Wednesday, June 24, 2020

On Being A Father:The Greatest Responsibility



 NOTE: This week's blog is written by my good friend Sandala Mwanje. Please enjoy!

I have many responsibilities in life, but being a dad is by far the greatest, most challenging, and most joyful of all my responsibilities. In my view, being a father is the role that most mimics the character of God. It’s, therefore, the highest calling that any son of man may be called to. By the way, The New Testament’s favourite description of God is “God the Father.”

You see, in any other role, you can finish your workday, take a day off, take leave, resign or retire, but not in your role as a father. Being a father is 24/7, a full-time job, with no salary, and no retirement. Fathers are essential workers.

In discussing fatherhood, the Bible sort of assumes that we know something about what it means to have a father, and rightly so, for we all spring from fathers. Therefore, sometimes the Bible draws illustrations from this earthly relationship to show us what is true about God the Father. To truly understand fatherhood, you can’t end with the example of an earthly father. If you do, you are starting from too low, and consequently aiming too low! To understand fatherhood, begin from God the Father. At its core, earthly fatherhood is derived from heavenly fatherhood.

If we begin from God the Father, we will see our blessedness, our weaknesses, and our need for daily grace. So, what are the biblical traits of a father?

Source

It means to bring into being. A father gives life, just as God is the ultimate Father of all creation. Paul states this truth this way, “Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:29). The Bible traces one’s being from fatherhood.

If you have fathered a child, responsibility for that child is non-negotiable. Neglect of this duty is a grave sin! Neglect in this matter is one that is so UNLIKE God. Fatherhood as the “source” also means constantly giving. It is “a righteous man that leaves an inheritance for his children.” (Pro 13:22)

To Be There

The term “absentee father,” is a contradiction of terms. To be a father is to be around. To be a father is to be there as a provider, protector, and guide. Consider Job 29:16, “I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.” Also consider Job 31:18, “for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father, and from my mother's womb I guided the widow.”

“Being there” is the essence of the father/child relationship! A father must walk with his children, and he must be around whenever he is needed.


Compassionate

Fathers know how weak and prone to wander their kids are. Thus, there is an absolute necessity for compassion! In the most critical of situations, the world’s love for you will have a limit, but a father’s love is limitless. Consider what the Psalmist is saying here, “As a father shows compassion to his children, So the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103: 13-14)

Authority

As a basic building block of society, “a father is the final authority in the child’s life. As a result, the Bible is categorically clear on the need to respect and honour your father and mother. Consider what Jesus says and means here, “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7)Therefore, the only answer expected from the child is, “Yes dad!”

It is this authority that establishes the father’s right to discipline his children. Consider what the Bible is saying on this, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? (Hebrews 12:7-9).

When fathers give up their God-given authority, parenting becomes impossible! This authority must be established the very moment a father learns he’s going to be a father!

Comforter

Contrary to popular belief, a father is a figure of comfort. When life’s storms and winds blow, a child should run to the father and not run away from the father. Consider this trait about God the Father, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2Corinthias 1:3).

In the parable of the Lost Son, the son considered running back to his father’s house! Why? He knew and was assured of his father’s compassion. Am I such a father to my children?

Aims For The Uttermost Good, And Wellbeing of His Children

God the Father sought for our highest good and wellbeing when he gave us His son, Jesus Christ, to free us from sin. Here is how the apostle Paul puts it, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3).

The Bible assumes and expects that fathers would seek their children’s highest good in all things (spiritually, morally, educationally)!

Conclusion

This past Sunday was “Father’s Day,” a day that may end with gifts and appreciation. As good as these things may be, it is imperative for us to have a long term and foundational understanding of what it means to be a father. Society today is bleeding at every level, largely because of father failures. To fix society, we must first of all, fix fathers.




Monday, June 8, 2020

Young Women and Misplaced Priorities



To say society is chaotic is an understatement. Chaos often begins in the mind before it eventually translates into the way of living. The push from the fallen world order is to undo and attack God’s order and design. One issue of note is the identity and role of women in society. Much has been said on this issue, and to say that there is an agenda from the discussion is an understatement. There is so much confusion that it is hard to find a clear definition of a woman. One result of the confusion is the rise of misplaced priorities among young women. The misplaced priorities are seen in several areas in life, and one such area is regarding relationships. Here are three results of misplaced priorities in relationships.

Misplaced priorities lead to wrong decisions
Young Christian women, who prioritize the wrong things, end up making wrong decisions. How many times have we seen a seemingly sober and godly young lady get involved with the worst of young men and their life ends up ruined? There used to be a time when Christian young women were clear and objective about what they wanted from a young man. Godly character, commitment to the local church, and a clear vision in life were top on the list. Sadly today, torn jeans, a funny accent, a six-pack and Netflix are all a chap needs. As a result, you end up with vision-less relationships, frustrated souls and broken marriages. Dear Christian young women do not set standards on fleeting things. Look for proven character, unwavering commitment and a clear vision.

Misplaced priorities lead to wrong expectations
When the standards are wrong, the decisions will be wrong and so will the expectations. People who have the wrong standards will invariably have wrong expectations. As a result, we have young women who are content with a vision-less young man and relationship. The issue is not that our young women demand and expect too much; the issue is that they have set their standards too low. Rather than expecting weightier matters of godliness, character and vision, they have contented themselves with mundane issues like the shape of the body and sound of the voice. Sadly, it is not uncommon for a godly young woman to stick with an ungodly young man simply because he bought her flowers and chocolate. Shallow standards lead to shallow expectations.

Misplaced priorities lead to a frustrated life
The result of all this is frustration. Frustrated and hurting young women are all around us. Moreover, in all fairness, it is true that the church and the homes have shortchanged them in that they have not properly discipled the young men. So at times, it is a choice between the bad and the worst. For this, we must lament. However, the misplaced priorities of the young women have compounded the problem. They have the wrong standards, which leads to wrong decisions and wrong expectations, hence the constant frustrations. Sadly, this translates into marriage; is it any wonder that some homes are full of frustration and misery?

What is the remedy?
Discipleship in the home and in the church is the remedy, older women teaching and modelling what biblical womanhood is (Titus 2). This trend of only talking to young people when there is a problem or when they are about to get married is clearly not working. It is high time the parents and the church wake up from their slumber and repent of this neglect of duty. To any young Christian woman reading this, pursue a discipleship relationship with a godly mature Christian woman.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Rise of the Indecisive Man



In years past, courage was an honoured virtue. Courage and honour went hand in hand. We hear and read of men named, Richard the Lionheart and books titled Captain Courageous and The Red Badge of Courage. We look back to the warriors of Sparta and the medieval knights who were epitomized by courage and chivalry. While we often think of courage in terms of extraordinary actions, we all need courage on a daily basis for the normal, everyday actions. 

One aspect of courage is the willingness to make decisive decisions and the readiness to face the ensuing consequences.  Hence, the rise of the indecisive man in our society is a source of concern. It is revealing some of the underlying problems in our society. Gone are the days when courage, conviction and decisiveness were basic requirements for men. We now live in a society that exalts stuntmen and entertainers who are more concerned with their public image than their moral fibre; their moral convictions are always in line with the popular trend of the day. So what is wrong with the indecisive man?

Indecision reveals lack of direction
Men who do not know where they are coming from and where they are going are bound to be indecisive. They do not know who they are and what they want. They keep talking of finding themselves, and they keep changing what they want to do in life. Is it any wonder that some men seem to be in a perpetual mid-life crisis from their early 20s. They cannot settle on career direction and neither do they seem to settle on a marriage partner. A man who is not set on the direction he will take will be indecisive in life choices. 

Indecision reveals a lack of conviction
Further, indecision reveals a lack of conviction. A man who lacks direction will invariably be devoid of conviction. He does not know what he stands for, and as a result, he struggles to commit and make bold choices. This is particularly true in relationships. There was a time when young men pursued young women with every ounce of skill and every weapon in their arsenal. They were diligent and direct. They were clear about their intentions and wary of others making a move before them. In many ways, that is part of biblical manhood. Sadly, there is a breed of young men who have the spirit of hovering without stating intentions, of “maybe” and “I am finding myself.” Hence, the spirit of “it’s complicated” has become the new normal. Moreover, by the time people are getting married, they have left a trail of scarred hearts. Dear Christian men, act like men and do all in love (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Indecision reveals a proud heart
Cowardly men do not want to learn, and they do not want to fail. They do not know, and they do not want anyone to know of their ignorance. Therefore, they cowardly choose to do nothing. They want a 100 per cent guarantee before they can do anything. This is often masked as caution and wisdom, but in many ways, it is an unwillingness to fail. They quietly harbour ambitions of being perfect. Sadly, in their quest to be perfect, they never make any decisions.

In a society devoid of assertive, humble and courageous men, we need the Christian men to rise to the occasion. We need men who are clear about their direction and convictions. We need men who are not afraid to make decisions. Men who are not afraid to admit when they make wrong decisions. Men who are not scared to face the consequences of their actions. We need courageous men, who will humbly take a stand!

Monday, May 25, 2020

A Snapshot of a Healthy

The church is a family, comprised of people from all walks of life, saved by the same grace of God through Christ. These people then choose to live and work together for the cause of Christ and the glory of God in unity of purpose. In the closing chapter of Romans, Paul shares his heart to the church. In the first 16 verses, he greets, commends and sends love to the brethren and from the brethren. In so doing he gives us a snapshot of the church.   

THE CHURCH IS THE PEOPLE
He mentions 33 names in 24 verses, two households and there those whose names are not mentioned.  Each of these are quietly and faithfully doing their duty and building relationships. They served, they suffered, and they loved. This is a helpful reminderthat the church is the people, not the programs, building, or necessarily the meetings as helpful as those are. In an ever program-minded society we have to remind ourselves of this truth: the church is the people. 

THE CHURCH IS MADE UP OF ORDINARY PEOPLE 
In the same vein, we also need to remember that the church is made up of ordinary people. It is easy to read the accounts of Scripture and think the people in the Bible were extra-ordinary. But in reality, they were ordinary people doing ordinary things. The church is made up of ordinary people, faithfully and consistently doing ordinary things, in ordinary ways, enabled by the extraordinary grace of God. Dear Christian, do not despise the ordinary.

THE CHURCH IS MADE UP OF DIVERSE PEOPLE
These ordinary people in the church are from different cultural backgrounds, religious influences, and different social economic statutes and in different seasons of life. Pursuing unity does not mean we should all be the same. We need to learn to embrace and appreciate diversity. If we are to build one another up, we definitely need to remember that God does not intend to just call people from our tribe but from all tongues, tribes and nations. Unity is best appreciated in the midst diversity. 

THE CHURCH IS MEANT TO DEEPEN RELATIONSHIPS
As diverse and ordinary people choose to live and work together in Christ, the need to develop genuine, growing relationships is ever urgent. If we are to grow in love, minister to one another through the use of our gifts, exercise hospitality and bear with one another, relationships need to be present. Every Christian needs to be intentional in developing relationships with their church family. 

Our world is individualistic and consumer driven. Therefore, when we think of the church we often think buildings, projects and programs. We also think what this church can offer my family and me. It is easy for the Christian to also be sucked into that mindset. However, we need to remember that the church is made up of ordinary people pursuing meaningful relationships as they worship and serve their Lord.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Why We Do Not Encourage Others



We are called to encourage one another. The church should be a fountain flowing with praise and commendation toward one another. A fire not flamed goes out. A relationship devoid of encouragement dies slowly and painfully. A deficiency in encouragement coupled with a surplus of corrections and criticism makes for toxic and rotten relationships. The Bible exhorts us to spur one another to good works through encouragement (Heb. 10:24-25), to protect one another from the deceit of sin by means of encouragement (Heb. 3:13) and to build one another up through exhortation (1 Thess. 5:11). That said, encouragement does not come easily, and here are four reasons why courtesy of our church family zoom discussion.

Not thinking it is important
There are times when we think giving words of praise or commendation is not essential. We assume people know we are grateful for their efforts. We think “they know I appreciate them, and besides, I said it last year!” We need to remember that the Scriptures admonish us to keep encouraging one another. If we are going to be guilty of anything, it should be for over encouraging.

Lack of meaningful relationships
Encouragement and criticism are easier to give and to receive in the context of ongoing meaningful relationships. The absence of such relationships can make giving praise hard and awkward for some. It is, therefore, not surprising that only the people we are close to are the recipients of our praises.

Pride in the recipient
It is painful to give encouragement or commend a proud person. Part of the reason we struggle to urge each other on is that we are already big-headed and full of ourselves. Sometimes this pride is seen in how we struggle to simply and humbly acknowledge commendation from others on some excellent work or virtue in our lives. The recipient’s pride is a hindrance to the ministry of encouragement.

Pride in the encourager
We envy and harbour jealousy because we are self-centred and proud. We do not rejoice when we see some good in others, and we are sad when we see God’s grace in the lives of our neighbours. It is this deep-seated pride that stops us from saying ‘thank you’, ‘that was a good job’, ‘the Lord is using you’, ‘you are talented or gifted’, ‘you are good at this’, ‘you are an encouragement’, ‘you handled that well’, ‘your Christlikeness is a blessing’ etc. Pride would rather, receive the praise, the recognition, the commendation. Pride is too preoccupied with self to see what God is doing in the lives of others.

Commending the grace of God in people and urging those who are following and serving the Lord is an honourable, humbling and yet pleasurable experience. God is not simply working in your life; He is at work in the life of others as well. Take note of that and say it. It is not just good manners; it is building up the body! May we develop reputations for being encouraging.