Intentionally Dad

You can be a father passively, but to be a dad, you must be intentional

The Love Chapter isn’t just for Weddings

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I would venture to say that many of you have been to a wedding where 1 Corinthians 13 was read as part of the ceremony. It says:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends….So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1Cor 13:1-8a; 13)

Though the broader context of this passage is the Church, it is likely that whenever we hear these verses, we immediately think of marriage. To be fair, this teaching on Love can be applied to the marriage relationship, but for a while now, I’ve been thinking through it in terms of parenting. Have you ever considered this passage in light of your kids? When I have, it has been a punch to the gut.

I am going to start a series of posts that deal with these attributes of Love from the perspective of parenting. Today, I want to look at the phrase “Love is patient and kind” (1Cor 13:4a).

Why? Why must Paul start with “patient”? If I was writing the bible, patient is not the first word I would use to describe love. Some of the other characteristics he uses? Sure. It isn’t selfish or rude or resentful, but why does he start with patient? Certainly this isn’t always a natural response. I mean sure, when your kids are being sweet and cute, it’s easy to be patient with their shortcomings. “I know they didn’t pick up their toys, but wasn’t that cute the way he made that face?” But since we all know that Love, agape love, is not simply a feeling, but an action, it is something that needs to exist not simply in the easy times, but in the hard times.

When our children are being disobedient or cranky, love in action demands that we be patient. When my kids are being disobedient or cranky, love in action demands that I be patient. When I am being disobedient or cranky, agape love is how the Father responds to me…with patience (2 Peter 3:9).

Patience and Kindness are two sides of the same coin. Maybe you are like me, when I lack patience, I also lack kindness. When I become impatient, my words become harsh and my body language becomes stiff and cold.

Paul, in this passage, is not writing from love in the best case scenario, but rather what agape love looks like in the grind of real life.

If I ask if you are loving with patience and kindness, most of us will likely say no. The rest are either missing the point or lying. The truth is that if you are responding in a way that lacks patience and kindness, then you are not acting in love.

Love is patient and Kind.

What are you going to do this week to Love your kids in this way?

 

 

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Truth or Love

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Photo by Aaron Burden

Recently I was reading through Ephesians 4 and had one of those moments that makes bible reading uncomfortable. It hit a little too close to home. Has this ever happened to you?

So here’s the back story. My wife and I had just come home from our small group meeting where we are studying Psalm 119 which extols the greatness and sufficiency of the Word to grow us and sanctify us. When we arrived home, we found that the two younger kids had done something that they had been told not to do on several occasion. Clearly they had selective hearing those times, because they promptly told me how they did not know this particular rule. I very clearly and firmly (maybe one might call it sarcastically) reminded them of this rule and the plethora of times we had talked about it. Then I summarily dismissed them to bed. That will teach them. (Someone really needs to create a sarcasm emoji; I sense a theme.)

So the next morning I was reading through Ephesians 4 (unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture while reading with coffee in hand — #blessed).

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph 4:15-16)

So this little phrase “speaking the truth in love” caught my eye, but I kept reading hoping that the unsettled feeling would pass. I was treating the work of the Holy Spirit like indigestion. So I kept reading.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
(Eph 4:25)

See there it is, I must speak truth. And who is my closest neighbor? That would be my family. Feeling somewhat vindicated, I read on.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Eph 4:29-32)

At this point, scripture had me dead to rights. In my goal of speaking truth, I had become self focused. I was more concerned that my rule had been broken than their heart had been broken by my words. I was speaking truth, but it lacked words or a tone that was “good for building up”. It certainly didn’t “give grace to those who heard”, but was in fact, unkind, harsh, and did not point to the grace that God bestows on me.

All this was on my mind throughout the day as I worked. I could not get it out of my head. By the end of the day, I knew there was only one thing I could do. I needed to apologize.

When I got home, I ask the two of them to come sit with me on the couch. I then opened to Ephesians 4 and read the passage. I began to show them, from scripture, how I had sinned against them and then asked for their forgiveness. Do you know the most amazing thing about this story?

They readily forgave me. Without hesitation they showed grace to me that I had not shown them.

We then had an opportunity to look at other passages relating to the same topic. They asked questions and we had a great time discussing how the “Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb 4:12)

My sin became the very opportunity to discuss truth in love. It isn’t truth or love, but truth in love.

How about you? Do you find that the very passage needed in the moment is the one that you end up reading next? How is the Word of God changing you?

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Photo by Aaron Burden

 

 

Perfectionist in recovery

552103944_eb666e9588_bI’ve heard it said that 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing. I wrote my first post on this site in July of 2013 and then nothing.  I wanted to have all the pieces in place before I started. The reality is that the exercise of writing a blog is very much iconic to my life. I love to start thing, but as soon as I don’t see things going perfectly, I drop them and move on to something else. I often feel like I have to have all my ducks in a row before I can proceed. But as I stated in my opening line, 80% of something is almost always better than 100% of nothing.

There has only been one person who walked this earth in absolute perfection. That person was Jesus Christ. While I strive to be like him more each day, I will never reach perfection, this side of heaven. My goal for this blog from the beginning was to walk through my life striving to exemplify Christ-likeness to those around me, but knowing that it is often the areas of failure that can lead to the best teachable moments.

Basically, “If nothing else, I want my life to serve as a warning for others.” I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but there is an element of truth. My hope is that while I share truths from scripture and real situations from my own failures, Christ will be glorified and others will be edified.

I hope to publish a new post every Thursday.

Here’s to all of you who know me and still love me. Happy blogging

 

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You cannot be merely present. You must be engaged.