April 2018, Family Life

The Love of the Father – Earthly and Divine by Robert Maxie

The Love of the Father… Earthly and divine

Robert and Aminga Maxie
Robert and Aminga Maxie spend time with their children Kianna, Robert Jr., Olivia, Elijah, and Jon’Benet

By: Robert Maxie

It was in February of 2014 that I woke up from a dream with an urgent need to call my father. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed his number, and to my surprise he picked up the phone on the first ring. I tried making small talk but it was mostly silent. My father and I have never been close. Years of physical abuse, alcoholism, and domestic violence made it very hard for me to build any type of relationship with him. Finally, he asked me what I wanted and I replied “a better relationship.” I told him I loved him and just wanted his love as well. After I finished speaking, there was an awkward silence. Finally, he said, “I think our relationship is just fine.” His cold reply hurt, but I did what I felt God wanted me to do. So I had peace.

In May I received a voicemail from my mother asking me to call home as soon as possible. She stated that Dad awoke that morning unable to see and she was taking him to the doctor. We would later find out that he had brain cancer that was very aggressive. Within a month, he was in hospice. I flew home to see him knowing that this would be my last time. My father, who was always so huge in my eyes, looked frail and worn. The brain tumor had taken his sight completely and he was quickly losing normal functioning. My mom announced my presence, saying, “Your son is here.” At that moment, my father looked up as if he could see me and said, “I have no son.” My mother quickly stated that he didn’t know what he was saying … those were my father’s last words to me.

My father passed away on July 1, and on that day I was discharged from the Navy and started preparing to move back to Louisiana. Within a week, we were home, moving into a new house and preparing for my father’s funeral. Everything happened so fast there was no time to grieve and I don’t remember even crying — until one evening when my mom called and asked me how I was doing. I said I was fine and she replied, “You do know your father loved you?” Within seconds, I was on the floor crying and screaming, “No I don’t.”

I heard those words in my head every day — “I don’t have a son.” I felt like Esau standing at the bed of Isaac, saying, “Would you just bless me!” In my mind I know my father was sick and probably didn’t know what he was saying, but for the last four years the enemy has had a field day attacking my mind with thought after thought and with lie after lie. I was sinking deeper and deeper into a depression and no one knew I was suffering.

One day I just got tired of letting the enemy torment my mind, and instead of focusing on what my earthly father did or did not do, I would instead focus on my heavenly father and his unconditional love for me. He never denies me and he calls me son. For so long I felt like an orphan and I began reading and talking about the heart of God the father and what he says about me. I allowed Jesus into those father wounds so he could heal me. I needed God to remove the fear of rejection from my heart. The pain was killing me slowly and making me become bitter.

(Galatians 4:5-7) “To redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

He called me a son! He is my perfect father. I spent years looking for a father figure only to continually end up hurt and disappointed. But God has been there the whole time waiting for me to forgive and to let go of the pain of the past. It doesn’t matter the size of the wound … I learned that a person never finds healing until we forgive.

Today I choose to remember the best about my earthly father because I know that in his own way, he did love me and he did the best he could with what he had. But my identity comes from God and every day I feel his love and acceptance. So as I raise my three boys, I tell them every day how much I love them, but more importantly, I want them to know how much God loves them. I want them to know that I am human and I will make mistakes — but God will never leave them nor forsake them. He loves them unconditionally and that will never change.

(1 John 3:1) “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

June 2016, Pastor's Perspective

A Father’s Discipline and His Unfailing Love

by Dr. Rene F. Brown
Dr. Rene Brown
Dr. Rene Brown

The other day I was having lunch with several friends, and we invited a lady to join our table as they were discussing politics, religion, and solutions to America’s problems. I found it interesting that in all of their discussion they were not able to apply biblical solutions to the discussion. I chose to remain silent throughout their dialogue because I wanted to see what many people think about issues that I learned early on should not be talked about in public, namely religion and politics.  On several occasions, they talked about what fathers and mothers are not doing and what schools need to do, what is wrong with the government, etc. With June being the month of Father’s day, I thought I would share in the words of what my former pastor, Dr. W. L. Templeton, calls “scattering remarks.”

My father has always been and still is my greatest hero. So many of the values he instilled in me are the things I cherish the most.  Although he suffers from Alzheimer’s now, I remember many of the talks we had as we worked side by side. I also remember the discipline I received from him growing up. I didn’t like discipline then, and I don’t care for it now. However, I remember on one particular occasion I had to go to the doctor. I have always been afraid of doctors, needles and shots. Whenever I had to go to the doctor I would really act up and so my mother would have my father take me.

On this particular occasion, the doctor was going to give me a tetanus shot because I had stepped on a nail. My father said, “Don’t look at the doctor, look at me.” He said this several times and with a stern sort of confidence, so I felt it was in my best interest to do what my father said. After all, I had experience with the kind of pain he could inflict if you disobeyed him.  The doctor was the one who was going to inflict pain, but if I stayed focused on the one who loved me and could ease my pain it would make the shot easier to take. When people or life causes us pain, if we could somehow stay focused on the heavenly father, the one who loves us and can ease the pain, things would be easier for us. Let us examine God’s word to help us expound upon the subject of a Father’s discipline and his unfailing love.

Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Deuteronomy 8:4 says, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. Job 5:17 says, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”

In Hebrews 12:4-11 it is written, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

God disciplines us because we have rebelled and need to repent, to keep us from sinning, and to prepare us for blessings. It is through discipline that we are able to mature in Godly character. No matter how much it hurts, discipline doesn’t harm us, but instead makes us stronger, giving us wisdom through learned experiences.

The proverbial writer further explains the importance of discipline in our lives. Proverbs 22:15 tells us, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 23:13-14, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” And lastly, Proverbs 29:15 explains, “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”

Looking back over my life, I could never put a price tag on the things that J. C. Brown Sr. taught me. Oh how I long to draw words of wisdom from him now, but that is difficult. However, I can always draw wisdom from the word of God. Often times we know the price of everything but don’t know the value of anything. It took me a long time to understand the value of the word of God in a person’s life. The first 25 years of my life were spent trying to please my earthly father.  It was not until I got into the word of God that I realized how much more valuable it was to please my heavenly father.

If God’s people would come back to him and seek his guidance many of our problems would be solved. We receive God’s guidance by first learning God’s truth, which is revealed in his word. And it is through his word that we gain the ultimate key to wisdom. Thus, I will close with the words of Proverbs 3:1-4, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”