Love in The Mundane

I am not going to write about Valentine’s Day. I have no gift ideas, no perfect words for a sentimental card, no box ‘o chocolates. This has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.

But it has everything to do with love. Which, I admit, was partially suggested to me by the nature of this week in February. But more so, this is an outgrowth of where my wife, Alle, and I are living right now.

It’s a stage of life where repetition reigns: we get up, go to work, take care of kids, work on client projects, take care of kids, eat, put kids to bed, work, collapse into bed, sleep, repeat. We form habits, fall into roles and patterns, and most often just make it through the day. And I’ve got a suspicion that this sort of rhythm defines most of married life with children. The details and schedules will change, but the patterns, the mundane, will continue in perpetuity. That’s how life is. Cycles, patterns, rhythm.

I’m learning to see the value in the repetitive. It gives structure and stability, moments and tasks to count on, roles and responsibilities to expect. But the mundane can also drive us into habits, into going through the motions, into not paying attention anymore. Let the ebb and flow of life drive our actions, fulfill the responsibilities, and check out. It’s something I fight against on a regular basis: staying engaged and intentional during a season marked especially by days that look the same. And it’s always compounded, because routines go hand in hand with busyness–particularly with kids in the house. Things never stop, they never slow. There’s always a next appointment, a meal to be made, cleaning to do, there’s always something.

Time and money get scarce; the schedule doesn’t let up; the kids get sick. Days that used to be set apart just for us–anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and so on–get interrupted, or postponed.

Love-in-the-mundane

So I’m learning. I’m learning to celebrate our marriage in the mundane. I’m learning to just lean in, and take it as it comes, and show my wife in the routine that she is still my priority. It’s usually not a big, romantic gesture. It’s the serving. The words. The attitudes toward her and the kids. It’s learning to let the moments, the tasks, the mundane breathe love for her.

I’m finding ways to show that love on a consistent basis. Giving her the afternoon to go out or work; making sure she comes home to a clean house; cooking dinner; bringing home her favorite dessert for no reason. In the routine, it’s building a routine of affection, concern, consideration– merely showing that she’s always on my mind and heart. Small actions accumulated go so much farther to demonstrate love than the occasional all-out gift.

Love is serving. It is laying down my life–setting it aside–for her good. And this happens not on the celebratory days, not the annual remembrances, not the special occasions; it happens every day, in the mundane. In the rhythm of life love grows deep. In the mundane, passion becomes loyalty. In the routine, I learn how to give extraordinary love.

Let’s Help Celebrate the Praying for Boys Release!

Hi Dads! Thanks for stopping by! We want to take today to help support our sister Brooke McGlothlin and celebrate the release of her new book, Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most! If you’re not familiar with Brooke, she is co-founder and one of the driving forces behind The MOB Society, our sister site. And, even more, she’s a great encouragement to tired moms everywhere, and a mother passionate about raising boys into godly men.

Praying-for-Boys-250 So let’s keep it simple, guys. This would make a great gift, “just because,” for your wife, sister, cousin– or, honestly, a great read for you! Brooke is insightful and her writing is laced with and founded on the Word of God. And, most importantly, she is passionate about seeing boys grow into godly men.  Let’s help make this a successful launch. Head over here for more information about the book and how to purchase it!

Celebrating The Word Made Flesh

Celebrating-the-word-made-flesh

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:1

This is the story of Christmas, in the shortest possible form. The Word became flesh; God became man; heaven came to earth. Christ came, and He brought with Him all of God’s glory, but veiled in flesh, so that we could stand to look at it.

Once again, the Word spoke into darkness, and light came. The first time was the Creation of the world, where, John writes, “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:2-3). The Word created all things; the Word spoke light from darkness; the Word brought about the very beginning of all things.

And now, the Word recreates us, and will recreate all things (2 Corinthians 5:17); the Word speaks light into our spiritual darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome Him any more than it could when the first shaft of light rent the darkness of the world in the Creation; the Word brings about new beginning- a rebirth- for all those who receive Him (John 1:12). The very Word, who was with God and who is God, Who created all things by simply speaking, has spoken into our dark world, and brought light and life.

When God first spoke the world into being, His words carried consequences: He spoke, and what He spoke became reality, never to be removed except by His word. In the same way, when the Word was spoken into our world, there were lasting consequences: the Word came, and dwelt, and remains. Christmas celebrates a moment in time- when Christ was born; but it also celebrates that God is now with us, far beyond that day in Bethlehem. And it celebrates not just the birth of Christ, but the reason for His coming: that all of us, sinners held back from a relationship with God, might have the opportunity to know Him. That we might behold His glory, His grace, and His truth. And that we might be changed, from dead to living, from far from God to near to Him, from living in darkness to living in marvelous light.

Dads, if you do nothing else this Christmas- if you give your children no other gifts- make sure they understand this: Christmas is very literally the celebration of God communicating Himself to us through Jesus Christ. It is Him interrupting our aimless wandering, our searching for reasons to celebrate and hopes to cling to, and setting before our eyes the only true Joy, the only hope that does not disappoint: God made man, Christ taking on flesh. God with us. May you rejoice in Him today; may your words celebrate the Word that told the grace of God.

Happy Christmas!

Prayer Day

There’s no better way to start the month of December than with a Prayer Day. We’re all in different places, with different struggles- some of us are excited for the holidays, and some dreading them. No matter what you’re facing, dads, we want to consistently offer the opportunity to bear each other’s burdens and joys, because everyone needs a safe space to come and ask for prayer. It’s an honor and a privilege to stand together as men in this journey of fatherhood.

Prayer Day for Boy Dads. Know any dads who need prayer? Point them this way!

Take some time today to pray over this Advent and Christmas season- to rest in the fact that, because of Christmas, we have a Savior, a high priest, who can sympathize with us and who prays on our behalf.

Leave your request in the comments. Then, if you have the time, leave another comment with a written prayer for the person right above you. Let’s support each other, holding up each other’s arms in this battle to raise godly men.

Let’s pray. 

(Photo Credit)

 

From Obedience to Passion

From-obedience-to-passion

It seems that, at least in my generation, there is a very strong emphasis on passion: on living sold-out, in love, passionate about a relationship with Jesus. It’s not about rules or religion: it’s about a relationship.

There is, no doubt, a great deal of truth to this. Many current books have been written, songs released, sermons preached on the importance of clinging, not to an ideology, but to a Person. Relationship, passion, love.

To be honest, though, I struggle with this concept of faith. I butt up against this image of a Creator who wants us to just be passionately “in love” with Him, and passionate about seeing others in love with Him. As a man not given often given to strong or enduring emotions, I find it difficult to come to that place of passionately pursuing God, of desiring only Him and His word.

Don’t misunderstand me: I love the Lord and want to know Him and His word. But it seems that, perhaps, in our Christian culture, sometimes we may put a new face on legalism, based not on a set of rules, but the strength of a person’s emotions regarding their faith. We venerate those who become visibly excited, who speak of being in love with Jesus, who want to go “all out” or live “sold out,” who want to make a bold and courageous demonstration for the sake of Christ.

What I want to postulate, though, is that perhaps our energies are misdirected when we seek to live passionately for God. Perhaps we are missing some of what it means to be a follower of Christ when we focus primarily on being in love with Jesus. What about those, like me, who struggle to even maintain a regular quiet time and active prayer life? I’m not suggesting that we do away with passion, or with seeking to fall “in love” with Jesus every day; I’m merely suggesting that it is not the place to start.

C.S. Lewis used to encourage new believers who wrote him letters regarding the emotions that they thought should surround their conversion experience. Many did not experience the joy or surge of love for the Lord that others had found so readily. His advice, I think, applies not only to the new believer, but also to those of us who sometimes feel like we’re just plodding along, seeking the Lord but not feeling “on fire”: he told them, only obey. Obey what Christ commanded, and if God wills for special joy and emotions to follow, then they will. If not, remember, we are called only to heed His voice and follow.

And that, I think, is perhaps where the mark is missed. I’ve read, and heard, often that obedience should not be cumbersome or difficult because of the love we should bear toward Jesus. But what if our love for God, for His ways, grows out of our obedience, not the other way around? What if, instead of seeking first to feel the way we should toward God, we seek first to act the way we should toward God?

In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul reminds us, “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more… For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”

God is not concerned that we first feel like loving Him, and feel like serving others or sharing His gospel: God is first concerned that we choose to obey Him, knowing that, as we follow step by step in obedience to Him, we grow to understand that, as for God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30), and He is not slow in keeping His promises (2 Peter 3:9). When we follow first in obedience, then we experience His joy,  because we see that the results are just as He promised. And our love grows, our passion grows, our obedience grows.

So pursue God wholeheartedly. Live with passion. Seek Him first in all things. But remember that zeal for His name, for His house, for His heart, for His word, come first through obedience.

Finding Meaning in Work


I aspire, as I’m sure you do, to instill in my sons a strong work ethic. To take seriously the call of the apostle Paul: “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

God has called us to work hard, to put our all into everything that we do, doing it “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In the context of Colossians 3, Paul is describing the marks of the Christian life, the list of things we are to “put on” after we have “put off” sin. A strong work ethic, a life which moves away from inactivity or laziness, should be a distinctive feature in the life of every follower of Christ. This call to work hard is sandwiched between two commands for us to express thankfulness to God. Without extrapolating too far, I think it’s safe to say that God has given us the privilege of working: that even though the work we do may not be fulfilling to us, it is a gift from God to be able to work, to accomplish and succeed. Work is a gift.

Finding-meaning-in-work

To be frank, I don’t always (or often) recognize that. Perhaps, like me, you’re in a job that’s got nothing to do with your training or abilities, that is seemingly menial or insignificant. A job that just (sort of) pays the bills. A job that you do just because, well, you need to work.

How do you give thanks for that?

At the beginning of time, when God first created the world, He instituted work for man: tend the garden, see to it, work the ground. I can only assume that this work brought satisfaction to Adam, the first man. I can only imagine the feeling of accomplishment he experienced after a day of labor, tending to the garden in which God had placed him. Of course, Adam and Eve sinned, and work became difficult, even painful, for mankind.

Maybe you feel that difficulty every day of your work life. Maybe your work seems trivial, or your circumstances stifling. Maybe your job isn’t enough to cover your bills each month. Take heart; you are not called to be successful, or to be fulfilled by your work, or even to enjoy it. Only to offer it to God. To work at it with all your heart, as working to the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Sometimes, that is a small comfort, or perhaps no comfort at all. But if Scripture tells us one thing throughout its entire narrative about work, it’s that God rewards faithfulness. To the one who is faithful in the small things, He entrusts the greater things.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about work in the past few years is this: No work is meaningless. Even if it’s cleaning pools, finishing basements, being a security guard (all of which I’ve done), or something else that doesn’t display significant results. No work is meaningless.

That is, if it is rendered to God. If it is done for His glory, seeking His ends and how He would use us in whatever situation we find ourselves. God is not concerned with the title of our position; He is concerned with the position of our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7).

One final note, something that hit me only yesterday. In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, He looked at His work and declared it good. The results of His work were good: they were worthwhile and significant. Do you know, fellow father, that no matter our jobs, we can say the same thing for our work? When we strive to bring God the glory through our work, when we work without complaining (Philippians 2:14), when we offer our work as a sacrifice to God…

We can look at the most difficult, or insignificant, or overwhelming task, and say that it is good.

 

Teaching Your Son What You Don’t Know

How do you teach your kids something you don’t know?

Or, more generally, how to you help your kids excel in areas where you don’t? Where, perhaps, you’re an abysmal failure?

teaching-your-sons-what-you-dont-know

It’s hard enough to pass on those values, skills, and ideals we possess in abundance. I can teach my sons how to be kind, patient, forgiving, faithful, and so on, because these happen to be some of my strengths; and even these will be transmitted to my boys only by concerted effort, diligence, endurance.

Harder by far is it for me to teach them decisiveness, strength in leadership, financial intelligence, even healthy aggression, because these are areas of weakness for me–areas where all my best efforts and concentrations are hardly enough to propel me toward any noticeable growth. But they are qualities I admire, aspire to, and desire for my sons. I want them to be well rounded, strong in the areas where I am weak, protected from my own shortcomings.

But how, exactly, am I supposed to pass that on to them? If I don’t possess certain abilities or character traits in abundance, how can I teach those things to my sons?

Being keenly aware of my various and colorful shortcomings (as you probably are of yours), I’ve thought a lot about this question. And, as a young dad, I’ve thought of several ways to help address the issue—ideas that are helping me as I implement them, and which I believe are applicable to fathers from any life stage. So, here goes: My list of How To Teach Your Sons What You Don’t Know…

1. Become a student

Come up against an issue that baffles you? Something outside your comfort zone, and beyond your strengths? Read up on it; study the issue in Scripture; begin trying to work it out in your own life. Experience, it’s said, is the best teacher. So, for example, if you struggle with making wise financial decisions, start by reading sound financial advice from a biblical perspective—then put it into practice. Always be willing to learn—for your benefit, and for your sons’.

2. Surround your sons with mentors

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed.” From an early age, our sons need to understand that we, their dads, don’t have everything they need: we are not perfect, not able to completely prepare them for all that life brings. We are their primary teachers, yes: God has designed it that way, and we should never shrink from that responsibility. But, let’s help our sons one more step along the way: let’s help them learn to be mentored. By accepting mentoring in our own lives, and by surrounding ourselves—and our sons—with godly friends, they will see a more complete representation of God-honoring masculinity.

3. Seek wisdom from God

James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” The greatest tool we have for fathering, and especially for teaching our sons the things that are beyond our capabilities, is the wisdom of God. I believe it’s possible, through our inexperience and failure, that God can help us find the teachable moments our mess ups create. We can teach our sons through the dumb things we do, if we’re willing to admit our mistakes and seek the better path for next time. Even better, God can grant us the supernatural wisdom to understand that which is beyond us, and to make the wise choices. We can allow the Spirit of God to lead us, even in situations where we have no experience or aptitude, into victory.

These are general ideas, yes, but they are ones I’ve found extremely helpful as I consider my many shortcomings and how to raise my sons to avoid them. Become a student of the areas where you fall short, surround yourself (and your sons) with godly mentors who have different strengths than you do, and, most of all, seek God’s wisdom through HIs word.

Dads, what are some ways you’ve found to teach your sons what you don’t know? How do you pass on what you don’t have?

Prayer Day

It’s time again for our monthly Prayer Day. We want to consistently offer the opportunity to bear each other’s burdens and joys, because everyone needs a safe space to come and ask for prayer. It’s an honor and a privilege to stand together as men in this journey of fatherhood.

Prayer Day for Boy Dads. Know any dads who need prayer? Point them this way!

Leave your request in the comments. Then, if you have the time, leave another comment with a written prayer for the person right above you. Let’s support each other, holding up each other’s arms in this battle to raise godly men.

Let’s pray. 

(Photo Credit)

 

When You Don’t Know What To Do

There’s a lot I don’t know.

For example, I don’t know the square root of pi offhand. I don’t know French, or Dutch. I don’t know the balance between man’s free will and God’s election.

And I honestly don’t know that much about fatherhood. I don’t know how to raise a teen boy, or a middle school child, or even a three-year-old, because I’ve never done it. Even now, sometimes the day-to-day of trying to father a toddler and a baby is confusing, because they never stop growing and changing. Tomorrow, they’ll be an inch taller, with another word in their vocabularies, and another step toward independence.

And it’s intimidating to me. If I’m not mistaken, you may be aware of gaps in your abilities, faults in your knowledge, when it comes to raising these little men we call our sons.

When-you-don't-know-what-to-do

There’s a verse in 2 Chronicles 20 that I love; verse 12 of that chapter reads, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” That verse has become the foundation of my approach to fatherhood.

In context, this part of Scripture is part of a prayer that Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, lifted up to God when he and his people were facing attack from three combined armies. They were greatly outnumbered and outgunned. Jehoshaphat’s response? He declared a fast in Judah and assembled the people to seek the Lord’s help.

Isn’t that what fatherhood is? Call me dramatic, but it seems to me that we face assault from every quarter- from unseen enemies not of flesh and blood. Our job is to protect and fight for our wives, our children- to maintain their physical safety, yes; but even more importantly, to ensure their spiritual safety. We are the front line.

When I consider the number of influences clamoring for my sons’ attention, the strength of societal and peer pressure, and my own inadequacies, like Jehoshaphat, I can become frightened. Frightened that my sons will grow up with a fundamentally flawed father who will let them down. Frightened that I may not prepare them for every eventuality, every temptation, every empty philosophy.

And that’s how the enemy, Satan, loves to operate: through fear. It paralyzes, it draws our attention away from God and His ability and onto us and our inability.

Here lies the the truth of the matter: We don’t know what to do. Our resources, wisdom, and abilities are greatly limited. But His are not. James 1:5 encourages us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

We do not know what to do, but God does. Every day of fatherhood brings a new challenge. What worked yesterday may be completely ineffective today. We can read every book on the subject, surround ourselves with wise council, and certainly these will aid us along the way. But in the end, it is the wisdom of God that enables us to raise sons who turn away from empty ideas and toward Him; it is the wisdom of God that gives us insight to treat them and our wives  as we ought, not aggravating them, but extending love and grace. It is the wisdom of God that prepares us for every curve ball, every unexpected dilemma and crisis.

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.

Come Write with Us

We’re beefing up the content here at BoyDads and we’d want YOUR help!
Write with Us
We have this vision that the space we create here at BoyDads isn’t exclusive, or country-club-esque — although a secret handshake would be pretty sweet.

We’re all walking this parenting journey together — we may be at different stages and we may have different perspectives, but the goal is the same: raise godly men.

So, we’re looking for some guest posts from readers, bloggers, authors, pastors, grandpas…you name it, we’re open to reading it!  We’re hoping to find some incredible pieces of encouragement, advice, perspective, and humor to share with our  community.  Maybe you consider yourself a writer…maybe not…it doesn’t really matter — if God has laid something on your heart that you think would resonate with our readers, we want to hear from you!  Who knows what God might do with it — many of the people we ask to join our regular writing crew start out with a killer guest post!

So, here is what we need from you:

  • Your top-of-the-line, ORIGINAL, pre-edited work between 500-700 words (Note: We don’t accept posts previously published on another site.)
  • A post image: sized somewhere around 500 x 300 and make sure you’ve got all the credit info to be kosher (Note: Using your own photos is the best way to go!)
  • A brief bio and photo of yourself with any appropriate links to your own site and social media spaces

Keep this schtuff in mind if you’re planning on submitting something:

  • This is a family-friendly website. Our Editor, Nate, reserves the right to accept, deny, or edit all submitted posts. No questions asked.
  • If you’ve got older kids and plan to illustrate a point by talking about a mistake they made, write about it with grace and make sure to check with them first!
  • Use care and grace in the way you talk about your wife.  None of us are perfect, so make sure to ask yourself this question before you submit, “How would I feel if she wrote about my shortcomings and hangups this way on a public blog for all the world to see?”
  • If we choose to run your post, please shout it from the rooftops on your website (where applicable) to send your traffic to us that day. But don’t copy and paste the article word-for-word at your blog. This is a major SEO killer (search engine optimization) and hurts us both. In fact, stretch your creative muscles and give it an entirely different title if you can and don’t include any of the text from your post on your own site. Thanks, man!

Ready to send something our way?  Simply send an email to nate@findingedenmedia with the subject line: BoyDads Guest Post Submission — after reviewing your work and our editorial calendar, you’ll receive a reply to let you know if we can run your submission or not.  Please don’t check up on the process, we’ll let you know as soon as we can!  If we decide to move forward with your submission, we’ll let you know the date and time it will go live so you can share!

And hey, do you know a BoyDad who you think would have a killer post for us?  Send them our way!