Happy Father’s Day

Just a quick shout out to all you dads out there getting the job done as fathers to your children.  Don’t let all this current confusion about sexuality and gender roles in marriage and family take away from the fact that YOU ARE VERY NEEDED.  It is common sense:  KIDS NEED A FATHER.  One of the most common expressions for “orphan” in the Bible is “fatherless”.  Is that because the Bible is patriarchal, out dated, or out of touch with what makes a modern family?  Not at all.  It is because KIDS NEED A FATHER.

I have the utmost empathy and respect for single moms who have found themselves in situations where they have to be both parents.  But this current idea of actually trying to start families on purpose without a man, without a father, is ridiculous.  It makes absolutely no sense.  And it is not right.  So all you fathers,  don’t accept society’s current, and frankly, bizarre message.  Dads are needed.  Dads are important.  Dads play a critical role in the raising of strong sons and daughters.  Your kids need you.  And don’t lay down on the job just because some craziness has tried to push you to the side.  You are needed.

As you consider your relationship with your children as well as with your father, remember this:  children desire a relationship with their father.  Even those who were treated poorly by their earthly father or their dads were largely absent seem to somewhere along the line desire a relationship with them.  Why is that?  I think it is because we were wired to connect with our fathers.  And to take it a step farther, it is a picture of the fact that we were wired for a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

May I encourage all the fathers today?  Don’t accept society’s message.  You are needed.  And carry out the job with a heart full of love for your children.  Kids spell love T-I-M-E.  Make time for your family.  Show them your love.  Trust the Lord to show you the way.  Then, when your kids come back around as adults seeking to keep the relationship with their father alive, you will have great memories to build upon.  Thank you for keeping the flame of fatherhood alive!

Doing the Right Thing – Motivated by Our New Identity

We come now to our last installment of how believers are motivated to righteous living; because this is who we are.  In our new identity as holy and beloved saints, righteous living is what is expected of us.  It is what should come natural to us.  It fits who we really are.

In Romans chapter 6, the apostle Paul answers the question, “If greater sin brings greater grace, should we continue in sin?” with an emphatic “No”.  And Paul’s “No” is based on our new identity in Christ.  The apostle takes the rest of chapter 6 to explain.  When you became a believer, you appropriated the fact – and it is a fact – that your old sin nature died with Christ on the cross.  Your sin nature is dead.  In its place, you have received a righteous new nature infused with the righteous nature of Christ Himself.  Therefore, consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus.  Sin is no longer your master, and your members are no longer instruments of sin, but instruments of righteousness. (Rom 6:1-13).

Paul often uses the analogy of putting on new clothes to represent putting on the new nature.  “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh and its desires” (Rom 13:14).  When we “clothe” ourselves with the nature of Christ, there is no longer room in the closet for the “desires of the flesh”, those clothes that no longer fit.  “Make no provision” means don’t make any space in your closet for those old clothes of sin to still be hanging around.

Suppose you woke up tomorrow morning 20 pounds lighter than you were when you went to bed, and the clothes in your closet no longer fit you.  You would dash to the nearest premium outlet mall and scour the sale racks and come home with a completely new wardrobe.  What would you do with your old clothes?  You would give them away or throw them out, but in either case they would be gone.  Why?  Because they no longer fit.  Now you might be tempted to keep some things with the idea that if you gain the weight back you will need something to wear.  That is a fine thought in the natural world.  But in our analogy of the Christian life, you will never gain the weight back.  You will never need the old clothes.

You have been forever changed and the old sin clothes will never fit you again.  Do you see the picture?  Throw the old sin clothes out.  Cast aside those old habits, reactions, and thinking patterns.  They do not fit you now and they never will.  “Make no provision for the desires of the flesh” means do not keep those ill-fitting clothes around and by all means do not try to wear them.  You will look a fright.  They do not fit who you are.  And if you do try to wear them, you will feel the frustration, the tug and pull, of just how inappropriate they are.

We have now come to the gist of what this blog is all about.  Walking in your new identity, experiencing the provisions of the new covenant, empowered by God’s Spirit inside.  To learn more of what this looks like in practice, we have gathered our most specific posts on walking in your new identity in this archive.  May I encourage each of us?  Live into who you really are; a holy and beloved saint of the Lord.

Doing the Right Thing – Motivated to Communicate the Good News

Another motivator to live righteously is our desire to communicate the gospel message.  As we have all heard many times, our actions can be just as powerful as our words in sharing the truth of the gospel.  So we want our actions to reflect the proper message; to reflect what God has done in Christ to rescue us.

Our verbal presentation of the gospel is soaked in the supernatural, as it should be.  From the miracles of Jesus to His resurrection from the dead to His identity as the Son of God, we emphasize the supernatural over and over.  But in our living-the-Christian-life communication of the gospel, we somehow like to leave the supernatural out.  We advertise the Christian life as a path of working hard to stay on the straight and narrow, seeking to attain certain spiritual qualities and fighting temptation by determination alone.  We do need to be diligent in our walk, but the picture we paint is like that of us paddling a canoe around a stagnant pond, trying to make something exciting happen by our own power.

The supernatural Christian life advertised in the New Testament is not that at all.  It is more like guiding a canoe downstream through a class four rapids where the rushing water of God’s indwelling Spirit provides the power and we steer our way along the exhilarating waves.  Living in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit inside is an exciting way to live.  And in communicating the gospel through our lives, we need to somehow capture and display the excitement of the supernatural side of living the Christian life.

Remember that Progressive Insurance ad that goes something like this?

Flo:  Hi, may I help you?
Customer:  Yes, I hear Progressive has lots of discounts on car insurance?  Can I get in on that?
Flo:  Are you a safe driver?
Customer:  Yes.
Flo:  Discount!…Do you own a home?
Customer:  Yes!
Flo:  Discount!!…Are you going to buy online?
Customer:  Yes!!
Flo:  Discount!!!…Isn’t getting discounts great?
Customer:  Yes!!!
Flo:  There’s no discount for agreeing with me.
Customer:  Yea, I got carried away.
Flo:  “Happens to me all the time!”
 

This is a picture of how the supernatural Christian life should effect those around us.  They should see us in action and be asking, “How can I get in on this?”  But when we leave the supernatural out of our day-to-day activities and actions, are we presenting anything more than a do-your-best mentality?  Are we offering a life with supernatural power to walk in righteousness and experience all that righteous living brings to our relationships, our actions, and our innermost thoughts?

The challenge for us is two-fold.  First, are we experiencing the supernatural Christian life as we should?  The nuts and bolts of the supernatural aspect of the normal Christian life is a large part of what this blog is all about and I will leave this topic for your investigation.  Secondly, if the supernatural Christian life is indeed our experience, how do we demonstrate that in ways that are humble and winsome?  We can’t just blurt out to our friends and neighbors, “My life is more holy than yours because of God’s supernatural power within…That challenge you face is really not a problem for me…My power to resist temptation comes from God Himself.”  You get the idea.

So, how do we live close enough to our friends and neighbors to demonstrate the supernatural influence Christ has empowered us with without coming across as proud, boorish, and condescending?  I must admit that I don’t have a good answer because with all the emphasis on common ground with unbelievers in evangelism, I am coming to realize that I really have very little in common with my unbelieving neighbor.  Something seems off with this equation and I don’t know where the balance lies.  Do you have some ideas on how to communicate the supernatural nature of our new lives in ways that are humble and winsome?  I would love to hear from you.  Please share!

We should practice our righteousness, not in ways that are Pharisaical or haughty, but in ways that engender, “How can I get in on that?”  This is another motivation to do the right thing.