It seems like no matter where you go in the world, families are in crisis. When I ponder this, as a father, I realize it is my responsibility to allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform me so that I, in turn, will be the father that God has called me to be. The Bible is not a handbook for parenting. Scripture is truth that leads me to Jesus and Jesus, in turn, transforms me by his Holy Spirit. Therefore, as a “son of God” and “heir of the King” I am able, through the power of Christ, to be transformed.
Starting January 1 – Legacy Devotional will send a daily post to encourage and help equip you as a father. I wrote each entry with you in mind. Fathers need a lot of encouragement! Through this blog, you can open the Bible daily and receive strength and direction as you build a legacy of faithfulness in your own homes.
I have linked to The Message Bible as a daily devotional. Once you’ve read the designated chapter along with the Legacy blog-post for the day, make some notes of your own and spend time asking the Lord to transform you through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I hope you subscribe and journey with me in building a lasting heritage of faith!
David not only had great respect and understanding of authority, he knew Saul could not touch or kill him as long as God was watching over David’s life. David said to Saul, “But you’re not getting rid of me that easily; you’ll not separate me from God in life or death. The absurdity!”(1 Sam. 26:20) David knew as long as he didn’t touch God’s anointed and walked in Jehovah’s way, he was indispensable.
Our kids should live life on purpose with no fear of death if they are walking with God. David had a revelation of the protection and provision of God, and so should our kids. How do we help them live with hope, assurance, and purpose?
Fathers, we have an opportunity to train and teach our kids in the area of security. Helping kids gain a revelation of their security in Christ is paramount and foundational. The kids growing up in your home need to know they are secure in your love and secure in Christ. Showing unconditional love to your children is the beginning of helping them be secure in Christ’s love. Teaching them who God is and that the Father has a plan for their life will bring spiritual security. Everyone is concerned about security and significance. We have the awesome opportunity of assisting our kids in both being secure and finding significance. Even though we train and teach them in these areas, ultimately they will have to gain a revelation from God of their security and significance. However, when they do get that revelation, they will be fearless in life. When we as fathers demonstrate unconditional love we are moving them closer to understanding God. As we discipline and train them, we send the message that we love them enough to spend time helping them build character.
Our children should live knowing they are secure in Christ, that they gain significance from what Jesus did for them on the cross, and that they are secure in our love. I encourage you to make a point of teaching your children to live with hope, assurance, and purpose.
Don’t fight your wife’s insight! Allow me to leave the subject of fathering today and remind those of us who are married to listen to our Abigail. Abigail was married to a brute of a guy; he was not a kind man and he had no respect for David. Nevertheless, Abigail served her husband and had the wisdom to respond respectfully to God’s anointed king, David.
Men, we need our Abigail. Most of my greatest victories have come when Debi (my Abigail) gave me insight, counsel, or discernment about a situation. The discernment of our wives is so valuable and we would do well to make sure we are listening. My responsibility as a husband is to create an atmosphere in our home where Debi is confident that she can come to me about anything and share her heart. Sometimes my independent mindset leads me to think, “I know what to do in this situation, or how can Debi have any input in this situation she has no knowledge of what is going on?” I can’t afford to make decisions thinking like this; I need her input and her discernment. I can ask her to pray and consider a situation and whether she has knowledge or not, she can give me input. A woman often “feels” a certain way and when she tells us it may not even make sense. Listen to your Abigail and don’t fight her insight. You may have to back off, pray, investigate, and wait to take action if your wife has a caution. Remember the lyrics to the song Frank Sinatra made popular “I did it my way” – don’t let that be said about you, make sure you seek the counsel, insight, and wisdom of your wife regularly.
I was a pastor for many years and often Debi would have a check in her spirit about a particular woman in a ministry situation that I was involved in. I learned to listen to her concern, even if she didn’t have a clue about the ministry going on with this woman. Her caution was good enough for me. If you are an employer and in the situation of hiring a woman assistant, ask your wife to interview the woman; it could save you time and money. If you are making a business deal, run the situation by your wife; she may have nothing to say, but she may have discernment about the deal that is invaluable for you. There are many ways our Abigail can save us from mistakes and bad deals if we will just give her the opportunity and listen to her.
The main area I find it difficult to listen is when Debi has a complaint. I’ve heard popular marriage ministry leader Jimmy Evans say that, “Husbands should have the finest customer service anywhere and always [be] open for business.” In other words, if you buy a suit at a store and it doesn’t fit right or you get home and find out it’s not the color you thought it was, a store with good customer service will let you return the suit with no questions asked. In fact, they will listen politely to your complaint and tell you to go pick out another suit- now that is good customer service! Husband, is your complaint department open or closed? Make sure your wife knows and understands she can come to you at anytime with any concern and you are willing to listen. Sound hard? It is, but if we depend on God for our security, we can easily listen to our wives concerns.
David walked with tremendous respect for authority. He had a respect and understanding of authority like few people do. Can you imagine having an authority hunt you down like a dog trying to kill you? What’s even more unimaginable is responding to that authority the way David did. What kept David from finishing Saul off in the cave?
Between David’s upbringing and his spiritual walk he understood the importance of authority. His comprehension of authority began when the lion and the bear attempted to take the sheep he was watching and he slew them. The sheep were his dad’s property and he was directed by his dad to take care of the sheep. God empowered him to kill the bear and lion, so nothing was going to harm the sheep on his watch. And what about Goliath? Here was a giant defying God and taunting the Israelites. Under God’s authority, David faced the giant and killed him. He is set to take over as king, but Saul would not give up the throne without a fight.
David would not touch God’s anointed. Although killing Saul had to be a temptation and was even encouraged by his friends, he knew God had allowed Saul to remain in place and David respected the king’s position. If we can train/teach our kids to view authority as David did, we will do them a great service. Ultimately we understand from the Bible that God is the one who set kings and places governments in authority. There may be politicians that are crooked and untrustworthy, but they are in a place of authority and like David we must be careful not to touch God’s anointed. There are some bad cops, but policemen have been set in a place of authority. We must teach our kids to respect authorities because God works through authority. The issue is not whether we like or don’t like authority; the fact is, no matter what we do or where we go, authority exists. Our responsibility is to train/teach our kids how to respond appropriately to authority. There was a season that we tried to practice saying “God bless the policeman” every time we saw a police car. It was a little fun thing for us, but we were teaching our kids to respect the authority our city had set in place through the police department. We’ve always tried to pray for and bless our president, even if there was someone in office we really didn’t like or respect. Whatever you can do on a regular basis to reinforce respect and obedience to authority in your home will be great training ground for your kids. When you practice doing something long enough, it becomes a habit and revelation comes as you are faithful to do what is right. By training and teaching our kids to respect the authorities God has put in our life, we teach proper acceptance of God’s divine order. David had plenty of opportunity to go against Gods order, but he chose to wait on God’s timing and rest in the fact that God could work through authority, even bad authority.
David was protected by God over and over again. Saul was after David to kill him, but David was always one step ahead of Saul. God would give David a word on how to avoid Saul’s wrath, or someone would give him a heads up on Saul’s whereabouts. When God is ordering your steps you are under his care and protection, and as Luke 10:19 tells us, we have power over the enemy and nothing shall hurt us. It’s encouraging to know that when we are walking with God nothing can take us out early or keep us from an intimate, vibrant relationship with Him. David was the target of Saul’s hatred, but escaped his anger because God was his protection.
As fathers we can take comfort that God will protect our kids while we encourage them to take risks for God. The walk of faith that we are called to as believers requires a certain amount of adventure and risk taking. Every hero of the faith faced challenges that were beyond comprehension, but trusted in God to protect them and sustain them. One of our major roles as fathers is to “push” our kids to to risks with God. Some of our children have needed more encouragement than others in this area. If you protect your children too much and remove all risks then you will not raise men and women of faith. Faith equals risks. If you send your child on a mission trip or some other type of trip and you are following God’s leadership, you can be sure God is able to protect them. Sure, you pray and do what you can to make sure their way is safe, but just like in David’s situation, God is able to keep them from harm.
We should be watchful if our children step out from under our authority or disobey God. They become unprotected and a target of the enemy when they are out of God’s will. If you are in the rain and have an umbrella but don’t put the umbrella up, what happens? The same thing is true of our children. They are protected by God and us (their parents) as long as they choose to remain under the protective covering. If they choose not to utilize our covering by disobeying, then they become a target of Satan and have very little defense. It would be the same as David running from Saul without God intervening or others helping – not a good situation. If you observe your child having a poor attitude toward your authority or God’s direction you should hit your knees and beg God to intervene.
Dads usually are greater risks takers than moms. It’s our responsibility to encourage, push, and train our kids to take faith risks. When our kids do take risks, there will be trials and struggles they face, but remember as God was able to protect David he is well able to protect your son or daughter.
We discussed the topic of friendships a few days ago, but let’s dig in a little deeper here. Look at the “friends” that were drawn to David at the Cave of Adullam. The scripture describes these guys as down on their luck, losers, vagrants, and misfits. Not the kind of guys you would want to mount a military campaign with and certainly not on the list of the top 10 friends you would want your kids to have. Nevertheless, these misfits became very loyal to David and were some of the best fighting men around.
One of the roles of a father is to establish family values. In other words, determine what we believe about issues like entertainment, money, character and friendship. When we discuss our values concerning friendship, it would be good to remember the friends David had at the Cave of Adullam. Our children need friends like David had while at the cave. Sure we may desire our children’s friends to be proper and very clean-cut, but David would’ve lost some pretty good friends if he thought this way.
We have a big family, and when our kids go out to play it looks like the neighborhood has come to play at our house when reality, it’s only our kids. But, that much action draws other kids and they think the party is on. It was normal for kids to show up that were either fatherless or whose parents didn’t seem to care where they were. Some of these kids would probably fit the description of David’s mighty men. We had lots of fun accepting these kids and coaching our kids in establishing relationships with the them. Of course we were cautious with their new friends. We wouldn’t allow our kids to go to their house unless we had met the parents and knew them well. It wasn’t so much about what we could gain by having these friends, but how we could love and minister to them.
It’s very easy as a Christian family to get in the habit of isolating ourselves so we won’t be “contaminated” by the evil world. We didn’t isolate our kids, but we did insulate them at times from issues and situations that were not appropriate for their age. Hospitality is a great way for our families to reach out to many (like David’s friends in the Cave) that need love and acceptance. Your family can provide the care and concern that other children need in your neighborhood. We are called to be a city set on a hill. I encourage you to take in some characters like David did and bless those around you.
How long has it been since you’ve wrestled with your boys or played pretend with your daughter? I am not suggesting you go crazy like David, but it’s important we don’t take our life and our jobs so seriously that we forget to spend some time just playing with our kids. David was afraid for his life and acted like a fool. We obviously don’t have this type of pressure on us, but we can easily get caught up in the daily grind and probably need to lighten up sometimes.
My little guys love to wrestle with me all the time. Almost daily when I come home from work they say “can we wrestle?” The older I get the less I want to wrestle, but the more I realize how important this is to them and to our relationship. What they will remember when they get older is the times we wrestled together- not the days I rushed off to a meeting or to the office. When they tell their kids about their relationship with me, the stories about our hunting excursions and the many encounters of our wrestling episodes will be the first to be retold.
God made me with a tendency to be a fairly intense guy. I have goals I want to reach and when I am not doing this God’s way, I can view people as a means to the end for the project rather than individual creatures God put on this earth for his glory. It is hard for me just to sit still and let the kids come and jump in my lap or just sit and talk. If it doesn’t involve action and making progress I tend to move on to the next thing. This has probably been one of the weakest areas in my parenting and I work on this all the time. It’s imperative that I sit around with my kids and just have fun with them sitting and talking. It’s important that I watch them play ball, shoot baskets, chase rabbits, and go on walks – you know all the things that aren’t necessarily categorized in my mind as “productive” but in the big scheme of things, they are very productive. Children don’t need a dad who is always on the computer or always has the cell phone glued to his ear, but they won’t ask you to give up either. They need “hang time” where we just sit around and go fishing or ride a bike or take a walk.
Father, find some things you can do that regularly require you to be flexible and creative with your kids. There are times when I act really silly in front of my kids. Once we stopped at a traffic light and we were all clapping and singing to the music on the radio and I jumped out of the van (after having put the van in park and the emergency brake on) and danced a jig (not sure what a jig is, but I did one) . The kids in the van were so embarrassed and laughing their heads off. They recount that incident over and over noting how wild and crazy their dad is. I’ve been known to pull up my gym shorts to my chest and walk in the room looking very “goofy”. Kids remember the funny crazy things you do and it ties their heart-strings to you. Lighten up, get loose and have fun with your kids- most of the time we are way too serious anyway.
In our passage today, David and Jonathan’s relationship is tested once again. Jonathan proves his loyalty to David, protects him, and plans an effective escape route for David. Let’s go back to the discussion of friendships and learn how as a father we can steer our children in the right direction in this area.
We raised our children with a discipleship mentality, in other words, being discipled and discipling others. Hopefully, each of our children understand they have a responsibility to disciple others (mainly their siblings) and be discipled by others. Out of this mindset they develop friends of all ages. We have resisted age segregated friendships. We wanted our kids to have a broad range of friends; friends younger than them, friends the same age, and friends older than them. We had a desire that our children wouldn’t just relate to friends their own age, but that they would broaden their relationships and take advantage of older, godly friends that could disciple them and younger friends that they could disciple. We also discouraged the idea of having just one “best friend.” Sometimes a “best friend” can become a substitute for the relationship God wants with us. Also, when we just have “best friends,” oftentimes other people become excluded and hurt. Of course, like Johnathan and David, there are relationships that emerge that are special and produce the kind of love and loyalty that their relationship did. The goal we had with our younger children was for them to establish relationships with an eclectic group of friends and let God ordain those special close relationships as they continue to develop into young men and women.
Dads, we need to do a lot of monitoring here. Our constant watchful care over our children’s relationships is key to helping them maintain healthy, loving relationships. Some of our kids were more social than others and wanted to be at every party and be everyone’s friend. These are the ones that require some extra attention. They typically draw lots of people and friends to themselves because they are so friendly. They are more likely to give into peer pressure from less mature friends out of a desire not to lose them as friends. Whether they think they need it or not we must coach them through these relationships. They need our wisdom and accountability. We can help keep their emotions in check and encourage them to have healthy relationships.