Monday, July 28, 2014

David - A Father Missing in Action

Recently, in the church I and my wife attend and are members of, our pastors have been speaking on a series: “Troublesome Bible Stories.” One of the recent stories covered was the story of the rape of Tamar, King David of Israel’s, daughter, by her half-brother, Amnon. This Scriptural account is found in the Old Testament, in the book of Second Samuel, chapter 13. Because of my work with survivors of sexual violence, I was asked by our pastor to share a male therapist’s perspective on this tragic happening. Following is what I shared with our congregation.

Amidst the tragedy of this story of sexual violence, I believe there’s a missing piece, and that is David, a father missing in action. David, who was chosen by God as a young shepherd boy, anointed by Samuel to be the king of Israel, and who was known as a man after God’s heart, is really nowhere to be found in this Scripture account. What happened? Why was he so noticeably absent? As we think about David, I would like to use him to help us focus on what I would propose are several duties of Christian fathers.

First of all, I believe fathers are called by God to help create, in the home, a positive view of male/female relationships. One of the most powerful teaching methods in families is a positive role model. David failed in this role. First of all, he had multiple wives, which, while seemingly allowed in the Old Testament, was not God’s plan. We also know of David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba in the chapters preceding this account, where David also used murder to cover up the fact that Bathsheba became pregnant as a result of David’s uncontrolled sexual desire. While David repented of his sin and was forgiven by God, his moral failure was there for his adult children, especially his sons, to see. Perhaps this is why David took little action after Amnon raped Tamar. Scripture says “he was furious” with Amnon, but took no disciplinary action against him. Was it because his own failure stood in the way?

I believe one of our duties, as fathers, is to create in our homes an atmosphere of healthy respect for women. This involves exemplifying a positive view of women, the gifts and potential they bring to our lives and portraying them as equal partners with us. This also means protecting the femininity of our wives and daughters by not making demeaning statements about women, or participating in any type of sexual innuendo or sexually suggestive stories or jokes around women, or anyone else, for that matter.

Our homes ought to be a place where sons and daughters feel loved and nurtured equally while recognizing their individual potential given them by God. Therapist Beth Erickson writes: “A father’s emotionally engaging with his daughter helps share her confident vision of happiness as an adult as well as her goals regarding work and love. [Emotionally open, nurturing] Fathers are safe men with whom daughters can practice being women.” What would Tamar’s life have been like had David taken more of a nurturing and protective role in their home?

Secondly, I believe fathers are called by God to exemplify, and articulate, God’s principles of sexual purity in male/female relationships. As I said just a bit ago, David had compromised his ability to do this by his inability to control his sexual desire which led to his adultery with Bathsheba. Does this mean if we have not fully kept God’s principles regarding our sexuality that we cannot teach our children? No, I don’t think so. We fail in other areas of our lives and God forgives our sins. Our duty, as fathers and mothers, is to teach and model God’s way in every facet of life, and this includes our sexuality.

Third, I believe fathers (and mothers) are responsible to teach sexual boundaries within the home. As a therapist, I have heard firsthand the pain that results when sexual boundaries between siblings are violated. It is the duty of parents to teach our children to respect each other’s bodies, to respect boundaries of personal privacy, and teach about appropriate touch and language in the home. This violent and emotionally and physically painful violation of Tamar’s personhood could have been avoided, had David been more vigilant to teach and exemplify sexual boundaries within his family, especially among his sons.

Finally, I believe God calls us as fathers to be decisive and proactive when there are potential or real crises in relationships in our homes, whether it be between siblings, between a parent and child, or between parents. David seemed frozen into indecisiveness; he became very upset, but took no action that we know of to minister to Tamar’s emotional or physical needs, or to discipline Amnon, which possibly led to Absalom’s murder of his brother Amnon two years later.

It is our duty, as fathers, to know what is happening in our homes. Are there conflicts between siblings? Is there potential for inappropriate behavior, or worse? Am I as a husband recognizing and addressing relationship issues between my wife and me? Am I willing to look outside the home for help if needed?

May God give us, as fathers and mothers, the courage, wisdom, and grace we need to be godly and compassionate parents in this generation.

Submitted by Tom Horst, MA
Marriage and Family Therapist

Monday, July 21, 2014

Words Can Make Your Day

A few weeks ago, my husband and I received some disappointing news that we weren't expecting. Suddenly life looked complicated. On one particular day, when I was feeling especially discouraged, our son, Jay, called and asked if Steve and I could watch their children that evening while they went to a viewing. I was happy to say yes. We love being with our grandkids and it would be nice to take a break from the thoughts and problems that consumed us.

I drove the car up to their house and Steve followed about an hour later with the tractor and sprayer as he was planning to spray some of Jay's corn fields for him the next day. The evening was beautiful and the children were just eating their supper when I got there. My son and his wife soon left and as they walked out to their car, 3 year old Lydia said happily to me over her mouthful of macaroni and cheese, "I like when Mommy and Daddy go away and you come and stay with us." Awww. My heart just melted and the day suddenly got brighter. It is amazing how a few words can lift your spirits. How nice it is to feel loved.

After they finished eating, the children and I went outside and played on the swing set and did other fun stuff in the yard while we waited for Grandpa to arrive. We finally saw the tractor and sprayer coming up the road and the children ran and sat at the edge of the yard while Steve parked the tractor over by the barn. As he walked over to us here is a video of them calling his name. What a welcome for him. Again, how nice it is to feel loved! (I love the little boy echo at the end.)

It was such a fun evening spent with our grandkids. Both Steve and my spirits were lifted by the precious words of children. Since then, I have been consciously trying to say kind words to people when they least expect it. It is rewarding to see their surprised expression and then watch their face turn into a thankful smile.
Have you blessed someone with a kind word lately?

Mary Lehman

Monday, July 14, 2014



The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.
It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes,
than what others think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.
It will make or break a company... a church... a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding
the attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change our past... we cannot change the
fact that people will act in a certain way.
We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...
I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you...
we are in charge of our attitudes.

by Charles Swindoll

Submitted by: Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW, NEW HOPE counselor

Monday, July 7, 2014


What are our obsessions? We live in a world full of so much technology that we feel we must keep up with the newest and latest devices so we can stay "connected" with each other. Do I really need to be that connected with my friends and family? Shouldn't I also have that passion to be "connected" with God?

There are so many social media sites that we use to "stay connected" to each other--cell phones, Skype, ooVoo, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Sometimes I truly have to stop and wonder how I made it through life before all of these "conveniences."  I do use many of the aforementioned sites and I question if my obsession with them is healthy. My passion should be focused on staying in constant connection with God!

There are many times where I don't know what to say or how to say it and when I lift up a prayer to God I receive the words that He wants me to share. It's amazing how many times as I hear myself say things I realize that I need to be following my own advice! God has an amazing sense of humor to give us the words to help someone else that we also need to hear!

So, as nice as it is to stay "connected" with family and friends around the world our primary focus should be to stay "constantly connected" with God!

Elaine Campbell, MA, MHC