Grace & Peace 04/20/2015

father_daughterPrinciple number 2: BE PRESENT “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor.” Romans 12:9-11. Be present for your children, not just in the home and not just showing up once in a while, but be present, really connected. This means you have to play with them. Play dress up with your daughters and wrestle with your sons, coach little league and drive them to ballet, pick them up at school and eat dinner together, Help manage their schedules so they have time for family, laugh together, cry together, take a hike in the woods, teach them to love nature and the ocean, dance in the rain, take your daughter on a date. Limit their tv time or video game time in favor of DOING SOMETHING TOGETHER,

This kind of presence requires discipline and selfless decision. It means we put the needs of our children before our own needs. It means we are not too tired to play, we do not lack in zeal. It does not mean we give them everything. We do not want to raise narcissists. Too often we give them things to cover for us when we know we are absent from their lives. I have watched many times as parents give kids an xbox to keep them busy while we do something else.

Plan significant times of presence, like a fishing or camping trip, no electronics allowed. Try a date night with your daughter and take her someplace fancy. In my life, summer vacations with Brenda and the children were always critical moments of presence for the family. We played games, caught crabs, found sharks teeth, put jigsaw puzzles together, watched movies, made comfort food, played put-put, swam in the ocean, went fishing, rented a pontoon boat and on and on. I never took work with me and if cell phones were around then I would have reserved it for an emergency.

Presence in God’s house together was not just something we did and forgot about or occasionally visited without thought. We always talked about the things we learned in church and Sunday School. We never missed, of course it was my job, but it was not Brenda’s job. My kids sat through two services and went to Sunday School every week. They often went with me to youth group Sunday nights and even on youth retreats. They were always at church. Church was our way of life and I have come to believe that is how God entered them. When the kids got a little older, we would be out living life during the week and I would here them say, “that’s going to be in the sermon.”

Grace & Peace 04/05/2015

father_childSecond, honoring our wives also means we are their protectors, their knights in shining armor.  We stand up for them when they are ridiculed or accused or forsaken.  Our children know they better not diss their mom or dad will have something to say to them.  They know that if mom says no, then dad says no.  This means of course that we cannot simply let everything slide as if it is all no big deal.  It means that if it is a big deal to our wives, it is a big deal to our children and should be a big deal to us.

For our wives to believe we are their protectors, they have to trust us, believe in us.  Trust and belief develop over time.  Consistent behavior that reveals we are trustworthy will develop trust.  If we have violated trust, there is no guarantee it can ever be reestablished but we must walk in a trustworthy manner always moving forward with truth and hope that trust will one day be given to us as a gift.  Protectors do not keep secrets; secrets destroy trust.  Children know when there are secrets because wives know when there are secrets.  Secrets cause division and children need unity.  Our wives are vessels ready to be filled with whatever we put in them.  God says this: treat them with respect and they will respect you, give them a reason to believe and they will believe in you, honor them and they will honor you.  Do these things and your children will run to you when they are grown.  They will respect you, believe in you, and honor you.  And more than this, they will learn how to honor their spouses and their children.  This is the single most important thing we can do as men to change the direction of our homes and our country.

Grace & Peace 03/28/2015

father_babyAs the spiritual head of the home, fathers are first and foremost responsible for the spiritual training of their children.  This means we teach our children how to be humble, how to talk with God, how to be accountable, how to repent, how to forgive and receive forgiveness, how to be in a healthy relationship with a wife (mom), how to discern God’s will, how to trust God when times are tough, how to resist temptation, how to worship and praise God, how to give an offering to God, how to have hope when things are beyond difficult, how to be a family.  Now that is quite a list.  And there is so much more.  The first principle to Godly fatherhood is to “be the head of the wife.”  Ephesians 5:23.  Paul goes on to explain what he means.  “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkly or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.”  Ephesians 5:25-28   Husbands need to make their wives the highest priority in their lives, responsible for helping her to become “holy and blameless.”

This first and foremost means we should honor our wives, especially in front of our children.  Our children need to see how important we think their mom is.  This single principle will train our children to learn respect and honor for other people, and this is Godly!  So how do we honor our wives?

First, we understand our wives enough to know what pleases them, what excites them, what brings tears of joy to their heart.  Then we create opportunities for them to experience this honor IN FRONT OF OUR CHILDREN.  Sometimes it is something as simple as flowers, or helping in the garden, or giving her a break at the end a an exceptionally hard day by bringing dinner home, or starting the day off right by making breakfast in bed.  Do these things and your children will soon make both of you breakfast in bed, scary but awesome.

Our efforts at honoring our wives need to be intentional and far more frequent than we think.  We need to ask her, “What do you want to do tonight?”  And sometimes, we need to solicit the help of our children to surprise mommy with something she will love, and not just on birthdays.  I run through literally thousands of times we did this in our family.  My son Matthew learned at an early age that if he hid, he could scare the pee put of his mom and then we would all laugh.  So he did this everywhere; home, store, church, everywhere!  It became a love language for the two of them.  He still does it and now it is really funny because she is in a wheelchair and cannot run away.

Grace & Peace March 14, 2015

dad_handOver the next couple of months I will be blogging about fatherhood.  We have all heard the statement, “any man can have a child, but not everyone who has a child is a father.”  There are literally hundreds of Bible verses about faithful fatherhood.  If we want our children to grow up emotionally and spiritually healthy, dads need to be VERY involved in their lives.  We live in a society filled with the reality of life without dad.  Children are 63% more likely to commit suicide, 85% more likely to have a behavioral disorder, 71% more likely to drop out of high school, 70% more likely to be imprisoned, and the statistics go on and on.  Absentee fathers are destroying our culture.  So far all that society has done is go after the presenting problem, the children.  The root of our problem remains that fathers are not training their children.  We have now come to the point where the adults never had a father and so do not know anything other than selfish ambition and unhealthy control.  If this is ever to change, our understanding of the role and nature of the father has got to transform.

Principle number 1:  LOVE YOUR WIFE    “The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.”  Ephesians 5:23  Fathers (husbands) are the spiritual head of the family.  It is our responsibility to make sure our family lives out a Godly life together.  We are the ones who train our children.  We are the ones who teach our sons how to be Godly men and our daughters how to love a Godly man.  We are the ones responsible for discipline and correction.  We are the ones who will be held accountable for the spiritual health of our families.

I cannot tell you now how many times I have heard a man tell me that God stuff is woman’s work.  It usually goes like this:  I make a call to the house to offer encouragement or an invitation to something.  The man answers the phone.  As soon as I say I am from the church, he says, “let me get my wife,” often in the middle of my sentence.  Men remain disconnected from God and only show up as a concession to their spouse on Maybe Easter or when their daughter is singing.  These spiritually careless men soon find their sons saying, “I do not need to go to church because dad does not go.”  On the surface, some dads might think this OK.  The reality is, they are creating sons who establish their own rules for life and often the rules are self-centered.  Next time I will look at some of the things dads can do as spiritual heads of the home.