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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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Saturday, August 04, 2007
God My Teacher, The "Unlovable", Parenting Tips and Truth.
My youngest son...My eldest son has been the source of profound joy in my life. I love him profoundly. He is bright, funny, sensitive, and he genuinely loves me - even unashamedly. In parenting him God has taught me many things - and if you are a parent who is genuinely seeking the Lord, this will be no news to you, for I am certain that God is doing the same to you in many ways. Our God is the greatest teacher a willing student can have.

My son, for all his excellent qualities loses all trace of masculine toughness the moment he has the smallest dermal abrasion. A skinned knee will produce a hair raising and overly hysterical shrieking fit - such that any person with ears within a 100 yards would think that someone had just severed an arm, or perhaps punctured an internal organ.

The first time this happened, after the original scare (a child shrieking in hysterical pain is a little unsettling for the parent) I was a little amused, and a little put out at the same time. "Son" I said, "this little scrape is hardly worth noticing, let alone carrying on the way you have." I suggested that he toughen up, and save the freaking out for -real- injuries. But the same scenario has now played itself out several time, and each it seems for smaller, and less significant injuries.

Clearly my boy - this great little hope of ours - is a complete sissy. Or at least that is what I would be calling him if I were still his age and on a school playground. I suppose you think that is harsh? Well, it -is- harsh, but I make no apologies when I am portraying what I would do as a school kid. I started school as a rather slight four year old, and being about a year behind the rest of the children in age, I was the easy target of many bullies myself. Being a clever kid however I learned to use a caustic wit to my advantage; I avoided being bullied, for the most part, by being funny at the expense of others. That is I was especially capable when it came to poking fun at the expense of other people. I would find a person who was a little different than everyone else, and make him or her the butt of my cruel jokes - and in this way exhort everyone to hate someone else and not me.

Yeah. I was pure evil even as a kid.

So seeing this trait in my son stirred something ugly in me, but it was only when I was open in prayer before the Lord about it that I was able to see what it was. The reason I was so repulsed by this behavior in my son was because I was worried that others would seize upon it and make fun of him.

Now, that might seem noble if I left it at that - and to be sure, I suppose had I not been in prayer I may well have, but God wanted to show me a thing about who I am. So he asked me why it was that I was so worried. No, not in some audible voice, and no not in some mystical sense - but rather that in prayer I was willing to ask myself these questions, and allow God to show me something of who I am, and when that happens and some spiritual truth is revealed to me, I don't for a second imagine that I am the one who generated it, but that my sovereign God was putting the road beneath my feet as I walked on - a road that led to exactly where I found myself. So I went "deeper" as they say, and found that the reason I was worried wasn't because I didn't my son to be emotionally put out by people thinking he is a sissy - it was because -I- didn't want people to judge me and my parenting on account of this trait in my son.

Don't marvel that I am sinner. Marvel that God is able to show me my sin, for at the root of this, just as it always is - is the "old man" - that body of sin that is characterized best by saying "the thing that I really love the most".

You see, as Christians we are supposed to love God the most, and while we have a good supply of affection towards God, the carnal Christian still loves self more than anything else - that is why we continue in sinful habits, that is why we never get close to God - because the love with which we are loving one another (even our children and our spouses) is at the base of it carnal and self serving. I "love" me, and that love for myself finds expression in other people. Whatever love I have for my family or my church family, or anyone - that love always serves me first, and them second, and if extending my affection to a person isn't going to serve me - I say that person is "hard to love".

We do that. Old Mr. So-and-so, he is hard to love. Yeah, it would take a real special person to love him. He is just so hard to love.

Nonsense. No one is hard to love, the truth is that some of the people we know seem like a bad "love investment" to us - that is, we see no benefit to loving that person, and so we call them "hard to love" - which distilled means that loving them serves no useful purpose to us, such that it would be quite an act of selflessness to bother.

Oh, Don't get me wrong, we may grit our teeth and go through the wooden motions of obedient "I-have-been-told-that-love-is-an-action-not-an-emotion" love; complete with the echoes of poorly exegeted and entirely arbitrary distinctions between agape and phileo love ringing in our ears - and even though we secretly despise doing so, and even though we are convinced in our soul that we are the greatest deceivers and play actors who are merely pretending to be what we present our self to be - we may well go and suffer through a conversation or even a meal with the "unlovable" and do so in the meritorious hope that God is glorified by our charlatanry, as though against our true colors in secret hatred, was the Christian loves the unlovable. I don't doubt that there are some in our ranks who love the unlovable in this way so often that they have become numb to their own dissatisfaction and blind to their own hypocrisy, if ever they saw it. Surely it is taught by many as the very height of Christian love.

But I say, this kind of love is foolish, and following after it more tomfoolery.

You see, we are not supposed to take that same self serving "love" with which we have learned all our lives to "love" other people with - the love that is really a love for self bouncing off of willing people and back at us for our own glory - and learn to ply it upon people who (by our own account) are not likely to reflect it back at us in any profitable way - no. That is not Christian love, it is the very epitome of a bad investment, and that is why we recoil at it.

Instead, God's solution is that the "love" by which you love others right now - the one that makes distinctions between good and bad investments? That one has to be taken to the cross and die there. There is nothing spiritual in it. It may be all we know, but it must die. Don't try applying this kind of "self-o-centric love" to the unlovable; good gravy no! Drag it out into the light of God's truth, and look at it. Look at it! Why don't you love the unlovable? Because you get nothing out of it. Don't be aloof here, dig into this. If the love that you love others with cannot effortlessly love everyone equally, let me tell you - it ain't love, it is self-love. It is that thing that you do to make people like you. It is the thing you are willing to put out there because it gives you what you desire - friendship, camaraderie, humor, joy, pleasure - whatever: but it ain't love.

You aren't born loving - you are born selfish, and the love that you need for others doesn't come with practice, it comes through the cross, and only through the cross. It doesn't come with trying, it doesn't come with crying, it doesn't come by prying - listen: it doesn't come to you except through dying.

Now when I say dying, I mean coming to Christ daily - let me make it more practical - coming to Christ in every waking moment - leaving nothing of our lives outside his dominion, but leaning obediently, moment by prayerful moment, on the risen Lord. Look, you -must- cut sin out of your life for good.

Do you have only one sinful habit that you can't seem to break? Let me tell you, if you have one, you likely have hundreds. If you have even one you are a slave of sin - and your "fellowship" with God is likely characterized by horrible tension, frustration, guilt, and an unyielding sense of hypocrisy - that isn't fellowship brother, that is a heart that is writhing under the burden of condemnation. You -can- stop sinning, you just don't want to.

That's my ten cent counseling by the way. For 25 cents, I will throw in a shoe shine.

Seriously, the reason you are so far away from God is not because you haven't read enough books on how to get close, or enough blog posts about how to be spiritual, it isn't because you haven't heard enough sermons, it is because you are willing to do everything else in the world but the one thing you NEED to do right now, and that is to submit yourself utterly to God. The reason you don't do that is that you do not want God to rule over you.

Oh, I hear you complaining - "But I doooo want God to reign over me, that is why I am in such a horrible place of tension and despair - because I want it with all my heart, but I can't make myself surrender no matter how hard I try!!"

I say, I hear you complaining, because I know that voice, I wept myself hoarse with that voice for years. How long are you going to drag your cross around Christian? Take it to Calvary and die - that's what the cross is there for. There comes a day when you must stop your whining, and start the dying. Is it going to be today?

Hear me, if you are still reading - my youngest daughter is four years old. She is number three of the four we presently have. My eldest son took to obedience like a duck to water - he has seldom needed correction, and is such a kind and thoughtful helper, that I love to be around him. My eldest daughter is a sensitive soul, full of grace and love - she was strong willed for a time, but when that was over come she became the sweetest of angels - she is my little prayer princess - she prays for me all the time, and I am so touched by her tender love for me, and her soft concern for others. I pity the man that ever harms her, for he will be touching the very softest chords of my heart. But our third child, my youngest daughter - she did -not- take to discipline like the others. I could discipline her every half hour for months on end for a single thing, and her will would in no way break - she is like a stone to me.

I prayed for her so many times, "Lord, please, please, please, change her - please break that stone will of hers, please give us strength to deal with her, help us not to despise her, give us more love for her, etc. etc." All my prayers were that God would make me stronger so that I could break her. But that isn't what God did. Instead she got stronger willed.

But here is where our Lord, our Teacher blessed us. My eldest took to discipline because he was an only child and he had our attention completely. The investment we made in his life can be measured in hours we spent giving him personal one-on-one attention. That investment paid off in that when he was old enough to be disciplined, our opinion meant something to him. My eldest daughter didn't get as much one-on-one. She was rebellious for a time because our investment in her was not as encompassing as our investment in our older child. Yet eventually she came around, and took to discipline because she too had come to know us, to know that we were worthy of the respect that she gave us - she trusted us and discipline became fruitful. But number three?

Listen: we weren't parenting out of some manual that tells you all the mistakes you are making. We made them all in the blind. I can tell you today exactly why number three went "awry", and it has everything to do with my shortsighted leadership, and our poor parenting - the two who were already obedient children - their very obedience became the reason we would desire to spend time with them, number three's constant stubborn rebellion? Hey, I don't have the patience to correct you twenty times in a row, get to your room. Get to your room. Stop that. Stop. Go over there. Stop. I don't want to be around you when you are like this.... Do you see the pattern?

She didn't take to discipline because she didn't receive enough of us to "know" us - she couldn't accept our authority because although we were looking after feeding her, clothing her, and giving her plenty of room to participate in our family as "just another number" - she didn't receive the investment that the others had - and it is this one on one time that opens the door to her accepting us as authorities in her life. Do you understand this? Do you see it? She didn't accept our authority, she couldn't love our laws because she didn't know us enough to do so... Do you see where I am going yet? Praise the Lord that he has opened our eyes to this now before it is too late...

Look, you dear reader, are not going to love and obey a God that you don't really know. Try all you want, your record of consistent failure will eventually convince you that something is wrong. Let me tell you again, the problem is that you don't know God personally - you just know about him - you have knowledge of good and evil, but you do not know life, you are eating from the wrong tree my friend.

This is what you must do. Today, settle it with God that you are going to begin to obey Him. Do it. If you can't then you aren't very serious yet, and maybe you should print this off and come back to it in a couple of years after you have made yourself sick of failure enough. But if you are ready - talk to God and begin to obey. Why? Because you must obey God to get to know God - and once you get to know God you will want to obey him. You don't really want to right now - don't pretend otherwise - but hear me - you *will* want to. God is the pearl of great price, you just haven't got eyes to see that yet. You've eaten the fruit of knowledge - your mind may know this is true - but now you need to eat from the tree of life - you need to put into practice what you know or even what is only your greatest hopeful suspicion - you need to start obeying so that you can start knowing - and once you start to know God you will begin to desire what God desires.

But you will never know God by living in disobedience, by living in half-way Christianity, by practicing a religious form, or even by (gasp) having the most theologically correct doctrine on the planet - listen, don't chase the clouds when your feet are still on the ground - learn to fly first. Your wings are obedience. Finney was a heretic, but I tell you what - I bet he was more Christian than you are, not because his doctrine was better than yours, but because he actually surrendered himself to God. Don't imagine that surrendered living is going to make your doctrine perfect - or you perfect for that matter, but it will make you love God, and it will open the door to obedience that comes from the heart and not the head.

Can I pray for you reader? I am talking to God, as I type this, Lord let these who are meant to grow by this grow. Let them love you let them know you. Help my words to be understood in their spirit. Give them grace to grab the plow. Amen.

Reader, Christian - the reason we obey is not to pacify a task-master God. It is because the way of holiness leads to fellowship in the Spirit. Don't suffer anything less no matter how shiny the label.

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Daniel @ 5:26 PM  
11 Comments:
  • At 4:28 PM, August 05, 2007, Blogger Gayla said…

    Thank you, Daniel. That was masterful.

     
  • At 8:55 AM, August 06, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    Not to the point of the post, but I must say...

    Your son resembles you - in more ways than one, I am sure.

    If I remember correctly, your wife was not keen on your publishing photos of her and the children. Has that changed?

     
  • At 12:53 PM, August 06, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,
    Lest you miss this this, check out Gayla's latest post titled "Transformation" at
    http://heart-journey.blogspot.com/

    It reminds me a lot of what you write.

     
  • At 2:48 PM, August 06, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan - I think my wife's exact (and slightly accusatory) words were - "Are you posting pics of -my- baby on the internet?!?" But she let me just this once. ;-)

    I will check out Gayla's post toute suite.

     
  • At 5:21 AM, August 07, 2007, Blogger Garry Weaver said…

    You said:"There comes a day when you must stop your whining, and start the dying. Is it going to be today?"

    Today it shall be for me.Thank you for this post.

     
  • At 10:34 AM, August 07, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    I preached on the Lord's table this Sunday, and a lot of this came into that. I will post a link to the audio when and if it becomes available.

    Garry - Every day I must make today that day, no matter my success or failure, it must be that I take the cross today. Grace is there, joy is there, all my hope is there, for there and only there is my Lord.

     
  • At 10:58 AM, August 07, 2007, Blogger Marcian said…

    This is how I know, at the moment at least, that the last week of wrestling spiritually wasn't in vain. When the dust settled this morning, and the battle for my faith subsided, I get to read this post, and the one left at Gayla's blog. And this is precisely what caused my tears... "Lord, I don't love You like I should; Lord, I don't KNOW You like I should." Indeed my actions of late have been the result of walking in the flesh, they were controlled by the sinful man TRYING to do the right thing, but all of my endeavours have rusted in the meantime. Nothing's changed.

    The doctrine, the knowledge, what do they matter if I don't love my Lord? I've been pulling back in fear and doubt far too often lately. Your prayers are appreciated.

     
  • At 12:43 PM, August 07, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Marcian - this is the Christian struggle - praise the Lord when we find the road beneath our feet - all the walking in the world isn't worth spit if we are walking on the wrong road. I have been to the throne for you today, and as often as I can remember I will continue to pray for you in this.

    Dan
    <><

     
  • At 9:25 PM, August 08, 2007, Blogger 4given said…

    What a profound and "to God be all the glory" gift you have been given to write.

     
  • At 9:31 PM, August 08, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    "To god be the Glory" - amen, and amen.

     
  • At 6:47 AM, August 09, 2007, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Daniel,
    That was really great. It looked so long I was not going to read it - but I began, and before I knew it, I was finished. You have given me a lot to think about - both in regards to parenting and being God's child. So true what you have said.

    God bless you, brother.

     
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