World Condemns Maguindanao Massacre


For its brazenness and sheer brutality, the United Nations led several other countries in condemning the mass slaughter of 46 people – including women and journalists – in a poll-related massacre in Maguindanao last Monday.

In a statement issued through his spokesman, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "saddened" over the brutal killing, even as he condemned the "heinous crime."

"The Secretary-General is saddened by the reports of the brutal killing of more than 40 civilians in the Maguindanao province, Southern Philippines. He condemns this heinous crime committed in the context of a local election campaign," the statement read.

Ban also extended his "condolences" to the families of the victims and hopes that "no effort will be spared to bring justice and to hold the perpetrators accountable."

Likewise, ambassadors to the Philippines have made known their condemnation and abhorrence of the November 23 massacre.

British Ambassador Stephen Lillie issued on Wednesday a statement of condemnation, with the hope that "authorities in the Philippines will take urgent action to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent further escalation of violence in the run-up to next year's elections here."

According to Lillie, "effective action" by the Philippine government is crucial for the British government to maintain confidence in the country.

In an interview with GMANews.TV, US Embassy deputy spokesperson Woosie Mazengia said: "We condemn such acts of violence in the strongest possible terms."

Mazengia also said that the US government is extending its condolences to the families of those killed.

Visiting Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr. Marty Natalegawa said their government feels for the Philippines’ tragedy and hopes the perpetrators will be brought to justice as soon as possible.

“As a decent human being one cannot help but feel a sense of abhorrence," Natalegawa told reporters at a press briefing in Manila.

“Any senseless killing, any senseless violence we condemn in the strongest possible term," he added.

In 1996, Indonesia facilitated the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Mindanao. Natalegawa was, however, mum over questions whether such agreement could be facilitated by Indonesia for clan wars.

Meanwhile, Shigehiro Matsuda, third secretary from the Japanese embassy, said Japan is quite concerned with the security over Mindanao.

Matsuda said the Japan International Cooperation Agency and several non-governmental organizations in Janpa have projects in Mindanao.

"Japan is really sorry for the incident, but we hope the incident does not affect projects in Mindanao," Matsuda told GMANews.TV.

The massacre took place a few hours after around 50 gunmen allegedly led by Andal Ampatuan Jr., the mayor of Datu Unsay (a municipality in Maguindanao province), and a police officer later identified as Chief Inspector Sukarno Dicay seized members of a large convoy of supporters of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, an Ampatuan clan opponent who wants to run for governor.

The convoy of Mangudadatu supporters, accompanied by journalists, was on its way to an electoral bureau headquarters to file documents related to his candidacy, which the gunmen wanted to prevent.

The fatalities included Mangudadatu’s wife, sister and other relatives.

Following the tragic killing of at least 12 journalists in Maguindanao, the Philippines has now dislodged Iraq as the most dangerous place for journalists in the world, the International Federation of Journalists said.

Mass Murder of Innocents Cries Out For Justice!

Capital Punishment
Outline by Gary Henry

What is the biblical support for the death penalty?


A. Text: Rom. 13:1-4.

Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God. Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same, for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn't bear the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil.

B. Paul said, “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar” (Ac. 25:11).

1. Paul did not question the right of Rome to put criminals to death.

2. Nor did he suggest that the possible execution of an innocent man like himself was reason for all executions to be stopped.

C. Capital punishment = the infliction of the death penalty by civil authority.

1. It is an act carried out by civil government, not by private citizens.

2. It is motivated by justice, not by malice or hatred.

D. Capital punishment is a controversial topic that is frequently in the news.

E. We need to understand the death penalty from a biblical perspective.


A. From the start, the Bible grants validity to the idea of punishment for lawbreaking.

1. God said to Cain, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Gen. 4:10).

2. The murder of Abel cried out for restitution.

B. The Bible assumes that criminal acts deserve to be punished.

1. When justice has been violated, there is a principal that what has been lost by the victim should be reinstated or compensated for.

2. There is a moral obligation of the lawbreaker: a debt is incurred in which restitution must be made or a proportionate penalty must be paid.

3. This penalty is for punishment, not rehabilitation.

4. Justice calls for the penalty — it is right.


A. The central question is: are there some crimes so serious that the only just penalty is the death of the offender?

1. The Bible has always said so. Some acts are “worthy of death” (Deut. 21:22; etc.).

2. Up until our day, human civilizations have always said so.

B. By certain acts a person disqualifi es himself from the right to continue living — he forfeits the right to live.

C. This is refl ected in the Old Testament.

1. “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground”

2. “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:5,6).

3. The expression “innocent blood” (Deut. 21:8,9; etc.) presumes that there is blood that should be shed.

4. In the Law, the carrying out of the death penalty was justly regulated.

a. “Whoever is worthy of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses, but he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil person from among you” (Deut. 17:6,7).

* This shows that the death penalty was not just to deter others from committing the same crime.

* It was to put away the evil influence of that person from society!

b. “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” (Deut. 19:15).

5. “Your eye shall not pity; but life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deut. 19:21).

a. This did not mean that malicious vengeance could be taken by any individual for any slight he suffered. Cf. Mt. 5:38,39.

b. It meant that the punishment infl icted by the civil authority was to be in fair proportion to the crime — the punishment was to fi t the crime.

c. It was a safeguard against unduly harsh punishment — but it clearly indicated that some crimes justly called for the death of the offender!

6. The Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exo. 20:13 KJV), was not a prohibition any “killing,” including capital punishment — it was a prohibition against murder, the slaying of an innocent person by a private individual.

D. It is also reflected in the New Testament.

1. “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar” (Ac. 25:11).

2. “Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).

E. Our conclusion is this: for all societies of people since the beginning of time, there has been a principle of justice that some crimes are so serious they can be properly punished only by death.

F. The execution of the death sentence is a part of the rightful function of civil government as ordained by God.


A. In general, law itself exists to curb the conduct of those who are not inclined to curb their own conduct.

“The law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate” (1 Tim. 1:9).

B. The primary purpose of civil authority is to restrain injustice and crime, so that people can live without fear. Cf. Rom. 13:1-7.

1. “Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Are You not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify You, and the power to release You?’ Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin’” (Jn. 19:10,11).

2. “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rom. 13:4).

3. “Therefore I exhort fi rst of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:1,2).

C. Carrying out the death penalty is a part of what God ordained government to do.

1. It is not the prerogative of private citizens to exact their own justice.

2. “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rom. 13:4).

D. It is emotionally difficult for a compassionate people to execute criminals — but the consequences of not doing so are even more difficult in the long run.


A. Contrary to modern thinking, capital punishment does deter crime — at least it would if it were carried out consistently and in a timely fashion.

1. “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11). Cf. Psa. 10:3-7; esp. v.6.

2. Virtually all human behavior is motivated by the impulse to move away from certain things and to move toward others. (In fact, we defi ne character primarily in terms of what a person usually moves toward and away from.)

B. When, as a society, we do not set up capital consequences for capital crimes, we can expect a growth of cynicism, mockery of the law, and violent lawlessness.

C. What we do about crime and punishment says much about our national character.

1. “That which makes a people ‘civilized’ is very much a result of its laws and its respect for people’s dignity and worth” (David Hocking).

2. “We should understand punishment as a kind of mirror image of praise. If praise expresses gratitude and approbation, punishment expresses resentment and reprobation. If praise expresses what the political community admires and what unites it, punishment expresses what the community condemns and what threatens it. Punishment, like praise, publicly expresses our determination of what people deserve” (Stanley Brubaker).

3. “What a society thinks about life, death, and questions in between shows up in the rewards and penalties it extends. That is what laws are — marks of social value” (William Murchison).

D. We need to start being more careful about our “marks of social value.”

1. It is wrong to bestow honor on those who are dishonorable.

2. The man who walks uprightly is a man “in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord” (Psa. 15:4).

E. Many of the emotional arguments against the death penalty are based on pity.

1. But pity is not always the proper response when someone justly stands under the sentence of death.

2. Aaron was not even allowed to mourn for his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, after the Lord had rightfully stricken them dead - Lev. 10:6,7.

3. Concerning execution of the death penalty in the Old Testament, God said, “Your eye shall not pity; but life shall be for life” (Deut. 19:21). Cf. Deut. 13:8,9; 19:13; Ezek. 9:5,6; etc.

F. Yes, we must always be compassionate — but we must never let compassion keep us from doing what is right.


A. God has ordained civil government to restrain lawlessness — and he has given it the responsibility of putting to death those who commit crimes worthy of death.

B. “Contemporary efforts to abolish capital punishment proceed on a non-Christian view of man, a secular theory of criminal law, and a low estimate of the value of life” (Gordon Clark).

C. We need to be reminded:

1. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:5,6).

2. “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rom. 13:4).


Uncovering Hidden Treasure

By Marlene Buffa

My mother-in-law sat on the beach in Aruba and reached for her cold beverage nestled in the sand by her chair. She miscalculated her grasp and instead, her hand dove into the sand and she pulled out a glorious 14K solid gold rope necklace. Teams of salvage hunters spend millions of dollars, countless years and untold hours searching for lost treasure, more often finding it elusive. How is it then, some people find treasure when not seeking it, and others hunt and never find anything even when using elaborate calculations? The dichotomy of old sayings, “It’ll show up when you least expect it,” versus “Persistence pays,” provides Spirit an opportunity to intrigue us in our journey and increase the value of things we desire but cannot yet manifest.

Hidden vs. Missing

When something is missing, it means it once existed in our life and it's no longer there. When something is hidden, that means it's still there, but we can no longer see it. In life, how do we distinguish between the two qualities of perceived lack? In both instances, we experience a void - we can't touch or feel what we want. From misplaced car keys to hidden clues, we struggle with filling the void with what we already know - that which once existed - instead of moving towards something better.

The qualities of things hidden range from stifled emotions to disguised authenticity and integrity; to secrets about ourselves we don’t want the world to see. Missing things usually represent what we need to learn. If life repeats the lesson over and over for us, then we clearly missed the point of the lesson. Missing means a gap, a space, an emptiness for something which once served as a part of us, or for something we need to learn to complete the circle.

Hidden Meanings

Buried deep between the lines of written or spoken words, we get a glimpse of interpretation that our life experiences brought to our present moments. We attach many translations to subtle nuances that stem from our belief about who we are and what we need to discover. Forgetting to surrender to the Infinite and let go of judgment, we ascribe a meaning often all-too familiar with our repeated patterns instead of allowing new ideas and opportunities for growth to emerge.

The true meaning of any dusky perceptions lies not within our immediate accumulation of experience to shine the light on the unknown. Instead, our piercing beam of insight and willingness to progress forward emerges as authentic understanding in all of life’s foggy depths of confusion. No mystical forces at work, simply accepting situations and circumstances at face value, without prejudice brings about the highest interpretations possible.

Hidden Blessings

The saying, “Be careful what you ask for, for you shall surely get it,” cautions loudly in our minds when we dare to ask for something others deem as greedy or ill-guided. While Spirit focuses equally on our declarations of what we do and do not want in our lives, it also understands that a lesson presents more profound if the prayer goes unanswered.

Many times we look back at our requests of God and wonder why they never materialized. Later, after life unfolds, we realize if our exact petitions appeared, things would turn out much differently than we intended and we rationalize that the unanswered prayer represented a hidden blessing. In situations, which on the surface appear negative, we find precious rewards in the little blessings carefully protecting us from what we believed we wanted.

What Are You Hiding?

Inside each of us, burn the embers of understanding and coals of smoldering wisdom. With humility, many of us deny the truth about these gifts from life and bury our talents beneath our smoky exterior. We mistakenly think that if we disguise our true selves, we hide our strengths and weaknesses from the world thereby protecting ourselves from the harm of exposure. Additionally, we grow to expect the worst from the revelation of who we are, instead of allowing the possibility that more good enter our lives if we simply take the risk.

Spirit invites us to reveal the treasure of our authentic selves and uncover greatness! Day by day, we are shown scenarios that portray greater abundance and prosperity if we only took the risk of digging up and displaying the hidden treasures of our glorious self to the world. When we clutch tightly to a gold coin, it never transforms. It’s stuck as a gold coin. If we open our hand and use it to bring more good into our lives, then all are enhanced by the transaction.

Today, take a moment to consider the elements hidden or missing in your life. Fill in the gaps with whatever you need to feel complete with Life and search for those parts of yourself that you scurried away out of your present awareness. When you look for hidden meanings, be prepared for answered and unanswered prayers to equally educate you in that lesson and others. Frequently lessons overlap and the jewels we glean from one learning experience blend perfectly with others.

Remember the most precious treasure of all already lives within you. If you willingly identify and acknowledge your self-worth, the treasure chest of life awaits you!


Do You Know Your Father?

Fathers, Don't Exasperate Your Children

By David B. Curtis
Preached on August 22, 2004

As we look at this very practical section of the book of Colossians, I think it is clear that Paul was not laying down an order for society in general. He addresses the Christian community specifically on how husbands and wives and children and parents are to live in relationship to each other as visible expressions of true Christianity. He points out how Christians are to uniquely live under Christ's Lordship in the most intimate relationships of life. The simplicity of Paul's instructions offers clear guidance for family relationships. Paul really addresses each member of the family with a one word command that if followed will make a profound impact in our family, our church and our culture.

To the wives he says, "Submit". To the husbands he says, "Love". To the children he says, "Obey". And this morning we will look at the divine directives for fathers, "Don't exasperate".

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart." (Colossians 3:21)

Our text this morning is straightforward and simple. It divides naturally into three parts: First there is the address, "Fathers." Second, there is the command, "Do not exasperate your children." Third, there is the purpose of the command, "That they may not lose heart." We will look at these three parts of the text this morning.

The address: Fathers

There is a question as to whether Paul is speaking only to "fathers" or whether he is using this in a more generic sense to refer to "parents." The Greek word translated here as "fathers" is the word pater. I think that it's significant that this Greek word could be translated as "parents" as it is in:

Hebrews 11:23 (NASB) By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents [pater], because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.

The plural of pater can be used to denote the mother and father. However, why Paul should change to this word when he's used goneus in the previous verse for "parents" seems strange. If Paul wanted this translated "parents," it seems to me that he would use the same word he did in verse 20.

Verse 20 said, "Children, obey your parents." This clearly teaches that mothers as well as fathers are to be obeyed. Mothers and fathers have a shared authority over the children. But in verse 21, it's better to accept the translation as "fathers," therefore, and to take Paul's words as relating directly to the heads of the families who were present in the Colossian fellowship, and who were responsible for the welfare and upbringing of children.

Why does he address only the fathers? Is it because mothers don't ever exasperate their children? No! Paul knows that mothers are as guilty of this as fathers. I believe that this verse is applicable to dads and moms. But Paul gives this command to the father, because he is the head of the home, and so he should provide leadership in the parenting of the children. This does not eliminate the responsibility of the mother.

The common practice of the Roman empire of Paul's day was for fathers to be considered Patria Potestes, i.e., "the power of the Father." Mothers did not have the same authority. By this Roman law, a father had complete power over his children to do with them as he desired. He could expose them at birth so that they died, or sell them into slavery, or even take their lives. Fathers often left the rearing of children to the work of his slaves. So, this would no doubt get the attention of the fathers.

Paul is telling the fathers that they play a very important role in the raising of the children. This would have been a shock to those of the Roman culture, and it seems to be just as shocking to those in our culture. Do you understand the importance a father plays in the upbringing of children?

Do you remember when Vice President Dan Quayle criticized Murphy Brown, the lead character of a CBS sitcom of the same name, for choosing to bear and raise a child without a father in the home? The sum of his critique was simple: It may be cool, chic, and a symbol of feminism's triumph for women to raise children without a father in the home, but it isn't good for kids, and it isn't good for our society. The response from the liberal cultural elite in this country was swift and savage. Quayle was heckled as a right-wing Neanderthal who wanted nothing more than to keep women bound in the stifling and servile drudgeries of wife and mother. Less than a year later, interestingly enough, a sociologist, named Barbara Defoe Whitehead, authored and published a 37-page article revealing the numbers, trends, and consequences on children of fatherless families for The Atlantic Monthly magazine. The title of the article was "Dan Quayle Was Right."

Listen to these numbers. Today, almost 1 out of 2 American children go to bed each night without a biological father in the home. And fifty-percent of our children today will spend at least some time before age 18 with only 1 parent. The poverty rate for children born to mothers who finished high school, got married, and waited until they were 20 to have their first child is 8%. The poverty rate for those who don't do those things is 79%. The average poverty rate for children of single mothers is currently 47%; it is 65% for black children. 60% of America's rapists, 72% of adolescent murderers, and 70% of long term prison inmates grew up without fathers. Do the math. What conclusion do you draw?

It is impossible to deny. Despite the messages of Hollywood and Madison Avenue, having a biological father in the home to help protect, provide for, and raise the children is an essential element of societal health and happy, well-adjusted kids.

Let me share a story with you that emphasizes the impact a fatherless household can have on a child. He began his life with all the classic handicaps and disadvantages. His mother was a powerfully built, dominating woman who found it difficult to love anyone. She had been married three times, and her second husband divorced her, because she beat him up regularly. The father of the child I'm describing was her third husband; he died of a heart attack a few months before the child's birth. As a consequence, the mother had to work long hours from his earliest childhood. James Dobson writes:

She gave him no affection, no love, no discipline, and no training during those early years. She even forbade him to call her at work. Other children had little to do with him, so he was alone most of the time. He was absolutely rejected from his earliest childhood. When he was thirteen years old, a school psychologist commented that he probably didn't even know the meaning of the word love. During adolescence, the girls would have nothing to do with him, and he fought with the boys.

Despite a high IQ, he failed academically, and finally dropped out during his third year of high school. He thought he might find acceptance in the Marine Corps; they reportedly built men, and he wanted to be one. But his problems went with him. The other Marines laughed at him and ridiculed him. He fought back, resisted authority, and was court-martialed and thrown out of the Marines with an undesirable discharge. So there he was­­ a young man in his early twenties, absolutely friendless. He was small and scrawny in stature. He had an adolescent squeak in his voice. He was balding. He had no talent, no skill, no sense of worthiness.

Once again he thought he could run from his problems, so he went to live in a foreign country. But he was rejected there also. While there he married a girl who had been an illegitimate child and brought her back to America with him. Soon she began to develop the same contempt for him that everyone else displayed. She bore him two children, but he never enjoyed the status and respect a father should have. His marriage continued to crumble. His wife demanded more and more things that he could not provide. Instead of being his ally against the bitter world, as he hoped, she became his most vicious opponent. She could outfight him, and she learned to bully him. On one occasion she locked him in the bathroom as punishment. Finally she forced him to leave.

He tried to make it on his own, but he was terribly lonely. After days of solitude, he went home and literally begged her to take him back. He surrendered all pride. Despite his meager salary, he brought her $78.00 as a gift, asking her to take it and spend it any way she wished. But she belittled his feeble attempt to supply the family's needs. She ridiculed his failure. At one point he fell on his knees and wept bitterly as the darkness of his private nightmare enveloped him.

Finally, in silence he pleaded no more. No one wanted him. No one had ever wanted him.

The next day he was a strangely different man. He arose, went to the garage, and took down a rifle he had hidden there. He carried it with him to his newly acquired job at a book storage building. And from a window on the third-floor of that building, shortly after noon, November 22, 1963, he sent two shells crashing into the head of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Lee Harvey Oswald, the rejected, unlovable failure, killed a man who, more than any other man on earth, embodied all the success, beauty, wealth, and family affection which he lacked. In firing that rifle, he utilized the one skill he had learned in his entire, miserable lifetime. [James Dobson, Hide or Seek(Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1974), pp. 9, 11; as cited in R. Kent Hughes, Colossians and Philemon (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1989), pp. 121-122]

Relationships with our children are more important than we think. In the home we lay a foundation for all of life. We need to lay a good foundation that will serve our children well throughout their whole lives.

There is a peculiar role that the Scripture gives to husbands and fathers. Fathers bear a special responsibility for the moral life of the family. So I urge you to take that responsibility, fathers, and that you be involved in the lives of your children.

Let's talk for a minute about the Fatherhood of God. The Bible teaches us that God is a Father to believers. Jesus taught His disciples to call God their Father:

Matthew 6:8-9 (NASB) "Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. 9 "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.

Over and over in Matthew, God is called a "heavenly Father." Paul repeatedly calls God a "Father":

Romans 8:15 (NASB) For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

I believe all human fatherhood should be patterned on the divine fatherhood. The overarching guide for every father should be to live in such a way that his children can see what God the Father is like. They ought to see in their human father a reflection - an imperfect one of course - of the heavenly Father in his strength and tenderness, in his wrath and mercy, in his exaltation and condescension, in his surpassing wisdom and patient guidance. The task of every human father is to be for his children an image of the Father in heaven.

God purposely designed human fatherhood to be an illustration of his relationship to us. The whole reason that God even created something called "fathers" was so that we could better understand who He is. In other words, it wasn't as if God looked around at all the different kinds of human relationships He had created - father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin - and finally settled on this one as being the most similar to His relationship with His people. No, it goes back farther than that. In the very beginning, God fashioned the family, and the role of the father in the family, to serve as a living picture of who He is. Therefore, when He refers to Himself as our "father," it is not arbitrary or unimportant; it is highly intentional. It has great significance. And by the way, that's why contemporary assaults on the Biblical view of the family are so destructive. Not just because they harm the people involved, who usually find that alternative forms of family structure don't work very well, but also because they obscure the picture of God that human fatherhood was intended to reveal. They make it harder for people to understand what God is like.

Dads, we are to live set apart lives that give our family a model of God. We are to be able to look at them and say, "Follow me as I follow Christ." We are to be an example of godliness for our families to follow.

As a Christian, what is one thing about your heavenly father that you know for sure? Your answer should be, "I know God loves me."

Romans 5:8 (NASB) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The "us" in this verse is believers. All you have to do is look to Calvary, and there you see a message of love written in blood. God's love is absolutely unconditional and irrevocable to his children.

So if God's love for us is certain, and it is, it should also be true of a parent/child relationship. Children should know for certain that the parent loves them - unconditionally. As a godly father, our kids should know that we love them.

One of my favorite pictures of God in the scripture is found in the parable of the Prodigal son. This parable vividly portrays God's willingness to forgive His children. If we are going to be like our Heavenly Father, we, too, must be always willing to forgive our repentant children.

You know the story: The son goes off into a far country and squanders all his money. And when he runs out of money, he runs out of friends and ends up with the hogs, eating from the slop that is fed to the pigs. This is the most humiliating place a Jewish boy could possibly be.

As he sits there, the Bible says, "He came to himself." And he starts thinking, "How many of my father's hired men have food to spare? And here I am, starving to death. I will go back to my father."

Now notice something important. He felt that he could go back to his father. The relationship might never be the same. But he knew the door was open to him. How did he know that? Most likely because all through the time of raising his son the father had communicated his love. It is a vital thing to communicate love to our children.

So he said, "I will say to my father, 'I have sinned against heaven and against you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired men.'" I think this was a speech he practiced every step of his way back home. He had it down pat. But before he could blurt it out, his father had run to him and thrown his arms around him and kissed him:

Luke 15:20-24 (NASB) "And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him. 21 "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' And they began to be merry.

You know, the beautiful part is that our Father in Heaven is always ready to forgive His sinning children when they come back to Him. Do you see any reluctance in the father to forgive? The father saw him coming, but he didn't just stand there and wait for him, he ran to him and embraced him and kissed him. That is incredible! And as dads, we need imitate our heavenly Father in this area of love and forgiveness. We need to teach our kids, no matter how deep their sin, no matter how much they hurt us, "You can always come home." And there'll be a father waiting to throw his arms around you, and to assure you of his abiding love.

The Command - "Do not exasperate your children."

The word he uses for "exasperate" means: "to provoke or to irritate, or to excite in a negative fashion, or to embitter." It is used one other time in the New Testament in a good sense of exciting others to great zeal (2 Cor. 9:2), but here the usage is definitely negative. Weymouth translates it: "Do not fret and harass your children." Phillips offers the translation: "Don't overcorrect." The word "exasperate" is in the continuous tense in the Greek: "Do not keep on exasperating your children."

Just what this "exasperation" might be seems obvious to many commentators. But the fact that Paul's words are particularly vague should warn us against being too specific, and we should allow the application of the instruction to be given us as we walk in dependence upon God.

That Ephesians 6:4 adds the phrase "to anger" may give us a hint at the sorts of attitudes of the father which may stimulate such a response, but we should rest with the interpretation that what Paul is urging upon all fathers is that they refrain from abusing their power and authority over their children. This seems to be the reason for his instructions; in order that the exhortation recorded for the children might not be taken as an absolute that the parents press home to their own advantage.

Let me share with you some ways in which a parent can exasperate a child. This list is by no means exhaustive, I'm sure you could think of some others. Fathers and mothers exasperate their children by:

Over protection - over protective parents never allow their children any liberty. They have strict rules about everything. No matter what their children do, over protective parents do not trust them. Because nothing they do earns their parents' trust, children begin to despair and may believe that how they behave is irrelevant. That can lead to rebellion. Parents are to provide rules and guidelines for their children, but those rules should not become a noose that strangles them. Above all, parents must communicate to their children that they trust them.

By lack of standards - this is the flip side of over protection. When parents fail to discipline, or discipline inconsistently, children are left on their own. They cannot handle that kind of freedom and begin to feel insecure and unloved.

By depreciating their worth - many children have been convinced that what they do and feel are not important. That is communicating to children that they are not significant. Many parents depreciate their children's worth by refusing to listen to them. Children who are not listened to may give up trying to communicate and become discouraged, shy, and withdrawn.

By failing to show affection - Parents need to communicate love to their children both verbally and physically. Failing to do so will discourage and alienate a child.

By setting unrealistic goals - parents can do that by never rewarding them, or never letting them feel they have succeeded. Nothing is enough, so the children never get full approval. Such parents are often trying to make their children into something they themselves were not. The results can be tragic. Some children become so frustrated that they commit suicide.

By neglect - a father who has no time for his child soon creates in him a deep-seated resentment. The child may not know how to articulate or explain the problem, but he feels unimportant and worthless. The classic biblical example is Absalom. David was indifferent to him, and the result was rebellion, civil war, and Absalom's death. Parents need to be involved in their children's lives.

By showing favoritism - parents exasperate their children by showing favoritism. That is often done unwittingly by comparing a child unfavorably to siblings or classmates. By making a child feel like the black sheep of the family, parents can create a terrible sense of frustration. We see the result of this is Joseph's brothers.

By criticism - Haim Ginott wrote: "A child learns what he lives. If he lives with criticism, he does not learn responsibility. He learns to condemn himself and to find fault with others. He learns to doubt his own judgment, to disparage his own ability, and to distrust the intentions of others. And above all, he learns to live with continual expectation of impending doom" (Between Parent and Child [New York: MacMillan, 1965], p. 72). Parents should seek to create in the home a positive, constructive environment.

By excessive discipline - this is the parent who abuses his children, either verbally, emotionally, or physically. Parents often say things to their children that they would never say to anyone else. They should never discipline their children in anger. Rather, parents should lovingly correct their children, just as their heavenly Father does them.

Indulging them - giving them everything they want. That soon will make them restless and dissatisfied. Children long for guidance and direction; for intimacy, not for superficial indulgence. Such indulgence will frequently create a deep-seated, sometimes lifelong feeling of resentment.

To the command not to provoke one's children, Ephesians also adds, "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

Ephesians 6:4 (NASB) And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

What is discipline? It means: "to teach." It is the same root word as "disciple." It has the flavor of pointing out what is wrong and correcting the action. Discipline must start at an early age. Why discipline?

Hebrews 12:11 (NASB) All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.]

We're not only told to discipline our children, but that we should give them instruction of the Lord. What is meant by instruction is both verbal information and verbal warning. The word literally means: "to place before the mind." Instruction contains the idea of teaching and also the element of confrontation. We must share with our children both the blessings of serving Jesus and the hazards of failing to do so.

We must spend time with children in teaching them and encouraging them; and instructing them, both verbally and by example, in the way of the Lord, pointing them positively to Christ; telling them that they have done well, and not only telling them when they have not done well; telling them that they have pleased you and pleased the Lord, and not only when they have displeased the Lord. Paul is calling fathers to rear their children in such a way that they will not feel only the rebuke of God, but they will also feel His approval.

One final point needs noting and bringing home to the Church of our present day society. Paul is clearly making it the responsibility of the father (and I believe that the mother should also be included in this) to both instruct and discipline their children and not leave it to any third party.

Purpose of the command - "That they may not lose heart."

"Lose heart" is from the Greek word athumeo, from a = without + thumos = passions, desire, spirit. It means: "to become disheartened to the point of losing motivation, to be dispirited or to be broken in spirit." This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament. Lightfoot translates it as; "to go about their task in a listless, moody, sullen frame of mind" [Linguistic Key, 582]. We might think of it as throwing water upon the flame for life. It implies that a parent is so cold, stern, harsh, and rigid that a child's strength is sapped, his drive for positive achievements gone, and his hope for the future shattered. He exists, and that is about it. His one goal in life is to get out from under such tyranny. Often, those who come out of such a setting become the most rebellious and wretched men and women imaginable.

God wants us to encourage our children. He wants us to praise them for what they do right. Constant criticism will discourage them. They may become disheartened in their attempts to please their parents.

The negative form of verse 21 really implies a positive command as well. It says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart." But it means not only avoid one kind of fatherhood; it also means pursue another kind, namely, the kind of fatherhood which gives hope instead of discouragement.

A good father will ponder: "How can I be like my own heavenly Father?" We are taught in Scripture to imitate our heavenly Father. We are told to be holy as He IS holy (l Peter l:l6). We are told to be merciful as He IS merciful (Luke 6:36). To be a good child is to copy daddy. It honors a father to be imitated, and we are commanded to honor our fathers. And so the most important question a father can ask himself is not, "What shall I teach my children; But rather, who am I before the living God and before my children?"

It is important that we regularly evaluate ourselves as parents in how we are treating our children. A child might walk straight as an arrow due to fear of a parent, but if he has no spirit left in him, then the parent has failed to prepare the child for the future. Our goal must be much more than to get a child through high school and keep him out of jail! We must seek to "train him up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

Parents, children, since you have died with Christ, and been raised to newness of life in Him, live like it! Children, obey your parents in all things--in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, YOUR FATHER, through Him. And parents, do not provoke your children, but teach them about their heavenly Father, through your words and deeds, shepherding their hearts even as Christ, the Good Shepherd, leads you both.

Please remember the necessity of grace as we seek to be Christians in the home. We could not do these things were it not for grace. Husbands and wives are sinners. Parents and children are sinners. We need the grace of God to establish this type of a life. This is not something for a human being to attempt on their own. Only the grace of God can help us here. Here, perhaps more then anywhere else, we are shown the depth of our sin. And though that's a discouraging thing, it's the first step towards encouragement; because when we realize that we can't do it on our own, we are precisely at the point where God wants us. We can reach out to Him and ask Him to help us to live the lives He has called us to live in the home. Living with each other in the family demands that we look to Christ to shape our lives and to enable us to treat one another with Christian love.

Exasperating your kids
By Chris & Michelle Groff

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)

This verse is packed with parenting instruction. It immediately follows the passage instructing children to honor and obey their parents (Eph 6:1-2), and it helps us see how to make it easier for our children to obey us. The key is to avoid exasperating them.

The Greek word translated "exasperate" means to provoke to anger or to enrage. And, the fastest way to exasperate a child is to micromanage every move, correct each misstep, and point out all the areas he needs to improve. Kids who are nagged and lectured soon become frustrated and often respond by rebelling, withdrawing, or "losing heart." We are so inclined to over-correct, we often end up fighting about small things that aren't important. We may win the argument, but lose the war as we find our kids disconnecting from us.

Instead, try walking beside your kids as you lovingly allow them to experience the consequences of their choices. This is a far better way to create an environment in which a child can understand and embrace God's design for his life.

Pick your battles and avoid exasperating your kids.

While so many sons and daughters have exasperating fathers, many others are even fatherless. Do they know who their fathers really are?

What about you, do you really know your father?