Archive for the ‘Spiritual formation’ Tag

What’s a Father to Do?

My daughter’s birth brought me up short, a wake-up call to learn the heavy responsibilities of what it means to father a child. What did I know about being a dad? I knew nothing!

What does it take to be a good father? I reasoned that fathering a child is more than just bringing a child into this world, and exchanging butterfly kisses. Fathering is a life-long responsibility. It is a forever commitment. That is, if a man truly wants to “father” his child.

So what to do? I wrote a description of what I wanted my daughter to become. I wanted her to become a woman of integrity, honesty, and good morals. For that to happen, I decided I needed to model these qualities for her. That meant I had to be who I wanted her to become. I was sure a strong faith in God, who has those same qualities, would help.

I started early. While she was still pretty young, I started taking her out on daddy-daughter-dates. I wanted her to experience a good example of how a man should behave. I opened doors for her. I held her chair for her. I ordered the meal and the drinks, and explained to her appropriate behavior for a young woman on a date. We talked of what she would want in a man, and how she wanted to be loved and cared for. We talked about integrity, honesty, and chastity. We talked about faith in God, and whether faith was relevant. We even discussed the Bible, which gives answers to most of life’s questions that arise.

We continued to “date” until she married. I knew I would only get one chance to get it right. She would only be young once. I knew that if I were to impress on her heart the values I knew were important, I had to talk about them at home, when we were out, and when she got up in the morning and went to bed at night.

Now that she’s married, with children, we still go out on an occasional daddy-daughter-date. She feels free to talk openly and candidly to me because the door to that kind of relationship opened long ago. We can explore together answers to more mature questions that are on her heart. We can pray together for solutions to problems she faces in her grown-up world.

I found that it takes a lot of effort and commitment to be a good dad. I discovered I had to do it on purpose, with purpose, to make a plan and work the plan. I set out on a mission to be a good dad and devoted myself to make it happen. We still exchange butterfly kisses; we have a very special connection, my daughter and I. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

 

Christlike Discipleship

My throat constricted, and my fingers started to clinch involuntarily, as I listened to my friend, a former university classmate, tell me he no longer attends an organized, denominational church, but is still living a fruitful Christian life. In fact, he no longer attends any church, because, he said, “they are all designed, ruled, and organized by man, and not God… I can be a better, stronger Christian on my own, doing my own Bible studies and private devotions”.  This person was formerly a fellow pastor and evangelist in the Church of the Nazarene.

Although this was a shock for me,  I was not surprised by his perception and decision, which is becoming increasingly common.  What is the cause? Why are we losing these people? Although I believe there are many contributing causes, one of the greatest is packed into the word “discipleship”.

May I offer an over-simplified perspective on the term “discipleship”? Discipleship is “investment”. Investment in people is the basis, the core, of discipleship. It goes far deeper than “influence”, or seminars, or classroom teaching. It forms the very basic premise behind God’s prevenient grace. It is investment in relationships with people,  a personal, in-depth, sometimes painful, investment. It is Christlike investment to walk as Jesus walked.

God sent His Son to repair a broken relationship with His greatest creation, humanity.  He created us for relationship with Him.  That relationship was broken through Adam’s sin. In Jesus, what an investment He made! The very blood and life of His Son, shed on the cross of Calvary that we might have life, and relationship with Him.

Jesus was the Great Disciple-maker. He invested Himself in relationship with His disciples. He taught them, disciplined them, mentored them, lived with them, and died for them. He showed them what it meant to be Spirit filled, passionate, compassionate, sacrificial, and humble. He showed them how to be disciple-makers.

I want to walk as Jesus walked!

He walked in the complete, overpowering presence of God and His Holy Spirit. He walked in deepest love and compassion. He walked in all the spiritual authority He was given. He walked in holy humility with an indomitable passion for the lost and dying world. Jesus wept over those who were lost, without a shepherd, wandering blindly through life. He invested His tears, His compassion – true compassion – into His disciples, so they could see and feel beyond themselves to others who were in grave spiritual need. He made disciples. Discipleship is every believer’s privilege and responsibility. We all are responsible to be a disciple, and to make disciples.

Discipleship1To be a disciple-maker, we must first be a disciple. That means being personally discipled until our last breath. Secondly, we must disciple others, both formally and informally – being Christlike wherever we are, including intentionally influencing the non-Christian and unsaved toward right relationship with Jesus. Third, we must disciple other Christians toward Christian maturity – intentionally and strategically influencing Christians to know and follow Jesus; to be Christlike, Holy Spirit filled, entirely sanctified Christians. Fourth, we must disciple maturing Christians to become disciple-makers who mentor others. And fifth, we must disciple maturing Christian disciple-makers to intentionally and sacrificially help others in making Christlike disciples.

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