George Bradshaw married Jane Swift in 1930. Both sets of their parents approved of the match. Unhappily, the plans for a society wedding became overwhelming. To “simplify” matters George and Jane, much to the distress of her mother, Nanny, eloped! George and Jane quit school, got a small apartment and George began driving a cab. For a while, he was a loan officer and then a real estate salesman. When my older sister, Barbara, was coming, they rented a small house.
By the time Joan was born in 1934, Nanny saw that George could provide for his family. Jane’s father called him “George the Plumber” or “George the Mechanic” or “George the Carpenter” whenever he needed something done.
When Jane’s father died ca. 1936, he left a chain of 12 drug stores. Nanny respected George’s “can-do” ability enough to sell him one of the drug stores in a prime location. By the time I was born in 1939, we were living in our own home. Dad learned from scratch how to run the store. He worked many hours in his store, building up the business and paying off Nanny. Still he had time for my fond memories of playing “horsie”; Daddy on hands and knees, me holding onto his suspenders.
WWII years were prosperous in the drug store. He bought a big, beautiful home in an upscale neighborhood. At times Dad put in 22-hour days. A patriot who hated the war, he served in the Coast Guard Reserve, looking for periscopes in Puget Sound. Still he squeezed out time for his little boy. Mom put me on a bus to downtown, telling the driver where to put me off (You could safely do that in those days. People looked out after children.) Daddy met the bus and took me to the YMCA to watch while he played handball with Dr, Bebe. Then he took me swimming in the “Y” pool.
By the time the war ended, Dad had made a pile of money, but he got sick of the rat race. He longed for the simpler life he had lived during the summers on his grandfather’s farm. So, he bought an island, Jedidiah Island, in the waters off Vancouver, B.C. It turned out that we could not move there (that is a story for another time). Undeterred he bought 10 acres in Kirkland. Subsistence farming could not provide for us.
So, Dad bought 100 acres on Whidbey Island. There he did everything, learning as he went: cows, chickens, pigs, ducks, geese, butchering beeves and pork. That was not enough to stem the outflow of a family, by then, of six plus his grandmother from Iowa. “Can-do George” saw the trees on the farm as possible dollars. He learned logging and we cut old growth Douglas Fir for “peeler logs to make plywood. We cut and split Hemlock and White Fir for pulpwood. We cut Alder for furniture wood.
Dad bought a crawler tractor and taught himself how to drive it. He taught me to drive it at age 10. He did many things to earn money to stop the constant drain: took men out fishing in Puget Sound, hauled loganberries to Pomerelle Winery, “tossed squash” (loaded squash on a truck), hired out as a logger, rented cabins on our property, began transforming a stud barn into an apartment complex. Still, the expenses of the family were too great.
After seven years, Dad realized farming was not going to provide for his family. He moved back into Seattle, WA, and re-entered the real estate business. Within 3 years he recouped his fortunes, finished putting two daughters through college, bought a real estate company and purchased a sizeable home. Upon his death he left his wife well fixed and upon her death they left his children a goodly inheritance. Yes, George Bradshaw was a “Can Do” man.
Unhappily, and too often tragically, progenitors of children are not good fathers. Some lack the drive, some lack ability, some lack commitment, and others are too self-centered.
Fatherhood requires hard work. A father has three essential responsibilities. First, a man must love a woman and be wholly committed to her. Second, he must love his children and nurture them. Thirdly, he must provide the money to support his family. These are not all but they are the foremost responsibilities. A man must divide himself three ways and put energy and feeling into each. This takes hard intentional effort, i.e. hard work.
The man who does not have the drive or will to do the hard work will short-change one or another of these responsibilities. Too often such men invest themselves in their work and leave the raising of the children to their wives.
Some fathers find themselves “trapped” with children and a wife. They do not have the emotional stability to give all (or even a little) of their emotional strength to dealing with the inevitable conflicts among children, within the family, and within themselves. They throw up their hands and leave. They abandon their post, going AWOL,
Many are not “in it for the long haul”. They never thought through the commitment it takes to spend the middle 20 or 30 years of their lives committed to supporting a family, training children and loving one woman exclusively. Sometime along in that period they ask themselves (consciously or unconsciously) “Is it worth it?” Their answer is, “Nope!”; and they bail out. They often begin looking for a “honey” who dotes on them, appreciating their maturity, knowledge and position. The girl laughs at his old jokes, relishes in his established income and satisfies him in all ways, with little commitment.
Perhaps the saddest of all is the father who needs attention. The truth that he takes a secondary role to his children comes as a terrible shock. The more children they have, the more he feels pressed to the periphery of his wife’s concern. His demands for attention increasingly irritate his wife and eventually anger her. He ceases to get the tender understanding and attention that his wife gave him before they married and before the children came along. He may take solace in a bottle; he may continue to storm and disrupt the family peace; or he may leave and look for that “honey”.
The word “martyr” comes from the Greek μάρτυς (martus)—a witness. True fatherhood is a witness to the virtues that are required to be a father. In the common parlance, a martyr is one who feels so strongly about a conviction that he or she is willing to sacrifice his or her life to be faithful.
When a man says “I do”, it should be with an exclamation mark, “I do!” The officiant (minister or public officer) should repeat the traditional formula, “The marriage obligations should not be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly and in fear of God.” This gives the man a reminder that marriage is not to transform a “one night stand” into a repetition “for as long as they both shall love”. Marriage properly entered into means that each one gives up something for other “things” that are better.
A man witnesses that he is ready to take on the responsibility of cherishing his wife and in the process of time nurturing his children. Thus, his “I do” is a witness to his martyrdom of his independent, self-centered life for the cause of raising a family.
Men and women are different. This is a controversial statement in our society. Nevertheless, it is true. A women’s constitution is built to be a nurturer; therefore, she needs a secure environment in which to raise children. A stable marriage with a man she can depend upon provides this security best.
Men are goal oriented. They tend to take on the world and seek to make it bow to their commands. They have less need for a wife and family. This is why predominantly more men abandon their wives and children than women.
While it is not a sacrifice for a woman to commit her life to raising children, it is for a man. This is faithful commitment with both meanings of “martyr”. It is a witness to the world of his priorities; and it is a sacrifice of the world to commit to his family.
Survey after honest survey verifies that children raised in a stable, loving home are less likely to be in trouble, less likely to end up in prison, do better in school and achieve more in life. Fathers contribute a great deal to this formula. The man who commits to his marriage “until death do us part” establishes a stance of life that his wife, the mother of his children can trust. This gives her the security she needs to commit herself wholeheartedly to her children. The man who accepts the joint responsibility of nurturing his children contributes to their wholesome upbringing.
Daughters learn from their father how to be a woman with a man. This is essential in their formation later in life of a stable relationship with a reliable man.
Sons learn from their fathers how to be a man with a woman. They learn how to treat a woman with respect, how to support her financially, emotionally and to lend his strengths to fill in her needs.
Fathers take the lead in working to support their families. Unhappily, in today’s economy that is harder, since it often takes two incomes to support a “middle class family”. This prevents a mother from nurturing her children. They, too often, childcare workers actually raise them. However, if families are willing to make the sacrifices of a lower standard of living, the long run payoff is great in the lives of the children.
Fathers need to be involved in the nurture of children. Children need to know that their fathers are deeply concerned with their lives and development. Dad’s hands hugging them, Dad disciplining them, Dad in the bleachers or audience builds a sense of being loved and being important. Fathers are instrumental in building self esteem.
The regular paycheck that fathers provide gives financial security and teaches children that hard work pays off. His working around the home teaches that he values the family’s environment. His assigning chores and disciplining the children to accomplish them teaches that work, even though not enjoyable is important.
In this limited space, we just scratch the surface of the importance of fathers accepting and living up to their responsibilities to the family and the children.
A father’s faith in Jesus is the most important gift to his children. His faith is communicable. “Like father, like son”, “the apple does not fall far from the tree” are two “old saws”; nevertheless, they are true. While all these traits of reliability, love and nurture are important to healthy family and personal development, the most A vital element is missing: a father’s commitment to Christ. The mother’s commitment to Jesus is also vital, but here I am dealing only with the father.
A loving father, whose heart belongs to Jesus, shows most clearly the character of God the Father. Children who see their father pray and study Scripture, recognize the reality and vitality of trusting in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. His example of right living, even when it hurts, gives his children the confidence to make hard godly choices in the face of worldly opposition and hostility.
The father who bravely endures sacrifice for his faith tells his children the importance of faith in Jesus. It teaches them to obey God’s direction, regardless of the price.
On the other hand, a godly father shows his family that their blessings are all at the hand of God. He teaches them that God, their Father, is watching over them and protecting them. They believe this is true because they see these characteristics of trust in God in their earthly father. His love shows them that God is love.
The Cotton Patch Gospel says God was like a mammy, kneeling down in the mud making a man like kneading bread dough. This is a tender vision of the care with which God created Man. All other elements of creation, the stars and planets, vegetation, animals, Scripture says were created by His word, whereas, man was created personally. “God made man in His own image”. This speaks of God’s special love for man. He did not create a flawed person. He created man perfect. Then he breathed into man His Spirit.
Thus, God has demonstrated His astounding love for mankind. He wants man to companion with Him, so he gave mankind another extraordinary gift–the will to choose. He frees man to decide for or against Him (amazingly); knowing man would rebel and forsake God’s blessings.
God gave individuals uncounted opportunities to return to trust Him implicitly. He gave them a code of laws as a guideline to right behavior. Finally, he gave people an astonishing gift. He sent His Son to suffer God’s judgment for the sin of mankind and to pay the eternal price–death.
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8 TLV)
Here is the pinnacle of sacrificial love. God the Father loves us so much that He surrendered His only begotten Son. He allowed His Son to leave His right hand to be born a baby, and become the God/man. “Now if that ain’t love …”
His love is absolutely dependable. Nothing can take it away from us, nor can we lose it (Romans 8:31-39, q.v.) God’s presence is always with us. He is ever at our side, at all the events of our lives. In the depths of terrible times, our Savior is down in the muck with us (Psalms 139:7-14, q.v.)
As Creator He has made us and has taken great care in forming us.
For thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst cover me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. My frame was not hidden from thee, When I was made in secret, And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them. (Psalms 139:13-16)
Since God took such care, we can expect that He loves us eternally.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17)
God has made the way for us to become not just His creations, but His sons and daughters as adopted brothers and sisters of Christ. Further, it means that we are fully God’s and heirs of eternal life. Just as Jesus was resurrected, even so we will be resurrected to have imperishable celestial bodies in our father’s glorious realm. There sickness, sadness, infirmity, grief, pain and all of the earthly inconveniences will no longer exist.
And there we shall ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
The pinnacle of fatherhood is God the Father. True men will embrace the challenges of fatherhood, surrender their lives to Jesus Christ and live to emulate God their Father. They will embrace the “bondage” of marriage. They will embrace the wives of their youth all the days of their lives. They will be fruitful and multiply. They will own the responsibilities of marriage and family rearing. They will rejoice in their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In this life, as examples of God the Father, they will bring glory to Him and receive uncounted blessings at His hand. The “high praises of God will be in their mouths” (Psalm 149:6) day and night for the privilege of being fathers in God’s place.
ANSWER: Herod was an evil man. He was paranoid that someone would rival his right to rule in Judea. When he thought anyone – anyone! – was seeking his throne he slew them. Herod killed, with impunity, his father-in-law, several of his ten wives, and two of his sons.
In those days, kings had ultimate authority within their realms. The lives of king’s subjects’ were in his hands. “Off with their heads!” was real, not a joke. Those who were close to kings were either toadies, i.e. “yes men”, or they were very brave. Josephus, a Jewish historian, stated that Herod was so concerned that no one would mourn his death, he commanded a large group of distinguished Jews to come to Jericho. Herod ordered them killed at the time of his death so that the displays of grief that he craved would take place. Fortunately, for the captives, Herod’s son Archilaus and sister Salome did not carry out this wish.
Magi followed the star that had heralded the birth of “the King of the Jews to Jerusalem. They inquired of Herod where this “king” was to be born. Deeply alarmed, this evil man sent his scholars to research. Upon learning the site was Bethlehem, ca. 12 miles SW of Jerusalem, he put on his religious face. He sent the Magi on their way, extracting the promise to return and tell him where they found the “king’. Duplicitously he stated, “That I may come and worship him.”
Likely, the Magi had been traveling some time since the first appearance of the star, perhaps as much as 18 months. Joseph’s family had moved from the stable into a house for that was where the Magi found the family. They did obeisance to the Christ child, who was no longer an infant, gave Him their gifts and left. An angel told them not to return to Jerusalem to report to Herod.
The wicked king waited impatiently for their return, so he could remove the perceived threat to his throne. When it was clear that the Magi would not report as promised, Herod took matters into his own hands. He ordered a troop of soldiers to Bethlehem.
Knowing Herod would attempt to kill His Son, God notified Joseph to leave Bethlehem quietly, and go where God directed them.
When the troop arrived, not knowing which child was the promised king, the soldiers seized baby boys two years old and under. They killed them all, according to Herod’s orders. The “slaughter of innocents” was likely not very many, but still horrific. Bethlehem was more that a village, but less than a city. We do not know the population, but I suspect that there were not more than a dozen boy babies slain, and more likely a half dozen. Nevertheless, Herod’s act was heinous in the extreme!
Almighty and ever loving Father, there are billions of people in the world. Out of these teeming millions, You chose me to be your child. O, my God, I am eternally grateful for Your including me in the family of God.
Father, show me how to honor you by my life. I want to please and glorify You in all I do. Your glory is magnificent. Your love is greater than all the oceans in existence. Your mercy exceeds the highest mountains in height and the deepest trenches of the oceans in depth.
Father, there are many people around me that are in need of Your love. They believe their lives to be reasonably good and “if there is Heaven” they expect to be included. They have no concept of the pervasiveness of their sins. They do not know that without the blood of Your Son applied to their sins, blotting them out, they are subject to the full penalty of the LAW – death for eternity, but never unconscious.
Show me how to bless them with the truth of Your saving and forgiving love.
Father, there are people I care for deeply who are struggling with sickness and disease. As Your blessed Son touched and healed multitudes, touch these with Your healing love. Relieve their suffering; ease and eradicate their pain and discomfort. Release them from the bondage to sickness to live free again.
I bewail the sickness of disbelief in America that likely pains Your heart, too. You, my Father, could sweep away all our disbelief, defiance and blindness. Gracious Lord, have mercy on these people deluded by Your enemy and ours. He has convinced them that to avoid guilt from sin they need only discard belief in You. That lie has no merit, since You are real and actively involved in Your creation. And yet, despite all the evidence You have left in the world, they choose to ignore it and take comfort in their delusion.
Have mercy on America, our Father. Remember the faith of our founding fathers. Return America to our first love, our gracious Heavenly Father. You led us to liberty from the oppression of the greatest military force in that era. The founders acknowledged Your sovereignty and proclaimed You as the author of our freedom and independence.
Teach us again the truth of Your loving guidance on the road to glory. For that to happen we need, desperately need, Your Holy Spirit to move across America turning the hearts of the people to You in a uniting wave of anguish for our sin, deep remorse and universal repentance. Open our hearts to the conviction of Your Holy Spirit. Humble us to recognize our need of You. Give us a burning desire to know, love and serve You.
Pour out upon America a baptism of holy fire to cleanse us from sin and turn us as one person to embrace righteousness.
I want to live on the crest of praise to give You all glory. Praise God for His majesty. Praise God for His Justice. Praise God for His Love. Praise God for His mercy
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! We long for You, our God! Amen!