Friday, June 14, 2013

More Here Than Meets the Eye

With Father’s Day coming up, devotionals this week will be all about dads.  Included are some personal accounts from some of our staff.  Their thoughts are honest reflections on fatherhood with the struggles, strengths and weaknesses of real-life dads.  Enjoy. 

Submitted by John Dennie
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…Ephesians 4:1 (NASB95)

I have an acquaintance who once told me that it wasn’t until she was a freshman in college that she realized that people didn’t cry every day. Until then, she had just assumed because she spent a part of each day weeping uncontrollably for most of her life, that it must be normal. It broke my heart when I realized that the lens through which she viewed the world colored everything in a hazy, painful gray. She was from the tonier West side of Fort Worth and her father was a very successful surgeon. My friend’s father appeared on the outside to have it all together. He represented everything our American culture identifies as success. He collected cars that cost more than the average person’s house. He employed people full-time that kept his household running and his lawn trimmed. He had a reputation as a brilliant doctor whose job it was to save lives and he was often the toast of the finer private clubs in our community. Yet when he was home he would so terrorize his family that his children are even now battling spiritual and emotional illness as adults. I still remember how shocked I was when my friend told me about her life and the damage her father had done. And then I realized that I had been making the opposite assumption she had made. I thought surely most peoples’ parents were as idyllic as mine. And because this was my norm, I assumed it was the norm. Please believe me when I say this – I was wrong. There truly is more here than meets the eye. In fact, with each passing year since learning of my friend’s life at home, I’ve been confronted with the fact that her life is far more common than I ever would have thought and I have now heard enough of these stories to fill a book. Indeed, there are people in our church who are enduring the same experiences. The point is this. Things are getting worse, not better and I have to believe that at some level much of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Christian men. That’s because Christian men have been so lulled to sleep by the “activity” of doing the right things, that they have forgotten the “challenge” of doing battle with the wrong things. We’re not answering God’s call to take the gospel to our neighbors and we’re especially not casting a net that would bring unsaved men into our fellowship. Take a look at the following data to see what I mean.

•           This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.

•           Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.

•           Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.

•           Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Hey look man. I’m here. I’m paying my tithes (sometimes).  I don’t beat my wife or yell at my kids. I don’t even drink beer unless it’s Super Bowl Sunday.” Well . . . cool. But there is still more here than meets the eye. In fact, how many families on your street can you name? Do you know if any of those dads have a relationship with Christ? Even now as I write these questions I recognize how incredibly trite and mundane they must appear to long-standing believers. And maybe that’s why men aren’t reaching out to other men and dads aren’t reaching out to other dads. Perhaps familiarity with the concept of evangelism is breeding contempt. But while I cannot say with any certainty why my friend’s father was such an abusive man, I can say that had Christ been in his life things could have been better – much, much better. So, here’s the point.

Being a good father means more than providing material, emotional and spiritual support for your children. Those things are indeed important, but you can have all of that going in your favor and still miss the mark. That’s because as father’s we are to model behavior for our children. And what more important behavior is there than being obedient to Christ. You see, Christ has called us to be witnesses for Him – first in our families, next in our communities and finally in all the world. If you’re reading this and you’re a father, let me encourage you to touch base with another father before this Sunday. Get to know him and his spiritual condition. Invite him to church for our father’s day service. Then, after this father’s day plug in to our Men’s Ministry and let your children see more in you than meets the eye. Let them get a long hard look at what a godly father looks like.

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