FATHERLESSNESS AND THE FATHER WHO NEVER FAILS

By: Trevin Wax

Cross-Posted From: The Gospel Coalition

Adapted from Trevin’s foreword to Jonathan Edwards’ book,

Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves.

Parents are important.

We know this. We recognize the need for a solid education, a stable home, and parents who are present and involved in the lives of their children.

But too often we think of parenting in generic terms, and thereby minimize the distinctive contribution of a father to a family.

How important is fatherhood?

Sometimes, you don’t know how important something is until it’s missing.

A few years ago, my wife and I were caught up in the popular television drama, Lost. The intriguing storyline and compelling characters had us coming back every week to see what would take place next.

Midway through the series, I was struck by how many of the main characters had “daddy issues.” Much of the ongoing struggle and personal conflict was traced back to the characters’ unresolved issues with their fathers – some who’d been present (and bad) and others who were absent.

Most disturbing was how, in some cases, the anger toward fathers led to patricide. Lost presented a frightening picture of what can take place when the biblical vision of fatherhood is missing. Suffering, anger, pain and violence followed a father’s abdication of responsibility.

Flash forward a few years, and I’m sitting in my living room with a group of college students. We’re talking about the subject matter for a new book I am writing – a work of fiction that teaches theological truth in story form. As I talk with them about the main character, a young college student struggling with big questions about Christianity, they advise me.

There needs to be a dad problem.

I was puzzled. But they insisted.

If you want this book to resonate with lots of guys, the dad needs to be absent. College students will relate.

There needs to be a dad problem.

Those of us who seek to proclaim the gospel today cannot ignore the massive implications of a distorted vision of fatherhood – fathers who have failed or fathers who have left. Due to fickle fathers and distant dads, our culture’s view of God has been massively affected by the failures of our fathers.

And yet, the gospel becomes all the sweeter when it gains a foothold in the heart of someone longing for a Father who never fails. A Father whose gracious love for His creation led Him to reveal Himself as our Creator and Redeemer. In the gospel, we encounter a Son who was abandoned that we might be accepted, cast out that we might be brought in, crucified that we might be raised.

Jonathan Edwards understands the pain of fatherlessness. He also understands the sweetness of the gospel. His book, Left, is a raw and riveting series of reflections on life in the wake of parental abandonment.

If you are fatherless, you’ll resonate.

If you are like me and you’ve been blessed with an earthly father who faithfully models our heavenly Father, you will find this book to be a window into how best to minister and serve our friends from broken families.

Here is a book that gives us a taste of a particular kind of pain, a pain felt by those who are seeking to remember what’s good and forget what’s bad, cherish the true and discard the false, love and forgive…and hope again.

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Obama’s ISIL Strategy – Watching and Praying

Obama - ISIL Strategy

DECISIVE ACTION

My last article on Obama’s ISIL Strategy, “WWII Groundhog Day – Starring Barack Obama in the role of Neville Chamberlain?”, concluded with me saying, “… it’s a must for Obama to … continue in developing a thorough and well thought out strategy to decisively meet this overwhelmingly daunting and extremely complex challenge.” As I see it, from his address to the nation on this matter, this past Wednesday evening , he is clearly attempting to do just that.

THE CRITICS

Criticism of this newly-announced strategy came quickly and vociferously. While much of that has been legitimate, in my view, nearly as much has been over-the-top. Of course, constructive criticism is appropriate and I would join in with that. However, I refuse to throw in with counterproductive objections only meant to disparage. For now, I believe the most fitting attitude is to be watching and praying for Obama’s strategy to succeed.

An article in The Christian Post, entitled “Obama ISIS Strategy Heavily Criticized by GOP, Senate Dems, Pentagon Official”, may offer the most broad-ranging view of criticisms that are legitimate. One comment is that, in order to succeed, American “boots on the ground” will be required. Another observation questions the wisdom of our arming Syrian rebel forces. And there is skepticism about the strategy’s reliance on the Syrian civil war being solved politically. From my perspective, the key element making these criticisms legitimate is that they are presented as ways to change the strategy in order for it to be successful.

The over-the-top assessments have included views that this strategy is likely to “turn Obama’s presidency around.” In hand with that has been the suggestion that this would lead to Republicans failing to win the majority in the Senate in this Fall’s election. These pronouncements have come from both the Left and the Right, with the former hoping it’s true and the latter hoping it’s not. I think both are absurd. Continue reading

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WWII Groundhog Day – Starring Barack Obama in the role of Neville Chamberlain?

HISTORIC TIMES

I was in the first wave of the Baby Boom Generation. We grew up having all of the adults in our lives being those who had seen the U.S. and its allies through to victory in WWII. Naturally, we were taught a lot about that historic conflict and the events leading up to it. Although it was exciting to have much of that information passed along first-hand, directly from the participants, you could only imagine what it was like to actually live through the experience yourself. I have to admit to some ongoing and perhaps perverse, ambivalence about that. On one hand, I was thankful to have been spared the horrors and hardships we heard about. On the other hand, I felt that I had missed out on getting to go through a most interesting time in history.

REPEATING HISTORY?

As it’s become more and more apparent that the once menacing threat represented by ISIL is no longer a threat but is, in fact, an evil and deadly reality, that’s been disturbing enough on its own. Making it even more disturbing to me is seeing the similarity of these circumstances to events leading up to WWII. It’s been giving me the sense that I may actually end up living through an experience like (or most likely worse than) WWII. No doubt, it would be an “interesting” time but, considering the horrors and hardships that have already come with it, I’m left without any desire to go through something like this myself. Continue reading

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A Lesson from Ralphie for Obama

COPING WITH A BULLY

Justifiably, President Obama is being heavily criticized for lacking a strategy to deal with the menacing reality represented by ISIL. Certainly, a thorough and well thought out strategy is needed to address this overwhelmingly daunting and extremely complex challenge. However, the sorely needed first step in this process is a very simple one that most learn in grade school – i.e. The only way to effectively cope with a bully is to confront him head on.

A CLEAR ILLUSTRATION

Arguably, the most well-known illustration of this is found in the Holiday classic movie, A Christmas Story, when the movie’s central character, Ralphie, deals with his nemesis, Scut Farkus and his “toadie”, Grover Dill. I recognize the element of absurdity in comparing a wonderfully amusing story to a deadly serious reality but, that aside, I believe it offers a clear illustration.

“Hey, ISIL! King’s X, OK?!”

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President Obama’s Mythical 21st Century

By: Trevin Wax

Cross-Posted From: KINGDOM PEOPLETHE GOSPEL COALITION

president-obamaThe beheading of journalist James Foley has shocked the world and elicited outrage from virtually every corner of civilized society.

Unfortunately, this kind of brutality is no longer uncommon. The ISIS rampage has delivered grisly videos of executions, reports of religious minorities being maimed and killed, and beheadings in the Middle East, all designed to draw attention to the bloodthirsty antics of terrorism’s most recent villains.

Foley was not an outlier. He was the public victim of Islamic militancy’s newest wave of terror.

The threat of ISIS should concern anyone who loves freedom and justice. But I fear that the moral convictions needed to confront such unspeakable evil may be missing in the United States today. We seem to be gaining our moral bearings from an overly optimistic vision of the world’s future and human nature.

President Obama’s remarks on the Foley incident included a theme that surfaces frequently in political discourse today. It is the theme of progress, the future, and what it means to live in the 21st century. Obama sounded the note of hope by appealing to the future:

People like [ISIS] ultimately fail. They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.

The president’s comment about the future may be powerful rhetoric, but it is not reality. If history shows us anything, it is that “the future” has often belonged to those who are passionate enough about their cause to destroy anything in their way in order to build something different.

It was “building” a society that inspired Adolph Hitler to exterminate Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals. It is the “rebuilding” of Russia that led Vladimir Putin across the borders into Crimea, a conflict which has resulted in the destruction of a plane full of civilians.

ISIS does not see itself as destroying; these thugs see themselves as building an Islamic Caliphate. They have an apocalyptic worldview; they are for “progress,” only their definition of progress is radically different than ours. They are righteous; we are evil. Therefore, they can pillage, rape, execute and behead with impunity. They see themselves as the future.

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Ferguson – An SOS for Americans of Every Ethnic Descent

Sharpton-Race-Card

Al Sharpton, Racial Ambulance Chaser

AMERICA ON TRIAL

In a Los Angeles Times article, entitled “In Ferguson, a race to be wrong”, Jonah Goldberg writes:

“The events in Ferguson, Mo., have launched a familiar spectacle: the race to be wrong first. … (L)egions of too-often interchangeable activists, commentators and reporters … have convinced themselves that we know exactly what happened, or at least all we need to know. Al Sharpton, with decades of racial ambulance chasing under his belt, insists that ‘America is on trial’ in Ferguson.”

Although I think Goldberg is dead right here, including his characterization of Sharpton, in a way, I agree with Sharpton’s statement. However, I think it’s more accurate to say “Americans are on trial in Ferguson”. No doubt, the implication of Sharpton’s statement is that America is on trial regarding how one ethnic group or members of that group, namely African-Americans, are treated by the rest of the nation. To the contrary, I see Ferguson as a trial; maybe even a final exam, to determine our willingness and thus our ability, to stand together as Americans, regardless of ethnic descent.

CLOSING OLD WOUNDS
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Keeping Our Eyes Above The Waves

AN EXCEPTIONAL LEADER

Over the past few days, as we’ve watched Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ronald S. Johnson step in to take over security operations in the midst of this past week’s civil unrest in Ferguson, MO, it’s become obvious that he is a truly exceptional person. The immediate good news in this, as reported in a related Washington Post article, is that Johnson’s first day on the job resulted in “Hugs, kisses and a night of peace (replacing) tear gas and unrest.” The more long-term and more challenging part of this is that Captain Johnson is, in fact, exceptional. If all of our nation’s leaders would emulate Johnson’s conduct, thus making him the rule rather than the exception, our country could be vastly improved.

AN EXEMPLARY LEADER

A great way to begin learning how to go about this emulation would be by looking at statements Captain Johnson made in Friday’s (August 14, 2014) press conference and most importantly, by looking at his responses to the questions he received. The comments that I found to be most meaningful in this regard are outlined as follows: Continue reading

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