The father’s role

It has been a minute since I got into writing but that is another story for another day. In my last post a few months ago, I talked about a role model in a rather obscure character: King David’s mother. In my more recent bible readings, I came across a scripture that exemplifies the role of fathers in the lives of their children. In the past few days, a rather dear friend has been blessed with his firstborn son and so this is dedicated to him and to all the great fathers I know.

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NIV

Fathers are admonished to encourage their children- to celebrate them and be their #1 fan. It is a child’s blessing to have a father that encourages him/ her to reach his/ her potential and is so proud of his child he wants to shout it off the mountain tops. Society is rife with absentee fathers- men who do not take any responsibility for the physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional and financial well being of their children. However, God admonishes fathers not to exasperate their children by the way they treat them lest they become discouraged (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).

A father’s role is to provide comfort and be a source of comfort for his children. Fathers are pillars of safety for their children- in all spheres of life. Fathers need to create an atmosphere where their children are not afraid of them but rather respect and reverence them (Hebrews 12:9). The words that come out of a father’s mouth and the actions that he portrays should bring comfort to a child and not fear. Society deems women to be relatively more nurturing than men and with the ideology of nurturing comes comfort. However, God’s standard for fathers is that they too ought to be a source of comfort for their kids.

I spoke earlier about dads encouraging their children to reach their fullest potential and there is no greater goal on earth than the goal of living a life that is worthy of an eternal calling (Ephesians 4:1-3). A very significant role God has entrusted to fathers as the spiritual head of their households is to be examples of godly living and to chart the path for their children to follow. Fathers are to set the standards of holy living for their children and to charge their kids to live holy lives. This is the greatest reward of fatherhood: that the travails of a father results in Christ being formed in their children (Galatians 4:19).

So today I leave you with this… are you role modelling godly fatherhood? Are you a source of encouragement, comfort and a beacon of godliness for your children, biological or otherwise?

Yours Truly

And lead us not into temptation

For the past month and a half, I have been mauling over this line of the Lord’s Prayer: and lead us not into temptation. How can God lead us into temptation? We know the bible says

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. James 1:13 NIV

If God cannot tempt us then why do we need to pray that He does not lead us into temptation? The Greek translation of this verse offers some answers (as found in both Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers and Benson Commentary). The word used in the scripture is πειρασμος which includes the two words which are represented in English by “trials,” i.e., sufferings which test or try, and “temptations,” allurements on the side of pleasure which tend to lead us into evil.  This scripture does not refer to temptation (when lust meets opportunity) but rather leans more heavily on trials (the kind that is too difficult for our weakness to endure).

These trials cloaked as persecution, spiritual conflicts,  or the agony of the body or the spirit, may come to us as a test or as a discipline (Ellicott’s). Those who are conscious of their weaknesses are aware of the fact that they might fail in the  face of conflict, and therefore the cry of that conscious weakness is, “Lead us not into such trials,” even as our Lord prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass away from me” (Matthew 26:39).

Remember in just a few passages before in Matthew 4, Jesus had been led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (tried). The temptations/ trials that Jesus faced were directed at those things that easily produce weaknesses in us: physical and emotional cravings, material possessions, and the desire for recognition and power. With the memory those trials in mind and because of his great love for his disciples and by extension for us, Jesus taught us to pray that we are spared those kinds of trials and temptations.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 NIV

The answer to the prayer, and lead us not into temptation comes in three forms:  as an actual exemption from the trials, or in “a way to escape” (1Corinthians 10:13), or in strength to bear it.  God does not abandon us to our fate. He is our ever-present Shepherd who seeks our best interest in every situation. Even in the trials, there is a master plan.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,  whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 2-4 NIV

So trust in His plan for your life fully. Listen for His leading attentively. Watch for His ever-present hands that are reaching out for you to save you from those trials, to guide you through them,  or to comfort you as you endure them.  Remember the premise of this prayer: He is our Heavenly Father!

Yours truly.

 

Our Father who Art in Heaven

For many people, the thought of God as a father is shaped and coloured subconsciously by the relationship that they have/ had with their own fathers, biological or otherwise.

Growing up, my dad was the scariest person I knew.  He was this tall, bearded man that towered over us little children, with a booming voice that filled the room when he spoke. Even my friends were afraid of him. When boys would call the landline, they’d hung up as soon as my dad picked up. Even the friendliest of hellos from my dad sounded scary. It did not help that my dad was also the disciplinarian in our home and a principled one at that! Although my dad was highly approachable, I rarely went to him with my flimsy problems, only the important ones. I would go to him to help me solve math problems or help with my English essays. Everything else, I talked to my mum about. Seeking and getting my dad’s approval was everything. I studied hard in school and tried to always outdo myself term after term because I knew my dad was pleased when my report card was good.

My dad sounds like most people’s image of God: a very tall man in the clouds with a voice that can fill a whole room or the whole earth, very principled, disciplines his children when they sin, can only be reached through prayer and in a specific manner (in church, prayer posture i.e. kneeling with hands clasped and eyes closed, etc.), seems loving  or rather there are things in the bible about Him that say he’s loving but when we look at the relationship we have with him, love is not the first word that jumps out at us. For many people, myself included, the word father does not equate tenderness.

Fortunately, I have lived long enough to experience a shift in my relationship with my dad. While I continue to have the utmost respect I could have for another human being on this planet for my dad, he is no longer the scary man I used to know. His presence does not evoke fear in me. In fact, I would not mind blowing everyone off just to hang out with my dad. As I have gotten older, I have found he is so cool. He’s full of wisdom and experience and is very funny. I find myself reminiscing over our recent conversations and laughing to myself. When he calls to check on me, I feel so special and when he prays for me, I feel loved. His approval is still everything to me so knowing that he will read this post makes me slightly nervous (Hi daddy…!).

So it is with Our Father in Heaven. When one has not developed a relationship with him, it is hard to fathom the depth of love and the tenderness of God. He is this being that we send our requests to and if you have done enough good or you are “righteous” enough, our requests are granted. But as you begin to encounter the Father’s love, the first truth that becomes apparent is that you are loved.

Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! 1st John 3:1 BSB

This is not the kind of love that you have read in the bible countless times… For God so loved the world… and it just does not faze you… oh no no no! This is the love that washes over you; a love that draws you in and makes you feel special.  You feel the love. You feel like you are a child of God. The second thing that changes is your image of  God.

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8: 15 BSB

When you encounter the Father’s love (I keep referring to the process of encountering the father’s love because many of us have head knowledge of this love but it has not been translated yet to heart knowledge), your image of God changes. There is no fear in approaching Him for perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). He is no longer this scary personality who is watching us and keeping records of our sin and standing in judgement of us and our actions.  He becomes our Abba Father! His presence becomes everything. We just want to sit at his feet and glean from his wisdom. We are excited to share our lives; our joys and pain with him and look forward to his encouragement and comfort. So when we pray… Our Father who art in heaven… it is not just a phrase from a childhood prayer we learnt in Sunday school. We are actually calling the attention of our heavenly father and with anticipation of having him turn his attention towards us to hear from us.

Lord, I want to love you more than I’ve ever loved before. You’re so easy to adore, Lord I want to love you more.

Yours Truly.