This month I thought it would be great to hear from Robert and Cyndi Hartzell who have been part of the Shiloh Place team for 15 years. They are missionaries who carry the message of Father’s Love and Sonship around the world. For the past few years, they have been training pastors and leaders in the ministry of Father’s Love. This work started in the Philippines where they traveled back forth doing training for 2 years. Presently they are focused on the Dominican Republic and have had success working with leaders across denominational lines.
The development of our Ministering Father’s Love Training School can be credited in large part to Robert, who has helped shape the event. They also are part of the teaching team in many of our Shiloh Place Encounters.
What better subject to go along with our upcoming Power of Father’s Love School than looking at the character of the Father? Here’s Robert:
Seeing Father God’s heart of love is the only path to Christian maturity.
John 3:16-17 — For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Obedience Based on Fear
When I was still a boy my family and I went to a restaurant. My brother and I used our napkins properly and kept our elbows off the table. We were not noisy nor did we interrupt, in fact, we did not speak unless spoken to. A couple sitting nearby commented to my dad how well-mannered my brother and I were. What they did not know was that we lived with an abusive father and were obedient for fear of our lives!
My father extracted our obedience, but at what cost? I grew up hating him and rebelled in every way. He extracted obedience, but he did it based on fear and control, producing only an outward conformity.
I cannot put into words how huge I think this is! This is the church; this is the world system; this is the debate of our times! A huge amount of preaching relies on the idea of threat, punishment or judgment. This is bringing God down to man’s level or projecting onto God how man would do things. Having to resort to threat is weakness, it is fear-based and it implies insecurity. A bully would not have a need to intimidate if he was secure! I grew up with an abusive father and it was all based in fear. I cannot believe that God is in heaven wringing His hands over what in the world He is going to do with so many disobedient children!
Bill Johnson once said, “A battle is brewing, not over the Holy Spirit, healing or revival, but over the goodness of God. If I did to my children what some people accuse God of doing to His, I would be thrown in jail for child abuse!”
God is not destroying cities with earthquakes or floods. He is not causing storms and hurricanes because of sin, and He is not putting sickness on people to try and teach them something. He is a loving God. 1 John 4 says that God is love and so everything He does is with love in mind. Am I saying there are no consequences for sin, of course not, but how we look at it is vitally important. Man chooses his own way, the world is under sin, and breaking God’s laws bring reaping. If an airplane loses a wing and thus breaks God’s laws of aerodynamics it will crash, not because God poured out His wrath but because laws were broken. God’s will is that all the people on that plane would be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4.
True obedience is born out of a heart broken by love not out of scaring someone into “fire insurance.” It is love alone that can make a person feel safe enough to lower the walls down from around their heart and move into empathy. True conviction has to have the element of empathy for it is then that we see how our actions have hurt others. We move out of selfishness and can begin embracing steps of humility! Even to the point of seeing our need for a Savior.
A loving father is one who sets boundaries for his children, gives them free choice but also does not rescue them from the consequences of their actions. He never devalues, demeans or belittles, and it is certainly not his heart to pour out his wrath on his disobedient children.
God is well able to be the mature one in our relationship with Him, to take the high road, not being childish or petty. He is not threatened by ways we are still selfish and immature. He rejoices over us with joy and singing (Zephaniah 3:17) and His banner over us is love (Song 2:4).
You can learn more about Robert and Cyndi and hear more from them at roberthartzell.com.