A Letter to My Sons

Even though you are both still young, there is so much you know and understand.

I enjoy watching you take in the world one amazing thing at a time with joy, astonishment, and apprehension.  You have so many firsts still ahead of you, that I look forward to experiencing and guiding you to and beyond.

Sometimes being a father is hard work.  There is doubt if you are doing things right.  There are so many things out of my control that can impact you forever.  There are points where we do and will disagree and butt heads in the future, but even knowing these days will come I will love you through them.

There are so many things I want to and need to teach you in the few short years where I get to influence you: the nature of God, Christ, the ways of the world, the importance of family, the nature of truth, the importance of justice, the source of liberty, and the responsibilities that go with all of that knowledge.

Today is Father’s Day.  God put you here to do mighty things for Him and I cherish the opportunity to lead you to Him and then set you loose to do those things.  It is a father’s greatest responsibility, but also a father’s greatest joy and blessing to be granted that opportunity and blessing.   Through you both, I have come to understand the nature and heart of God much more clearly as he is both my and your Father as much as I am your father and the love and joy that you bring me, I know he feels toward me.

I know there will be times where my words come up short, but your heavenly Father’s words never will.  I know there will be times where you and I fail each other, but I will always ask you to forgive me and forgive you in the same way when it happens.

Regardless of those small happenings in everyone’s life, I will never cease loving you because you are my sons, and that is how God loves us – regardless of how often or how terribly we abuse His love, He will always forgive us and welcome us back to Him.  In fact, He will pursue US.  He will find us hiding in the dark, afraid to come out because of shame, guilt, or whatever is holding us back and bring us home to Him if we just ask.

Today on Father’s Day, I wanted to write something for you… words from Our Father that I hope one day make sense to you as they now do to me.

The father of a righteous child has great joy;
    a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.

Proverbs 23:24

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 3:11-12

You saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son.

Deuteronomy 1:31

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.

Psalm 127:3-5

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

 

 

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Evil

I have a hard time celebrating the heritage of men and women whether they are of color or not because we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord.  My wife and I are of Irish and Italian heritage respectively; those two cultures faced derision, slavery, prejudice, racism, intolerance, and brutality over the centuries, not unlike the plight of “people of color.”  Truly, it is not different from the terrible injustices done to disciples of Christ in the past two millenia and that still go on today.

So in light of that, off we go.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
    Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?

Psalm 94:16

We were made to be courageous

We were made to lead the way

We could be the generation

That finally breaks the chains

Where are you, men of courage?

You were made for so much more

Let the pounding of our hearts cry

We will serve the lord

The only way we’ll ever stand

Is on our knees with lifted hands

Make us courageous

Lord, make us courageous

We will reignite the passion

That we buried deep inside

May the watchers become warriors

Let the men of god arise

Seek justice Love mercy

Walk humbly with your god

We were made to be courageous

And we’re taking back the fight

We were made to be courageous

And it starts with us tonight

Adapted from Courageous, Casting Crowns

 

Attributes

As a father, I have to wear multiple hats with my children.  I am a teacher, a rule-maker, an enforcer, a protector, and a comforter.  My roles stretch from playing and bonding with them as only a father can with his sons, to disciplining disobedience and bad behavior.

With my oldest rapidly approaching four years old I have had to do more of the latter than I would have expected when he was just learning to crawl and walk.  I have learned a few very illuminating lessons about life as a result.

Lesson #1: Daddy has to be scary.

If my son did not fear punishment, then he would disobey me at every turn.  My oldest has a very strong will, which means that when I mean business, I have to come down hard and stomp, metaphorically, on the disobedience.

Both parents have to discipline equally with each other, but there needs to be more fear built in to the discipline that comes from the father.  I think this speaks to our God-likeness.  God, the Father, must be strong and just and exercises his power often in the Old Testament to teach His children lessons on how to live and behave.  As a father, I can not be any different.  I must be firm and unshakable… if that makes me scary to my preschooler, then so be it.  As a second element of this attribute, I have to be constant – I can’t discipline something one day and then let it slide the next unless the only thing I want to obtain is confusion on the parts of my sons.

Lesson #2: Sons’ whole world revolves around their father.

I have always heard that girls will look to their father as an example of the ideal man.  This will impact who they befriend, date, and eventually marry.  This is no less true for boys.

I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. 

Genesis 18:19

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

As a father, I have to be the example of a man to my family.  My sons will learn from how I act, how I behave.  They will look to me for direction.  They will mimic me.  Their principles will be shaped by mine.  They will take their cues on how interact with others based on how I interact.  They will either learn to treat people with respect and to act of love, or they will do the opposite, but it will be as I do.

Lesson #3: Men are made for war.

This is an odd lesson to be learned from my kids as neither are old enough to really understand death, war, etc… but there is something deeply ingrained in boys that cause them to look at a stick and say “That would make a mighty fine sword.”

It also means that my boys are all about rough-housing and playing hard with me.  As a result, my oldest already knows how to tackle someone bigger than him and catch a full-sized football.

Lesson #4: I am woefully inadequate.

I had so many great father examples to observe growing up, including my own, but all of the observing in the world cannot prepare you for the moment that you look down and see those little eyes looking back up at you expecting you to solve all of the world’s problems in the next three minutes.  As a result of this, my prayer life has greatly benefited and I have a closer relationship with my Father in heaven as a result.

Lesson #5: Perspective

It’s funny how people joke about how once people have kids that their free time is eaten up and they no longer can come “hang out” or do impromptu activities.  It’s funny because they lack the perspective that having kids gives you.  I enjoy getting to kick back, goof off, and do my own thing every now and then.  I also enjoy wrestling with my boys,   teaching them about sports, science, God, and whatever else happens to be interesting to them that day.

It’s not that I’ve changed, but my priorities have.  These are extremely valuable years where I can really lay the groundwork for my sons to mature into remarkable men.

Being a father is not easy.  It is hard to have the patience sometimes to deal with a bratty preschooler and a clingy toddler.  How much more difficult for Our Father then because we are all, at times, bratty preschoolers, rebellious teenagers, clingy and whiny toddlers toward Him, yet He loves us anyway.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 3:11-12

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