My Stuff Stays Here! When to Let Your Child Bring Possessions to the Other Home

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. —Colossians 3:21

It can be frustrating as a single parent to use your limited resources to provide for your child’s needs—only to have certain items go over to the other parent’s house and possibly not be returned. Where do you draw the line without causing your child to feel the pressures of living in two homes? How do you guard their heart and establish boundaries in protecting what you buy them? Let’s take a little deeper look together.

What the child sees

Don’t forget—I have a divided heart now. I live between two completely different houses, rules, traditions and attitudes. Be patient with me when I forget things or need some time to adjust from house to house. Please buy me enough stuff that I don’t have to live out of a suitcase my whole life. If you want me to feel “at home” in both places, please set up a full home for me, even if I am only there a few days a month. Things like tooth brushes, shoes, clothes, my favorite cereal, and having cool décor in my room—these all help me feel welcomed and at home in both homes. Don’t compete or argue about these things, just help me not have to feel like a visitor when I am with either parent. Make it as easy on ME as possible! –Top 10 Things Kids Wished They Could Say to Their Divorced Parents, Tammy Daughtry, Co-Parenting International

I think the above paragraph sums it up quite well. Unfortunately, our children do feel torn at times—a one-home lifestyle isn’t their norm any more. With all the division already, is it fair for us to restrict anything that may make them feel a bit more stable? Maybe that stuffed animal or favorite shirt is one thing that helps keep their emotions in check—offering a bit of normalcy in their life. Let’s be sure to keep this in mind before the next time they ask to take something to the other home and before we say no.

What we see

Jesus tells a parable in Luke 18:10-14 about a Pharisee and tax collector. He describes the tax collector’s repentant heart and the Pharisee’s self-centeredness…the Pharisee using the word “I” 5 times! If we are not careful, we can fall into the same trap—putting all the focus on our own needs rather than our children’s.

Bitterness can cause blindness—at least it did for me. I was always caught up with what my daughter already had at her mother’s house, why did she need to take my stuff over there too? I mean, I was using my limited funds to buy stuff that I wanted to keep at my house and I wasn’t happy that my daughter wanted to take what I bought her out of the home that I pay for… (Get it?).

To be honest, I was worried about not having enough nice clothes or decent toys/activities at my home—which is a legitimate concern, but also needs to be handled delicately. One wrong word or action from a parent can really sink a child’s spirit for many years to come.

What you can do

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, here are a few quick suggestions to help avoid conflict and keep your child’s heart guarded:

1. Ask the other parent to provide clothes for your child to go home in. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something that already belongs in the other home that your son or daughter can wear back, thus keeping your clothes at your house.

2. Give the other parent the benefit of the doubt. If something of yours goes home with your child, simply ask for it to be returned next time around. Use language such as, “I’m letting ____________ bring her pillow over, she wanted to hold on to it this week. Can you please ask her to bring it back next time I see her?” The point is to use wording that emphasizes it is for the child’s sake, not yours.

3. Set boundaries in your home and use age-appropriate language. In love, explain to your child that certain items need to stay at your home and tell them why. Take ownership of the situation and reassure them that though they live in two homes, they are equally loved.

4. Be prepared to lose a few things. It happens and it’s not the end of the world. We all lose possessions at times. Though it stinks when this happens, just remember: the most important things in life aren’t things. A parent’s top priority is investing in their child’s heart. Choose how you will react ahead of time if something does get lost and will you be more concerned about a lost item—or your child’s well-being?

5. Trust God will provide. The Bible says that the sun shines and the rain falls on both the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). Even if you try to do what is right and end up getting burnt in doing so, have faith that God sees your heart and obedience and that He will sustain all you need to be the best parent you can be.

 

As my friend Tammy Daughtry also says, “Think T.E.A.M.M.: The End Adult Matters Most!” In other words, our actions and words today will shape our children for tomorrow. What sort of adult do you want to influence your son or daughter to be? Twenty years from now, will they remember constant bickering over petty things—or a loving home where selfishness was replaced by selflessness, and they are that much better off because of it?

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. For more information on starting a single dad group in your area, please visit www.afatherswalk.org

Can You Pray Your Kids Get Caught?

For years, Ben and Sarah routinely said a prayer they hoped would not come true for any of their four children.  They knew how kids could be.  They knew how the culture pulls good kids from good homes to make not-so-good decisions.  My friend Ben is especially aware because he was more than a bit rebellious in his younger days.  Looking at him, you wouldn’t know it today, but Ben was deep into narcotics in his early twenties.

So, Ben and Sarah prayed specifically that if and when their children did something illegal or immoral or simply made a really bad choice, that they would get caught.

That’s the exact words they used.  And not long ago their prayer was answered.  It was a holiday weekend with lots of activity in the house, and Sarah needed something that was last seen in their teenage daughter’s closet.  Looking there, she found a bottle of rum and some fruit-mixer concoction.

The Christmas celebration took a sharp, unpleasant, yet necessary turn.  With sincere apologies, some of the guests were asked to leave.  The festivities were postponed.  The family huddled and their daughter was confronted.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what was said.  But the core message was very personal and very compelling.  Up until that day, Ben’s four children only had an inkling of their father’s drug addiction from two decades earlier.  How far he’d fallen.  And how God had rescued him.  It wasn’t a pleasant story.  And it’s not a story you should tell to small children.  After all, when kids are young and impressionable, they need to see dad as a hero.  Invincible.  A solid rock they can count on.

Ben had been that dependable dad for their entire lives.  Which is a great thing.  And which made his testimony to his children even more powerful.   Over the years, Ben had shared his story with men’s groups and other individuals who were struggling with addiction.  He talked about Satan’s power, hitting bottom, and finding hope only after turning his life over to Christ.  But his kids only knew small bits and pieces of the story.

That evening they heard something they didn’t want to hear, but needed to hear.  However, they were old enough to listen, understand, and learn from their father’s mistakes.  The teenager who was hiding the liquor really didn’t receive a severe punishment.  Listening to her dad open up about his personal battle — the stumbling, helplessness, surrender, and recovery — had more than enough impact.  In a sense, the family was broken that night.  But they soon healed stronger than ever.

Thinking about Ben and Sarah, the word that comes to mind is courage.  Courage to overcome.  Courage to trust.  Courage to pray the way they did for  their kids.  And courage to see the big picture.  They weren’t just dealing with a bottle of rum found in a teenager’s closet.  They were standing up against Satan who had chosen that Christmas season to seize a new foothold in their family.  But the father of lies and deceit didn’t have a chance.  Instead of sweeping it under the rug or delaying any repercussions until after the family event, that mom and dad addressed the situation firmly, efficiently, and without hesitation.  How did they know what to do and what to say?  Only because that’s what they had been praying for.

Your past may be different than Ben’s.  But your children are facing the same cultural challenges.  Do you have the courage to pray for your children to get caught?  Will you have the courage to confront your children’s unhealthy choices at the top of the slippery slope?

 

PRAYER FOR WISE CHOICES

Heavenly Father.  We pray that our kids make choices that honor you.  But we also know that our kids have sinned and will sin.  In their humanness, they will fall short of your glory.  In humility and brokenness, Lord, we ask that you open our eyes to those times when we need to intervene.  We pray they get caught.  In those difficult moments, we pray that we have the courage and wisdom to respond with love and truth.  And, thank you Lord for preparing our heart and minds to be the parents our children need in every situation.  In times of joy.  And in times when the world seems to be crumbling around us.  Thank you for being our rock.  We love and trust you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

                                             2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 NIV

 

 

Jay Payleitner is a national speaker on parenting and marriage and best-selling author of 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad and What If God Wrote Your Bucket List?  His latest book is 52 Ways to Connect as a Couple.  For more, go to www.jaypayleitner.com.

Standing in the Gap: The Value of Mentoring

 

In his book Good to Great in God’s Eyes, author and pastor Chip Ingram states, “A master’s ceiling can become his disciple’s floor if the disciple knows how to absorb the lessons of the master’s life.” In my own experience, I have witnessed countless times the significance and eternal impact that mentoring creates. There are literally MILLIONS of children (many right in our own neighborhoods) who do not receive any of the parental affirmation and protection they so desperately need to make it in today’s world.

As Christian parents, I believe it is our responsibility to seek out and build up today’s youth who may not have strong parental figures of their own (men mentoring boys, women with girls). Obviously mentoring begins at home with our own kids, but there is probably a child in need of a little (or a lot!) of guidance within your sphere of influence too. Please understand I am not challenging everyone reading this to jump into a full-time mentoring role, but even small amounts of encouragement and generosity can go a long way in a child’s life. If in fact you do find yourself being led to mentor a youth, here are a few quick points to help get you going:

Be Consistent

Almost without a doubt, a troubled youth has had more than one parent, family member, or friend bail on them in life. If you do decide to become a mentor, establishing a set day, time, and duration will bring a welcome change of consistency into his or her life.

Be Authentic

Don’t judge based on what their outside life may look like to us. There probably are many underlying issues such as being lied to, abused (in any form), or manipulated. We are all damaged individuals—the difference being as Christian adults we are now capable of trusting and turning it over to Christ. This may or may not be an option for your mentee, so keep that in mind.

Be Faithful

There is so much to be said for Christians who live their faith out on a daily basis. Stay true to that while mentoring too. Show the love of Jesus through your words and actions, and allow the Holy Spirit to direct the relationship. When we do, lives are impacted and generations are changed for God’s glory.

 

Moms and dads, who is the Lord leading you today to begin investing in as a mentor?

 

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’. –Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. More information at www.afatherswalk.org.

Facing the Blitz: Pass on a Blessing

Pass on a Blessing

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” –Jim Valvano

Game Plan: 

“To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God…as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline…He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus …our Savior…” –2 Tim 1:2-9 NIV

Time Out:

Think about the blessing you wished you’d gotten from your father or mother. Remember how God the Father said of Jesus, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Who is God asking you to bless? A child or grandchild? Spouse? Someone without a parent in his or her life?

Pray about the persons you want to affirm and bless by asking for God’s very best in their heart and life.

“Think about the blessing you wished you’d gotten from your father or mother. Pray about a person you want to affirm and bless by asking for God’s very best in their heart and life.” –Jeff Kemp

Go Deep:

Talk to God about this. Do the following for the person you want to bless:

  • Write down one sentence about how you love and are pleased with him or her.
  • One sentence about their identity.
  • One sentence about their mission.
  • One sentence about God’s control and benevolence in their life.
  • Pray that blessing for them privately for a period.

Let God tell you when you should create a special time to bless them by putting your hand on them and praying the blessing out loud. Or, write it in a letter and send it to them.

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Dreaming Together: How to Develop Joint Marital Dreams

Before we can intelligently talk about developing joint marital dreams, we must first understand what we’re talking about. We all have dreams about matters important to us – our lives, our jobs, our accomplishments, our dream vacation spots, and of course, our marriages.

The fascinating part of this concept is that few of us ever vocalize most of our specific dreams. In fact, many of us have never consciously determined what many of these dreams are beyond a vague idea of success, competence, fame, fortune, happiness, fulfillment, and/or influence. Just because we haven’t consciously determined what most of these dreams look like, however, doesn’t mean that we don’t exert considerable influence on our mates to reach the ultimate achievement of our dreams.

For example, suppose a man’s fondest boyhood memories of time spent with his father involved time bonding together while working on and riding his dad’s motorcycle. As a result, one of his unspoken and unfocused dreams for his marriage might be to take biking trips with his wife across several states, camping out on the way, just enjoying nature and the love of his life. The woman he fell in love with and married thinks “roughing it” involves a week’s stay in a 5-star hotel in the Caribbean, and never on a motorcycle. On a level he may not even be aware of, he views his marriage as a disappointment and failure because they can never bond in a way that speaks volumes to him of happiness, intimacy, and mutual interest.

Because our marital dreams color our view of happiness and success – at least, in marriage – understanding what our marital dreams are and what they mean to us is essential to our feelings of a successful and fulfilling marriage. Understanding our own dreams for our marriages, however, is only the first of three vital steps.

The second step is to understand what the spouse’s dreams for the marriage are, and what those dreams mean to him or her. Finally, once you both understand each other’s dreams and the significance behind each one, each spouse must find a way to fulfill as many of the other’s marital dreams as possible. Obviously, the likelihood of some dreams being mutually exclusive with some dreams of the other is a real possibility. Consequently, not all dreams can be fulfilled.

When both spouses allow a give-and-take attitude to prevail so that some of both mate’s marital dreams are fulfilled, and what is not achievable stems from fulfilling an opposing marital dream of the other or some other reasonable factor (like insufficient time or resources), love, respect, and appreciation permeate a marriage.

When two mature people who love one another deeply follow this plan, they see many marital dreams for both fulfilled. Isn’t this what every married couple dreams of achieving?

– Family Dynamics Institute

 

Family Dynamics Institute collaborates with Churches, Companies, and Community Organizations to help them provide a Comprehensive Marriage Ministry to help married and engaged couples grow stronger at all ages and stages of marriage.

To Learn More, Contact Us At:

800-650-9995

Email Us:    info@FamilyDynamics.net

Websites:     www.FamilyDynamics.net

www.SaveMyMarriage.com

What Kids Learn From Their Dad

How well are you representing your heavenly Father? To your son? To your daughter? That is your priceless purpose.

Both the Scriptures and statistics clearly communicate that there is no more influential person in the life of a child than his or her father. Whereas moms are priceless, irreplaceable, and needed beyond measure, they were never designed to be men or to fill the role of a dad. When the Bible states that “the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6 NKJV), it is revealing an important dynamic of how God has wired the hearts and minds of children.

They learn their identity from you. When your kids are young, they don’t know who they are, what is right or wrong, or who God is. They don’t know how to live life. But kids naturally go to their dads for answers to their biggest questions: Who is God? Who am I? Am I loved? Am I a success? Do I have what it takes? What is my purpose in life? And if dads don’t teach their kids the truth about these things, then the world will teach them lies.

They learn their values from you. Kids watch their dads to find what’s important. It’s a dad’s job to keep his children from having to learn the lessons of life the hard way. A father’s wise words and actions constantly reinforce the higher priorities and deeper truths of life. So if he is not there–or if he’s there but not intentional in his training and leadership–his kids will be walking through their most important decisions without the one person who should be loving and leading them the most.

They learn their worth from you. When a child has a dad who says, “I love you, I’m proud of you, and I’m going to stand with you and always be there for you,” it changes the life of that child forever. Sons who have their dads in their lives do significantly better in school, have better social skills and self-esteem, and are more likely to say no to criminal behavior. Similarly, when a daughter looks into the mirror, she needs to hear her father’s voice in her heart reminding her that she is beautiful and loved. As a result, girls with strong dads are much more likely to feel secure–and are much less likely to have eating disorders and identity issues or to become sexually active in their teen years. But in too many families, this is not what’s happening.

We need to rediscover God’s original intention of what our homes are supposed to be like. Families should be havens of love and enjoyment. Homes should be places of peace and purpose. But great homes don’t just happen. They are gardens that need to be intentionally cultivated and guarded. A man must let truth, love, and wise discipline become constant ingredients to his fathering. He should carefully nurture his wife, his children, and his own attitude so that his home is a place where his marriage and the next generation can grow and thrive.

That’s why we need a game-changing Resolution.

 

Excerpt from The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

Are You Asking the Wrong Question?

 

For years I repeatedly asked God what He wanted me to do. I heard only silence. So I attempted with all my heart to obey Scripture and do what I thought He would want me to do. I wasn’t always sure, but I did my best. Yet I still felt inadequate, like a son who could never please his father.

 

Finally at one of my lowest times I heard my heavenly Father say, “You have been asking the wrong question, son. The right question is, ‘What do you want me to become?’ Once you experience that, live out of who you are becoming.”

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”

 

Maturity is not accomplished by striving to reach some level of performance that would deem me spiritual or by obeying a set of laws to count me as righteous. Performing and obeying will never earn my Father’s favor. Jesus is everything we are called to be and become. The Jesus in us will always delight the heart of the Father.

 

The first words that came out of the Father’s mouth at Christ’s baptism were, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). What had Christ done to deserve such a pronouncement of favor? At this time he hadn’t preached any sermons, healed the sick, raised the dead or turned the water into wine. He had simply been a faithful, loving son both to His Father in Heaven and His family on earth.

 

Understand this: What God said about Jesus, God says about all his sons and daughters. Because of the work of Christ on our behalf, God is well pleased with us.

 

“Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End of all things. We accomplish the whole purpose of God in our lives when we have our whole being summed up in Him by simply abiding in Him.” – Rick Joyner

 

 

Reflect

 

What does God want you to do? He wants you to abide in Christ.

 

 

Written by and in memory of Dr. Dan Erickson

 

Reaping What I Have Sown as a Single Dad

It’s pretty standard knowledge amongst Christians: sow into the deeds of the flesh and reap of the flesh; sow into the Spirit and reap the fruits of the Spirit. Unfortunately, the words if I had known then what I know now don’t help much once certain actions have come full circle. Such was the case of my journey into fatherhood. I was not a Christian when I met my daughter’s mom and through a relationship based strictly on the flesh, my daughter was born out of wedlock. Her mom and I never gained a stable relationship and things only grew worse between us as time went on.

Today I still live with some of the consequences from the decisions I made back then. Please don’t get me wrong: my daughter’s birth is one of the greatest moments of my life and she and I have a wonderful relationship–though I often have to endure some of the pain from not having her within the protection of marriage. This includes:

  • Not being able to see or call my daughter whenever I want
  • Difficulties because I am not able to co-parent effectively with her mom
  • All of the dynamics that come with my daughter having a stepfather
  • Trying to parent from a distance, often having to jump through hoops to stay involved with school and doctor’s appointments
  • Having to say goodbye to her after a concert or game as she goes one way with her mom and I go the other way

And so on…

 

However, I can also make a very strong case that things may not be what they are today if God had not walked me through these trials like He has. After giving my life to Christ when my daughter was very young, I now sow into His Kingdom instead of my own. A few of those fruits being reaped are:

  • Not taking my time with my daughter for granted
  • Learning to forgive myself
  • Blessing and praying for those who make life difficult at times–especially when I don’t want to or when I feel they don’t deserve it
  • Being more intentional about her schooling and interests
  • And most importantly: bringing her up in Christ. Generational curses have now become generational blessings. God has poured abundant grace over my family, as my daughter gave her life to Jesus a several years ago!

 

Yes, it still hurts sometimes to go through the things I do; but it also keeps me from becoming complacent in my walk and to continue to rely on God above everything else for the sake of my family.

 

Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance to kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you. —Hosea 10:12 (NASB) 

 

Are you allowing past mistakes to dictate your family’s current path, or are you sowing new seeds of righteousness instead?

 

 

Written by Matt Haviland of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. Originally published on October 28, 2015 at 1Corinthians 13 Parenting.

3 Questions a Dad Might Not Have the Courage to Ask His Daughter

Since the launch of the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, I’ve been using John Gray’s terminology to describe my awareness that I live on Venus and you, dad, live on Mars. Truth be told, I’ve been planet hopping these past eight years since the launch of The Abba Project.

The more traveling I do between our respective planets, the more I’ve sought to transport observations from life on your sphere back to mine, and vice versa.

One of the observations I’ve collected is something that I discovered about many men. Essentially, it’s that you are often motivated by crisis or need. Stated otherwise: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I think we’re all wired a bit that way, in all honesty.

Case in point. My mom is almost 80 years old and was still working as an RN at the VA (Veterans Affairs) just a year ago. A usually vibrant and active woman, she started noticing a slight shortness of breath a little over a year ago. This started the fastball rolling when my dad rushed her to the ER one night. Four days later she was in emergency open heart surgery.

Her surgeon said he’d performed 14,000 heart surgeries during his career and had never seen an aortic valve so calcified—86%. The question then became: How could my mom have been so active and in seemingly fine health with that much blockage to her heart?

Answer: Things had gradually been taking place in her body such that she had acclimated to the changes over time. Because there hadn’t been a crisis, there was no motivation to explore the apparent minor signs and symptoms.

Reality suddenly became clear when the crisis arose. It was the crisis that changed everything. It would have been so much better had she tuned into the warning signs before it got to the desperation-emergency-almost-lost-her point.

Dad, I share that story to highlight that sometimes it’s the same way with your daughter (and son). It may seem like things are fine-like there’s not a crisis or a need because she seems okay and hasn’t gotten into trouble or given you cause for concern. Or maybe she’s been a great kid who follows the rules, gets fantastic grades, and hasn’t rebelled. So, you assume she’s all good and that she’ll stay that way.

I want to suggest:

  • Being proactive rather than reactive.
  • Attending to her overall heart health now rather than waiting until there’s a crisis.
  • Getting close enough to hear her words and listen to what she’s really saying, to look in her eyes and see how she’s really doing.

Why not take the time now to tune in by taking steps to connect with her insides (a.k.a. her heart and her mind, thoughts, ideas, fears, doubts, wonderings, questions, opinions, needs, longings, feelings, dreams, etc.) rather than risking the potential of emergency treatment down the road? At that desperation point it’s ten times harder to get a handle on things.

I have three questions that you can ask your daughter which will allow her to weigh in on how you’re doing as her dad. This may be scary to ask but I challenge you to do it anyway.

Your daughter may or may not be honest with you, but you can still invite her to respond. She may not feel safe to answer if she fears your reaction. Promise her that you won’t blow up in anger or get defensive. Tell her that you truly want to hear her heart. If she doesn’t have the courage to tell you her thoughts face to face, suggest that she write her response or text it to you later.

The key is that you use her as a reference point for evaluation on how you’re doing as a dad. Let her be your guide since it’s her heart you’re wanting to connect with and it’s her heart you want to win.

I don’t know if you’ll have the courage to ask these questions. I say that not because I don’t think you can do it but because oftentimes it’s easy to avoid the things we don’t want to hear or know. You have no control over her answers, coupled with risking vulnerability to have an open-ended conversation like this with your daughter, I realize that it could easily be dismissed. Expect to have every reason in the book NOT to initiate this conversation.

Yet I guarantee that you will have a better, stronger, healthier, and more vibrant relationship with your daughter if you ask these three questions a minimum of once a year (option: meet every six months to re-evaluate).

Are you in? Here’s your script should you dare to accept this challenge!

Why not take your daughter on a date and ask:

  1. How am I doing as your dad? 

 

  1. On a 0 to 10 scale, what rating would you give me (with 10 being the best)?

 

  1. In your eyes, what could I work on to be a better dad to you?

 

I’d love to hear from you after you ask your daughter these questions. Write me at drmichellewatson@gmail.com

Was it as hard as you thought it would be?

Did she say what you thought she would say?

Did you learn anything about yourself after hearing what she told you?

Did she give you feedback that you can use to change course with her and better connect with her needs and heart space?

 

Dr. Michelle Watson is the founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and the book, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart. She invites you to visit www.drmichellewatson.com. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drmichellewatson and Twitter @mwatsonphd.

Does the Bible Say Anything About Climate Change?

 

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. -Malachi 4:6

 

MY STORY

When I was 14 years old, I checked out of home. Although I had wonderful parents, I couldn’t figure out how to navigate my relationship with my father. I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that my father wasn’t everything I wanted and felt I needed.

I was able to cover over and hide my unresolved internal struggle with my dad for almost 30 years. Ironically, it all came to a head in a moment as I was confronted with the reality of the difference of how I WANTED to raise my 4 kids, and how I was ACTUALLY raising them. In some strange and indescribable way, it was almost like a part of me had stopped developing when I walked away from my father at age 14. I now realized how much growing up I was missing.
 


LEARNING HOW TO ADDRESS THE DISAPPOINTMENTS

Our research group has conducted several Father’s Day surveys, and collected responses from over 2,000 men and women from age 18 to 91. Among those who responded, most said Dad was good at providing these as they were growing up: protection, provision, and presiding (creating a leadership structure that was predictable). But 90% of these same adults said Dad missed in some way to provide them everything they wanted or needed. In many cases, Dad may have been physically present, but there was still an emotional barrier.

Our research has also turned about another finding: many fathers themselves feel disappointment over how they have treated their role as fathers. In my research, I have found there are 3 things that men need to address unresolved disappointment:

  1. Great Self-Care. This includes all that goes into taking care of myself so I can do the hard work of addressing unresolved emotions.

 

  1. A Network of Supportive Friends. We all do better when we are surrounded by encouragers who have our backs.

 

  1. Healthy Outlets to Get Beyond the Pain. Many of us routinely utilize the tools of Professional Counseling, Journaling, and Prayer, among others. In my case, I use all three!


THE SUPERNATURAL PART

Is all our great work enough? I mean, if we just TRY HARDER, will that create enough momentum to reach the results we are looking for? Looking back at that passage from Malachi, it’s striking that God compares the needed heart change to Elijah’s work. If you remember, Elijah was a great prophet of God’s people, who routinely demonstrated supernatural activity. He did things like call down fire from Heaven that literally consumed an animal sacrifice AND gallons of water.

Now clearly no amount of pure motive and perfect execution in the natural alone would be able to pull off the signs and wonders that Elijah saw.  Likewise, this heart change God describes does require our faithful obedience– but it requires more than that: this won’t happen without a supernatural touch from God.


PLENTY OF ROOM FOR SCIENTIFIC DEBATE

Climate Change is all over the news today. There are really 3 questions to answer with Climate Change:

  1. Is our world experiencing Climate Change?
  2. If yes, then how much is human activity impacting this change?
  3. What can we do as humans to protect the world from Climate Change?


WHAT ABOUT THE BIBLE?

As it turns out, the Bible has a LOT to say on the topic. For starters, let’s talk about Solomon. When he was dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem, God appeared to him and made it clear that He could shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among His people. And the antidote? Surprisingly, God prescribes a spiritual solution to this disaster:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. -2 Chronicles 7:14

 

ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

Of all the people in the world, Christians should be most aware of the possibility of climate change. In fact, we don’t need to look to science to prove or disprove its existence as a natural phenomenon. The Bible presents a clear connection between man’s actions and environmental impacts.  As always, Bible believing Christians have the opportunity to line up news headlines with God’s Word.
God makes it clear that the spiritual state of His people’s hearts has a direct impact on the physical climate. It is not uncommon for Christians to publicly lament the breakdown of spiritual intensity on our nation. Unfortunately, we don’t always recognize this as an issue for believers to address, but instead attempt to peg this on the actions of unbelievers.

God’s people should be unsurprised to see climate change. Not only does the Bible identify its reality, it also speaks to the spiritual issues that drive us there. The Bible also speaks directly to its antidote: for us to enter into deep repentance in general, and to specifically seek the supernatural restoration of relationship between fathers and children.

 

Tim Truesdale

“Leadership begins at home.”

tim.truesdale@gmail.com