Most every man I’ve known has had fun with rocks in his childhood. I’m guessing you did too. Maybe it’s the whole made-from-the-dust-of-the ground thing that is inherent in the male population to draw them to the earth. Who knows?!
And even though you probably know more about rocks than I do and don’t need a geology lesson, I’ll continue by stating the obvious. Here are some things that can be done with rocks. You can:
- Throw them. (Of course, this is the number one answer I hear from men when I ask them this question.)
- Skip them (across water). 3. Construct something with them.
But the thing that usually isn’t mentioned is:
- Build something, namely a monument.
Lest you credit me with that last item, it actually comes from a story in the Bible from when God led His people (who are called Israelites) to cross the Jordan River as He held back the water until all of them passed through the riverbed. Let’s pick up the story with their leader Joshua giving instructions to the men:
“Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7)
One thing I love about this story is that the challenge from God to dads includes both building and telling.
First off, these dads are holding rocks on their shoulders and carrying them to the other side of the river in order to build something that will stand as a forever memorial. These fathers and their children had to have been side by side through the process. Seems like a great fathering model, don’t you think? Dads modeling responsive behavior—to God and their leader—in front of their children.
And secondly, these fathers were instructed to tell their kids the story of the miracle that happened for years to come. And because we all know that kids love to ask questions, there is no doubt that this story was told repeatedly…by dad.
As we can see, the rocks served as a reminder of the story that accompanied them. And this gave me an idea for a way to bring this idea into the twenty-first century.
Dad, what if you started a tradition where every time God did a big miracle in your family—like unexpectedly providing money to pay a huge bill or healing someone in a powerful way or answering a specific prayer or observing a milestone in your children’s lives—you took your kids to a quarry or a Home Improvement Store (like Home Depot or Lowe’s) and together you all picked out a sizable stone to commemorate the event?
Then, just like these dads did centuries ago, you can build and tell.
Think about what this would be like if each time something of significance happened in your family that a rock was added to an ever-growing monument that you build with your kids in your yard where future generations will hear the stories that each rock represents.
And through it all, Dad, you are the one leading the whole event, just like the Israelite men of the Old Testament.
Instead of just skipping and throwing rocks this year, why not let the rocks tell the story. And why not let it be YOU who builds with those rocks and tells your kids the story again and again.
(Excerpt adapted from my book, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart, chapter 43)
Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon and has served in that role for the past 18 years. She is 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 has recently released her first book entitled, 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 for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drmichellewatson and Twitter @mwatsonphd.
Recently, our nation has witnessed tragic, unjust and horrific events. The massacre in Las Vegas, the terror in New York, and the slaughter of the innocents in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Evil seems everywhere—flowing directly from the one who opposes God the most.
The Bible teaches in Genesis 3 that Satan led Adam and Eve into sin by deception. He questioned the goodness of God and undermined the authority of God’s word to Adam and Eve. When they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, our world drastically changed. Disbelief and disobedience led to a breech in their relationship with the Creator, their marriage experienced shame, and the creation around them was no longer harmonious. Their sons experienced conflict, and jealousy and envy led to the first murder (Genesis 4).
The violence that has occurred in Nevada, New York, and Texas reminds us that we live in a sinful, fallen world. Unfortunately, the same evil experienced by the Christians at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs has plagued Christians for years around the world.
Is this evil a subtle power, a generic force, or some type of impersonal energy? Not according to the Bible. Both Jesus and Paul referred to Satan as an evil force (cf. Matthew 13:19, John 14:30, Ephesians 2:2, 2Corinthians 4:4); and Paul teaches that “creation was subjected to futility”, but the “creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21).
No one can give a simple answer to evil in this world. If anyone had a reason to ask the question why? it was Job. Having lost his children, his flocks and herds, material goods, and even his health, Job asked God the reason for his suffering. When God finally spoke out of the whirlwind, no answer was given to satisfy intellectual understanding. God’s word to Job was to worship in the midst of his suffering, and so Job did: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
We don’t need intellectual understanding—we need God. Rather than seeking an answer to the question why, we are to seek Him. His presence is our answer. Join me in praying for bereaved families—that they will experience His presence and the “the peace that passes human understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
I share these biblical truths to remind us of what we already know. Often comfort comes as we encourage ourselves in remembering who God is, what He has done, and His amazing creativity in bringing good from evil. Remember that Almighty God turned the worst event in human history—the murder of the sinless Son of God—to the greatest achievement in history: the provision for the forgiveness of sin, our justification before a Holy God, and the gift of abundant and eternal life in Christ. God always has the last word, and His last word at the cross was the resurrection. Even so, He will have the last word in these tragic events.
There is much we don’t know, but through God’s word there is infinite knowledge of Him “who has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2Peter 1:3). Be encouraged as you ponder on these truths from the Bible:
- Death for God’s people is not final (cf. Isaiah 25:9, Revelation 21:3-4).
- Jesus has prepared a place in heaven for us (John 14:1-3).
- Life in Christ is abundant (John 10:10).
- Life in Christ is eternal (Matthew 28:20).
- Jesus’ victory over death becomes ours (John 11:25-6).
- The same power (the Holy Spirit) that resurrected Jesus resurrects us (Romans 8:11).
- Just as Jesus suffered and was glorified, so those in Christ will be glorified (Romans 8:18).
- Nothing—not even physical death, can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).
- Our relationship with Christ is sufficient for life and death (Romans 14:7-9).
- Even physical death is used for God’s purpose (Romans 8:28).
A glimpse into glory: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. —Revelation 21:1-4
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Pass on a Blessing
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” –Jim Valvano
“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
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
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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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:
Email Us: info@FamilyDynamics.net
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
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
What does God want you to do? He wants you to abide in Christ.
Written by and in memory of Dr. Dan Erickson
“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
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:
- Great Self-Care. This includes all that goes into taking care of myself so I can do the hard work of addressing unresolved emotions.
- A Network of Supportive Friends. We all do better when we are surrounded by encouragers who have our backs.
- 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:
- Is our world experiencing Climate Change?
- If yes, then how much is human activity impacting this change?
- 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.
“Leadership begins at home.”