For the most precious things in life— beauty, love, nature’s majesty, romance—everyday language is not enough to express our sentiments.
That is why, for the precious gift of children, fathers have taken to writing poetry. The joy, amusement, wonder, gravity, and weighty sense of responsibility brought into a man’s life by fathering a child can sometimes only be expressed in poetry. Hear the range of feelings of these poet-fathers:
The spiritual importance that fathers bear in the home has led others to pen hymns and poems reflecting on a father’s influence and encouraging men to mirror the heavenly Father in their parenting:
• A Christian Home by Barbara Hart
• When Father Reads the Book by G.E. Foster
• When Father Prays (unknown)
• Wanted: A Man to Lead (Wesleyan Methodist)
• A Father’s Prayer (unknown)
One such poem—“My Prayer” by Nauzon W Braphamm—asks the Lord for help in fulfilling a role that is often beyond human effort.
Father, today I bring to Thee
This boy of mine whom Thou hast made.
In everything he looks to me,
In turn, I look to Thee for aid…
Hold Thou my hand as I hold his,
And so guide me that I may guide.
Teach me, Lord, that I may teach,
And keep me free from foolish pride…
Children, too, have reflected on the father-relationship in the other direction, noting and thanking fathers for their influence in their lives. Read these classic poems by acclaimed poets from E.E. Cummings to Sylvia Path. One such poem, Edgar Guest’s Only a Dad begins,
Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice…
If you resonate best with contemporary poems, consider these Father-Child poems and Son/Daughter poems. Still other modern poems are written from the perspective of mothers who have watched the priceless role their husbands play in their children’s lives:
Children Need a Daddy by Becky Ginn
Children need a Daddy for many, many things:
Like holding them high off the ground where the sunlight sings!
Like being the deep music that tells them all is right
When they awaken frantic with the terrors of the night.
Like being the great mountain that rises in their heart
And shows them how they might get home when all else falls apart.
Like giving them the love that is their sea and air,
So diving deep or soaring high they’ll always find him there.
It’s a Dad Kind of Thing (unknown)
It’s a dad kind of thing to protect you and see that the world treats you right,
To offer his willing assistance any hour of the day or the night.
It’s a dad kind of thing to stand by you, if one of your bubbles should burst,
To make sure you know you’re important and know that with him you come first.
To give you his all but still wonder if there’s something more he could do -
It’s a dad kind of thing to keep showing that he’ll always be there for you…
Fathers have the unique privilege of sharing a title with God himself: our heavenly Father. How special that the Bible speaks of a human father’s love as a window into our heavenly Father’s love. Jesus said in Luke 11:11-13 that if even human fathers know how to love and give good gifts to their children, how much more should we expect an abundance of love from our great Father in heaven!
It is a privilege to be able to illustrate the qualities of God himself, yet it is also a weighty calling. Throughout Scripture fatherhood is spoken of as having tremendous impact, for good and for ill. As fathers shape the character of their children, they are in many ways shaping the future—the outlook for multiple generations (Ex 34:6-7). Fathers can pass on to their children a strong legacy of faithfulness, or they can leave their children spiritually deprived, without a heritage of the values that matter most.
The Bible contains examples of fathers who left both positive and negative legacies for their children. Unfortunately, though King David was in many ways a “man after God’s own heart,” (Acts 13:22), his family life and parenting left much to be desired. His lack of faithful fathering set in motion a negative legacy for his children and descendants. For instance, his marital unfaithfulness—not only in adultery with Bathsheba, but also in taking multiple wives and concubines—impacted his children. It brought death to one son (2 Sam. 12:14) and led to familial tension and discord. When Solomon followed his father’s pattern of acquiring wives and concubines, it ultimately led both him and the nation away from the Lord (1 Kings 11:2-4).
Scripture also shows that David failed to lead and discipline his children, leading to several cases of rebellion and tragedy. One son raped his daughter and, seeing that David did nothing, another son murdered the rapist. And two of David’s sons—Absalom and Adonijah—rebelled flagrantly against him, with David again largely failing to act. Yet God was gracious, even through David’s failure, to bring about a long-term descendant who was faithful: Jesus himself.
There are many more encouraging examples of fatherhood offered in Scripture and in history. Consider these American fathers who left strong legacies for their children, through the way they modeled and trained their children:
• Cotton Mather, the 17th century Puritan preacher in New England, began his Father’s Resolutions with the commitment: “At the birth of my children, I will resolve to do all I can that they may be the Lord’s.” Mather was himself the son of a pastor and several of his descendants also became prominent Puritan ministers.
• The 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards, together with his wife Sarah, raised their children in a way that left behind a powerful legacy. Researchers are astonished at the disproportionate influence his descendants have had in education, Christian ministry and public service. His descendants include fourteen college presidents, one U.S. vice-president, 200 Christian ministers, and a large number of doctors, senators and judges.
• Martin Luther King, Sr. (b. 1899) was a major influence in the life of his son, Martin Luther King, Jr. As a pastor and Civil Rights leader himself, King Sr. was hugely influential in the development of his son’s conscience, ideals, and own desire to follow in ministry and Civil Rights. MLK Jr. would not have been the same person without his father’s example and training.
• Nate Saint (b.1923), the missionary pilot in Ecuador, left a powerful legacy to his son Steve Saint, in his willingness to give his life for the sake of the gospel. Though Nate was martyred by the Waodani people while he was still a young dad, his son Steve decided to take up his father’s work and continue to preach to the Waodani and to others, worldwide. He has helped share the story of his dad and the other martyrs through documentaries and films like Beyond the Gates of Splendor and End of the Spear.
Since we’ve been talking about the Holy Spirit lately, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the issue of discernment when we pray and ask for the Spirit’s guidance. As parents we routinely ask for clarity and wisdom in making very pertinent decisions that affect our children.
Each year I pray for guidance as to what to do for my son’s education. Having special needs, I have trusted the Holy Spirit to guide me, and He has…each year! Should I home school him or should I put him in school with an IEP? This personal issue is neither political nor is it ego centric. I must do what’s best for my son, even through my own doubts and concerns. I know the Spirit will lead us to where He wants my boy. This year I felt pretty sure I knew the direction we’d take, even before I gave it to God. Pretty conceited on my part! But the ironic thing, or maybe NOT so ironic, is that when I DID finally give this decision over to God, He made me feel uncomfortable in my own decision. I felt uneasy, like never before. While I couldn’t put my finger on WHY, I knew He wanted me to go the OTHER way. Once I discussed this with my husband, and we decided to follow how the Holy Spirit was leading, we THEN received a perfect validation from an outside source. My own faith had to be put into action before God allowed us to see the proof that we were making the right decision.
Do you sometimes struggle with wondering if the Holy Spirit is talking to you? How are we supposed to know the guidance which we are receiving is not just our own egos talking to us?
One of the best litmus tests is The Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.”
We can not be acting in accordance to the Holy Spirit if we feel we should go against anything in God’s Word.
He may be The Comforter, but His guidance in our call to action may challenge our personal comfort zones! In the past when I have prayed for guidance, I find the Holy Spirit answers in a way that goes way beyond my comfortable limits. He stretches my faith, and in doing so He allows my character to grow.
Many times His guidance does not merely restate thoughts you’ve already had on a specific matter. What is told to us seems out of the blue, but always on a deeper level than we’ve thought about it. His guidance comes from a much deeper perspective. You may find yourself saying, “Why didn’t I think of that before?”
We must have patience. Sometime we don’t get the answers we want immediately. It is in this waiting that we can find comfort in God’s Word, and in knowing that He does in fact hear our prayers. Waiting on the Lord for His perfect time to answer us. (Psalm 40:1) “I waited patiently for Jehovah; And he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”
As one who has decided to accept the grace of Salvation, repent from sin, and become a new creation in Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in you, strengthens you, guides you, teaches you and moves in you! Pray to be able to continuously discern His working in your lives.
Lisa Strnad is a weekly contributing writer/blogger to What’s in the Bible? and Jelly Telly. She has been a homeschooling mom of two, who works independently in Christian media in the areas of writing, promotions and marketing. She lives with her husband and children in Nashville,TN. Follow her personal blog posts on Talking Like A Girl.
The idea of honoring fathers is an ancient one. The Hebrew Old Testament contains the command, “Honor your father… so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16) The idea that respecting parents will bring children blessing and well-being is common among many cultures.
The modern holiday of Father’s Day had its origins in 1910, when the governor of Washington state proclaimed a celebration for “Father’s Day.” Celebration of the holiday spread slowly around the U.S. so that by 1916, President Wilson honored it. During the Great Depression, retailers worked harder to promote Father’s Day (and its sales). But it took until the end of World War II before Father’s Day was a nation-wide institution. The idea of celebrating fathers became more important in this war-time environment, due to families feeling the absence of their husbands and fathers. Nevertheless, Father’s Day was only declared to be a federal holiday in 1972, under President Nixon. With its more recent history, Father’s Day has yet quite equaled Mother’s Day in terms of sales and cultural emphasis, but it is an important holiday in its own right.
Currently in the U.S., the White House has had a special campaign promoting fatherhood. Fatherhood.gov says that fatherlessness is a growing crisis in America, and that children without involved dads are “more likely to drop out of school, use drugs, be involved in the criminal justice system, and become young parents themselves.” The White House is seeking to promote fatherhood as a building block for strong children, families and communities. And at the same time, research suggests that fatherhood is beneficial for men themselves. Studies show that simply becoming a father who chooses to be present in his child’s life helps men become better men. An involved father tends to engage in less risky behaviors, have better long-term health, and is “less self-centered, more giving and more outward focused” than a non-father.
How is Father’s Day celebrated outside the U.S.? In some Catholic countries, it is celebrated on the Feast of St. Joseph or is also used as a time to honor the parish priest (their “spiritual father”). Russia, Germany and some other European countries celebrate “Men’s Day” in place of Father’s Day. In Germany, for instance, the Men’s Day festivities probably originated in agricultural customs. It is traditional for men to do a hiking tour with a wagon of food and beer beside them.
In Thailand, Father’s Day is celebrated on the birthday of the current king, so that Father’s Day also promotes the royal family. Thais traditionally give their father a Canna flower, which is considered masculine. In Nepal, even deceased fathers are included in the Father’s Day tradition. The modern Father’s Day holiday is often combined with the ancient celebration Gokarna Aunsi, which is celebrated in late August or early September, depending on the lunar calendar. On this day, sons and daughters give gifts to their father and perform ceremonies of respect, while also going to the temple to honor deceased fathers.
Fifty days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early Christians on a day known as Pentecost. This powerful event from the first century is described in Acts chapters 1-2. There, we learn that about 120 followers of Jesus were gathered in prayer in an upper room of Jerusalem, having recently seen Jesus depart and return to his Father in heaven. It was now the day for celebrating a Jewish harvest festival known as Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks. But God would give this Old Testament feast a far greater significance through the spiritual harvest He would produce that day.
While the believers were gathered, the Holy Spirit came upon them with flames of fire and violent wind. Why such dramatic signs of power? Precisely because the Spirit was empowering the church for the mission Jesus had given them in Acts 1:8: To be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus had known that his followers could only fulfill this mission with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, so he had instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until they were given the Spirit. (Luke 24:49) Just as the Spirit had empowered Jesus for ministry (Luke 4:1), so the Spirit would now empower Jesus’ people for ministry.
At Pentecost, the church was not only empowered but also expanded to all nations and people groups. In the Old Testament, God’s work had mostly centered on one ethnic group—the people of Israel. But at Pentecost, God expanded his kingdom to all nations. The Spirit demonstrated this by enabling the believers to speak in foreign languages they had never known, so they could share the gospel with people from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:6). Peter told the crowds in Jerusalem that the Spirit was being poured out on all people so that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
Because of Pentecost, Jesus can now be personally present with every believer around the globe, through his Holy Spirit. In fact, because the Holy Spirit dwells inside us (1 Cor. 3:16), it is something that can never be taken away. Jesus promised in John 14-16 that the Spirit will gives us peace, courage, comfort, and guidance—everything we need.
Because Pentecost was such an important, history-changing event, many Christians have commemorated it up to the present—particularly the Christian traditions that follow a church calendar, such as Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and more. The practice of observing Pentecost seems to date to the early church, when the entire period from Easter to Pentecost was used as a for preparing and then baptizing new believers.
Today churches vary in how they celebrate Pentecost Sunday, but they often incorporate symbols of the Spirit, such as a dove, flames of fire, or colorful vestments—perhaps red for fire or green for life. Pentecost has also been called “Whitsunday,” due to the white garments worn by those being baptized at this time.
You can also read more about the Pentecost by checking out our other post here: Pentecost and Talking to Our Kids about the Holy Spirit. And for a fun activity, download our Pentecost Coloring Page!
For the final episode in our Book of Acts video series, we asked Phil Vischer to share his favorite lesson from making the new Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible? DVD. Volume 11: Spreading the Good News! covers the stories from the book of Acts about the creation of the early church and the spreading of the gospel across the Roman world.
Vischer pointed to the story of Paul.
Paul is “a guy that you are ready to write off,” Vischer said. Paul was a Jewish scholar and leader who hated and persecuted the followers of Jesus in the early church. But, as Vischer notes, “God has something completely different in mind.”
Paul converts after Jesus stops him on the road to Damascus. Paul gets a visit from the risen Lord! He is awed by Christ’s presence, and is blinded for 3 days. A follower of Jesus in Damascus restores his sight, and Paul never looks back – he becomes a champion of the Gospel across the Roman world. He wrote much of the New Testament.
Vischer said, “[God's] not going to take him out, he’s going to turn him around – 180 degrees – and make him the most powerful force in the early church.”
Vischer said that what drew him most to the story of Paul is its implications for kids – and people – who may have heard that they are “bad kids” or are kids who get in trouble a lot. But “like Paul, God can turn you into an amazingly powerful force for good.”
If you want to learn more about the Book of Acts, check out our other posts here: How to Talk to Kids about the Holy Spirit , Teaching Kids about Paul, Teaching Kids about Martyrdom, and Talking to Kids about Evil.
Every adult remembers the cliques we had in high school. The intellectuals, the jocks, the comedians, the drama kids, and of course the cool kids. 1985’s The Breakfast Club was a truly accurate account about how social circles used to be in high school, long before there was an internet, Facebook, Twitter, Ipods or smart phones. But technology aside, some things unfortunately haven’t changed: the desire to be one of the cool kids. The cool kids still wear the right clothes, listen to the right music, and are invited to the right parties. Everyone looks up to them, because they’re cool. It’s cool to be cool. Ask any kid over 10!
While I’ve written on the topic of bullying, and the painful isolation that it causes, there is another form of isolating fear that strikes our kids at a much younger age nowadays. It’s their very typical desire to fit in with others and ultimately be part of the “in” crowd. The fear comes from the possibility of not fitting in or being different than what the world classifies as “cool”.
What does “cool” mean, anyway? I had to think about this. Being cool may be an incredulous need for attention. Its pay off is the instant gratification around every corner–every day–by everybody. But I still don’t think that’s the heart of the beast. No, I think being cool is actually rebellion in its purest state. It flies under the rebellion radar much of the time, because cool kids are even liked by those who in authority over them–(maybe because these adults still long to be cool themselves? Who knows.) We know that cool exists to “exclude” rather than “include”. Cool is therefore shallow. It can be a contradiction to what we know is true, which is that God created us to be in relationship with one another.
But what does God think about being cool? To be honest, God really makes a big deal out of wanting us to love one another and be kind to each other. He never specifies to love or be kind to “just a few”. Nope, He is inclusive in His command.
God wants to be the MOST important thing in your life. That means that your own popularity, or desire to be cool should be nowhere near as important as making sure that God is #1 in your life! If He isn’t, then you may need to re-evaluate your priorities. Exodus 20:5 “I am a jealous God.” Putting that much time and energy into being cool, takes time away from building our relationship with God. And that’s NOT cool! God made each of us exactly like He wanted. We are His masterpieces!!
I’d like to say that this is purely an adolescent problem. I’d like to say that we adults simply outgrow the need to be seen as “cool”. But in reality many of us also fight the desire to be accepted by society, which means we must adhere to a set of standards that may not be synonymous with the truth of God’s Word. Sometimes being able to reach the heart of our kids takes some intense prayer and the healing of our own wounds first. We need to ask God to help fix that brokenness in ourselves, so we can more effectively talk to our kids about this topic.
Lisa Strnad is a weekly contributing writer/blogger to What’s in the Bible? and Jelly Telly. She has been a homeschooling mom of two, who works independently in Christian media in the areas of writing, promotions and marketing. She lives with her husband and children in Nashville,TN. Follow her personal blog posts onTalking Like A Girl.
This week, the What’s In The Bible? crew wants to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day! Download the Mother’s Day coloring page featuring our favorite little movie-lover, Michael!
Click Here to Download Now: Mother’s Day Coloring Page
As the previous post in our Book of Acts video series revealed, Phil Vischer discusses the martyrdom of Stephen and the other apostles in his latest DVD in the Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible? series. Volume 11: Spreading the Good News! [The Book of Acts] ends with a question posed by the character Ian – “Did God love Paul more than Stephen, since He saved Paul and Stephen died?” Even though Phil reveals in the DVD that Paul too was eventually killed for his faith in Jesus, he gives a thoughtful response to Ian’s question.
As Vischer points out, most kids will ask this question eventually. Sometimes it is in the form of “why do bad things happen to good people?” or perhaps they see a friend or family struggle with illness, and wonder if God will answer their prayers for healing or saving. “That is such a profoundly central question as we mature as Christians,” Vischer said.
It is central to our lives as followers of Christ to understand God’s plan for redemption and restoration, because that can help us acknowledge that the bad things that happen to us in this life are consequences of sin and the fall.
We “try to take kids into this truth – that following God does not mean terrible things won’t happen, and terrible things happening isn’t a sign that God doesn’t love you. God’s love for you was settled on the cross. Terrible things happening is a sign of the fall, and God has a plan to fix it – that’s what the Cross is about,” Vischer explained.
As with Stephen, Paul, and the other apostles and followers of Christ who were martyred, Vischer said it’s important to remember that “there is no happily ever after on earth for any of these guys. The happily ever after is later.” Referring to Christ’s promises for eternal life with Him, Vischer reinforces the idea that we are still in what Paul called the “present evil age” in the book of Galatians. Paul tells us in Galatians 4:1 that Christ died to rescue us from evil.
However, as Vischer notes, it’s key to remember that the Bible does not promise us a life free from pain and struggle, but rather that God has a plan to bring forth His Kingdom, where there will be no more pain and no more tears. He has a plan to fix it! Therefore, we can take heart and have faith throughout life on this earth, praising God for His plan to rescue us from all evil, forever.
Vischer said, “To me, this is the most important thing in the whole show,” and that it’s an important truth for kids – and grownups! – to understand.
We asked What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer about his approach to the martyrdom of Jesus’ apostles in the book of Acts, which is the topic of the latest DVD in the series – Volume 11: Spreading the Good News [Book of Acts]. The DVD tells the story of Stephen, who was stoned for being a Christian. In fact, most of the apostles were eventually martyred as well. This is a tricky subject, but one that Vischer handles with grace.
“That sort of thing doesn’t get mentioned in a lot of kids bibles,” Vischer said of the stoning of Stephen and his inclusion of it in Volume 11. He mentioned that as one of reasons What’s in the Bible? is recommended for elementary-school-aged children and older, rather than younger. Vischer does not shy away from the tricky parts of the Bible – he addresses the killing of the citizens of Canaan, and the meaningless felt by the preach in Ecclesiastes, and now the stoning of Stephen and martyrdom of the apostles.
“When we pull of the bad news out of the Bible, when we pull more of the intense and frightening elements out of the Bible, we’ve radically changed its message,” Vischer said. Sharing the true message of the Bible is a key component of the What’s in the Bible? series, because it is important that we understand that bad things do happen in this world, but that God has a plan that extends beyond all the bad – a plan to restore His Kingdom to the way it was ended in the beginning, with no more sadness and no more tears.
As Vischer explained, “Stephen was stoned. Even as he was filled with the Holy Spirit, it didn’t keep him from dying … That tells us something huge about life with God – that it’s not a guarantee that nothing is going to wrong.”
The What’s in the Bible? series does not shy away from the stickier and scarier stories of the Bible. “When we edit out all of those parts … we’re painting an inaccurate picture of the world that is very dangerous for kids to grow up with.”
As Vischer concluded, he reiterated that What’s in the Bible? was written with elementary-schoolers in mind, because they have an understanding of good and bad in the world. And, “As soon as kids are old enough to be aware that bad things happen … they are ready for the real truth of the Bible,” Vischer said.