The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Month: May, 2013

Dads of Steel

*Disclaimer: I am by not a perfect father! Far from it! In the post below, I do not mean to portray myself as the perfect dad or even as an expert on fatherhood. These are thoughts from one broken father to others.

fathers-day-2011I’ve been thinking about fatherhood a lot lately. And that makes sense…I mean my third baby just entered the world! On top of that, father’s day is just around the corner (June 16).

Growing up within the church, father’s day was always somewhat confusing for me…especially when compared with mother’s day. Perhaps it was my own limited experience, but it always seemed like mother’s day was devoted to the praise/encouragement of mothers…while father’s day was equally devoted to pointing out the failures/scolding fathers.

Even as a kid I felt like this was little unfair. Something was amiss and needed to be rectified. I honestly do not believe the remedy to the situation is simply to turn father’s day into a time to praise/encourage fathers in the same way we do for mothers. When it comes to time the gathered church spends together, our focus should always be Christ!

I’ve seen way too many mother’s/father’s day services (and many other holidays for that matter) that were void of Jesus! I am not saying that we do not even acknowledge holidays, but we should do so in a way that points people to Jesus. We need to point mothers and fathers (and everyone else present) to the sufficiency of Christ in all things, including parenting! Jesus must remain the center of our worship!

I think this is the real problem with father’s day…we have put fathers in the place reserved for Jesus, and whenever we do that they will always fail and we will always feel the need to scold them!

We have come to expect dads to be the hero when there is only one hero…Jesus!

man-of-steel-logoI do not believe it is a coincidence that the highly  anticipated summer blockbuster “Man of Steel” is releasing on June 14th…two days before father’s day. A fun movie about the superhero of superheroes…superman. This is just the kind of movie a dad might take his kids to see (depending on their age of course), and there has always been an emphasis on father figures in the superman mythos via Jor-El and Jonathan Kent.

The real irony of this movie’s release coinciding with father’s day is that, I believe, it highlights the problematic “Christian” view of fatherhood. We expect dads to be supermen. They are to be their kids hero! Perfect men of incredible spiritual stature!

We expect dads of steel!

Most kids naturally look up to their dads as if they are superhuman and, all too often, the “Christian” version of fatherhood only feeds this notion. Yet, all fathers are far from perfect and so having “superman” expectations only sets them up for failure. So what can be done? What should dad’s do? And, what should we do? What should the church be encouraging and calling fathers toward?

The true calling of fatherhood is not to be a hero, but to point to the only hero…Jesus.

I try to consistently acknowledge my shortcomings to my children, be honest when I fail, ask for forgiveness, and then point them to the one who will never fail them! Father’s should turn the shortcomings into opportunities to point to the one who never falls short! This is truly fathering your children towards the perfect heavenly father.

We need to tell our fathers…you don’t have to be a dad of steel! Just be a dad who is real! Real about who you are and who Jesus is!

I think that if  men heard the message, the call (on father’s day and everyday) that you’re not to be the perfect hero for your kids, but you are to point the one who is, then we would see fathers move from feeling discouraged and defeated to energized and empowered! Fathers need to hear that they are not supposed to rely on their own strength to be dads of steel, but that God has provided his strength, through the Holy Spirit, for them to be dads who are real.

IMG_0786Through his power, they can be fathers who really love Jesus, fathers who really love their kids, fathers who really admit when they’re wrong and ask for forgiveness, fathers who really love their wives, fathers who really are committed, fathers who really show vulnerability, fathers who really pray, fathers who really know that true fatherhood is not perfection, but pointing to Jesus.

Be encouraged fathers! We don’t need dads of steel…we need dads who are real.

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Letter #4: God is Not a Subject

Dear Jonathan,

Congratulations! I’m so excited to hear that you have been accepted by Beeson Divinity School and will begin classes this fall! Your life is about to change, and I pray it is for the better.

I’m glad that all your preparations seem to be coming along smoothly. It is amazing that your house sold in the midst of this market…that is truly a blessing from the Lord. But, as you go through all the practical, physical preparations of moving…I would encourage you to be preparing your mind as well.

You might be changing the physical, geographical location of your family, but you are also moving your mind into new territory and it needs to be prepared. For the next three to four years you will be studying/mastering theology. Theos = God. Logos = word (or in this case, study of). Theology = the study of God. How does one prepare their mind to “study God” or “master theology.” I would suggest that you begin with one simple, anchoring fact…

cap_diplomaGod is not a subject to be mastered.

Studying theology is different from any other discipline, for God is not an object to be put under a microscope, prodded, and analyzed until you can fit the discovered data into your head. No. The more you come to know God through study, the more he should be mastering you…not the other way around.

Your degree program is ironically called “Master of Divinity.” I would give you the same advice that one of my profs, Ken Matthews, gave to my class on our first day of seminary. He looked at all of us and simply said, “So…you’re future masters of divinity huh?…Don’t you believe it!”

Jonathan…don’t you believe it!

God is not a class to be aced or a subject to be mastered. Humble your heart and ask that through your studies he would be mastering you more and more! That is the point of seminary…not to become a master, but to be mastered! As you prepare to move your family to another state, prepare to move your mind into a state of submission to the Lord. Because…

God is not a subject to be mastered…he is the master over his subjects.

Grace and Peace,

J

*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

Confession…

02.scale_Confession: I am overweight.

Some people might not think so, but medical experts would disagree. I’ve got a good 40 pounds that it would not hurt me to shed. Yet, the real confession is…

I am overweight as a result of sin.

Many people struggle with weight issues and for all sorts of reasons. For some, it can stem from a genetic issue, a health problem, an illness, etc. However, none of these things are the reason I have a spare tire around my mid section. For me, it ultimately boils down to one simple, sinful action…overeating.

I eat too much and I know it.

13557345321I like food and I like to eat…and that is a natural. Food was originally given to us by God as a good gift. It was not only his designed manner of sustaining life, but one of the countless ways he called us to enjoy life! With food we can create, we can taste, we smell, we touch…we build relationships over food, we celebrate, we share, we laugh, we love.

Through food we can literally taste and see that the Lord is good.

Food is a good gift from God and it is meant to be enjoyed. However, like all God’s good gifts, food has always been meant to be used in God’s ordained manner and when we take it beyond those bounds we sin…and sin always brings destruction and death.

It’s like this with all God’s gifts. For example, consider not only food, but also wine and sex. God has set bounds around all these gifts, not to rob us of joy, but to maximize our joy and always point us to him. Wine is meant to be enjoyed and point us to the Lord who bountifully provides, but when we go beyond enjoyment to indulgence it can literally wreak destruction! Likewise, sex is meant to be enjoyed within the context of a one-man, one-woman marriage, but when taken outside that context is can literally bring death. Food also has been given to us to be enjoyed within moderation and when taken beyond proper bounds (in either direction…over/under-eating) it can bring destruction to our bodies and even death. Sin always brings destruction and death.

Scripture identifies gluttony (overeating) as sin, and yet we ignored this issue…I have ignored this issue. It is taboo to talk about gluttony. Well…as a glutton, I want to confess the sin of which the Holy Spirit has convicted me. I want to repent for abusing God’s good gifts, and I want to love and desire him more than I love and desire food.

self centeredUltimately, the real problem with gluttony is that it is a sin in which I put myself in the place of God (this is the root of all sin). Instead of using food the way in which God has prescribed, I use it the way in which I prescribe. I know best and am in charge…not God. As a result, food becomes about satisfying my desires (which it cannot really do)…food becomes about me.

However, food is meant to be about God. When used in the way God designed it to be consumed, food reminds us that God is a good provider who has given us what we need. This leaves us wanting more of God…not more of food. In this way, food helps us satisfy our real desire, namely, our desire for God and enjoyment of him. God is the only one who can truly fill us up and satisfy our souls. All of a sudden, food is not about me, it is about God!

Food reminds me that I do not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. It reminds me that as the deer pants for streams of water so my soul should thirst for the living God!

Jesus is the bread of life and the giver of living water! May our souls eternally feast on him!

So I confess…I’m overweight. But, my desire is to no longer be overweight, but overjoyed! Being overweight came through my sinful satisfaction found in food…now I will pursue being overjoyed through soul-satisfaction found in Jesus!

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