Dad holds the key to spiritual revival

Published 5:41 pm Saturday, June 17, 2017

Larry P. STover

Stover lives in Valley Grande and is the former pastor at Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene

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The arrival of “Father’s Day” floods my mind with some of the greatest memories in my life. I am blessed with wonderful recollections of a grandfather and a father who loved and nurtured me for the first 45 years of my life.

I also realize that not every person reading this column is so blessed. More than 50 percent of American marriages are ending up in divorce.  From working with coaches at the high school and middle schools of our county, they have estimated that 75 percent of the athletes in Dallas County have no fatherly presence in their home. This is a crisis that can only be turned around with a change in the hearts and minds of the men of our area.

God gave a message to men thousands of years ago, that when obeyed made all the difference in their life and the lives of their family. It was given as the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and prepared to take the promise land.

This story, as recorded in the opening chapters of the Book of Joshua, is exciting to read. Sometimes, as we get caught up in the anticipation of the epoch, we forget about the spiritual implications.

In chapter four, Joshua has a member of each of the 12 tribes choose a large stone from the river bottom, hoist in on his shoulder, and carry it to the other side where an altar is built. It was to be a lasting memorial to the children of Israel that God brought them through the Jordan River on dry ground. Beyond this, it was to remind them of the power and faithfulness of their God.

After crossing the river, they set up camp near the city of Jericho at a place called Gilgal. This place would forever become sacred and the destination of many spiritual retreats for God’s people. It was there they set the 12 stones as an altar of remembrance.  But that was just the beginning.

The next few days were all about spiritual preparation for the conquest to come. First of all, all the males of the group were circumcised. This had not been done for 40 years. Circumcision was the sign and seal of the covenant established between God and Abraham. 

I’ve had many people ask me over the years why this physical act was the “seal” of the covenant. It is at the heart and soul of God’s desire for his creation.  In the past it was required for the men of each family to provide spiritual guidance and nurturing for his family.  Circumcision established this Godly role and was a constant reminder that they had an obligation to God and their family. 

We have lost this valuable meaning in our relationship with God today. The second spiritual act was the celebration of Passover.  While still fresh in their minds, this was a reminder that God delivered them from Egyptian bondage. It was also a time to consecrate themselves to God. 

Prior to the taking of Jericho, God also set the stage for the conquest. When the kings of the area heard that the Children of Israel had crossed the river on dry ground they became terrified. Then, prior to the military conquest the commander of the “Army of God” shows up with a flaming sword giving instructions to Joshua as to how he would get the job done.

This series of encounters with a holy God made quite the impact. There was no doubt that God was on a mission. The disobedient residents of the Promised Land were about to receive the judgment of God for their sin. God was about to perform miracle after miracle as His people obeyed Him

What a great message to men on this Father’s Day.  The same God who led the faithful men of that day is excited to lead the men of today to accomplish things beyond anything that they can imagine. 

The requirements are still the same. We must enter into a spiritual covenant with God that demands repentance, holiness, and daily obedience to His spiritual, moral, and ethical standards. God does not bless unfaithfulness or occasional religious convenience. Vibrant Christianity will require continual encounters with a holy God who wants to reveal his will and plans for our life making fatherhood “Simply Beautiful.”