolf them down with a large coke.  No doubt his hunger will be satisfied.  But this is also an easy way to more than erase all the good he just did for his body by expending (let’s say) roughly 40 minutes of sweat and labor.  Popular slogans in American post-modern culture are often just like this poor choice of post-exercise diet .  They are fun, tasty, convenient, and hip.  They also are rich in style but practically empty of the real substance of actual answers.  Perhaps this shouldn’t be terribly surprising in a culture where the American dream seems to more closely resemble “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” than “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness”.

 

As the Church, in the twentieth century, drifted farther away from exegetical and Word-centered preaching and ministry, she lost an emphasis on the Gospel, which alone is her only tool classified as the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16Romans 1:16
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16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  

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).  Sadly, rather than return in repentance and faith, many have chosen to mimic the success  found in public marketing by creating slogans that all-to-often humor or flatter the passer-by but rarely serve to warn of the wrath to come and point the eyes of the soul to Jesus Christ.  As a result, wristbands, t-shirts, and quips have flooded the Church market of youth groups and billboards that have systematically replaced the substance of the Gospel with the style of hip religion.

 

In these next several posts, we’ll examine one of these popular slogans: “We need to get back to the Early Church.”  So often, slogans in religious circles can have grains or nuggets of truth in them, and may often be intended to help address and remedy real problems.  Every Christian ought to care about the problems in our Churches and our precious nation.  But we have to care enough to examine every thought, slogan, or movement in the full light of the Word of God.  Why?  Because every Christian who seeks to meet a need, resolve a problem, or answer a question has only one resource that will stand the test of time (1 Peter 1:24-251 Peter 1:24-25
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24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: For: or, For that 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.  

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).  This means we have to love God and others in such a way as to give answers that last.  This means we have to be concerned about theology.  Yep—there I said it.  Christians have to love theology if they want to answer the problems of our day.  Why?  Because theology is simply the knowledge of God.  And because the Bible tells us that the knowledge of God is the only remedy to bring men from sitting in great darkness to see the eternal and everlasting light of God’s glory in Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:16Matthew 4:16
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16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.  

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, 2 Corinthians 4:62 Corinthians 4:6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. hath: Gr. is he who hath  

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).  Theology, dear friends, makes all the difference, because the knowledge of God in our hearts is the only thing on which to build for time and eternity.

 

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