Category Archives: Family

Mother of Samson

Recently, I read through the book of Judges, which a very interesting book of the Bible, depicting when everyone does what is right in their own eyes.  One of the common criticisms of the Bible is its depiction of women.  According to some views, the Bible depicts women in two extremes, Jezebel or the Virgin Mary.  There is not room for the “real woman.” Jezebel and Mary were both real, and there are many other depictions of real women facing life’s challenges as well.

I found one such depiction in the story of Samson.    The story of Samson begins in Judges 13.  Samson’s mother was not named.  She was Manoah’s wife.  They lived in a time when the people of Israel had sinned again and God had handed them over to be ruled by the Philistines.  They had no children.  Scripture says that she was barren.  An angel appears to her, not to her husband, and tells her that she will have a child who will be a Nazirite.

And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
(Judges 13:3-5 ESV)

She tells her husband, Manoah, who asked the “man of the Lord” come back and explain what they are to do again.  Apparently, he has to hear it for himself.  The angel does so, but once again, he appeared to the wife, not the husband.  She went to get him and when he returned, he asked the angel once again, what they are to do?  The angel basically tells Manoah the same thing he said before, but twice, he emphasizes ‘let her.’  The bearing of the child is the wife’s mission, not Manoah’s, and he is to support her in it.  The rest of the story is interesting, and it is where the wife stands our strongly as a woman of faith, and a faith based logically on whom God has revealed Himself to be.

Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the LORD, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.

The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the LORD blessed him.
(Judges 13:15-24 ESV)

Notice Manoah’s reaction compared to her reaction.  He was the one who overreacted.  She was the one who spoke with the calm assurance of faith.  It was because her faith was strong that God could use her for the task.  Being Samson’s mother would be no small task.

Sometimes being the husband means being man enough to admit at any given moment that my faith or understanding of God’s will is weak, and that I need to listen to my wife.  It also means that I should be supportive of her as she seeks to fulfill God’s purposes for her life, just as she is supportive of me in my endeavors.  I don’t see this view as opposed to complementarianism, which I think is the most Biblical understanding of the roles of men and women in the Bible.  I see it as a realistic application of what the Bible demonstrates about those roles in different situations.


A Vocabulary Question from My Six-year-old

This morning, my daughter was listening to her favorite children’s radio programs when she heard the word, “forced.”

“What does forced mean?” she asked.

“It is when someone makes another person do something,” I replied.

A look of surprise came over her face as she said, “Without saying please!”

Panic on the Journey

Our family is in the midst of packing and getting ready to move back overseas.  We have done this several times, and my wife has become an expert at packing.  If I fold a sheet, it takes up a large box.  If she folds a sheet, it fits inside my wallet.  Needless to say, I stay out-of-the-way until something heavy has to be moved or until it is down to those things that don’t fit.  Then, I try to find the space.  But up until those points, I usually just get in the way.

What I do is trying to take care of the other things such as calling airlines about baggage allowances  and the business details of making a move.  I should have an easy life during this time.  It shouldn’t be so difficult, but there is something about my character that makes this stressful.  I am a worrier.  If I don’t have something to worry about, I panic, because I must have forgotten something.  And if something happens to cause me to think that plans won’t work out, I almost go into a panic.  No one around me may realize it, but inside I foresee scenarios which have end results similar to a massive meteor striking the earth.

That is what happened to me this past week.  An e-mail came that made me wonder if the plan for travel was going to work out.  I panicked.  I worried.  I stayed up late at night so I could worry longer.  Within a couple of days, another e-mail came that indicated that I had misunderstood the other one.  All was well.  I had no reason to worry years off my life.

In the book of Exodus, the Israelites had just crossed the Red Sea and had seen God deliver them from Egyptian slavery.  Things seemed to be going well until they got to Marah.  There, they found water that they could not drink.  They complained and griped.  They began to have nostalgia about the good old days of Egyptian slavery.  God showed Moses a tree which Moses threw into the water to make it drinkable.  They all drank water and moved on to a wonderful place called Elim where they found 12 springs of water and 70 date palms. (This story is found in Exodus 15.)

They were on the path that God put them on, faced a set back and panicked.  That patterns sound familiar to me.  It sounds like me.  We often read these passages and think, “Silly Israelites.  They never learn.  If they had just waited on God, they would have water.”  But, they did not know that.  They had to learn to trust.  They had to learn to see set backs as a time to wait on God and not a time to panic.

And I have to learn that lesson also.



Adventures in Idiocy

My wife was about to give birth to our third child, and due to a difficult pregnancy, she was on bed rest.  That left me to take care of our two sons and to handle domestic duties on my own.

We received a package in the mail from my mother.  In it was a pair of pacifiers for the coming arrival.  I don’t know why, and perhaps I was correct, but I thought those pacifiers needed to be sterilized and that they best way to do so was to boil them in water.  I learned an important truth that day.  I never really multitask: I only deal with multiple distractions.  I don’t remember what I went to do, but whatever it was, after a while, our oldest son said to me, “I smell something.”

We followed our noses to the kitchen and to a lone pot setting on the stove, bereft of water but with two plastic pacifiers melted to the bottom.  It was “palm meet forehead” moment as I said quite loudly, “I’m an idiot.”

My son asked, “Why?”

Frustrated I said, “Because I melt pacifiers.”

Weeks, perhaps months, later, my son was talking with my wife about his imaginary friend, Weasel. He said, “Weasel’s an idiot.”

“Why do you say that?” asked his mother.

“Oh, wait,” replied my son. “He can’t be an idiot. He’s never melted pacifiers.”

In my son’s mind, he had a definition of the word “idiot” and my picture was beside it.

That was about fourteen years ago.  Since then, we have added an another child who is now six years old.  We have four children in all.  Yesterday, I was in my usual Sunday morning routine of getting up early, starting the coffee and sitting down to read the Bible and pray in preparation for a day of worship.  So, I carefully measured out the water and ground the coffee beans, put them in the filter and started the pot.  As I was reading, I heard the plaintive call of my little girl.  On the way to her room, I passed through the kitchen.  Had there been blood spread across the floor, I am not sure it would have matched my horror.  I had started the coffee maker without putting  the coffee pot back in place.  Hot coffee was spreading across the counter and falling like Niagara to the floor.  I turned off the pot quickly hopping as I felt the hot liquid absorbed by my socked feet.  Hearing once again the call of my daughter, I figured that she wanted water, grabbed a cup, put water in it and hurried to her room.

Handing her the cup, I said, “Please drink it quickly.  I have a problem in the kitchen.”

The look on her face reminded me of my son’s look as I stood over a smelly pot of melted pacifiers so many years ago.  Later in the morning, my daughter asked, “What was your problem?”

I told her about the coffee pot and the mess.  Quite possibly, the definition of a problem in her mind has my picture beside it.  At least, I am not her definition of an idiot. Well, not yet.

Metaphors in Marriage

Typically, I try to give my wife a day off each week.  I think a stay-at-home mom is one of the hardest working people in the world, especially when that combines with home school for children.  So, one day a week so that she can do some of the things that she enjoys and that refresh her.  On that day, I become the home school teacher, an activity that has raised my respect for all teachers, be they home-school teachers or more traditional school teachers.

One thing that I have to do is go over the literature assignments with my oldest daughter.  During that time, we try to recognize how an author used metaphors and similes.  Metaphors and similes communicate a great deal about how one feels about something.   Men and women often use metaphors for their spouses and not very flattering ones.

For example, when a man calls his wife “the old ball and chain” he is expressing not only his opinion of his wife but his opinion of marriage.  He sees his wife and marriage in general as something that holds him down and takes away his freedom.  When a wife sees her husband as a “beached whale” or “couch potato”, it not only expressed her opinion of  his physical condition but also of his work ethic.  She sees him as something in the way that she has to work around.

Our metaphors for our spouses say a lot about us and how we view what God gives us.  In the Genesis account of creation, God said, “It is not good that man be alone.”  That is not to say that being single in inherently bad and undesirable.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7 that there are circumstances when being single is best.  However, God saw Adam and saw that he needed a companion.  So He said, “I will make a helper as his complement.” (Genesis 2:18, HCSB)

The best metaphor for spouse that we can use if think with the Bible in mind is “gift.”  My wife is God’s gift to me for my good.  As we relate together I learn my own short-comings and I seek to grow in the image of Christ.  She helps me and completes (complement) me.  If I use less flatteringly metaphors I show scorn at what God has given and at what God has said is good for me.

Therefore, before we say something scornful about our spouse or to think of them as less than a gift from God, we should think twice, and then thank God for the grace that He shows us in giving us our spouse.

Advent, Children and Anderson Cooper 360

I couldn’t sleep last night, which is always an invitation for random thoughts, and they came in a hurry last night.  This is sort of how they went, complete with the chaos and then the sense.

It’s Advent, the time that we remember the arrival of a child and look forward to His returning as our King.

I watched news one night last week.  I watched Anderson Cooper.  It seemed that every story was about a child.

My six-year-old suddenly likes digging holes in the yard.  I will have to fill them in one day.  She’s made one of them big.  It’s kind of a nuisance.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Every piece of news on Anderson Cooper that night was about children.  It was depressing.  I wish that I hadn’t watched.

I could dig bigger holes than my six-year-old when I was a kid.  I could make them muddier, too.  Of course, I had Georgia red clay to work with.  She just has Florida sand with a little brown dirt mixed in.  I guess my holes were a nuisance, too.

God became flesh and slept in a feeding trough.  I remember a song that spoke about there being a shadow of a cross over Baby Jesus.  I know it wasn’t in the Bible.  Still, figuratively, it was there.  It was why He came.

Unbelievable.  Someone killed a child and put her in a trash compactor.  This is depressing.

I’m glad that I played outside with my daughter today even if she did dig that one hole deeper and start another one.  I forgot about that one closer to the tree.  It’s a nuisance, but it is innocent.  I can fill them in.

Jesus said to let the little children come to Him.  The kingdom of heaven belongs to people such as them.

There are more accusations against that football coach and that basketball coach, too. They were children who trusted them.  They were innocent.

I have to guard my child’s innocence.  I’m glad that I was with her today.

He’s coming back as King, to set it all straight.  There is so much wrong when children are robbed or denied childhood innocence.

It was ridiculous.  Toddlers and Tiaras.  A child screamed while having her eyebrows plucked.  A mother tells her daughter to be fierce because that’s what she learned about stage presence from watching drag shows with her husband.  What?  Someone actually dressed their child, a four-year old, like a prostitute and paraded her across a stage.  This is on The Learning Channel.  What happened to shows about hanging sheet rock?  These people need help.  People who watch that need help.  What about a child’s innocence?  What’s wrong with being just a child?  It was ridiculous, but in light of the rest of the news, it didn’t seem funny.

Digging holes and getting dirty is what childhood should be.  What’s wrong with this world?  He’s coming to set it all straight.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.'”

In the meantime, take care of the children.

Our Motivation for Being Biblical Families

My wife and I recently attended a marriage conference where patriotism was mentioned as a reason for having a strong, Biblically based Christian family.  In reading a devotion for couples together, we found the same motivation mentioned.  The reasoning goes that by having strong Christian families we can make our nation great once again.  Personally, patriotism is a poor reason to have a family based on Biblical principles.

Would we apply the idea of patriotism as a reason to have such a family to all believers everywhere, even if they lived in a country that we think of as an “enemy”?  Biblical truth is truth for all people everywhere.  Patriotism as a motivation for Christian conduct reflects an American-centric Christianity that borders on idolatry.  Another reason that I disagree is that it that it elevates family above other areas of Christian obedience such as ministry to others and fellowship with other believers.  How many parents justify missing church with the need for family time?  This can also, at worst, be a form of idolatry and at best reflects a weak understanding of the doctrine of the church.

Finally, it represents a dethroning of Christ and His glory as the motivation of discipleship.  We are created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  In Ephesians 4:25-32, Paul wrote a husband’s love for his wife should be the same as Christ love for the church.  I hope to obey the Bible in our Christian family not for the sake of my country but to testify of Jesus’ love for us.  As people see Christian families, our desire should be for them to see a reflection Christ and to be drawn to Him.  As Christian we should seek to be more than family-focused and patriotic.  We should be Kingdom focused, Christ glorifying and God centered families.  His glory is our motivation