Archive for June, 2007

The Intimate Father

Intimacy, a word not often used openly with fathers.  As a child my father would not even use the word much less tolerate his son expressing a desire to be intimate with him.  As much as I wanted to understand what made my father who he was, (the intimate details of his life), my father was not open to it.

Intimacy has long been confused with sexual relationship, and although connected in some ways and terminology, they are different. Wikipedia says;intimacy varies from relationship to relationship, and within a given relationship. Intimacy has more to do with shared moments than sexual interactions.”

Intimacy is linked with trust, safety, understanding, knowing, closeness and transparency.  Intimacy is not something that just happens it is something that is planted, nourished, protected, and has life.  At the same time intimacy is fragile once broken it is never quite the same and seldom as strong.

Most fathers struggle with true intimacy.  We struggle with it in our relationships with our spouses and especially with our relationships with our children.  We have this not so hidden veil that separates us from true intimacy with anyone.  It may be that we feel we must maintain a strong appearance as the head of our house.  We may feel we will be taken advantage of if we open up and make ourselves vulnerable to others.  The reasons are as vast as there are relationships.  No matter what the reason, the veil is destructive or at least limiting when it comes to building the strongest relationship possible, and as fathers we all seek the strongest relationship possible.

We must take our lead from the relationship our Father God wants to have with us.  His desire for intimacy with us is reflected in the fact that he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the ultimate price for our sin.  In the last moments of that event, the veil between God and man was torn on several levels.  It was torn in the Temple from top to bottom, a visible manifestation of God’s desire for intimacy with man.  It was torn by the tearing of Jesus flesh on the cross, a physical manifestation of God’s desire for intimacy with man.  It was torn in the spirit; Jesus descended into the grave and took back the keys of hell and the grave, a spiritual manifestation of God’s desire for intimacy with man.

F.B. Meyer, in his article Our Daily Homily – March 29, takes it a step further; when he talks about the veil and its relationship with man and the Temple;

“How many there are who never get beyond that dividing vail!  They know the brazen altar of Atonement, the laver of daily washing, the golden altar of intercession; but they are never admitted to that blessed intimacy of communion which sees the Shekinah glory between the cherubim and blood-sprinkled mercy-seat.”As fathers we must first accept our relationship with Father God.  We need to learn to circumcise our hearts as described in Romans:

 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people. Romans 2:29

We can no longer hide behind the veil.  If we hope to be the best father possible we need to tear the veil we maintain between our family and us.  If we enter into a greater intimacy with our Father God, this will become more apparent and the method will become clear to us.  It can not happen without action on our part. 

Seek Him and listen to what the Spirit says to you about intimacy.  Look on the inside; understand more about yourself, so you know what you need to share with God and with your family.  Don’t seek to be “in control” or to “lose who you are” to another.  Seek intimate relationship on all three levels, visible, physical, and spiritual.  Don’t be afraid to let those close to you know your deepest thirst.  Look deep into your heart, expose yourself to the work of the Spirit, and you will find the greatest step in going deep with God; Intimacy.

En servicio como padre

Dave

Popcorn

Don’t you just love the smell of popcorn?  It’s almost the perfect snack.  Usually low in fat, good for the teeth and gums, light and airy, it doesn’t weigh you down.  You can eat a whole tub of the stuff, at a movie, and not even know it until it’s gone.  Even movie-popcorn.jpgthose that failed to pop, the old maids, are good, often saved until the end to be savored. 

Like I said, almost the perfect snack.

  1. Popcorn never tastes as good at home as it does in the movies.
  2. Without butter it looses much of its appeal.
  3. Butter adds fat.
  4. When they heap the bucket full, you just can’t begin to eat it without dropping a bunch on the floor.
  5. There are never enough napkins to adequately clean the butter off your fingers.
  6. No amount of brushing gets all the kernels out of your teeth.  They often show up days after they are eaten.
  7. An immature old maid can break a tooth.

 Now some of you are saying, “what does this have to do with fatherhood?”  To that I reply, everything:

  1. Popcorn never tastes as good at home as it does in the movies. This should be obvious to anyone who has fought the fight of fatherhood.  The movies always show the perfect father/child relationship.  Movie fathers always know exactly what to say and when father-knows-best.jpgto say it. In reality, every father struggles with their relationships.  Children are on a journey to grow up.  They test the limits of their environment   We don’t always know what to say and when we do it seldom seems to be the right thing.  This leads to frustration for both father and child and often results in, hopefully, temporary outbursts of raised voices and emotional firefights.  We all struggle with the demands of work, marriage, church, traffic, relationships and fatherhood as well as a myriad of other things that tear at our time.  We need to remember, all things in moderation. The trick is to find the right balance to our lives and at the same time remember the eyes of our children are on us.
  2. Without butter it looses much of its appeal.  Butter is what keeps us coming back to popcorn.  Without it, popcorn just isn’t the same.  A lot of people will take exception to this comment, but if they really are honest with themselves, in a guiltless society they would choose butter.  Fathers need some butter in their lives as well.  Parenting, in general is a lot of work and many see it as somewhat thankless.  It doesn’t need to be that way.  A fellow blogger about fatherhood, was relating to his Fathers Day experience with his 12 year old son.(Thechaly)  In the end, he says he learned from his son, that it is OK to let down being a father at times.  It is times like these that fathers can experience the butter on their popcorn.
  3. Butter adds fat. Like butter, trying to be a peer to your children as a steady diet is not good for you or your children.  The roles of father and child are everywhere in nature and are a part of our spiritual make up.  If we try to change these roles, it always ends up suboptimal.  Better to have the occasional vacation from these roles, which actually build more support and respect for them, than to go overboard and strive to always be your child’s friend, to the detriment of the child.
  4. When they heap the bucket full, you just can’t begin to eat it without dropping a bunch on the floor.  As fathers our buckets are always full to overflowing.  We must be skillful in how we handle everything in that bucket; otherwise things that fall on the floor will be irretrievable, or at best unhealthy.  We live in a time that much is required of us, but we also have more resources available to us than at any time in history.  Look for those resources and don’t be afraid to use them.  We are all here to help you strategically raise your children.
  5. There are never enough napkins to adequately clean the butter off your fingers.  You just can’t eat buttered popcorn without getting that stuff on your fingers.  We lick, dab, wipe and shake, but it still remains.  It is just a part of the experience.  The experience of fatherhood will, likewise, leave residue on your hands.  Consider this a blessing, for without children you would not have an occasion for this residue.  There are many men in this world that would do almost anything to have the experience you do.  They can’t or don’t have children and pray daily for the opportunity.  God has chosen you to be blessed in this way.  Make the most of it.  Share your experiences with others, who are on the same journey, it will help you both find your way along the path.
  6. No amount of brushing gets all the kernels out of your teeth.  They often show up days after they are eaten. You know how it is, you think you have done everything then right there in the middle of your presentation to the CEO, something shows up on your front tooth.  You can see everyone in the room staring at your disfigured tooth, which seems to shine like a beacon to your incompetence as a washer of teeth.  You just can’t control it.  They come out when they will and not at your choosing.  Children are the same way.  Because they are developing adults, they will show up and/or talk at the most inopportune of times.  They are testing their new found skills and are more than ready to find a forum to express themselves.  Understand they are not doing it to embarrass you but are actually following your example.  They are just not as experienced as you.
  7. An immature old maid can break a tooth.  If we reserve the old maids until the end in order to savor them, then we know we are taking a risk.  Some of them just haven’t been in the heat long enough to reach that crunchy stage we all like so much.  Your children are experiencing the heat of refinement everyday.  If we try to help them avoid that heat, we run the risk of them remaining immature throughout their life.  Many times the heartbreak this brings is unbearable.Do you remember the old Jiffy Pop pans?jiffy-pop.jpg  You would hold them over the fire and shake them back and forth until the popcorn inside exploded and forced the tin foil that covered it to expand and ultimately break open revealing the popcorn treasure inside.  As fathers we need to hold just the right balance of heat and shaking to help our children blossom into that inviting and satisfying individual that resides within. 

    The point is; if we want to have that perfect family unit, we are not likely to even approach it without a lot of work.  We can’t be afraid to get our hands dirty and we can’t control every aspect of our children’s environment.  If we try, we are doomed to the possibility of something that doesn’t taste quite right.

     Surround your children with love and support.  Give them affirmation and discipline in equal measure.  Be steady handed, don’t turn the fire up too high, and you will be very pleased with the end result. 

    En servicio como padre

    Dave

Affirmation

af·fir·ma·tion  ( af r-m sh n)

n. 1. The act of affirming or the state of being affirmed; assertion.2. Something declared to be true; a positive statement or judgment.3. Law A solemn declaration given in place of a sworn statement by a person who conscientiously objects to taking an oath. 

Affirmation, when that word came to mind, I thought I knew all about it.  It is a word we don’t use often but when we do, it is used in very powerful or serious situations.  By the very sound of it your attention is piqued and you listen carefully for what follows.

As I began to research the nature of this word, I began to realize the extent of my understanding was only a small part of its application in our lives.

Some synonyms to affirmation include;

Avouchment; to declare the provable truth or validity of; or to confess.

Avowal; A frank admission or acknowledgment.

Assertion; Something declared or stated positively, often with no support or attempt at proof.

Statement; The act of stating or declaring. 

A very strong word indeed, perhaps this is why it is used so sparingly in our everyday language.  After all, “something declared to be true”… how many things in life can you honestly declare as emphatically true? 

 All the same, as fathers we must learn to affirm our children.  Our own fathers, for all practical purposes, did not practice affirmation of their children any more than we do with our children.  A father that really understands true affirmation is extremely hard to find.  There are many of us who think we understand but in true application fall short.  Felix Adler, an American educator and the founder of the Ethical Movement is quoted as saying; “A human being is not to be handled as a tool but is to be respected and revered.” 

I have always struggled with the concept of affirmation myself.  As the son of a father who spoke few words, it was often hard to know where you really stood.  Especially since I was one of those ADHD kids before anyone knew there was an ADHD or an ADD for that matter.  Affirmation is one of those things that are hard to remember to do.  If we are asked about our children, or our wife, we will usually say they are fine.  We might even go as far as to say we can’t live without them.  But it becomes much harder when we are talking to them.  We think we don’t have to say it, they already know it, even though we have never told them.  We must think they get it through some kind of Vulcan mind meld.  

“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible–the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.”
— Virginia Satir
 

Fathers, we are the head of our house.  As such we are held to a higher standard.  Fathers must instinctively know how to build that “nurturing family”.  We must recognize the differences in individuals, we must be able to forgive mistakes and tolerate ineptitude.  We must communicate more than less.  When in doubt, we must communicate.  Be flexible in our assessments and in our rule making.  Teach discipline by our example.  Most of all, affirm our children.  They need it and should expect it.  If our heavenly Father can tolerate the things we have done and still affirm us then we can do the same with our children.   

En servicio como padre

Dave

Fathers Under Attack

Lately it seems everyone I know is facing some kind of problem.  Just when it seems you are about to see daylight, here it comes again.  Right through the back door when I was keeping watch for it from the front door.

Does this sound familiar?  If so, count yourself blessed.  Yes, I said “Count yourself blessed!”  You are doing something right.  You are on the right path about something.

When I was a kid everyone would tell me if things weren’t going right I must be doing something wrong.  What they meant was, “I must have sin in my life.”  Now I have come to realize these people were operating under a big misunderstanding.  If I have sin in my life, why would the enemy want to point that out to me?  Wouldn’t  he rather have me continue on in my sin and not realize there was something I needed to change?

As fathers, we need to understand some basic things about spiritual warfare:

  1. The enemy wants us to think we are always in trouble.
  2. The enemy wants us to think he is more powerful than he is.
  3. The enemy wants us to be looking for him and not for God.
  4. God is in love with us and is not here to discipline us.
  5. Our Spirit is at war with our mind.
  6. You were born someone you were never intended to be.
  7. You are made in the image and likeness of God and as such have all capabilities and authority at your disposal.
  8. Peace is one of the, if not the, most powerful weapons against the enemy in spiritual warfare.
  9. The battle has already been won we just need to accept it.
  10. Fathers must do battle for and alongside their families.

The first three items may seem to be just basic but you would be surprised at how many times I talk with people who will tell me they must be doing something wrong because God is mad at them.  As a father would you discipline your children without explaining why they were being disciplined?  If God is your spiritual Father and you accept that fact, you must accept the fact that if you are doing something wrong, God will be quick to show you what you are doing and what the impact of your actions will be.  You see, you are subject to the seeds you plant not the whims of a vengeful and arbitrary supreme being. 

The enemy is without power and authority.  All authority comes from God, and all power comes from true authority.  Therefore the devil has to get his power and authority from someplace.  God will not give it to him.  He must trick you into believing his lies and in the process trick you into giving your God given authority and power to him.  If you keep your eyes on him and give authority to him, you will never look to God and all the gifts a loving Father wants to bestow on you.

It has been said we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.  We are spirit first and physical second, therefore, the battle is always about who is in control.  Did you ever notice when you try and get still to pray every thought in the world begins to come into our mind and we have trouble concentrating and listening for God?  That is the mind trying to stay in control.  We must learn that we can control our mind and allow the spirit to be in control.

Being spirit first we must understand we were born a physical being and as such we are something we were never intended to be.  Even as a physical being, God intended us to be ruled by our spirit.  When Adam sinned, we began to be ruled by our physical man and not by our spirit man.  When we understand who we are intended to be, we can understand what power and authority we truly posses.  All men are made in the image and likeness of God and have access to all that God has.  This is why Jesus said “these thing and even greater will you do”.  Once we realize our relationship with God, we can then explore the true power and authority that comes from God.

Peace is the most powerful weapon we posses.  When we are at peace, the enemy realizes he has lost all hope.  He is put in his place and we can begin to live the life full of the promise God has laid up for us in heaven.  We can live victorious lives here and now.  We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to be victorious.

The victory was won on the cross.  Jesus paid the price and all authority was taken back from the devil and handed to us.  Stand tall fathers, we are to be victorious and we are to teach our children to live victorious lives.

Don’t stand alone.  Strategic fathers are here to stand with you.  Together we can show the world what victory in Jesus is all about.

En servicio como padre

Dave


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