Whose Your Daddy?

As a man,  your greatest testimony is probably not so much what your neighbor,  work colleague,  or church brethren surmise.   I believe it lies in what your family concludes about you as a father or a husband.   That’s where the ‘rubber hits the road’ for compassion,  grace,  and spiritual consistency.  This is where at your weakest, the strength of the Saviour must shine through.

It’s not to say that we are to required to be perfect humans,  but family life is an opportunity for the Lord to make up the slack, and our character shortfalls.   We should reiterate -like the bridge in the song “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real…  “Father, lead me with strong hands so I can lead them…”   (Check out this link to a real man song!)   Sanctus Real “Lead Me”

My mind always goes back to step-father Joseph.   Can you imagine how his son (Jesus) felt,  knowing that His  dad stood by His mother (when any self-respecting Jewish man would have bailed from that relationship -with far less soul searching)?  He chose to listen to God,  and loved Mary as his own flesh.   Joseph was kind,  compassionate and not a jerk.

He was also an individual of sexual integrity.   In Matthew 1:25, the Bible tells us that he did not consummate their marriage till after Jesus was born.  His desires did not flounder in the swamp of selfishness,  which as men we’ve all struggled to free ourselves – present company included.   He chose first Mary’s physiological and psychological well being and deeply respected God’s mysterious will.  Men,  we could take a page from Joseph’s book.

This New Year,  even though our children may not be members of the Trinity,  and our wives’ names don’t rhyme with “airy”,  let’s strive to live a testimony to the people whom we can most effectively influence to create a lasting, positive legacy.  Let’s be the kind of Daddy and Husband God wants us to be!

Happy New year,  and may you abide in redemptive peace and spiritual prosperity.

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Rubicon

The Rubicon was the name of a little stream with huge significance.   It marked the border between the will the General Julius Caesar and that of the Roman Empire.   Rome had recalled Caesar from his military conquest to come back to Rome without his army.   It didn’t take much for the power hungry general to convince his adoring army to come with him back to Rome to defend his honour.  With the crossing of the Rubicon Caesar joined the notorious group of generals who turned the Roman army against Rome.  Therefore, the Rubicon has become a historical boundary that signified “the point of no return.”   Once Caesar and his army went past that little stream, his imperialistic intentions were crystal clear.

There are times when we all approach our Rubicons and we are forced to make a decision whether or not to cross…   But what happens when the Rubicon comes to you when you’re standing still?   The death of my sister from cancer (earlier this year) was my own personal Rubicon.  It came to me, and I was forced to cross.

A lot of my life systems came “off line”, and to a grinding stop.   Family routine, work life and ministry function all became collateral damage of this personally unprecedented event.   When time started moving again family routine commenced – my kid’s lives needed to get back to normal.   I returned back to work after some time off – I needed my income.   However, ministry function seemed to fizzle like sails without a whisper of wind.

However in reality, although things seemed to be slowly getting “back to normal”, there was nothing normal about it.   I felt impatient with my family, unmotivated at work, and still ministry appeared shell shocked.

So, what is a man to do when he faces life shaking events?  I thought that perhaps I needed someone to talk with…

Before deciding to see a professional counselor, I was surprised at how my own cultural, male and spiritual biases pushed back at me.  As someone from a Caribbean background, how could I talk “my business” to a complete stranger and further more pay a decent amount of money to do it!?  (When the counselor asked, “What brought me here?”  I felt like saying, “Not my health coverage!”) 

Spiritually, I wrestled with the (mistaken) notion; Aren’t you suppose to “pray it through”?  Isn’t it just supposed to be between you and God?   As a man, how could I possibly be so vulnerable and “share my feelings”?  Isn’t that so… weak?  Shouldn’t I already have it figured out?  Regardless, I ignored those questions because, well…mental health is…health.  Besides, how could I be the man God wants me to be if I wasn’t firing on all cylinders?

So, a man has got to do what a man has got to do…

Amidst the push back from my own cultural, spiritual, and male biases…  I did see a counselor a few times.  Do you know what?  I’ve not regretted it.  Proverbs 11:14 says, “in a multitude of counselors there is safety”, and that reality has never been more true to me as it is now.

The Words of a Man

Declaration

 One of the pillars of the Genesis Man’s masculinity and manhood is that of declaration.  As a man, declaration is simply the things that you say to build up your family or those you mentor.  We see Adam (in Genesis 2) making statements of declaration about Eve not long after they first met.  He said that she was “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!”  In essence, he was saying, “How could I not but love this woman because she is made up of me!   I love you as if you were my own body!”  He said that “her name should be called woman…”  Right there he was helping her know who she was.

A true element of manhood is the responsibility we have to build up our children, wives and people we mentor.  I’m not a throw back from the Father-Knows-Best 1950’s, but I know that there is something powerful about the words a man speaks.  I believe that men were not just made to build bridges, buildings and automobiles, but we were made to build people.

Over the Christmas break I had the opportunity to watch the Gridiron Gang – a true story of a correctional delinquency organization that used a football program to help change the male young offenders.  While overlooking the more colourful language, there were some important lessons that were realized.  The main character (The Rock) -who was the coach, he never forgave his father for the hurtful things that were said to him.  The character “Willy” shot his stepfather who was verbally and physically abusive to him and his mother.  (Besides being a gang member, that’s how he ended up in juvenile detention.)

In one scene there was a visiting day, and a variety of people came to visit the detainees…girlfriends, mothers, buddies… but there were no fathers.  I kept wondering, “Where are the fathers?”  Through out the movie, I kept looking…  Some of the young men might have had absent biological fathers, but where were the stepfathers?

Socially, stepfathers have an uphill battle and are almost always depicted as abusive and relationally detached.   I mean, they always seem to get a bad rap, but are they not important and valuable as biological fathers?

Who was the best stepfather of all time?  The most famous was Joseph the stepfather of Jesus.  God put him in charge of His Son.  There is no one more vulnerable than a child, and the Child Jesus was in the hands of Joseph.  God valued, and still values stepfathers.  The situation may not be ideal, but as men, we fill in wherever we can -be it as a father or a stepfather.  I can bet Joseph was a “Genesis Man”.  The New Testament may not have recorded the declarative words he said to build up his wife and his Stepson, but it was so obvious by looking at how he lived and loved.

I challenge all men, fathers, stepfathers and mentors…buy a $1 journal from a dollar store and write words of declaration to your sons, daughters, wives and the people you mentor.  Give one to each person in your life, and regularly write in the journal and give it to them.  Tell them who they are in Christ.  Tell them lovingly about the pitfalls of life and encourage them.  Help define their identities.  Tell them that you love them.  Men, let’s build a whole generation of people, and lets start in 2013.

Israel