When it comes to parenting it can sometimes feel like fathers are second best. Depictions of dads in popular culture push the stereotype of fathers as incompetent, emotionally disconnected, “secondary” parents who are not nearly as important to their children as their mothers. As a result, Fathers are often pressured to take a backseat when it comes to being involved with raising their kids and can face ridicule for things like admitting that they help change diapers or expressing an interest in taking paternity leave. In reality, although a mother’s love is important and special, having an active father figure plays an equally important role in the healthy development of a child.
Here are 5 important ways fathers impact child development:
1. Increase Intellect.
Dad might be a bit of a goofball, but an active father can help increase your child’s emotional intelligence and problem-solving capabilities. Studies show that children with fathers who were actively involved throughout the 1st year of their child’s life perform better on cognitive development assessments and demonstrate an increased capacity for curiosity and exploration. Children raised with active dads tend to score higher on verbal and math tests and are less likely to drop out of school or commit juvenile crimes.
2. Boost Confidence.
The emotional support provided by a father to his child is a priceless gift. By helping kids to understand how much they are valued and loved, children with supportive fathers are more likely to have high self-esteem and are generally happier and more confident. They also demonstrate a greater tolerance for stress/frustration, less hesitation/fear in new situations and an increased ability to resist peer pressure and stand up for themselves.
3. Someone To Look Up To.
Fathers provide a positive male role model for their children and help to promote/reinforce good behaviors. As a result, children with more involved fathers tend to have fewer behavioral and impulse control problems, longer attention spans and a higher level of sociability. These children also tend to be more compassionate and generous, with an increased awareness of the needs and rights of others.
4. Provide A Different Perspective.
Children are naturally full of questions, and mothers and fathers approach those questions in different ways. Active parents with different approaches to parenting can be a great way to expose children to a broad range of thinking and problem-solving. Active fathers have a unique opportunity to share their perspective on life and teach their kids valuable life skills!
5. Feel The Love!
It’s the most obvious thing to say, but that doesn’t make it any less important – having an active father makes a child feel loved! Having dad as a steady source of love and encouragement helps ensure that children grow up happy and healthy, with high self-esteem.
Being an active father is one of the most important things you can do for your child. If you’re a new dad or just want to learn more about how you can make a positive impact on your child’s life, check out some of our parenting classes (480-834-9424) for more individualized training and support! Child Crisis Arizona provides resources to families via no-cost parenting classes, workshops, support groups, family events and more.
Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, delivered a challenging Father’s Day sermon this year. Speaking on Joshua 24:14-15, Evans unpacked the declaration that Joshua made to serve the Lord regardless of what was happening in the culture around him. Evans said the men listening had a similar choice to make: Whether they would choose to serve God or choose to serve themselves. In our current cultural climate, the choice to serve God can look counter-cultural.
As in Joshua’s time, Evans says “What we need is some men with a spiritual backbone who love themselves properly and love their families and love the world in which they live, but are inextricably clear: ‘Y’all may not want to go where I’m going.’”
Evans goes on to put this declaration in terms that may sound more familiar in our day and age: “My race may not want to go where I’m going; my class may not want to go where I’m going; my culture may not want to go where I’m going. But let me tell you where I’m going whether or not you agree with me.”
The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher Right Now
Evans believes “There’s never been a time when fathers have been more critical to the well-being of…kind of like everything…than they are right now.” We live in a time with a fork in the road, Evans said, a time where we face “chaos, confusion, lack of clarity, voices coming at us from all different directions.”
Fathers and men are so critical, in fact, that in Isaiah 3, we are told what happens when men make the wrong choices. When men don’t make the right choices, the children go into rebellion, the women can take on “an illegitimate authoritative role,” as Evans puts it, and the men become “neutered and weak.” We are seeing this happen today, Evans says. “Today we have too many men falling on the sword. Too many men becoming domesticated, meaning operating in a way that is outside your divinely ordained responsibility.”
In contrast, a “Kingdom man” or a man who has decided to follow Jesus “has made the decision to operate consistently under the governance of God and under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
While the decision to follow God is a choice one has to make, Evans explains that God does not make all the decisions for us. He gives us options. Still, all of our choices are within certain, sovereign boundaries that God has set up for us. Evans likened these boundaries to a football field. The field has clearly marked boundaries that are non-negotiable, but within those boundaries the players have choice. It’s our choice, Evans says, “which plays you’ll run.”
However, Evans gives a warning about choices when he says that although the choice is ours, we don’t get to choose the consequences of our choices. Those are up to God.
Joshua Makes a Declaration
In Joshua 24, we see Joshua declaring that “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Before this, he tells the Israelites he is leading that they need to throw away “the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt.” He also tells them to choose between the culture’s gods they are living among, the gods of the Amorites, and the Lord God.
Evans explains the context of the verse is that Joshua is concerned the Israelites, though they have left Egypt already, “still have a little Egypt in them.” Joshua is telling them they can’t hang on to both the remnant of Egypt and the blessings of serving God. “They want the benefits of the promises of God without the selection to the submission and service to God,” Evans says.
Additionally, the Israelites need to choose whether they will assimilate into the culture they are currently surrounded by: the Amorites. “Don’t let the place you’re living define the decisions that you make,” Evans says is the message Joshua is trying to convey to the Israelites.
As the Israelites were living in the midst of the Amorites at the time and feeling the pressure to conform to that culture, so now we are living in a time and place where multiple voices are telling us what to do. We’re hearing voices telling us “how to live, how to operate, how to move, what we ought to say, how we ought to feel.” In these verses, Joshua is essentially saying “I have made a decision that my decisions will be defined, not by the culture around me, but by the Christ inside of me. By my commitment to the will and word of God.” Joshua is warning the Israelites against “spiritually compromising” as they live among the Amorites.
Today, Evans says many men are spiritually compromising. “They are one way in church but then they go secular as soon as they leave church.”
The Israelites are warned against serving idols, which in that time in history were physical things that people bowed down before and made sacrifices to. In our day and age, Evans explains, “Anything or anyone (including you) that can overrule God means that is an idol in your life.” God can’t be second and he will not allow any competing deities. He has what Evans calls an “exclusivity clause.”
“With all that we are facing today, you better have God on your side,” Evans says emphatically.
Three Hallmarks of Joshua’s Declaration
Joshua’s decision is a personal decision. In the same way, men today need to know that the decision to follow God “can’t be made by anyone but you as a man, as a husband.” Evans says too many men today “are like jellyfish…they have no backbone, they just go with the current. They don’t take a stand. I don’t mean being mean, but I do mean being clear. That ‘I follow Jesus Christ.’ Everybody else is saying who they follow. Why should we be ambiguous as men about who we follow?”
Joshua broadens his decision to include his house. By saying “and my house,” Joshua “takes responsibility for his family.” Why does he make a declaration and not ask for a vote, Evans asks. “Because in the Bible the father would be held responsible by God for the direction of his family.” A Kingdom man accepts responsibility under God. Not even your wife gets to make the final decision, Evans says. Explaining this, Evans says Adam got in trouble when he allowed Eve to overrule God’s instructions in the Garden of Eden.
Joshua’s is a “covering statement,” Evans argues. “Unless a man lets God cover him, he can’t properly cover his loved ones.”
Finally, Joshua’s is not only a personal commitment, a family declaration, but also a “culture-wide declaration,” when he addresses the culture by saying “If it is undesirable to you…”
Evans Challenges Men to Make a Public Declaration
Bringing this back to our current culture, Evans says we need men to go public with their Christian faith like Joshua did. We are facing all kinds of pandemics right now: “We’ve got a health pandemic, a racial pandemic, a police and community pandemic, we’ve got clashes going everywhere.” The best solution to these pandemics, Evans believes, is “godly men taking their place and speaking about what God says about racial injustice, what God says about order, what God says about healing wounds, what God says about how we relate to other people, what God says about the role of government, what God says about how institutions ought to operate…” Evans says God has given direction on all of these things.
Evans is careful to note that Joshua didn’t put himself in the position of disagreeing with people just to be disagreeable or just to be different. And his declaration was not meant simply to be lip service, either. Joshua declared with his mouth and with his actions that his household would be serving God by word and deed.
There’s a warning in Evans’ Father’s Day sermon that he doesn’t want men to miss: “There’s a culture out there that doesn’t want men of God to succeed….While our goal is to move forward, there will be resistance. And that is why you need God on your side.”
God relates to us based on how we handle the relationship with him. Going back to Joshua, in the next several verses following Joshua’s declaration, the Israelites make a covenant with God. Evans again uses a football analogy to explain a covenant. The game of football uses the ball as the benchmark for every ruling in the game. For example, a touchdown is determined if the football has broken the plane of the end zone; a field goal on whether the ball has gone through the uprights; an offsides ruling is based on where the players are in relation to the football; out of bounds is determined by where the player has taken the football. Everything revolves around where people are in relation to the football. Likening the football to the covenant or the agreement we make with God, Evans asks “Are we relating to him and are we ruling underneath him?” In other words, where are we in relation to the covenant or the relationship?
Addressing fathers specifically, Evans says perhaps you’ve walked away from your family. The pastor says God provides men the opportunity to get back in alignment with him, and whenever possible, back in alignment with their families.
“You’ve got a culture that wants to trick you and trip you up,” Evans says. “The answer is in your choice. Do you choose to follow him or not?” If you choose to follow him, “then we ought to know about, your family ought to know about it, your friends ought to know about it, the culture ought to know about it, and when God sees it, you’ll see God act through it to make a difference in your life and our world.”
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm (that they cause) does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” — T.S. Eliot This may be the way fathers act, but it is certainly not the way Dads act.
A lot goes into being a good Dad: Coaching of your partner through pregnancy and birth to bond to with your child is good. Learning to play with your infant even though he’ll never remember, is good. Counseling your teenage daughter about making smart choices is good.
Children are not helped, but rather hindered by the performance of mechanical acts of fatherhood. Being present is an empty suit without legitimately caring for your children and modeling good behavior. It does however model a bad parenting model.
Perhaps most importantly, Dads need to realize that their children are always watching, and that what they do matters. How well a Dad parents influences a child’s psychological, cognitive, and social development, and strongly steers them toward adulthood. How Dad and Mom disagree, discuss, argue, and then make up is important for children to learn things such as conflict resolution and the strength of the family unit.
Because Dads really do matter to their children’s present and future.
Depressed Dads can create emotional wounds in their children. Depressed Dads may be able to perform the mechanical acts of fatherhood. Dadhood requires an “all in” boots on the ground engagement with their children. Dadhood can’t phone in or mail in their vote of ‘present’. Dadhood requires boots on the ground, in the trenches engagement with their children.
Studies show mass shooters had difficult childhoods and took Ritalin. Not all who took Ritalin become mass shooters. Have you read the warning labels? Medication is no substitute for Dadhood. Some children appear to be ‘difficult” then get diagnosed with ADHD and fed Ritalin. Quite often the child is really screaming for boots on the ground, in the trenches engagement with dad. In addition, “American psychiatrist Leon Eisenberg, who was the “scientific father of ADHD” and who said at the age of 87, seven months before his death in his last interview: “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease”” (1)
I have seen depressed Dads withdraw and pour themselves into their work resulting in a family in crises. I have also seen depressed Dads markedly improve by taking a break from work to focus on and truly engage with their children. Instead of focusing on their own depression they put their boots on the ground and jumped in the trenches and engaged with their children. The more anyone focuses on their depression, the more likely they will spiral downward into themselves. Each time depressed Dads exhibited Dadhood they shed some depression. This boots on the ground all in engagement can start by simply spending time with your children sitting or walking outside in the fresh air. This can work for depressed moms as well.
An effective way of teaching is to continually point the child back to foundational principles rather than to list a set of dos and don’ts. Positive reinforcement is very effective for seeing continued good behavior.
Children can be at a greater risk if Dads live a far distance from their children, for any number of reasons. In that case a Dad figure can fill the gap.
Jesus was raised by a step-dad and he turned out well.
Here are some well known symptoms of depression which can include any of the following:
Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex
Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and pain for which no other cause can be diagnosed have been attributed to depression.
Here is a helpful source of information about Depression at the link below:
There are still many resources available to assist in becoming and remaining a Dad as fashioned as originally intended. Some of the most fulfilled Dads I know are the ones who put their boots on the ground, jump in the trenches and engage their children.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8
I hate peer pressure… I mean I really do. Does anyone like it? We’ve all faced it but it seemed incredibly strong for me in grade school.
Peer pressure is like waves in an ocean trying to move you off course. A boat has to make constant adjustments in order to stay on course. Waves and wind will constantly try to disrupt the navigation flow of the vessel.
So it is with peer pressure, we have our convictions, but we become convinced by a stronger voice in our life to settle or to do something that we would not have chosen on our own. I’m only talking about negative peer pressure here; there can be positive peer pressure too.
Comparison kills contentment and it weakens our conviction. I have been a Christian all my life and in grade school and high school, there was a constant barrage of voices trying to get me to question my faith, to try a drug, watch a mature movie, be in a relationship that wasn’t good for me, and the list goes on.
Even something as relatively innocent as clothing can cause others to size you up based on the latest trends or name brands. I remember around 5th grade, I was completely happy with my socks and shoes. I had no clue about fashion or name brands that is until this one kid in particular made it known to me how much I was lacking in this department.
Every day this kid would berate me and call out, “generic socks and generic shoes.” I don’t even remember what I would wear but it wasn’t good enough for the social criticism in the late 1980’s. This kid was nonstop with the generic comments every single day. I finally pressured my Mom into buying me Nikes, but not just Nike shoes, but Nike socks which visibly had the black swoop on the top of the sock in order to be seen by all. No one would again say that I had “generic sock and shoes.” I had won.
I was perfectly contented with my situation before this peer pressure occurred. I was oblivious to the need to put on a show for others in order to not be ridiculed. Sometimes it’s just easier to give in to quiet the noise around us, to lower our convictions for a moment’s peace. How often have we compromised our walk with Christ for the easy, the popular, the pleasurable, or whatever THING that is demanding of our time and attention?
Peer pressure isn’t as in my face as it was in grade school, but then again my phone is literally in my face every day. I see on social media a non-stop list of what I “need.” what others have, what I don’t have, how others are so happy, how well behaved their kids are, how many vacations my friends are taking, what God is doing in other ministries, and the list goes on. Social media is more subtle form of peer pressure but it may be just as strong, if not stronger, of an influence in our life than a physical person.
Discernment will allow us to ask, “what is God asking of me?” I can’t worry about what anyone else is doing or what God is calling them to do. God measure success based on faithfulness not based on achievements. I am longing for the day that Jesus says, “well done good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:23).
People often will want the results without the work it takes to get there. You see that successful Pastor with a vibrant ministry? You don’t see the two failed churches, the multitude of sleepless nights in prayer, or the constant stress he faces by those that have a critical spirit about them. Actually the stress, the failure, the pain, and prayer have gotten him to this point, he had to learn to fail in order to succeed. He had to learn the lesson of when he did not rely on God so that he would never go down that path again. He had to learn the importance of prayer when he couldn’t do it on his own so that he would be able lift up those around him in a powerful covering so that Satan never gains a foothold in his ministry.
But you see him and you want to be him without any of those steps or God’s calling on your life to do that…
It’s like someone that idolizes a celebrity and wants to be them while never seeing the depression they face, the loss of true friendships, never feeling like they are valued apart from their talent, or the desire they have just to “be normal” again.
What is God calling you to do? Where is God calling you to go? If you can’t answer that, you need to pray. God is always looking for a willing vessel who can say, like Isaiah, “here I am God, send me!”
Read 1 Kings 13, seriously stop and read the chapter before you continue…but if you didn’t I’ll do my best to summarize.
Jeroboam was a wicked king (there seemed to be no shortage of them when you read the Old Testament). God called a prophet out of Judah to go to Bethel (Jewish historian Josephus called him Yadon and I will too for the purpose of this story).
God called Yadon for a purpose, to travel to another city and to boldly rebuke the King, facing a probable death for doing so. When he got there not only did he miraculously prophecy about King Josiah (which wouldn’t happen for about three centuries later) but he also destroyed the pagan altar through an earthquake (13:5)! When the King pointed at him to have his guards seize him, instantly his hand became paralyzed and he couldn’t pull it back (v4).
Now the evil King Jeroboam asked the man of God (Yadon) to pray for his hand to be restored and it was. The King then tempted the prophet to come and eat, drink, and stay in his palace, but Yadon was strong in his conviction since the Lord told him, “you must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came” (v.9).
This was a powerful confrontation that Yadon had; almost as powerful as Elijah calling down fire on the prophets of Baal. I don’t know the mindset of Yadon but I would have breathed a sigh of relief, not only was I not killed by the wicked King, but God showed up in miraculous signs and the King actually wanted to treat me to a royal dinner. I can imagine he was pretty famished; the long journey with no food and water now was the time to relax… or was it? Yadon resisted the pressure and remained true to what God was asking him to do.
But that was not the end of this story. The rest of this story is about an “old prophet” who is unnamed who sends his sons to find Yadon. Once he was found, the old prophet rode out to meet Yadon. He asked “are you the man of God who came from Judah” (v.14)? No doubt word of his confrontation with the King spread like wildfire through the town. He invites him back to his house to get some food and drink, but again Yadon replies about how God told him not to eat or drink anything until he returns to his hometown. The same answer he gave the King.
Now this part is fascinating…
“But the old prophet answered, ‘I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord: ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink. (v18)’” The next verse even says the old man was lying, but the peer pressure, the fatigue, and/or the camaraderie of another prophet got to Yadon and he went back with the old man to eat and drink.
Now think about this for a minute, God called Yadon out of his hometown to go to Bethel to deliver a mighty message to the king. Why didn’t he call this old man? He was a prophet, conveniently located in the same town as the king… We know this old man had no problem lying and God knew his heart as well.
So back to the story, the old man and Yadon were eating a meal back at the house and the Spirit of God speaks through the old man, aka the liar! “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have defiled the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors” (v21-22).
I feel bad for Yadon, after this meal he saddled his donkey and rode off to an awaiting lion that killed him (v.24). A mighty victory for God turned into a crushing defeat because he did not obey the word of God; he listened to a false prophet who got him to sway off course. He fell into peer pressure from a fellow prophet. A prophet who said he heard from God nonetheless!
I find it interesting that God still spoke through the old prophet at the dinner table, you see, God can use anyone and anything for His glory, but that doesn’t mean the prophet was trustworthy or following the will of God.
God can speak through anyone, but that doesn’t mean you need to go to their church, to read their books, or follow them if they are not fully obedient to the Word of God. There’s a lot of truth out there being mixed with deception. God can reach people even among prosperity preachers and twisted denominations.
We need to have discernment to align all things against the Word of God and hold fast to what is true.
But on a personal level, if God is calling you to do something, don’t be swayed by what another preacher, teacher, pastor, or priest tells you. God wants you to hear his voice so clearly you don’t need a second opinion.
I’m not saying that we can’t ask for wisdom from others, but I’m saying if God tells you something; don’t listen to someone who hasn’t heard from God for your life, who has a conflicting message.
There are other examples in the Bible of this same thing. Micaiah faced off against 400 other prophets in 1 Kings 22. I love this story and I write about it in detail in my book on the chapter about counterfeits. All the prophets were ‘yes men’ and prophesied success for the King while Michaiah prophesied defeat. One of the prophets came and slapped him saying, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you” (v.24)? What Michaiah prophesied came true despite 400 voices claiming to hear from God.
Another example is Hezekiah and the siege on Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria (Isaiah 36). An envoy of Assyria came to taunt Israel and said a number of insults outside the city including, “Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the Lord? The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it” (v.10). Obviously a blatant lie.
Satan can be disguised as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). We have to be very careful when even someone in ministry tells us a word from God that does not align with truth. I do believe God gives people words of knowledge today, but I also believe that Satan can plan deception in people’s minds that allow them to say something that is just a little off and get you to question what God said. Just like with Eve in the Garden, “did God really say?”
God would rather you be faithful to what He is calling you to do, than to chase after dreams and aspirations that don’t align with that calling. After all, are you building your kingdom or God’s?
Maybe being faithful to the job you dislike means that you can bring life into that environment and others can see Jesus through you.
Maybe being faithful to your family despite the frustrations means that your kids will be the first generation to know of the goodness and love of Christ without having to survive an abusive parent.
Maybe being faithful to your spouse despite your feelings means that you need to subject your feelings to the will of God and not your own; your faithfulness will be a witness to other couples with the same struggle.
Maybe enduring the pain and heartache that comes with fostering children means that the children you are pouring your heart and soul into will be able to know about Jesus simply because you are being faithful to that call despite all the garbage that sometimes comes with the foster care system.
This all comes back to discernment. Seek God for yourself; stand fast on the path He is calling you to take. Don’t be swayed by the lies of the enemy, even if it comes to you under the guise of a “friend” or someone that supposedly hears from God.
Be bold, be courageous, God can use you to accomplish His will on this earth if we are faithful and obedience for the glory of God and God alone. Amen!
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which bind them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14 NIV
Most Christians will agree that forgiveness is the right thing to do, after all there are over 100 verses in the Bible that talk about forgives or forgiving others. And yet, forgiving other people can be extremely hard to do. It seems to come easily for children, I know that my children will quickly forgive each other and move on about their day. They never bring up infractions from a week, month, or year ago! Why does this get harder to do as people move into adulthood? As you become adults, the wrongs levied against you become more severe, we build up walls over time, and we can analyze a scenario to judge if someone is deserving of our forgiveness.
A recent Barna study (1) among practicing Christians said that:
76% offered unconditional forgiveness to someone else
55% received unconditional forgiveness
27% identify someone they don’t want to forgive
23% identify someone who they can’t forgive
22% struggle to receive forgiveness for something
We can learn a lot about forgiveness in the Bible. Let’s take a look at the story of Jacob and Esau.
Jacob had God’s favor but he was not a good brother to Esau in the least. He took advantage of Esau when he was weak and traded him some stew for a birthright (although Esau was not very smart to have agreed). Jacob also betrayed his brother by stealing the blessing from his father by dressing up like his brother, with his mother’s help nonetheless! This was a double betrayal for Esau from his brother and mother.
Jacob brought about division against him and his brother and he had to flee for fear of repercussion. The interesting thing is that the brothers meet up again, many years later in Genesis 37. Jacob is justifiably scared of this encounter. He does not know if Esau will attack him and steal everything. Jacob separates out his wives and children into groups so that if one group is attacked, the other can flee safely. Jacob also prepares a generous gift for Esau when he arrives.
Surprisingly to Jacob, Esau embraces his brother and even rejects the gifts that Jacob brings saying, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.” (Gen. 37:9) The brothers are reunited despite the past. God blesses both of them as they grow in livestock and wealth that they eventually have to split up because the land cannot support both groups.
Esau made a decision to forgive his brother. Jacob did not ask for forgiveness before it was offered. Esau had every “right” to stay bitter and even steal from Jacob his possessions. Esau chose the high ground.
Esau was betrayed by his own flesh and blood, how often does family betray their own? This hurt can be harder than others to recover from. If a stranger hurts me, it may make me sad but I can move on. When family hurts you, it sometimes makes the relationship irreparable and can cause devastating psychological damage.
The same can be said for our church family. Too often I hear and have experienced fellow Christians who hurt and betray their own, either through difference of beliefs or petty arguments. This can result in unforgiveness and someone choosing to not go to church or not let another Christian brother or sister close to them again in case of a future hurt. If an effort to control your surroundings, you end up taking extreme measures that hurt you in different ways such as the lack of fellowship and community. We are meant for relationship with fellow believers and to meet together regularly (Heb. 10:25).
Forgiveness does not forget the past. It does allow you to keep the past from controlling your future.
Forgiveness does not excuse or condone previous actions and it does not mean you have to sign up to get hurt again.
Forgiveness should be given even when it is not asked for. The person you forgive does not even need to be present in cases of death or abuse. You can still forgive them before your Heavenly Father.
Forgiveness is more an act of release for YOU than the other person. We hold on to unforgiveness because it gives us power, but it also destroys us in the process and steals our joy. They say power corrupts, I would say that unforgiveness corrupts our spirit.
There’s an old saying that says, “Harboring unforgiveness or bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
But we only forgive those who deserve it right? After all there are some actions that are reprehensible, that cannot be forgiven even if I wanted to? I don’t want to judge but I also can’t forgive because of what this person did to me…
If anyone “deserved” to hold on to unforgiveness it would have been Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. She tells of an amazing story of one of her captors after the war, coming to a camp where she was preaching about Jesus. She chose forgiveness there on the spot when he told her who he was and what he had done.
Corrie ten Boom then told of not being able to forget this incident. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn’t sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest.
“His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor,” Corrie wrote, “to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks.” “Up in the church tower,” he said, nodding out the window, “is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness.
When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down.” “And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force — which was my willingness in the matter — had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts.”(2)
What unforgiveness in your life do you need to let go of today, like letting go of a helium balloon? Let unforgiveness float away from your life and allow the Holy Spirit to heal broken wounds like only He can.
Discerning Reflection: What areas of my life do I have unforgiveness? Do I forgive as quickly as Jesus commands? Who do I need to pray about forgiving today that God is placing upon my heart?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your immense gift of forgiveness that you gave us through your Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Help me to not hold on to unforgiveness which can lead to bitterness. Reveal to me today who you would like me to forgive, even if they are not asking for forgiveness.
Notice that one of the responsibilities of John the Baptist was to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” If ever there was a time that this needed to happen it is now.
A few Sunday’s ago I passed out a piece of paper on in that asked 2 questions: (1) What is a Father or Dad?; (2) What does your Father or Dad mean to you? Seven people responded & I am going to let their responses help me preach my sermon today as we honor our fathers.
Let me begin by reading something to you by Martha Bolton titled: What Is Fatherhood?
What Is Fatherhood?
Fatherhood is…getting to go anywhere you want for Father’s Day, getting to drive there, and even get-
ting to pay the bill!
It’s getting up in the middle of the night to see what the noise was outside, when you’d really rather stay in bed and hide, like everyone else.
It’s the best excise in the world to buy all those toys you wanted as a child and never got.
It’s catching yourself watching cartoons when no one else is home, and enjoying them.
It’s biting your tongue and remembering to be a good example when someone cuts you off on the highway.
It’s playing Santa at midnight on Christmas Eve, then paying for the privilege at 22% interest for 36 consecutive months.
It’s assembling toys that require one screwdriver and a nuclear physicist to assemble.
It’s praying for, hoping for, and anxiously looking forward to the day when your kids will be out of the house and on their own…and then trying to postpone that day as long as possible when it approaches.
It’s carrying sleepy kids into the house when you’re too tired to even carry yourself in.
Yes, fatherhood is sometimes a thankless job of fixing kites, breaking up fights, wiping up chocolate milk.
It’s dental bills, broken arms, and skateboards.
But today, Dad, we want to say we appreciate you, and all you do!
Notice that one of the responsibilities of John the Baptist was to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” If ever there was a time that this needed to happen it is now. I know we talk of how the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that controls the world, when we are talking about mothers. But I would like to suggest to you that the reason this world and the reason this nation and the reason the church is in the condition it is in is because of our fathers. Fathers who don’t have their hearts turned to their children. Fathers who have never put their arm around their child and told them that they love them. Fathers who have never showed their emotions in front of their children (many children have never seen their father cry). Fathers who have never taken their children to church or sent them to Sunday School and didn’t go with them. Fathers who have walked out on the family. Fathers who have never led their children in prayer or never prayed for them. Fathers who have time for everything in the world but never have time for their children.
Now let me share with you some of the answers to the question I asked, What is a Father or Dad?
Kelly Lee says, “A person that loves and takes care of you.”
Wendy Morgan says, “A father is someone who cares about you. They spend time with you and loves you, but most importantly a father should live a life as an example for their child.”
Michelle Lee says, “A special person in your life.”
An unknown person says, “A Dad is someone who loves you no matter what; who takes care of you; who provides for you; who spends time with you, even though he’d rather be doing something else.”
Rita Lee says, “A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow. He is supposed to set the Godly example before his children.”
Vicki Lee says, “A Dad is someone who loves you, takes care of you and supports you no matter what.”
Cathy Morgan says, “A Dad is a male role model, who is always there, not only in the good times, but the bad times as well. He is someone who loves you with all his heart and would do anything to make you happy.”
The father commanded a high position in the family of O.T. times; his word was law. In addition, the Hebrew word translated into English as husband actually means “lord,” “master,” “owner,” or “possessor” (Gen. 18:12; Hos. 2:16). Because of his position, shared to some degree with his wife, a man expected to be treated as royalty by the rest of his family. The fifth commandment carries this idea of the importance of the parents one step further when it states, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). The word honor often refers to one’s response to God. In other words, this commandment suggests that the parents should receive a recognition similar to that given to God.
Along with the honor of the position as head of the family, the father was expected to assume certain responsibilities. These responsibilities can be classified into 3 categories which I believe was seen in the response of the question I asked: spiritual, social, & economic.
First of all, the father was responsible for the spiritual well-being of the family, as well as the individual members of the family. In the earliest ages, the father functioned as the priest of his family, sacrificing on their behalf (Genesis 12:8; Job 1:5). Later, when a priesthood was established in Israel and the layman no longer functioned at an altar, the father’s spiritual role was redefined. he continued to be the religious leader in the home. This involved the training of the children in godliness.
Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The Living Bible puts it this way, “Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.”
Socially, the father’s responsibility was to see that no one took advantage of any member of his family. Those who were not protected by a father were truly disadvantaged persons. The two most common categories of “fatherless” people were widows and orphans. Four specific duties of a father toward his son, as stated in the Jewish writings, were to have the son circumcised; to pass on his inheritance to his firstborn son; to find his son a wife; and to teach him a trade.
Economically, the father was to provide for the needs of the various members of his family. From time to time, however, a lazy person failed to provide for his family. conscientious men sought to mock the lazy man, shaming him to do what was expected of him:
Proverbs 6:6-11 – “(6) Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow. Learn from their ways and be wise! (7) For though they have no king to make them work, (8) yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. (9) But you – all you do is sleep. When will you wake up? (10) ‘Let me sleep a little longer!’ Sure, just a little more! (11) And as you sleep, poverty creeps upon you like a robber and destroys you; want attacks you in full armor.” (TLB)
The apostle Paul rebuked those who considered themselves Christian but who did not look after the needs of their families:
1 Timothy 5:8 – “But it anyone does not provide for his own, especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
The Living Bible: “But anyone who won’t care for his own relatives when they need help, especially those living in his own family, has no right to say he is a Christian. Such a person is worse than the heathen.”
Also we learn not only form the responses of those who responded from my question but we learn from the Scripture that Fathers are to be an example, a godly example to follow.
Two Scripture references, one bad the other good:
1 Kings 15: 25, 26 – “Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa King of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. (26) and he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin.”
1 Kings 15:1-3 – “(1) In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. (2) he was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. his mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. (3) and he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.”
It is important that we be a good example because of what happen to Judah and what is said concerning their sin: “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with the point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of your altars” (Jeremiah 17:1).
Now let me close with a tribute to the Fathers of those who responded to the question: What does your Father or Dad mean to you?
Kelly Lee: “He takes good care of me. If I want something he will get it for me. And he comforts me.”
Wendy Morgan:”My dad is my friend. he is someone who I joke with and love.”
Michelle Lee:”He is a special person.”
Unknown: “My dad is deceased. But I remember how much he loved not only me but all of his other children. He did not always say it in words, but by his actions. He took care of, and provided for us in good times and in bad times.
Rita Lee: “My dad means the world to me. He loves me and supports me. My dad has set the example and the way before me. he is a Christian and I will always look up to my dad.”
Vicki Lee: “My father means the world to me. I love him very much.
Cathy Morgan: “My dad means everything to me. I’m his little girl who enjoys spending time with him, especially when fishing. I appreciate that I have a dad, because my dad basically grew up without one. I wouldn’t trade my dad for anything in this world. my dad is a great role model and a very good person to look up to.
Let me close with this reading:
Father’s day Is a Special Day
Father’s Day is a special day When we remember Dad, But God was the only Father That Jesus ever had.
And when he was a little boy He loved His Father so, That he desired to please him Wherever he would go.
So, this Father’s Day, like Jesus-Honor Dad in all you do,And reflect the love of Jesus for the Heavenly Father too.
I asked God to rescue me from a place I hated. He wanted me to stay put.
KIM CASH TATE| JUNE 21, 2019
It’s one of my most vivid memories as a girl: sitting on the edge of my bed, face angled toward the window, eyes peeled for my daddy. My heart would race as a new set of headlights approached—maybe that’s him—before sinking as the car passed into the distance. Still, I’d hold on to hope. From the time my parents divorced—I was four—I looked forward to these planned outings with my dad.
Although they were both college-educated and hard-working, my parents differed greatly. My mom was very much a homebody. Other than work, she hardly ventured anywhere. Even so, I admired her: Everything she did, she did excellently. And when she had convictions, she stuck to them. She gave me a wonderfully stable, predictable life. But for me, that often translated to boring.
My dad was the fun one. Mom would never ride a roller coaster, but Dad would coax me into the front car. He played sports, loved music, and had an infectious laugh. Whenever I knew he was coming, I’d have my bag packed, ready to go.
Where is he? Did he forget about me? Daddy was always out and about, so there was never any point trying his landline. (This was the era before mobile phones.) All I could do was wait, even as daylight turned to dusk and dusk to night. Tears would gather as I realized he wasn’t coming. Again. More than once I thought, I must not really matter. He must not really love me.
When I picture that little girl looking out the window, pining for her father, it’s amazing to think that God was watching me even then. He knew the void I felt. He knew the relationship I longed for. And he knew that one day he would draw me to himself.
I was raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC. We weren’t a churchgoing family. But I knew about God from St. Margaret’s Elementary. I’ll never forget experiencing the Stations of the Cross during a third-grade Easter observance. Our class filed into the sanctuary and moved from picture to picture, pausing at each image depicting Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. By the time we got to Jesus hanging on the cross, I was in tears. Even the knowledge that he rose again was no comfort. How could something so awful happen to someone so good?
I had no concept of Jesus dying so I could be saved and have a close relationship with him. And without that sort of relationship, I felt a void. There was a hole in my heart that I wanted to fill, an intimacy I craved. That’s what enticed me about sex—the intimacy it would bring. Or so I thought.
I lost my virginity the summer before I turned 16. This brought feelings of shame, because my mom had always preached abstinence until marriage, albeit without any biblical motivations. I had dismissed her convictions as old-fashioned, but deep down I couldn’t shake the thought that she was right. I wasn’t comfortable having sex. After that summer, I decided to abstain.
But my mom’s convictions weren’t enough to keep me, because without God’s redeeming power I was a slave to sin. And so, when I went off to college, my flesh had free reign.
I loved college. I loved having the freedom to live life on my own terms. Despite living far from God, in my mind I was doing well. After graduating, I went to law school, and during my second year, I fell in love with a fellow graduate student named Bill. We knew we wanted to get married. Bill got an offer as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, so after graduating in May 1991, we moved to Madison to start our careers.
I hated Madison. My plan had been to stay in the DC area for the rest of my life. The only other suitable options would have been another major city rich with black culture. But as I’d searched for jobs, God had closed every door in Washington—and opened the door wide in Madison. I had landed one of the best jobs possible: clerking for a federal judge.
Still, I wasn’t happy. Madison was too white. I’d count the number of black people in the mall or grocery store and get excited if I could move past one hand. Negative thoughts swirled in my mind: Why am I living in a place I hate? Because of a man? I complained incessantly and traveled back home as often as I could. Despite enjoying career and financial success, I couldn’t relinquish my bitterness.
One day, I had a strange idea: I could pray. I remembered God from those Bible stories at St. Margaret’s. I remembered that he could do miracles. Perhaps, I reasoned, he could intervene miraculously to get me out of Madison. This became my prayer. And as I prayed, I started thinking, If I want God to do something for me, I should probably do something for him. Like go to church.
My thinking was warped, of course, but God was using it. He was on my mind now. I was talking to him. Bill and I started going to church sporadically, and before long I felt convicted about our living together outside of marriage. Our wedding was only months away, but it suddenly bothered me that we were “living in sin.” Those words were surely a throwback to what my mom had taught. But for the first time, I started wondering what God thought about my life.
Bill and I decided to have a private wedding ceremony two weeks later, on Valentine’s Day. Never before had I made a conscious decision with God in mind. Still, I hadn’t yet come to a full grasp of his purposes. I thought our living arrangement was the problem. But my entire heart needed cleansing.
Clinging to the God of the Universe
About one year later I found myself in Beverly Hills at the wedding of “Jimmy Jam” Harris, the Minneapolis-based R&B super-producer. I’d started dabbling in entertainment law and would drive to Minneapolis to meet with clients in the music world. And now I was at the wedding of the year, talking to artists I’d admired from afar, including Janet Jackson.
When I arrived home, Bill stopped me at the door, but not to ask about my weekend. He couldn’t wait to tell me he’d visited a new church that morning. The following Sunday, we visited together. By the end of service, I was in tears. For the first time, I heard the true gospel preached, and it rocked me. Finally, I understood why Jesus died on that cross. Finally, I saw myself as God saw me—a sinner in need of redemption. I asked God to forgive me, and I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. For all my prayers that God would save me from Madison, his plan, all along, had been to save me in Madison.
Looking back now, from a distance of 25 years, I remember how studying the Book of Deuteronomy was a pivotal part of my early Christian walk. One word, in particular, jumped off the page. Deuteronomy 10:20 and 13:4 mention “holding fast”—or clinging, as some translations have it—to God. There was so much in the Bible I didn’t understand, but that word spoke clearly. It meant relationship—close relationship. Yet it was hard to fathom. The God of the universe would let me cling to him?
What an unsurpassable gift for that little girl staring out of the window, waiting for her dad, and wondering if she really mattered. My Abba Father was letting me know that I could enjoy an intimate relationship with him forever.
Kim Cash Tate is an author and Bible teacher. She is the creator and executive producer of the YouTube series CLING.
But whoever has been forgiven little shows only little love. Luke 7:47
Apathy can strike us at any stage in life and at any area of our life. But what is apathy exactly? Apathy is an “absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement” or “a lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.” We can have apathy in anything from our jobs, school, spouses, family, children, politics, hobbies, and yes even, unfortunately, God.
If we look at Luke 7:36-50, we see Jesus at a house of a Pharisee. An unnamed woman (different than the stories where they name Mary wiping Jesus’ feet in the other gospels) who had been in a sinful life (possibly a prostitute) enters the house, pours perfume on Jesus’ feet and wipes it off with her hair. Jesus asked Simon question, “Two people owned money to a moneylender, one 500 and one 50. Both were forgiven, which of them would love him more?” Simon answered correctly the one who had the bigger debt. Jesus then honors the woman for what she did and calls out the apathy of the people in the house who did not do the same thing for Him.
We see an important example here of what can happen in the Christian life when we either grow up in the church or we have been a Christian for a while. We get apathetic for the things of God. We lose our first love (Revelation 2:4). We lose sight of the fact that we have been saved from an eternal punishment for our sin and we now have everlasting life where Jesus will bring to fulfillment a world with no sin, sickness, or death. I see newer Christians who have been saved out of immense bondage who have a freedom and joy many Christians never get to experience. To them, they have seen death first hand in the form of addiction, sin, new age, or the occult. They know the joy and freedom that Jesus gives and the removal of the curse over their life of death and decay. These newer Christians can be on fire for God and stand as an example for every Christian who acts apathetically before our Lord and Savior by refusing to read the Bible, witness to others, or love their brothers and sisters. Just like in the example from Luke, these newer Christians see fully the immense debt they were forgiven from.
Many Christians are not purposefully apathetic. They can still love Jesus they just go through the motions. If we do not view our forgiven debt as significant (which it is), we can find ourselves thinking “well I was a decent person before I was saved”, “I didn’t do anything THAT terrible”, “I’ve grown up in the church, I’ve always loved Jesus, I never had THAT bad of sin.” We need to remember that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This does not only mean the sin we ourselves created, but the sinful nature we were born into. The sin we committed and still commit TODAY as Christians deserves death. We should never act so entitled to our salvation that we forget the great price that was paid by Jesus on Calvary so that we would not face what we actually deserved!
Now, there’s another aspect to this story of Jesus and the woman. The woman came in, overwhelmed with emotion, washing Jesus’ feet. Jesus told the Pharisees “her many sins have been forgiven- as her great love has shown.”
In other words, the woman was forgiven and showed her immense gratitude and love for Jesus.
THEN Jesus says to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” What Jesus says about the woman He then says directly to her. But why? She already “knew” that her sins were forgiven which is why she was there in the first place honoring Jesus. I feel this is more of a personal reassurance to the woman. She may have been haunted by reminders of the past and overwhelming memories of her sin. Jesus reminded her of His grace for her and of her forgiveness she needed to accept, even though it had already happened.
Satan is the king of guilt trips. If we have been forgiven from sin, God removes it as far as “the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) provided that we “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). When our thoughts go to the past, we need to stop them before they snowball out of control. Our past can cause us to feel like we are unworthy of grace, unworthy to be used by God, and unworthy of love. We must turn these thoughts into love FOR God WHO IS WORTHY, just like the woman who wept over Jesus’ feet.
So how can we combat apathy in our Christian life? How do we not lose our “first love”? Apathy is also known as being “lukewarm” and is given as a warning to the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:16). First of all it’s not easy; it takes a willful effort on our part to read the Bible, to pray daily, to love our neighbor, to listen to God’s voice, and walk where He leads. Not out of “going through the motions” but out of genuine love and desire for a relationship with our Bridegroom who came and died for us and is coming back again.
We need to make our prayer like David after the prophet Nathan convicted him of his sin with Bathsheba in Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
Discerning Reflection: How have I been apathetic or even lukewarm in my relationship with Jesus? What can I do TODAY to address this? Do I truly desire this and why?
Prayer: Lord, restore to me the joy of my salvation. Thank you for your work on the cross and may I never take that for granted. Forgive me of apathy I have had and give me a fire again for a relationship with You! Amen.
Have you ever noticed two groups of people who hold God’s attention? You wouldn’t think an impartial God would have specific categories for certain people, but amazingly, He does: orphans and widows. You’re right; they’re not the groups anyone wants to join. There’s no line to sign up, which is precisely why God keeps a keen eye on these two flocks. Yet surprisingly, He promises to be their Father and Husband. Not only do we find Him sharply protective, but He’s moved with tremendous compassion. So much, that it overflows into the everyday lives of you and me. We can’t help but want to go the extra mile in helping the child without a dad and the woman without a husband. They look just like us, but when learning of their plight, we soften. Our hearts touched by God’s finger for our involvement.
It was that way for my dad. His father died when he was only nine, making his already orphaned mother a widow in her early 30s, and he and his brother fatherless. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. America was just crawling out from the rubble of The Great Depression and everything was scarce. Everything, but God’s endless pavilions of provision. Despite their destitution, He provided for them. He touched people’s hearts and caused others to open their homes and dinner tables.
“A father to the fatherless and a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely.” (Psalms 68:5-6a)
God makes it known that He protects the weak. Weakened only by circumstance. Perhaps you’ve never considered that one as busy as God has time to be concerned with the small details of the fatherless child. It is here we see His sterling character sparkle yet again. It’s far too easy to think the Lord’s uninvolved with our struggle; hasn’t got the time or interest for those that society’s forgotten. Yet look how He taught His disciples by the widow’s mite or the boy willing to share his fish sandwiches with 5,000 men. It moves God. Deeply. Passionately. Protectively.
“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
It bears repeating, “Like sheep without a shepherd.” Notice, they were distressed and dispirited. Did my dad, uncle, and grandmother struggle? Yes, we have tribulation in this world. But were there people that rose to the occasion, allowing their hearts and hands to be an extension of God’s? Absolutely. Despite hardships, my dad remembered a happy childhood filled with people willing to pause for involvement. Mentors available to lead and point when my grandfather’s voice was silenced.
Perhaps you know a child in this very predicament. Perhaps you are that child. Perhaps your dad is living but you still feel fatherless. Grown or young, the void is there. I would encourage all to step up and make a positive difference in the fatherless around us. It doesn’t have to be earthshattering. My father recalled the kindness of being given oranges after going months without fresh fruit; a simple candy cane at Christmastime, or a street vendor’s hot baked potato on a snowy winter’s night. Small acts of love confirm our heavenly Father’s goodness, and the tangible proof He cares and works through people. This is the religion that Jesus’ brother James wrote about as being pure and faultless … to look after widows and orphans in their distress. It’s a loving embrace received by the child whose hair is no longer tousled by an absent father.
How like God. No matter how much love we give away, He’s ensured we’d never run out. This Father’s Day, let’s remember to thank God for being our Abba Father and keeping us from being spiritual orphans. And let’s relentlessly search for that one who’s whispered prayers for fatherly love and kindness.