Tolkien, Eliot, and the Power of Story

How are most people inspired to live lives of courage, love, and integrity? Through good stories.

 

Gather a group of 12-year-old boys, and begin to lecture them about the importance of duty, honor, perseverance, and friendship, and it probably won’t be long before their eyes glaze over.

However, what if instead of lecturing you begin your lesson this way: “There once was a tiny creature called a Hobbit, whose name was Frodo. He had hairy feet and a magic ring, and whenever he put that ring on his finger, he’d disappear. But each time he put the ring on, the Ring exercised a dark power over him . . .”

That story—the story at the heart of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”—would very likely mesmerize these boys, just as it has tens of millions of others before them.

And of course, along the way, the boys would learn about duty, honor, perseverance, and friendship. That, my friends, is the power of great stories.

But a good story alone isn’t good enough either. One reason that Tolkien remains popular is because his stories were about important ideas, ideas that stand the test of time.

The great musicologist Damon of Athens wrote more than 2,000 years ago: “Give me the songs of a people, and I care not who writes its laws.” In our own time, the Christian musician and novelist Andrew Peterson says, “If you want someone to hear the truth, you should tell them the truth. But if you want someone to LOVE the truth, you should tell them a story.”

The idea that storytelling has power is, of course, no surprise to Christians. Storytelling was among Jesus’s primary communication tools. He told lots of stories. All the time.

These ideas come to mind today because January 3rd and 4th are auspicious dates in literary history, especially for Christians. J. R. R. Tolkien was born 125 years ago on Jan. 3, 1892. And January 4th marks the 52nd anniversary of the death of poet T. S. Eliot.

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How the ‘Chicken Runs at Midnight’ came to life in the World Series and a song

WHAT MAKES BASEBALL a pastime is its story time. Go to any big league or minor league clubhouse, and there is bound to be somebody holding court — somebody telling a story that has half the team doubled over. Some are genuine whoppers, many are R-rated, others are mainly about someone’s IQ — or lack thereof. But once in a while, there’s a story you would take home to your mother, a story you’d write a song about. Like Brad Holman’s song.

Holman is the bullpen coach for the Texas Rangers. He pitched in the big leagues for the 1993 Seattle Mariners and has led a typical nomadic baseball existence. There were minor league stops in the Kansas City, Colorado and Baltimore organizations, followed by coaching stints all over the map, from Hickory to Round Rock.

There were days he went to bed in El Paso and thought he’d woken up in Odessa. But the one thing he’ll never forget is where he first heard “The Chicken Runs at Midnight.” It was spring training of 2008, and he was the pitching coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate, the Altoona Curve. He was about to complete a six-week stint in Bradenton, Florida, but, just before camp broke, he and the other coaches were ushered into a conference room and told they’d be hearing from a man named Rich Donnelly.

At the time, Donnelly worked in the team’s player-development department, but everyone around the complex treated him like the Pirate emeritus. Donnelly had been part of the organization during the halcyon days of the early 1990s, when Barry Bonds was a doubles hitter and Bobby Bonilla was an underdog. Those were electric teams on the cusp of championships, and the 2008 staff members were sure he had stories to tell, certain he could impart some wisdom to help get the Buccos back on top.

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What constitutes “a good family man?”

Read The June Newsletter Now!

 

This month includes a celebration designated as Father’s Day (June 19th). In keeping with that theme, I’m addressing this newsletter to our nation’s dads. Some of the following thoughts can be found in my book, Bringing Up Boys, and I think they present the most helpful concepts I have to offer on that subject. I’ve called this letter, “The Essential Father.” I hope you enjoy it.

General Douglas MacArthur, one of my heroes, was one of the greatest military leaders of all time. He led the Allied armies to victory in the Pacific over the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. Then he commanded our United Nations forces in Korea. His surprise landing at Inchon was one of the most brilliant maneuvers in the history of warfare. These accomplishments on the land, sea and in the air explain why MacArthur is revered today, many decades after his death.

But there is another reason for my admiration of this man. It can be traced to a speech he gave in 1942, after he had been given an award for being a good father. This is what he said on that day:

“Nothing has touched me more deeply than [this honor given to me] by the National Father’s Day committee. By profession, I am a soldier and take great pride in that fact. But I am prouder, infinitely prouder, to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build. The father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentialities of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle, but in the home.”

 

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Happy Father’s Day: 10 Bible verses to encourage dads this Sunday

 

 

 

 

florence-taylor Florence Taylor JUNIOR STAFF WRITER 17 June 2016

 

On Sunday it is Father’s Day – a day dedicated to honouring and celebrating Dads everywhere. The Bible says a lot about the role of fatherhood, with one member of the Trinity desribed as Father God. We are all created in God’s image, and so often our earthly roles reflect his Godly character. Fatherhood is just one of those roles, so let us honour fathers and spiritual fathers who have shown us something of God’s love through the love they have for their children.

Here are 10 Bible verses to encourage fathers of their role and value in God’s creation.

Matthew 7:9-11

“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Psalms 127:3-5

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

Proverbs 20:7

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”

Proverbs 22: 36

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Malachi 4:6

“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Psalm 103:13

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”

Colossians 3:21

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

Exodus 20:12

“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Joshua 1:9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Luke 15:20,22-24

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him… But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

 

 

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Happy Fathers Day from the world of Golf

From The Greatest Game Ever Played – Release date: September 30, 2005

 

 

 

 

Blue-collar Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) fights class prejudice while mastering golf, a game guarded by the upper crust. Employed as a caddy at the exclusive Brookline Country Club, Francis fine-tunes his skills during off hours. His father, Arthur (Elias Koteas), disapproves, but a few admirers help Francis enter the 1913 U.S. Open. The underdog competes against British star Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane) and finds common ground with his boyhood idol. The film is based on a true story.

This ending scene as Francis wins the US Open; Finally sees the approving admiration in his fathers face in the crowd.

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What does baseball have to do with fatherhood?

By DAVID E. PRINCE – OCT 7, 2014

David E. Prince is the pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church and a professor of Christian preaching at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Without fathers, there is no baseball, only football and basketball.” – Diana Schaub, National Affairs

Baseball is uniquely a sport that fathers pass on to their children.

When Willie Mays speaks of his dad teaching him how to walk when he was 6-months old by enticing him with a rolling baseball, he is telling the story of baseball. Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman tells how his CPA father took a late lunch every single day so he could throw him batting practice after school. After 16 years in the big leagues, Chipper Jones headed home and had his mom video his swing so his dad could help him rebuild it. In historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir Wait Till Next Year, she explains the formative role her father’s love of baseball had on her life and career pursuits, “By the time I had mastered the art of scorekeeping, a lasting bond had been forged among my father, baseball, and me . . . These nightly recounting of the Dodgers’ progress provided my first lessons in the narrative art.”

A game that’s taught, not caught

No child will love and pass down the game of baseball simply because someone bought him a glove, ball and bat. He cannot play catch with himself, hit himself ground balls or throw himself batting practice. No child will figure out on their own what in the world a suicide squeeze, sacrifice, infield fly, frozen rope, Texas leaguer or balk means. The mechanics, mystery, nuance and jargon of baseball demand that one has to be personally discipled in its craft and patiently taught its glories. A baseball scorebook resembles mysterious hieroglyphics until the signs and symbols are patiently given meaning by a learned tutor. Very little in baseball is seeker-friendly or self-evident, and few people pick up the game on their own.

Almost no one ever develops a passionate love for baseball as an adult (my wife being a glorious exception). That is not the way the game works. Baseball is a game full of subtleties, which are passed on through generations like a treasured family heirloom. Baseball demands the daily attentiveness of its zealous followers in a consistent and rhythmic sort of way. When columnist Thomas Boswell asserts, “Conversation is the blood of baseball,” he is describing the warp and woof of its distinctiveness (How Life Imitates the World Series). As famed Orioles manager Earl Weaver once quipped, “This ain’t football. We do this every day.” Football and basketball are sports of athleticism and can be peer oriented, but baseball uniquely remains a sport of persistence and usually demands a father’s involvement and investment. In almost every case when a Major League Baseball player is asked, “How did you develop a love for the game?” his first words are, “My dad.”

My passion and love for the game began with my dad placing a baseball in my crib. It grew with countless conversations and times of catch, ground balls and batting practice with my father. The makeshift pitching mound in my backyard and the red clay of the little Dixie Youth Baseball Park, Joe Marshall Field in Montgomery, Ala., will always be more sacred to me than Fenway or any other big league park. As we picked up balls after another round batting practice, the conversations between father and son helped usher me from boyhood to manhood.

Losing our American pastime

But I write this post with a fear that we are losing the great game. I do not mean losing at the turnstile, but we are losing what has always made the game enduring and great. I fear we are losing what has made the game of baseball so much more than “just a game” in our national ethos.

George Will explains, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.” Jon Meacham asserts, “To wave off baseball as ‘just a game’ is like referring to the global events of 1939-1945 as ‘just a war.’” These serious cultural thinkers understand that baseball, a constant in American life since the 1850’s, has been the quintessentially American game and a significant culture reflecting and shaping institution. Branch Rickey wrote in The American Diamond, “It is almost impossible to find any team sport that so critically and clearly tests the mettle of each man alone on almost every play and yet fuses them all together into a group working in team competition. That is the paradox of this game that makes it so well suited to the American temperament.”

Baseball requires a kind of individual moral courage that keeps persisting for the good of the team in the face of inevitable repeated personal failures. The national game reflected the national character in a way that uniquely embedded it in the American family experience. Fathers naturally related the daily and rhythmic narrative of baseball to the narrative of life as they reared children.

Absentee fathers and cultural decline

But, I fear baseball is becoming “just a game” in the American experience because fatherhood is in decline. The youth baseball experience is being abstracted from the family and professionalized in contemporary American culture. Absentee fathers have led to the cultural decline of baseball as the national pastime in America. But it must be noted that there are varying kinds of absentee fathers. Some tragically do not live in the home with their children, but others are in the home but hire or farm out much of the parenting. Even in Christian families, providing stuff and paying for opportunities is often counted as engaged parental involvement because we have lost a theology of presence.

The emergence of baseball academies, specialized paid instructors, and travel baseball teams is a symptom of a larger cultural problem. All of these opportunities can be helpful and have a place as a supplement to a player’s baseball development, but they too often become substitutes for what has made the game of baseball great and deeply entrenched in American culture.

Every time I see a father fiddling with his iPhone while paying another man $40 an hour to sit a ball on a tee or soft toss for his son, I realize we are losing the game. Baseball is a game enamored with history and conversation, which have linked generations with a connectedness and shared language. The familial rootedness of baseball contributed to its emergence as the national pastime, and the hectic, virtual world we inhabit today makes its value largely unintelligible. Our industrialized, mass production culture has led to an unthinking value of quick, cheap, and disposable over slow, valuable, and lasting. The downgrade is evident in the range of American performing arts—including sport.

Severing baseball from fathers and local communities is turning the great game into “just a game.” Any American father can be privy to a wealth of resources in books and on the Internet about the fundamentals of baseball that is unparalleled in history. With minimal effort, he can learn drills and patiently work with his son on a daily basis to learn and develop the needed skills. But, it seems many dads would rather pay $40 and be an absentee dad for the instructional hour.

After all, the baseball academies and instructors dangle the possibility of obtaining a college scholarship or a Major League Baseball career if you sign up for their professional lessons. Baseball’s value is corrupted when it is simply seen as a possible means to some utilitarian end. Such notions are fantasy any way. Only two percent of High School baseball players receive any scholarship money to play baseball in college. A family’s time would be more wisely invested by trying to hit it big in the lottery (which I do not recommend).

A father’s presence and the gospel

Absentee dads, whether physically absent or emotionally absent, will not hand down a love and passion for baseball. A father who refuses to take the time to teach a game like baseball that demands patience will probably not take time for other complex and mysterious things either—far more important things.

It is not just baseball that demands a father’s presence. The good news of Jesus Christ is a simple yet infinitely profound message. The Bible takes us through the most important story in the history of the cosmos. The biblical gospel story has all kinds of twists and turns, nuances, and mystery (Eph. 3:3-10; 5:32; Col. 1:26-27). It is the story that defines every one of our personal stories. Passing on “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) to the next generation takes time, patience, and never-ending conversations (Deut. 6:4-9; Psalm 78:1-8) about “the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19).

Just like the dad dropping his son off with the baseball professionals, too many Christian fathers act as if they do not have time to read the long complex story of the Bible and have countless conversations with their children about the gospel and biblical truth. It is much easier and efficient to drop them off and allow the professionals at the church with seminary degrees to take care of serious religious stuff. Too many dads think what really matters is paying for their children to have the best opportunities and college one day. They tend to prefer the gospel tract approach to teaching faith and life, just the facts, hopefully get them saved, and make sure they get a good education and well paying job. But, in a faith with a Savior who took on human flesh and dwelt among us, we ought to know better. Faithfully teaching our children about the glory of the incarnate, crucified, and resurrected Christ demands time, patience, and presence.

Without fathers, there is no baseball—and unfortunately, that is one of the smallest tragedies of absentee dads. There is a reason grown men have often cried when Field of Dreams ends with Ray playing catch with his dad. But I fear we are heading toward a time when many men will be unmoved and puzzled by what they see as a strange ending to the movie. If so, we will have lost far more than baseball.

 

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A NOBLE FOUR LETTER WORD

 

by Ravi Zacharias on June 12, 2014

My father-in-law had a great impact on my life. He was father to four daughters and always considered me the son he never had. We were quite close and the world lost a great person when he passed away in 2005.

One of our last few conversations before he died took place as we sat across the dining table from each other at his home in Toronto. He had been diagnosed with cancer and was given no more than a few weeks to live. It came as a shock to him and to us. In this, one of our “farewell” conversations, I’ll never forget a particular word he used because he used it often in moments of reflection.

A little background will help. When the Second World War began, he dutifully enlisted to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a navigator. He navigated brilliantly by the stars. He served his country and a cause for the world with duty and honor at a perilous time in history. His use of that word “duty” epitomized his own life.

I heard him utter it again as he faced death. He was downcast as he worried that he had not left his finances in better shape for his wife. The truth is that he had provided for her, but with his sudden diagnosis, he suddenly felt so uncertain about it all. I said to him, “Please don’t worry about it, Dad…we’ll be there to take care of her.” He paused, overwhelmed by the weight of the limited time left to him, and said in somber tones, “But it was my duty to do so…” and the tears ran down his face.

There was that word: “duty.” In fact, I almost never heard him speak publicly without somehow bringing it in as a reminder to his audience. He would often quote Lord Nelson’s famous call to his countrymen before the battle of Trafalgar, “England expects every man to do his duty.” So prone was my father-in-law to quote that line that when he wrote his first book, about six hundred pages in length, I asked him with an amused expression, “Where in the book is Nelson’s line?” He looked so sheepish and dodged the question, so I opened the book and there it was: the opening line of the first chapter. I smiled and applauded that he had made my search so easy.

Duty. The two extremes towards this call miss the mark. The materially minded don’t like the word because they think it somehow handcuffs us—why place a burden of compliance that is self-made and mere convention, they insinuate. That venting is understandable, because materialists often miss the essence of many things as they go for form rather than substance. The spiritually minded don’t like the word very much either because they think it diminishes a greater demand, the demand of love. They mangle the form by isolating the substance. Their mistake is in putting asunder what God has joined together.

In his conclusion to the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon said that “the whole duty of man is to fear God and to keep his commandments.” So I ask, is it one’s duty to keep the commandments? Yes, indeed. Jesus positioned two commandments as the greatest: to love God and to love our fellow human beings. Making the love of God and of man our duty is surely not making them opposite sentiments.

Whatever the reasons, we are discomfited by the multiple illustrations of failure to do one’s duty that are everywhere, from political leadership to academic responsibility, and so often in the place of the arts. Offices of responsibility are more often sought for the power they bring, rather than for love of duty. Educators think character can be ignored in favor of letters against their names. In the world of entertainment, programs are aired with monetary goals in mind rather than for building up that which is good. Perish the thought that television executives might bear a responsibility to society! The living color that brings entertainment to us reflects only the color of green to its purveyors…dollars that can sacrifice sense. But that’s another topic for another day.

The worst effect from the failure to do our duty is evidenced in the home. The situation is dire. I know of those who have walked away from their wives and children and even their grandchildren to pursue selfish ambition. I find that heart-wrenching. I have seen those grandchildren longing to see their grandfather but he’s not there. He has turned his back on the minimal requirement of love: his duty.

Those who walk away with such callousness think duty and love are at odds because they often subsume love under their own personal need and ignore the greater commitment of duty. That misreading has cost our society so much. China flirted with a one-child policy and realized a generation later the costly mistake they had made in raising a whole generation of children with no siblings. How much more costly is it that multitudes are raised with no father?

What is scary about this scenario as I write about it is that to even address the need for a father is to run the risk of being accused of making a veiled attack on the culture of progressive thinking. That is not the point I am making. I am simply acknowledging that many men over the years have opted for selfishness over duty, for professional accolades over nurture, for image rather than substance, for temporal gain over an eternally defined profit, for sitting in the board room rather than standing by a crib. There is the old saying that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. We are seeing now that the cradle is ruling the world as we rock ourselves into the arrogant belief that not only is an earthly father unnecessary, there is no need for a heavenly Father either.

Contrast these two stories: Some years ago, an Air Canada flight from Dallas to Toronto met with an emergency. A fire had broken out in mid-flight in one of the restrooms. The pilot began a dramatic and sudden descent, knowing he had but a few moments to land if any were to survive. He descended at a furious speed and when he touched down emergency crews were on hand. As soon as they opened the door for rescue, the whole aircraft, sucking in the oxygen, turned into an inferno. There were some fatalities and some suffered burns, but because of his skill and the crew’s commitment, many were rescued. The captain was the last one to leave the burning airplane as he was literally pulled through the window with his uniform afire. It was a story of skill and heroism, and the captain deserved the tearful and heart-filled commendation he received as someone who had done his duty.

Switch scenarios. We move to April 2014. A ferry in Seoul, South Korea, capsizes and a large number of passengers are killed, most of them high school students who, waiting for instructions to abandon ship that never came, were swallowed up by the water and drowned.

 

One of the reasons the instructions never came is that the captain himself had fled the sinking ship and made sure he was safe on dry ground. The chorus of condemnation from the loved ones of those lost, tormented because of a captain who betrayed his trust, is not surprising. The teacher who had organized the trip took his own life, feeling that he had no right to be alive while most of his students perished. Even the prime minister of South Korea offered to resign because of the ripple effect of the tragedy. No celebration here, no commendation of a brave man; just a series of wrong decisions that resulted in the ultimate wrong decision of a man who put himself first and failed to do his duty.

Duty is the handmaiden of love and honor. It is doing that which is right rather than that which is convenient. In fact, failure of duty generally amputates somebody else’s right. Duty recognizes a cause greater than one’s self. As men and as fathers we have a duty before God and man to do what is right, honorable, and sacrificial.

On this occasion of Father’s Day, I call upon every man to do his duty: his duty to those who are in his care and his duty toward whatever task is in his trust, regardless of the personal cost. I pause, myself, to reflect upon ways in which I could have served my family better. I wish I had done that in more ways than I did. Watching our children live out their lives for God is a thrill that cannot be gainsaid.

My concern at this stage is for our youth. They live in a world akin to a tantalizing buffet line of seductions. How do they have the wisdom that enables restraint and discipline? Institutions seem accountable to nobody but themselves. That needed wisdom must come from within the home. That’s where instruction and the impartation of love, responsibility, and duty must begin. This will be a far better world if every man would do his duty to our young.

The hymn writer put it well:

Put on the Gospel armor

and watching unto prayer,

When duty calls, or danger,

be never wanting there.

(Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus)

My father-in-law was that kind of man and that’s why his last words at the end of his life were incredible. As he neared death, with his wife and children standing by his bedside, he uttered two statements. Looking toward the heavens he said, “Amazing, just amazing!” Turning to his wife of 62 years, he said, “Jean, I love you.” Those were his last words before meeting his heavenly Father.

Love had at last wedded beauty to duty, the enrichment of the here and the enchantment of the hereafter. It was the finest and the most soul-affirming of farewells. Doing your duty before God and man is ultimately welcomed in the embrace of love and commendation from whom it really matters. What more could a wife and children have asked for?

God places before us a call to the most rewarding service:  to love that knows its responsibility and that will reap the fitting reward of children who honor their parents. Out of such homes society can build a better future. That in itself would truly be amazing. To be sure, the path to that end is fraught with obstacles, perils, disappointments, and heartaches. But we cannot fail in our duty. The first step is defining, that we might know God who sent his Son who, in turn, fulfilled his duty and laid down his life so that you and I might know the love of our heavenly Father. Duty and love came from heaven to earth so that earth might reflect that splendor.

Happy Father’s Day, Gentlemen. And to families that are missing their father today, my prayers are especially for you. May God our heavenly Father be your strength.

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Fathers Day Presentation to the Fathers at Pali View Baptist Church on Oahu

Father’s Day Scripture – Psalm 127:3

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. – KJV

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. – NLT

Heritage / Gift = Property, inheritance

Reward = Payment, fare

 

Handout to Fathers from the Children of the Church…Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a small bag with Psalm 127:3 scripture on it.

It’s a small Gift and a Reward too. Two things in one – Gift & Reward, like in the Scripture…

 

Introduction to Vince Bocchieri from Brent Schlittenhart; after church announcements.

Ask Fathers to Stand – ask people to picture their Father in their mind – short prayer for fathers…

Pray and then they can sit after they get there small gift bag.

 

I’m here to represent Fathers, Dad’s really. It seems like the only time my daughter calls me father is when I did something wrong or embarrassed her…

(I want to take a moment) a let you know that this day is for fathers. We get one day a year and we are going to enjoy it. (So let me lay a few ground rules.) No matter how bad or corny our jokes are you have to laugh at them today. No pointing out if we get chocolate on our face from eating our Reese’s peanut butter cups, we’ll wipe it off; eventually. On our way home when we leave the blinker on after changing lanes, bite your tongue and don’t say anything. Whatever our favorite food is, Pizza or Burgers or Crab or Steak or Fish, you know what it is and that’s what we want for dinner. And after it’s all over and we burp to loud, unbuckle the front of our pants and fall asleep on the sofa. Please be quiet and let us rest…

Now that you know the rules I want to point out something special about fathers in the Bible.

It is found in the book of Psalms, division 127 vs. 3

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. – KJV

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. – NLT

Children, Kids – Baby’s – A new born. I remember the first time I held each one of my children for the first time and looked into their eyes. They stare at you and you just fall into them, Hold them; this is Love. We make a connection that will last into eternity. This was my child and He was a gift, made by God for me.

(Now here is the amazing part.) Fathers don’t do anything. Mothers do all the work. They carry the child for those nine LONG months, everything that goes along with it and endure basically physical torture giving birth to the baby at the end. (Thank you my dear, you can never say think you enough to your wife when this subject matter is brought up. So thank you; 5 times Thank You)

So, here I am holding my new born child, my gift from God. Looking into their eyes and I think “I can’t believe we had another one”… No, kidding. Really I am thinking God must really think I am special, a good dad. Someone that can care for and protect this precious little bundle of joy. Raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That’s what we really want as fathers is to raise our kids to grow up to know God. Seek him out and love Him just as much as we do.

Then it happens, real life hits you (pow) 3:00 am feedings with wet diapers that run all over you as you’re holding the baby, gassy colicky baby’s that won’t sleep, until the sun comes up. Teething, fevers, ear infections on and on.

You get the idea. But it doesn’t end with Baby’s problems. They start walking, running really and they never stop. So much energy, where does it come from?

There is helping with Homework – trying to understand the New Math, sleepovers, playing games, trips to the park, beach, doctors, dentists. You answer questions over and over and try to put limits on how many times they can say why… and on and on…

It never ends; each year they get older is a multiplier of the type’s problems and the expenses to solve those problems.

Here is the icing on the cake…(eye roll), as all this is happening. They watch you, the record every word action and deed and report back to Mom, Grandma, each brother and sister; and anyone else they can talk to.

Dad did this, he lost that. We got lost on the way here, 3 times; you should have heard all the bad words he was saying. I can’t believe he still wears that. Look how much hair he’s lost. He can’t hear or see to good anymore. Poor ol’ Dad, just not the same anymore…

(Wait, it can’t end this way.) God did this to me; he gave me those kids they were from God…

Let’s go back to that scripture in Palms 127

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. – NLT

I got the Gift part but what about this; They are a reward! A reward? For what?

(Let’s think this through… )You get a reward for doing something, return something that was lost. Like finding a lost pet and getting it back to the owner.

So what is the work that Dad’s do? Go back to the start. 3:00am feedings, walking a colicky baby. The leaky diaper and so on. Being there day in and day out, working late. Helping with those school projects. Hosting sleep overs. Playing games over and over. And always being the butt of the jokes, tricks and looking like we have no idea what’s going on.

We do it all because we are Dad and the reward comes when all of a sudden the child grows up and they realize Dad pretty much knew what was going on the whole time.

He wasn’t stupid or messing up things, Most Times any way – there’s always a few that just have no explanation.

It was always a plan to help the child grow and learn.

Every Child, usually as a teenager, gets to a point as they get older when they realize it’s not just about them, it’s about Him (point to God) and Dad was pointing the way. Holding the sign in the storm, suffering sleepless nights. Hours on knees praying for the family. Sacrificing pride, poise and image to turn the Gift into a Reward. To bring the child home, where they belong.

This reward Pays off fully for the Dad when we now get to have the same eye to eye contact; just like that first day. The first time was because you were the dad and the baby just loved you.

Now it’s because they know all about what you went through for them. Seen you at your worst, suffer, make mistakes and endure it all for them. They love you even more for all these things.

You get to feel again that First Day Look Moment of Love about how special the Gift was from God.

Now the Child knows he was giving a Gift too. The Gift of an earthly father that points the way to the heavenly father.

Thank you dear God for my father and all the fathers that are here. Please bless each and every one with a special day today.

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Help Luke turn Darth Vader away from the Dark Side

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