To God Be The Glory

To-God-be-the-glory

This month, I have been on an amazing journey with God. My wife and I are beginning a book by A.W. Tozer that challenges us to look beyond our man-made view of God and seek to know His greatness. As I read, I felt very convicted that I am guilty of my man-made view of who God is. Because of this, I am on a quest to catch a glimpse of the glory of God.

You see, anytime we put limits on God, we are falling into the idolatry of making a god in our own image of who we think He should be. How can I tell if I have done this? I just need to take a look at where I spend my time, how I seek my own comforts, how I look for someone to blame when things do not go according to my plan.

When we place our focus on the magnificence of God, the other things take their rightful place in our lives. God is forgiveness, so what does forgiveness challenge me to do? If God is merciful, how am I supposed to show mercy? If God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, how am I supposed to love my wife sacrificially? If God is patient with me (His child) then where is my patience towards those children He has entrusted me to raise?

The glory of God is greater than our universe. There is nowhere that He is not. (Read Psalms 139:1-18. David understood this.) His presence fills every place where I am. With each breath I breath, I take in His glory and inspiration. Should not I breath out His praise?

The beauty of the quest I am on is that God is not hidden. When we praise Him, He is here with us. When we are troubled, He is here to comfort us. God is at work in our lives constantly. The question I have challenged myself with is, will I seek to see God at work? Not just live out a mundane existence and deny His fellowship, but look today, in expectation, to what God is doing all around me?

My sons need me to truthfully seek the glory and presence of the Lord. I need a genuine, daily, expectant relationship with God, and my boys need to see me live that out. I am challenged that just giving God a passing acknowledgement in my days is idolatry, and I am teaching my children to bow before an idol of my making. God desires so much more from us. We need so much more from Him than we can ever imagine.

My accountability partner agreed with the challenge I feel, but then he asked…

“How do we get there?”

Great question. Seeking the greatness of God is a lofty goal. One that is too big to fulfill in this life. So what are your thoughts? If you are on this journey, where are you headed? What has God shown you in your quest to see God?

To God be the glory!

The Gray Line Between Attraction and Lust

Guard Your Heart's Door

 

My son and I traverse the aisles looking at shoes for me. Small talk carries us through to pass the time as I can’t quite make up my mind about what looks good or what’s comfortable. He points out some wild shoes that could have passed as advertising from Skittles. Yes, it had that many colors, bright colors.

He tries to convince me to buy them.

I could only imagine the looks I would get wearing those crazy shoes.

I laugh and choose a different pair, to his dismay.

We make our way to the counter and are greeted by a young woman.

Her attractiveness is written all over my son’s eyes.

With his hands in the pockets of his shorts and his feet planted firmly in his cowboy boots, he seems mesmerized. He’s entranced by her.

I grow increasingly embarrassed and nudge him rather hard in his side. I can’t shake him. He’s staring intensely. She smiles politely, hands me my receipt and I thank her.

With his hands still in his pockets, he wears a cowboy swagger as we exit the door. He looks up at me and says, “She’s pretty, I really like her hair.”

I’m half laughing and half scared.

Scared because now I feel a little unprepared for how to deal with him ‘noticing’ girls.

Thoughts run through my head as we walk to the car.

How do I tell my son that the attractions he has are normal and ok, but there is a gray line between attraction and lust that will one day make war with his heart and soul?

I don’t want my son to ever feel shame for seeing a woman as beautiful and attractive. I also don’t want my son to ever blame a woman for his lustful thoughts or his wandering eye. I want him to see a woman the way he ought to: To look upon her with dignity and to see her as unique individual who has been crafted by God. And if she is beautiful, then that is okay to recognize that. Nothing more.

I want him to also know that when his attractions break that barrier, it is a barren wasteland that will never satisfy. I want him to know that he needs to guard his eyes, heart, and soul against lustful passions that will clash with him from the inside as he grows into a young man.

He needs to know that he doesn’t have to be ashamed for being attracted to a beautiful woman, for God has made us to admire beauty. What I want him to be mindful of is losing respect for a woman by how he chooses to imagine her. The loss happens when he values only her beauty and worships her body with his eyes in the most degrading way.

My son needs to know ‘the gray line’ will never go away; it will be constantly banging on his heart’s door, wanting to draw him in. If he lets his temptations take over, and he opens the door, destruction is near.

 “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15

I want him to guard his heart with the fiercest sword.

I want him to never let his guard down.

When failure comes, because it will, I want him to know that he is still loved by the King. He is His beloved. And He sees him as so.

Son, you are loved by me and the King. Guard your heart and your eyes and it will be well with you. Know that you will have failures, but when you do, turn your heart back to the Maker.

“Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” 1 Thesolonians 5:21-22

  •  How have you talked to your son about lust and attraction to women?
  •  What are some things that have worked for you?
  •  What is your approach?

 

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You can find Jesse writing about his attempts (and failures) at being a good father, husband and follower of Jesus. The good news is, Jesus is the redeemer.  And that is what he clings to.  There is no amount of failing or screwing up that He can’t redeem.  He writes on his own blog here.

Twitter: @jessemhoover

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessehooverwrites

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Empowering Creativity in Our Sons

I love watching my son create- seeing him scribble all over a piece of paper and promptly declare that the Jackson Pollock-worthy piece is “Daddy.” Or watching him form pieces of play dough into balls, or seeing him build towers out of Duplo pieces. Most of all, I love when he finds my percussion lying randomly around the house, and starts to sing to his own accompaniment.

And I am reminded that this boy is, every day, a creator. Whether he knows it at this stage or not, the little man is demonstrating the very nature of God.

You see, we are created. Made, formed, shaped- however you like to say it, God created us. And when He did, He left the imprint of Himself on our nature. In short, God made us to relate to, and to mirror, Himself. Part of Himself that He implanted in us is the ability to create- just like He did.

empowering creativity in our sons

Children have an innate grasp of creativity, perhaps partly because they are learning so much every day. They live in an undisguised sense of wonder, in an uninhibited (if unaware) appreciation of the beauty of Christ. Everywhere they look is a new mystery, a thing to be uncovered and understood. This is a representation of God’s nature in His creation: Always a new mystery; always a new understanding.

But it goes further still. The beauty of God is in Christ. I rarely think in these terms, to be honest. When I think of who Christ is, I’m not sure my first thought has ever been, “Beautiful.” Think with me, though: God created the world, and declared it good. He filled everything He made with beauty. He created us; thus, in us, there is beauty. But we are broken, sinful, and dead because of our sins. Yet 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” Our beauty is restored because Christ has recreated us. Creation brings beauty. The Creator gives His beauty to us. And we, in turn, can give that beauty to our creations.

We learn so much of the nature of God in creativity. We see His wisdom; we see His imagination. We come to understand that God pours Himself into us- His love, His heart, His passion- just as we pour into our creations. And it gives to us such a sense of security, of resting in the Hands that formed you, formed you not impassively or coldly, but with the greatest care and the most sincere desire for your good. When I create, I discover what it means to be loved by the Creator.

I want my sons to find these treasures, to find safety and security in knowing Who made them and the care He took in making them. And I want them to experience for themselves- to find a passion for creativity, in whatever manifestations, that will allow them to explore and make and feel the nature that comes from God Himself.

It would be so easy to impose my understanding of creativity on my sons. Music, literature, and story strike deep, resonant notes in me that lead me to pursue God’s beauty. But it may not be so for them. Their passions may lie more analytically, more physically, than mine do. “The Arts” as we know them don’t monopolize creativity. And it is my job, as their father, to steer them not toward my sense of creativity, but toward their own- wherever that may lie. To steer them toward that passion in their lives that will cause them to pursue the beauty in this world, and- more importantly- the Beauty that put it here.

May I never be guilty of imposing my understanding of God’s beauty on my sons.

May I never so force them into my own mold that they give up the pursuit of becoming beautiful as He is.

May our sons ever be in pursuit of the Divine Beauty, creatively exploring how the Beauty has imprinted Himself in this natural world, and seeking an ever-deepening knowledge of Him through His perfect creative acts.

 

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Not Just a 90’s Thing

Todd and DebbieHey Dad,

Let me just say up front that when I think about the topic, “the Beauty of Christ”, the thought “girly-man topic” crept into my mind. It’s not that I think the beauty of Christ is a girly topic. It’s just that it seems like a touchy-feely, womanish thought, kind of like the idea that my mom used to think her sons hated each other just because we pounded each other–when, in fact, that’s HOW we showed our love.

But being a 90’s kind of guy, I knew I could get in touch with my ‘softer’ side. So I started chewing on the topic and then…it came. The truth is we demonstrate the beauty of Christ when we love our wives OR we fail to demonstrate it when we don’t.

The real beauty of Christ is in the way he sacrificed Himself for his BRIDE even when she (we) did not love Him. Wow. I love that picture, except when I hate it!!! That means that the way I treat and love my wife is way bigger than me and her.

When I love my wife selflessly even when she is crabby and bent out of shape (sometimes it happens), I demonstrate the beauty of Christ to my children. That kind of love gives without expecting. It is patient, long suffering, kind, gentle, and never-ending.

We call it unconditional love and it means…no matter what. Even as I write this, I know I have failed at this lately. I’ve been loving conditionally…in hopes of smiles and warmth in return. That doesn’t show the beauty of Christ, just the selfishness of…ME.

My boys need me to show that kind of love…because one day they’ll need to show that kind of love to their bride. One day their wives will be crabby and bent out of shape and they’ll need husbands who show them the kind of love that Christ demonstrated towards us.

That’s a pretty weighty responsibility…but I’m glad that it has been entrusted to me…and to you, Dad.

Man, I feel like I need to go out and pick flowers or crochet!!!

You ‘da dad,

Todd

Check out Today w/ Todd

Speaking Over Our Children

This past week, a team from our church had the privilege of serving with Compassion International in Ecuador.  Our mornings were spent doing light construction on a sponsor church, while our afternoons were spent working with the children of Las Brisas.  Through soccer games, bubbles, jumping rope, crafts, and stories, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these children had never had words spoken over them.  Certainly they have had plenty of words spoken to them, but what about words over them?

Barely knowing the language, I asked our translator to tell me how to tell a child that they are God’s treasure.  He scribbled these words in my journal that I would later have the opportunity to speak over several children, trusting that God would impress them on their hearts.

“Eres un Tesoro de Dios – You are God’s treasure.”  Simple words spoken, not just to them, but over them.

Speaking Over Our Children ~www.boydads.com

Sadly, I too often speak to, and not over, those I treasure most. My words can easily be used sharply, critically, self-righteously, and carelessly.  Like wet cement, my words have left a fair share of marks that, if not smoothed out, quickly harden.  How true it is that “the tongue can bring death or life” (Proverbs 18:21)

I have also sinned by withholding words. Sometimes it’s not what we say, but rather what we don’t say: feelings of appreciation, approval, and encouragement left unspoken.  Both the spoken and unspoken have the potential of doing damage far beyond measuring.  So often, I can speak to and not over those I love most.

For most men, words don’t come easily.  We’ve all heard or read the statistics; women use more words than men.  Men would often times rather sit shoulder to shoulder, grunt, cheer, and occasionally offer a fist-bump.  Not exactly meaningful or sophisticated, but we still call it communication.

But words don’t have to be weapons that wound.  And they certainly don’t have to be pointless, either.  As fathers who image our Father, we can use our words redemptively.  Like instruments, they can be used for good, life, joy, wisdom, and encouragement.  After all, words belong to God.  They are not ours to use as we please or purpose.  We speak because God speaks.

One of the things we learn at the very beginning of the Bible is that God speaks.  He not only uses words, but He is the author of words.  Unlike us, in our fallen and sinful state, when God speaks, He does so in a truly instructive and redemptive way.   In Genesis chapter 1, the very first chapter and book of the Bible, we see the phrase “And God said” nine times.

God speaks into and over His creation.  With purpose and power His words create out of nothing.  His words are instruments of life, truth, grace, and beauty.

Light bursts forth from darkness.

Beauty springs up out of the chaos.

Order emerges from disorder.

God speaks words of life.

But in Genesis 3 we learn that God is not the only one who speaks.  We see that there is a “war of words” going on in the Garden.  Satan uses words too.  But unlike God, his words bring death, pain, deception, separation, and ultimately the loss of Paradise.

As image-bearers of God, one of the ways we glorify Him is in our speech.  We reflect his image by the use of our words. God speaks over us as our Father.  He calls to us, and speaks over us as His children – adopted, treasured, lavished by His love, saints, citizens of heaven, and the list goes on. He speaks to us what He intends, but not without speaking over us our identity in Him.

One of the great gifts we can give our sons is the gift of our words.  I encourage you to be a father who doesn’t just speak to your sons, but speaks over them.  We never know the full impact, for good or bad, that our words will have.  May the words that our Father speaks over us be words we speak to and over our sons – words of life, joy, approval, hope, wisdom, and encouragement. 

Blessings,

Patrick Schwenk, The Dig for Kids