Fathering Like the Father | Week 4

Week 4 | Focus on the Father | The Ultimate Sacrifice

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This week 5 Pax met at Adventure Park and 2 HIM called in remotely to continue our latest book study: Fathering Like the Father. All Pax are invited and encouraged to attend. While we are now about 30% of the way through the book, there is no pre-requisite to jump in. Read this backblast and the attached homework and come join us next Saturday at 6:15am for Chapter 5. The reading assignment was Chapter 3 – Focus on the Father and Chapter 4 – The Ultimate Sacrifice.

Chapter 3 | Focus on the Father

His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of wrong. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Father in Heaven

  • Forgiveness is one of God’s characteristics for which we can be deeply thankful. Because the Father has forgiven us, we can be loving fathers who minister to our own children.
  • Luke 15:11-32 – The Prodigal Son
  • At first the story seems to focus on the younger son. He showed selfishness and stupidity by asking for his inheritance early.
  • As the story goes, life hit the son with a double whammy—his money ran out and famine struck the land. The not-so-nice Jewish boy ended up in a despicable place—a pagan pigpen.
  • While Jesus develops the character of the younger son to represent the sinners who gathered to hear his stories, the older son reflects the Pharisees standing in the background, steeped in their own self-righteousness.
  • But when the younger son returns, the true character of his older brother emerges. It turns out his obedience sprang only from duty and he hated every minute of it.
  • This seemingly compliant son had exactly the same sin problems as his younger brother—selfishness, disrespect for his father, and stubbornness.
  • The younger son repented but, as far as the story goes, the other son never did.

The Father on the Road

  • Let’s not miss what the father has already done at this point. He allowed the younger son to make his own choice, even though it was clearly a bad one. He didn’t chase after him, but he didn’t give up on him either.
  • The text tells us that the father was filled with compassion and ran toward the son “while he was still a long way off” (v. 20), not after he heard his confession, not after he saw some genuine repentance.
  • The heavenly Father doesn’t dole out forgiveness grudgingly. He runs to the opportunity and delights in the experience. God loves to forgive; for him it’s a party.
  • Did you hear that, fellow dads? Forgiving a repentant child offers reason for celebration!

The Father in the Barn

  • We’ve already noted the older brother’s reaction to all this hoopla. But now we see the father’s response to the sin of self-righteousness. He personally seeks out the son and pleads with him to return.
  • The forgiveness of loving fathers reaches everywhere to deal graciously with those who don’t deserve it.
  • Sometimes forgiveness can change “fight or flight” to “stay and pray.”

Making It Work

  • Have faith in your children. Don’t frustrate them, don’t manipulate them, and don’t give up on them. If you have a wandering child, keep watching the road and expecting the heavenly Father to shepherd him home again.
  • Unconditionally forgive your children. As someone has said, “If forgiveness is conditional, it isn’t forgiveness at all.” Wise fathers initiate reconciliation and then, when it happens, celebrate it with enthusiasm. Whatever killing the fattened calf means in your family, do it.
  • Be fair with your children. Turn your back on favoritism and broken promises. Don’t smile at the compliant child and frown at the rebel. Don’t give too much attention to the strong-willed child and shortchange the quiet one.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Think about the worst possible thing one of your children could do to grieve and anger you. Now talk about how you could respond in forgiveness if that unthinkable event ever actually occurred.
  2. Name some ways reconciliation has taken place in your family or church.
  3. Identify at least one character trait you see in the father of this parable that you would like God to develop in your life.

Father/Child Dialogue

  1. Dad, tell your kids about a time you needed and received God’s forgiveness. They love to hear about your mistakes!
  2. Kids, tell Dad about a time when his forgiveness meant a lot to you—and if it fits, tell him how you need his forgiveness now.

Chapter 4 | The Ultimate Sacrifice

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. — Psalm 103:13

Perfect Love

  • God’s children had grown impatient while Moses received the law on Mount Sinai. They had worshiped a golden calf, defiled themselves, and angered Moses.
  • Exodus 34:4–7
  • God presents his love as a two-sided coin. On the one side, God is slow to anger; he forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin. But on the other side, God’s love and faithfulness require him to punish his children when they do wrong.
  • God’s love maintains perfect balance between grace and discipline.
  • To love our children unconditionally, we must be willing to sacrifice. If we do not love them unconditionally, we will end up sacrificing the relationship.

Permissive Love

  • Undoubtedly, David served as Israel’s most famous king. Perhaps even the godliest king. But David failed in his fathering role. He substituted permissiveness for love and it cost him two sons.
  • For two years this father and son lived in the same city without seeing or speaking to one another. Since David and Absalom never resolved the issues that had come between them, the love relationship remained in shambles.
  • David mourned for the son who had murdered a brother, stolen the kingdom, dishonored the royal family, and attempted to kill his own father. David wept because he knew he had failed his son.
  • David showed his love in permissiveness and sorrow rather than through unconditional sacrifice.

Proper Love

  • Godly love is not permissive love. True love teaches right from wrong. True love upholds the need for righteousness and justice.
  • David should have loved his children enough to stay involved in their lives and to correct their sin.
  • Dads, having unconditional love means that we sacrifice our own convenience to build the conscience of the child.
  • Love does not say, “Do what you want!” Love says, “I want you to do what is right and I’ll take the time to teach you!”

Making It Work

  • Learn to appreciate God’s unconditional, sacrificial love in your own life. Accept his forgiveness as love and receive his discipline as love.
  • Beware of conditional, permissive love. Don’t exasperate your children by ignoring their sin. Weak-willed fathers often produce strong-willed children. Love your children enough to expose, forgive, and correct their sin.
  • Always keep God’s love balance in mind. When you discipline, communicate complete acceptance. When you forgive, communicate the seriousness of sin.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Describe some situations in the Bible where God loved his children out of their sin and back into righteousness.
  2. Why do you think David neglected to confront the sin of his children? In what ways does unconditional love require sacrifice?
  3. Why does a child need eye contact, physical touch, and focused attention when receiving discipline?

Father/Child Dialogue

  1. Dad, tell your children how much you love them by communicating more than just the three words “I love you.” Try this leading line, “I love you enough to…”
  2. Kids, did you know that your parents need your love too? In fact you can show your love for them through eye contact, physical touch, and focused attention. Ask your dad how you can demonstrate your love for him.

Homework for 7/13

Thoughts for the week:

  • How do you harmonize God’s love and mercy with the attribute of jealousy?
  • Name some ways jealousy can help a family.
  • Review your covenant of marriage. Consider renewing it in some formal and public way. In fact think about how you might include your commitment to your children in that covenant.
  • What are the differences between positive and negative jealousy?