Bring the Bible to Life!

I have fond memories of acting out Bible stories with my family as a kid. Back in those days, Sunday afternoons were often spent re-enacting the plagues of Egypt, the defeat of Jericho, Zacchaeus climbing a tree to see Jesus, and more. For me and my brothers, the stories of the Judges were always our favorites, like Gideon’s nighttime attack on the Midianites, Ehud burying his dagger in King Eglon’s belly, and Samson taking out masses of quickly re-spawning Philistines with his stuffed-sock “jawbone.”

Bringing the Bible to life

Now that I have kids of my own, I’m discovering that Bible drama is one of the best ways to get young children excited about the Bible. They may not sit still for Bible reading very long, but if you give them a chance to get up and act out the story themselves, they will engage with God’s Word on a whole new level. If you haven’t tried Bible drama in your home, there are many reasons to give it a try, especially if you have young ones in your family.

How Bible drama can benefit your children:

  • It can help them pay better attention and listen for details when you read the Bible.
  • It may lead to questions and better understanding of the stories.
  • They will remember the stories much better after acting them out with you.
  • It helps them to see the character of God and the pattern of His faithfulness throughout history.
  • They’ll see the consequences of man’s decisions as played out in Scripture.
  • It helps them think through and better understand Scripture passages (especially the Proverbs).
  • Acting out stories is often more engaging for everyone, especially boys, extra-active children, and kinesthetic learners.
  • Drama brings the Bible to life! Children realize that the people in Scripture were real people living real lives, just like us.
  • You’ll create fun family memories as everyone learns and plays together.
  • As your children grow older, they may also find ways to bless others through Bible drama, including mission work, outreach, and church programs.

While you’re having fun with Bible drama, remember the ultimate goal. We want our children to know God – as He reveals Himself in His Word – and believe in Him. This is why God tells us to instruct our children. This is why He gave us such rich stories to share. That’s what I’m praying for, for my kids and yours.

 

Do your boys enjoy acting out Bible stories? Do they have a favorite story?

You may also enjoy Get Kids to Love Bible Study or Doorposts’ Bible Drama Video Contest.

Don’t Let “Oops” Define Your Parenting

There are several people in life that you don’t want to hear say “Oops!” Your barber, your mechanic, and your surgeon come to mind. Another is your parents. None of us want “Oops” to sum up the influence we’ve had on the lives of our children. Sadly, I am hearing more and more of that from dads. It is crucial for us to become intentional about what we are giving the next generation in the short time they are in our care.

If you don’t know this, time sneaks up on you. At first it was sleepless nights and leaky diapers. Exhausting and disgusting, but a fair trade off for getting close with such a little bundle of joy. Then they raise the bar with bumps and bruises, dinnertime spills, crayons on the walls, and the word “No” in response to, well, everything. The trade off seems a little less fair. Before you know it, you pole vault over issues you never thought were part of the parenting package- that first cuss word, awkwardly trying to explain sex, or working through that first time they are picked on or excluded.

It is our job as dads to give them a biblical framework for living. We are called to equip them with a strong sense of identity that comes from knowing who made them, who they are, and how they fit into the larger story of life. We must help them understand their story from the Author’s perspective, to enjoy the wonder that comes from knowing that with God everything is sacred and nothing is meaningless.

Dads must lead the charge in this battle for truth and teach our kids about:

A personal, loving God who created them for relationship.
A sense of purpose and meaning that transcends the often confusing and painful experiences they will endure.
Timeless truth that frames the choices they will face and explains the seemingly hapless circumstances of life.
A profound hope only found in Jesus Christ that can overshadow the deepest despair.

Don’t let this opportunity slip by. The curtain is up and you are on stage. It is time to act!

Boys and Integrity

Boys-and-integrity

The evening was coming to an end and so were my wits. My oldest was crying in her room. As I went to see what was wrong, my son scurries out of the room avoiding eye contact with me, leaping into bed with guilt dragging behind him. I ask her what he did and in between gasps of air she belts out, “He’s exasperating me!” I ask her how he’s exasperating her and she proceeds to explain he sold her a pen for a dollar and now wants another dollar after she had already given him the money.

I call him into the room.

He peers ever so slowly from around the corner. His head is down. Our eyes barely meet.

He tells me this is true of what happened.

He’s hardly remorseful and more concerned that he didn’t get more than what he sold it to his sister for.

The words, “You need to give your sister back the money she paid for the pen…and she’s keeping the pen too,” rolled off of my tongue.

You would have thought I took all of his toys and burned them with the look I received from him.

I explained the meaning of integrity and what it means to keep your word. I explained there are few men who have it and having integrity is a noble characteristic.

I want him to know what integrity is. I want integrity to be his best friend. I want it to be my best friend too. I turn to him and give him permission as man to man that he can call me out on anything that I’m not doing with integrity.

It’s a two-way street.

I have seen men fall from high places from a lack of integrity. And no man is above falling.

I want my son to know I have his back. And I want him to have mine.

If he loses everything and has God and integrity, then he really hasn’t lost anything at all.

The New-to-Them Car: A Lesson in Integrity

Most dads want to teach their sons and daughters that being truthful and honest is something our God desires and asks of us. Our personal integrity is highly valuable and should be maintained throughout our lives. I can remember those awkward moments when one of my sons had been caught telling a lie. You know those talks — the “I-am-more-disappointed-in-you-because-you-didn’t-tell-me-the-truth-than-I-am-about-what-you-did-in-the-first-place” ones.

A New-to-Them Car: A Lesson in Integrity

Recently, I received a call from my son, Jordan who lives in Montana with his wife, Katie, and their dog, Juno.  With careers at separate non-profit organizations, they have been able to work in their respective areas of interests and passions, but their combined income these days isn’t as large as their father/father-in-law would like to see.  The call I received from my son that day was about their car. A few days earlier it started to make some noise — coming from the area of the transmission; noise that a 7 year-old vehicle with less than 90,000 miles shouldn’t be making. They had purchased the car several years earlier and had it serviced regularly, but they still a balance on their loan for it. So, Jordan took the car to a mechanic and had him drive the car to take a listen.  The conclusion was that it was probably a bearing and could go bad at any time. The mechanic also explained that this type of transmission repair would require a complete replacement when it failed — to the tune of $2500-$3500!

Jordan’s question to me was simple: What should I do? As we talked and evaluated the options of trading the car in, selling it outright, or repairing it, I began to see the fruit of those earlier lessons play out in his decision-making process. His first step was to find out what a dealer would give him on a trade towards another car. But, after looking at the cost of a replacement vehicle, he felt the difference needed would be more than they could afford. They didn’t have an extra $3000 sitting around, so repairing it seemed to be low on the list of practical solutions. The final option was to sell it outright, but that meant deciding whether to reveal the potential problem or not.

Ah, the integrity question.

Honestly, none of the options seemed ideal, but Jordan insisted he would have to reveal the mechanical issue regardless of which option they chose.

That’s when God showed up.

Jordan received a call from Katie’s dad. He told them that a close friend was about to trade in a 3 year-old Subaru, but she didn’t like the trade in value. She offered it to Jordan and Katie for a few hundred dollars more than the trade in amount. It was a great deal and now all that remained was to get rid of the car with the problem. Jordan decided  he would take it to a local dealer and ask him to purchase it. Unfortunately, the dealer wasn’t interested, but had a personal friend who was looking for a similar vehicle. Jordan took the car to him later that evening and told him the whole story. The man looked at Jordan, said he liked the car, wasn’t concerned about the transmission issue, and wanted to buy it for his daughter. Jordan told him the book value of the car, what the repair would cost, and what he thought a fair price would be. The guy agreed and they shook hands.

Today, Jordan and Katie are driving a new car that fits their budget and in their hearts they are thanking the God who loves them for working it all out. I’m convinced that God, who loves us unconditionally, really enjoys it when we decide in our hearts to do things His way. Not every story will turn out with a new car, but every time we decide to follow our Heavenly Father’s instruction (His Word) we are acting out true faith. And whenever we act out (in) faith we are pleasing to our Father.

Try it and watch what happens.

How have you walked through lessons on integrity with your sons? Have you or they had opportunities to live out what you’ve learned from Scripture?

Finding The Truth: A Lesson for My Son

Finding-the-truth

If you have little ones, or remember the days when you had little ones, you may be able to relate to the following scenario…

My youngest son, whom I affectionately refer to as a “tornado in tennis shoes,” is regularly getting himself into mischief. Yesterday, I walked into a room where he was holding a desk lamp, and shining it at his sisters.

“Why are you playing with my lamp?” I asked.

“I’m not,” he responded, still holding the lamp in his hand. Even caught red-handed, a lie is the first thing that comes out. He says it because he hopes he can avoid any discomfort. He is trying to take the easy way out.

I repeat words that sound too familiar. I give him consequences for his sin and tell him how lies hurt our relationship.

“We should always tell the truth,” I say, “even when it may mean trouble for us.”

Since he is (almost) 3 years old, I have no doubt this scenario will be repeated often for quite a while. Soon, it will start to sink in, and hopefully as he grows he’ll learn to value truth. But this starts by me modeling truth to him. He is counting on my integrity–the truth that I am committed to him. He’ll learn the truth that I will provide for him and care for him, and that I will follow through on promised blessings. Deep down, today my son knows he can count on me for all those things … he just doesn’t have the word for it yet: truth.

I am reminded that this scenario was first encountered in the Garden of Eden, clear back in Genesis. Adam does not take responsibility for his actions, but blames Eve, who blames the serpent. We are so easily swayed to redirect blame for our sin elsewhere. They were both trying to take the easy way out. God saw through this. He saw their hearts, their motives, and brought consequences to them as well.

I take comfort in realizing that using lies to take the ‘easy way out’ of his problems is not unique to my son, but I am also very sober in my thinking: this is the very heart of the sin he was born into. My mission in his life is to bring him on a journey of understanding his own sinful state, and seeking the redemption and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6 (NIV).

There are so many that seek God through paths other than Jesus, but He alone is the very definition of truth. Jesus never said that following His truth would be easy. In fact, he said it would be, and should be, the hard path to take.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (NIV)

Taking up a cross daily is not taking the easy way out!

So, I am also challenged by the truth of Jesus Christ. It is so easy for me to drift into a life of compromise, thinking that I am not too bad, at least not as bad as the person I am comparing myself to. Do you hear Adam’s thoughts in that statement, as he blamed Eve?

It is only when I compare my heart, my actions, and my motives to those of Jesus Christ that I see my own life in the truth that it needs to be seen in. I so often find myself coming short of God’s best for me, and I need to re-align with the truth of God.

I need to continually embrace the truth of Jesus Christ, so that I may share that with my son. My son needs to ultimately embrace the truth of Jesus Christ, as he understands the deceit in his heart. And when he truly embraces the truth of Jesus Christ, I’ll get to see my son shine the best kind of light–the light of truth–on those around him.

And that is hope worth patiently and lovingly fighting for. Raising my son to be a man of truth is not the taking easy way out.

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.

Make it Known to Your Children

Hi, I’m Daniel Forster. I’ve been reading posts here at Boy Dads for a while, and I am excited to be part of this community.

I’m still a relative newbie to parenting (my kids are age four and under), but I was blessed with godly Christian parents, and I love to share how their diligence in parenting positively impacted me.

One of the biggest, most important things my dad did for me was to read the Bible every day.

Dads, you might not realize how much impact that can have.

I can hardly remember a day of my boyhood that my dad didn’t open the Bible and read to us. I’m sure there were a few exceptions, but I can’t remember them.

Make-it-known-to-your-children

Now that I have a wife and three kids of my own, I realize that this took dedication on his part. It’s so easy to forget or to let excuses take over:

There isn’t time.

I’m too tired.

They’re too tired.

We’re going to be late.

I don’t remember where the Bible is.

Don’t be so legalistic. One day won’t make a difference.

I know in my heart that sharing God’s truth with my family is one of the most important things I am called to do, and that I need to build the habit of doing it every day.

God continues to speak to me through His Word, largely because my parents so diligently drilled it into me when I was young. They helped me memorize Scripture, they encouraged me to read Scripture on my own as early as possible, they encouraged me to study Scripture, and they read Scripture to me every day. I want to give this same gift to my kids.

I love what King Hezekiah said after God healed him from sickness and promised him 15 more years of life:

“The living, the living man, he shall praise You, as I do this day;
The father shall make known Your truth to the children.” (Isaiah 38:19 NKJV)

Hezekiah’s near-death experience may have caused him to re-focus on priorities, and this was one of them. The father shall make known Your truth to the children.

When my life is done, I hope all my children can say that I faithfully taught them God’s truth. May God help me to make that one of my top priorities.

 

Did your dad read the Bible to you? Have you found ways to make Bible reading a priority in your family?

 

Daniel Forster is married to Katelyn, father to three little ones, and the manager of Doorposts Publishing near Portland, Oregon. He graduated from homeschooling in 2002, and is now getting excited about homeschooling his own kids. He enjoys reading, writing, playing fiddle, working outdoors, and spending time with his family. Daniel contributes to the blog Doorposts of Your House and he’s written two books, Prepare Thy Work and Because You Are Strong.

Lessons Learned From a Family Missions Trip

Family Missions Trip
I’m not sure why it takes me leaving the country to make everything in my brain and heart line up correctly, but it does. I get out of whack here in the US– or, at least, my priorities do. I get into routine, comfort, and expectations for what I believe should be normal, and it all goes south. And impressively fast.

For the past three years, I have taken one or both of my boys on a trip to Honduras to serve with a ministry that we love and support. When I step my foot off of the plane in Honduras, I remember with my very heart what it means when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I get to smell, touch and see those who are (by all the world’s standards) poor, but yet very, very rich in what matters. That is something I want my boys to experience as well.

I want my boys to see that they don’t know hunger. As we step out of a van into trash, human waste, and decay, they see a child about 11 months of age. No shoes, no diaper, and a tattered shirt, waiting patiently in line to receive a meal from our team. Possibly the only meal that has not been retrieved from someone’s trash in quite some time.

I want them to know, and I want to be reminded, that I become impatient if my meal takes more than 15-20 minutes in a restaurant. To think that I flippantly say, “I’m starving” if I’ve gone more than about 4 hours without a meal. Yet, this child waits patiently, not complaining, and with a smile on her face. Grateful. I want to be and I want my boys to be hungry like this for Jesus. Hungry to always know our need for Jesus.

I also want our boys to feel. I want them to feel the joy of seeing other believers who love Jesus with a fire and passion that I want them to have. I want them to feel the happiness of a boy who does not carry our last name on his birth certificate, but who has his name branded on our hearts. A boy who knows how to embrace life with arms wide open despite abandonment that left them empty not so long ago. I want them to feel the sorrow of so many that stare into hopelessness day after day.

Finally, I want them to be humbled. Humbled by a God that would come down to this earth so that this would not be the end. That created a way for us to live for something beyond ourselves. To give a purpose, a hope, and a future. To have them come undone so that they might come together with a one-track heart and mind.

I know that taking your family to serve in another country is a big commitment of your time and your money. I also know that there is plenty of work to be done in our country as well. But I do think that there is great value in a father showing his son that men must be champions of service. That is better modeled than discussed.

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.” –C.S. Lewis

What lessons have you learned from serving with your kids? How has it shaped their worldview?

Listening For Unwelcome Advice

BoyDads Donkey MemeOne of the principles I try to teach my sons is to take criticism and advice well. We guys tend to be proud and self-reliant, and since we all fall short at different places and times, we can use some humility.   We definitely need the help. Rudyard Kipling’s classic poem “If …” holds out a standard – “trust yourself when all men doubt you / But make allowance for their doubting, too.”

More often, I think of the case of Balaam’s donkey. If you’re not up on Old Testament history, Balaam was a supposed prophet during the conquest of Canaan. The leaders of the Canaanite nations of Moab and Midian saw the crushing defeat of their Amorite neighbors, and they hired Balaam to curse the incoming tide of Israelites. After some dithering and negotiation, Balaam saddled his donkey and rode to the front.

“Then God’s anger was aroused because he went,” the Bible tells us, “and the Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him.” Three times, the donkey balked at a heavenly presence which Balaam couldn’t see, turning off the pathway, squeezing the prophet’s foot against a wall, and finally laying down right in the middle of the road. When the frustrated rider began to beat the animal, a remarkable conversation occurred:

Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”

And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”

So the donkey said to Balaam, “[Am] I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since [I became] yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?” And he said, “No.”

Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.

And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because [your] way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.”  (Numbers 22:22-33)

What do I take from this? Two important lessons:

First, we can’t always see the dangers ahead of us. It pays to listen to someone else’s perspective.

And second, sometimes God sends good advice through unwelcome sources.  A mature man will consider the advice for its own worth, not get angry and defensive with the person who gave it. Think of him as a donkey if you like, but still, pay attention – it might save your life.

(You can read the whole account of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22 and 23. The rest of the Bible tells us Balaam was a truly bad character, but in this case he eventually blessed the Israelites instead of cursing them. These quotations are from the New King James Version.)

Dads, how do you help your boys (and yourself) see past the one giving the advice so you can truly examine the advice being given? Share some insights in the comments!

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Hal Young is the father of six sons, aged 11 to adult. He and his wife Melanie are the authors of Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys, and the upcoming My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses (Great Waters Press). Visit their website at www.RaisingRealMen.com or their Facebook page www.facebook.com/raisingrealmen.

Teaching Our Sons to Pursue Truth

Pursuing TruthOne of the most daunting tasks given to fathers, in my mind, is the biblical mandate to teach our sons to seek and embrace truth. In the midst of the moral chaos of relativism, church leaders questioning the authority and authenticity of the Bible, and the prominence of religious alternatives to true faith in God, how do we, as dads, begin to instill in our sons the tools to recognize, respond to, and relay truth?

This is a difficult question for me, and very broad, to tell the truth. How do I help my sons, young as they are (2 years old and 9 months old) form a foundation for discerning truth? What can I set in motion now, while they are still little, that will set the stage for conversations and understanding as they begin to think more independently and form their own worldview?

While this kind of a topic deserves specific (and much longer) attention, it seems to me that there are three primary ways we can lay the foundation for our sons to pursue and hold tightly to God’s truth.

Know the Truth

We can only teach our sons what we know. So, if we want our sons to know what God’s truth is, we have to know it ourselves. As Jesus said in His high priestly prayer (John 17:17), “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” In order to teach our sons truth, we must know truth. And to know truth, we must know God’s word. We have available to us the specific disclosure of God’s nature, through the Bible and especially through Jesus Christ.

Speak the Truth

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7

We can’t expect our sons to embrace and pursue God’s truth if we do not actively and verbally teach it to them. As Deuteronomy tells us, the words of Scripture are to be a continuous theme in the lives of our families. My wife and I often talk about how we want Scripture to permeate our house; how we want to create an environment where exploring God’s word together, and with our children, is not limited to family devotions, bedtime prayers, or Sundays after church. Each one of these very valuable practices should be only part of a tapestry of Scripture woven into our family. We want to pass on to our sons that God’s Word is the foundation for the way we live.

Live the Truth

As with any behavior or principle we want our children to adopt, we must model  the pursuit and embrace of God’s truth for our sons. One of the great fringe benefits of choosing to engage in a daily Bible study and prayer time is that our sons will understand just how important our relationship with God is. Of even more import, however, is how we live that truth out. For us to know and speak truth without living it will cause our sons confusion at best, and rejection of the Gospel at worst. Instead, as the apostle Paul exhorted, let your life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Let your actions show that you believe what you say you believe. The Pharisees knew truth; they taught truth; but their actions showed that they were white-washed tombs- devoid of truth. Our kids know when there’s no concord between what we say and what we do. And it will affect what they believe.

The long and short of it is, I’m young. My kids are young. I don’t know how exactly all this plays out, but I do know that now is the time to teach my sons toward truth. This world is literally ruled by the father of lies. My desire for my sons is that they will know God’s truth, and that it will sanctify them (John 17:17). It is up to me to begin the process of equipping them to know and hold fast to that truth.

Dads, how have you integrated the pursuit of truth into your everyday lives with your families? What suggestions do you have for those of us who are younger/newer dads?