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Abraham Lincoln once said, “The strength of our nation is in the homes of its people, while the strength of the home is in the moral fabric sewn by the father”. True then, true today, but a permissive society and declining cultural standards have waged a spiritual battle against the father, our marriages, our children, and even our nation, weakening the family and jeopardizing America’s future.
Christian families today suffer from spiritual anorexia. They starve to death from mental malnutrition. They don’t get the milk from which 1 Pet. 2:2 speaks but drinks gallons of powdered worldly poison that Satan has left there for you to take. It comes in many forms: materialism, television, everyone is doing it, people pleasing and overall conforming to this world. (See the antidote in Romans 12:2.)
Come back with me about 30 years as a boy sits at his grandfather’s funeral. I remember the tears of loss my aunt shed. I remember the pain that death brought to us who did not know the Lord then. But twelve-year-old me has one memory that I will never forget. It was watching my father and his emotional strength. He raised and carried the family, even though he just lost his father. He carried us on his shoulders. He was strong. He was caring. He was the father.
I remember watching again ten years later, because this time the tragedy involved the loss of a large sum of money. As one creditor after another called, he picked up the phone and talked to them all, knowing full well that there was no money. He taught me that it is always better to get up than to run away. He said, “When you run away from life, it has a way of chasing you harder.” What courage I thought. I wished I was like him when I grew up. He was the father.
Little did I know then that my father’s impressive emotional strength was a metaphor for my father’s incredible spiritual strength – a visual symbol of an invisible reality! Like any other person, a father has a special power to mold and shape another’s life. All basic concepts of character spring from this person’s life. Honor. platform. Identity. When you think about fatherhood, you realize that few things are more powerful.
Children need to know what they are made of and where they come from. Boys in particular need confirmation that they have what it takes to be a man. This can only come from the father type. True masculinity can only be given to a boy from a man. Christlikeness and manhood are synonymous, because our Lord’s love and servant leadership must be at the core of fatherhood.
Even if you don’t have children of your own, you can still be a father. Father has little to do with biology. Basically, it’s all about influencing, shaping and empowering. I believe that at the root of every man is a father in his soul. There are young people everywhere who are looking for this.
My wife and I have been fighting the good fight of parenting for 15 years now. Christian parents who love and serve the Lord. Parents who read the right books and quote the right Bible verses to our children. Just last Saturday, I hosted our God4me Ministries men’s event, “A Man of Character in a World of Compromise.” I had my 13 year old son there. My son hearing godly men made me feel pretty good as a Christian dad.
But as with many things in my walk with the Lord, this feeling lasted about 24 hours until the middle of the Sunday service. By the way, did you know that 75 percent of today’s churchgoers went to church as children? And when a father is an active believer, there is a 75% chance that his children will also become active believers. But when the mother is the only believer, this probability drops dramatically to just 15 percent. (Back to Sunday service). The pastor was spinning and God’s presence was strong when communion was served. The thing that broke my peace was seeing my 11-year-old son making communion bread sandwiches, but my 13-year-old son turning paper magazines into flying airplanes.
When it comes to fatherhood, the words confusion and failure keep jumping into my mind. The incredible inadequacy I sometimes feel towards fatherhood has brought me to the Lord more than I care to admit. Becoming a father to my 13-year-old daughter has brought incredible joy, matched by the immense fear that comes with parenting a beautiful teenage girl. (She looks like her mother). Being a father has brought me to depths of confusion that I have rarely experienced even as a Pagan. The effort I make while my kids fight for Disney dedication is exhausting.
As the leader of God4me Ministries, I struggle daily with the temptation to put serving the Lord before being a father. I have learned that my service to Him is not enough to make up for my failures in fatherhood. Mentoring and reading the Bible has helped me tremendously. (Read 1 Samuel 2-8 about the failure of Eli the priest and Samuel the prophet with their children. It’s scary.)
The famous ad “It’s all about the beer” is a lie. It’s about a man at his children’s bedside leading in devotion and prayer. It is about a man who leads his family into God’s house. It tells about a man who got up early and alone with God, looking for vision and guidance for his family.
One of the greatest words on fatherhood came from our president, George W. Bush. When asked what was the one thing he remembered most about his father, George Bush Sr., he answered quickly and without hesitation. The president said, “My father showed me such unconditional love that he gave me the freedom to fail. I was free to try and be loved regardless of the results.”
How about you? Did your father or another man love you unconditionally? If yes, you are blessed. If not, you are still blessed. Why? It is because that love exists for you, in the form of Jesus Christ, father of orphans.
My brother, receiving and understanding God’s grace (Eph. 3:18,19) this Father’s Day can be the greatest gift ever. Using this gift to father others is a life well spent that brings eternal rewards. I pray for that grace for you.
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