“I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
His throne was a fiery flame,
Its wheels a burning fire;
A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him.
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.”
Who among us thinks of God as a loving, powerful Father? In Fatherless America most people we know probably grew up with a less than godly dad, or they knew no dad at all. Public figures of fatherly stature, wisdom, and legitimate authority today are rare. It is easy for us to name harsh dictators, tyrants, overlords and repressive leaders we have seen in stage, but who speaks of our nation’s Founding Fathers or great fathers in the Bible: Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, the Apostles of Jesus, the great Christians of the past 2000 years.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:4-9)
In pagan religion there is typically a mother goddess, Venus and Aphrodite, are two examples. They were perhaps invented to balance the notion that father god figures in their pantheon are remote, detached, vindictive and uninvolved. Gaia, Mother Earth, Mother Nature, as well as Shiva, are other examples.
The real God has revealed Himself publicly in male aspects: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but He is not a sexual being. Man as masculine and feminine equally reflects the image of God in man. See: Made in the Image of God.
Our father Adam and our mother Eve both ate of the forbidden tree for different reasons. The Fall of man was also the Fall of woman. Adam gets most the blame because of his appointed dominion.
See: The Ruin of Creation, Adam's Lost Dominion, and Adam's Account: The Creation and the Fall of Man.
The redemption of man was undertaken by the Son of God who is perfect man and perfect God. He has pursed Adam and also Eve since the Fall by two different paths. These may be seen in the masculine/feminine titles of Jesus. He is both the Logos (M) and the the Sophia (F) of God.
Men and women, boys and girls, need to understand that the liberating and healing love of Jesus comes to us in the healing of both sexes with differing emphases. Men and women are identical in spirit but different in body and soul. The human genome is very complex! Although it is the father who determines the biological sex of a child, we have all inherited from two parents--for a hundred generations since Adam and Eve. See: The Complexity of the Genetic Code. No wonder we have such wide variations in people today, even apart from "original sin" and the consequences everything breaking down from order towards chaos. See: Man's Lost Dominion and Time's Arrow.
Followers of Jesus are both born and adopted into the family of God, the “household of faith.” This is a theme in Galatians for example. We are all sons and daughters in a new family as redeemed sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. While biological moms and dads are important, the family of God has many widows, orphans as well as single men and women who never married. "If anyone is in Christ he (or she) is a new creation..."
For this reason the fatherly and motherly care of God draws in many who have been estranged.
“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” (Psalms 68:5-6)
The Apostle Paul, then unmarried, said,
I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:14-16)
Jesus also was unmarried for his entire 30+ years among us. Yet we are invited to His coming wedding. His children (all of us who know Him as Lord that is), number several billion men, women, and children.
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints...Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” (Revelation 19:7-9)
God the Father is mighty potent (omnipotent)! He is not someone to mess with, especially if you oppose His benevolent coming rule over our earth. He is King over every monarch and Lord over every CEO whether they are good or evil.
Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father. I am the Father are one.” (John 10:31)
Jesus did not act upon His own deity during his entire lifetime. Therefore we see the Father made known through all Jesus said and did when He lived among us.
Because of His perfect obedience to His Father, when He ascended, Jesus was elevated to the highest place of authority in the universe. He is now seated at the highest place of authority in the universe.
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
“...I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:13-16)
Jesus said we should look beyond human leaders to the one Lord, one Father who is invisible:
“But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-12)
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things,
to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36)
God and Gender
There is much concern today about supposed nature goddesses. The early Christian church dealt with this in depth in the Second Century. In part these beliefs were about,
“...a prominent heretical movement of the 2nd-century Christian Church, partly of pre-Christian origin. Gnostic doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, the demiurge, and that Christ was an emissary of the remote supreme divine being, esoteric knowledge (gnosis) of whom enabled the redemption of the human spirit.” (Wiki)
Pagan religions featured goddesses as well as gods which we now know are demons. The gods of Greece and Roman were like flawed humans —engaging constantly in fornication and murder, and conspiracy and... The gods of ancient Canaan (which are with us today) were even worse. Baal, Ashtereth and Molech began to move in to our nation half a century ago supplementing the secret pantheon of Europe imported here in our nation’s early days.John MacArthur rightly observes:
“Now all of that double talk is the talk of the androgyny of Gnosticism. That means the wiping out of all sexual distinction. There are Gnostic texts where God the Creator is castigated by a higher feminine power, and that's that heavenly Eve called Sophia, Dame Wisdom. And God the Creator, the Gnostic said, God that sub-god demiurge who stupidly created everything, finally learned the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In other words, He learned to fear the feminine Sophia, so that the God of the Bible is now in fear of the feminine god Sophia. The feminization then of this higher god, Wisdom, led directly to the ordination of women. The ordination of women flows out of the feminization of deity.” (John MacArthur)
If the counterfeit is fallen femininity then there must be a reality which is holy and complete within the godhead. (We surely know enough about fallen masculinity in our day). Gnosticism (from the Greek gnosis meaning knowledge), was countered by the Apostle Paul (See Colossians 2) when he introduced the word epignosis, full knowledge. Complete knowledge of God is to be found in the Person of Jesus and not elsewhere.
The best way to understand counterfeit bills is to study the real, not the fake. Ask the U.S. Treasury. Images of gnosticism are a good fit to the class religiosity of our nation today. We are now a pagan nation through and through. The ascending church of the day is pretty much synonymous with the Great Harlot described in Revelation Chapters 17,18.
At the time of the Flood in Noah's day, God reduced the world population from perhaps 5 billion people to just seven survivors: Noah and his wife, their three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth with their wives—just eight persons.
On the Great Flood of Noah
World Population at the time of the Flood
The New Testament and the Flood by William Barclay
The Tower of Babel Affair
Semiramis Queen of Babylon by Bryce Self
The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop
Never mind! Who is God? He is obviously the self-revealing One. If He chosen to remain silent we would all be fully in the dark. God used masculine nouns when describing Himself to the Apostles. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one. This is a mystery studied endlessly by the church fathers of old. (We don’t seem to know what the “church mothers” studied).
The Three Main Guys look like they are all males (some think of the Holy Spirit as neuter or feminine, though all the nouns and pronouns referring to the Spirit in the NT are masculine).
The Eastern Branch of the early Church (the Orthodox Churches) incorporated the woman Wisdom into their belief system but this has not caught on in West --with our love of Outer Space, not Inner Space, and our preoccupation with science, technology and space travel. Wholeness eludes most of us in the West. but the East is no better off perhaps for different reasons.
See: Yin, Yang, the Tao and Wholeness
In the Old Testament, Israel is symbolized as the “wife of Yahweh” —whom He courted and married, but later divorced, because she was unfaithful and became a harlot. The prophet Hosea was called to act all this out in his own life and marriage.
Hosea and Israel’s Future
God has announced that He will keep His many promises to Israel—and His wedding vows. He will remarry Israel in the days to come.
The true church Jesus has been calling out for 2000 years is not viewed in the Bible as God’s “second wife.” We are the “Bride of Christ” destined to be united with Jesus after the Rapture (Revelation 19-22). The Bride of Christ must be pure and chaste. Translate this “revirginized.” Technical virginity is not in view
here—the Bride of Christ is several billion men, women and children who have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Furthermore there will be no need for physical, genital sex in New Jerusalem though our true gender identity as male and female will be clarified. Lepers, adulterers, fornicators, liars, murderers...come to Jesus Christ and are made whole every day.
Jesus is a Single Man
The Excluded Ones
God did not enter our world as a woman (the only begotten “Daughter” of God?). Paying the ransom price for the sins of all us was a man’s work.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:13-25)
The two great commandments in the Law of Moses in which the entire Law is fulfilled by loving God with all one’s heart and my neighbor as myself. I can not do this—the demand is impossibly high! But Jesus in me fulfills the Law and much more—if I give Him permission.
The Exchanged Life
Christ in You
Notes and Discussion
They are everywhere! The unfathers. Some are even antifathers. But it’s best to focus on real fathers, not on destructive criticism concerning father figures we may know.
Jesus Christ is the only one who can show us the Father heart of God. His entire life was spent making God the Father known among us.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (John 14:1-11)
Jesus is the Way to the Father
Ray Stedman said, “There is only one way to God, Jesus said so. Come to Jesus and he will get you to the Father.”
“Even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. However, there is not in everyone that knowledge...” (1 Corinthians 8:5-7)
God Champions the Fatherless
Psalm 68 is especially revealing concerning the Father Heart of God:
“Let God arise,
Let His enemies be scattered;
Let those also who hate Him flee before Him.
As smoke is driven away,
So drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
But let the righteous be glad;
Let them rejoice before God;
Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly.
Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Extol Him who rides on the clouds,
By His name Yah,
And rejoice before Him.
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” (Psalms 68:1-6)
James Fielder. A Christian friend of mine for two decades, retired as an important leader in the petroleum industry, comments on “fathers” from his life-long observation:
“When discussing fathers, there is a common misconception of another "type" of father and/or God, in America. Many of us were raised spoiled with fathers who gave us "lots of stuff."
Middle class Americans over the past 60 years, often have homes where they live "good"—no hunger, a cool house, new car, etc. This created a distorted image of "father"—father as giver. Or the gov't as "giver." “God gives money, food, etc., and God does not bring us harm or hurt.” Yet the Apostle Paul was naked, beaten, left for dead repeatedly.
The real God is sovereign and does as He pleases. Just because a person dies naked and starves to death doesn't mean he is not saved. I don't know how to write about it, I don't know enough of the thought processes. We don't know in this country how to face or overcome "too much" or "prosperity.” In some way this mindset has led to our "prosperity gospel" culture. In others who stay agnostic or atheistic, life is often good till they fail. For them the world is "good," mother earth is good, earth provides, the corporation is "god.” Such thinking is delusory.
There is also the reverse "side" of God: performance orientation and penalties: “If you don't believe, you will burn.” This emphasis on the wrath of God can be a terrifying vision, but accurate in some aspects as indicating an important aspect of the heavenly Father’s nature. He is holy and we are not. There are consequences for all our actions.
There needs to be some balance in discussing personal evil. For example “it is not all your father's fault, you are evil to the core.” “Fixing" your father-memories won't in itself get you to heaven. Blaming your father for your own bad choices of self-will just help get you to hell, perhaps for all eternity.
There is also the case of the "nonbeliever father" who taught you the path to hell. We are not inexorable lost because we were falsely taught lies-- "learning" some path that leads to damnation.
The image of the Loving Father, a God who will "fix you here and now” is not a complete picture. He will fix you for eternity, but on earth you won't be completely fixed, you may may be called to keep suffering til you die. The type of suffering you may be called to bear may change as you age—you may get broke, grow poor or whatever, but God the Father does necessarily make "earth life" life beautiful and trouble free as if we were already in heaven.
Also to be noted: The world (system) is hostile to mankind. We who seek to know God live out or lives in an unfriendly place.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
“In real life followers of Jesus will be personally hated by nonbelievers, experience rejection, more abuse, and failure in the "world's" eyes. We are considered liars, thieves, guilty of every evil under the sun. The unseen demonic world will take the opposition side once a person believes and is saved. The prodigal son, the returning son, received a feast and a restoration back at home. He probably enjoyed a good life as long as he lived. But a newly saved person without a supporting family or friends may get poor, stay broke, and even get killed. Life can often get better for the prodigal son supported by his family. He has been unconditionally accepted back home. An orphan or discarded child may get just the opposite from this world, from his old family, or his work place, his life may become totally worse, totally alien to his previous life, an increase in rejection may ensue (not an increase in acceptance on earth). Real life this side of heaven may be a steady beating til you die.”
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
Love is from God the Father
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:7-21)
Everyone on earth is loved by God. He does not desire that anyone should perish. Jesus shows us the way to the eternal Father.
A classic message from Gordon Dalbey “Healing Father Wounds” has relevance for all of us
—especially at this time in human history.
From Ego to Easter:Letting Jesus Find YouGordon DalbeyJohn the Baptist…started preaching, “Turn away from your sins…because the Kingdom of heaven is near!... Prepare a road for the Lord, make a straight path for him to travel!” Matt. 3:1-3 TEV
(John said), “I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him…. That joy is mine and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:27-30 NIV(Jesus) said to them,“I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God…because that is what God sent me to do.” Luke 4:43Jesus is evidence that AbbaFather wants to enter your life.His Good News is not about “finding Jesus.” It’s about welcoming the Kingdom of God into this world. (Matt. 4:23).Jesus is not lost or playing hide-and-seek. Rather, as John declared, He’s calling us to open the pathway to your heart for Him to come in. He wants to clear out the emotional and spiritual baggage there so God can “find” you and prepare you for your role in advancing His authority.John is not offended at Jesus’ coming, nor fearful of being exposed. Nor is his ego diminished. He’s not only delighted to welcome Jesus, but is “full of joy” (NIV) knowing he’s done his job well and his task is “now complete.”“(Jesus) must become greater,” he proclaims, “and I must become less.”A timely, if not challenging word for us today.The pandemic, in fact, has made us all feel less, by literally shutting down the humanly-made structures and accomplishments that allow us the fantasy of being in control.Now, thankfully, the vaccine has made us cautiously optimistic about returning to “normal.” The covid virus, however, has claimed over half a million American lives, a staggering cost which commands a lesson—and warning—we dare not ignore:If you stay focused on yourself to feel bigger again and get “back in control,” ultimately the overwhelming power of the world just makes you feel as if you’re disappearing.It’s a recipe for anxiety.If you yield to your AbbaFather’s control, however, you’re in good company with John the Baptist.For Christians, getting smaller is no occasion to shrink from life into despair and fear, but rather, to make more room for the “life abundant” that His Spirit enables (John 10:10).In order to welcome Jesus, that is, you must become less. Not for you to disappear more quickly, but for Jesus to appear more fully.In fact, the “smaller” you become—that is, humble and receptive before God—the greater potential for Jesus to reveal and fulfill your true purpose in life, as designed by the Creator and not fabricated by your fantasies.That’s His recipe for peace.Here, in fact, is the message of both Good Friday and Easter: When you accept Jesus as the authentic Savior of the world—even your own world—His grace saves you from your narrow, self-centered vision for the Father’s larger purposes. At last, the Kingdom rule of God is indeed “at hand”—that is, possible to entertain and participate in, even amid your terminal sin nature.For starters, you can now be humble as a child, safely repent of your wrongs, receive your Father’s grace, discern His call on your life, and receive the power of His Spirit to walk it out (Matt. 1:4,5).As with John, great joy fills your heart as you “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8NIV).Eventually, however, the pain and disappointments of this broken world begin to challenge your faith, shaking the foundation of your own achievements and righteousness. Increasingly, as through great loss or illness, the world testifies to the blindness and inadequacy of your self-centeredness.You begin to realize that Jesus is no ticket to Disneyland.In a word, you feel “less.”Humiliation beckons. The Kingdom of God’s rule that you once longed for and “tasted” in Jesus, seems more of a stumbling block than a blessing.That’s because AbbaFather’s blessing presumes an agenda far greater than your own.As you allow God’s Kingdom to take over your own kingdom, that is, the eventual curse in the world’s humiliation becomes the blessing in His humility. Those who dare to know they are weak and lost, are the first to cry out for—and experience—the Father’s strength and focus.Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a severe medical condition which I still struggle to overcome. I don’t believe that God caused it, but clearly He has allowed it.Certainly, I wouldn’t have chosen it. I’ve been learning, however, to consecrate my pain and fear by surrendering it to Him for His purposes.Surgery, in fact, causes pain—not to destroy you, but rather, to heal you and thereby fit you to walk out your life purpose. I don’t praise the surgeon for the pain, but I recognize that surgery requires it.Like Jesus, who “in his life on earth made his prayers and requests with loud cries and tears to God,” I’ve sought His healing via both medical doctors and prayer intercessors (Heb. 5:7-8).When I don’t see “evidence” of healing, I do my best to persevere in trust. When my faith falls short, thankfully I have dedicated intercessors who lift me up with their faith.I can testify that AbbaFather has used this process to draw me to Himself far more deeply than I would ever have dared allow without it (Matt. 6:12).That’s what the desert trial accomplished for Israel—even as it framed Jesus’ crucifixion during the Passover which celebrates it:Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to find out what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands (Deut. 8:2).If Israel had not faced and persevered in their painful ordeal, they would never have reached the Promised Land; God’s saving purposes for humanity via the Jews would have been short-circuited. Similarly, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection released the Holy Spirit who animated Him to animate us unto today.It’s fitting this Holy Week, therefore, to remember the Story: There’s no Passover freeing you to live out God’s promises without its desert wilderness of uncertainty and pain, nor Easter resurrection without its Good Friday of becoming less.Amid our trials, it’s human nature to ask, if not demand, “How long does this process last?”It’s God nature to respond, “As long as it takes.”After all, you have some agency in the process. If the patient fights to get off the operating table, the surgery takes longer.It’s called growing up.The Great Question of youth—Who am I?—is thereby settled as you face the authentic question of mature faith: Whose am I?This decrease of yourself is an affront to your natural pride. But if you let God use it for Jesus to increase, often it can prepare you to serve Him more genuinely.Certainly, AbbaFather can heal physical brokenness, overcome emotional distress, and evict spiritual evil from you. We rightly pray for His healing, peace, and deliverance—and praise Him when He provides it.Such healing is a genuine but not sufficient revelation of God’s Kingdom—which, as Jesus declared, includes not only “recovery of sight to the blind,” but indeed, “to bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, and to set free the oppressed” (Luke 4:18).My own malady, in fact, has made me question my own—and the larger Church’s—often exclusive focus on being healed.What if, in fact, God uses suffering to prepare a way in our hearts for Him to find us? Indeed, could focusing exclusively on your own healing—and ignoring Jesus’ focus on God’s larger Kingdom—become a distraction from His surgery?Certainly, God doesn’t always heal you instantly or according to your plan. Can you nevertheless then dare persevere in faith to pray, “Father, please use this ordeal to draw me closer to you and prepare me for your Kingdom plan in my life?”Without such humility, too often we devolve into easy prayer formulas that focus on our performance instead of God’s—and thereby, breed shame and doubt when our efforts “don’t work.”Where’s the line between presumption and faith?Discernment is in order here.Jesus has come to heal a broken world and recruit you to follow Him. What if the blessing of your healing is not an end in itself—but as likely, John the Baptist’s call to make more room for Jesus and His Kingdom agenda for your life? (Rom. 2:4).If so, healing begins by facing the world’s brokenness in yourself (2 Corinth. 1:1-5).From this view, the only way out of the world’s pain and disappointment—even death itself—is through it with Jesus.That means you have to be crucified at some point in your faith journey. Your self-centered human nature must be nailed to the cross with Him. You have to face the upending truth that apart from Jesus, you’re at the mercy of the world and can never save yourself fully from its deceptions and brokenness (Rom. 7:14-8:1).That’s how Jesus’ nature, as revealed in Holy Spirit, begins to replace the kingdom of Me with the Kingdom of God.Actually, it’s awfully simple: You become less, so Jesus can become more.It can be awfully hard, however, if you have a belly button—which marks you as a certified sinner, hard-wired to turn away from God’s call.His surgery for this terminal disease is crucifixion.His healing in that process is not just a body that now works again, but a grateful heart to embrace His Kingdom purposes for your life (Rom. 2:4).That means giving up your life to God and trusting Jesus to lead you through it all. It means facing that our self-serving human nature is just not capable of generating such faith. As Paul reminds, however, “God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his purposes” (Phil. 2:12-13).Sometimes, as I have gratefully experienced, this surrender and its healing is instantaneous. But most often it seems to be an ongoing process that’s become a lifestyle.Sure, I want to hear those words, “Rise and walk—I have healed you.” But until then—even as I pray for that healing—I’m learning to find peace in my Father’s promise, “Trust and walk—I am healing you.”To me, that’s the marriage of Good Friday’s great loss and Easter’s greater victory.
RESOURCESPrevious NewslettersBooks (including mp3 readings)
- No Small Snakes: A Journey into Spiritual Warfare
- Pure Sex: The Spirituality of Desire
- Do Pirates Wear Pajamas? and Other Mysteries in the Adventure of Fathering
- Sons of the Father: Healing the Father-Wound in Men Today
- Loving to Fight or Fighting to Love? Winning the Spiritual Battle or Your Marriage (with Mary)
- Religion vs Reality: Facing the Home Front in Spiritual Warfare
Healing the Absent-father Wound
Understanding and Healing the Father Wound
What Is the Father Wound? By Jeff Eckhard
Five Surprising Ways the Father Wound Harms Women
Paul Winslow on the Godly use of Assets
Jesus, the First Begotten Son
Floyd McClung’s book The Father Heart of God is excellent.
From The Archives
GOD OUR FATHERby Lambert Dolphin and David Sacarelos
THE NEED FOR EARTHLY FATHERS
There are several signs in recent decades which demonstrate the deterioration of family and social life in the United States. One indication of the nation's spiritual decline is the increased number of young people being reared by mothers without the benefit of a father. Even when the father is present, he is often fully preoccupied with a demanding job and career. His influence over a family's daily affairs often would not even be noticed except for the pay check he provides. The generic modern American father is often remote, indifferent, unapproachable, and unavailable. He is a member of a misunderstood endangered species known as "father."
Psychologists say that a child's basic personality and unique responsiveness to his environment are established in the first five years of life. The age of gender identity formation may occur even earlier. Should not the role of the father extend beyond the mere initiation of life when the sperm is furnished to fertilize an ovum?
It is commonly acknowledged that children need to receive affection, affirmation, discipline and instruction from both parents. We are more influenced both positively and negatively during childhood and adolescence by adult role models than we are influenced by our peers. A caring father who nourishes an intimate and loving relationship makes a profound affect on a child's life. Children need caring and loving fathers. It is not always a mother's fault that her husband is not there. If she seeks God's help and mercy her children can often be headed into a path of wholeness and godlikeness in spite of a missing father. There are many individuals who have come from broken homes or difficult family backgrounds and yet experience fullness and wholeness. Many of these individuals take special care to make sure their own sons and daughters are reared in a loving and balanced family environment.
GOD AS HEAVENLY FATHER
The Bible reveals God as the Lord of the universe and calls Him "Father" in both Old and New Testaments. He is the Father and Lord of creation. James describes Him as "the Father of the lights." He created the stars as well as the angels. The Old Testament names angels as "the sons of God" (benai elohim). Paul says that every family under heaven is named or set aside for Him (Eph. 3:15). We all need a caring human father (or an equivalent) as early as possible in our lives to help us understand what God the Father is like as a Person. Remote, indifferent, unavailable human fathers can lead us to believe that God also is detached, unconcerned, and uninvolved in the daily cares of our world. However, the Psalmist (10:14) praises God as a loving Father:
"Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation."
Hosea writes (14:3) that the fatherless find mercy in Him. God is described in Psalm 10:14 as the one who helps the fatherless. King David says,
"When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up." (Psalm 27:10).
The Lord God is more than willing to help make up for absent fathers. Surely the most wonderful aspect of being a Christian is that we all have a unique relationship with the Creator of the universe, the God and Father of Jesus, the Living Spirit who is Lord of all history. Through faith in Jesus each one us may call God "Abba". (Abba is the Hebrew intimate word for "daddy.")
Unfortunately the word "dad" sounds alien to those who have never known a natural or adoptive human father as friend and intimate confidant. Though God the Father is creator of all things, He is known as a personal and loving Father only to those who call on Him and seek His face ( Acts 17:24:31). The Psalmist writes:"The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked; and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned." (Psalm 34:15-22)
We become a child of God by placing our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord so that our sins can be forgiven and removed and our spirits regenerated. God receives us into His family, one by one, by the dual process of (1) spiritual birth and (2) adoption into His family. Each one of us may therefore make a choice to belong to Him and to benefit from His loyal-love.
Those who have not yet trusted Jesus for access to the Father enjoy "common grace." God is kind, merciful and gracious towards all humanity. He is kind to His enemies and withholds judgment in long-suffering love for the fallen world. "He make His rain fall on the just and the unjust." John 3:16 says that God so loved the entire world that He gave His only Son in order that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. This great passage of the Bible is yet another proof of the Father-heart of God towards His lost and fallen creatures. He gave His most prized possession, in only Son, to buy us back to Himself."You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake." (1 Peter 1:18-20)
THE FAMILY OF GOD
Our heavenly Father has been raising sons and daughters for thousands of years! He is fully acquainted with our needs and struggles. He is able to bring us from spiritual infancy through our spiritually-formative years and on to adult "sonship." He knows when it is time to be taken home to glory and our earthly days are finished. Our Father is great! He makes no mistakes. We can be thankful for His purpose for us to be born into the life of a particular nation, race and culture as well as for the unique set of parents He has given us. He has a sovereign plan for our long-term well- being. We should thank God for, and honor, our parents (Eph. 6:2) even though it may seem they have messed up our lives.
God does not merely place us in a certain family setting and then disappear from the scene of our daily lives! He does not wait until we have grown up before He interacts with us. He would like to be with us intimately every day of our lives whether we begin to know Him at age 6 or 60. God has no "respect for persons," but as Ray Stedman noted, "God has no favorites but He has many intimates.""See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)
When we begin the Christian life we all start out as "little children" in the family of our heavenly Father. We soon begin to grow by feeding on the Word of God. We then move towards what the Bible calls "young men" (both sexes are implied). Finally God wants us to reach the stature, stability and spiritual depth of "fathers." He wants us to be stable, mature, well- rounded and wise. After we come to know the Lord Jesus in a personal way, it is very important that we respond to God's grace so that we may grow up to become whole men and women. God wills this spiritual maturity for all His children. We all need God's healing mercy to become what He wants us to be.
THE FATHER'S DISCIPLINE
Another aspect of child rearing well known to parents is the necessity of discipline in the home. Children need to have limits set for them. They must learn to distinguish between right and wrong. Even the natural curiosity of the child must be restrained at times if only to keep him from injuring himself or others. So also sons and daughters in the household of faith are trained by the discipline of their heavenly Father:"And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.' 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 to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Heb. 12:5- 11)
Many sons and daughters rebel against their parents. Sometimes they rebel for legitimate reasons, but often they rebel because of their own inborn passion, selfishness or pride. There are many prodigal sons who once named Jesus as Lord but now have departed in their life-styles far from the hopes and dreams of both their earthly parents and their heavenly Father. Some who were not disciplined by parents when they were young stray into trouble out of recklessness or self-deceit. Others have deliberately thrown off all restraints and sought their own paths in life. Parents often suffer great heartache and pain because of the foolish choices of their children. Unfortunately, everyone must suffer the consequences of bad choices in life. The Psalmist (68.6) writes, "God gives the desolate a home to dwell in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a parched land."
God desires for His children to rule as kings in the kingdom of our lives. This is possible only as we subject ourselves to the King of kings. Rebellion against legitimate authority opens us to deep inner evil. Samuel told King Saul,"...rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." (1 Sam. 15:23)
Rebellion affects not only the child (and the parents) but society as well. Under the Law of Moses, persistent rebellion against authority was a capital offense!"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel shall hear, and fear." (Deut. 21:18-21)
Though He is holy and just, God is not vindictive, cruel, harsh or repressive. "...His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance." Judgment of human evil is something He undertakes only after waiting long for our repentance. Our God is longsuffering. Lamentations describes judgment as "God's strange work." It is as if His judgment is something entirely foreign to His loving heart."The LORD passed before Moses, and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:5-7)
Rather than announcing doom, bad news and condemnation to mankind, the New Testament records instead stories of mercy, accounts of transformed lives, and parables of grace:"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them.' So Jesus told them this parable: 'What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."
"Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
"And he said, 'There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."' "And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
"But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry. "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.' But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!' And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'" (Luke 15)
JESUS: THE WAY TO THE FATHER
What is perhaps most remarkable about the story of the prodigal son, is that it was told to us by our Lord Jesus. Jesus Christ introduces us to the Father. Jesus, being the only son who has ever truly obeyed God and pleased Him, ends our estrangement from God. We were once God's enemies but are now brought near and reconciled to God by the obedience of His Son. Jesus shows us the Father by the life He lived. He said, "He who has seen me, has seen my Father." Jesus is our Elder Brother as we grow up in the family of God.
He is our daily Mediator with the Father. Many find that the Lord Jesus is especially compassionate and caring towards those who have never known a loving, caring human father.
Because of the Father's love for us and His earnest desire for us to know Him, Jesus took all our sins upon himself two thousand years ago. He opened a wide door for sinful men and women to come cleansed of sin and defilement of every kind into the presence of the holy God. This same Jesus, now alive from the dead, is fully acquainted with human weakness, sorrow, grief, suffering, and alienation. He helps us through all the forms of evil enticement we face: "He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin."
Jesus, the Christian's great high priest, is our Advocate and Healer who undertakes and champions our cause, defending the righteousness that He himself has given to us:"For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)
The New Testament says that there are "not many fathers" in the churches of Jesus Christ. This apparently means that spiritually mature male Christian leaders eligible to be surrogate fathers are rare. We can not expect to find every older male in the congregation, nor every pastor, to have a father's heart for God's children. Even pastors who love the sheep dearly and know them one by one, may not by nature feel truly fatherly towards them all. This is all the more reason for us to center our lives around Jesus and to not merely identify with a pastor, youth leader, friend or teacher as the role model of a caring father.
THE FATHER AND SOCIETY
In societies where the role of the father seems to be irrelevant, detached and impersonal, the archetype of the "great mother" seems often to follow. This means that young people grow up reluctantly and may be slow to take on responsible adult roles in society. When the religion of the "great mother" prevails, moral standards drift into permissiveness, narcissism, and self- indulgence, because righteous authority and accountability tend to be lacking. Women don't function properly when loving male leadership is missing in the home or in society. Some of the excesses of the women's rights and liberation movement can be attributed in part to the global default of the father. Terrorism, rape, and violent crime proliferate in societies where wise and loving male leadership is absent. It is well known that children for instance who have been sexually abused by a father grow up to become abusers themselves in many cases.
Christian counselors have discovered that male homosexuals almost always describe poor relationships, full of ambivalence, with their fathers. They need extra same-sex affirmation later in life in order to make up their deficits in male self-identity. It is now clear that daughters as well as sons need a father's love, attention, and assurance in order to be moved on a path towards wholeness in life. Children who have never been disciplined and lovingly affirmed by a human father often have a hard time coping with the demands of adult life and opt out for alcohol, drugs, divorce or infidelity rather than facing the toughening things God sends our way for our maturity. We lack a sense of justice and a realization that moral standards are indeed absolute when male leaders in the home and nation are spineless and compromising. It is certainly difficult for someone to easily trust God when his or her own human father was violent, unpredictable and indifferent!
THE CHRISTIAN MAN AS FATHER
Fathers ought to love their sons and daughters unconditionally. This means life-long acceptance and an open door for the worst of prodigal sons and wayward daughters to come back home. It also means accepting and adjusting to the uniqueness of one's children and not expecting them to turn out just like us . Solomon advises us to "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
This verse is often not properly interpreted. The correct meaning is that parents are to understand each of their children as unique creations of God and to respond to each of them according to his or her own differing talents, capabilities and needs.
Good parents love us conditionally as well as unconditionally so we will learn to work, support ourselves, and take responsibility for our own moral choices when we reach an age of accountability. Adult life means living with unfulfilled needs and desires, often for long periods of time. Life frequently demands the extra mile from us and dispenses postponed rewards even for jobs well done. The Christian should not despair, for the child of God's rewards are in the next life. They are the rewards with the greatest value! Non-believers around us live purely for short-term gratification and worldly pleasures. They have no hope at all for a life beyond the present one. God does not promise us in this life wealth, success, public acclaim or even good health. He only guarantees to be with us through whatever comes our way. Paul the Apostle writes,"Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:11-13)
GOD THE FATHER'S ULTIMATE PLAN
Our world is certainly messed up. Few of us start out right and fewer of us continue on the narrow path. Society continues to deteriorate: Child-abuse, perversion, violence and terrible cruelty are commonplace. As Jesus predicted, "Because wickedness is multiplied, the love of most men will grow cold." (Matthew 24:12)
God will one day intervene in our corrupt world to set things right, punish evil, and reward the godly. God has the power and the determination to restore all the societies of earth and to reestablish the family as the basis for civilization."Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:5,6)
While we wait to be with our heavenly Father and experience the restoration of all things, we are assured that this is the season of God's grace. God's is holding back His wrath and judgment. Now is the day of grace, today is the day of salvation. God our Father is loving, compassionate, forgiving and full of mercy. The Scriptures says He is not willing that any should perish but desires that all men should come to a knowledge of the truth. He longs to hold us in His arms and heal, comfort and encourage us. His response to His children is guaranteed, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
The God of the universe is different from our earthly fathers. He knows all about formative years and is eager to make all things new for you."Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For thy name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. He himself shall abide in prosperity, and his children shall possess the land. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net." (Psalm 25:8-15)
1. Floyd McClung, Jr., The Father Heart of God, (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR 97402, 1985)
2. David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting our Most Urgent Social problem,Basic Books, Harper Collins, 1995. An alarming, but excellent sociological study of the disappearance of fatherhood in the United Studies in our time.
Expendable You: Are Fathers Unnecessary? by Charles Colson
Are kids better off without their fathers?
Of course, we've all heard tragic stories about fathers who abuse their children. But that's not what I'm talking about. The American Psychological Association, or APA, recently published a study that suggests that fathers and even marriage are unnecessary for healthy child development.
The study removes any lingering doubts that the APA is about legitimate science and scholarship.
In an article called "Deconstructing the Essential Father," Louise Silverstein and Carl Auerbach set out to rebut what they call the "neoconservative defense of fatherhood." They claim that fathers do not make a "unique and essential contribution to child development." Unbelievably, they claim there's not a shred of evidence for the belief that "marriage enhances fathering or that marriage civilizes men and protects children." After all, the authors say, in- home dads might strain the family budget by spending money on themselves once in a while. All kids really need, they say, is some "responsible, care taking" adult.
The authors candidly acknowledge that they hope to influence public policy "that supports the legitimacy of diverse family structures"--such as gay parents, unmarried parents, and single moms.
Well, if nothing else, at least they're honest about their intentions, because the evidence pointing to the importance of fathers is overwhelming.
For example, sociologist David Popenoe says that after 30 years of research, he knows of few issues in which the weight of evidence is so decisively on one side. "On the whole," he says, "for children, two- parent families are preferable to single-parent and step families."
Wade Horn, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, agrees. If the authors can't find any "empirical support" for the value of fathers, he concludes, "it's because they aren't looking."
That body of evidence indicates that children raised in homes without fathers are more likely to commit crimes, abuse drugs, have children out of wedlock, live in poverty, drop out of school, and commit suicide.
Through my prison ministry, I see firsthand the terrible price we pay for America's fatherless homes. Boys who grow up without their fathers are at least twice as likely as other boys to end up in prison. Sixty percent of rapists and 72% of adolescent murderers never knew or lived with their fathers. And the issue is not one of class, race, or sex. For instance, affluent white girls raised without a father in the home are five times more likely to become mothers while still adolescents.
Scripture, history, and tradition support the overwhelming scientific evidence. We know the family--led by a mother and a father--is the God- given structure for child rearing. Substitute anything else, and we run the risk of serious problems.
Of course, intact traditional families have problems, too. But only someone blinded by a political agenda would not see that they're the best environment for children.
By God's grace, many godly single parents manage to overcome the challenges of solitary child rearing, and Christians must be ready to assist these families when they need help. And when we see so-called "family experts" making phony claims about expendable fathers, you and I must make sure our policy makers hear the truth: That human fathers, like our heavenly One, are irreplaceable.
BreakPoint Commentary #91013 - 10/13/1999
Copyright (c) 1999 Prison Fellowship Ministries
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Original draft by Lambert Dolphin, December 25, 1990, Revised and edited by David Sacarelos August 17, 1994.. Addition, October 14, 1999.
Healing and Wholeness in Jesus Christ
Fathers and Brothers
By Alan Medinger
In the world it is referred to as "father hunger," an empty place in the hearts of many men who never experienced effective fathering. For them there was no man to pour into them those things that a boy needs; no father to guide them in manliness, no man to model manhood for them, to teach them how to relate to women, to affirm their own manhood. At the least such men are left with an uncertainty as to how they should live their lives as men. At worst, they lead their lives in destructive ways.
In ex-gay ministry, the absence of a father relationship has been seen for years as a central factor in the development of male homosexuality. This is at the heart of Elizabeth Moberly's teaching (Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic). A boy fails to connect wit his father and therefore doesn't take into himself those things that are an integral part of manhood: a focus on the physical world, a desire to compete and prevail, wanting to feel strong, and a propensity to lead.
Not having received a kernel of these manly qualities from his father, he goes out into the world of boys and finds he is lacking. He doesn't measure up. Feeling rejected and uncomfortable, he withdraws from the world of boys and men, the arena in which manhood is developed.
With women who deal with homosexuality, the dynamics are quite different, but the negative impact of fatherlessness is still there. Many of them were hurt by men, sometimes their fathers, often not, but defensively they cut themselves off from men-including their fathers.
Cut off from their fathers, they were unable to see men as offering security. More likely, they saw them as a threat. Also, where the father relationship was broken, the woman never felt affirmed in her womanhood by her father. She missed out on an essential part of growing to joyfully accept her femininity. Unable to see the beautiful complementarity between men and women, she grew up with a distorted view of both.
So we have vast numbers of men and women, some with same-sex attractions, some not, seriously impaired by a lack of a father relationship. Many today are seeking a father. We find this especially among same-sex-attracted men, a craving for a father, a man from whom they can receive the love, affirmation and direction that they didn't receive from their natural fathers.
One of the common theories guiding therapy for same-sex attracted men has been that they need to be re-fathered. Many men, feeling this father hunger, have leapt at this solution. Although this makes sense in theory, few men ever seem to find such a "father." I see a couple of reasons for this.
To be a "father" to another person is an enormous task. Few men have the time or the inclination for this kind of involvement in the life of another person who is not a part of their family. The needy one, like a little boy, often demands a father who will be his all-in-all. This dad must offer security, guidance, comfort, authority, direction, all of the things a small child needs. It is a rare man who can fill such a role. Furthermore, as adults, to look to a man to be all of this is to risk drifting into idolatry. Men who seek such a relationship are likely setting themselves up for disappointment.
In our ministry I have had a number of men and women seek to put me in such a father role. Almost always, I failed them. I could not be to them what a father is to a little child. Their emotional needs placed me in one position, and their rational minds saw me in another. Typically, they could not stand to see my flaws and weaknesses. Their little child wanted a dad who was perfect; their adult saw how imperfect I was. Often this led to anger on their part. Another man, just like their father, had let them down.
In any discussion of this subject, surely the thought of God the Father is going to come to mind. Isn't He the one to fulfill this role in our lives, even as adults? It is certainly true that He has revealed Himself as Father, and Scripture often refers to us as His sons and daughters. But there seems to be one problem here. God's normal way of bringing us to know Him as Father, was through our first experiencing an earthly father. The metaphor of "Father" doesn't work if we don't really know what a father is. Sometimes God works around this, but many times He does not. Although we may know Jesus in a deep personal way, not having fully experienced a father, we find ourselves unable to see God as Father.
I propose that a remedy to this problem of fatherlessness can be found in an "older brother." In this context, an older brother is a Christian man - who might be older or younger - who can fill us in some of those places left by our lack of fathers. Before I describe how this can work, let me share with you how several "older brothers" played an important role in my life.
When I was very young I was clearly on the road to effeminacy. I can remember at about age 6 or 7 wanting to be a ballerina. My idols were glamorous women. But I had one friend, Bill, who presented another world to me. Bill was a neighbor two years older than I. He was extremely strong and quite daring, willing to do any of the wild and crazy things that young boys admire. And Bill liked me; he was my friend. Bill showed me what manhood was and I admired what I saw, and through his acceptance of me, I gained a faint hope for my own manhood. The relationship wasn't enough to keep me from homosexuality, but I believe it got me off the track into extreme effeminacy.
Until I was in my early 20s, Bill was the older brother whose friendship, affirmation and role modeling had an important positive impact on my life. When we were in our forties, after Bill had spent years as an alcoholic, many of them on skid row, our roles changed. I had the privilege of leading him to the Lord and his life was radically changed. Until his death early this year I was an older brother to Bill.
Bob was an older brother who came along much later. In my early years of running Regeneration - as a very insecure ministry leader - Bob came alongside of me as a great friend and booster. He became President of the Regeneration Board and was my accountability partner for a number of years. Bob had confidence in me and knew how to encourage. He has an outgoing, robust, confident kind of manhood that was a model for me. And he was my friend. Bob's older brother role in my life was to help me grow in self-confidence and in my acceptance of my own manhood.
Today, my homosexuality is a thing of the distant past, and I am comfortable with my manhood. However, I find that I can still be helped and blessed by an older brother. Whether this comes from a residual father hunger that has never fully left me, or it is a part of all men, I really don't know. But I know that I still grow from my relationships with older brothers. I recently had a wonderful experience that illustrated this.
It was my first Sunday in church after my diagnosis of having prostate cancer. At the end of the service I went forward for healing prayer. As an elder was praying a beautiful prayer for me, my friend David came up and put his arm around me. As he did, I broke down. I am quite certain that it was not my fear of the cancer that brought the tears; it was the love of my brother. "Older brother" David is actually some years younger than I. He is another strong man, one who is competitive in the world and zealous in the things of the Lord. David and I have had a relationship of being older brothers to each other as the circumstances required. For me, David has been an older brother in offering encouragement and counsel and in offering open expressions of brotherly love.
As I look at these men and many others I have known, I see two primary elements that qualify a man to be an older brother.
First, he must be manly. He must have in him a solid core of manhood that makes his actions--and his words of encouragement, acceptance and affirmation ring with masculine authority. This is a difficult thing to describe - I took a couple of chapters to do it in my book - but it is his unquestioned manhood that makes us glad to receive what he has to offer, even if it is words of admonition or correction.
Second, he must like us. We can't be his "project." There needs to be a genuine friendship between you and him. You like him and he likes you. His liking to be with you and his manliness will combine to provide strong affirmation even when no words of affirmation are spoken.
Contrast this with the search that many strugglers have sought to find a "daddy." Their desire is for someone who will be there for them all the time. For men, pursuing a daddy has a tendency to cast them perpetually in a little-boy role. So many of our men talk of feeling like little boys in the company of men, not what they want or need.
In a brother relationship, on the other hand, there is mutuality. He is there for us in some circumstances and we are there for him in others, but he has his own life apart from us. Recognizing this and allowing for it, we avoid the possessiveness that can easily shipwreck a friendship.
There can be no sexual tension in the relationship. Although the older brother is almost always going to be attractive in some way - or he isn't someone we would want to be friends with - that attraction must not be sexualized. Fortunately, we find that most of our men discover that when they get to know a man well, sexual attraction usually fades from the picture.
Thus far, I have addressed older brothers only for men. I don't have the personal experience to back it up, but I believe that an older brother can play an important role in the life of a woman from a lesbian background. When men have been a threat or a source of pain in a woman's past, a first step in moving towards an openness to and appreciation for manhood can come from a relationship with an older brother. Taking place in the Christian community, with both parties openly acknowledging the nature of the relationship, and certainly with the wife's consent if there is one, this could provide a safe and healing experience for the woman. Where do we find older brothers? An active life in the church and in the world is most apt to uncover them. There is a good chance, however, that there already are men in your life who can play this role. Sometimes it only requires that you open your eyes to relationships that you already have with men. Just as someone can be starving because he doesn't recognize that the "brick" lying nearby is really a loaf of bread, often we are in relationships that can bless us in ways that we never imagined. I am not saying, take a friend and make him into an older brother. I am saying that he may already be in that role, but you need to be conscious of it, to savor it, and to ask God to let that relationship fill in some the empty places in you. Then, as you expect it, it may happen. (December, 2000)
Regeneration News is published monthly by Regeneration, Inc., a nonprofit tax exempt Christian ministry associated with Exodus International - North America. We seek to bring God's healing to homosexuals and to help the Body of Christ in reaching out to those caught in homosexuality. Permission is granted for churches and ministries to photocopy or reprint for noncommercial purposes any article from this newsletter. Abridgments or modifications of articles do require prior approval by Regeneration. Regeneration News is sent without charge to those who request it. Our continued operation is entirely dependent on contributions, and we appreciate any financial help from our subscribers. For further information write: Regeneration, P.O. Box 9830, Baltimore, MD 21284-9830.
From their web site:
"Christ came to redeem our desires, not to extinguish them. In union with Him, we can experience freedom from sin and freedom to love. Our aim is to become people who want what God wants.
Regeneration helps those seeking wholeness in the areas of intimacy, identity, and desire by inviting them into community marked by the truth and grace of Jesus. Very often, relational, sexual, and emotional struggles become more difficult to work through because of experiences that have subtly shaped our sense of identity and hinder healthy intimacy with God and others.
God created relationships, sex and sexuality to be good and powerful parts of our lives. But just as these can bring life and love, used wrongly they can also bring great pain, confusion, and destruction. People participating in Regeneration are able to rely on Jesus as, together, we grow closer to Him who brings deep restoration and emotional and spiritual belonging.
The staff and leaders of Regeneration understand the pain and confusion of struggling with sexual sin, relational brokenness, and emotional unhealthiness. We provide an environment of support and encouragement for those who want to change.
We believe growth occurs as we deepen our intimacy with God, experience healing of past wounds, cultivate healthy relationships, and learn to walk in our true identity in Christ."
Regeneration works alongside the local church to provide a Christ-centered ministry that is compassionate and consistent with Scripture and historic Christian teaching." NOTE: Added March 2, 2019.
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