We live in a day where gender lines are being blurred, devalued and at times completely erased. Thankfully, Julie Terry (my wife) has written a couple of post on Raising Manly Boys that I would like to pass on to my readers.
One of the most remarkable things about the Lord Jesus Christ was his ability to communicate ENORMOUS truth on a level that could be understood (except when it was intentionally veiled as in the case of some parables) by his contemporary audience of Jewish peasants but would eventually be wrestled with and debated by the most sophisticated intellectuals of our generation. Our Lord illustrated truth in a way that transcends culture, ethnicities, economies and even age. Children found Him very approachable.
This being true, I find it both challenging and edifying to attempt to teach theology to my youngest daughter Caitlyn. Recently she approached my wife and asked, “Is God in the sky, above the sky, or in space?” The remainder of this post is my response to Caitlyn’s question:
Simple Answer: God is far higher and far closer than you might imagine.
Expanded Answer: The words Jesus used to, “teach us to pray” are helpful – he began by saying, “Our Father who is in Heaven”.
- Transcendence – God is described as being in Heaven – as such we are told to consider and restrain our words when we approach him as is advised by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5:2. Heaven is the dwelling place of the Almighty, the throne room of God. In that place the glory of God is so majestically revealed that the seraphim must cover their heads with their wings, but they cannot help but call out to one another, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Host”. This magnificent revelation of God is such that, “no man can behold God and live”. Where is Heaven? Frankly, we don’t know. Perhaps it’s in a different dimension that humans can comprehend, perhaps it is simply beyond the gaze of our most advanced technology. Either way it is nonetheless real and authentic. David writes in Psalm 97:9 For You are the Lord Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.
- Immanence – God is described as a Father –The scripture never teaches the universal Fatherhood of God. Jesus said, of the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil”. Such is the case of all who are apart from Christ. They are under the domain and influence of demonic authorities. However when we are born from above by faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ we are made children of God and fellow heirs with Christ. We have every right to approach our Father as Christ does – for Christ is our righteousness. We are clothed in His Work, we are washed by His blood. Not only that, but the Spirit is given to us which cries out, “abba Father”. The Prophet Jeremiah speaks for God in Jeremiah 23:23–24 “Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “And not a God far off? 24 “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.
So in a sense God is far away and exalted and simultaneously God is intimately close. As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:6, “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
- To reject the transcendence of God is to be a pantheist
- To reject the immanence of God is to be a deist.
- To embrace both is to see God as He is.
I am working on a sermon from Gen. 34 for this weekend at Capshaw. I will highlight the distance between Dinah and her father Jacob. I will use this chapter as a platform to speak to Fathers about protecting their children by establishing proper boundaries at various ages.
Examples of boundaries include:
- Communicate appropriate levels of affection.
- Know the people you entrust your child to.
- Be aware of any potential predators
- Never put young girl in a situation where they will be alone with teen boys.
- Take responsibility to guard your child from potential exposure to dangerous material online or on TV.
- Talk openly with your child as they mature. Big questions deserve big answers, small questions need small answers.
- Make privacy limited, be aware of what is in your home.
- Be aware of the material they are given at school. Know your rights in regard to limiting what your child sees or reads at school.
- TALK! Talk openly about questions, concerns, have a lot of long talks.
- Be careful about allowing sleepovers with friends that you do not know very well. Be sure that the family shares your concerns and convictions before entrusting your child to them.
- Get to know their friends and their families.
- Maintain fair but consistent expectations – bedtimes, curfew, ect.
- Be sure that much time is spent with your family getting to know any potential “dates” your child might have.
These are just a few examples. What would you add to this list?
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I am of the firm conviction that the father (when present) is the Pastor/Teacher/Shepherd of the home. One of the things that we Pastors must do is leverage opportunities to teach our people and further the cause of the Gospel. Holidays are a great opportunities to capture that momentum. With Christmas approaching here are a few ideas for Dads consider.
- Lead in making memories – Consider what your family will be a part of that they will not soon forget. Include a few traditions as well as a few new experiences. We always attend our Church’s Christmas Eve service and eat Chinese afterwards with friends from Church. We do the walk or drive through at our local Botanical garden’s galaxy of lights.
- Recognize God’s Providential Hand and roll with it – Last year our electricity went out a couple of nights before Christmas. We lit every candle in the house and read the Christmas story together. Last week our oldest daughter said, “I hope the electricity goes out again this year”. It was one of those moments you can’t easily recreate – but you have to be ready when they arrive. Don’t get crazy when things don’t go according to plan, recognize God may have other plans.
- Remember to give – Dad you take the lead in making sure your family does not forget the less fortunate this season. We always participate in the Samaritan’s Purse Shoebox gifts through our Church. We give at the Salvation Army and St. Jude drives. We also try to give generously to missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering at Capshaw. Remember that some people need more than money, they need friendship, love, time. Consider people who might need to be invited to join you for your celebrations.
- Budget well – Christmas is a time when we many tend to go into debt. And it will take months to dig out. Dad, take the lead and make sure you family is prepared for an enjoyable Christmas. Draw lines when necessary but make it fun.
- Help Mom – Keep in mind that our wives are carrying a heavy load of stress this season. Help to keep the home looking nice, help with the kids. Use paper plates and cut down on the washing during this season.
- Connect with extended family – Make every effort to reconnect with extended family during this season. Call your siblings, cousins, grandparents often.
- Keep the focus on Christ – Remember that scripture never tells us to remember the birth of Christ, but we are commanded to regularly remember His atoning death. Dad, this is your responsibility in the home as it is mine in the church. You initiate the conversation about the person and work of Jesus Christ throughout the year but especially this season.
These are a few ideas. Perhaps you can add a few as well. Feel free to leave them as comments!
In Deuteronomy 6 God gave us a strategy that he wants us to follow when raising children. To help us remember God’s directive I use the acronym P.I.C. S.
P – Personal: The effective Parent must personalize the Word of God to their life as he or she is teaching the child. 6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
I – Intentional Instruction: The effective Parent must intentionally study and teach the Word to his or her children. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons
Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 12:10–11 (NASB95) 10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. Careful and Intentional teaching is vital to help your child bridge the gap between his or her age and the timeless truth of God’s word. This requires great creativity. You teach a 6 year old boy differently that you teach a 16 year old girl.
C – Casual Instruction – God expects the conversation to continue throughout the day. 7b. and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
S – Surrounded Instruction – Literally, Surround your kids with the written word.
8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.