Because He First Loved Us

As a dad, I’ve never known anything other than being a single father. My daughter’s mom and I were never married and once she got pregnant, things went south very quickly. Over nine years later not much has changed. Sure we have our seasons of peace, but they are few and far between.

When she and I first met, I was not the man I am today. I was fresh off a decade-long run of hardcore drug and alcohol addiction. Having been raised in a home without a full-time dad myself, I found myself scraping and searching for answers to this new role of “fatherhood” that I had just entered into. As if that was not enough, there were multiple battles: legally in a courtroom, and verbally everywhere else. I had lost all sense of identity of who God had created me to be.

Through a series of events that began years earlier, I surrendered my life to Jesus when my daughter was about 8 months old. I was baptized a few months later and began the single father ministry the following year. Life had made a tremendous U-turn for me! When my daughter was almost two years old God gave me the courage and humility to talk on the subject of forgiveness with my daughter’s mom. I told her I forgave her for all the wrongs she had committed against me and I asked for her forgiveness too. It was NOT well received!  

Which brings me to today. Having been a follower of Christ for almost 9 years now, I still see some of the consequences of my actions from years ago being played out, but I also have been given a foundation to stand on that cannot be shaken. 1Peter 4:8 tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins.” If you do a word study on the word “love” in that passage, you will find that it can refer to acts such as “good will”, “benevolence”, or “brotherly love”.  To show this sort of love to the other parent helps protect us from a “multitude of sins” in our own lives such as anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness.  

I don’t know where you are with this today, but if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, our job is not to “keep score” against the other parent (we surely don’t want God doing that with us!). Instead, we should allow Him to help us die to self so that we can pour it into others. They may not deserve it, but neither do we. Yet, the Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (NASB)  When we give Him total access to reign in our hearts and lives, the greater the fruit we will see revealed. I’m speaking from experience here and I know you can too. And believe me, even though many of the trials and frustrations may still linger, the overwhelming joy and peace that comes through our faith shatters these temporary struggles and allows us to be the parents and Christians we were always created to be.

We love, because He first loved us. -1John 4:19 (NASB)

Matt Haviland is the founder of “A Father’s Walk” single dad ministry. For more information on the ministry and how to form a single dad small group in your own church, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.  

TGIF Today God is First- Os Hillman

The Goal of the Christian Life

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” – John 12:24

The goal of the Christian life is death, not success. A popular teaching says that if we follow God, we will prosper materially. God may, in fact, bless His people materially, but few can make this claim among third-world countries. Wealth must never be the goal of a person’s life, only a by-product.

A missionary to a Middle-Eastern country has shared a motto among their ministry team: “God does not require success, but radical, immediate obedience.” Jesus’ obedience gained Him the cross. It did not gain Him popularity among the heathen, the religious or financial success, or a life of pleasure. His obedience resulted in His death on the cross. This is the same goal Christ has for each of us–death of our old nature so that He might live through us. That may not sell well among outcome-based Christian workplace believers, but it will result in an eternal reward that far exceeds any earthly reward. “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12).

The Christian life is a paradox–the first will be last, death in return for life, and we are encouraged to offer praise to God to overcome a spirit of heaviness. It requires faith in a God who operates from a different set of values that are sometimes difficult to measure from human standards. Let death work in you a life that only God can raise up.

 

Copyright 2015 Os Hillman  www.todaygodisfirst.com

Seize the Day

Below is a short blog from Mitch Temple, Executive Director of the FCM. Before you read it, I want to point out something: if this General quoted themselves as living in “fast times” back in 1857, how much faster times do we live in now?! That being said, we as husbands and fathers need to be on just that much more alert when it comes to pouring into our families. Enjoy.

Late last night I was looking through some history about the local area I live in- Shorter, Al. This was an old stage coach stop for many years while this land was untamed. Hundreds of years before that a major Creek Indian trail (Old Federal Road which runs in front of my home).

I came across this quote from a General who lived in this area over 150 years ago. He was writing to a dear friend and reflecting on how fast life and opportunities pass us by.

WHEELING, WINN PARISH, LA.

May 2, 1857

E. HANRICK, Esq. 

My old friend-

When I look back on things as they were and what they are now, it

makes me feel — as I am — old. You and I have lived in fast times,

which our heads will show, my friend; so, let it rock on — we will

only sleep the sounder when it comes to our time to rest.

Yours, truly, old friend,

THOS. S. WOODWARD.

The quote reminded me: “Seize every opportunity Mitch. Love your wife, your family, friends and life as it was your last. Savor the positive. Forgive the negative. Look to the good behind you as well as before you.”

After reading it, I wrote a few emails to friends thanking them for their friendship, wrote my wife a note and kissed my granddaughter on the check while she was sleeping. 

Seize the day.

Mitch

Originally published at www.mitchtempleonline.com

The Need for Models

 

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What is the primary reason as to why men fail to succeed? They don’t have models that work!

  • If I want to excel in a particular sport, then I would learn everything I could about the best player in that sport and how they perform so well.
  • If I want to excel in preaching God’s Word, then I would carefully study great preachers such as Billy Graham, C.H. Spurgeon, and Oswald Chambers.
  • If I want to excel as a Christian businessman, then I would carefully model the patterns and plans of men such as S. Truett Cathy (Chick-fil-A), Chuck Buck (Buck Knives), or David Green (Hobby Lobby).
  • If I want to excel in fathering…I would study…who? Over 50% of men give their own fathers a “below average” grade. A majority of men have never experienced any type of formal training for fatherhood. What resources would you give to a young man who desires to study and train in advance (as much as is possible) for fatherhood? Who is the most outstanding father in history? Who would be the model you recommend?

    Suddenly our list of models comes to a screeching halt! Yes, I’m sure there are some great fathers out there to be had – but, who sets the ultimate standard for us dads?

    It’s at this point that we need to turn to our Heavenly Father’s example. He is our ultimate model. By studying God’s Word, we can examine the relationship God has with His own Son, Jesus Christ and glean from it a wealth of knowledge to put into practice within our own families. One thing in particular that we need to remember right from the start is this:

    And a voice from heaven said,“This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:17 (also found here: Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22)

    As John the Baptist brought Jesus out of the waters of baptism, God the Father publicly announced those great words. Wow! What a powerful statement for a father to make.

    This prompts an important question for all of us (dads, it’s time for a little soul searching here). When was the last time you affirmed your son(s) or daughter(s)?

    Affirmation is incredibly important – for us as fathers, but especially for our children. They need confirmation of our love and support. God breaks it down for us into 3 parts:

1.      IDENTITY – This is my Son. Jesus knew who he was and to whom he belonged. He knew his Father and his Father knew him. But, God just told everyone else present that Jesus was HIS son.

2.      EMOTION – Whom I love. Jesus knew how his Father felt about him. His Father communicated his emotional feelings about his son. He loved him unconditionally and gladly told anyone who was listening.

3.      PLEASURE – With Him I am well pleased. Jesus brought pleasure to his Father. Was it his character? Was it his obedience? What is clear is that the Father felt pleasure when he thought about His Son.

We can do the same exact thing. From this day forward, I hope you will make a concerted effort to affirm each of your children DAILY. In today’s world of texting, smartphones, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Voicemail, etc. – you really have no excuse for not communicating with your children. I’d actually say this is an important thing to do for your spouse too!

Take a minute and simply convey to your son, daughter that “you are my child – I love you – and I’m pleased with you” (again…this is something that can be instituted with your spouse too). I think you’ll be pleased with the results. It may not be apparent right away, but at some point you’ll notice that your children look forward to your affirmation and they, in turn, take pleasure in it…and you.

Every man desires to be a great father for his children. Ask any dad out there and one of the “most important jobs” they list for you is being a dad. But, if we’re going to succeed in it, we need to ensure that we’re being a model that they desire to follow when it’s their turn. To do this, we need to be true men of God and immerse ourselves in His Word. Let’s start with this simple act of affirming our children as God affirmed his Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Written by Tim McWhorter; originally published at www.mensministrycatalyst.org