Self image, insecurity, and God’s purpose for your life

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self imageA healthy self image and God’s purposes

Have you ever asked yourself, “who am I?” It is natural for you to yearn to know who you are and foundational in order to have a proper self image.

We as humans seek self-realization, self-confidence and a healthy self image, all of which are necessary for the confidence required to be successful in life.

God has called you to fulfill a specific purpose through your life. God has general purposes and specific individual purposes.

God called Abram to be the father of nations. When Abram stepped into the eternal purpose that God had for him, he also entered into a private conflict, a personal war that he needed to win. God placed him before this personal war so that he could fulfill God’s purposes. Abram was already an old man when God told him that he would have a son and a nation would proceed from His loins. Sarah, Abram’s elderly and barren wife, needed to become fertile. That was quite an obstacle for is self image to overcome and caused him major internal conflicts.

God called Moses to establish a nation, but first Moses had to overcome problems and past failure in his life when he tried to do things in his own strength. He went from one extreem in his self image to the other.  Only after 80 years did he accept his God-given self image.

God called the Apostle Paul to lay the foundation for the Church, but God also permitted him to suffer his “thorn in his flesh” so that through it, His purpose would be fulfilled.  Paul had one of the healthiest self images of all time.

God established a purpose and a personal war for each bible character. He has also established a purpose and personal war for your life. Do you know what your purpose is? Do you know which battle is yours to win, and yours alone?

If something stops you in life, and you feel a loss of direction and purpose, you must seek the Holy Spirit’s direction before proceeding or wasting time doing nothing.  Because if you don’t, you will get stuck in a unhealthy self image,  lose the fight and miss the fulfillment of God’s purpose for your life.

In order for God’s people to be able to walk in His purposes for their lives they need clarity in identifying these purposes. When we know and accept God’s purpose for our lives, the Word of God acts as a sword and compass and we perceive that it is a blessing for us, providing us with understanding of who we are and joy in fulfilling our service, our worship and meeting other’s needs.

God’s will is for us to have a proper self image and win on a personal level!

If we do not overcome life’s circumstances on the personal level, our failure will hinder and even prevent the fulfillment of God’s purposes.  You may be wondering, “Can our failure hinder God’s purposes? Isn’t He sovereign?  The answer is YES and YES!

God did not call Saul to be a defeated and weak king. However, that is what he became, because he made wrong choices. When God gave Cain to Adam, it was not to reject him or make him an outcast, that was a result of Cain’s choices.

You must choose between being a winner or a loser if you see yourself as a loser you will lose, if you see yourself as what God has made you, you will have to face battles, but eventually you will win and fulfill your God given purpose in life.

God’s purpose is for you to become a winner, an overcomer. Becoming an overcomer implies having success in life’s experiences that gradually increase your faith.

The problem is that there are factors that prevent you from having successful experiences.

Several things can prevent God’s purposes from becoming reality in your life:

Lack of Vision and proper self image

Without a vision and sense of identity as a “child of God,” the experiences will not come. Even the secular world has discovered that self-perception determines quality of life!

Lack of Perseverance

Possessing vision and a proper self image and identity, when you know who you are, these things provide the motivation necessary to persevere and insist on victory despite all obstacles and adverse circumstances as we keep our eyes on Christ and not on the difficulties of our personal battles.

Self-Preservation

We all have two choices in life, victory or self-preservation. Those who prioritize protecting themselves will never have many positive experiences with God. I am not implying that you must be reckless to have positive experiences with God but you definitely must lose the fear of exposing yourself to risks, new challenges and potentially uncomfortable circumstances.

Insecurity

God works in us so that eventually we become increasingly secure, bold and intrepid in our faith. The devil strives to make us insecure because he knows that if we are secure in our faith in God, nothing can stop us.

Insecurity makes us unstable and instability leads us do things that we should not do and paralyzes us from doing what we should, therefore, insecurity is the basis of almost all of our problems.

In the next post, I will examine the problem of insecurity and lack of confidence more thoroughly.


Know your identity and where you are going!

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do you know your identity?Do you know your identity, who you are and where you are going?

There are three types of people:

Those of you who know your identity and what you were made for and keep at it . . .  eventually you will succeed.

Then there is the rest

Most people can be catagorized into those who are flexible but lost. They are the ones who ask themselves “who am I this week?”  Then we have those who are tenacioulsy lost who reassure themselves saying things like “I am Napoleon bonaparte”.  Those who know who they are are the ones that are sensibly found and constantly affirm “I am me and I have a job to do!  What about you, do you know your identity?

Those who imagine that what they are doing is going to eventually work out wonderfully, when it doesn’t they give up and try something else.  Their ideas have a shelf life of a carton of milk.

Those who imagine that what they are doing is going to eventually work out wonderfully, when it doesn’t, they don’t give up, they keep going and going, losing everything in the process, family, time . . . life.

The last two types of people end up wasting their lives, one constantly trying to find out who he is and where he belongs but never succeeding, and the other stubbornly insisting that he knows who he is and where he belongs but he was wrong from the beginning.  Each has a quality, the first flexibility the second tenacity.  Qualities however are useless if we don’t know who we are and why we are here.  Find out these two things first and then build on that.

What about you, do you know your identity and where you are going? What are you doing to get there?  Go ahead share with us if you have a plan.


What the Church is not must be understood as well as what it is!

what the church is notWhat the church is not. . .

Surprisingly, the New Testament speaks much more about fellowship than evangelism. Normally, people decide whether to join a church or not depending on the welcome that they receive. Most people will not stay in a church that provides no friendships. Christianity is, above all, about relationships and friendship is the largest bridge for evangelism. Polls show that the overwhelming majority of people (almost 80%) come to Christ because of a family relationship or friendship. The bible refers to the church in very explicit and definite terms; however, what the church is not is too often passed off as a legitimate and biblical concept of the church. In order to get things straight, let us examine just what the church is not.

Renew your concept of church

After a while, we lose the freshness of community life. Even when the church has a small group ministry, it can become just another program. If the church loses the distinction of a community of fellowship, very little remains and what God intends to be a blessing to us ends up being “sand in our eyes”, painful, unpleasant and irritating.

What the Church is not. . .

The Church is not a club, where everyone pays their dues, and comes and goes as they please. Some still think that tithes are the contribution of a club. We should contribute to advance the kingdom of God and not to have some kind of personal benefit as of a club member.
The Church is not a shelter for Christians, where each member seeks his own little corner and serves his self-interests. We are not here to do our own will, but the will of Him who calls us out of darkness into his marvelous light. The Church does not exist primarily for us; rather God has called us to take part in the church to fulfill the purposes of God.

The Church is not a spiritual service provider, of which the members are merely customer hoping to have their needs met. Many regard the Church as a spiritual service provider, which they may seek, whenever they want, a strong ministry, interesting teaching, classes appropriate for their children, a pleasant environment, and so on. When, for some reason, the services of the Church fall in quality, these consumers go looking for another, more efficient spiritual shopping center. Members thus have no alliance with the body. God’s desire is that we remain in the church, or return if necessary, to establish and renew alliances with each member of the Church.

The Church is not an event where we are only spectators. For some, the Church is nothing more than spiritual entertainment. They enjoy the music, the preaching and the environment, but still do not understand the reality of spiritual worship that results in a living sacrifice in God’s presence. The church is a family, where we have one Father, an older brother and all other brothers and sisters some older, some younger and some of the same age.

The Church is not a hospital, where a multitude of sick, injured and diseased people hang out needing constant emergency room care. The Church is not a place of sickbeds, medicine racks and x-ray machines. The Bible nowhere teaches anything remote even though we know that many times it is filled with physically and spiritually infirm people. The church is not a home for sick people although it is a place of healing. Yes, there are sick people in the church! There are many kinds of people in the church, even insane people but we cannot correctly say that the church is a spiritual insane asylum, even though we might feel like doing so.

Knowing what the church is not is foundational before we consider what the churh is.

I have the right – The sinner’s bill of rights

I have the right - Sinners bill of rights

The sinner bill of rights

I have the right!

How many times have those words come out of your mouth? We as human beings are constantly demanding our rights.  Think about it. Most irritation, frustration and anger is caused by an infringment of what we consider to be our God given rights. I have the right to  peace and quiet!  I have the right to be respected, the list goes on.

The bible however does not grant rights to every person indiscriminately. Thus the tention in the life of a sinner.  The sinner strives to establish rights that God has not given him. They are unspoken many times and they are ridiculous.  Here they are.

I have the right

  1. I have the right to be happy at all times and if anyone gets in the way of my happiness, I will sue him or her.
  2. I have the right to everyone’s universal and unconditional respect at all times.
  3. I have the right to make mistakes without anyone calling it to my attention or attempting to correct me. After all, nobody is perfect.
  4. I have the right to judge the motives of others but nobody ever has the right to judge my motives or think badly of me.
  5. I have the right to break any commitment that I deem unnecessary and inconvenient for me to keep, but no one has the right to break any commitment with me.
  6. I have the right to be forgiven, as many times as necessary but if I do not want to forgive someone, no one has the right to think less of me for it.
  7. I have the right to forget anything that I don’t judge important or that I can’t remember without being injured or harmed in any way because of my forgetfulness.
  8. I have the right to impose my choice and preference in any decision made ​​within any group that I choose to join without having to hear any expression of displeasure from any of the other members.
  9. I have the right to choose anyone to be my friend regardless of his or her interest in being my friend.
  10. I have the right to add any and as many additional rights to this list that I want whenever I want.

Atheism: an implausible and problematic position

Atheism implausible

 Atheism is implausible!

This post is not about ridiculing atheism, it is simple a call to think.  As there are no doubt proponents of theism who don’t think, there are also proponents of atheism who don not think.  I personally find it stimulating to share with my fellow “atheistic” human beings thoughts about our origins and human nature.  Just as I welcome anyone how holds to atheism as a respected friend, I also expect to be received as a “respected” friend to anyone who claims that there is no God.
Thomas Edison, once said, “We do not know a millionth of one percent about anything.”  Suppose that a person claiming to be an atheist has an incredible 1 percent of all the knowledge in the universe.  Would it be possible, in the 99 percent of the knowledge that he has not yet come across, that there might be ample evidence to prove the existence of God?   Any reasonable person will be forced to admit that it is possible.  Somewhere, in the vast knowledge that he has not yet discovered, there could be enough proof that God does exist.  It is really quite arrogant to imply that ones experience includes the great majority of reality in the universe.

Let’s say that I were to make an absolute statement such as, “There is no more unclaimed gold in California.” If there is one speck of gold in California, then my statement is false and I have no basis for it.  I need absolute knowledge of every square inch of California before I can make such an absolute statement.  On the other hand for me to say, “There is unclaimed gold in California,” I don’t need to have all knowledge.  If there is even one speck of gold in the state, the statement is true.

To categorically say, “there is no God”, is to make an absolute statement.  For the statement to be true, a person must know for certain that there is no God in the entire universe.  No human being has all knowledge.  Therefore none of us is able to truthfully make this assertion.

Anyone who insists upon disbelief in God must say, “having the limited knowledge that I have at present, I believe that there is no God.”  Owing to a lack of knowledge on his part, he doesn’t know if God exists.  So, in the strict sense of the word, nobody can be an atheist.  The only true qualifier for the title is the One who has absolute knowledge and atheism claims that “He” does not exist.”

Those professing atheism are actually what is called “agnostics” those who claim they “do not know” if God exists, or those who profess ignorance.  I believe that this ignorance is willful.  It is not that a person can’t find God, but that he chooses not to.  It is said that the Italian dictator Mussolini once stood on a pinnacle and cried, “God, if You are there, strike me dead!  “When God didn’t immediately bow to his dictates, Mussolini concluded that there was no God.  However, his prayer was answered sometime later, he was shot to death several times in the chest, hung upside down on a meat hook and reportedly stoned by an angry mob.  I suppose that since then, he has concluded that he jumped to the wrong conclusion.

Everyone a leader – Church growth and the vision of every member a leader

everyone a leaderEveryone a leader

The validity of the concept of everyone a leader has been shown by an experiment performed with five people placed in a boat in the middle of a lake.  Each person received an oar and was instructed to row the boat back to shore with no details as to what side of the lake they should go or who should direct the group.

At first, each person started rowing in different directions and the boat just spun in circles.  Soon they all recognized that they needed to agree on what direction they should row.  Different members of the group began suggesting different directions and finally one of them took the lead and directed the others to row in the same direction.  Once the group reached the shore the person who took the lead was removed and the remaining four were taken to the center of the lake again and the process was repeated.  This time a different person quickly took charge and directed the other three to the nearest shore.  The process was repeated until only one person remained.

What this “everyone a leader experiment” reveals is that each time they removed the leader; another leader took his place to complete the task and lead the group.  The traditional idea is that the first person to assume leadership is the leader and the rest are the followers.  However, this experiment shows “everyone a leader” is a valid general concept and under the right conditions, everyone will assume the responsibility to get the job done.

Everyone a leader – different levels in different circumstances

There are several levels of leadership and some people are reluctant leaders, but the concept of “everyone a leader” proves true every time.  Just think of any area where you have more knowledge or experience within any given group.  Within that context, most likely you will take on the function of the leader.  In any give circumstance, you may not have a leadership title, but the group will recognize you as the authority in that circumstance or situation.  For example if you are a medical student among a group of friends, you most likely will be the designated leader in the event of a medical emergency.  All eyes will look to you as the one who has the most authoritative answer until a more authoritative medical figure arrives on the scene.  Upon reflection “everyone a leader”  is self-evident.

Everyone a leader in the church

In the church, the idea that not all are called to be leaders must be rejected.  Otherwise, the great majority will attempt to assume the position of follower.  It is true that we are all followers but we are also all leaders.  Just as everyone is either a son or a daughter, most will naturally also become fathers and mothers.  In the Church, we must insist on the same idea.  We are all followers but we eventually all become leaders.  God gave ministers to the church to train other ministers.  Almost any local church can explode into growth when each member recognizes that the leadership exists to train them so that they develop basic ministerial functions and as they develop they develop others who will then develop others.  Paul put it succinctly in 2 Timothy 2:2

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

The only requirement for each minister is that he be faithful, and that he teaches others as well.  Therefore, the only people in the body of Christ who exclude themselves from the discipleship cycle are the unfaithful.  Spiritual reproduction and multiplication are for faithful Christians.  According to these words, God declares any Christian that excludes himself from this mandate unfaithful.  There is honestly no other way to interpret the rejection of this responsibility and task thus: everyone a leader becomes necessary.

Suppose that you are part of a church of 100 members.  Your pastor decides to spend the majority of his time working with 10 of the most mature people of the congregation.  As he meets with this group, he teaches each one some basic lessons in pastoral ministry. Then he advances and begins to establish a discipleship relationship with each of these members and eventually is able to develop them as his own spiritual children as Paul did with Timothy and other younger brothers.  Then he challenges each of the ten to lead a group of eight or nine members of the church passing on to them what he had taught each one of them in the same mentor type fashion.  He constantly reminds them that the purpose of these groups is to grow and multiply through evangelism and discipleship. Then he challenges each one of them to win one new person to Christ each year and father that person to spiritual maturity.

If each person in this structure was successful in fulfilling this challenge, then the church would double its membership once a year. If it was able to sustain this multiplication over several years, it could win the entire world population in less than 28 years.

Of course for this to happen there has to be a proper transmission of the vision and commitment to sustain each generation of disciples. The point that I wish to make is to paint in broad strokes the vision of a spiritual inheritance that you can begin to build today.  Even if you accomplish just a fraction of the above example, you can expect to produce hundreds and thousands of spiritual children that will one day be your crown and glory in the Kingdom of Jesus the King of Kings.

Of course without the principle of “everyone a leader” the possibilities become diminished exponentially.

The role of the family in God’s Eternal Plan and Purposes

role of the familyThe role of the family in God’s Plan and Purpose

The role of the family in modern society and the purpose for it has almost been forgotten.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

God designed marriage and family as the most fundamental of human relationships.  Due to misunderstanding of the God given role of the family in the world today, we see families devastated by conflict and plagued by neglect and abuse.  Because of misunderstanding of the role of the family divorce has become a common word, meaning hardness and misery for many millions of its victims.

Because they don’t understand the importance of the role of the family, many men have never learned to be devoted husbands and fathers.  Many women are running away from their God-given roles because they never recognized or knew their role in the family.  Parents who have no idea how to prepare their children are often plagued by conflict with their frustrated boundary-starved children.  Others simply abandon their duty, leaving children without any preparation or provision to adequately face the challenges of society.

For many people today, the comforting and familiar phrase “Home, Sweet Home” is nothing more than an empty illusion.  There is nothing fresh or safe in a home where there is abuse, betrayal and abandonment and where there is no vision of the purpose and role of the family.

Is there a solution?  Can we avoid such tragedies in our families?  Can young couples keep the glow of love and optimism decades after making the vows of marriage?  Is there hope for recovery of terrible mistakes of the past?

The answer to all these questions is YES!  The solutions however are rarely simple.  Solidly constructed families are built according to a plan they don’t pop into existence by chance.  Only by recognizing and returning to God’s pattern for the role of the family can we begin to understand the great blessings He has prepared for us through families built on the solid rock of His Word.  Let us briefly consider some basic principles taught in the Bible about the family and the role of the family in society as a whole.

The basic purpose of God for the Family

When the refrigerator stops working, we turn to the user’s manual written by the manufacturer, who knows more about it than we do.  We read the manual to solve the problem.  When we see so many problems in families today, it only makes sense that our Creator, who wrote the “Family Instruction manual” and established the role of the family, would know more about it than we do.  We need to read the manual to find how to build and maintain good homes.  We find these instructions in the Bible.  It guides us in every aspect of service to God, including the fulfillment of our roles within the family.

Marriage

The family begins with marriage.  When God created Adam and Eve, he revealed his basic plan for marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24).  The divine pattern is clear.  A man engaged to a woman.  Thousands of years later, Jesus affirmed that this is still God’s plan.  He quoted this verse and added: “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).  God designed marriage as a lifelong commitment and relationship which is only terminated by the death of either the husband or the wife.  (Romans 7:1-3).

God approved of sex only within marriage.  There is nothing evil or impure about sex within a marriage approved by God (Hebrews 13:4).  Husbands and wives have the responsibility to satisfy the God given sexual desires of their companions as part of their role in the family (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).

All other sexual relationships are always and absolutely wrong.  Homosexual intercourse is absolutely forbidden by God (Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  God did not create Adam and Steve, He made a woman, Eve, as a suitable partner for Adam.  Sex before marriage, even among people who want to marry, is condemned by God (1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 8-9, Galatians 5:19).  All extra-marital sexual relations are also clearly prohibited by God in His Word and have no legitimate role in the family(Hebrews 13:4).

Children

Couples thus united in marriage before God enjoy the privilege of having children.  Child bearing is one of the fundamental roles of the family. God commanded Adam and Eve and Noah’s sons to have children (Genesis 1:28, 9:1).  Although not all people have to get married, and not all have children, is still the basic plan of God is  that children be born into families, complete with mother and father (1 Timothy 5:14).  Nowhere in the Bible do we find authorization for a woman to have sex to conceive a child, before or without marriage.  Single parenthood, which is becoming the norm in modern society, is a departure from God’s plan and the role of the family that will lead to serious consequences for future generations.

Five-fold ministry gifts – How to disciple spiritual children

five-fold ministryFive-fold ministry and spiritual child rearing

The five-fold ministry is usually addressed within the context of trans-denominational high-profile ministries, but on closer examination the five-fold ministry has more to do with discipleship than itinerant ministry.

In Ephesians 4:11-16 the apostle Paul outlined the relationship between ministers in the five-fold ministry gifts and the edification of the Church.

The five-fold ministry described

 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ –  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Traditionally and even in small group or cell group based churches this passage has been interpreted as an affirmation that God raises up ministers and special ministries to fulfill the basic ministerial functions of each church.  The functions recognized are church planting (apostles), prophecy or ministry of the Word (prophets), evangelism (evangelists), pastoral ministry (pastors), and bible teachers.  The common conclusion is that these ministers build up and cause the church to spread as the entire church learns from them as experts. However, this interpretation ignores the remaining portion of the passage where we learn that God gives these “ministers” for the perfecting of the saints to do the work of the ministry.

Because of the perfecting process in the saints for the work of the ministry, they edify the body and it grows into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  Therefore what we have here, are the main subjects that each saint needs for his training in Christian leadership so that he may do his part in the edification of the body.  Each of these “gifts” (ministers) to the church then teaches the curriculum peculiar to their distinguishing ministry.  Theologians often call these gifts the five-fold ministry gifts.

The five-fold ministry applied

So then, the Apostle teaches the entire church how to plant a church which is the reason for Christian leadership.  The prophet teaches the whole church how to discern the direction of each work within the general guidelines of the written Word.  The evangelist models evangelistic techniques that each member must learn. In addition, the pastors and teachers train the body (each member) how to develop a pastoral and teaching ministry.  In other words, God calls all Christians to practice all of the ministerial functions whenever the need arises.

Part of the pastoral ministry is to train new pastoral ministers.  Even if most of these ministers never receive a title of “pastor” or elder or deacon, the reality is that they are already operating in these ministries.  Eventually the church will recognize them as such and will incorporate them as either staff workers or “lay” leaders.

I have learned that beyond recognizing the need for each member to be a minister we must advance and insist that each member be willing to develop into a recognized leader within the church.  In order to obey the great commission it is inevitable that each member become the leader of at least one person, the person they are training as a disciple.  Discipleship is not only transferring what we are to another person but also transferring our ministerial competence and abilities thus multiplying leadership in the church through the five-fold ministry and producing multipliers instead of mere converts.

 

Spiritual growth – How to disciple spiritual children Part 3 – The power of example and words

Spiritual growthSpiritual growth – The power of example and words

Spiritual growth in the heart

In the previous post I mentioned that before parents teach any spiritual growth principles to their children the commands of the Lord must be “in their hearts” and that from the very beginning, the pattern for the multiplication of human generations depends on the mother and father having a correct relationship with God and His Word.  I concluded by declaring that if the parents fail here, they will seriously compromise the whole process of spiritual growth.

Spiritual growth through the spoken word

However, this love and heart knowledge of the Word of God still is not sufficient to establish God’s pattern for spiritual growth and multiplication.  The parents must diligently teach that which is in their hearts concerning the Lord.  While it is true that children subconsciously receive many things that their parents pass on to them in virtue of being together, the parents need to diligently and purposely teach many other things. Parents must cultivate a healthy flow of communication between themselves and their children so that they reinforce their example with words.

Spiritual growth integrated in all aspects of life

Finally, the examples and words from the heart need to be present throughout all aspects of family life: time together in the home, outside in the way, rising up in the morning and settling down at the end of the day.  The principles of the Word should be constantly before the family to the point of writing them on the walls and carrying them in written form throughout the day.  When parents and their children follow this pattern, God can much more easily manifest His favor and plan to the nations.

From this principle, we can begin to understand how the Lord works through the local church to fulfill the Great Commission of making and multiplying disciples.  This must be done on the local church level since the Universal Church while a true entity is also an impractical model for discipleship just as the concept of the entire human family is useless for raising your own children.

Some evangelical writers and church leaders teach that the great commission is the local church’s responsibility and not the individual member’s concern.  This is also an impractical position since any given member can try to push off his responsibility to the remaining part of the local church.  This thinking is useless.  I am not suggesting that each member of the church treat the great commission on an individual level independent of the local church.  However, I am suggesting that it is necessary that each church member be taught to be a responsible “disciple maker” so that if each member does his or her part the whole church will be effective to this end.

While in recent years, many churches have assimilated the restoration of the “Universal priesthood of the believer” into their current church ecclesiology, in practice the great majority of 21st century Christians have no Biblical based ministerial function within the church.  I am not referring to titles but to functions. (continued)

Father figure – How to disciple spiritual children Part 2 – Principle factor in child rearing

father figureFather figure – principle factor in child rearing

Child rearing is a powerful principle.  However, it is also a two-edged sword.  When a father figure fails to be a worthy role model for his children, his failure complicates the development of future generations that proceed from his headship.  God has designed us in such a way that we intrinsically develop our own identity based on the way our parents or guardians raised us.  When the father figure is missing in the life of a child there are always unfavorable consequences.  One of the strategies of Satan is his attack on the family.  He knows that if he effectively mounts an attack on the fathers he can install his misery into their lineage for generations to come.  The only hope for a child that has grown up in the absence of a father figure is to at some point humbly receive a surrogate father that is able to communicate the same love and patience that a godly father would show to his own children.

Unfortunately, in the case where a father has been absent or deficient as a worthy role model, the children, while conscious of their own emotional need, develop defense mechanisms that make it difficult to develop the very type of relationships needed to build a proper self-image as children of God.  God has provided the father figure to prepare the child for a relationship with God the Father, and the mother as a pattern for the relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Ideally, the child receives this preparation from the biological parents but there can be substitutes.  The important thing is to recognize that children learn how to develop a relationship with God through the example of the parents and especially the father figure.

Early bible advice on child rearing

Interwoven throughout the Old Testament we can testify to the value that God places on the family and child rearing.  The goal of child rearing is to bring each child to a level of maturity upon which he or she can make responsible decisions on their own, learning to become independent and eventually interdependent in relation to their parents and other siblings.  The classic Old Testament passage on child rearing is Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and reads:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Here we have the Biblical model for raising children.  How does it happen?  First, the parents must have a complete and thorough love for the Lord.  This assures that they will naturally pass on to their children the same love.  This is foundational and absolute because if the parents are just going through the motions, they will produce children in the same pattern.  Parents always transmit their character to their children unless there is a substantial separation.  Besides having a genuine and profound love for the Lord, a heart-knowledge of His teachings is also necessary.  Before teaching anything to the children the commands of the Lord had to be “in the heart” of the parents. From the very beginning, the pattern for the multiplication of human generations depended on the mother and father having a correct relationship with God and His Word.  If the parents fail here, they will seriously compromise the whole process. (to be continued)


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