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)

 

Root Your Son In God!

Roots are everything.  They provide nourishment, they maintain stability, they keep things anchored to the ground.  Without good roots, there is no fruit, there is no life, there is no growth.  When the roots are bad, fruit becomes rotten, growth becomes stagnant, and death sets in quickly.  Dad, what is your son’s life being rooted in?

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Around 627 B.C. there was a young teenage boy who lived in Judah during some pretty crazy times.   Israel had been hauled off into exile.  And Judah was sitting between a rock (Babylon) and a hard place (Egypt) and things were going to from bad to worse in a hurry.  About this time, God raised up this teenager to be his mouthpiece in an attempt to convince Judah to once again worship the one true God.

Jeremiah 1:4–5 (NLT)

4 The Lord gave me this message: 5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

Think about this:  one teenage boy vs. a nation of idol-worshipping, God-rejecting, holiness-hating people.  And notice that Jeremiah’s call was not just to be a prophet to Israel, but to all the nations.  It doesn’t seem like a very fair request of God.  But then again, fairness isn’t exactly a tool in God’s shed, which is a good thing for us considering where we would be if God were “fair,” and gave us what we deserved.  So how could God ask this of Jeremiah?  Simple.  Jeremiah’s very life was rooted in the purposes and promises of God.

In verse 5 we see four things about this rooting of Jeremiah.  First, God knew Jeremiah. God knew Jeremiah better than Jeremiah knew himself.  God knew Jeremiah as a creator knows his creation.  Second, God formed Jeremiah.  He made Jeremiah exactly as he wanted him, with all his strengths and weaknesses and quirks and talents.  This makes Jeremiah’s half-hearted excuse in verse 6 fairly funny, as if God wasn’t aware exactly how old he was and what Jeremiah’s public speaking skills were like.  Third, God set him apart… the ESV says God “consecrated” him.  Jeremiah was a unique person, not because of his talents or his abilities but because God decreed him so.  Fourth, God appointed Jeremiah.  God had a specific job, a specific purpose that he made Jeremiah for.

So there you have it.  Jeremiah’s life was rooted in God.  God knew him, formed him, consecrated him and appointed him.   This rooting was to serve as the core of his identity over the next 40+ years of ministry.  And if you were to read the rest of the book, you would quickly see that Jeremiah had the most unpleasant task of calling the people of Judah (his fellow countrymen) to the carpet for their sin of spiritual adultery against God, and to warn them that they were about to get taken over by their enemies.   I promise you that you won’t find this strategy listed among the top ten ways to make friends and influence people.  Jeremiah, while faithful to God’s call, didn’t even see a single bit of fruit from his ministry.  Over 40 years of ministry and not a single convert.   Why was he able to persist in such conditions?  His life was rooted in God.  The One who knew him, formed him, consecrated him and appointed him.

Dad, what is your son rooting his life in?  There are many things that Satan would love to see your son root his life in… grades, family, athletics, job, that dream house on the beach, the little red sports car he has always talks about, girlfriends, physical well being and health, sex, self-discipline, self-achievement.  But if his life is rooted anything other than God, the fruit will begin to rot, the growth will become stagnant, and death will begin to set in.  For the only way fruit is born is through a life rooted in God.  The way growth is achieved, is through a life rooted in God.  The only way life is truly had is through a life rooted in God.

What do you talk with you son about?  What kinds of dreams do you share with him?  What kinds of prayers do you pray for him?  Dad, what is your life rooted in?  A “good” marriage?  Obedient kids?  The annual family vacation?  If you son had to answer the question, “what is your dad’s life rooted in?” what would he say?  Your job, Sunday afternoon football, the remote control, your books, your hobbies, your physical fitness?

Lest I leave you feeling a bit helpless and dejected let me make one more observation:  Jeremiah did not earn this rooting, it was the direct result of God’s sovereign work.  God’s rooting of Jeremiah was not based upon anything Jeremiah had done or would do.  It was simply God’s act of grace.  So pray for that grace to be poured out on you.  Pray for that grace to be poured out on your son.  Roots are everything.  So pray.

 

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.

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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.

The Power of a Blessing

We haven’t been the greatest parents spiritually. I hear parents talk of how they have family devotions every evening and I just think, “We suck!” We have never done a family devotion, unless the reading of Luke 2 on Christmas morning counts. We don’t send our children to Christian School like other good Christians do. But the one thing we do is pray a blessing over our children when we drop them off at school. We’ve been doing this for 16 years but never seen the impact like we have this year with our adoptive boys.

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My wife Carolyn was running late to drop off our almost 4-year-old and almost 3-year-old at preschool, which, by the way, is at a Baptist Church in case you were judging us harshly. Her habit is to pray a blessing over each of them in the parking lot prior to heading to their classrooms, nothing long and pharisaical mind you, but brief and to the point. Well, on this particular day she was in such a hurry that she forgot to pray for the boys. As she dropped off Sam (our almost 3-year-old) and began walking down the hall, relieved that the morning ordeal was over and the boys had been delivered safely to their respective classes, Sam came running out of his classroom, tears in his eyes and teacher in tow. He cried out, “You forgot to pray, Mommy.” Immediately Carolyn turned on her heels, ran to our little boy, took him in her arms and prayed a blessing over him. The teary-eyed teacher watched, moved by the tenderness of a young boy longing for the prayer and blessing of his parent.

Sam has only been a part of our family for 11 months. He came to us from an environment where prayer was foreign, blessings were few, and safety and security were not a certainty. Yet in his brief time with us he has come to know the power of prayer and a blessing. He knows the comfort of a loving hand on his head and the peace of God which transcends all understanding that results from prayer.  He has come to know the love of an earthly father and mother and is learning the love of his heavenly Father.

So, for those of you who feel you don’t measure up to other Christian parents, why not try praying a simple blessing over your children each day as they head off to school or day care. It won’t take a minute, but it will affect your child immediately and change him or her for a lifetime!