Saturday, April 30, 2011

Let's Define "The Blessing"

Picture this: It is your 80th birthday.  Your family has gathered to celebrate you.  Your children are about to speak.

What do you want them to say?

Take a moment and think about it.  Have the faith to write it out. 

Practice “The Blessing” when they are young and they will honor you when you are old. 

And so long as you are alive, no matter how old your children are you can practice “The Blessing.”  It is never too late.

The Blessing is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.  But how is this lived out?  According to Trent & Smalley:

A family blessing begins with meaningful touching. It continues with a spoken message of high value, a message that pictures a special future for the individual being blessed, and one that is based on an active commitment to see the blessing come to pass.”

From the definition above you can see that the five elements of the blessing are:
  1. Meaningful Touching
  2. A Spoken Message
  3. A Message that Attaches High Value to the Child
  4. A Message that Helps to Picture a Special Future
  5. Active Commitment
I will be sharing what each part of the blessing means and how to practice it in upcoming posts.

Passing the Blessing is the privilege and duty of the Christian father.  The Blessing is a lifestyle.

So what does the Blessing look like?

There is a story by Chuck Swindoll that captures the heart of “The Blessing.”  

“During my days in seminary there was a young man there with a very large birthmark across his face.  It was crimson, or perhaps a bright, ruby red, that stretched from the eyelid on one side across part of the lips and mouth, down across the neck and into the chest area below the neck.  We were fairly close friend.  I asked him on one occasion how in the world he overcame that mark.  I mean, he used to make his living in front of the public with that birthmark.

“His response was unforgettable.  He said, ‘Oh, it was my dad.  You see my dad told me from my earliest days, ‘Son, that’s where an angel kissed you, and he marked you out just for me.  You are very special, and whenever we are in a group, I’ll know which one you are.  You’re mine.’  He said, ‘It got to where I felt sorry for people that didn’t have red marks across the front of their face.’”

Wow!  What a father!  What a blessing!

To all the Dads: Learn the Blessing and then be a blessing!

What are your thoughts?  What are your questions?

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Three Kinds of Fathers

What kind of a father are you?  Robert Lewis spoke about three kinds of dads.  The first kind is the one that makes the headlines.  This is the absent father who abandons his responsibilities to love, direct, protect and provide for his children.

But honestly, isn’t it possible to be present in the home and still be an absentee father?

An absentee dad can live in the home but spend most of his time at work or simply be emotionally distant from his child.

Then there is the so-called “involved” dad.  This is the dad who is really present for his child physically, emotionally and spiritually.  He tucks his children into bed, reads to them, shows up at the games and helps plan the birthday parties.

Thank God for all the involved dads.  We pray for every absentee father to get a revelation of the hurt and pain they are causing.

However there is a third kind of father.  This IS the kind of father I am trying to be (God help me.)

The third kind of dad is the Strategic Father.  He does all the things of an involved father.  But a strategic dad:

1. Strategic dads are intentional in bringing the best out in his children.
2. Recognizes that he is not raising children, he is raising adults.  One day this child will be an adult so a strategic dad is preparing them to be on their own.
3. Knows that his lifestyle must be consistent with his message.
4. Prays for and plans a clear vision for the progress of his children.
5. Knows that successful fathering has to do with his legacy and what will outlive him.
6. Prays and prepares to seize the teachable moments in his child’s life.

A strategic father is intentional in passing on the blessing of unconditional love and acceptance.

A lot of mothers are simply happy that dad is present and takes the kids out once in a while.

But God expects us to be strategic.  He expects us to be intentional in raising our sons and daughters into manhood and womanhood.

  • What are some of your ideas on strategic fathering?
  • What are some of the lessons you have planned or a planning to share with your children?
  • Give us some of your examples on how you “seized the moment” in your child’s life.
  • Please share your thoughts below.
Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fathers Who Give the Blessing

What does it mean to be a good father?

How do you define fatherhood?

What do our children need from us as father?

I want to start a conversation with you concerning one of the best books I’ve ever read entitled The Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent.

And I want to connect some of the points of the book to our responsibility as fathers.  The book is a must read for every Christian but especially Christian parents. 

One of the most important things we can do as Christian fathers is to “bless” our sons and daughters.

What does it mean to bless our children? 

Isn’t that reserved for pastors, priests, etc.? 

No!  You are the Patriarch of your home and family.  You are a royal priesthood in Christ.  God calls you to a personal relationship with him and gives to everyone the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Yes there are pastors and teachers but God is going to hold YOU accountable for your home. 

Walk in the authority of a son of God and be a father after God’s own heart!

You don’t know how?  You never had your father? 

Even if you had the best dad in the world you still need the Spirit of Fatherhood to do and be the father your children need!  You can’t walk in your earthly daddy’s shoes.  You have to put on the gear your Heavenly Father designed just for you.

To bless does mean so many things. 
-       To empower
-       To make happy

But the blessing is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.  God calls fathers to give their children this blessing.

Our children shouldn’t have to do anything to earn our love.  And there is nothing they can do to lose it.  But our love shouldn’t be passive.  We should be pursuing our children.  Not only providing for their wellbeing but seeking their best interests and helping them to cultivate their own happiness. 

And they should feel accepted.  Yes we discipline but fathers need to learn how to reject behavior without rejecting the child.

There is more I want to share but I’ve asked some questions and would love your feedback. 

I’ll be trying to unpack “The Blessing” and the five elements outlined by Trent and Smalley over the next few weeks.

But I want to hear from you!  Please post your questions, thoughts, and reflections on fatherhood below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Lions & Lambs

Are you a lion or a lamb?  Awkward question? 

Balance is the key to life.  When we are balanced we experience freedom to be who we are and work creatively.

Men of God need to know how and when to be tough and tender.  We need to know how to be men of steel and velvet.

Fallen human nature goes to extremes.  Either we are all tough or all tender.  Or we end up being tender when we should be tough and tough when we should be tender.

There was a time when the dominant images of manhood were “tough.”  Now we see more images of men who lack initiative, backbone and vision. 

When men tried to be lions without God they devoured each other and hurt families.  Now it seems the pendulum has swung and men are acting like dumb sheep lost in the wilderness. 

Jesus Christ embodies balance.  In Christ is the perfect harmony of human and divine nature; both are present but not mixing together.  So he is fully human and fully God.

Jesus is both the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God.  Jesus welcomed and blessed children but rebuked his grown men disciples.  Jesus called King Herod a fox and the religious leaders a brood of vipers but wept over Jerusalem.  He made a whip to drive out the thieves from the Temple and was moved with compassion for the multitudes.  Jesus could boldly declare, “I am the way, the truth and the life” and wash the feet of his disciples.

Reverend AR Bernard taught that character determines the use of power.  The saying that, “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is not true.  God is all powerful yet good, just and holy.  Jesus raised the dead, quieted the storm and regenerated body parts but his power was in service to the Father and to others.

Christianity doesn’t emasculate men.  The Spirit helps us to walk like Jesus: to use our masculinity to empower and not to enslave.  Like Christ we can bring the best out in others and not to oppress.  By the Spirit we can do what is right by others, love being kind to others and live humbly with our God.

Please post your thoughts below.
  • Do you think of Jesus as more “lamb” than “lion”?
  • Do you think that churches have tried to turn men into lambs?  If so, how? 
  • Who are some men that you know of that are good examples of being both tough and tender?
Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Husband's Love

What does it mean for a husband to love his wife?

Love can be defined as benefiting the other at the expense of self.  This is in contrast to lust, which means to take from another to gratify itself. 

The Bible teaches that a husband’s love should be like the love of Jesus Christ for the church.  Remember that the church is not a building but the people chosen by God as the objects of his love.

In fact husbands are commanded to love.  How?  Love is not a feeling first but a decision.  And because of the Holy Spirit a Christian husband can benefit his wife at the expense of his ego, plans and desires.

So what does that love look like?

That love is sacrificial.  Our wants come second to her needs.  A husband’s love is unconditional.  We love her with makeup or no makeup.  We love her for who she is not only for what she does or doesn’t do for us.  Our love should set her apart from all other women.  She has to know that our eyes are only set on her because in our hearts no one can ever compare. 

Our lips should be inspired to consistently utter words of tenderness, appreciation, and healing.  Yes, I said healing.  Why?  Our wives have to walk through the dirt and garbage of this world.  They also experience stress on the job or the worry of being a good wife and mother.  Women tend to become anxious as they work for their families.  Wives and mothers lose their sense of self in giving to their husbands and children.  Our words have to remind them of their uniqueness, beauty, and encourage them to find spiritual rest in Christ Jesus.

Our actions and our words help our wives to walk in splendor.  Everyday should be their wedding day when they are with us.  We should magnify her strengths and help her to manage her weaknesses without judgment.  When she hurts, I hurt.  When she speaks she should know that I am listening. 

Does she feel cherished?  Can she draw strength from us as we draw our strength from the Father?  Do we intentionally esteem her and can she say, “I am my husband’s treasure and prize!” 

Love your wife as Christ loves the church

Please post your thoughts and questions below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Icebergs and You

Who knows the “real you”?

Consider the image of the iceberg.  Cold.  Tough.  It’s the way a lot of men like pretending to be. 

When ships see an iceberg they have to steer clear of it.  Icebergs sink ships.

But it is not the part of the iceberg above the water that sinks the ship.  It is the part of the iceberg beneath the water, the part you can’t see, that sinks the ship.

Often what you see floating in the water is only 10% of the iceberg.  It is only the tip!   In reality 90% of the iceberg is beneath the water.

The iceberg is an image of our life.  Who people first meet is our personality.  But our character is who we are when no one is looking.  It is what you don’t see that sinks the ship.

The 10% of the iceberg that we let people see is our personality.  This is the level of cliché talk.  This is where we meet each other, joke around, talk about sports, politics and the weather.

But the 90% that no one sees is the real us.  This is the invisible side that we even try to hide from God and others.  Here is where our dreams, hopes, hang-ups, addictions, secret thoughts and pains all live.

It is the 90% that sinks our ships.  The scary part is that our gifts, abilities and personality can take us somewhere our character can’t sustain us.  We sink the ship of our careers, marriages and our children by not submitting the secret life to the living water found in Christ Jesus. 

The 90% is the part of our lives that need accountability.  This is where we need men who will be our mentors and men who will be genuine brothers.  The 90% often needs to submit to a humbling process in order to really be free.

But do you want to walk in truth?  Do you value your integrity, reputation and legacy more than your image?

God didn’t design you to do it alone
Who know the real you?

Who should you trust?  Who should you turn to?

First turn to God.  And then pray for a mentor and for brothers.

Maybe it is time to take a faith-risk and share with your mentor?

Or maybe it is time for you to lay aside the masks and be real with your brothers?

Please post your thoughts and questions below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

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