Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Fathers' Day Special

Volume 3 No. 147 June 13, 2013

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Family - waiting fro His Appearance
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Foreword: Important Role of Fathers

Family is important to God. He created it before He created the church and, as with each of His creations, He made a plan for it to succeed. At the heart of that plan is love. To be part of a family is to be loved. So the challenge is … how can we love our family? ...

Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 16)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_4th_sunday-after-pentecost.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (June 16)

Sermons for the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_4th-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

Inspiration

What bible says about Fathers. ...

Featured: The Value of an Involved Father

So men, I want you to hear what I am sharing today. I want to show you how important you are to your children. Then I want to share with you how you can be a good father to your children. ...

Father's Day: From Father, with Love

The author of Proverbs 3 wants his child to grow up strong and to possess qualities that will make him a real adult. Forget the quest for becoming a macho man or an urban cowgirl. I bequeath these same ideals and goals for my child. ...

Ten Lessons I Learned from My Father

Romans 8:28 was as prominent as John 3:16 in our home. "God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose." ...

A Blessed Father

What does it mean to be a blessed Father? And how can we live under the full blessing of God as a Father? How does God define the word FATHER?
This is what we are going to look at this morning to help us live to our fullest potential as Dads. ...

Study Shows Christianity Makes Men Better Husbands and Fathers

In a research brief this month, Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia, analyzed three national studies in order to discover if "there is any evidence that religion is playing a role in encouraging a strong family orientation among contemporary American men?" His research led him to conclude that men who regularly attend Christian services are engaged in happier and stronger marriages and are more involved in the lives of their children than men who do not. ...

Fatherhood and What It Means to be a Man

Our society's attempt to suggest that we do not need men and we do not need fathers has demonstrated only the opposite: that more than ever we need true men, true gentlemen, and true fathers. I have never yet met a woman who does not want her husband to be a good, strong father. And I have never met a woman who has complained about her husband being a true gentlemen. ...

Fathers Are Important

Fathers have the most important role in the life of their children. The blessing of being a father is a great joy and with it comes great responsibility. No single individual will have a bigger impact on his children's life, for good or bad, than the father. ...

Eleven Things Your Dad Would Love to Hear on Father's Day

Because our parents tend to be such constant presences in our lives we often take them - and everything they've done for us - for granted. Father's Day is the perfect time to think about all of the ways in which your dad has impacted your life, and hopefully, give him the gift of heartfelt thanks. ...

Family: When Father's Day Hurts Your Heart

The "Daddy wound" is very prevalent among women. Little girls who experienced abandonment, rejection, abuse or indifference from their fathers can tend to carry that pain with them throughout their lives. ...

A Tale of Two Dads

I heard that one of my colleagues had recently lost his father. I asked him about it, and he shared this story. ...

Family Special: Appreciating Each Other: Are We Taking Our Spouse for Granted?

It's easy to become so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize the qualities and gifts of the person who is closest to us in life. In becoming blind to those attributes, however, we miss some great opportunities to build on each other's strengths. ...

Health: Seven Keys To Healing The Broken Heart Of An Addict

It has been proven over and over again, that resentment - which is the remembering, reliving and re-telling of painful events--is deadly for those with addictive or dependent tendencies. You simply cannot afford it. Resentment and blame blocks you from a connection with Spirit­-your spirit. When you are blocked from your spirit, you are blocked from emotional balance and well-being. ...

Recipe: Potato Salad - German Style

Reflections on a Trip to Thekkady

Some people have the unusual talent of writing travelogues that brings the trip to life. When I was young, it was SK Pottakkad. I must have read all his books. Of course, these days, with the internet and the world getting closer, the role of travel books have diminished. ...

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within You

And your mind consists of dual, invisible gigantic powers: the conscious and the subconscious. One is a giant that never sleeps. It is called the subconscious mind. The other is a giant which when asleep is powerless. When awakened, his potential power is unlimited. ...

About Malankara World

Foreword: Important Role of Fathers

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

Sunday, June 16 is the Father's Day. You will recall that we celebrated Mother's Day on May 12. There is big hoopla about Mother's Day in the US. Not much about Father's Day. Yes, you will see some tool sales and lawn and garden merchandise, tablet computers and smart phones (and the ever popular ties) advertised for Father's Day. In practicality, very few kids even remember father's day, not to speak of buying a gift or calling their dad.

Does that mean fathers are becoming an endangered species? In many states in the US, same sex couple can marry. In those families, the kids only experience either father or mother but not both as in a normal family as envisaged in the bible. What are the implications of this upbringing on the emotional health of the kids?

God's plan, undoubtedly, was to have a family of man and wife raising their kids together in a loving relationship. Man has a very important role to play in the family. Bible compares the man's role in the family to that of the role of Jesus in the Church. Man is the crown. In a patriarchal society, the role of male is very important.

Family is important to God. He created it before He created the church and, as with each of His creations, He made a plan for it to succeed. At the heart of that plan is love. To be part of a family is to be loved. So the challenge is … how can we love our family?

So, the question naturally arises, "what is the purpose of a Christian Family?" God wants the family as a showcase to illustrate the nature and character of God. God wants us to learn about God and His Love from our family on earth.

A Sunday school class of first-graders was asked to draw a picture of God. When the pastor stopped by to inspect their work, the children were happy to show him their drawings. One had drawn God in the form of a brightly colored rainbow. Another had drawn the face of an old man coming out of billowing clouds and there was one drawing that looked a lot like Superman. Perhaps the best drawing was the one proudly displayed by a girl who said, "I didn't know what God looked like exactly, so I drew my daddy!" (1)

When kids think of God, their first impression is their father. Father assumes the role-model for God.

In Jesus' time, he compared the God, the father to "abba". Abba, in ancient Palestine, is a grandfatherly person, full of love, who cared for each member of the family greatly. Jesus also compared God to the father of the prodigal son, a person who harbor no grudges, ever waiting patiently for his return.

This issue of Malankara World Journal gives you plenty of articles to read about the role of the father in Christian families. Being a father is a very responsible job. We have a real life story of a natural father and step-father and how the son perceives them. Another articles talks about what happens when the family disintegrates. When there is breakdown of the family, the first persons that suffer are the kids.

Here is a letter written by a child to his/her parents. It is very eye opening as to what a kid expects from the parents and their emotions and behaviors.

Don't spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all I ask for, I'm only testing you.

Don't be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it, it makes me feel secure.

Don't let me form bad habits. I have to rely on you to detect them in a early stage.

Don't make me feel smaller then I am. It only makes me behave stupidly "big."

Don't correct me in front of people, if you can help it. I'll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.

Don't make me feel that my mistakes are sins. It upsets my sense of values.

Don't protect me from consequences. I need to learn the painful way sometimes.

Don't be too upset when I say "I hate you". Sometimes it isn't you I hate but your power over me.

Don't take too much notice of my ailments. Sometimes they get me attention I don't need.

Don't nag. If you do, I shall have to protect myself by being deaf.

Don't forget that I cannot explain myself as well as I should like. That's why I am not always accurate.

Don't put me off when I ask questions. If you do you'll find that I stop asking and seek my information elsewhere.

Don't be inconsistent. That completely confuses me and makes me lose faith in you.

Don't tell me my fears are silly. They are terribly real and you can do much to reassure me if you try to understand.

Don't ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too great a shock when I discover that your neither.

Don't ever think that it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me surprisingly warm towards you.

Don't forget I love experimenting. I couldn't get along without it, so please put up with it.

Don't forget how quickly I am growing up. It must be difficult for you to keep pace with me, but please try to.

Don't forget that I don't thrive without lots of love and understanding, but I don't need to tell you that do I?

We wish you a happy father's Day. Please remember the bishops and the priests who are held in captivity in Syria for their speedy release.

Footnote:

1. How to Enjoy Your Family by Mary Southerland

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 16)

Sermons for This Sunday (June 16)

We have expanded our sermon offering to include the sermons based on the Saturday Evening and Sunday Morning Gospel reading.

Sermons for the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_4th-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

More Sermons

This Week's Features

Inspiration
My Child, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives.
(Sirach 3:12)

12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
(Exodus 20:12)

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
(Colossians 3:20)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:1-4)

17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
(Exodus 21:17)

7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
(Deuteronomy 32:7)

Featured: The Value of an Involved Father

by Dr. Stephen Felker

Scripture: Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)

Introduction:

In the 1992 presidential election, you adults probably remember a big controversy over what Vice-President Dan Quayle said. He was making a speech and he was talking about family values, and in the course of his speech he made some remarks concerning the sit-com character Murphy Brown. She chose to get pregnant & give birth to a baby without any intention of marrying the baby's father. Vice President Quayle said that Murphy Brown needed a husband. He said that TV was portraying an unacceptable role model for American family life. Well, that caused a media fire storm in our culture of moral relativism. However, some agreed with Dan Quayle. Let me give you a quotation from Margaret Carlson writing in Time Magazine in June of '92. She said, "There is nothing new about having babies without getting married. What's new is society's attitude which has gone from punishing it to tolerating it to celebrating it." I think she's right on target.

Does Murphy Brown need a husband? The better question is, "Does Murphy Brown's child need a father?" The answer to that is obvious to me, both from Scripture and my life experience. I will also give you some statistical evidence to show that a child needs a father who is involved in their life. But the answer to that question doesn't seem to be very clear to many in this generation. Lesbians & radical feminists say that Murphy Brown doesn't need a husband, nor does her child need a father. In fact, the show reflected the dangerous but increasingly popular notion that fathers are expendable. But of course Murphy Brown's child does need a father. Every child needs a father.

But the United States is in danger of becoming a fatherless society, shorn of its male parents not by war or disease but due to bad parental choices. This is borne out by statistics. For example, in 1990 more than 25% of all births were to unmarried women, a 5-fold increase since 1960, according to the Census Bureau. By 2005 it had increased to 37% of all births.1 40% of kids who live in female-headed households haven't seen their fathers in at least a year. Of the remaining 60%, only a fifth sleeps at least one night a month in their father's home. According to a 1996 Gallup poll on fatherhood, nearly 80% of respondents said the most significant family or social problem facing America is the physical absence of the father from the home.

So men, I want you to hear what I am sharing today. I want to show you how important you are to your children. Then I want to share with you how you can be a good father to your children. Today's message may be a little difficult for single moms, and for children who do not see their fathers nearly enough. But let me say to you who are single moms, you are doing your part. I applaud you and I congratulate you because you are doing a very difficult job. Keep it up. Don't quit. Ask God to give you the strength and perseverance you need. The last thing your children need is to loose both parents! Look to the Lord for His help, and teach your children to do the same.

Children, if you're father's not around, remember, God can compensate your losses to a large degree. The Bible says He is "a Father of the fatherless" (Ps. 68:5). So if you do not see your earthly father enough, do not feel sorry for yourself. You have a Heavenly Father who loves you. As you look to Him, and trust in Him, He can help you succeed in life, and be the person you should be. And don't become bitter & angry. You will only hurt yourself. There's no point getting angry & hurt over things that you have little control over. And there are some single dads out there who are doing a great job. I congratulate you as well. Keep up the good work.

Now let's get into the message. I want to begin by sharing with you:

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF A FATHER

Men, your role as a father is more important than your role on the job, and more important that winning a golf tournament, or a fishing tournament. Some fathers mistakenly believe that their role is not as significant to their children as a mother's role. Actually, both mom and dad are important.

Now the importance of an involved father is first of all demonstrated by:

A. The Negative Impact of the Absent, Uninvolved Father

Half of children being raised by single mothers live in poverty, compared with 8% of those from two-parent families. Children living with a single mother are twice as likely as children living with two parents to drop out of high school. Children from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems. Moreover, the most reliable predictor of juvenile crime is not income or race but family structure. A very high percentage of boys in gangs do not an involved father. In the Fall 2005 issue of In Character, James Q. Wilson noted that a boy growing up without a father has no personal conception of what it means to acquire skills, find a job, support a family, and be loyal to one's wife and children.

Furthermore, the research of Joseph Nicolosi and others points to specific social and environmental factors as a prime cause of homosexual orientation. For example, boys who do not identify themselves with dad by age two are clearly at risk of developing a homosexual orientation.

We know that an involved father is important to his children also because of:

B. The Positive Impact of an Involved Father

Almost twice as many high-achievers come from two-parent homes. Fathers who spend time alone with their children more than twice a week reared the most compassionate, caring, & loving adults. When a father is present and actively participates with the family, his children are more secure in their male and female identities, less susceptible to peer pressure, and less likely to be involved in substance abuse and delinquent behaviors. So there is something about that masculine presence in the home that makes a difference.

Since I believe it is very important that a father be involved in your children's lives, married men & women need to go the extra mile to keep the marriage together, for the sake of your children. That used to be common. But in an age of self-centered moral relativism, that is less common today. And single moms should cooperate with your children's father regarding visitation and other regular contact with your children, unless you & the court agree that he is a really bad influence. Don't use your kids as a weapon, or as a means of revenge for the hurt he has caused you. And if your child's father will not maintain close contact with your children, the second best thing is to live near at least one of the grandfathers, who will be heavily involved in the child's life. Fathers, since you are so important to your children, I want you to be the best dad you can be. So I want to conclude the message by sharing with you:

II. THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR A FATHER

Many want to be a good father, but unfortunately, they feel that their own fathers have not been good role models. In a survey back in the 1990's, only 1/3 of men feel at peace with their fathers and 54% reported having unresolved problems with their fathers. But even if your earthly fathers have not given you a good example, your Heavenly Father has, and He has given instructions to follow in His Word. So what are some of the main biblical instructions for fathers?

There are 3 main things I want to encourage you to do as a father:

1) Meet the needs of your children.
2) Instill moral values to your children.
3) Provide stability & security for your children.

So with that overview, let's start with your first obligation:

A. Meet the Needs of Your Children

Your role as a father is to have a significant part in meeting the needs of your children. For starters, you should certainly:

1. Provide for their Physical Needs

The traditional role of the father is to be the primary provider for the family. This is partly based on 1 Timothy 5:8, which says, "If a man does not provide for his own household, he is worse than an infidel." There are too many single dads out there who are not providing child support for their children.

Now even though it is important to provide for your children, bringing home a paycheck or giving child support is not sufficient to fulfill your fathering role. Our children need more than food, clothing, and a place to stay. They need more than the latest toys & electronics. So we should not only meet their physical needs, but we should also:

2. Meet their Need for Love

Your children need to know and feel that you love them. Mothers are usually great at showing love, but fathers have an important role in meeting this need as well. Some of the ways we help our kids know that they are loved is by telling them. It's not unmanly to tell your children that you love them! Also give them physical gestures of love, such as hugs and kisses. Give them focused attention. This means spending time with our kids, and giving them your attention. At its most fundamental level, a father's love is expressed through a man's daily involvement with his family.

Several years ago Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner did a study trying to determine how much time middle class fathers spend in contact with their children each day. They asked these men to estimate the amount of time they spend each day with their one year old children, the average response was between fifteen and twenty minutes a day. But when they attached microphones to the shirts of the kids to record the actual parental interaction, the results were shocking. The average amount of time daily spent by each dad with his child was an average of less than 3 daily encounters of just ten to fifteen seconds each.

I know your schedules are difficult, but being there for your children, to listen to them, to talk with them, to love them, is so critical. You should stop long enough to really listen to them. Don't be like Superman, flying in to meet a need and then flying out before they could find out who that masked man really was. Maybe in the evening when your child is getting ready for bed you may want to think about crawling into bed with them and just listening to them. Some kids can really talk! Tell your children that you love them. Let them go to sleep each night with the security of knowing that mom and dad love them.

Country singer Reba McEntire recorded a song years ago written by Richard Leigh and Layng Martine, Jr. It could tragically be the theme song of many a little boy or little girl as they reflect on their relationship with their daddy. It is entitled, "The Greatest Man."

The greatest man I never knew
Lived just down the hall
And everyday we said hello
But never touched at all.

He was in his paper.
I was in my room
How was I to know
he thought I hung the moon?

The greatest man I never knew
Came home late every night
He never had too much to say
Too much was on his mind.

I never really knew him,
And now it seems so sad.
Everything he gave to us
took all he had.

Then the days turned into years,
And the memories to black and white.
He grew cold like an old winter wind
Blowing across my life.

The greatest words I never heard
I guess I'll never hear.
The man I thought could never die
Been dead almost a year.

He was good at business,
But there was business left to do.
He never said he loved me,
guess he thought I knew.

There's yet another need that you need to meet in the lives of your children:

3. Meet their Need for Self-Esteem

We all need to feel good about ourselves, that we are worthwhile, that we matter, that we have value. We need to feel that we are making a positive impact upon others. People with good self-esteem tend to have healthier relationships and better success in life. One thing that Dr. Danny Akin said about fathers that really stuck with me was this: a child's self-esteem is greatly influenced by the approval or disapproval of their father. In Genesis 48:9 the patriarch Jacob said, "Bring them to me so I may bless them." He was talking about blessing his grandchildren, the children of Joseph. One of the greatest things that you could do for your children is to bless them. In the New Testament, the word translated "bless" literally means "to speak well of." The Old Testament word can mean "to praise." Do you bless your children by speaking well of them? Do you give affirmation & approval whenever possible? Sometimes they need rebuke & correction, but be sure to give them affirmation & approval whenever possible.

Ephesians 6:4 says: "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath…." Do you know one way you can produce seething, prolonged anger in your children? You provoke them to wrath when you berate them, and even curse at them. Too many fathers have said something like, "Son, you're no good. You'll never amount to anything. Why can't you do anything right?" Some children have heard demeaning profanity from their father's lips. In fact, it has been said that many workaholic men today are the men who were not blessed by their fathers and somehow are trying subconsciously to get the approval of fathers, even if they have long sense passed away. What is driving them is the desire to be blessed, to know that they are acceptable. Fathers, don't curse your children with your words. Don't use angry, hurtful words to discipline your children. Just take action when they need correction. Instead of cursing your children, bless them with words of approval & affirmation.

Former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton told a story about her father, who never affirmed her as a child. When she was in high school, she brought home a straight-A report card. She showed it to her dad, hoping for a word of commendation. Instead, he said, "Well, you must be attending an easy school." Thirty five years later the remark still burns in her mind. His thoughtless response may have represented nothing more than a casual retort, but it created a point of pain that has endured to this day. (2)

B. Instill Moral Values to Your Children

I talked about this last week. According to Proverbs 29:15b, the scripture says: "...but a child left to itself disgraces his mother." Children do not raise themselves physically, mentally, or spiritually. Children must have moral direction. A good dad provides moral direction for his family. I love Psalm 127:4 which says: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth." What good is an arrow unless it is shot and what good is the shooting of an arrow unless it has direction? As a father, you should provide moral direction for your family. How do you do that?

1. Spend Enough Time with your Children to Instill Your Moral Values

This is brought out in Dt. 6:5-7: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Every moment that you live, you are in a teaching mode with your child. You don't need to give a formal lecture each day. Just instill biblical values to your children each day by your words and by your example.

However, I pointed out last week that our children's values are being influenced too much by our society. Do you realize that the average child watches four to seven hours a day of TV? This is far more than they spend with their father. What kind of values will they get from TV? They probably aren't watching Andy Griffith or Father Knows Best. In a recent study 88% of all sexual encounters shown on TV are biblically immoral. Many children & youth spend a great deal of time listening to secular music that emphasizes the themes of promiscuity, death, the occult, drugs & alcohol abuse, and rebellion. You see, our values, our belief systems are influenced by parents, teachers, pastors, entertainment, and by our peers. So we need to spend time with our children, and instill moral values into their hearts and minds. But if a father & mother is gone most of the time, they will pick up their values from whoever or whatever they spend their time with. Our children are being influenced too much by the entertainment industry & their peers. We also need to bring them to church where they will be influenced by pastors and Christian teachers.

2. Lead by Example

Turn over to Acts 16. In Acts 16:31, the apostle Paul said to the Philippian Jailer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." And then v.33 says, "At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized." Then in v.34: "The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and the whole family was filled with joy, because they had come to believe in God." What a wonderful commentary about how God can change the direction of an entire family when the dad takes the first step.

Several years ago Billy Graham quoted the following statistics: he said that when the father is the first to accept Christ from his family, the entire family came to faith in Christ in sixty percent of the cases. When the wife came first, forty to fifty percent of the family members followed by receiving Christ. In families in which a child came to Christ first, only twenty-five percent of them saw their entire family become Christians. Blessed is the family, who has a dad who says, "We worship God, we serve Jesus, we stand for Christ." And by the way, a child's conception of the Heavenly Father is influenced by their earthly father. Are you giving a good picture of the Heavenly Father for them to relate to?

3. Teach Them about God & His Word

Ephesians 6:4 says: "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." That means teach them the Word of God, and impart biblical values to them, especially while they are young. Read the Bible together. Bring your children to church. Then as they get older, you will likely see Proverbs 22:6 fulfilled in your child: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it."

Of course, you can't teach what you do not know. So fathers, you need to learn the Word of God. Read it daily. Come to church faithfully to learn even more.

Now when your children go against the moral values you have taught them, you must reinforce those moral values:

4. By Disciplining Them

It's not enough to teach right from wrong. They also need commendation when they do right, and rebuke and correction when they do wrong. Heb. 12:7 says, "What son is there whom a father does not chasten?"

Now the Old Testament story of Eli the high priest is an example of someone who failed at this. His sons Hophni and Phinehas were very wicked. They abused the sacrificial offering and committed fornication (1 Sam. 2:21). Their sin became so open that their father finally reproved them (1 Sam. 2:22-25). But he did nothing else. He did not remove them from the priesthood. So God said to him, you "honor your sons more than Me" (1 Sam. 2:29). And the Scriptures tell us that his own life and that of his sons ended tragically because he had not disciplined them as a firm, caring, loving father. We do have a responsibility to both admonish and discipline our children.

So to be a good father, we must meet the physical & emotional needs of our children, we must instill moral values to our children, and finally, we should:

C. Provide Stability & Security

Those kids that grow up in an unstable, insecure home certainly have a lot to overcome. But those kids that grow up in a stable, secure home tend to do much better. A good dad should be a stabilizing force for his family. With a silent strength and love for his family, he should be a stabilizing force for a child who is growing and changing biologically, emotionally and spiritually.

Junior High School was probably my most difficult time period growing up. I had freckles as a child, and then I developed pimples for the first time. I had a speech impediment. It was 1969 & I had my first exposure to racial conflict. I was still a skinny, 75 lb. weakling in the 7th grade. There were boys there who had repeated 2-3 grades. They were much bigger. Some even had facial hair. I remember one boy who pushed me up against a brick wall & demanded that I "loan" him some money. That year my grades suffered. How did I survive Junior High school without being permanently damaged? I'll tell you. I was able to go home to a mother who was almost always there to welcome me with a hug & kiss. At 5:00 o'clock every day I knew my dad would come home from work to a loving kiss & hug from my mother. My dad is a gentle, big man, who provided a good, stable home life. We had a family meal at 6:00 o'clock sharp every evening. I could survive 7 hours of Jr. High each day because I had a good, stable, loving home life to come home to. Fathers, mothers, give your children a place they can call home; a cleft in the rock along life's shore, shielding them from the troubled sea of this world.

But sadly, there are too many kids that don't want to go home each day. Why? It may be because they have a dad who is so frustrated with their job that they come home angry. Mom & dad soon get into an argument. Or he comes home drunk. Dad starts fussing at the kids, and they end up embittering his children. The scripture says in Colossians 3:21: "Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." Some dads not only verbally abuse their children, but even do so physically. The number one comment that I heard several years ago from a survey of students was that if there was one thing they really wished they understood about their fathers was, "Why are they so angry?" The angry dad today is producing children who are hurt & angry. God wants us to respect our children by not yelling at them every time we turn around. To be a stabilizing force for a family means to hold in your emotions if necessary.

Conclusion:

Real men take seriously their responsibility to parent their children. I want to invite all fathers here today to make a commitment to God something like this, "Heavenly Father, from this day forward, help me to focus more on meeting the needs of my children: their physical needs, and their need for love & affirmation. Help me provide moral direction for my children in both word and example. Help me to be strong for my children. Help me provide security and stability for my children." Now with God's help and a commitment on your part to maintain the right priorities, you can be a great dad. However, the key is to know the greatest Father of all, our Heavenly Father. And we can only know Him through Jesus Christ. Dad, do you know Jesus as your Savior. If not, I invite you to trust in Jesus as your Savior. He died for your sins on the cross that you might be forgiven. Set a good example for your children. God will give you a new heart, and your children will have a new dad.

Footnotes:

1 National Center for Health Statistics.
2 Martha Sherrill, "Mrs. Clinton's Two Weeks out of Time: The Vigil for Her Father, Taking a Toll Both Public and Private," Washington Post, 3 April 1993, p. C1.

Sources:

Tim Clinton, "The Father Factor: Being There Makes a Difference";
Curt Dodd (notes from his sermon entitled, "Real Men Parenting Real Children");
Richard Louv, "The Crisis of the Absent Father";
Larry Pierce, Online Bible [CD-ROM] (Ontario: Timnathserah Inc., 1996);
Jerry Vines (notes from his sermon entitled "Does Murphy Brown Need a Husband" dated 8/23/92).

© Dr. Stephen Felker. Dr. Felker is the Pastor of Swift Creek Baptist Church, Colonial Heights, VA. 

Father's Day: From Father, with Love

By Don M. Aycock

Proverbs 3:1-26

(Editor's Note: Don Aycock wrote this message while anticipating the birth of his first child -- who turned out to be twin boys.)

As you can well imagine, lately I have been giving more thought to fatherhood than ever before. The thought of my being responsible for a wiggly, puffy-cheeked child scares the daylights out of me. I find great comfort in the fact that almost everyone I know said the same thing about their feelings.

We have been married 7 1/2 years, and in that time we have been accustomed to thinking in terms of a bicycle built for two. Now we must think in terms of tricycles!

As I reread Proverbs 3, I was struck anew with the love and wisdom pouring from this passage. We sometimes think of the ancient Hebrews as primitive people who were rougher than a corn cob. But here you see a man who, like all fathers who deserve that title, wants the absolute best for his child. He doesn't ask for perfection. Being a realist, he knows perfection is not to be found this side of heaven.

The author of Proverbs wants his child to grow up strong and to possess qualities that will make him a real adult. Forget the quest for becoming a macho man or an urban cowgirl. I bequeath these same ideals and goals for my child.

Faith

The writer of Proverbs 3 wanted to give his child faith. But what kind of faith? An empty, half-believed and accepted faith may be worse than none at all. If it is only seen as insurance against some calamity, then it is not faith -- it is delusion.

Look again at Proverbs 3. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way." That is faith. It is simply believing that God will take care of you.

Did I say "simply" believing? That's a laugh, isn't it? As if it were all that easy. As if, when someone you love is critically ill, all you have to do is snap your fingers and wish away the trouble. True biblical faith is not "Pollyanna" thinking, but rather a basic outlook based on our experience with God. For example, I believe that God has taken care of me up to this point. When things go badly for me, as they have and will again, I look back on those times of care and draw strength and hope. Faith doesn't remove us from our difficulties. It makes us strong in them.

Consider the faith of the psalmist who wrote in Psalm 121:1-8:

I look to the mountains; where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake. The protector of Israel never dozes or sleeps. The Lord will guard you; he is by your side to protect you. The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night. The Lord will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe. He will protect you as you come and go, now and forever.

This is not a money-back guarantee. This is a statement of heart-felt beliefs that draws on past experience to sustain present difficulties.

Someone has suggested that, "Without faith we are like stained glass windows in the dark." That image speaks to me. We are at our best admitting faith, just as these stained glass windows are admitting light.

I know -- we sometimes delude ourselves claiming things we do not really believe. Perhaps you have heard Paul Sweeney's definition of self-delusion. He says, "Self-delusion is pulling in your stomach when you step on the scales."

Contemporary legend has it that when the first Russian cosmonaut returned from orbiting the earth, he was interviewed by the officials at the Kremlin. The cosmonaut told them that he had seen God in space. They replied, "We were afraid of that. Don't tell anyone else." Later the cosmonaut was interviewed by the Pope, who asked him if he had seen God in outer space. Doing as he was told to do, he said, "I didn't see a thing." The Pope said, "I was afraid of that. Don't tell anyone else."

Faith is not belief in spite of evidence; it is life in scorn of consequences. So the wise father, writing in the Book of Proverbs, wants to instill in his child that kind of faith.

On the walls of Hind's Head Inn in Bray, England, is this inscription:

Fear knocked on the door.
Faith answered.
No one was there.

Gratitude

Words are as slippery as eels. How can we use them to grasp an idea so amorphous as gratitude? Writer Robert C. Newell gives us a good example in a story he tells: "Late one night when I was driving along an isolated road, the motor of my car stopped. A friendly traveler came along, took a rope from the trunk of his car, and towed my stalled car nearly thirty miles to a garage. When I insisted that he accept pay, he refused. He rejected my offer to fill his tank with gas. 'Well,' I said, 'I must in some way return your kindness.' The stranger replied, 'If you really want to show your gratitude, buy a rope and always carry it in your car."

The writer in Proverbs reminds his child to honor the Lord by making regular offerings from the best of all his crops. He was trying to instill in his child a sense of gratitude. He realized how life is fabricated. It is simply a fact of life that you cannot always take without giving. You simply have to develop an attitude about life, an attitude that makes you remember what others have given to you. That attitude is gratitude.

We do this, of course, on special days like Thanksgiving. But gratitude is too important an ideal to relegate to one day a year. We should be like a pack rat -- leaving something every time we take something. Think of peanuts. Farmers discovered peanuts are excellent to grow on the less-than-best soil because they put nitrogen into the soil. They enrich the very soil which gives them life. Isn't that a parable of gratitude?

A part of gratitude is also knowing when you have enough. As someone put it, "It's possible to own too much. A man with one watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure." In this frenzied race to accumulate more and more, isn't it about time to slow the pace and simply enjoy what we already have?

Teachability

The father in Proverbs 3 advises his son to pay attention if the Lord corrects him. In other words, "Don't fight back, don't rebel." Listen to what the lesson is trying to teach you.

Someone has suggested that the art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery. God, in His efforts to educate us to live together peacefully on this little planet, assists in the discovery of life principles. One of those principles is that we never know it all, our opinion is not always right, and that maybe, just maybe, even our political opinions could stand some readjustment.

But teachability is more than that. A college administrator and professor wrote, "I believe the true purpose of education is not only to fill man's mind with knowledge and his belly with food but to deepen his spiritual insights."

That is precisely what this wise father in Proverbs is saying. There are spiritual lessons to be learned. Sometimes we listen only when the Lord corrects us. We rebel and kick. I think Harry Truman was talking about us when he said, "I have found the best way to give advice to children is to find out what they want, and then advise them how to do it."

LIFE

"Life" here is not simply providing the child with flesh and blood. That's the easiest part. By "life," that author of Proverbs means quality of existence.

George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "Life's no brief candle -- it's a splendid torch!" That's it! That says it. How many people do you see every day who are physically alive but who are not living, in the fullest sense of that word?

We do not have to be rich to achieve this quality of living either. The most important thing is strong, healthy relationships. That is the basis of both our spiritual lives and our physical lives. A child who grows up poor but with good care and plenty of love at home will turn out okay. A child who grows up with anything less may be handicapped all through life.

There is a movie entitled, "The Four Seasons." The movie centers around the relationships of six people who are close friends. That friendship is stretched, strained, abused, shoved, and ignored. But it lasts! Many of us are so fragile that we cannot stand even the slightest strain on our relationships. But that really hurts our lives -- the quality of our existence.

All of this sounds like a last will and testament, doesn't it? A father bequeaths all the qualities and life goals to his child, and to us. Faith sustains our relationship with God. Gratitude reminds us that others have given generously to us and we need to pass it on. Teachability keeps us from being a one-trick pony. Life assures us that God intends more for us than physical existence.

These are the things I would like to give to my child, even as our Heavenly Father has given them to His children.

Source: Preaching.com

Ten Lessons I Learned from My Father

by John Piper

1) When things don’t go the way they should, God always makes them turn for good.

Romans 8:28 was as prominent as John 3:16 in our home. "God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose."

2) God can be trusted.

He never murmured at the providence of God, not even when God took my mother at age 56. "In God I have put my trust, I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?" (Psalm 56:11).

3) People are lost and need to be saved through faith in Jesus.

He was an evangelist. His absence from home two-thirds of my life meant one main thing. Hell is real and terrible and Jesus is a great Savior.

4) Life is precarious, and life is precious. Don’t presume that you will have it tomorrow and don’t waste it today.

"It is appointed unto men once to die, after that comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). "Boast not yourself of tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1).

5) A merry heart does good like a medicine and Christ is the great heart-Satisfier.

He is the happiest man I have ever known. In a sermon called "Saved, Safe and Satisfied," he said, "He is God. When you fully trust Him you have all that God is and all that God has. You cannot be otherwise than satisfied with the perfect fullness of Christ."

6) A Christian is a great Doer not a great Don’ter.

We were fundamentalists without the attitude. We had our lists of things. But that wasn’t the main thing. God was the main thing. And he was worth everything.

7) The Christian life is supernatural.

Christian living is not possible without the Holy Sprit, and he comes in answer to prayer. There is not a night in my memory that our family did not pray together when I was growing up.

8) Bible doctrine is important, but don’t beat people up with it.

He groaned over schools and grandmothers who split what the Bible holds together: "Speak the truth in love." Truth and love. A good marriage. Keep it together, Son.

9) Respect your mother.

If you wanted to see Daddy angry, let me sass my mother. "Honor her" is what God commands. And Daddy knew the price she paid to let him go away.

10) Be who God made you to be, and not somebody else.

If you are short, form a ball team called "Small Potatoes But Hard to Peel." He never pressured me to be a pastor. Seek the will of God above all, Son. And be what God made you to be.

With deepest thanks,

Johnny

©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org Used by Permission.

A Blessed Father

This morning it's Father's Day, a day in which we honor our fathers.

5 Things you will never hear Fathers say…

5. Well, how 'bout that?... I'm lost! Looks like we'll have to stop and ask for directions.
4. Here's a credit card and the keys to my new car -- GO CRAZY.
3. Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend ... you might want to consider throwing a party.
2. Why would you want to go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend.
1. Father's Day? aahh -- don't worry about that -- it's no big deal.

Scripture: Acts 13:32-33 and II Cor. 6:18

- According to our text this morning, God has an idea of what a Father is suppose to be.
- The question is does our society know? And do we as a church know?
- Approx 20 million children have been abandoned by there father. That's 10 million shy of the population of Canada.
- What I mean by abandon is, a lack of spiritual, financial and emotional support.
- They are not there to love them and take care of them, because they are too busy living for the moment.
- And it's affecting our society. Kids need there father and father's need to show there kids they are loved and wanted.
- What does it mean to be a blessed Father? And how can we live under the full blessing of God as a Father?
- How does God define the word FATHER?
- This is what we are going to look at this morning to help us live to our fullest potential as Dads.

I. Godly Fathers Lead By Example

Billy Graham tells of a time, during the early years of his preaching ministry, when he was due to lead a crusade meeting in a town in South Carolina, and he needed to mail a letter. He asked a little boy in the main street how he could get to the post office. After the boy had given him directions, Billy said, "If you come to the central Baptist church tonight, I'll tell you how to get to heaven." The boy replied, "No thanks, you don't even know how to get to the post office!"

John 4:19-20 says, "The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."

- Godly fathers not only lead there own children spiritually, but also are an influence on other kids and generations. (Vs 20)
- A Father who desires to make an impact on both there children and there friends are considered role models.
- This woman Jesus was witnessing to was a Samaritan.
- She was not living a moral life but had 5 different men. She was a person living common law and outside the will of God.
- But yet she still remembered people who worshiped on a certain mountain, (vs 20) she knew what the prophets had said before (vs 19) and she knew about a coming Messiah. (Vs 25)
- Meaning she was influenced by Godly men. She heard about God somewhere from someone.
- Men who were fathers. Family men who loved God and I believe desired to make an impact.
- As Fathers this morning, we don't always have to say something, but we always have to live out our convictions.
- I believe it's important that not only our kids see us worship, but there friends also see us worship.
- And what I mean by worship is prayer, singing, church attendance, Bible reading and Godly living. Choosing to do what is right, and standing up for what we believe in.
- We need to show our kids, our spouse and there friends that we love the Lord and why it's important to serve Him.
- Godly fathers are blessed because they lead there home and lives by example.
- There is always someone watching your life. Know where you are going and decide in your heart that you want to serve the Lord and lead by example.

II. Godly Father's Lead The Family

Josh 24:14-15 says, "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

- Each believer must continually choose whom he or she will serve.
- We can say as fathers that we want to raise our children in the fear of the Lord, but with that statement comes fruit.

A. Some examples of fruit is this: We won't send our kids to Sunday School, we will bring them.
B. We will teach our kids to pray, and not leave it up to the church to do it.
C. There will be an inner desire to see my kids at the altar receiving from God.

- I pray my kids go under the power of God at an early age and receive from God all that God has for them.
- But in order to see those things happen in my family I have to lead them to those things.
- I have to go to the altar, I must give to the Lord in tithes and offerings, and I must desire to pray so that my kids will see that God is important to me.
- God is looking to you and me as the Priest of our home, to lead the home into the things of God.

III. Godly Fathers Love There Wives

Eph 5:25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"

- God has established the family as the basic unit in society.
- Every family must have a leader.
- Therefore the husband has been assigned the responsibility of being the head of the wife and family.
- Now the husband's headship must be exercised in love, gentleness and consideration for his wife and family.
- Our kids need to see that dad is devoted, committed and loves his wife.

©2005 First Baptist Church of Barberville, FL

Study Shows Christianity Makes Men Better Husbands and Fathers

by Tim Waggoner

In a research brief this month, Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia, analyzed three national studies in order to discover if "there is any evidence that religion is playing a role in encouraging a strong family orientation among contemporary American men?" His research led him to conclude that men who regularly attend Christian services are engaged in happier and stronger marriages and are more involved in the lives of their children than men who do not.

"70 percent of husbands who attend church regularly report they are 'very happy' in their marriages, compared to 59 percent of husbands who rarely or never attend church," explained Wilcox, who also said that the studies indicated that wives experienced more marital happiness when their husbands attended regular religious services.

This is likely one significant reason why the studies showed that married couples who attended regular Christian services were approximately 35 percent less likely to divorce then those couples who did not.

Wilcox's research also looked at the effect religion has on the relationships between fathers and their children.

Fathers who attended regular Christian services spent an average of two more hours a week engaged in youth-activities with their children than fathers who did not attend regular services. Christian fathers also spent more one-on-one time with their children and were 65 percent more likely to hug and praise their children.

The studies also found that children born inside of wedlock had much more "involved, affectionate, and consistent relationships" with their fathers. This is an important statistic given Wilcox's findings that church attending men are more likely to have children inside of wedlock then non-church going men.

Wilcox concluded his research brief by strongly advocating the positive effects that religion has on husbands and fathers: "This brief provides an array of evidence indicating that religion is an answer to the male problematic - that is, the tendency of fathers to become detached, emotionally or physically, from their children and the mothers of their children. I find that fathers who are religious, and who have partners who are religious, are - on average - more likely to be happily married, to be engaged and affectionate parents, and to get and stay married to the mothers of their children."

Source: Life Site News

Fatherhood and What It Means to be a Man

by Fr. Robert Altier

Scripture:

Reading I (Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1)
Reading II (Galatians 3:26-29)
Gospel (St. Luke 9:18-24)

In the first reading today, we heard the very famous prophecy of the prophet Zechariah speaking about Our Lord on the Cross: They will look upon him whom they have pierced through, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they will grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn. It speaks about the mourning in Jerusalem and the greatness of that mourning, but then it goes on to tell us that there will be a fountain that is going to flow that will bring about the forgiveness of sins, that will bring about repentance and a change in one's life. This is exactly what all of us are called to do: to come to our Blessed Lord, to allow ourselves to be bathed in the fountain that flows from His Sacred Heart, the fountain of His Precious Blood, the fountain of the water that cleanses us of our sins.

But it also requires one further step, and that is the change of our lives. We have gotten to the point now where lots of people will come to Confession and they will confess their sins, but they really do not have much intention of changing their lives. They fully intend to go out and sin again. If that is the case, their sins actually cannot be forgiven. Even though the priest gives absolution, if there is no intention at all of trying to change your life there is no forgiveness of the sin. Now assuming that we probably will fall again because of our weakness - we do know that - is different from intending to go out and sin again. There needs to be that true repentance which implies the intention to amend one's life, to try to stay away from the occasions of sin so that we can truly grow in holiness.

It is in this vein also of looking at the need to change that I would like to address something very specifically regarding this particular day as the nation celebrates Father's Day, and that is the necessity of the vocation that men have to be fathers.

First and foremost, God has created males to be men. That is a real problem we have these days. That is, we have lots of males, but we do not have very many men. We are lacking gravely in that area, but we need also to make a distinction in that. What we need are gentlemen, Christian gentlemen, because if we put too much emphasis on what it means to be a man, we wind up with these unfortunate souls who want to think that they are "Mr. Macho" and they are nothing even close to what a real man is.

A real man is not getting drunk. To be a real man does not mean to go out and do stupid things to try to prove that you are somehow macho or "cool".

To be a real man is to stand up for what is right, to lead, to direct, to be firm, to be decisive, to be strong for one's family.

That is what we need.

But we need gentlemen. To put too much emphasis on the "gentle" leads to very weak, effeminate, wimpy men. That is our nation's problem today. We have women trying to be men and men trying to be women. I have not met one single person who is happy about that, yet we continue to press the exact same lie. Men are called to be the head of the family, the head of the household; therefore, the change needs to come right there. It is time that men have to stand up for what it means to be a man, to get rid of the effeminacy, to get rid of this wimpiness that has infected the males of our society, and at the same time to get rid of the machismo nonsense that has nothing at all to do with being a man and to find that proper balance between being gentle and being a man.

We see the example of what it means to be a true Christian gentleman by looking at our Blessed Lord.

First and foremost, look at the Gospel reading today; it captures so much of it for us. We begin the Gospel reading today by hearing that Our Lord is out praying. The most manly thing we can do is to pray. Too many men think prayer is a woman's thing, that it is somehow not for men. There is nothing less true in the whole world. Men and women pray differently, but there is nothing more important than prayer if you truly want to be the man God created you to be. It means that you have to come before the Lord and you have to speak to Him, you have to open your heart and allow Him to speak to you. And this is the point where that change, that repentance, has to come. It is not enough to be able to sit back and recognize that what we are doing is not always right. It is not enough to come to Confession and say, "Well, I sat in front of the TV and drank beer all night and it wasn't too impressive. I abused my wife and kids. I screamed at them and I treated them badly." It may be true, but the question is what you are going to do about it.

The Man is right there in the tabernacle. If we want to learn what it means to be a man, come to the One Who has lived it perfectly, come to the One in Whose image and likeness you are created and allow yourself to be formed into that image and likeness. Learn what it means to be a man by coming to Our Lord Who is the Head of the Mystical Body, the Church, Who is the Father, Who is the Husband of the Bride. He is the man from whom all of us must learn. He is the priest, so all the priests and bishops being the head of the family, the Church, have to learn from Him what it means to be a man. One of the most impressive things that I ever heard was when I spoke to a seminarian twenty years ago who had gone to a particular seminary and he called me up and said, "Guess what the rector of the seminary said at his opening conference? He said, ‘Our job here at this seminary is to form you to be men in order to be priests.'" The first order of business was to teach them what it meant to be a man. We have way too many priests and bishops who do not know what it means to be men. They will not stand up for the truth, they waffle all over the place, they will not call people to repentance, they refuse to pray, they have no backbone. So we need real men to be priests, to be the fathers of the family, the Church, to be the pastors of the parishes in the diocese.

But we need real men who are in the families as well. What we see happening in the priesthood is merely a reflection of what is happening in society. Society has decided it does not need men. We have all these superwomen who can do everything. They can work full time, and they can come home and take care of the kids and do all the things. They do not need this guy around; after all, he is just lazy and he sits in front of the TV pressing the little buttons on the thing and drinking beer and being a fool. That is what the media presents men to be these days. It is time that men stand up and say that that is not true instead of giving into the societal norm and saying, "If that's all they expect of me, I guess I may as well do it." That is as foolish as the teenage kids who think, "Well, since they expect me to go out and be immoral, I might just as well be." What a terrible disappointment to parents. If men are sitting around doing just what society assumes they are going to do - being selfish, being lazy, being foolish - what a terrible disappointment to the woman to whom he is married and to the children whom he has fathered.

It is time that men stand up and be firm. Look at what it says in the Gospel today: Our Lord rebuked them. Men must be disciplinarians, not to be abusive but to be firm, to be clear about what is right and wrong, to set the example first and foremost of what is right and wrong, and to call one's children to lives of virtue. A man is to be the head of the household, the spiritual head of the household, and to be the spiritual director of his wife and children. How can you be a spiritual director to your wife and children if you do not pray, if you do not have a spiritual life, if you are not a step out in front? It is hard to direct from behind; you need to be walking ahead. One of the gifts God has given to men is to be able to look at the big picture, to be forward-looking. That is why the men have to be the head: to be looking forward, to be directing the family, to be leading things.

We look at what Our Lord asks of each and every one of us (whether male of female, it does not matter; but again, in the context, how critically important it is): to take up our cross daily and follow Him. You want to see what it means to be a man? Meditate on the Passion; look at what Jesus did for us. He did it out of love. That is what is required to be a true man: to love, but to love in a manly way. A mother's love is entirely different from a father's love. Her heart has to be soft and open and receptive to her children. A father's heart also must be open to his children, it must be inviting to them, but he needs to be clear and firm and decisive. He needs to be setting the tone and the direction. In a society which has decided that it needs not fathers, all we have to do is look around and see the effects. If you look at all the statistics of crime, there is one thing that is even across the board. We would like to be able to say, "It's a racial thing," or, "It's about poverty," or whatever it might be, but it is not. The statistics all the way across the board demonstrate one single thing: the vast majority of crime is committed by young males who do not have a father - because they do not know what it means to be a man. They grow up in a woman's world and they are trying then to prove that they are men by going out and doing stupid things because they do not know what it means to be a man, because they do not have the example and they do not have the discipline and they do not have the direction.

Our society's attempt to suggest that we do not need men and we do not need fathers has demonstrated only the opposite: that more than ever we need true men, true gentlemen, and true fathers. I have never yet met a woman who does not want her husband to be a good, strong father. And I have never met a woman who has complained about her husband being a true gentlemen. I have heard lots of women complain about their wimpy, effeminate husbands. And I have heard lots of women complain about their overly macho husbands who are abusive and mean and distant. What we need are true husbands, true gentlemen, true men. One woman in a household is plenty, even if one is male. All that we need is one female, and we need a true man in the house. We do not need two females. It is time that men stand up and be men. That does not mean to throw your weight around and try to push everybody and act like a jerk. That is not what it means to be a man. It means to be confident in your own self and who God has created you to be, to take your role seriously, to lead, to be decisive, and to be clear. That is what your wife desires and that is what she needs. That is what your children need. They need someone who is going to be strong, someone who is going to protect them - not only physically, but morally and spiritually - someone who is going to be a leader, someone who is going to be a decision maker, who is going to be decisive and clear in the way that the family is going to be directed. That is what we need.

As we celebrate this day in honor of fathers, we recognize in a very specific way how important fatherhood truly is. All fatherhood comes from God, Saint Paul tells us, and so every single father has a share in the very role of God the Father and is brought into that and is to live it the way that God the Father does. So we have wonderful examples, the greatest examples of what it means to be a man and to be a father.

Go to prayer; meditate upon the fatherhood of God; meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ to see what it truly means to be a Christian gentleman. That is exactly what God is asking of all the males He has created: to be a true man, to be a real gentleman, and to live the vocation - the glorious and exalted vocation - that God has given you to be a father, to be a husband, to take that seriously and to live it. Again, go to prayer.

Look at The Man, Jesus Christ, and learn from Him. We need to recognize where we have failed as men, confess our sins, but then make that point to repent, to make a change in our lives, so that we will live the life we are called to live, to be the persons we were created to be, to embrace the vocation to which God called us, and to really truly be the men, the husbands, and the fathers that God has created us to be.

Fathers Are Important
Fathers have the most important role in the life of their children. The blessing of being a father is a great joy and with it comes great responsibility. No single individual will have a bigger impact on his children's life, for good or bad, than the father.

God places great importance on fathers; in fact, He refers to himself as our heavenly Father. God has given fathers several crucial responsibilities in the lives of their children.

Foremost, fathers are given the responsibility to teach their children about God:

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
(Ephesians 6:4)

You can see from the verses that the father has a responsibility to instruct their children about God.

Also, God gives clear instructions on when and how to instruct our children. Teaching a child about God is something a father should be doing all day - at home, on the road, in the morning and in the evening. Fathers are also commanded to teach in a way that does not exasperate the child. To exasperate means to make very angry or impatient; to annoy greatly. As fathers, we are commanded to teach in a loving and compassionate manner. To fail to do so may lead our children to abandon God.

"Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."
(Colossians 3:21)

God also calls fathers to lead a godly life, so that they can be a righteous example.

"In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?" tell him…The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness."
(Deuteronomy 6:20, 24-25)

Our example and the life we lead has significant consequences for the lives of our children. If we live up to the standard that God calls us to, God promises blessings upon our children.

"May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised!"
(Deuteronomy 1:11)

"In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them"
(Psalm 22:4)

However, a father's failure to follow God has terrible consequences for his children and generations beyond.

"The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation"
(Numbers 14:18)

God understands that children will naturally follow the example of their fathers. As stated in 2 Kings, we compare the son of a godly man versus the son of an ungodly man:

"He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done"
(2 Kings 18:3)"

"He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his fathers had done."
(2 Kings 23:32)

Thirdly, God calls fathers for responsibility in discipline. The father is responsible to first submit to God' discipline himself; then, to discipline his children. A father can teach his children more by his example of how he submits to God's discipline than by the commands he gives.

"Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law"
(Psalm 94:12)

"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?"
(Hebrews 12:7)

"Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness"
(Hebrews 12:9-10)

Fathers, once they understand the compassionate discipline and guidance that God provides, should not be lax in their responsibility to discipline their children. It is not just for obedience; fatherly discipline shows love, provides training and protects your child's soul.

"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him" (Proverbs 13:24)

"Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death" (Proverbs 19:18)

God rewards fathers who follow His instructions on parenting. By obeying your heavenly Father, you will not only bless your children - you too will be blessed.

"The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him." (Proverbs 23:24)

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." (Psalm 127:3-5a)

Source: justopenthebook.com

Eleven Things Your Dad Would Love to Hear on Father's Day

To the Old Block, from the Chip: "Thank-You's" Every Father Should Hear

If you're searching for a meaningful Father's Day gift, look no further: Todd Patkin shares eleven "thank-you's" that dads everywhere would love to hear.

Foxboro, MA (June 2013) - On Sunday, June 16th - otherwise known as Father's Day - dads around America will receive ties, tools, and other "toys" from their children. Sure, those gifts (as well as cards, visits, and family meals) are a great way to let Pops know that you love him and that you're glad he's part of your life. But according to Todd Patkin, as you and he get older, there's an even better way to honor your dad on Father's Day: Tell him thank you and mean it.

"All parents are different, but one thing they have in common is that they want the best for their children," says Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man's Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and - Finally - Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-9658261-9-8, $19.95, www.findinghappinessthebook.com). "As a father myself, I can tell you that while we all make mistakes from time to time, we genuinely do our best to help our kids to be capable, responsible, and fulfilled adults."

Because our parents tend to be such constant presences in our lives, says Patkin, we often take them - and everything they've done for us - for granted. Father's Day is the perfect time to think about all of the ways in which your dad has impacted your life, and hopefully, give him the gift of heartfelt thanks.

"I know that stereotypically speaking, men aren't supposed to be very 'touchy-feely,'" Patkin admits. "But I promise you, when it comes to your kids, all of those rules go out the window. I cherish every 'I love you,' 'thanks,' and genuine smile I've ever gotten from my son. It's incredibly heartwarming and fulfilling to hear directly from your child that he or she thinks you've done a good job as a parent."

Here, Patkin shares eleven "thank-you's" that might just make your own dad's Father's Day perfect:

• Thank you for almost always making time to come to my games, concerts, and awards ceremonies. I know you were under pressure and busy a lot of the time, so your priorities taught me that family and relationships are always more important than work and outside achievements.

• Thank you for supporting me when I decided I'd rather be in the school band than play basketball. The fact that you clapped loudest at our concert let me know unequivocally that you love me for who I am - especially since you were the star point guard during your own high school days!

• Thank you for making me help with yard work and home improvement projects on the weekends. I may not have enjoyed it at the time, but you taught me the value of hard work. Because of you, I take pride in a job well done, no matter how large or small!

• Thank you for teaching me to ride a bike, and especially for encouraging me to get back up and try again when I fell. I learned that persistence and practice pay off, and that the results can be fantastic!

• Thank you for coaching my YMCA sports teams. You showed me what good sportsmanship looks like and taught me why it's important to shake hands after every game, even if we lost! In all aspects of my adult life, I know how to lose (and win!) with grace because of you, Dad. And even though I've aged out of Little League, I also exercise on a regular basis and try to stay physically fit.

• Thank you for disciplining me and telling me why you were disappointed. I certainly didn't enjoy being punished, but now I have a strong set of core values and a firm sense of right and wrong.

• Thank you for teaching me how to drive and for remaining patient throughout the process - I know I wasn't always the nicest student. Now I can merge, parallel park, and back like a pro. (But I'm still trying to beat your least-number-of-stops-on-the-way-to-the-beach record!)

• Thank you for showing me that there's a difference between being aggressively confrontational and being politely firm. Because of you I stick to my convictions and don't let others take advantage of me while remaining respectful.

• Thank you for making executive decisions on everything from where to eat dinner to when to leave the neighbors' holiday party to which movie to watch on family night. These examples may seem insignificant, but over the years you taught me the value of knowing your mind and acting decisively. You saved me a lot of waffling, hemming, and hawing!

• Thank you for always treating Mom with respect, patience, love, and sometimes a little mischievousness. You taught me how to treat someone you love and what a strong marriage looks like. Now I have a great relationship - and a lot of fun - with my own partner.

And for men specifically, Patkin suggests this acknowledgment:

• Thank you for teaching me the "essentials" like how to tie a tie, iron a crease into slacks, shine my shoes, and shave. While I might not put all of those skills to use every day, I always take pride in my appearance…and I think I do "clean up" nicely!

"Whether you write your own personalized thank-you's in a card or share them with your dad in person, you can rest assured that this will be a Father's Day he'll remember forever," Patkin concludes.

About the Author:

Todd Patkin, author of "Finding Happiness: One Man's Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and - Finally - Let the Sunshine In", "Twelve Weeks to Finding Happiness: Boot Camp for Building Happier People", and "The Sunny Days Secret: A Guide for Finding Happiness" (coming 2014), grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy.

Family: When Father's Day Hurts Your Heart

by Cindi McMenamin

If the thought of Father's Day brings a sting to your heart, you are not alone.

As I was interviewing women while writing my book, 'When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts', I discovered that the "Daddy wound" is very prevalent among women. Little girls who experienced abandonment, rejection, abuse or indifference from their fathers can tend to carry that pain with them throughout their lives.

If you are one who has never experienced the love of a father, or has been disappointed through unmet expectations or even hurt deeply by your father, you don't have to remain "stuck" in that place of heartache from year to year. You can free your heart from unmet expectations, pain and regret, as Stephanie, and countless other women have done.

Stephanie's father left her mother and abandoned the family when she was about five years old. Then after he remarried and became a step-parent to his second wife's children, Stephanie's father started arranging for her and her sister to have weekend visits with him.

"While growing up, it was a rough relationship," Stephanie said. "I was mad at him, and he constantly put both my sister and me second to his new wife and children. From what I can remember, our conversations and visits were always hostile. I was very angry at him. As I became an adult I would get off the phone with him and cry or be really upset. I let myself be hurt by his empty promises to see me more or call more often to stay in touch."

But Stephanie had to free her heart from unmet expectations and resentment that was keeping her from moving forward in life. Today she knows joy and peace when it comes to her dad because she took a journey of forgiveness that you can take, too.

1. Forgive your father for the ways he has hurt you or not measured up.

We all have expectations of what we wanted from our dads. And when we realize they are human, and therefore sinners, just like us, we can extend grace for the ways they've fallen short, just has God has extended it toward us. Stephanie says: "It wasn't until I became a Christian that I realized I needed to forgive my dad. I wrote him a letter and said I was finally putting all this behind me. I forgave him for walking out on our family and told him I would like to have a closer relationship with him. He called and said he was shocked that I had held on to the pain of the divorce for so long. He thought I had let that go a long time ago. I was totally shocked to hear him say that! Apparently he hadn't noticed my anger through the years, or hadn't given it that much thought." It was then that Stephanie realized her Dad might never respond to her the way she had hoped. It was then she had to take the second step of forgiving her dad.

2. Face the fact that he may never become the dad you had hoped for.

Stephanie said her dad continues to hurt her in ways he probably doesn't even realize. "He still makes the same empty promises and says hurtful things, but ever since I've forgiven him, God has given me peace." As Stephanie learned, when you forgive someone, it doesn't mean your relationship with that person will be fully restored. It just means that you will have peace for having extended forgiveness and you will be able to move forward with life.

"I was hoping for a healed relationship, but that hasn't happened, and it doesn't affect me as much as it used to," she said. "It still hurts, but I'm able to let it go and walk away calm. I'm at as much peace as one can be with the fact that I will always come as an afterthought with my dad."

Stephanie can say that, and still walk tall as a confident woman, because she knows who her real "Daddy" is. She knows she is loved and cherished by her Heavenly Father who wants to more than make up for what she never experienced with her earthly father. That was key to her being able to experience peace, in spite of her father's continued behavior.

3. Focus on God to fill the "Daddy void" in your life.

Scripture says we are all, by nature, children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3), but God found a way to adopt us as His own. I used to envy adopted children because they could not say they were "accidents” or unplanned when it came to being in their family. Their adoptive parents wanted them so much they found a way to get them. Our Heavenly Father did the same for us. Romans 5:8 says "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And Romans 8:15 says we have been given the spirit of adoption, through that death and resurrection that Christ endured on our behalf. That means you weren't an unplanned or unwanted child. Even if you feel no one on earth really wanted you, God did. And He found a way to make you His own.

Scripture doesn't just say we can call God our Father. The Bible tells us we have been given the right, through our adoption, to call Him "Daddy.”

Again, Romans 8:15 tells us we are given the spirit of adoption and "by him we cry 'Abba, Father.'” The English word that is most close in meaning to the Aramaic word "Abba” is "Papa” or "Daddy.” Jesus used this affectionate, loving term for His Father when He prayed "Abba” or "Daddy” in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before He was arrested and crucified. In crying out "Abba” Jesus showed His dependence on Daddy while He was facing His impending death. We can call upon our Heavenly Daddy or "Papa" as personally as God's own loving Son, Jesus, did. That is a privilege. That is affection. And that is love between a Daddy and His daughter.

Won't you release your heart through forgiveness and then let your Heavenly Father fill that hole in your heart this Father's Day?

About The Author:

Cindi McMenamin is a pastor's wife, mother, national speaker, and author of a dozen books, including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, and When God Pursues a Woman's Heart. For more on her books, ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and walk with God, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Source: Live It Devotional

A Tale of Two Dads
I heard that one of my colleagues had recently lost his father. I asked him about it, and he shared this story:

My "step" father who raised me since age of 9 and who served REALLY as my Father/Dad… died on Saturday 10 days ago.

I spent more than 2 months in a California hotel, visiting him this past summer, when he was still happy and walking and living life… tending his vegetable garden, and not taking any chemo.

His cancer was two separate types of terminal lung cancer, one in each lung… so he chose to not do chemo.

My blood father, whom I hadn't spoken to, by choice – for more than 32 years, died two days later.

I had no idea that he was dying or had cancer also, until about 4 days before.

Strangely, I had been praying for each of them, on alternate days, all day long for about 4 weeks before they died.

So, I was able to reduce my resentment toward my blood father for all the mental cruelty he had put me thru for the 1st half of my life, until age 28, when I mentally "divorced" him.

The praying for him, gave me a sense of compassion and peace, and love for that part of myself represented by him.

I had no idea he needed prayers.

It's almost as if I "manifested" him coming back into my life, when my uncle made his daughter (my cousin) write to my wife to tell me to call him. My whole family knew I never wanted to speak to him again.

It turns out, he never woke up during those final 4 days, after I called my uncle, but I was able to tell my uncle I forgave his brother, my blood father.

When my step-Dad died Saturday, it was very sad.

When my blood Dad died on Monday, I felt nothing, unless it was relief… but I was glad to have released him and to feel absolutely no resentment.

It's just weird they would die almost on the same day.

All my life since age 9, I never called my "step"-Dad my Step-Dad. I called him Dad. He Really WAS My Dad, and I loved him dearly.

My real (blood) father, on the other hand, severely crippled my self image for the first 28 years of my life by telling me I was no good, and making it clear that I could NEVER please him, no matter what.

If I had actually gotten the opportunity to tell him I forgave him, he would have said: "What! Forgive me for WHAT?!!"

He was a sad case. An alcoholic all his life.

I'm glad I was able to break the mold on that one, and to transcend him.

I've had many father-figures in my life, from Socrates & Jesus, to Shakespeare & Ben Franklin. From Napoleon Hill to my "Step" Dad. From my career role models, to my entrepreneur role models.

I feel really happy that I did that, so when the time came, I actually felt for a day or two…

That I would be able to talk with him, if he ever woke up and could get on the phone.

However, by the time my "step" Dad died, I decided not to give him one last chance to crush me or lash out at me, and instead, I asked my Uncle to tell him I loved him, and that I said Goodbye.

In the end, I was so proud of myself for not giving him that opportunity, but also for not feeling any resentment toward him, only compassion and kindness.

This was only possible due to the 4 weeks of praying. During that 4 weeks, I healed that part of myself, that was "him" inside me.

On the other hand… My "step"-dad, who always was there for me, to the extent he could be working in manufacturing as the sole provider, raised me as the oldest of 7 kids, 5 of which WERE his blood.

What I neglected to say about him at the end, was that I was so gratified to have just pulled up the stakes, and to have spent more than 2 months with him this past summer, when he was happy and healthy, and times were good.

We went to baseball games, county fair, out to lunch & dinner, had family BBQs.

In the end he went very fast, and the way he wanted, surrounded by love, with some of us near, and some of us far, but he KNEW he was loved.

I feel very blessed to have prayed for both of them, at odd moments all thru the days – on alternate days, thru those final 4 weeks.

It's just strange that both were dying of the same disease, and I didn't even know it until the very end.

One last thing.

I continue to pray for both of them all day long, whenever I can think of it – from midnight to midnight… in rotation with 2 others.

It goes this way… Pray for –>

1) Blood Father
2) Mother (who died of cancer in 1994)
3) Step Dad
4) My Wife

I switch at midnight, and rotate through again.

These are the four biggest influence on who I am, who I've been, and who I'm becoming.

Source: http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/
Copyright © 2006-2012 Coffeehouse Theology.

Family Special: Appreciating Each Other: Are We Taking Our Spouse for Granted?

by Valerie Van Kooten

Scripture: Luke 24:1–35

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:31)

My friend and her husband had been married for a few years, and though she still loved him dearly, the humdrum of day-to-day living had lulled her into taking him for granted. Sure, he was loving, steady and dependable, but the romance was gone.

Then at a yearly awards banquet at her husband's company, my friend was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the accolades heaped on her husband. Superiors spoke of him in glowing terms. Coworkers gushed about what a great guy he was. Even the custodian made a point of telling her what a likable man her husband was.

My friend found herself swelling with pride - and a little shame - wondering why she hadn't noticed this side of her husband. Did he act differently at work, or was she just not seeing what had been there the whole time?

Cleopas and his friend, who were walking to Emmaus two days after Jesus was crucified and buried, had a bit of the same problem. To be sure, they were depressed, tired and drained from what had happened in Jerusalem. A great teacher who had promised so much had been arrested, beaten, crucified and buried. Now his body was missing. Certainly they were not expecting that the man who joined them on the road was that very man - Jesus.

They didn't acknowledge Jesus as Messiah either - likely because they were disillusioned that the one they had expected to deliver their nation from Roman rule was now dead. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people," they said of Jesus (Luke 24:19). But they didn't have a clue that he was Savior of the world.

As we read this, we want to cry out, "How could you not see Jesus as Messiah after all the wonderful things he did? And how could you not recognize him as he explained the Scriptures to you and your hearts burned within you?" (see verse 32) But until they broke bread with Jesus and the Spirit of God opened their eyes, these men were blind to Jesus' true identity.

Isn't that the case with many of us today, in both marriage and our walk with Christ? Seeing Jesus as a living, vibrant presence in our lives comes before anything else, of course. Only when our eyes are focused on him as our Savior can we begin to truly appreciate a spouse who also believes in Christ. When we study the gracious attitudes and actions that Christ pours out on his church - loving, caring, cherishing, submitting even to death - we ask ourselves, "How does my spouse show these same attributes to me and to others? Have I shown appreciation for those Christ-like qualities being lived out in him? Am I being Christ-like to him?"

It's easy to become so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize the qualities and gifts of the person who is closest to us in life. In becoming blind to those attributes, however, we miss some great opportunities to build on each other's strengths.

Let's pray for open eyes before sickness, loss, separation - or accolades from others - force us to pay attention.

Let's Talk

What attributes in each other have we sometimes taken for granted that others have helped us see?
What qualities of Christ do I see working in you?
What are some ways we can keep our eyes open, keeping Christ the central focus of our marriage?

Source: NIV Devotional for Couples

Health Tip: Seven Keys To Healing The Broken Heart Of An Addict

No Matter What Your Addiction

By Ester Nicholson, Author of 'Soul Recovery---12 Keys to Healing Addiction'

We've all experienced profound disappointment in our lives. There are some of us who use these disappointments to keep ourselves down, and to hang onto the belief that things never work out for us. We've held on to our stories of abandonment, rejection, betrayal and abuse, seeking to blame others for our pain. We unconsciously use these stories to stay small, constricted, and determined to never trust or open our hearts again.

While that is totally acceptable and even encouraged in the beginning stages of shock and disappointment, it is toxic, counter productive and a spiritual dead end to pull over and park there - especially for those with addictive/dependent tendencies.

It never serves us to do a bypass and pretend we're so spiritual that we don't experience resentment, fear and hurt. It's healthy and absolutely necessary to be in the moment and acknowledge every feeling that arises when you've experienced disappointment and loss, no matter how it occurred or who's at fault. Allowing yourself to feel the pain, rage, fear and sorrow, is, in fact, a very important part of your healing journey. If you skip this important step, true healing is impossible. However, it's just as important to work through the pain and heal any unforgiveness or resentment that is operating in your awareness.

It has been proven over and over again, that resentment - which is the remembering, reliving and re-telling of painful events--is deadly for those with addictive or dependent tendencies. You simply cannot afford it. Resentment and blame blocks you from a connection with Spirit­-your spirit. When you are blocked from your spirit, you are blocked from emotional balance and well-being.

In this state, life becomes very hard and every moment is like trying to operate through a foggy mind of scattered-ness, anger and pain. And from that place, you will act on your addictions and dependencies again because they are the only things that seem to give you the illusion of temporary relief.

The Sufi poet Rumi reminds us that the way through the pain is to feel the pain. However, I have found that even in the midst of that pain, you can catch a glimmer of the fact that healing is possible, and that a blessing is right in the midst of your deepest despair. Just this awareness shows that you have made the first step in climbing your way out of what felt like your longest and darkest night.

How do I know this? Been there - done that - and so grateful that the Universe has never failed me. Even in your darkest hour, it will not fail you if you're willing to go to whatever lengths to find the "value in the valley, the message in the mess and the testimony in the test."

Here are the seven steps that I practice on a daily basis, but especially when I'm walking through the fire of divine refinement in my own life

1. Feel the pain - allow yourself to feel angry, resentful, fearful and hurt. Yell, scream and cry if that's what's coming through. It's your inner child needing a voice for his/her frustration and disappointment. If you don't give children an opportunity to express their feelings - they find another way to act out, right? Your inner child will find a way to act out, as well, if not given a loving space to feel its feelings.

2. Tell your story to people on a spiritual path who can be compassionate with your pain, but have the ability to take you past the story to your healing. No more Starbucks dates with your best friend to talk about what others did to you over, and over, and over again.

3. Forgive, forgive and forgive. If you have to do a forgiveness process 50 times a day, do it. It doesn't condone inappropriate behavior on the part of others; it heals your core wounds, allows you to release others from blame and transforms your story from victim to victory. Forgiveness sets you free.

4. Make amends to the best of your ability for any part you've played in the situation. Yes, you can stop screaming - I know, I know. This is one of the most challenging steps there is, but it will take you where you want to go, my friend.

5. Meditation - sit in the silence - not to get your problems solved, but from a realization that in the mind of God, there are no problems and that the good you are seeking is already complete. Meditation isn't about making anything happen; it's about coming into alignment with the good that is already happening.

6. Affirmative prayer - Get clear about the reality and nature of God, and begin to pray from that recognition of your oneness with God. Affirming your freedom, peace of mind, divine and perfect order, harmony and inexhaustible love. Speak the word of truth for yourself, and have others support you in this way, as well.

7. Surround yourself with love and support from family and friends. Exercise, eat healthy (Krispy Creams might not be the best thing for you right now, so treat yourself in a healthy way), and have as much fun as possible.

The next thing you know, you'll be on the other side, and the door that was shut has been replaced with something better than you have ever imagined.

About The Author:

Ester Nicholson, renowned vocalist for Bette Midler and Rod Stewart, former addict, teacher, speaker and author uses her own astonishing story as the core of her powerful book: Soul Recovery - 12 Keys to Healing Addiction....and 12 Steps for the Rest of Us-A Path to Wholeness, Serenity and Success (Hay House/Agape Media). Soul Recovery, the process that Nicholson developed to heal herself of cocaine addiction - unifying the12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with spiritual principles and practices - has guided thousands to their recovery and highest potential. The book includes a forward by Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith. For more information, please visit: www.soulrecovery.org

Excerpted from Soul Recovery - - 12 Keys to Healing Addiction
 

Recipe: Potato Salad - German Style

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Ingredients:

Potato Salad

8 all purpose potatoes
1 pound of smoked cottage ham, diced
8 green onions
1/2 cup diced dill pickles

Dressing

2 cups of mayonnaise
1/4 cup of dill pickle juice
1 Tablespoon of yellow mustard

Directions:

Boil the potatoes for 45 minutes (until done), remove the potatoes and allow to cool.

Peel the potatoes and use the side of a grater to thinly slice the potatoes.

Put the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add the diced ham.

Wash the green onions and trim off the roots. Dice up the green onions, stems and all. Add to the potatoes.

Add the diced dill pickles to the Potatoes.

Mix the dressing ingredients together with a whisk, and pour over the potato mixture.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate overnight and serve.

Source: Sherman Provision Blog

Reflections on a Trip to Thekkady
Some people have the unusual talent of writing travelogues that brings the trip to life. When I was young, it was SK Pottakkad. I must have read all his books. Of course, these days, with the internet and the world getting closer, the role of travel books have diminished.

My good friend Vidyadutt is a person who has this rare talent. We can spend hours looking through his photo album and re-live his trips (He is very busy!). So, when he sent me a link to his recent trip to Thekkady with his wife Deepa, I had to read it. And it is just beautiful. Reminded me of my trip to Thekkady with my wife to Thekkady within a week of our marriage in 1978. Now I know what I missed there - the forest trek! (Has to go there next time we make it to Kerala.) Please read Vidyadutt's travel reflections to Thekkady here. (It is in Malayalam):

http://sadharanamanushyan.blogspot.in/

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within You

by Napoleon Hill

For you are a mind with a body.

And your mind consists of dual, invisible gigantic powers: the conscious and the subconscious. One is a giant that never sleeps. It is called the subconscious mind. The other is a giant which when asleep is powerless. When awakened, his potential power is unlimited. This giant is known as the conscious mind. When the two work in harmony, they can affect, use, control or harmonize with all known and unknown powers.

What wouldst thou have? "What wouldst thou have? I am ready to obey thee as thy slave - I and the other slaves of the lamp," said the genie.

Awaken the sleeping giant within you! It is more powerful than all the genii of Aladdin’s lamp! The genii are fictional. Your sleeping giant is real!

What wouldst thou have? Love? Good health? Success? Friends? Money? A home? A car? Recognition? Peace of mind? Courage? Happiness? Or, would you make your world a better world in which to live? The sleeping giant within you has the power to bring your wishes into reality.

What wouldst thou have? Name it and it’s yours. Awaken the sleeping giant within you! How?

Think. Think with a positive mental attitude.

Source: Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude. Prentice-Hall, 1960. Pgs. 234 & 235.

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