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Absent, Part 2 – The Nuclear Family

Father and son learning to ride a bike, Author dadblunders, Source flickr (CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Father and son learning to ride a bike, Author dadblunders, Source flickr (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

“ ‘Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?’ ” (Matt. 7: 9).

With the change in sexual mores stemming from the 1960s and the impact of divorce on the nuclear family, many children grow up in single parent households who might otherwise have had a father actively involved in their lives [1A].

Single Parent Households

According to the US Census Bureau, twelve million households in the US are headed by single parents, 80% of these by single mothers.  And that number is growing [2].

All too often, children become pawns in the power struggle that can ensue in a divorce.  When child support payments are late, women (who may feel powerless to do anything else) at times deny men access to their children.  Unfortunately, this can erode the parental bond to a child’s detriment.

A 2011 study found that non-custodial parents – whether male or female – made only 61% of required child support payments to the parent with custody of their children [7].

As a practical matter, the income of single parent homes is greatly reduced [1B].  One in four American children under the age of 18 is being raised without a father, 45% of these children below the poverty level [3].

Poverty and No Father

The problems associated with poverty, and the absence of a father in the home are significant.  These can range from poor school performance, and high drop-out rates, to emotional and physical abuse or neglect, drug and alcohol use, and delinquent behavior [4].

Child abuse has, in fact, been called the dark underside of cohabitation [5].  A mother’s boyfriend can pose a real threat to the life of a child not his own [6].

Love and Security

None of this is meant to suggest that divorced dads do not love their children.  While some men do abandon a first family and “trade up” to a second, many more fight for custody when a mother is drug addicted, violent, or otherwise incapable of caring for the children.

The point is that a great many children do not experience a father’s love, a father’s example, or the comfort and security of a father’s “day to day” presence.

Divorced dads need to make a special effort to remain full-time fathers.

[1A][1B]  Huffington Post, “The Disappearing Nuclear Family and the Shift to Non-Traditional Households Has Serious Financial Implications for Growing Numbers of Americans” by  Sandra Timmerman and Debra Caruso, 3/27/13, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/debra-caruso/retirement-plan-the-disappearing-nuclear-family_b_2534622.html.

[2]  Pew Research Center, Social Trends, “1. The American Family Today”, 12/17/15,  http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/17/1-the-american-family-today/ .

[3]  Single Mother Guide, Single Mother Statistics, https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/.

[4]  Princeton University, Future of Children, “The Effects of Poverty on Children” by Jeanne Brooks-Dunn and Greg Duncan, https://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/07_02_03.pdf.

[5]  NBC News, Children’s Health, “Children at higher risk in non-traditional homes”, 11/18/07, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21838575/ns/health-childrens_health/t/children-higher-risk-nontraditional-homes/.

[6]  The Daily Beast, “Why Are Mothers’ Boyfriends So Likely to Kill?” by Samantha Allen, 9/25/15,  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/25/why-are-mothers-boyfriends-so-likely-to-kill.html.

[7]  Time, “How Deadbeat are Deadbeat Dads, Really?” by Belinda Luscombe, 6/15/15, http://time.com/3921605/deadbeat-dads/.

This series will continue next week with Absent, Part 3 – Children Having Children

Wishing You All A Happy Easter!

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  http://www.avoicereclaimed

Absent, Part 1 – The Sexual Revolution

Martin 000X Hippie Ltd. Edition Prototype (2007) Commemorating 40th Anniversary of

Martin 000X Hippie Ltd. Edition Prototype (2007) Commemorating 40th Anniversary of “Summer of Love”, Author Lehigh Valley, PA, Source flickr (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

Our society seems increasingly to view fathers as sperm donors [1].  The very concept of fatherhood is being lost, replaced by the part-time dads of divorce and – worse still – the so called “baby daddies” who assume little or no responsibility for their offspring.

The men who might actually want to raise their children – to love and support them (and their mother); to teach them right from wrong; to protect them from harm; to stand by them faithfully, through thick and thin – are rapidly going extinct.

A Lifelong Bond

First and foremost, responsibility for a child rests with the man (and woman) who elected to conceive that child and/or failed to take measures to prevent conception.

Claiming “surprise” at a pregnancy that resulted from unprotected sex between healthy adults is disingenuous, to say the least.  Offering a partner the funds for an abortion is not sufficient to satisfy the parental burden.

Though it changes over time, the parent-child connection is a lifelong bond.  The children deprived of it – even if well cared for materially– are left with a great emptiness.

Contributing Factors

The major factors contributing to the problem of absent fathers include a change in sexual mores, which eliminated or greatly reduced the stigma of illegitimacy; the vanishing nuclear family; children having children; and certain aspects of culture unique to the inner city.

The Sexual Revolution

But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Heb. 12: 8).

The sexual revolution of the 1960s made pre-marital sex and cohabitation acceptable, while removing the ignominy of children born outside marriage (much to the benefit of such children, thankfully).

At the same time, a radical shift took place in African-American culture.  From 1890 until the 1960s, African-Americans over the age of 35 were more likely to be married than whites.  However, during the 1960s, that statistic was reversed. Read more…

Spikenard

Antique Roman perfume bottle of green glass, dating from 2nd Century, Archaeological Museum of Milan, Author Giovanni Dall'Orto (

Antique Roman perfume bottle dating from 2nd Century, Archaeological Museum of Milan, Author Giovanni Dall’Orto (“G. dallorto”)

Spikenard is a flowering plant grown in China, India, and Nepal.  The plant was known in ancient times, distilled into oil, and shipped as a luxury item to Rome, Egypt, and the Near East.

Spikenard was one of the eleven spices comprising incense for the First and Second Jewish Temples.  Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, coals from the altar were taken into the Holy of Holies, along with two handfuls of incense.  There the incense was used to make smoke before the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, the place where God dwelt.

Six days before the last Passover of His life, Jesus had supper at the home of His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (whom Jesus had raised from the dead).  Mary lovingly anointed Jesus’ feet with spikenard.

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (John 12: 3).

Four days later another woman, whose name we are not given, anointed Jesus’ head with spikenard.

And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard.  Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head” (Mark 14: 3).

Neither woman could have known that crucifixion awaited Him.  But the Lord characterized their acts of devotion as preparation for His burial. Perhaps the faintest trace of the fragrant perfume lingered as He hung on the cross where He gave His life for our atonement.

We have no spikenard to offer Him.  But we do have something else.

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5: 2).

Let us take our lead from these two women.  Let us pour ourselves out unsparingly for Him, whatever the cost.  That our fragrance, too, may be sweet to the Lord.

Originally posted 3/13/13

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  http://www.avoicereclaimed

Love, Legal Aid, and Omelets

Below is a volunteer profile from Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (CLCP) http://www.clcphila.org/, a faith-based non-profit near and dear to my heart.

“Attorney Vicki Piontek is a gem.  She loves Jesus, she loves her family, and she loves CLCP.  She has become an indispensable member of the CLCP family.

Vicki and her husband run their own law firm where they help defend clients from unfair debt collection practices.  She is vigilant in her client representation.

If there is a CLCP event you can count on Vicki to be there to serve the clients, assist the volunteers, and feed everyone a hearty meal.  She makes a mean omelet!

Vicki has a heart for people, and she wants to see those around her do well in all aspects of life, especially in their relationships with Jesus.  Vicki carries the light of Christ wherever she goes and continues to illuminate CLCP.

Thank you Vicki for all you do and for what you have added to CLCP!!!”

Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12: 1).

Please, pray for the victims of the terrorist attack in London.  Pray, also, for South Sudan where aid workers are being prevented from reaching the 5.5 million people impacted by famine.  US Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison describes the situation there as approaching “deliberate starvation tactics.”

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse http://www.avoicereclaimed

“Light and Darkness” by Dr. Lloyd Stebbins

Church of St. Michael (nave north window), Essex, England, Author Acabashi (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

This eloquent post by Dr. Lloyd Stebbins began life as a comment on an earlier post of mine.  Dr. Stebbins’ insights are always wise and welcome.  Regrettably, I did not give his comment the attention it deserved.  Today’s republication is an effort to correct that oversight. 

Dr. Stebbins is the author of “Wake Up America – Or Die!  YOU Must Save America and the Family”.  He blogs at Dr. Lloyd StebbinsDeliberate Joy https://lloydstebbins.com/.

And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1: 5).

“It is interesting to notice church windows.  They vary from stained glass to clear, large and small, a lot of windows or just a few—or even no windows at all.  As churches have migrated from traditional Christian music to contemporary Christian music or Christian rock music, there has been a growing trend to build churches without windows.

The church leaders claim that the windowless churches, sanctuaries, or auditoriums enable better control of the lighting, absolute control if the inside walls are black or a dark color.  Indeed, the churches are becoming increasingly theatrical.  Could it be that the increasingly theatrical nature of ‘worship’ services tends to place more emphasis on man and less emphasis on God, despite the very best of intentions and the clearly Christian lyrics of the contemporary or Christian rock music?

The dark-walled, windowless churches provide the pastors and other leaders of the Sunday morning ‘production’ absolute, godlike control of the lighting. Yet, scripture says that, ‘God is light.’  A long time ago, Lucifer wanted to be like God.  It clearly did not work out well for him.  Is it really a good idea to shut out ALL of the light?

By shutting out all of the light are we literally, figuratively, or symbolically, shutting out God?  Is there an affordable architectural compromise that would allow professional control of lighting for Christmas and Easter productions, but allow God’s wonderful physical and spiritual light to shine, at least while the pastor is preaching?

The type, size, and number of windows are largely a matter of personal and congregational preference.  But can zero windows become problematic? The abundance of windows in many older churches suggests a clear intent to let in as much light as possible. What has changed?  What do you think?”

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  http://www.avoicereclaimed

Cathedrals

The

The “rose” window of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, Author Krysztof Mizera (changed by Chagler and MathKnight), Source File Rozeta Paryz notre-dame chalger.jpg (CC BY-SA 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic)

Using little more than a set of compasses, a T-square, and a rope marked off at regular intervals, medieval masons crafted masterpieces in stone – places of worship filled with light.

The construction of Gothic cathedrals began with the laying of a cornerstone.  Completion of these soaring structures could, however, take hundreds of years.

At a time when higher mathematics was largely unknown in Europe, masons (responsible for actually laying the stone) combined the modern roles of architect, engineer, builder, designer, and craftsman.  With little or no formal education, stonecutters shared tips with one another, learning through trial and error.  Maker’s marks can still be seen on the stone in some locations.

Many Gothic cathedrals stand to this day, attesting both to the faith and skill of their builders.  But the real monuments were – as they are today – the lives of the men and women who worshiped in them.  God wants our stony and battered hearts.  He has set His mark upon them for all to see.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps. 118: 22).

Lord Jesus, You are the Stone the builders rejected, and our Cornerstone.  You are the Rock upon which we build our lives.  Help us to make You central to all our endeavors, that they may rest on a firm foundation.

We place our faith in You.

Amen

Originally posted 5/1/13

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  http://www.avoicereclaimed

Almond Tree

Detail of gold menorah, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem, Photo zeevveez (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Detail of gold menorah, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem, Photo zeevveez (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

“I said to the almond tree, ‘Sister speak to me of God.’  And the almond tree blossomed.”

— Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco

The almond tree, a relative of the peach, is native to the Levant, but has been cultivated as far north as Iceland.  It was among the first trees domesticated, thought to have sprouted initially on pre-historic garbage heaps.

Domesticated almonds were in use by the Bronze Age (3300-2000 BC).  They were found amid other treasures in the pharaoh, Tutankhamen’s tomb.

Almond blossoms have been said to symbolize hope, perseverance, and justice, among other things.  For the Israelites, they signified watchfulness, specifically God’s vigilance on their behalf.  The Hebrew word “almond” and the phrase, “I am ready” (or “I am watching”) sound similar.  The almond, also, flowers in early Spring.

It was for these reasons that God instructed the Israelites to make a golden lampstand shaped like an almond tree, for the sanctuary (Ex. 25:31-40).  Three branches were to extend from each side, decorated with flowers in the form of almond blossoms and buds.  The Jewish menorah (a candelabra with seven  branches) was the result.

The staff Moses’ brother, Aaron, carried was made of almond wood, as well.  The same staff bloomed and brought forth almonds overnight, in validation of Aaron’s claim to the priesthood (Num. 17).

The Book of Revelation describes Christ as surrounded by seven golden lampstands, thus, portraying His central relationship to the seven churches (Rev. 1: 12-13, 20).  He is, in effect, the stem of a greater lampstand (a reference, also, to the vine and branches symbolism at John 15: 1-7). Read more…

From A Stone

“Moses Striking the Rock in the Desert”, wall painting in an early Christian catacomb, Author Leinad-Z (PD)

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water…’ ” (Num. 20: 7-8).

“You can’t get blood from a stone.”  It is an idiomatic phrase we have heard countless times.  There is more than a hint of anger conveyed by the expression.  The source, in other words, is unyielding or has been bled dry.

“You can’t get blood from a stone.”  Why would anyone try to get blood from a stone?  How could that even to be done?  Surely, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Short of water for thousands of thirsty people he had led into the desert, Moses must have thought the same.  “Why did you make us leave Egypt?” they whined.  “Why did you bring us to this evil place to die?” they complained to him.

Weary, angry, doubtful, Moses struck the rock twice and water gushed out.  Yet for this disobedience, for this failure of faith, he was barred from the Promised Land after decades of faithful service.  Wait!  Hadn’t Moses just performed a miracle?  Why did God treat him so harshly?

God had instructed Moses to speak to the rock.  It was Moses who took it upon himself to strike the rock.  Wasn’t that a distinction without a difference? Read more…

BOOK REVIEW – The Mind of Christ

With The Mind of Christ David Murry has given us a passionate declaration of Christ’s love for us, a powerful indictment of the American church, and a moving statement of his own experiences with God.

Written in a conversational style, The Mind of Christ examines these interrelated topics from a biblical perspective.

Murry begins by exploring the relationship believers have with God.  The author distinguishes between believers’ positional righteousness (earned for us at the cross), and our relational righteousness (the result of sanctification, and the depth of our communion with God).

Positional Righteousness

“We died to our sin nature.  We are new creatures in Him, with His mind, His righteousness, and the greatest gift of all, His raging river of love…”

-David Murry, The Mind of Christ

By the cross, we were given the mind of Christ and a new identity, as Murry puts it.  Our self-worth was established here.  It is separate from our function within the Body of Christ.

Relational Righteousness

“Relational righteousness, or said another way, a life lived seeking to walk in holiness is meant to be the natural response to the revelation of His love toward us.  We can only do this if we first understand our position in Christ.”

-David Murry, The Mind of Christ

As Murry explains, our self-worth is not dependent on the depth of our relationship with God.  We choose how far to allow God into our hearts and our lives.

God’s Unconditional Love

Throughout the book, David Murry emphasizes God’s boundless and unconditional love for us.

The author explains that if we do not turn to God and Kingdom truth, in any area of our lives, then we believe a lie about ourselves.  Murry goes so far as to say that:

“If in any way, an action of ours or an action of others, affects the way we view ourselves, it is an idol [1].”

-David Murry, The Mind of Christ

Murry, in this connection, explores fear of rejection and fear of failure, along with pride and mysticism.  He, also, discusses in the book manhood, as defined by the Bible, and the purpose of trials.

Impact of Sin

The author explains that God’s love never waivers.  Our sin does, however, grieve God’s heart, interfering with our relational righteousness.

Only “…when we begin to accept how much He loves us…[do] we begin to feel…His heart,” the author points out.  Ultimately, it is God’s love that transforms us, setting the captives free.

The Body of Christ

David Murry then turns his attention to the American church – criticizing its worldly attitude toward worship, temporal goals and concerns, materialism, compromise with sin, and failure to care adequately for the persecuted church abroad.  He pleads, in particular, for the needy. Read more…

Model Prayer

Pater Noster Chapel, Jerusalem, with multiple translations of

Pater Noster Chapel, Jerusalem, with multiple translations of the Lord’s Prayer on chapel walls, Author Magrietha Knight (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

My prayer life is no model for anyone.  Prayer can bring me to tears.  But I sometimes abandon it altogether, overwhelmed by the emotion it can evoke.  Other times, I avoid prayer out of a feeling of abject unworthiness.

Snippets

During the day, I pray most often in short snippets:  “Jesus, bless those boys over there with the basketball.  Keep them from harm.”  “Would You help me find my glasses, Lord?  I’ve managed to lose them again.”  “Draw their hearts back to You, Lord.  I beg You.”  “Father, forgive my impatience, my anger.  Will I never learn?”  “Oh, my God!?  Please, protect the Syrian refugees, and civilians being bombed.  Please, please, watch over our troops.”  “Tell me what to do, Lord!”

I do not know what the Lord makes of these pleas.  However, if I delay in addressing Him, I fall immediately prey to perfectionism.  That only serves as an obstacle, interfering with prayer.

Confession

Growing up in the Catholic faith, I could confess my deficiencies to a priest, and be absolved of them.  God, of course, knew them already.

But an examination of conscience is as necessary as weeding.  It roots out the thoughts and behaviors competing with God for our time and attention, the thoughts and behaviors gradually drawing us away from God.

Brokenness

I pray when the world has taken its toll, and I am broken.  I pray when old, familiar demons plague me – anxiety, depression, migraines to name a few.

Night Watches

Most of my profound communication with God takes place during the stillness of the night watches.  It helps that I have insomnia (LOL).

I pray for friends and loved ones, and for those who write to me.  World events frequently move me to pray about people or issues.  And inspiration, for which I have no way to account, at times flows through my pen (these days, my computer).  Read more…