To Be a Godly Husband and Parent

(Photo taken by me of my family in San Diego, California Summer 2015)

Colossians 3: 19-21…Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

In the United States, this is a strange time in our history to be raising a traditional (western sense) family. The support systems and structures of the American family are crumbling in all directions. If no deeper reflection is taken, this is quite threatening to traditionalists and desperately frightening. Wrong is now right, right is now wrong, dark is good, light is bad. At least that’s how it feels to many Americans. But is that really so? Was right really right before, and wrong really wrong? Was light true light? Was dark true darkness?

History is always written by the victorious. For traditional Americans, the past was glorious and the present is an abomination to its legacy. It’s like when you go to a funeral and the person that has passed away is only spoken of in the best possible memories and thoughts. But that person was just as deeply flawed as the rest of us here on earth. We are only presenting the best of what we experienced from them in their lifetime. We whitewash the negative. The victorious do the same with history. The life structures of man are merely a byproduct of what he’s been taught. We were taught one way, and today they teach a new way. Guess what? If it’s worldly, it’s all just a flip of a coin. It’s just darkness taking turns who gets to be the good guys and who are the bad guys in the ongoing deception that separates mankind from the Creator. I made a decision long ago that I would not follow the trends of the world raising my family. I would follow God.

To be a Godly husband and parent runs counter in every way to being a worldly version of either. It’s as if you’re on an inner tube trying to use your hands to paddle – upstream. Against a powerful current. Temptations by the millions rushing past you trying to get you to just let go and let the current take you easy. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” That reads like truly sound advice. Because it truly is sound advice. It’s Godly instruction. But to put it into practice? I send you back to the imagery of your hands paddling upstream. You can’t do that alone. You’re not strong enough. Only the strength of Christ can push you up that current.

To be a Godly husband and parent is to possess the Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. For it’s these qualities that allow a man to fulfill Paul’s ordained instructions in the matter. It’s not you…us…we. It’s the Spirit. When one of my daughters does something that angers me as a parent, how I react is going to make all the difference in the world for her future. Early as a father, my reactions were mostly born from – me. I’m a fairly decent sort, so sometimes I got them right just by my nature. But I’m also the same flawed human as everyone else, so when I allowed my anger to dictate, it got ugly in a hurry. Anger is not listed among the fruits of the Spirit. Patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control are. As God has continued his purging of me from me, and filled back with his fruit, my reactions have become more aligned with the ultimate goal of the family – peace and love. The same goes with my marital relationship. Where selfishness once held a primary role in my regard, now there is a partnership of goodness and kindness. Faithfulness. As a family we are united. Not perfect. But harmonious in our loyalty to each other. That’s of God. Not the world.

Any Christian pastor worth his salt when counseling a couple about to be married will tell them – Always keep Christ in the Center of your marriage. My wife and I were blessed with such a pastor at that time, and his words (instructions) have never left us. They’ve seen us through the entire 20 year ride to date. It’s for that reason I love the picture I included in today’s post. My wife and children sitting happily under that cross in California. It’s the perfect symbolism of what God has done for our family. Our shelter. Our refuge. My job to be the same type of shepherd for them as Christ is for me. That’s what it is to be a Godly husband and parent.

What is the status of your own marriage and family? Are you going with the current, or are you powered by Christ upstream against the waves of the world?

It matters not what the trends of mankind are in any given era including this one. The war has already been won. Jesus is Victorious. My best advice to you? Follow the winner.

Gary Abernathy

The Things We Keep Buried

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Colossians 3: 5-10…”Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

The Apostle Paul wrote this as part of his letters to the church in Colosse around 62 A.D. while he was a prisoner in Rome. It is written as a warning to keep pure the work of Jesus at the cross and the resurrection thereafter, as the church had morphed into a sort of hybrid religion that no longer resembled true Christianity. It is a detailed account of what we are before receiving Christ, and what we transform into after the death of our earthly self and being reborn in the spirit of Christ. He’s very blunt and explicit in his instruction and they are hard words to hear and read. Very few passages in scripture are as important as what Paul wrote here, but these are the exact same qualities that many of faith choose to ignore as command. However, we must keep in mind who wrote this – Paul, the human being that the resurrected Christ specifically and directly chose to bring the gospel to all the world…to you and to me. This is to be taken as if spoken directly to your face by your Creator.

We are warned here by Paul that there is a coming wrath of God and it will be leveled against the things that are born from sin. But since we have been saved by the blood shed at the cross and reborn, we are now transforming (being renewed) in knowledge and in the image of our Savior. In that, we must die in our earthly self and that life we walked in that will face judgment, and walk in the new self that we now have in oneness with Jesus. Complicated? Sure, if you’ve not been rescued by Christ and the Holy Spirit has not yet come to you. But to those to which this has occurred, it all makes perfect sense. It’s the application that gets lost in translation. Transformation is a process…not a one and done, at least for most. Paul was a one and done, but most likely you are not. I am not. We are transforming from our previous life which is now dead. It’s like a snake shedding its skin. What is left behind is all that Paul listed…all the things that separated us from God and eternal light.

There has been much I’ve lost in my old self as that doomed existence dies and my true life emerges. Much of the sexual immorality, the evil desires, the greed, lust, anger, rage and the rest has washed away, and the Spirit is always pouring life back into me to replace those things. Yet, on occasion, I’m reminded my transformation is yet to be complete. Especially when I take off a piece of the armor that shields me from the enemy and leave myself vulnerable to attack. I’m nearly certain that I’ve never met a fully transformed being and that I probably never will. I believe they are out there and I absolutely believe we can get there before leaving this earth, but we do have an enemy and we are constantly at battle with it.

Buried deep in my gut somewhere is this little ball I’ve discovered. It’s not supposed to still be there. I don’t want it there. Yet there it still is. Its content is a toxic brew of terrible pain, anger, rage, sins of all sorts, and all that was me before my rescue. It’s almost as if this ball is a “greatest hits” of all the traits my previous doomed soul consisted of. The death of my mother and the massive pain that came with that takes center stage in that melody. It’s a platinum hit. Recently, because I took my armor off, that little ball of pain was exploited and it surfaced on me again. My actual brother witnessed this. I’m not sure what happened and why, and after much personal analysis I actually believe it was part of the ongoing transformation process. God was releasing it from me and in confession there must be a witness to it. The deep bitterness I was holding towards the end result of my mother’s life poured out of me in a fit of rage.

God has used that ball in my life for a long time. It’s the motivation that has propelled me to do many good things in life out of the ashes of the wrong. It’s the source of what led me to him and his rescue. But it’s of no use anymore as those things have died. I cried the next morning after that ball came pouring from me to God to please take it from me. I didn’t even know it was still there like that. I didn’t belong there and I pleaded for him to take it. There exists plenty of mystery still regarding God, our salvation, our personal transformations, and the way we are used in God’s glory and purposes. For me, this is one of those mysteries. But I take it back to what Paul says here…”Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature.” I pray that I do.

What are the things you are keeping buried deep in your gut? What type of control do they have on your actions? Consider Paul’s warning. Put them to death.

Gary Abernathy

 

 

The Power to Say No

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1 John 3, Verses 8-10…“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”

So what is the “devil’s work?” What are these things that Jesus came to destroy? For me, it’s been a long list of items, both mental and physical, that controlled, shaped, and mislead me down a path taking me away from who I was made to be. Are we aware the devil has this sometimes very subtle continuous power over our lives? Not when we are living apart from God. When we are in that state, the devil is very quiet. He tiptoes around us so as not to wake up our hypnotized slumber. When our conscious stirs, he’ll whisper very quietly those simple humanist justifications that lull us back into deep sleep. “You need that last drink because nobody else has stress like you.” “You deserve to cheat on your wife because she doesn’t fall at your feet every single moment.” “Stealing from that man was the right thing to do because he has more than you undeservedly.” His whispers hit our sin-filled hearts and manifest our complete destruction.

The only thing that can wake us up from the devil’s work is the voice of the Holy Spirit when he comes to rescue us. The spirit does not tiptoe. “WAKE UP! Your destruction is soon. WAKE UP!” I’ve heard the voice of the spirit. It’s warned me just that way. This is Jesus Christ coming to be our salvation. We have no power of when that voice is going to come and when we will be saved, but when it happens, we had better not ignore the moment. It may only happen that one time. Satan has stolen throngs of souls with sweet and gentle whispers. The Spirit comes with a loud thumping on the door of our conscious. We know he is there. For you, reader, this may very well be that moment right now. This article may be the thumping. Is his voice speaking to your conscious about the sin you’ve been feeding? Answer. That is your creator. That is true life calling to you. That is salvation in the person of, Jesus Christ.

Therefore he (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25

Through the power of Jesus living within us, we have full power and authority to say – No. We can defeat what had been undefeated, and we can destroy sin that was so robust that it defined life itself in our minds. All of those things that cause all the heartbreak, pain, agony, misery and tears of this world. We can say from the authority of Christ, “No, I will not do that and I won’t do your bidding, Satan.” That’s when the devil goes from a whisper to a shout. That’s when the line of good/evil becomes crystal clear in our hearts and minds. Evil no longer hides itself so as to easily deceive. We then have clear choices, and though they still remain for us to be made each day, because we have the unbreakable promise of God to forever hold us, we are able to just simply say…No.

At this point God begins to work miracles within us. We are alive now and of use to him. His peace sits in our hearts even in the middle of the worst storms…storms we will still feel and experience…but differently. The best way to put it is in the middle of those storms, we are no longer the one needing the safety rope thrown to them, but instead, we are the ones throwing the rope. That’s what I’m doing right now…tossing a rope into the raging sea for the hands reaching up to God. I’m not the Holy Spirit and I have no power to save you…I’m a messenger of the hope and promise of God. Grab the rope. Repent, because you are given the power to do so, and join me on this side. Join up with the living. The benefits are out of this world 🙂

Gary Abernathy