By John J Kirkwood
There is a species of eagle that mates for life and when the female is looking for a mate she will swoop down to the ground and pick up a rock and then fly back into the air, usually with two to three suitors circling her. She climbs as high as she can and then drops the rock. The male that she chooses will be the one that catches the rock on his back in midair. When he does, he’s proven to her that he’d be a worthy mate who would not drop their eaglet when they’re teaching him to fly. Sometimes, the animal kingdom can be infinitely wiser than our own. Here are five things to watch out for when choosing the right eagle, ladies!
#1 – AN AWOL PRIESTHOOD
Many of our failures as fathers are cloaked to the public, known only to those in the immediate family, but there is a particular day each week where the failure of a father is actually tangible – on display for all to see.
The world judges a man’s worth by what he does Monday thru Friday but the real test of a man is what he does on Sunday. Wives, if Sunday is his new Saturday and the lawn, the fishing pole, the honey-do list, or Starbucks and the New York Times are his priority, you married a loser.
It matters but little that he’s thoughtful, generous and a good listener; if he’s not fulfilling God’s call of spiritual leader in the home, he’s a spiritual dead-beat dad. That’s right, it doesn’t matter if your husband is a good provider, a legendary lover, a father who buys organic food, braces for Sissy’s overbite, and even gets the kids into Harvard; you’ve married a man that is clueless about the most important relationship that he has to his kids. A father is God’s agent to bring children to maturity and purity – to nurture their spirit. If dad has been distracted by caring merely for their body and soul, his children go into this world ill-prepared to tackle the real pressing issues, and unprepared to stand before the throne of God.
I’m not saying that being in church every time the doors are open is proof of his spiritual capacity; any man who is not caught by his children at least two or three times a week pouring over the Scriptures, is probably not legit. But the man who has ignored spiritual education altogether has taught his children that mammon, fishing, or the NFL are life’s top priorities and the odds are – they will follow his lead and wallow in a life of distraction. The first priority of a father is to be the spiritual leader in the home.
#2 – LOVELESS MARRIAGE
The next major failure for fathers is neglect of their wives. I know this column is about fathers not husbands, but to God they’re an inseparable weave. In the Bible, the two greatest expressions of God’s love for his people are the models of God as “Father” and Christ as “Bridegroom.” In a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, he tells husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.” That means that the husband is to be the initiator of love in the relationship and that it should be a sacrificial, unconditional love.
Most men view their marriage like an old hunting trip – it was a rush when they were in the hunt, but once they bagged their prey and the ring was on her finger, it’s off to the taxidermy and then the den. Men mount their marriages on a wall only to regard it once in a while in passing. A Christian man should be the best lover in the world – attentive as he is creative, and constantly about the art of woo. Romance is not something that happens in bed, (though it may end up there), it begins in the mindset, it is best premeditated, and it’s an everyday adventure.
The Apostle Paul went on to say that the love of the husband toward the wife, as Christ toward his church, has a distinct purpose, – “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
We get it backwards here in modern America, the bride shows up at the wedding “glorious, unspotted, unwrinkled, and without blemish,” but if we were to follow God’s reckoning, she’d show up like My Fair Lady and end up years later like the Disney princess. And the husband would play a significant spiritual role in bringing that about.
A good father will be a model to his daughter of the type of man that she is to look for in a mate and he’ll be the type of father that will put the fear of death and dismemberment in any young suitor who may be confused about desire and intention. A good father will model to his son the type of a man that will revere God, honor authority, punish bullies, respect adults, and woo a woman worthy of bearing his last name.
#3 BEST FRIENDS AND DRILL SERGEANTS
You are not your child’s best friend, not in the formative years anyway. Even “The Prodigal Son” knew that he’d have to live like Hell in “a far country,” and not under his father’s roof. The home is a nest and it’s a haven, but it is never a dorm room.
Many fathers in our day neglect to discipline their children either out of apathy or because they’ve become men without chests, brow-beaten by feminazis.
Discipline is an act of love and a crucial element, not of raising children but of raising God-honoring, freedom-loving men and women. As the great Colonel R.B. Thieme Jr. once said, “You don’t spoil a child by giving him things, you spoil a child by withholding discipline.”
If your son mouths off to “his mother” remind him that “Mom was my wife before she was your mother; if you talk to my girl like that again, you’ll need the Fire Department and the Jaws of Life to retract my size 13 from your gluteus-maximus.”
Discipline, however, is not punishment. Punishment, when it is controlled, understood, and necessary, may be an aspect of discipline, but God did not inspire The Great Santini. If your kids see you as either their best friend or their Gunny Sergeant, then you’ve failed miserably at parenting.
We are on the threshold of celebrating a day that says “I have the best dad in the world,” and nobody reacts to that with animus. But when it comes to saying that our fathers were exceptional in the manner in which they planned, built, and fought for this country, then all of a sudden you’re a xenophobe for mentioning it. I don’t think so!
The root of the word for patriot is pater – father. The love of one’s country is the love of one’s fathers. America is exceptional because our fathers trusted God. And when America forgets God or treats Him as an enemy, America will cease to be exceptional. As you’ve seen from the above, a father’s main role is to teach his children how to love. Whether it be their God, their parents, the right man or woman, or their country, a father who doesn’t instruct in how to love is negligent.
And remember dads, Bonhoeffer was a great German because he was a great Christian.
#5 HOT HOUSE FLOWERS
Not just fathers but most parents make the mistake of raising their children like hot-house flowers. It is one thing to shield your child from unnecessary vulgarity and information that may not be age appropriate, but it’s quite another to shelter them from reality. Ever see what happens to a hot-house flower when it is taken into a cold Chicago blizzard? It doesn’t last long. Life is more like Chicago weather then it is living in a self-contained, germ-free bubble.
It’s been said that “The Godly parent prepares the child for the road not the road for the child.” The father that shields Jr and Sissy from every dark cloud thinks himself holier than God, for even God didn’t remove the tree or the serpent from the midst of the Garden.
Allow your children to be “tried” but not “tempted.” The difference between God and the Devil is that Satan will tempt you to fail but God will never try you if you aren’t capable of success. Groom your children to think critically and as soon as they show maturity, give them more leash. With greater responsibility comes greater growth and capacity.
That’s it dad – you are to be a warrior-priest, a fighter and a lover. Don’t allow culture to guide you, follow the example of great men, utilize resources to refine the “art of dad” and never stop with your continuing education. Be the first to hug and the last to get off the phone. Admonish, rebuke, even chastise but never provoke. Among all else, love until it hurts. It will, but it’ll be worth it.
And always remember to act happy when you unwrap the tie or the Aqua Velva. Happy Father’s Day!
Runaway anxiety is crippling. Worry, in excess, is deforming. It distorts perception. We begin to see ghosts, to hear voices; friends and even family members become suspects in a conspiracy to betray us, to bring us down. We begin to relate everything to ourselves. Our focus in life narrows. Every conversation we walk by must be about us and of course it’s negative.
And this is just the beginning of the death spiral. A cycle that will culminate in the death of a relationship, of a marriage, of personal well-being, or even our own life. And the worst part of it all, is not how we see ourselves or even how we perceive others, but in how we refuse to see God. Or, at least, to let him in.
God is always the first casualty when we allow stress to take a command position in our soul. Alienation begins with the banishment of God.
So how can we, as believers, combat this woeful enemy, anxiety?
For David, a man who often had to deal with adverse circumstances and on occasion would fall into deep shades of blue, it was Scripture. He memorized it, composed it, and he let it marinate. And he put it to song. David cried out to God in prayer – passionate, sweaty, yelling, sobbing prayer.
In essence, David didn’t ignore his problems, real or perceived, but he took them to the altar and offered them up to God. He allowed divine wisdom to engage his terrors, pin them to the ground and defuse them.
The Shepherd King sought out a different perspective and allowed God to “peer review” his fears. This allowed him to consider that just maybe he was all wrong. Or possibly, even if his observations were correct, seeing through a lens of Heavenly perspective brought him to different conclusions – healthy conclusions that allow for growth, so that suffering becomes mere growing pains and the experience – meaningful, and even an opportunity to bring glory to God. Glory that would manifest itself in inspiration for others, worship toward God, and transformation of the soul. David, through this process, would eventually break the bond and the horror that was an inordinate obsession with people, circumstances, things, and worry. (h/t Warren Wiersbe)
If this is you, if today you are crippled by anxiety and you want to roll into a fetal position. If you would even welcome a coma to seek relief, I’ve got great news: the battle is not overwhelming, it can be won.
The battle is not with others or over things or waged in happenstance, the battle is in your mind and completely dependent on your attitude. And you’re not alone. Give it to the Lord.
He asks us to bring him our burdens. Let us see them through his eyes. Let us cry out to God in prayer and even in song. Perfect peace is our inheritance, if our mind is stayed on Him. Jesus Christ, Lord of Hosts, will stand sentry [garrison] over our soul. Rejoice, rejoice evermore, be instant and constant in prayer, with thanksgiving bring your requests to the Lord and the Holy Spirit will articulate it for you.
And one of the best ways to get through a bout of depression is to empathize with others. To help others. To pray for others. And to realize that we’re not the only souls in the universe who are suffering and in pain. Let us be open, willing even, to accept help. May we seek out those who will lovingly yet truthfully extend to us Godly advice.
But it all starts with letting God out of the closet from which our darkened souls have banished him. Contemplating the abyss in a fetal position is no place for a son of God. We must come and come boldly to the throne of Grace.
by John J. Kirkwood
Have you heard that “marriage is work,” or have you been told that a good marriage has to be “worked on”? It’s not true.
Marriage is not work, it’s a commitment. Marriage doesn’t need to be “worked on;” broken down cars need to be worked on.
Read Solomon’s, “Song of Songs,” and tell me if it sounds like “work.” Notice the couple that has a great marriage; does it look like work?
Work is 9 to 5. You can “punch out” of work. You can take a sick day. You can take a vacation. You can hate your boss. You can slouch and let the other employees pick up the slack. And you can quit. That’s work, but that’s not marriage.
If your marriage is “work,” then “working on it” even more will never produce the charm, the calm, the confidently relaxed love affair that only commitment to something greater than self can produce.
When’s the last time you heard someone say, “Well, I’ve got to go ‘work on’ my marriage,” and wished that you could trade places with them? Right, that’s a non-starter folks. I think I’d rather be water-boarded.
“Working” is that euphemism that we employ to describe the period of torture that we go through just before our marriage commits suicide. If you want to save your marriage, then climb up on the altar and present yourself a living sacrifice.
“Husbands love your wives,” is not work, it is sacrifice. Divorce is work. Separation is work. Picking up and dropping off your kids and tolerating other men raising them is work. Sewing your husband in the bed-sheets and lighting him on fire is work.
“Wives reverence your husbands” is commitment. It is an attitude that reinforces the vows once took before God and man; that through no storm or setback will I allow this love to fail. Failure in health or wealth will not be cause to tap out because this will be an enduring love. A fine marriage is music: a harmony with known parts played together.
Love is an attitude and much of it has to be learned. To be great in love is an art that is studied. Choose to be an apprentice under the one true Master that unlocks the matrix to lasting, meaningful relationships.
Be occupied with the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be a blessing to your lover, your children, your teachers, your coaches, your neighbors, and your friends; even your enemies.
Commitment, sacrifice, dying to self, living to God and loving your spouse: it’s the stuff of songs and poems and why should it not be true of you?
Let your love be legendary, and may your children pass on the remembrance of its glory to their children’s children. And give the thanks and the glory to God.
By John J Kirkwood
It’s probably a universal that every parent thinks they’ve figured it out at some point and considers themselves to be a “good” parent. And, for the sake of argument, that may be true to differing degrees. I know that tactics will vary from house to house as influences such as personality, background, culture, and worldview, take hold. But if the strategy is sound, tactics are peripheral. And the strategy for the believer is to bring up our children in the ‘nurture and admonition of the Lord.’
We may differ tactically on what goes into raising children, but we can all recognize what hasn’t worked and it is relatively easy to spot the “bad” parent. Raising young adults requires lots of love and discipline, and discipline is not punishment but an act of love. If there is one constant in “bad” parenting, it is the lack of discipline.
The parent that is absentee or that refuses, out of ignorance or a frail will, to exercise discipline, will be a parent that rewards bad behavior. And a parent that expects good to come from subsidizing bad, to paraphrase Jefferson, expects something that “never was and never will be.”
This is a principle that is true anywhere we look in life: in economics, in international relations, in local assemblies, and in politics – one simply cannot expect good to come from the reward of bad behavior.
And this is why supporting Donald J. Trump is as foolhardy as supporting Jeb Bush.
Voting for Jeb Bush, the establishment candidate, and expecting good to come, would be like trying to prove Einstein’s definition of “crazy” wrong. And while voting for Donald J. Trump can’t be categorized as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” it can be, and obviously so, dismissed under the principle that one cannot reward bad behavior and expect good to come.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that voting for The Don is a vote for the establishment, it clearly is not. What I will say is that a vote for Donald, even support for Donald, is to allow the wayward child the rule of the house.
When the child is young and throws a tantrum, the pathetic parent drags the kicking and screaming brat and apologizes for making a scene on the way out the door. But this gets exceedingly awkward when the child grows to an age, firmly established after years or reinforcement in obstinate rebellion , to not be dragged from the neighbor’s house anymore.
When the child grows to an age where he can drag you around and possibly throw you down the stairs is when awkward turns to tragic. That stage for The Don is when he gets the nomination of the Republican Party.
You may support Donald J. Trump and at the same time say that you love your country and your party, blah-blah-blah, but your actions show a weary parent who has no idea how to control the unruly child who is humiliating you in the eyes of everyone around you and who is firmly planting your family name into the dirt.
To argue whether the “bad” parent loves his child is a lesson in futility, for the most part – of course they do, but to argue that the “bad” parent lacks discipline and even the basic knowledge in child rearing is, as they say, indisputable.
To those supporting Trump and expecting that a spoiled, megalomaniac flim-flam man will “Make America Great Again” merely on the basis of his boasting to do so, I have a wall to sell you on the Mexican border.
Oh wait, that wall already sold.