Two Hindrances to Hearing God

Jesus made an all-important statement early on in his ministry. Already based in the Hebrew Scriptures (or Old Testament), Jesus was simply re-emphasising an essential characteristic of God’s people:

Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matt 4:4)

We are not first and foremost task-managers and busy-bodies. We are first and foremost sons and daughters called to hear our Father.

Yet there are 2 major hindrances to such. There are more that could be considered, no doubt. But I believe these are the 2 major ones that become barriers to hearing the voice of our Father. Continue reading

Father of Your Son

caleb 170Being on holiday, I have had extra time to spend with my new little son, Caleb. Holding, talking with (well, he doesn’t talk back), rocking, observing every little nuance of his development, and much more.

I tell you, it’s quite interesting when you begin to see yourself in your son, even when he is only just coming up to three months old. First off, it starts with the closeness in our physical features. I did not realise how much he truly looked like I did when I was his age until we opened an old photo album at my parents house. It’s almost as if he at three months and me at three months are identical twins. And both of us looked so similar at only three weeks as well.

My own dad jokes at the tragedy of such likeness, but I think it quite amazing. My wife has just reminded me how happy she is that Caleb looks like me. The only thing is that Caleb has blue eyes and I have hazel eyes.

But also, even in that physical likeness, it’s not just staring at an old picture and seeing the similarity. It just happened today, on holiday in Florida, while starring at him in his rocking swing. Of course, I don’t really know all the details about myself at that age, but I have seen the pictures and videos. And I see the likeness. It reminds me of these words I read in Genesis:

When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:3)

Thankfully, I fathered my first son at 30 instead of 130 years old.

In all this, my desire continues to grow for seeing him shaped into the son he should be. We gave him the middle name Benjamin as a prophetic statement, if you will, of the relationship I desired for us two to have together. I yearn to have a close relationship with him throughout our days together, starting now and up until I pass on.

But I also know there are things in me that I don’t want him to take up. I am looking to be changed myself, see God break those unwanted things, all to spare Caleb of experiencing them and embracing them himself. But I know that it won’t be perfect. I don’t say that in an overly negative and defeated sense. But I just know I live in this age, a fallen world where sin is real and many times it gets the best of me.

But, I also take comfort in knowing that I am the father of my son. Caleb is my son. He is in my likeness and in my image – a healthy thing, something God designed. But, as a son of the Father, I want to help teach my son how to be a son of the Father.

Our Father smiles at what he has done in making Caleb the son of Scott and Scott the father of Caleb. But, in all, I want to impart the heart of Father God to my son. And if I can do that, I know I will have done the greatest thing a father can do.

Thank you for such a son, Father.

Will The Real Man Stand Up?

There is something that has been particularly bothering me over the past month. When watching some of the television shows I enjoy, or ones that I catch a few minutes of here and there, it truly saddens me when I consider the ‘father figure’ in most of these shows. Many, many times, the father is pictured as very weak, ruled by the wife, incompetent in leading the family, and generally quite lacking in any leadership.

Ok, let me back up before I get shot down too quickly. I enjoy watching television. I do not believe it is evil. Of course, I don’t want it to be a god in my life, and that I must guard against. But I do enjoy watching a few shows, particularly Prison Break, Lost, 24 (patiently awaiting a Season 7), CSI and Friends. The typical 30-minute American sitcom has not always been my ‘cup of tea’, but my wife’s fondness for Friends did end up drawing me in. And I have to admit, though some of the innuendos can be a bit over the top, I find myself laughing quite regularly, especially at the comments of Chandler Bing.

Yet, when I turn to some other shows – Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons, According to Jim – I truly find myself disturbed. I know the characters (or cartoons) are just playing their roles. I know it’s just a 30-minute television slot (or 22 minutes after commercials). But there seems to be one common thread with so many of these shows. The real lack in male leadership in the home.

I guess it would go way back, I mean way back to the Garden. When we turn right back to the beginning of the story, it seems that when the serpent was tempting Eve to eat of that fruit, Adam just might have been right there with her. Check out the passage:

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)

Did you catch that last little bit of the verse – ‘and she also gave some to her husband who was with her’? The Scriptures might generally be stating that Eve gave to her husband that was with her, as in Adam was ‘with her’ as I am generally at home with my wife in the evening. But, with a common understanding already established that Adam was generally there with Eve, as he was the only other human being at that time, it is interesting to ponder the situation.

Was Adam right there watching the whole plot being played out with the serpent? Was he watching that serpent lie its way into deceiving Eve? The Bible many times simply summarizes events, and so, at times, we have to take license in reading between the lines. No, not so we can develop and strengthen a pet theology, or even worse, to develop heresy. But we simply ponder the possibilities.

And so, I wonder if Adam was standing right there at that tree, hearing that conversation between Eve and the serpent. If he was, why did he not ‘step up to the plate’? Why did he ‘tuck his tail between his legs’ and not fight for the one given by God that was the ‘helper fit for him’ (Genesis 2:18)?

Please believe me that this is not just another article arguing the ploys of male dominance. By no means is it such. I believe in the role of women in life, in the church, even in ‘ministry’ (you can see the two articles I wrote concerning such – part 1, part 2). But what I am really longing for is the reality of men being men, of men being leaders, of men taking headship as designed by the Father.

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (Ephesians 5:23)

Again, please remember my heart is not to argue for male dominance. Rather, I challenge men to take up the role of male leadership in the family, in the home.

I’ve always appreciated the remark that, if you have to continually ask your wife to submit to you, then you most likely are not loving her as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25-27). And, so, we are also challenged to love our wives as Christ does love the Church. That is a great challenge to us all! But, I also know the man is called to lead, to be strong, to be a refuge for his wife, a loving father to his children, and so much more. There will be times when the husband is weak and vulnerable, and I can testify to such, or maybe my life is just out of the ordinary. I have experienced such vulnerability and have found refuge in my wife. Remember, she was given as a ‘helper fit for him’. But, in the end, it is the husband that has been given the role of headship in the home, it is the father that has been given the role of leadership in the family.

So, today, my encouragement is that men be what God has called us to – not perfection, but strength and leadership. Don’t leave your wife longing for you to step up and lead. Take the initiative. Do it with a gracious heart, do it with a servant heart, but do take that lead. And if you do so with grace and a servant’s heart, you will be walking in the footsteps of Christ Himself (Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 5:25-27). But, in the end, don’t ‘look the other way’ as Adam might have done in those beginning pages of history. Don’t walk the typical path of Homer Simpson or Ray Romano (or you might be thinking of someone else). Rather lead, defend, serve, protect, discipline your children in love and grace, and display the heart of God as a male created in His image. Oh yes, give your wife room to image God as well, and let your children be children. But as men in Christ, let us not be like the typical male of the 30-minute sitcom, even if it does make us laugh. Let us be what God has called us to be as men, as husbands, and as fathers.

If you are interested in further reading, I would encourage you to look into both of these books:

Wild at Heart (by John Eldredge)
The Way of the Wild Heart (by John Eldredge)

The Soundtrack to Life

Have you ever come to the end of a movie, a great point of climax in which the hero is about to battle the enemy? You know, in movies like Gladiator or The Lord of the Rings or Braveheart. Or maybe your more of a romantic and love the films where the hero rescues the beautiful damsel in distress (whether an olden tale like Pride and Prejudice or modern story like Bridget Jones Diary).

What is taking place in the background at the exact time of this grand and heightened scene? There is music! And the music makes the scene that much greater, that much nobler. Maybe you never realized it, but just think if that song wasn’t playing. Would your heart have been as moved during that scene? Would you have been visited with a greater passion for life? Probably not.

There is something about music that is quite astounding. There are not many emotional connections like the one that exists between us and the songs we enjoy. And God designed it that way. That is why, when we gather together as communities to worship, we actually involve music. It doesn’t have to be present (see Genesis 22:1-14 and Romans 12:1). But, as the Psalms testify, and our corporate worship gatherings as well, music does lend itself as a great assistant in connecting with our Creator, Father and Lover.

But, have you noticed that, when we face challenges and successes in life, there never seems to be an orchestra (or rock band) available to strike up a song? Maybe in such moments we happen to be in our car and can easily turn on the CD-player. Or maybe we just happened to have our compact MP3 player in our pocket (and they are quite compact these days). But in general, there is no music playing. No song there for us like it is for those renown movie characters – songs to envision us, to give us an emotional connection to the moment, whether that moment is difficult or pure bliss.

Yet, I begin to ask – Is any music playing? Is there a ‘soundtrack’ to the great story we are living in, the one in which God is the main hero. I wonder if we would just tune our ears for a moment we would hear a song, a heavenly score sweetly sounding from the Father? We remember Zephaniah 3:16-17, don’t we?

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Ah, now that’s it. The mighty one who saves and delivers will also rejoice over us with gladness, quiet us with his love, and even exult [show excitement] over us with loud singing. Wait a minute. What? Yes, it is true. And if we truly got a taste of that truth, we would give it a double-take, a second look, or more. But, the truth is, He is that good.

Sure, there is nothing wrong with turning on U2 or The Commodores or Tim Hughes to ‘capture the moment’. But let us remember that a song is always being sung by our Father, even a loud song of excitement. We think our songs are so great, and I know God receives them. But when you hear His song, it does something a little more than our songs tend to. If we will just take a minute to perk up our ears, our ‘spiritual’ ears, we might just hear Him singing. And it might just be what we need to defeat the enemy, win the girl’s heart, or even more, wash another’s feet or love our enemy. Let’s listen…