Publication: Pastoral Letter, May 2008
Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus! I pray this letter finds you well and blessed. This month, I have something very close to my heart that I want to share with you, which I pray will be both relevant and encouraging to you.
We do not ordinarily think of a restroom as a place of spiritual lessons, but let me tell you about something that happened recently. After eating dinner with a friend, I went into the restaurant restroom and came upon a father at the sink teaching his young son how to wash his hands (a lesson some adults could use): “Turn on the water; get some soap…now, rub your hands together…keep your hands over the sink so you won’t drop water on the floor….”
I was struck by the kind way the father was teaching, his concern for the boy to do it well and the boy’s eagerness to please his father. As I thought about it later, I thought that if the relationship continued, the boy would grow to be a good man and a good father.
I also thought about my own father and how he taught me to do so many things: Swim, fish, play ball, defend myself, and even more importantly, lessons about life. Then, I thought about another Father, our heavenly Father, and His love and concern that we do well.
The father in the restroom imparted something more than mere instruction; he was imparting his own spirit and motivation. That’s what my dad did, and our heavenly Father wants to do the same; His desire is to impart His spirit to us and affect our motivations.
Becoming a parent may be easy and even joyful, but raising children can be very difficult. Children are a puzzle that parents must solve. They keep us up at night long after infancy; they test our patience and cost a lot of money to raise and educate. But if we do well, they can be a source of joy and make us proud. Beyond that, in later years they can care for us and comfort us when we have lost a spouse, as I have. It would be good if we understood early on that the baby that we carry might carry us later.
In my case, it was natural to want children; it is not so natural to want to do for them what they will require after conception. But the best and costliest investment that Carolyn and I ever made was our children. What can be said about natural children can also be said of spiritual ones. It should be the spiritual desire of every true believer to bear sons and daughters. Doing so also requires a lot of sacrifice, but is our greatest investment. Generational continuity is the key to civil society and the Church. It is our greatest obligation to God our Father, who gives us children, and to our forefathers who gave us the life that we enjoy (see John 15.)
Is it possible that the present generation of believers have separated their own personal salvation and maturity from their responsibility to reproduce that in others? Have we taught that true spirituality and growth does not necessarily include becoming a spiritual parent? In many cases, the answer is yes, and that neglect is catching up with both the culture and the Church.
I grew up in church, an evangelical church, and heard a lot about “soul winning,” but not much about parenting new converts. Consequently, the church was full of “spiritual people” who never reproduced. It was the staff’s job. The church was congregational, but not generational or multiplicational, and that is typical.
Jesus said, “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (see Luke 11:13).
The Father wants to give us truth, but He also wants to give us His Spirit. It is the Spirit who goes along beside us to guide, teach and motivate us(see John 14:26).It is the Spirit who draws us to the Father and causes us to say, “Abba Father” (see Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6). “Abba” is much like “daddy,” a term of personal endearment. And it is the Spirit of the Father that draws others to us and to seek spiritual parenting.
The Holy Spirit is about more than giving us personal gifts, though He does. His desire is that we give life to others as our Father in Heaven gave us life.
When Jesus was baptized, the Father sent the Holy Spirit upon Him and said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Then the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. Satan’s temptations were all directed at self-serving, but Jesus rejected them in favor of “Father-serving” because the Spirit of the Father was upon Him. Then Jesus, being led by the Spirit and in the power of the Holy Spirit, went about serving others and bringing sons to glory. (See Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4; Hebrews 2:10).
It is because of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son that we are motivated towards service and reproduction. The Spirit of fatherhood and sonship calls us to spiritual parenting. Truth is vital, but not enough. God calls us to worship in spirit and truth (see John 4:24). Truth without the Spirit can be condemning and harsh, but Spirit brings life and reproduction. God the Father is both Spirit and Truth.
Since the Holy Spirit is the same Spirit of the Father, what is the Father like? The fact that He is the Father(source)gives us a clue. His very nature is to be a source and to reproduce. Fatherhood is more than one of His attributes; it is who He is and what He does. He is the Eternal Father of the Eternal Son. There never was a time that He was not Father. He was Father before He ever created, judged, redeemed, or answered a single prayer. His creation, love, care, and provision came out of His Father-heart. The Spirit with which He anoints comes from “Our Father.” When we pray, it is not merely to God, it is to our Father.
- He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (see John 1:14).
- He is the Father of our spirits (see Hebrews 12:9).
- He is the Father of Israel (see Exodus 4:22).
- He is the Father of family (see Ephesians 3:14-15).
- He is the Father of lights – the sun, moon and stars (see James 1:17).
- He is the Father of all born of the Spirit (see Romans 8:15-17).
- He is a Father to the fatherless (see Psalm 68:5).
- He is the Father of His Kingdom (see Matthew 6:9-10).
- He is the Father to whom the Son will return the Kingdom (see I Corinthians 15:24).
God is not a tyrant or a mere Ruler, He is the Father of a family who will inherit His Kingdom and reign with Him. He is preparing us to do that. This is a family Kingdom; therefore we are fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Anointed One. He gives life to His family and we give life to the world. As Father, He gives us abundant life, eternal life, and those who receive His son, upon death, go to Father’s house. While we live it is Father’s desire that we become one even as Father and Son are one (see John 10:10; John 14:2-3; John 17:21). This is the Spirit and motivation of our Father.
If our enemy hates anything above all else, it is the Fatherhood and Spirit of the Father. The enemy’s utmost goal is to pervert and destroy fatherhood, and the Church must wake up to this reality.
How do we know the Father? It is through the Son who came to reveal the Father, and did so completely. Amid all of the misconceptions about God, Jesus stands unique as the Father-revealer:
- He is the very Word of the Father (see John 1:1).
- He is the will of the Father (see John 4:34).
- He is the work of the Father (see John 5:17, 19).
- He is the life of the Father (see John 5:26).
- He is the authority of the Father (see John 5:27).
- He is the Righteous Judge for the Father (see John 5:30).
- He came in the name of the Father (see John 5:43).
- He is the pleasure of the Father (see John 8:29).
- And He is the path to the Father (see John 14:6).
Jesus both knew and revealed the Father uniquely. He said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (see John 14:7-11). The book of Colossians tells us that Jesus embodied the very fullness of God (see Colossians 1:19). Jesus’ desire was not primarily that we know Him, but that we know the Father. The question is not simply, “Do you know Jesus?” The question is, “Do you know the Father?” If the answer is “yes, I know the Father because I have received His Son,“ then there is another question. “Does the spirit of fatherhood rest upon you?”
The Father sent His son; His Son fathered others (see Hebrews 2:10). One of the Son’s titles is, “Everlasting Father” (see Isaiah 9:6). Those that He fathered, in turn fathered others. The number of disciples multiplied generationally. But then we got “Church fathers.”And later “father” became a title. Gradually, the Church has become an institution and lost its organic, family nature. It is not enough to restore truth, though it is vitally needed. Complete restoration, however, calls for the return of the spirit of fatherhood and spiritual parenting to individual followers of Jesus. Governments make lousy parents! We must not turn spiritual parenting over to church government any more than we turn natural parenting over to the state.
Rachael said to Jacob, “Give me children or I die”(see Genesis 30:1).Rachael tried to make up for her barrenness by giving her maid to Jacob. The maid, Bilhah, bore Dan and Naphtali. But finally, Rachael had her own sons, Joseph and Benjamin. She died giving birth to the latter. Giving birth was a life and death issue to Rachael. It wasn’t enough for someone else to have her children, nor should it be enough for us.
Too many people want to “Pastor Bilhah” to have children for them. Or, they have children and want “Pastor Bilhah” to be their maid and raise the children for them. That is not the call of the Father to us. His call is to bear fruit and our cry to the Father must be, “Give us children or we die!” And, if we do not have children…we will.
The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she conceived. If He overshadows us, we too will conceive. We will not produce Jesus, but if we parent well, we produce followers of Jesus.
Picture this: We have been led by the Holy Spirit into a wilderness as He led Jesus. The tempter has come as he did to Jesus. The tempter offers personal glory, fulfillment, and power, as he did to Jesus. He says that of it can be ours if we simply serve him by self-serving – satisfying our own needs and desires. His offer is designed to divert us from the Father’s purpose. But the Spirit of the Father that led Jesus enabled Him to overcome.
Of course the lie is that ultimate satisfaction comes from putting ourselves first. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome that temptation, and as Jesus did, go forth to serve others; and so doing, find true satisfaction. What’s more, we can please the Father. Should we follow Jesus’ path in bearing fruit, it will be our greatest joy when we meet the Father – and His as well.
P.S. Please continue to support CSM in your prayers and in your financial
giving. When you do, you are helping us to proclaim this much-needed message of spiritual fatherhood.
Scripture Reference: John, Luke, Isaiah, Hebrews, Exodus, Ephesians, James, Romans, Psalms, Matthew, 1 Corinthians, Genesis