Great Fatherhood Requires Cross-Training


As Christians around the world join together every year to celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday, let me challenge you, Dads, to direct your attention and boldly train your children in the powerful and transformational truths of the cross.

Let me summarize thousands of years of history and theological books for you. The cross of Jesus Christ is the secret to knowing God, experiencing His love and walking in true victory in life. (Romans 5:8)

Cross-training2Embracing the cross transforms a man from the inside out. Living the cross guides him to die to his fears and self-centeredness and to be more like Christ and walk in courage and truth in this world. (Luke 9:23) Teaching your children about the cross is fundamental to leading your kids to the heart of God and training them to make the most of their lives.

Jesus said it this way, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-25 nasu.

Palm Sunday and the Passover week leading up to Easter are really about the cross and Jesus becoming the sacrificial lamb whose blood would save people from God’s wrath (John 1:29, Luke 22:14-20).

Did you know that the cross is the central theme of the entire 66 books of the Bible? The Old Testament is constantly using symbolism and prophecies (Genesis 22:4-18, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53) to point people forward to the cross. The New Testament looks back to the cross. The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all take you on a journey to the cross.

The cross is also the central theme of true theology.

Through the cross, Jesus dealt with everything that our selfishness and sin has brought into the world. Sin brings guilt and shame, but Jesus bore our shame on the cross. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Sin brings bondage, addiction and spiritual slavery. (John 8:31-36) But Jesus sets us free from these. (Romans 6:6, 17-18, 22, Galatians 2:20; 5:1) Sin brings the judgment and curse of the law. Yet Christ died on a tree and became a curse for us to deliver us (Galatians 3). Sin results judgment, death, and the fear of death. (Romans 6:23 Hebrews 2:14). But Christ conquered death, hell, and the grave.

At the same time, the cross of Jesus reveals and uncovers the character of God’s heart. It glorifies and announces the very nature of God Himself in vivid color.  If you want to see God’s wrath upon sin, then look at the cross.

So much blood. So tortuous that Romans exempted their citizens from it. So painful, a new word was invented to describe it. In English, our word “excruciating” actually means, “out of the cross. ”

But at the same time, if you want to see the beauty of God’s mercy, look at the cross and how He bore our sins for us. (Romans 9:16; Eph. 2:4-5). The height of God’s LOVE was revealed at the cross. (John 15:13) Jesus paid the highest price possible to those us who deserved it the least in order to give us the greatest gift possible.

When we men and our children realize how much we deserve God’s judgment and yet how much love and mercy He has offered us through the cross, it does something amazing within us. It humbles us.

Charles Spurgeon wrote,  “My sins were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned with thorn those bleeding brows: my sins cried “Crucify Him! crucify Him!” and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders. His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity: but my having been His murderer, is more, infinitely more, grief than one poor fountain of tears can express.”

Yet, knowing what Christ did for us transforms us. It awakens us to God’s love and mercy poured out for us. It inspires us to let go of what is wrong in our lives and embrace what God wants from us.

The cross answers life’s toughest questions. Which religious leader is worth following? Look to the One Who died on a cross for you. How can I know that I am really loved? Run to the cross. How do I get encouragement on a daily basis? Be inspired by the cross. How do I get set free from addictions? By embracing the cross and following Christ. What does God think about my sin? Gaze upon the shame of the cross. How do I get eternal life? By bowing your knee and your heart at the foot of it.

How should I then live? The Apostle Paul beautifully explained it this way, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20 NASU

This is the power of the cross.

Embrace it and teach it to your children.

Well Done Good and Faithful Dad

“Well done…good and faithful dad”

Recently I wrote a blog post for Dad Matters, a new blog for dads from Focus on the Family called, Defining Manhood: Reflecting on Steubenville.  This blog post was a letter to my son about manhood in light of the tragedy in Steubenville, OH.

In the post I wrote, “May I stand before the Lord some day and hear the words, “well done, good and faithful dad …”

“Good and faithful dad …” isn’t that an interesting thought?  The more I think about servanthood in that context the more I long to hear it.  As a man, I want to be found faithful in my calling to the Lord.  To be a good steward of the talents and skills He has given me…but always within the context of being a husband and father.

opentomb-crossYou see, to know at the deepest level of our being that God is our Father and that we are his sons and daughters is the result of what Christ did for us on the cross.  It is to know Him as ‘Abba, Father.’

No Longer On The Cross

In today’s culture, fatherhood is often merely an afterthought, but Christ changed all of that for every single one of us on the cross.  In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ expressed a childlike trust yet was willingly obedient when he prayed.  “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36).  You see Christ was basically saying…”you are a good and faithful Father and I will trust you with this…”

As we celebrate Easter, may we celebrate Easter within the context of being a dad.  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”  (Galatians 4:4-7)

Easter is an adoption ceremony that allows us to become His sons and daughters.  And as dads…do our children see us modeling and living out our sonship?    As Christ was found faithful, may we be found faithful to our callings as fathers so that one day we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant…”  That’s a life that’s no longer on the cross but now living in freedom!

Happy Easter.  I hope you know the power of being one of his children.  If you don’t, you can.  Check out “Restoring Our Relationship With God.”


Don’t Miss Out on Real Life

fatherhood comission mitch temple ute passWhen our family lived in Colorado Springs a few years back I loved taking walks along an old Indian trail called “the Ute pass.”  Often as I hiked I noticed large pines bowed down toward the ground pointing to the earth. I assumed this was due to heavy snow storms but I read a historical marker one day which said that these are most likely “prayer trees.” Prayer trees served as markers to mark sacred spots along the trail as Native Americans traveled from the plains through the Stony pass heading deep into the Rockies. When these travelers sensed a spot that felt was sacred, they would simply bend a young sapling over without breaking it and tie its bows to the earth with a leather strap. Through the years the tree would continue to grow but would remain postured as if bowed in prayer.

As fellow tribesmen and women passed along these trails from hunting or gathering food from the plains, they would see these trees and be reminded to slow down, stop and pray. To pass these sacred spots without praying was not looked upon with favor by peers.

Just as Native Americans needed prayer reminders as they carried on their daily journey of life, so do we.  Not only do we need to be reminded to refocus our thoughts to the One who made us and the things around us, we also need to be reminded to refocus on those we care about- our family and friends- the “big rocks”.

Sure it’s easy to pass hurriedly along our “trails” each day. I am the world’s worst at running wide open often missing “sacred moments.” But if we forget the people and things that mean more to us than our  “must do” responsibilities, we can miss out on the most important opportunities of life.

We may not be able to bend trees to remind us of the sacred or what means the most to us, but it’s good to place reminders along our daily expeditions to slow down, remember the important.   “Sticky note to self: Call Dad tonight; send my wife an email thanking her for working tirelessly to care for us; send a text to my daughter telling her how proud her daddy is of her. And, most importantly, say a little prayer thanking God  for it all.“