Three “Rivers” of Capturing Your Children’s Heart

This is the final of 4 posts that have been taken from Chapter 7 of The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick.

How fathers capture childrens heartsHow Fathers Capture Their Children’s Hearts

Regardless of the age of our kids, we need to throw on the brakes and start spending more “heart to heart” time with them. Even if they’re not receptive initially. Even if trust needs to be rebuilt. Even if your children are grown and gone, your pursuit of their hearts must still go on.

It’s time to turn the corner. To remember that teaching your children to love God cannot happen when you’re not loving them well yourself. It’s time to clear out all the noise and discontent that’s created so much uncomfortable space between you and your children. Here are three powerful rivers that need to be unleashed and allowed to flow freely from your heart to theirs.

Attention

Too many moments at home have found us busy while our children have waited in the shadows. They won’t wait forever. Too often we’ve allowed good things to steal us away from the best things—those priceless, unrecoverable moments with our kids while they’re growing up. We have a culture of men who ignore and don’t talk to their children. And this needs to change starting now.

We should daily engage them, laugh with them, comfort them, and walk with them throughout life. “Tell me how you are doing.” “What have you been up to lately?” “What are you most excited about right now?” These are questions dads should ask often. We should make it clear to them that they can always come to us and talk about anything.

Some fathers take each of their children out for breakfast for a little one-on-one time with Dad. Daughters love date nights, and sons relish a “Men’s Night Out.” Whether it’s riding bikes together, reading books, playing sports, or sitting at a coffee shop, time out with Dad can open up conversations you wouldn’t usually have at home with your kids.

Brooks Adams, son of Charles Adams, U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain under the Lincoln Administration, was only eight years old when he wrote in his diary one afternoon, “Went fishing with my father; the most glorious day of my life.” Unaware of this, his dad also kept a diary, and he too had marked a comment about that same day and event. “Went fishing with my son; a day wasted.”  He missed the significance of that day.

How many more days might they have spent together if the father knew how much it meant to his little boy? How many times have we considered it a “waste” to push our kids on the swing at the playground or to bring them a snack and a kiss on the head while they’re busy doing homework? Yet we find time to watch television, or surf the Web, or whatever else we deem valuable and necessary to us. We need to look back at Scripture, understand the job God has given us, and redefine the difference between “wasted” time and priceless investments.

Affirmation

Both children and adults want the approval and praise from their dads. They want their father’s “blessing” in their lives. To bless means, “to speak well of”. When you bless your children, you are lovingly using your God-given authority to verbally affirm them toward future success.

God told Moses that the high priest should bless the sons of Israel by saying, “The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24–26). Then God said, “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”(vs. 27)

When Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11). God the Father was publicly affirming His Son by speaking love and acceptance over Him. He also invested in Jesus at that moment by sending His Holy Spirit down to Him. This not only encouraged Jesus but set Him up for complete success to do the will of His heavenly Father throughout His earthly ministry.

As you learn to do this, it will be a powerful experience for your children. It is important that you communicate to them, “You are my son (daughter) and I dearly love you. I am very pleased with you.” You should then follow up by investing in their future. You should pray for them, encourage them, introduce them to the right people, and give them what they need to help them to be successful.  Even adult men and women long for their father’s blessing if they never received it growing up.

If you didn’t receive your father’s blessing, then you must discover that men who are surrendered to Jesus Christ share in the blessing Jesus received from His Father. Scripture says “in Him” we are blessed with every spiritual blessing and are “accepted and beloved.” (Ephesians 1:1-14) You must receive this blessing from your Heavenly Father by faith, and then model it to your children. Anytime you greet them or talk to them, your countenance, the look in your eyes and tone of voice either says, “You are a delight to me” or “You are an irritation to me.” You should praise them privately, one-on-one, and publicly in front of others. “That is awesome! You are really good at that,” needs to come from your lips as their biggest cheerleader. Regardless of our past failures, we should step up to do this now!

Affection

Our Heavenly Father pours out His unconditional love on us (Romans 5:5), and so should we to our sons and daughters. What a tragedy to hear grown men confess that their fathers never said they loved them. Whether you received love from your father or not, you need to pour it out affectionately on your kids. Break this chain. Make sure they know deeply in their hearts that you care for them. Hug them, kiss them, hold them close. Interact with them in ways that make them fully see, hear, and feel your love.

A child needs not only the discipline of a father but also his warm affection and tender love. When they are little, tickle them, wrestle with them, carry them proudly on your shoulders. As they grow up, don’t stop embracing them and putting your arm around them.

Boys who feel loved by their dads are bolder, stronger, kinder to others, and more secure in their manhood. Girls who feel valued by their dads are more radiant, less desperate for a boyfriend, and more careful whom they marry. So, invest in them, take them places, flood them with tender affection so there is no question in their minds as to your love for them.

God has given us a powerful and amazing calling to bless our children and grandchildren and to teach them to love Him with all their hearts and lives. But they will not be drawn to believe what we say if we don’t speak it from within the context of a loving relationship with them. Our love touches them deeply and opens their hearts to hear truth and follow their Heavenly Father faithfully. They will likely pass on our blessing to their kids!

So let’s step up to the plate with a new vision for success and knock it out of the park!

 

 

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough  Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011

Now Available Where Books are Sold

 

At the Corner of Fatherhood and Leadership – the 2012 Fatherhood Summit

Fatherhood CoMission Leadership summitLater today more than 50 influencers in the church and men’s ministries will convene for one reason…to come together in unity around making Godly fatherhood a reality in every home across the nation.  The statistics tell the story of how fatherlessness has ravaged our families over the past 50 years.  This isn’t to place all the blame on men and fathers.  There are a number of reasons that this is a present day reality.  But, men do have to take responsibility for abdicating many of their responsibilities as dads and husbands and the resulting impact it has had in our culture.  The past is the past.  It’s what we do now that matters.

In 2010, Sherwood Pictures (an outreach of Sherwood Church in Albany, GA) released the fourth film in their remarkable string of increasingly popular faith based films.  What began as a small local project (Flywheel) became an eye-popping unsuspected success (Facing the Giants), then grew to a movie that caught the attention of Hollywood because of it’s theatrical numbers and its key theme of having a Godly marriage (Fireproof), and recently created national attention again as it turned out millions to the theaters while dealing with one of our nations more difficult issues to address—fatherlessness (Courageous).   Sherwood is ultimately much more interested in God being glorified through their work than the worldly success of their movies.  But, the more success a movie has in numbers, the more people who are exposed to the power of the movie’s message.  As much as Sherwood Pictures wants to influence culture for good beyond the movie’s theatrical and DVD releases, at the end of the day, Sherwood Pictures makes movies.  Once the movies message is out, who is there to champion it?

That’s where the Fatherhood CoMission comes in.  This team was formed to help champion Godly fatherhood as was exemplified in the movie, Courageous.  Influential ministries came together to determine how they could help churches and ministries continue to keep fatherhood at the forefront of the cultural discussion while providing guidance, information and encouragement inside and outside of the Church.  The idea for the CoMission was started before Courageous was in theaters but finally formed earlier this year.  And, starting tonight, the Fatherhood CoMission team and 50 other influential leaders in the Church and men’s ministries are convening for a two day summit to pray, collaborate, ideate and strategize on how to best champion Godly fatherhood in our nation.

Here are just a few of the questions they will discuss with the goal of generating some discussion and ultimately practical takeaway plans to pursue at the end of the Summit:

  • What could we (the leadership summit) do in the next 5 yrs to make the biggest impact on fatherhood in our nation?
  • How can we set up the next generation of fathers for success?
  • How can we influence media to show what strong fatherhood looks like and the impact it really has when it’s lived out in the home?
  • What are the biggest threats and enemies to fatherhood that must be confronted?
  • What resources need to be developed that don’t exist?

There will be many others but that gives you an indication about what will happen beginning tonight and going through breakfast on Friday.  Please pray for this summit, these leaders and their organizations and the subsequent plan that can be developed and carried out to help dads around the nation and globe be better dads.  Here are a few prayer requests that we ask you to spend a few minutes praying, if you would:

  • Pray for unity among the different organizations and the prayer of Jesus to God for unity in believers would be a reality.
  • That all agendas would be put aside except those God wants to move forward.
  • Movement in the hearts of men and churches across the nation to move this issue further up on their radar and the impact it would then have on changing homes in communities all over the U. S.
  • Next step clarity
  • Safe travel to and from this event.
  • The right people would be at the event and the ideas that need to be generated are allowed to germinate and grow.
  • A time of refreshment for these leaders who are engaged in so many activities that make leaving their work difficult.  No anxiety for what is left behind and focus on what is at hand for the two plus days.
  • Families of those involved.  Spiritual warfare is real and if there’s a barrier to positively impacting Godly families it’s when good families fall apart and the enemy raises that up as why efforts like these are futile.  God will not be mocked and what God raises up, let not man tear apart.

Thank you for your prayers and support of this event and of the Fatherhood CoMission as it moves forward over the next few years and champions Godly fathering in our nation.  One day it’s charter will be completed and it will disband, hoping and praying that “feet on the street” ministries and churches keep the momentum going.  Pray for this organization that God is raising up for such a time as this!

 

10 Warning signs that you might be losing the heart of your children (from The Resolution for Men)

This is the 3rd of 4 posts by Stephen Kendrick, taken as an excerpt of Chapter 7 of The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick.

FATHERS LOSING THE HEART OF THEIR CHILDREN

losing the heart of your childA quote from a young woman’s blog,

“I wish my inner child would find my inner dad and tell him everything I never had the courage to. And then, I wish she would turn around and walk away for ever, and never look back.”

Fathers are notorious for doing things that anger their children and lose their hearts. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” Before telling us to train and instruct our children, we are warned not to frustrate or embitter them. Why?

If we are losing the heart of our children, we are losing everything. They simply won’t listen to us. This is so important that if it is not heeded, fathering will fail.

Intimacy is tied to feeling emotionally safe around someone. If your kids get angry with you and you don’t resolve it, then their hearts will close off to you and become bitter. Then the devil will begin to fill their minds with accusations against you. He will develop a “List of Crimes” in their minds of wrongs you have committed and then use this list to help them justify rebellion against you.

So when your children get angry with you, then you need to stop what you are doing, get engaged, and help them to deal with that anger until it is gone. You cannot live in denial and keep putting up barriers that choke out your ability to influence them for good.

Here is a list of 10 things that fathers do to anger and lose the hearts of their children. Seriously consider them and see if any of these are present in your relationship with your child as you examine if you are losing the heart of your children. Work hard to eliminate the following “heart hindrances” that will push them away:

  1. Your Absence.  Whether a man abandons his kids all at once or is never home because he’s always working, he still leaves them as sheep without a shepherd. This sends the signal to your kids, “You’re not important enough for me to prioritize you, spend time with you, or really care about what’s going on in your life.”
  2. Your Anger.  Psalm 27:4 says that wrath is cruel. When you react in anger, you can thoughtlessly say or do things in the heat of the moment that deeply wound your children’s spirits long-term, which can cause them to withdraw from you. Love is slow to anger. But if you blow your top, then humble yourself and quickly apologize. Too much is at stake!
  3. Unjust discipline.   Children can sour if they feel discipline is unjustified or administered unfairly. Parents must explain rules and consequences clearly using God’s Word and authority rather than their opinion. (Ephesians 6:1-3) As you discipline, as yourself, “How can I train them without losing their heart?”
  4. Harsh criticism.   Dads can sometimes be unnecessarily hard on their kids. What seems like a small chisel of criticism to you can feel like a crushing hammer to them. Never call your children names or embarrass them in public. Don’t be sarcastic or belittling. Kids who have no freedom to fail will tend to rebel when given any freedom at all.
  5. Lack of Compassion.   Mercy warms hearts. Carelessness distances them. Children can get worked up about temporary, pressing matters—school, friends, feelings, competitions. We must provide a listening ear, wise counsel, prayerful support, and a willing hand. Rescuing your kids during times of panic makes you their hero!  Help them think of you as an oasis they can run to, not a dry desert that offers no relief.
  6. Favoritism.  Less favored children become resentful. Favoritism and jealousy led Rachel and Leah to fight and Joseph’s brothers to hate him. You may not feel like you play favorites—but perception is reality to your children if they think you do. Every one of your children should feel like you have no favorites, but if you did, it would probably be them because of your great love for them. (see this post about a guy who openly shared one of his children was his favorite)
  7. Hypocrisy.  No one is perfect, but preaching one thing while doing another, breaking promises, and refusing to apologize will kill trust between you and your children. When they identify hypocrisy in you, be quick to repent, turning from your sin and seeking God’s forgiveness along with your family’s.
  8. Hurting their Mother.  Whether through divorce, adultery, or mistreatment, children feel confused and betrayed when their father hurts their mother. They will tend to take up offense for the woman who loves them. Since they are commanded by God to honor their mother, you need to defend her not attack her. If you teach them to dishonor her, they will eventually dishonor you.
  9. Misunderstanding.  Rebellion is often tied to kids feeling misunderstood and not listened to by their parents. When children open up, parents need to listen carefully and then communicate back what they have heard to the child before sharing their own opinions or disagreeing with them. If a matter is important to them, it should be to you. Tune in.
  10. Unrealistic expectations.  Children will become quickly discouraged if they believe their parents have set them up to fail. Avoid comparing their weaknesses with another child’s strengths or expecting them to act as mature as you. If your child believes he can’t please you, he’ll eventually quit trying.

Let these ten warnings signs help you to avoid future pitfalls and also motivate changes that will draw your children back into your arms. As a father, you must keep your radar up to sense if you have your children’s hearts. Periodically ask them things like…

Have I ever wounded you and not made it right?

Have I said one thing and done another?

Have I made promises and not kept them?

Is there anything that you are angry with me about?

Is there anything you are not telling me because you are afraid of how I might respond?

Your kids may be able to present you a “list of crimes” that have wronged or angered them. Be ready to write, work through them, and apologize so you can let the healing begin.

One man was sitting with his family at a father-daughter banquet held by their church. Someone at the table asked one of the girls what her father had done that made the biggest impression on her. She said, “I remember one time when Dad was harsh with me. Then a few minutes later he came back into my room, and he cried and asked my forgiveness. I’ve never forgotten that.”

God can graciously redeem our many failures for good, provided we recognize those failures and confess them. Too many men foolishly refuse to apologize because they’re trying to save face and don’t want to look bad. But their pride is only making matters worse. Dads who admit their shortcomings don’t lose their children’s trust. They gain it.

To be continued…

 

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011 Now Available Where Books are Sold

SETTING UP YOUR KIDS FOR TRUE SUCCESS

setting up kids to win

From the Resolution for Men…

Every little boy in a baseball uniform who steps up to the plate to face a pitcher will lift his bat with hope. But the intensity of that hope depends on the level of his self-confidence.

Many go to bat just hoping they don’t strike out or get hit in the head. Some hope the pitcher will walk them to first. Others are only hoping they somehow hit the ball—somewhere, anywhere.

But imagine a boy whose father currently plays in the major leagues. He’s watched his dad round the bases in massive stadiums before thousands of cheering fans. He knows the players on his father’s team by name. He was swinging plastic bats in the backyard when he was in diapers. Baseball is in his blood.

As he steps up to the plate and looks over to see his dad cheering him on from the stands, he lifts his bat with a greater vision of success in his eyes. He knows he’s knocking this next pitch over the centerfielder’s head.

He truly believes he can do it.

He not only sees himself rounding the bases, but winning the game for the team, playing in high school, college, and even the big leagues. His dad has told him he can. He’s heard his father’s vivid stories of sacrifice, hard work, and adventure on the way to playing professionally. His dad has put up posters of the all-time greats on his son’s bedroom wall and spent hours with him in the batting cage. He’s committed to walking his namesake through every step of the journey, and do whatever he can to make success happen for his son. This is what it looks like to have a higher definition of success than most people in the world. And this is what it looks like to have the blessing of your father.

Too many parents have very low standards when it comes to defining success for their children. Some just want them not to mess up their lives. Others hope they will graduate from college and find a decent job. Although this sounds noble, it is not impressive in God’s eyes. That’s like hoping your son just gets to first base.

But what should success look like for your children? Do they know? Have you told them and talked about it? Have they seen you modeling it yourself?

This fourth point of Resolution for men is about getting God’s vision inside their heads . . . by resolving to get inside their hearts.

Real-Life Success

When Moses stood before the nation of Israel to give his final speech before he died, he boldly redefined success for them. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Jesus later referred to this as the greatest commandment of all time. Through this, God is calling us to do the greatest thing (to love) toward the greatest One (God Himself) in the greatest way (with all that we are). If anyone finds worldly fame and prosperity but misses out on this, he actually misses everything. It is God’s will that we love Him, obey Him, and live for Him. He should always be our greatest priority and our first love.

But not only is this how we define success for ourselves; this is how we are called as fathers to define success for our children and grandchildren. To see them living for Christ and making Him known through their lives is infinitely more important than their success on the ball field or in the classroom, more important than any award they may receive, more important than landing an impressive job or making a lot of money.

To love God and do His will is to succeed in life.  Period.

But this message is more than just information for our kids to download or a sentence to say one or two times and hope they get it. Moses told us precisely how to instill this truth into our children’s lives.

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and 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 up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

Two takeaways from this. First, God’s Word must “be on your heart.” Children who forsake the faith are usually those who did not see God actively working in their parents’ lives. But they develop an appetite for God when they see their dad and mom truly loving Him and walking with Him, when they see the blessings and rewards of your obedience firsthand. Whether it’s delighting in His creation, enthusiastically telling them stories from His Word, or celebrating His goodness in ordinary conversation, you should delight in the Lord around your kids. You can’t inspire them with truths you’re not living yourself.

So when God answers your prayers, tell your kids about it. When He changes your heart or helps you overcome temptation, celebrate it with them. When you face a season of suffering or persecution, let them see the strength of your faith. Just point out how He works. In your own life. In your own words.

One clearly answered prayer can powerfully instill faith toward God in the heart of your child. One humbly confessed mistake can help them see the everyday reality of God’s redemption. Every day gives you fresh, new material for making your life with Christ a front-row experience for the whole family. Let them see that loving Him is what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Training your children to love God must occur within the context of close relationships. It must be part of your daily interactions with them—when greeting your kids at the breakfast table, sitting around the house, having spiritually rich conversations in the car or at dinner, praying together before going to sleep each night.

Help them fall in love with God!

You don’t have to be eloquent or seminary trained to do this. It’s those “Did you know . . .” or “Hey, by the way . . .” moments that mean the most to your kids—things you talk about while you’re out in the yard, heading to the store, or working on a project together.

Making disciples of all nations begins with your own children. By talking with your kids about Him through the day, and then (most important) modeling a love for Him in your own life, you set up your sons and daughters for long-term, multigenerational success.

To be continued…

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough.  Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011  Now Available Where Books are Sold

Courageous in Malawi – The Resolution

This is the 3rd of 3 blog posts (taken from a newsletter she sent to her supporters) about the impact a young missionary, Anna, had on a tribe in Malawi (the Tumbuka tribe) when she decided she was going to show the movie, Courageous to the tribe.  They had never seen a white person or a movie…ever.  In the first post, Anna shared why she even thought this was something she should do.  Then, yesterday we followed the story to the tribe actually sitting down to watch the film, even though they didn’t understand the language.  There is really no other explanation than…God.  In today’s final chapter, hear what the men did AFTER they saw Courageous and how it changed their lives, their marriages and their families.  It may have changed the entire tribe for eternity!  Amazing.

They Watch Courageous in Malawi – Final Post

At the end, Auter, like in the film, encouraged the men to sign the Resolution promising they will care for their family. To protect and serve them. To be faithful to their wife. To love and honor her .

He asked them, “Are you willing to sign this? This is a very serious decision. A decision you make before God. This is not something you sign to please me or to please the man next to you. You are signing because you want to change. You want to be the man God created you to be. It’s going to mean that you have to stop drinking, to stop beating your wives, and instead start helping your wives. Help them carry water. Help them carry firewood. It means a whole different way of life. Are you ready? Are you willing?”

Tumbuka Tribe signing The Resolution from the movie, CourageousAnd you know what? 30-90% of the men who came to watch the film, first of all accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour. They realized they had done wrong and needed God’s forgiveness. Then, most of them signed the Resolution (that was now translated into their Tumbuka language).

Auter continues, “There will be times you fail. But you get up and start again… and again. With God’s help you can do this.”

A few men commented that they were about to be married and that that was how they wanted their family to be. They wanted to give a copy to their future wife so she could hold him accountable to do what he promised!  Change is coming …. for the men and … for the women and …for their children. Not sure how quick. I know it won’t happen overnight but there is a beginning!  And I am excited!

Watch Courageous; Become Courageous

They are eager to start their new role in life. Here is an email I received from Auter this week about a man in a village we had visited back on July 26.

 “Hello Anna, When we were at Mchinkhula for follow up I met with a man who had attended the Courageous movie. He told me he is very, very happy because he now goes everywhere he can with his wife. He stopped drinking beer  & he talks with his family & helps his wife. He promised me that if you will come again, to come to his house so you can see for yourself.  God can change my country because of these teachings.   Auter.”

On Aug. 24th, the last day of our trip of visiting different villages, we had prearranged to meet with as many chiefs  and village headmen as possible to show them the film. Fifty-six came to watch Courageous. The response was the same. Amazing, amazing!  Many chiefs invited the team to come to their villages and do all the programs with their people there.

I just praise God. I had a vague plan to help a few abused women. God had another  plan. A much, much greater plan. His plan was, “I’m going to change the men from the inside out!”

All the men received a Tumbuka New Testament. They are encouraged to study God’s word together and grow in their new faith and in their new roles.

What a privilege to be a part of this mission. Whether you donate towards the Bibles or whether you pray for them, or whether you go to the mission field, everyone of us plays a part. All glory be to God.

__________________________________________________

What an amazing story of how a film that was bathed in prayer for years before it hit the big screen and the TV screen, is being used by God as a tool to change lives in remote tribes across the world.  Because Anna stood firm and decided to do that which seemed impossible or unlikely (or even scary), these men and families lives are changed for today and eternity.

What are you and I doing each day that requires more than we can do on our own?  Let’s follow Anna’s lead.  For some of us, it might be doing the hard thing in our family.  It might be making the first step toward reconciliation with our wife, our children or another relationship.  Anna’s story should inspire us that nothing is too hard for God to overcome if we will just take the step of faith.

Courageous in Malawi – Part 2

This blog series is from a young missionary woman who shared this experience of how the movie, Courageous, helped to change the culture of a tribe she has been ministering to for a number of years.  The Tumbuka tribe in northern Malawi is the tribe that she has been sharing her life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s such a great story that she decided to send it to Sherwood Pictures to let them know the impact that the movie, Courageous, was having half a globe away.  It’s a powerful story of how a person who was courageous in Malawi, helped changed many lives and how the power of film impacts culture and, in this case, for GOOD!  We will share her story  just as she wrote it and split it into three blog posts.  Her name is Anna Ebert and she has given us the permission to share her story.  We know you’ll be encouraged.  Read Part 1 here…

Courageous in Malawi – Part 2

Tumbuka Tribe getting Courageous in Malawi

After first teaching the team about the film and the message in it, I said, “Let’s show it in the afternoon and only allow men and older boys can come and watch the film”. I thought this way the men would not be intimidated. Auter, a native member of the team was put in charge of showing it. I thought he would be the perfect one of the team to do this. He does not back away from confrontations. He has gone through a lot in his own life and would be able to teach and understand the men.

Auter began by explaining to the men what the film was about  None of the men left. Well, I thought, that’s a start. Then he turned on the film. Every one sas motionless. Now I must add that they had never seen a white person before, and definitely had never seen a movie before.

When the movie ended, Auter explained it more to them. Then, I received the biggest surprise of my life. The men almost unanimously said , “We want that (pointing to the film). Our culture is bad. We have to change. We want to live with our wive’s and our daughters like they do in the film.”

Now you must keep in mind, that they did not understand a word. No, I shouldn’t say that. They did understand it . They understood it through seeing the actions. They saw the men in the film caring for their families, their wives, their children. They saw a father even risk his life for his baby…and they understood. They saw men giving their lives to the Lord and how it brought such peace to them.

These men were introduced to a whole new way of life. They never knew there was another way to live. “Why has no one ever told us this before?” “We only know our culture and our culture is bad!” “I never knew that there is another way!” … They never knew that there was another way to live! Can you imagine that? How thrilling it is to be able to give them new hope.

Well, by now, I was just jumping for joy inside. Is what I was hearing and seeing actually happening? Are they really that open to change? Are they really that sick and tired of their bad culture? Are they that tired of having no purpose in life? Is their life that void of meaning? Yes, yes, yes and yes. I realized that if we do not do what we are created for, there is a void, there is no meaning to life. These men have proven that. Their culture has robbed them of life – physical life, spiritual life.

Then, a problem arose. As we showed the film in village after village, the same question was raised again and again. They noticed that the men in the film had only one wife. “But I have two wives so what do I do?” “I have children with both my wives, now what do I do?”  (And no doubt that was a huge problem).

Auter explained to them, “I cannot tell you to divorce your second wife but I can tell you to receive Jesus Christ as your Savoir so He can direct you and show you the way to what you can do. What you can do is to come together and talk to your second wife with all your children and teach them the Word of God because they don’t know what has happened to you. You should treat your children in the [same] way the Bible teaches.”

One of the men responded with, “I will try to do that, please pray for me so Jesus can lead in my life. On my own I cannot make a good decision. Sometimes I treat my wife very badly and now I want to do what is right.”

Wow!!  Tomorrow we’ll see what the men did to put a “stake in the ground” as a statement about carrying out what they just saw and believed!

Courageous in Malawi–Part 1 of 3

The follow blog series is from a young missionary woman who shared this experience of how the movie, Courageous, helped to change the culture of a tribe she has been ministering to for a number of years.  The Tumbuka tribe in northern Malawi is the tribe that she has been sharing her life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s such a great story that she decided to send it to Sherwood Pictures to let them know the impact that the movie, Courageous, was having half a globe away.  It’s a powerful story of how a person who was courageous in Malawi, helped changed many lives and how the power of film impacts culture and, in this case, for GOOD!  We will share her story  just as she wrote it and split it into three blog posts.  Her name is Anna Ebert and she has given us the permission to share her story.  We know you’ll be encouraged.

Courageous in Malawi–Part 1

courageous in malawiWhen I returned from my fourth mission to Malawi in 2011, I was determined to help the many abused women there. The culture of the Tumbuka tribe in northern Malawi says that their purpose in life is to get together with other men and shoot the breeze while drinking beer (made of corn husks) and other alcohol. This is what about 80% of the men do from around noon until midnight every day of their lives. They drink all the resources the family has for food and necessities. All gone! How sad. Such a waste of their lives.  They believe their wives (or women in general) were created to serve them ……..after all, they are the head of the family.

When the women complain or cannot do all that is expected of them, the men either beat them, divorce them, or marry a second wife to “help” his first wife. Women are not allowed to fight back, they are only allowed to cry. Because so many women were abused or left with nothing after a divorce or now have a second or third wife to live with, I really had a huge burden to help the women. I didn’t know how exactly but I had some ideas. The only problem I had was that the problem was bigger than I knew what to do with. How can anyone help hundreds of thousands of abused women? I had heard about the story of the 1,000’s of star fish that had washed ashore and a man throwing one back into the water and thus saving its life and was asked does it do any good? Well, yes, to the one starfish it did. I thought I will save that one woman.

It was only a couple of weeks before I was to leave for northern Malawi that I felt a strong urge to bring the “Courageous” film along.  For some who may not have seen this movie, it’s a film that teaches the Biblical role of a man and of a father. I knew this film to be totally opposite the Tumbuka culture. What I didn’t know was how it would be received. How will they react? Would the men rip up the screen? Would they destroy the projector? (as my native Tumbuka team was afraid of) Would they just shake their heads and walk away? Or, perhaps, maybe, would they take it in and apply  it to their lives? I didn’t know what to expect. But I took it anyways. I always love a challenge.

And so, I brought the film with me along with many posters and a copy of the resolution that went with it.  However,  there was another issue. The film is in English!  Why even bring it, What was I thinking?

But there are a few,  maybe only 5%, who could understand it to some degree, so I decided I’ll work with them.  (to be continued…)

Tomorrow’s post…we’ll find out what happened when Anna showed the film to the tribe and they became Courageous in Malawi!

Savoring Your Kids While You Can – Stephen Kendrick

Following is a guest post by Stephen Kendrick.  Stephen and his brother Alex are the creators of the movies out of Sherwood Pictures (a ministry of Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia), most recently Fireproof and last years great film about the impact of fatherhood on families and our culture, Courageous.  Stephen is also co-author of the New York Times Best Selling book, The Love Dare.  This is part 1 of 2.

Today, Stephen shares some personal stories about engaging with his children and shares a biblical foundation for dads making time for their children.  Tomorrow, we’ll share some of Stephen’s recommendations about HOW to better engage with your children and will stir your thoughts

Guest Author: Stephen Kendrick

When my son Grant was born, an older friend came by and visited us in the delivery room.  While holding our newborn, he looked at me and said, “Enjoy him while you can. If I could somehow explain to you how fast he will grow up, you would just cry.” I’m discovering he was right. A few days later, Grant turned three.

Early one morning he scampered into my room and began his daily ritual of trying to convince me to play with him instead of going to work. As usual, I was rushing while he was negotiating. “Daddy, I’ve turned over my cowendar and you can stay home from wuck today,” he declared trying to sound like an adult.

“Grant, I have to go to work today, but I can stay home tomorrow.”

“But Daddy…” he countered, “it is tomorrow!” I had to smile at his desperate attempts.

“No, Grant, today is Friday. I can’t stay home until Saturday.”

Didn’t he know I had more important things to do than play blocks on the floor with a toddler? As he dropped his head and slowly waddled out, he muttered, “Well… maybe then you can come visit us.”

Ouch. I could hear the cry of a son’s heart needing his daddy, and I was the daddy he was needing. A few days later, Grant turned five.

I regret to say that too many moments at home have found me busy working on the latest, greatest project or running errands while my four kids have waited hopefully in the shadows. Too often the good things somehow work their way into our schedules and steal us away from the best things – like those priceless non-recoverable moments with our kids when they are still at home. Can you relate? Isn’t it time to redeem the time?

I’m learning more every day that spending time with my children is one of the most important responsibilities I have. A few things have really helped me lately to better grasp this.

A Father’ Dying Plea

This year, I performed the funeral for a man in our church who lost a battle to cancer. A few days before his passing, I had visited his home to pray with him. With a trembling voice between gasping breaths, he looked up at me and said, “Please tell my son not to turn on the TV when he is eating dinner with his kids. I now regret doing that. I wish we had spent that time together.” His words now echo in my ears as I look at my children. Oh, how I don’t want to share the same regret one day.

A Parent’s Biblical Mandate

Some of the most pivotal points in scripture challenge parents to prioritize making time for our children.

Look at the greatest commandment. Premiered in Deuteronomy 6, “loving God with everything you are” is the pinnacle imperative of God’s law. But the next verses explain how parents must daily hang out with their children so they can diligently teach them how to do that. Did you know you are commanded by God to continually teach your child how to love God wholeheartedly? The passage further explains that this happens through your daily interaction with them in the morning, while sitting in your house, when you’re traveling, and at bedtime each night.  Making time for our children is critical for teaching them.

A Child’s Desperate Need  

Our kids deeply depend upon time with us. Children find their security, develop their worldview, and discover who they are from their parents. Even as the animals after creation were named by Adam in the garden, children form their understanding of their identities directly from their mom and dad in the home.

Even if it’s never verbalized, little children look to their parents to find the answers to their hearts’ greatest questions. The words, “Daddy, who am I?”, “Am I accepted?”, “Do you love me unconditionally?” and “Do I have what it takes?” should be printed on a T-shirt and worn by our kids while they are around us. That’s what they’re asking all the time. And parents too often give wrong answers to those questions without realizing it. When we aren’t making time for our children, we are sending them a message,  “Nobody has time for you, little one. We’re busy with things that are important. You are not. Go bother somebody else.”

How many times do our lives unintentionally shout these messages to them?

This response not only negatively impacts their understanding of their value, but tragically their view of God. “If Daddy doesn’t think I’m important,” they conclude, “my Heavenly Father must not either.” Whether we like it or not, we are daily representing an image of God to our kids. They need us to carve out extra time for them so we can represent Him well.

A Nation’s Loss of a Legacy

Research is showing that Christians are theologically losing the next generation. Over 90% of born again kids today are rejecting the absolute truth that their parents embrace. Apologist Josh McDowell explains why. In a chapel service at the Focus on the Family headquarters, he stated, “You can be the greatest explainer of truth. But, if the very heart of your son or daughter does not believe -‘my daddy loves me,’ they will walk away from your truth.”

Using Psalm 85, McDowell shares how King David followed God’s truth because he knew of God’s unfailing love for him. Likewise, children will embrace the truth taught by their parents only if it is given to them from within a loving heart-to-heart relationship.

The opposite is also true. The parents who lose the hearts of their children have children who forsake their parent’s theology. To summarize: Whoever has your child’s heart, has their ears. It’s no wonder that Solomon cried out, “My son, give me your heart!” as he sought to instruct him. (Proverbs 23:26) This principle sheds light on why God ended the Old Testament with the need for the hearts of fathers to be turned back to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. The future of Christianity depends upon it.

Do you have your children’s hearts? Do they have yours?

What are ways that you’ve made some extra time for your kids when it didn’t look like you had any extra time to give?

Come back tomorrow to see what Stephen suggests to help you make time for your kids.