Archive for the ‘theology’ 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.

 

God Calls

_DSC0718 copy     Sweat burned my eyes and stung the sunburn on my face. Equatorial heat and humidity made it difficult to breathe. My blue jeans stuck to my legs, mud clung to my boots, and made it difficult to climb the scaffolding. From up on the scaffold, Emmanuel asked me to toss him a roll of wire and a sack of nails.
“Emmanuel,” I asked in floundering Spanish, “what do you do for a living?”
“I am a building contractor. And you? What do you do?” He started another nail.
“I am a contractor, but I am praying, asking God what He wants me to be.”
“What are you doing right now?” he asked. “Aren’t you serving Him by doing what you are doing right now?”
“You mean building buildings? No, that just pays the bills and feeds my family.”
“No.” He drove the nail home with three blows. “I mean right this minute. Aren’t you serving Him by doing what you are doing right this minute? By being here, helping us build a church, and visiting my neighbors, and preaching? Isn’t that serving Him?”
“Well yes, I guess it is!” I clipped a short piece of wire. “But this is just a ministry trip. I can’t do this on a permanent basis.”
“Why not? Maybe God is calling you, like Abraham, to go to a country that He will show you?” He took the wire from me, ran it through the holes in the wood planks, and tied them together.
“Look,” he said. “See how these planks fit together? We fasten them with wire and nails? They will hold the planks in place when the concrete is poured inside. Together, they will give a proper shape to the concrete. When the concrete matures properly, we will take off the planks, and the column will stand on its own. We are the planks. God’s word is the wire and nails. He fastens us together, to help shape the pillars of the church He has given us to build. That is what a missionary does. He comes and helps form the pillars of the church until it matures sufficiently and then he pulls himself away and the church will stand on its own.”
God spoke to me clearly, “This is what I have for you. I want you to be a missionary.”
For as long as I could remember, I knew that God was calling me into full-time ministry. I had tried out several roles of ministry—preaching, youth pastor, Sunday school teacher, music ministry, and others—but never felt a confirmed call in any of these areas. I remember asking God to please clearly reveal His perfect will for my life. In my youth, I grew desperate to know what God had for me. It seemed I would never know. Then I had an opportunity to join a work and witness team from my church.
That trip changed my life. I understood my ministry role. Missions has been my life ever since.

Honor, Portrait of God

All that I know about who God is comes mainly from three men in my life. One is the pastor I grew up under. Another is my father-in-law. But the primary example was my dad. He was a man who loved us with all his heart, yet didn’t hesitate to use the rod when we needed it. He loved God. He loved his family. He loved his church. He lived his deep faith in front of his children, and he lived it with honor and consistency. I honor him. I honor him for his faith, for his selfless service and sacrifice to family and church. He inspired me and discipled me in my faith. When I turned 18 he told me, “The only thing a man has in this world that will leave a mark is his honor. It is honor that makes a man, not his age, not his size. It is honor.” I’ve always tried to live up to that statement. I believe it is pleasing to God to live with honor. Honor fetches the image of honesty, truthfulness, correction, and reproof. Honor conjures perceptions of uprightness, righteousness, fairness, faithfulness, and dependability. Honor is integrity. It may represent a portrait of God.

Posted March 19, 2013 by Don Gardner in Uncategorized

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What Are We DOING?

The church has lost its purpose of making disciples, and has focused inward. The book of Acts movement was without walls. People were the church. Is “If we build it they will come” a true principal of the church? I don’t think we really believe that, but evidence is born out in what we do and how we behave. Much of our tithes and offerings are spent on buildings, music, stage lighting, projection equipment, and public address systems. What would happen if we took monies set aside for these things, and spent it on getting “out there”? The church must re-focus on New Testament purposes that will cause a paradigm shift in who we are and what we do as a church.

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.

Who should influence whom?

We need a new awakening! The world is rife with thinly veiled corruption and immorality that injects its parasitic perversion into the church, sucking the spiritual vitality from our members. Sometimes even church leaders fight bitterly for supremacy and control, with a taste for riches and status, and destroy the witness of the church on the stage of society. The Church has allowed society to influence and define frightening changes in her basic spiritual tenets and behavior, instead of the church having a defining influence on society. The question is, “Who should influence whom?” The church should be setting society’s moral compass instead of the world infiltrating and corrupting the moral absolutes of the church. Far too many church goers are content with a nominal Christianity, and need to be shaken loose from the evil parasitic clutch of Satan that bleeds them dry, and blinds them to true freedom and joy in Christ.

The Church has moved from being the major moral influence of society, and tends to take a tentative, apologetic posture for believing and preaching the truth of scripture. We’ve wilted before the onslaught of political correctness, and lost the spiritually empowered boldness that drove maniacal monarchs to martyr true believers. We cannot let the world change us! We must change the world!

My greatest concern, my greatest desire is to see the church fully overcome with the Holy Spirit. My hope is to see a new holy enlightenment flood the church in a holy deluge, that the church would become a modern day Noah’s ark, floating her people above the flood of immorality that pervades our society, lifting us to a new spiritual height, to land in His overcoming presence. We are not to be separated from the world, but by God’s design we live in it as His witnesses. We are not victims who are easily overwhelmed by the world’s evil influence, but we purposefully and intentionally win the lost, disciple the won, and influence the laws and norms of society.  The church must become the moral influence it was intended to be. Time to wake up, stand up, and be who we are called to be, in the strength and power of God’s word and His Holy Spirit.

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