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June 18, 2018, 2:26 PM

Demonstrating God the Father


 

God created three institutions this side of heaven—family, church and government. Family was the first institution He created in Genesis 1-2, and it has been under assault since Genesis 3. Family is the basic unit of society. If you weaken the family, you weaken society; if you destroy the family, you destroy society. Edward Gibbon, in his book entitled The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, lists five reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. His top ranked cause was the undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home as the basis of human society. That is, the Roman family unit was destroyed, and Rome consequently fell.

Pew Research Center recently published an article entitled “7 facts about American dads.” Although much can be said about each of the facts presented, I want to focus on the article’s opening paragraph:

Fatherhood in America is changing … more and more children are growing up without a father in the home.

To be sure, God’s design for the family unit is under rapid decay in our present society. America is following the trajectory of the fall of Rome. One of the symptoms of the decay is the increase in fatherlessness.

Fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America according to 72.2 percent of the U.S. population.[1] The increase in fatherlessness over a short time period is staggering, as these statistics demonstrate:

  • The percentage of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13 percent to 32 percent in 2017.
  • About one in five children (21 percent) are living with a solo mother, up from 12 percent in 1968.
  • Some 7 percent of children are living with cohabiting parents, about double the share that were doing so in 1997.[2]

According to the National Center for Fathering,

More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.[3]

The consequences of fatherlessness are a clear and present danger to God’s design for family. The removal of fathers from the family unit is ripping apart the fabric of society—not a small teasing of the fabric, but a deep, ragged rip. For a sobering review of the social consequences of fatherlessness, view here and here.

Yes, suicide, crime, drug abuse, sexual perversion, poverty, etc. are heart-breaking consequences. However, the penultimate consequence of fatherlessness is the distortion of one’s view of God the Father.

God intended the family unit to be a visible word picture of the Trinity. There is no more critical aspect as a believer than to learn who God the Father is. One cannot truly understand the depth of His love in giving us His Son and the gift of His Spirit without first understanding Him as Father. How can a boy or girl or man or woman begin to understand God the Father if they have no earthly father? When I witness to folks who have experienced fatherlessness, I cannot begin the conversation with “God the Father loves you.” They have no context and typically have a negative reaction to any earthly father figures. Vance Fry, an editor for Focus on the Family, wrote:

Some people may have a difficult time relating to God as a father. Fatherhood is an idea that we’re all very familiar with, and we may project our expectations or experiences of what a father should be, or has been, onto our heavenly Father. A boy who longs for a dad has a hard time seeing God as capable of filling that role. A girl who feels she has to succeed in sports and school to earn her father’s approval may see her relationship with God in a similar way. For others, the word father may bring up memories of abuse or neglect. How tragic that such a beautiful facet of God’s character—that He is not a distant, impersonal ruler, but a warm and welcoming papa—is often tainted by the weaknesses of human fathers![4]

I am the first demonstration of father my four children see as they begin to conceive who God the Father is. This is a wonderful responsibility, but also a weighty responsibility, and one in which I fall short many times. I consistently pray that I demonstrate God the Father’s wisdom, lovingkindness, righteousness, provision and protection to my children and to the watching world.

Men, on this upcoming Father’s Day, consider the following:

  • Assess how you are doing in reflecting the word picture of God the Father to your children and to others. Pray that you first of all can relate to God as Abba Father. Then pray that God works in you so that you demonstrate His fatherly characteristics and not that of the world’s.
     
  • If you have experienced fatherlessness, know that God can heal all wounds. He is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). In addition, your past experience does not have to be repeated. We are made new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we are to put off our old selves and don our new selves (Ephesians 4:22-24).
     
  • Mentor younger dads. The body of Christ has a responsibility to train and equip the next generation. Help younger dads learn from your mistakes and help them grow closer to God the Father. In doing this, you will be having a lasting impact on the dads, their children and their grandchildren.
     
  • Help teach in the preschool and children’s ministry at your church. Children need to see godly father figures in their lives. Children need to see men in the classroom. Far too many of our children and preschoolers have no adult male role model at home.
     
  • Ensure that your family and church have mechanisms to help solo mothers.

Article written by Dr. Patrick. Dr. Patrick teaches in the School of Theology and Scarborough College and serves as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Communications. He is married to Monica and has four children.

 

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May 31, 2018, 9:00 AM

Sunday School


Are you looking for a place to Connect? I can think of no better place than in a Sunday School Class. Regardless of who you are, or where you’ve been, you can discover your personal significance and experience community with real friends.  We have programs and classes for kids, teens and adults. Come and visit a class next Sunday at 9:30 am.

Nursery (Birth- 4 years)          Dusty Young

2 & 3 years old’s                     Jan McCaig

4 & 5 year old’s                      Jo Ann Beene

1-2 grade                                 Sandy Cole

3-4 grade                                 Janet Thrower

4-5 grade                                 Nhoie Harris

6-12 grade                              


Adults 

*Young Adults                       John & Dana McCoy

*Median Adults                      Steve Vaughn

*Ruth class (Ladies)               Patricia Rutherford

*Men’s Class                          Dale Smith

*Pastor’s Class                        Bro. James

*Regardless of your age, anyone is welcomed in one of our adult classes. You will find a range of age groups in all of our classes, so don't let the name of the class fool you. Why not try one each week till you find the right one. You will be glad you did.

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March 1, 2018, 10:29 AM

Moving Through the Pain of Grief


Recently in a family session, my client’s mother shared with her daughter on the phone that a close family member had passed away. The client was overwhelmed with grief and cried uncontrollably. I felt the pain and the heaviness that the client was going through.

I believe it was a similar uncomfortableness that Job’s friends perhaps felt when they sat in the ash heap with him as he was covered with sores and losing everything. They could see how devastated he was and how deeply he was suffering. (Job 2: 11-13).  His friends knew the greatest thing at the moment was to sit with Job in silence.

Dealing with grief is a challenging thing to do in this fast pace world. We want things to be easy and quick, but grief does not work that way.  The sadness can be like a dark cloud over us for a few weeks, months, or even years. Also, how one person grieves is different than another.  When we hear of a friend or a family member who lost someone, we do not know what to say so we often choose to not say anything at all. We even unintentionally avoid reaching out to them because of that awkward feeling.

Yet, the greatest thing for our grieving friends is to remind them that they are not alone and that we are willing to stand or sit with them in the midst of their loss.  Here are some tools to keep in mind: 

Encourage those who are grieving to find a way to express their loss. Some may just need a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. I have been amazed at how therapeutic it is for someone to write a letter to the one who passed away especially if they were not there to say goodbye. Another effective way is painting.  Art therapy is an excellent way to express sorrow.

Other ways to help those grieving include:

  • Tell them they need to take some time and allow themselves some space to grieve. 
  • Encourage them to look at pictures of departed loved ones and remember times they had together.
  • Remind them to let others know how they can be of help to them.  We all need community around us to face our losses.
  • Encourage them to engage in self-care such as going to a movie, buying something special, and/or indulging in comfort food.
  • Remind them to engage in practices that strengthen their body and mind.  Regular exercise releases healing endorphins. 
  • Prayer is also a key form of spiritual help in dealing with one’s losses. God is our greatest source of comfort and is already familiar with everything that is going on with us. 
  • Make healthy choices regarding alcohol and other drugs. Some who are grieving want to numb themselves, but this could start a negative spiral.
  • Sometimes seeing a counselor is warranted especially if there are wounds that surface or regrets about past decisions.

Everyone experiences grief and loss. We must do everything possible to get on the other side of the pain. 

 

Curt Spigelmyre is an Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and works as a Family Therapist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center.  He serves adolescents and adults who struggle with mood disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, and issues related to trauma. He graduated from Wheaton College with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.

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November 28, 2017, 10:07 AM

3 Words Kids Need to Hear Every Day


 

By Dr. Joshua Straub

 

I have a confession. I’m “Downer Daddy” lately. I can only imagine what my kids might say about me during the day.

“Dad’s no fun.”
“We can’t do anything.”
“He’s a nag.”

Though hyperbole, you likely feel the same way I do. Just think about the phrases we use every day. More often than not, I catch myself telling my kids:

“No.”
“Don’t.”
“Stop it.”

Here are a few just in the past 24 hours:

• Don’t hit your brother.
• Don’t poke your sister in the face.
• Don’t lick the blocks.
• Don’t pick your nose.
• Don’t eat your boogies.
• Don’t put your carrot between your toes.
• Don’t talk so loudly.
• Don’t spit out your food.
• Don’t stand on the chair.
• Don’t spray me with the hose.
• Don’t lick your fingers.

I could go on. As parents, we certainly have no trouble using the words: no, stop, and don’t on a daily basis.

I’m not saying that our kids don’t need boundaries. Nevertheless, put yourself in their shoes for a moment. If all you heard every day from your boss or spouse were words of what you shouldn’t be doing, you’d feel pretty beaten up too.

Since we default so often to telling our kids what they’re not doing right, here are three words we should use every day to help them understand how crazy we are about them, in spite of their behavior.

1. Love 
My dad went to be Jesus this past November. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard grown men and women tell me since then how lucky I was to have a dad who told me everyday that he loved me. The heart cry for so many adult children today is that they just wish their mom or dad would have told them, “I love you.”

The only other way you can go wrong in telling your child “I love you,” is if you blatantly don’t follow it up by your actions. Think Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar. 

Though none of us will ever love our children as much as we wish we could this side of heaven, our kids need to hear “I love you” every day.

2. Proud 
Many believe the problem with parenting today is overpraising parents who raise kids to believe they’re special. Like anything, this is true for a segment of parents. In its extreme, we may tell our kids how proud we are of their performance when, in reality, it was flat out awful. In this case, refer back to Liar Liar.

Yet, not all parents coddle their children. And even for those who do, telling our kids, “I’m proud of you,” is not coddling them. Our children need to hear every day how proud we are of them.

Therefore, to best use the word “proud” with your kids, be specific about what you’re proud of that day. When we tuck our kids in bed at night we’ll say things like:

• “I’m proud of you today for giving half of your chocolate treat to your sister, even though you didn’t have to.”

• “I’m proud of you today for being brave enough to go into your classroom all by yourself.”

3. Being 
Every day I tell our kids how much I love being their Daddy. Christi, as their Mummy, does the same.

The word being is a great word for our kids to hear because it shows our unconditional love for them just for who they are. Being is not tied to anything they do—or don’t do.

In addition, there are a number of other ways this can be said.

• “I love playing trains with you.”
• “My favorite part of the day was playing dollhouse with you.”
• “I loved being with you at the game today.”
• “I can’t wait to go swimming with you this weekend.”

In other words, what our kids hear is: “I love being with you.”

I can picture the love and being of Jesus in Mark 10:16 as he took the little children in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. He blessed them not because of anything they had done or not done, but because of what he was about to do on the cross.

Tonight, rest in knowing that you too don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. And like a child, be with your kids.

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July 8, 2017, 3:34 PM

When God writes your Instagram handle


 

 I came late to the social media game because technology really intimidates me.

I now begrudgingly acknowledge, however, what a great tool social media can be to help connect with people, encourage them, share about Jesus and equip and disciple others, so I have jumped on the bandwagon. First Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram -- each time I signed up because those apps opened doors for me to connect with students, friends and colleagues.

Can I tell you what has stressed me out a bit each time I have opened a new social media account? The description of myself!

I find it fascinating to read how other people define themselves, but how did I want to define myself? What kind of image would those carefully chosen adjectives and nouns project to the world? Too serious? Not serious enough? Each appellation selected contributes to an identity I am trying to communicate. So, for example, here is my Instagram description:

Candi Finch

Christ follower, lover of bacon & used bookstores, Assistant Professor of Theology in Women's Studies @southwesternseminary.

I was trying to go for a mix of professionalism and humanness. Recently, though, in rereading C.S. Lewis' classic work "Mere Christianity," I have been reminded that as a believer what matters is how God defines me, not how I define myself. Lewis writes, "But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture."

This quote got me thinking. What would my social media handle look like if I let God define me?

Since He is the painter, I wondered what God's Word said about the picture He is painting in my life. As you know, the Word of God has plenty to say about a Christian's identity. Here are just some of the ways believers are identified in the Bible:

Candi Finch

Forgiven, redeemed, holy and dearly loved child of God,

A saint and citizen of heaven,

A conqueror and new creation,

Set free and complete,

Friend of God.

To expand on these:

 

-- Forgiven and Redeemed: "In him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

 

-- Holy and Dearly Loved: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12).

 

-- Child of God: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26).

 

-- Saint: "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours" (1 Corinthians 1:2).

 

-- Citizen of Heaven: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).

 

-- Conqueror: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

 

-- New Creation: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

-- Set Free: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

 

-- Complete: "… and in Him you have been made complete" (Colossians 2:10a).

 

-- Friend of God: "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).

 

This list obviously is quite different than "lover of bacon and used bookstores" but it does reflect my identity in Christ. If you know Christ, these descriptors are true of you as well. Savor each word. Meditate on the truths of those verses. Don't let your eyes run over that list without the importance of each identifier grabbing hold of your heart. Even though our behavior does not always match our identity, these words do describe how the Creator of the universe looks at His children.

 

Think what a difference it would make if you and I reflected the truth of our identity in the way we lived today.

 

Remember, we are just paintings in the Master Painter's hands. I pray each of us will "live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10).

 

Candi Finch is assistant professor of theology in women's studies and Dorothy Kelley Patterson Chair of Women's Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

 

 

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