Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Fathers’

Thank God for Fighting Fathers

November 22nd, 2011 4 comments

I love reading about the birth of our great nation. In the battle for our nation’s freedom, there were many moments when crushing defeats and seemingly insurmountable challenges gave rise to tidal waves of despair. Thank God for spiritual fathers who knew how to fight! In the heat of the battle, they stood strong. When others wilt, quit, or concede, spiritual fathers persevere and they inspire others to do the same.

In an article published on Thanksgiving Day 2008 in the Wall Street Journal, author Ira Stoll described the historical context for the first national celebration of Thanksgiving under the heroic leadership of Samuel Adams. He wrote:

In July 1776, the American colonists declared independence from Britain. The months that followed were so bleak that there was not much to give thanks for. The Journals of the Continental Congress record no Thanksgiving in that year, only two days of “solemn fasting” and prayer…

[The war effort was going poorly. Many Americans were wounded, captured or killed by the British]. Philadelphia, America’s largest city, fell on Sept. 26. Congress fled…to Lancaster then to York… John Adams wrote in his diary, “The prospect is chilling, on every Side: Gloomy, dark, melancholy, and dispiriting.”

On this pivotal day in late September, 1777, the fifty-five year old Adams stood before his colleagues and offered these words of encouragement:

“If we despond, public confidence is destroyed, the people will no longer yield their support to a hopeless contest, and American liberty is no more. Through the darkness which shrouds our prospects, the ark of safety is visible. Despondency becomes not the dignity of our cause, nor the character of those who are its supporters…”

He went on to challenge the delegates:

“Let us awaken then, and evince a different spirit, – a spirit that shall inspire the people with confidence in themselves and in us, – a spirit that will encourage them to persevere in this glorious struggle, until their rights and liberties shall be established on a rock. We have proclaimed to the world our determination “to die as freemen, rather than to live slaves.” We have appealed to Heaven for the justice of our cause, and in Heaven we have placed our trust. Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had “our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.” We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up. Let us still rely in humble confidence on Him who is mighty to save. Good tidings will soon arrive. We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid and protection.”

He turned out to have been correct… On Oct. 31, a messenger arrived with news of the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga. The American general, Horatio Gates, had accepted the surrender of 5,800 British soldiers, and with them 27 pieces of artillery and thousands of pieces of small arms and ammunition.

Saratoga turned the tide of the war — news of the victory was decisive in bringing France into a full alliance with America. Congress responded to the event by appointing a committee of three that included Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and Daniel Roberdeau of Pennsylvania, to draft a report and resolution. The report declared Thursday, Dec. 18, as “a day of Thanksgiving” to God, so that “with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor.”

Samuel Adams led as a spiritual father. He spoke with courage and resolve. He reminded the delegates of God’s faithfulness and encouraged them to set their eyes upon “Him who is mighty to save.” He spoke prophetically, “Good tidings will soon arrive,” when nothing but the stark reality of defeat was in sight. And he challenged them to “act worthy” of heaven’s aid and protection.

Each one of us has the opportunity to “father” or “mother” in our sphere of influence. What report is in your mouth? Are you constantly whining about the way things are? Do you complain about your present situation? Are you negative, cynical and jaded in your perspective?

If so, you have just devalued your worth as a spiritual father or mother. No one wants to follow someone who is prophesying gloom and despair. No one wants to follow a person with no vision for a better future and no faith in God’s power to bring breakthrough.

In the face of great obstacles or overwhelming circumstances can you stand before your family, friends or colleagues and declare, “Good tidings will soon arrive!” Never underestimate the power of a father’s words.

Permission to Drink and to Think

July 27th, 2009 No comments

By nature, I’m not very spontaneous and I’m not all that thrilled with unexpected interruptions. So this whole “accessibility” thing goes against my wiring. Perhaps you are the same.Unfortunately raising sons does not fit neatly on a “to do” list or into a weekly time slot. Raising sons and daughters is bigger than life! The demands often resist the arbitrary boundaries we establish.

 Paul reminds us that these “living epistles,” our spiritual sons and daughters, are written “by the Spirit of the living God.” The work of the Holy Spirit is dynamic, spontaneous and free. When He is doing something, His agenda must supersede mine.

We must remember He is writing on “human hearts,” not on tablets of stone. This demands a commitment from me to be open and accessible to the supernatural and spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit moving in the heart of my spiritual sons/daughters through the natural rhythms of life.

I love it when Pastor Brock, one of my spiritual sons, drops by my office for an unscheduled visit. Sometimes he shares a great success in the youth ministry. He might ask my perspective on a passage of Scripture or ask if I have a book on a certain topic. Sometimes he just stops by to check on how I’m doing. But regardless of the specific reason for the call or visit, my message to him is clear: my heart is open to you. I love you and I’m concerned about the full spectrum of your life, not just your ministry responsibility.

  An open heart in an invitation to drink and to think. It says, “Come, let us reason together.” Jump into my world and help me understand yours. And in between all the planning, details, problems and issues, let me remind you how much I enjoy you and value our relationship.

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The Power of an Open Heart

July 25th, 2009 No comments

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;  clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3

In the passage above, the apostle Paul highlights two important qualities shared by all true fathers. As “living books,” spiritual fathers are both “known” and “read.” This means they are available and accessible. Fathers have the desire to release all that is in their hearts for the blessing and benefit of their sons.

 On the contrary, fathers with closed hearts are often unavailable and inaccessible. These relationships are marked by high structure and rigid boundaries. They are hard to connect with and have walls around their hearts a mile high.

 I remember listening to a teaching series on CD by a great prophetic teacher in the Body of Christ. This man has been a seasoned minister for over seven decades. He has been faithful to his wife, planted churches around the world, and releases amazing revelation from God’s Word when he teaches. As I listened to the message, he made a side comment which caused my heart to break. In essence, he said, “I know many of you wanted to talk with me after the evening session, but unfortunately, I need to return to my room to prepare for the morning session.”

 I was listening to this seasoned father in the faith from the perspective of a son. I know the conference was filled with this man’s spiritual sons and daughters. They wanted time to connect heart to heart. They love his teaching, but they enjoy him even more. They wanted his touch, his affirmation, his encouragement. I could almost feel a collective sigh come over the room when he made the announcement. I wanted to scream, “No! What you are teaching is your life message. An extra hour or two of study will not make much of a difference. You can teach this material in your sleep! Your sons are crying out for time with their spiritual father! Close the books and be a “living epistle” instead.”

 This man was inspirational, but struggled with the relational. You can easily connect with his anointed teaching, but find it difficult to engage his heart. His head was known, but his heart was closed from public access. A true father has a heart that is open for dialogue and available. Paul told his disciples as Corinth, “Our heart is wide open” (2 Corinthians 6:11). He’s inviting them to come and to receive all he has for them. He’s saying, “I’m available and accessible.” I am here to pour into you and all I am is yours.

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