A Broken Man And His Need for Grace…

I am a broken man. A man who easily preaches grace, bu often fails to demonstrate it. A man who has honestly tried to do what is right for my family and those I have been called to serve and lead. Yet I am still a broken man. And no – I don’t want sympathy. I don’t deserve sympathy.

Not broken in the sense of lost without Christ. But broken in my imperfections. Broken in my personal issues. Broken in my failure to grieve over the loss of both of my parents within months of each other. Broken in my apparently vain attempts to be the man I think I am suppose to be.

I love my family – indeed, there is nothing else in this uspide-down world that I love more. From Diana, my wife going on 30 years, to my two daughters who really are precious jewels to me – and in who I have a great deal of pride – and yet I am so very unworthy to be a husband or a father. I have so frequently demonstrated a lack of grace, or sometimes a misdirected grace. You see, I get angry. No – I am not a danger to anyone when I am angry. And indeed, over the years, my anger has become far more compartmentalized and even more constructively-directed. Mostly. Yet there is still ONE thing that will push my proverbial button – ONE thing that I simply cannot tolerate – and that is lying. And the more brazen the lie, the deeper the anger wells up from.

It doesn’t really matter WHO it is lying – whether it be a politician or a family member – lying just simply triggers me in ways nothing else will. Yes, we have sadly grown to essentially expect politicians to lie – it is almost as if our support hinges on just how good of a liar a politician is. But when it comes to our family (or those we view as close as family), a lie is a particularly offensive and painful dagger. Even small lies cut deeply. So when big lies, on top of big lies – then in the face of contrary evidence- even more lies – the offense becomes more than I can handle. I pray. I count. I try to distract myself – but alas: I simply fail and generally blow my lid. And this is where I most fully fail as a husband and father: I forget about grace. Maybe it is the fleshly perspective of personal offense and injury (lying is an act of hate and betrayal). Or maybe it is my own personal pride being dented by the lack of concern by the one lying. But regardless – lying, particularly brazen lying by those I love – quite simply is intolerable.

Unfortunately, even a justified outcome/penalty for lies, when not administered with reasonable grace can be more of a hurtful kludge than a useful and productive tool. And I’m afraid that, by my own grace failures, I have begun to learn the real meaning of this text:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6::4

For years, this one verse has hung out at the tail-end of an often-preached passage. Many enjoy reading and hearing the command for children to obey their parents (vvs 1-3) that come right before it. But verse 4 is essentially as tossed in the closet to be ignored nearly as much as the seemingly politically-incorrect verse 5 (slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters). Right there in-between – is the clear command for fathers to NOT provoke your children to anger. But what does this really mean?

I must admit, my perspective was way-off. Maybe partially as a product of my first encounters with this verse in the KJV – “provoke not your children to wrath“. In all honesty, I would guess my viewpoint was primarily a picture of child abuse- unreasonable expectations (even super-human demands), impossible standards, even dramatic forms of favoritism might would have fit into my viewpoint.

But recent events have brought new light to my eyes – a new light that causes me much grief. Because the actual sense of this actually is, as John MacArthur put it:

“…suggests a repeated, ongoing pattern of treatment that gradually builds up a deep-seated anger and resentment that boils over in outward hostility.”

MacArthur, John F., Ephesians (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary) ©1986, p. 317.

In fact, Dr. MacArthur went on to say that often it is really thought of as in the child’s best interests, and could include well-meaning over-protection. But the one point he brought out was that continually questioning their judgment can build walls between a father and their child. Trying to control a child’s will is a futile battle – but with grace, one can often help guide it.

And I have utterly failed. Failed to the point of now believing that even outside intrusions that recently have come to light, that I wasn’t even aware of – are still, indirectly, my fault. Have my grace-less words and over-bearing responses pushed my daughter into a state of brokenness? Have a I unintentionally placed her on the edge of oblivion totally confused and lost regarding faith and eternity even? Have I, in my efforts to protect her, actually driven her into danger and trouble? My youngest and I use to share some hobbies, I most definitely enjoyed her accomplishments and have always been proud of her equine knowledge and developing riding (and training) skills. She was my hunting buddy – my deer-cleaning helper, and my “partner in crime”. And I have apparently, despite my best of intentions, lost that buddy. Not that I expected her to remain that little girl hanging on her daddy’s words and wanting to be with me – but I feel like I lost her – because I lack grace- and because of it – I have provoked her to anger…

In my efforts to be consistent and firm, while also trying to convey the seriousness of offense (remember my beginning regarding the truth)- I have taken away what is more precious than her own life (in her eyes) – and now I don’t even know what to do. Again… Fail.

At this point, as we seek help to deal with the current situation, while also dealing with some recently-revealed external issues, our biggest need… MY biggest need – is prayers. Prayers for grace. Prayers that I would demonstrate far more grace, and not just talk about it. Because at this point, I feel completely unqualified to be anything – unworthy to be this young woman’s “father”, and have most assuredly lost the title of “Dad”. I just pray I haven’t lost my daughter…

Loving, Christian Parents

A news story crossed my feed this evening, a story that literally broke my heart.  Here is a link:

13-year-old girl who was supported by her Christian parents in living as a transgender boy commits suicide

The title pretty much says it all.  Two parents, who apparently profess to be “Christians” chose to not only allow, but encourage their 13 year-old daughter to live as a boy – to pursue the “transgender dream” of changing her God-given gender. Yet the thrill of becoming the opposite gender from birth, while seeming to be a popular idea today with promise of greater happiness as the “gender one feels”, the statistics prove otherwise.  The suicide rate for so-called “transgenders” is exponentially higher than any other demographic, with the rate among teenagers hitting a staggering 41%+ rate of attempts (meaning 41% admitted in surveys to have at least attempted suicide at least once).

Yet while the heartache over yet another senseless loss of life is predominant, I also am alarmed at the article’s title, and this girl’s parents profession to be “Christian”. And this led me to my soap box for the evening:

How, now, are we defining “Christian parents”? Maybe we should really grasp what being a “Christian” really means – and I’ll start with the base definition: Follower of Christ.

To profess Christ, yet blatantly walk counter to His Word is to live a lie. Yes, we ALL sin and come short of the glory of God. BUT – when one is genuinely a Christian (characterized by not only a verbal profession, but a life changed and a hunger to know our Lord and Savior, and to follow Him closer each and every day – to love Him – and to keep His commands.

As a parent, if your child begins to walk a path of rebellion against God – you don’t hate them. You love them. But loving your child should and cannot ever CONDONE or SUPPORT walking in open rebellion against God. Period. Indeed, to actually ENABLE such behavior is to be guilty of it yourself – and more ugly – is quite the opposite of loving your child.

If you kid were running full-speed towards the busy highway with no signs or desire to stop before running directly into the path of a tractor trailer and certain death, what do you do? Do you encourage him or her to run faster? Or maybe you tell them to enjoy the run? No – of course not, you cry out to them with a warning of the impending devastation. You drop everything and you go running after them to stop them by any means you have at your disposal to prevent them from certain destruction.

Yet why would a parent (professed Christian or not) not only stay quiet, but actually encourage a child to run at full speed into certain death and destruction – and in this case, eternal destruction?

And one last rant before I post this: this is a symptom of “the church” today – not every local church, but the far-too-common version so prevalent today – that preaches and teaches a false gospel, a gospel that does not demand change. A gospel that is so weak as to not even begin to bring about a “new creation” in Christ Jesus. And most certainly doesn’t take intentional, personal, and biblical discipleship seriously.

I pray that this will lead to a much more serious look at the harm being done by encouraging “gender rebellion” as I call it.  And if you attend a church that would be ok with this story and it’s foundation – of not only being accepting of this rebellion, but encouraging of it – then please, flee that “church” and seek one that teaches and preaches the FULL counsel of the Word of God, not one that picks and chooses what is worth following and what is not.  I pray for this family, that this horrible event will shake them to their core in such a way that they turn to the REAL Jesus in their own life – and that God would then use that to wake many up to the truth.

Lest you forget – there are eternal consequences at stake!