Grace & Peace 05/10/2015

father_son_biblePrinciple number three: BE INTENTIONAL “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:1-6

There are intentional things we can do as a father that teach children about loving God and each other. We can spend time with God read the word, memorize it and have it in your heart. We can have family memory verses and family verses. Place a scripture at the center of the home that means something to you. We can lead the way to church. Go to Sunday School ourselves so there is no question about whether or not we all go. At lunch after church, we can begin a conversation with our spouse about the message, what touched us or challenged us. Often children will desire to enter into the conversation that we initiate. Host a home Wesley Group for families, help others by serving, take our children on a service project or a mission trip to help others. Connect with broken and wounded people so our children can connect.

I memorized verses in my life because I never really knew when I would need their wisdom. Many, many times I would be out and about with the kids and having a conversation about school or friends or the woods and a verse would pop into my head. Those were by far the best teaching moments for us. We had our very best spiritual conversations on the hoof. Had I not been intentional about memorizing verses, I would have had no resource for the conversations. And these were truly conversations, not lectures.

When we look back on our successes as a father, we will not be thinking about how long we worked to get them a Christmas filled with expensive gifts. We’ll not think about the huge house we provided or how beautiful we kept the yard. We will remember those precious times when they ran into our arms for no reason other than they were happy to see us. Those moments do not just happen. They require a man to be intentional about being a Godly father. So, to all the dads who are reading this: who will teach our sons and daughters about God? We will! Who will be with them at their first triumph? We will! Who will lift them the first time they fail? We will! Who will help them have hope when all else fails? We will! Who will teach them how to love a wife? We will! Who will help them love their neighbor? We will! Who will teach them that family is the most important thing in the world? We will! Who will show them how to repent when we have made a mistake? We will! Who will offer heartfelt forgiveness when we’ve been wronged? We will! Who will show t=our children what it means to love God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength? WE WLL BE WE ARE THEIR FATHER!

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.