How to Teach Your Children Generosity

by Kristopher Hatchell.

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverb 11:25

So, as I sit here in front of this blank white page I wonder what I might be able to share with you, my fellow fathers.  I fear that what might continue as black letters, forming into words on this page, will be a discombobulated string of consciousness as my physical body and spirit are running low on energy.  Work deadlines, the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and being the father of two young boys, ages four and 18-months, has begun to wear on me.  Add to the mix, my wife and I are in the process of purchasing a house and packing up to move from Nashville, TN and to Knoxville, TN just after the first of the year.

Regardless of all that is going on, my family is participating in a special season – the season of Advent followed by that of Christmas.  For those of you who might not know, Advent is the first part of the Christian calendar and is a four-week preparation and anticipation of the coming of Jesus.  Christmas is a twelve-day season following Advent reflecting and delighting in the arrival of Christ.  A focus on these seasons helps my family and I battle the materialism of our culture and help remind us that life is more than just about us.

It has always amazed me that regardless if you are a believer or not, this season always prompts us to look outside ourselves and how we might be generous to others.  But how do we teach this to our children who are so inundated with the expectations of receiving?  The other day my wife purchased a few monster trucks to give to some of my oldest son’s friends and when we were wrapping them up he got upset that these were not for him and his little brother.  Why did he think they would be his?  What can we do to train our children that being generous is more rewarding than receiving?

Here are a few ways that I (and my wife) are trying to train our boys this season to be generous: 

  1. Serving a meal at the local rescue mission – For the first time in our family’s history, we are going to give of our time and help the local mission serve a meal. We have talked about doing this almost every year around the holidays, but this year we finally got our act together and made it a priority.  The day after Christmas we will travel downtown and serve a meal together as a family.
  2. Making a care package for those in need – While driving around Nashville it is not uncommon to see someone on the side of the road asking for help. Over the years, my wife and I have always made an effort to give something and we typically roll down the back window and let our oldest hand out an orange and apple or a pack of those cherished goldfish.  To be a little more prepared and thoughtful in the days to come, just the other night we ran out to the local store and picked up a few items to make care packages. This way whenever we see someone we can show our boys that we can be generous by providing a little care package.  If you are interested, I’ve provided a list below of what we put in our care packages.  We made twelve packages for about $150.  You can do more or less.  This is just what we did and then in lieu of play time one morning, we will set everything out and pack-up these packages as a family.
    • 1 – gallon zip lock bag
    • 2 – bottle of water
    • 1 – pack of wet wipes
    • 1 – pair of socks
    • 1 – pair of gloves
    • 1 – tube of toothpaste
    • 1 – toothbrush
    • 1 – Clift bar
    • 2 – packages of crackers
    • 1 – Chapstick
    • 1 – bottle of lotion

When we arrived at home the other night after getting the stuff for our care packages we got a glimpse of hope when our oldest son said that the Christmas tree in our house, with the few presents under it, reminds him of giving.  So, how to teach and train our children that giving and being generous is more rewarding than receiving is by setting an example.

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 Kristopher (Kris) Hatchell loves to build. His trade is engineering, his
passion is making disciples. He and his wife, DeeDee spent several years
in Guatemala involved in water development and the construction of a
bridge. During that time they also constructed bridges between villagers
and God. Kris is a marathoner and the proud father of two young sons. They
have recently relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Why It’s Good to Make Plans Even When they Don’t Work Out

by Noah Sanders.

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes to poverty.”  —Proverbs 21:5

When I was close to finishing high school I wanted to start a small farming business. So my father gave me an assignment to write a business plan. I didn’t really know how to go about it. But I researched it and wrote descriptions, goals, production schedules, infrastructure needs, budgets, and marketing strategies. The next year I began executing my plan during my first season of commercial production. And not surprisingly everything didn’t go as planned! For example, my plan was to have vegetable production be my core enterprise, with pastured broiler production second and egg production third. But the garden flooded and was my least profitable enterprise. Then I ended up buying out another farmer’s layer operation which made eggs our core product. So my strategy didn’t go as planned, but I ended up reaching my income goal for the first year of my farm anyway!

I am grateful for my father encouraging me to take time to plan. It is something I ‘plan’ to teach my three sons how to do. As some of you may consider helping your sons or family learn how to plan here are a few lessons that you could consider sharing with them.

  1. Planning is Important

Even though the first year of my farm didn’t work out exactly as planned, I believe that the time I took to make a plan enabled me to reach my income goal. Planning enables us to bring the future into the present and be purposeful rather than just drift and react as things come along. In the book of Proverbs we read, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5) In order to spend our time, days, weeks, and years profitably we have to make an effort to do everything on time, to a high standard, and with minimal waste. It takes effort and forethought to be able to order any area of our life this way and planning is essential for doing this.

  1. Plans have to be Flexible

It is easy to get ‘married’ to a plan. But we live in a world of uncertainties full of things out of our control. Just like I had to with my farm plan, we have to learn to expect that our plans will require adjustment. The key is to not let the adjustment of our strategy discourage us from our goal. If we can differentiate between our goal (where we want to get to) and our strategy (how we are going to get there) then it can help us to know what to stick fast to and what to be flexible in. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” In my life, I have found that God honors my faithfulness in planning. But He often directs my steps in a way that keeps me humble and requires me to step out of my comfort zone.

I encourage you to take the time this year to help your family chart a course for 2018. It will be an exercise that could shape the rest of your lives. Here are a few suggested steps:

  1. Take time to review the expectations, wins, disappointments, and lessons from 2017.
  2. Write down your ideal destination for 2018 in your spiritual life, relationships, work, education, physical shape, etc.
  3. Come up with a short list of specific goals and a few first steps for each one.
  4. Set up a time to regularly review your goals.

In conclusion, I would like to offer a warning against a pitfall that can come with planning. Don’t let your planning become a fancy way of procrastinating. Just get a clear goal and do the first step. Proverbs 14:23 warns us “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Often God doesn’t show us the next 10 steps, just the next one. If we are faithful to obey that one, then he will show the next one. What we can’t do is let our excuse of not knowing how we are going to reach our goal prevent us from beginning to make progress toward it. Let’s stop drifting through life this year, and chart a purposeful course with the full knowledge of the wild adventure that may lay ahead!

____________________________

 Noah Sanders is a farmer, homesteader and author in Goodwater, Alabama. He is a passionate follower of Jesus who desires to know him more and make disciples through his daily life. Together with his wife, Dorothy, and three young sons, Noah runs a small farming operation producing vegetables using all-natural techniques based on the design of God in Creation. He is the author of Born Again Dirt: Farming to the Glory of God. You can find his blog at www.redeemingthedirt.com

Old School Technique that Gets Sons to Work

II Thessalonians 3:10 “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”

Prov. 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty

II Thessalonians 3:8 we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.

My dad, Richard F. “Rick” Williams, was a living example of Paul’s admonitions recorded in II Thessalonians when he commanded them (and us) to “mind your own business and work with your hands.” And for my benefit, when he thought it was fitting, dad would remind me of Paul’s further instruction, “if a man is not willing to work, neither shall he eat”. Well, he fed me pretty well, and I was expected to remember that when it came time to mow the grass or wash the family car.

Dad was often called “Big Rick”, and was big in my eyes even after “Little Rick”, (me) was his size and a bit more. As a boy, during the Sabine River Flood ’66 I watched him work with all his might to save our school’s custodian’s possessions from the river’s rising water. Mr. Shoemake lived in a small ramshackle house much too near the river and was about to lose what little he had. But, using our old aluminum river boat, its small outboard and a rope, dad tugged each of Mr. Shoemake’s cows across deep water to higher ground, and ferried his few valuable possessions to our waiting pickup truck as the water invaded the little house and covered all the land in sight.

It was dangerous and hard work, but hard work Dad was used to. As butcher, truck driver, mechanic, wood worker, and welder-fabricator, he never found an easy way to make a living, but he never failed to make one and was always a good provider.  As he got older, he continued to work hard but gave away more of his earnings to those who he thought might need them more than he did.

In his seventies, dad could be found cutting firewood for an “elderly” lady who lived a few miles out in the country and warmed her little home with a wood burning heater.  I was still eating well, though not at his table, and dad would draft me to help with splitting and stacking the firewood for her, all completely free, but providing very good exercise for us both.

Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.” My dad didn’t talk that much, was not a preacher or even a bible school teacher, but he taught by example and following his example his two sons never had to worry about poverty. Both have made more money than he did, but it was dad who taught us how to work. He showed us how to be a man and not just talk about doing something, but to actually go out and do it.

Since his last ten years were spent working with me, in our family business, my sons were also exposed to his amazing example. Dad could tolerate semi-retirement, if his time off involved a good deal of fishing, and could get as much done in a half a work week as younger men would do full time.

Now, just like my father, I believe that when we learn to work, and learn the value of working, God makes it as enjoyable as any other part of life. All work is good, whether as a custodian or a company president. There is great value in “doing what our hand’s find to do” and doing it “with all your might”. (Ecclesiates 9:10).

Teaching this to my sons was made infinitely easier by the example set by their grandfather, and we were all blessed to be close to him, and for his long and productive life which we all believe was greatly extended because he had a reason to get up each morning.  He had work to do, to provide for his family and to serve God and His children. And he also enjoyed working so he could put gas in his thirty year old fishing boat and the equally old truck that towed it to the lakes and rivers of northeast Texas.

Now it is my turn to set that same example for my sons and grandsons, for this is one lesson that must be taught by doing more than talking. And it is a matter of setting the right example, not of just being a “workahaulic”, providing the material things in life, but not taking the time to be a real father, an involved and caring father, and faithful servant of the Father of us all.

Perhaps it is your turn, too. I know there is not a much more important job in this world for me than succeeding at this task. And following my dad’s example, I intend to do just that for my two sons and four grandsons, leaving a continuing legacy that they too will be a part of. Thanks, Dad, for showing me how.

___________________________

Rick Williams is a hard working guy. He met his wife in College and married her after graduation and built their house (with his own hands) while launching a small sign business that’s grown into two commercial enterprises — Rick’s Sign Co and WPC Services. He’s been a writer for Sign and Digital Business Magazine for 25+ years and a Column writer for National Business Media since its first issue in 1986.

He works alongside his two grown sons who have sons of their own.  First and foremost Rick is a Christian. He serves as a Church elder and teaches a growing Senior’s class.

Rick’s Sign Co.

WPC Services

Rick’s column articles at NBM

A Father’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees

by Brackin Kirkland.

“It (wisdom) will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words,” Proverb 2:16

From a Father of Five Boys

As a father of 5 boys, I am painfully aware of my need to teach each one of them about purity and chastity. Personally, I struggled with these issues as a young man – and if you’re a red-blooded male with breath in your lungs, you know that the struggle against sexual sin is all too real. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that teaching our sons about purity and chastity is not the most effective way to deal with these issues of the eyes, hearts and hands. Let me explain…

My Dad’s Approach

When I was about 14 years old, I remember an awkward day when my dad took me to the local county fair. It was supposed to be a father-son outing, but honestly I just wanted to be with my girlfriend instead. As we pulled into the parking lot, my dad stopped, retrieved a small box from his pocket, and began to share with me the importance of not “fooling around with” my girlfriend – and that we should wait until marriage to become intimate with each other. [Whoops…too late for that.]

Toward the end of his admonishment (which I had heard countless times before from the pulpit and elsewhere), he opened the small box to reveal a very manly looking “chastity ring” for me to wear as a reminder to remain pure. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed by the whole ordeal, but in hindsight I greatly appreciate my dad’s love toward me and his desire for me to remain pure until marriage.

The problem with this approach, however, is two-fold. First, it was too little, too late. And secondly, this approach only targets the symptoms of sexual sin, and not the root itself.

Too Little, Too Late

Honestly, I don’t ever remember having “the conversation” (you know…the birds and bees) with my dad. He may have said something at some point, but obviously it didn’t make an impact on me. I do, however, vividly remember a sex-ed video we watched in the 5th grade and the many colorful conversations that ensued with my school-yard peers.

I personally feel very strongly about teaching my boys about physical intimacy from both a biologically reproductive perspective (we have livestock, so this shouldn’t be too difficult) and from a biblical covenant perspective – I believe that teaching one without the other will only leave room for the enemy to distort God’s intended design for a man and a woman.

These may be uncomfortable conversations to have, BUT they are going to learn it from somewhere, and the alternative is…well, sketchy at best.

Getting to the ROOT of the Problem

So if the first step is to talk about the natural role of sexuality in a married man’s life, then the second GIANT hurdle it to get them through adolescence without falling into TEMPTATION prior to marriage. This is the area where my dad (bless his heart) did not prepare me. We had the “purity” talk, but I was completely unprepared for what to do with and how to handle my pubescent urges.

I won’t criticize my dad for what he could have or should have done. But I can learn from his shortcomings and hopefully guide my boys through that critical and snare-laden stage of life.

The Wayward Woman

The snares they will encounter are detailed vividly in Proverbs 7:

“There a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart. She was loud and rebellious; her feet would not stay at home. At times she was outside, at times in the open square, lurking at every corner. So she caught him and kissed him…”

And it goes on and on, as a dire warning.

Obviously the writer is using this harlot as a metaphor for being lured away from God’s law and His heart, but there is also a literal warning to be wary of women who will drown our souls – or the souls of our boys – in perdition.

This passage perfectly illustrates the devil’s finest art form – temptation. He doesn’t have to tell us lies or convince us that chastity isn’t worth “worth the wait”. All he has to do is have “her” (that figurative harlot) bat her eyelashes at us, and we melt.

To reiterate: The “purity” conversation is not enough, because the enemy’s weapons are STONGER than our desire to remain PURE.

Attacking Temptation at the HEART

The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted in EVERY way that is common to man. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He did not concede – instead He fought temptation with the Word of God and got the VICTORY over Satan’s only strategy.

If Jesus can do it – and if we are born-again and thus empowered by His Holy Spirit – then we TOO can overcome temptation with God’s help, and TEACH our boys how to do the same.

THIS is the secret weapon in our arsenal against sexual sin – the POWER of God. We need to teach our boys how to practically and spiritually harness the Word of God against the devil’s fiery darts and snares. We need to EMPOWER them to remain pure from the INSIDE out, not only addressing the outward symptoms of temptation, but also preparing them to do battle with the enemy on the front-line of their hearts!

 

____________________________________

Brackin Kirkland is a true renaissance man. He makes bio-fuel from used cooking oil, flips RVs, is a woodworker, technician, songwriter and musician. Almost 40, 000 people subscribe to his weekly YouTube music videos and vlog “Tiny Notes from Home,” Brackin is passionate, and real, about family and faith. He has four sons.

How to be a Human Being (Manual Sold Separately)

by Grant Luton.

Go to the ant, you lazybones! Consider its ways, and be wise. – Proverbs 6:6

Whenever I read Solomon’s advice to lazy people, I wonder how much good it has ever actually done. After all, if a person is too unmotivated to work, he is likely too unmotivated to look for ants and study them.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

It’s the last bit of the verse – “…and be wise” – that interests me. What is wrong with us humans that we require ants to teach us?! My entire adult life I have been bothered by why being wise is so difficult. How is it that ants are more successful at being ants then we are at being human beings? This is the sixty-four-dollar question.

Think about it. No one needs to teach a cow how to succeed as a cow. It does not need to be taught how to walk, mate, reproduce, feed its young, and live out a perfectly normal cow life. It did not have to read a manual on “cow”-ness to know how to be one. The same applies to squirrels, badgers, whales, and houseflies. But not humans.

I think the problem has to do with something we have that the animals do not – free will. Sure, a rabbit may decide to eat this bunch of grass instead of that bunch. But, it can’t decide to live celibate, or mate with a porcupine. (Ouch!) A rabbit will always operate according to its programming.

But our nature is not so clearly defined. Our programming is missing some lines of code.

Without proper outside instruction we will utterly fail as human beings.  Even Adam and Eve required instruction from their Creator on the day they were created. What’s up with that?! No such instructions were given to the fish, birds and cattle.

So, we find ourselves in a dilemma. We were purposefully created incomplete, but then given free will so we could choose how we would proceed toward completion. I can choose to live life my own way as an incomplete human being (a.k.a. a complete fool). Or, I can acknowledge that there is a gap in my programming and seek the missing lines of code that will make me fully human.

Our free wills can lead us into all sorts of devious (and deviant) behaviors. We require instruction. We require an operator’s manual. This manual provides wisdom to discern what our problems are and how to resolve them. (There is even information in it about how to quash laziness. It involves ants.)

According to this manual, wisdom (i.e. the knowledge necessary to live as a human being) begins with humility (i.e. recognizing that I need the manual).

The question at this point is why did God create humanity with this obvious lack of wisdom? Why this built-in need to seek it?

The answer is actually quite simple, and it is this: God desires an intimate relationship with us. And what better way to spur this relationship than to create within us a need that only He can satisfy?! “For Adonai gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding…For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” (Proverbs 2:6, 10)

If a person has enough of a spark of wisdom to realize that he needs wisdom, then he is off to the races – the human race, that is. Being a human being does not come naturally. It comes supernaturally – from the Word of God. It alone contains the wisdom we lack, and the more we code God’s Word into our minds and hearts, the more we become fully human.

Probably, you have already acknowledged this need in your own life, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. So, the next step is to pick up the manual, discover the amazing wisdom it offers, and continue the adventure of learning how to live a full and complete human life.

“For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her.(Proverbs 8:11)

 

____________________________________

Grant Luton is minister for Beth Tikkun Messianic Fellowship in Akron, OH.  He is the author of “In His Own Words: Messianic Insights into the Hebrew Alphabet,” and hosts podcast teachings on the Torah and other Scripture online at www.bethtikkun.com. Grant is a skilled wood worker, pianist, and happy-to-be-retired High School shop teacher.

When Your Son is in The Ditch

by Randy Skiles.

Someone asked me what I would have to say about how to “Walk with the Wise. “  Honestly, I don’t know.  At first I thought I probably would have lots of good stuff to say.  But, as I stared at a blank screen, most of what came to my mind didn’t sound like anything particularly deep, or insightful.   So, if you’ll allow me, let’s just get to know each other a little bit.

I’m a Texan.  I do live in the country, on some land, but I don’t have a horse.  I don’t own a cowboy hat.  I don’t chew tobacco.  And, the last time I said “shucks”, … well, that might be the first time I’ve ever said it.  So, I consider myself pretty ordinary.

Getting a little more personal, I’m a father of four sons.  I’m proud of each of them.  They’re all grown, from 26 to 35.  They all have their struggles, and are still “on their own journey”, but gosh I like being around them.  I have four grandchildren (even though I don’t look old enough to be a grandpa.  The inset photo makes me look older than I really am).  My grandkids are almost perfect.  My youngest grandchild is in the hospital battling cancer, but she still has this smile that just pulls you into her little world and makes you forget about yours.

Now that we know each other a little better, let’s talk about raising a son.  There are probably way more qualified men to lay out the fundamentals of child raising, or who could counsel you toward a purposed approach of building manly qualities into your sons that will translate into productive manhood.  But, I can definitely speak about how to restore a young man after he has slid in the ditch.

It goes without saying, that trying to apply any of this “wisdom” into a life that is separated from God is really not going to work.  So, that’s step 1.  If you want to have a meaningful relationship with your son, you’ve gotta seek a meaningful relationship with your heavenly Father.  Because He sure wants a meaningful one with you.  There is SO much to say about this, but that’s not really the topic of my writing today.  Now, having said that, what to do when so much damage has already been done, and your son is well on his way in the wrong direction-  Pray.  If there is a God in heaven (and there is), He hears your prayers.  So, pray.  Pray for your son.  Pray about your own faults, and confess, specifically.  We all need to bring our own story to the Author.  He knows just how to “tweak it”.  Next, as you are getting to know Him (or getting to know Him better), read His letters to you (Proverbs has a lot to say about wisdom, and the Gospel of John has a lot to say about getting to know God, personally).  After you pray (regularly), and after you purpose to get to know God better yourself, promise yourself to speak the truth to your son, without speaking judgment on him.  That way, you’ll be speaking life, and building life on the blocks of redemption.  Finally, trust.  Really trust.  Not in yourself.  Not in your methods.  Trust in the God that you are asking (sometimes begging) for help.  God has constructed scenarios to be repeated and lived out.  These scenarios are little pictures of the way He loves and relates to us.  So, want to be a good Father?  Imitate God:  Walk in the truth.  Speak the truth.  BE love.  Save judgment for when its appropriate.  Sacrifice yourself for the greater purpose….Redemption.

One of my sons began to experiment with pot when he was younger.  It just about killed me.  My wife (who is my good thing from God) and I pulled him from “the ditch” several times, but each time he’d just slide back in.  Finally, when we were about to reach down into the ditch and stick out a hand once again, God got our attention:  “I’m trying to reach him in his poverty, and you keep throwing him money.  I can’t save him, until you quit rescuing him.”  So, we stopped reaching into the ditch.  We just continued to love him.  Really, continued to pray for him.  And, always welcomed him home.  But, we stopped trying to be savior.  There’s so much more, but basically we just started trusting God more than us.

  1. Purpose to seek God for yourself, daily. You can’t share what you don’t have.
  2. When you think about it, we have a REAL audience with our King.  How un-wise to forsake this.
  3. Read what God has to say (II Timothy 3:16 –“all scripture is given by inspiration of God”). He’s God.
  4. Trust Him. That’s what faith is. – Look for Him at work around you as you acknowledge His presence in your own life.

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Randy Skiles is a small business owner in East Texas (real estate).  He volunteers with YoungLife and God has equipped him to write songs about life in Christ.  He goes to prisons (and other places) to talk about God and His ways, and sing them songs. His music is available on itunes.

Solomon’s House of Horrors

The wisest human, and arguably the wealthiest, to ever have lived wrote about home life, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverb 17:1) Was his wisdom gained by experience? I think it likely if not probable. Solomon’s house couldn’t have been all smiles and giggles. How could a man so divided in his affections (700 wives!) satisfy a wife’s hope for loyal, faithful, only-you love?

 

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” Do you catch the exasperation? A party is hardly a place to get into it with your mate. So why she cannot hold herself together until the guests are gone stokes the rage he manages to squelch until they leave. A spousal fight is best conducted in private, but prudence is not always practice; so even as the music continues, attendees chatter, and no one reacts, the scuttlebutt is out there — irretrievable.

 

“Here we go again…” he sighs, ignoring the high-pitched ranting, screaming, yelling, enraged voice now echoing through marbled palace corridors. Her venting is worse than poverty, heavier than stone. He exhales, defeated for a solution and wearied by the regularity of its occurrence. The celebrated King’s shoulders slump, his face buries into in his hands as a heavy rush of air leaves his nostrils, but she is not finished. His eyes roll heavenward, clearly pleading for an end to it. Meanwhile, marble is a poor muffler; little-boy ears cannot mute the sounds of battle between parents. An angry mother’s belittling of Father– whether deserved or not– is toxic to the heart of a child.  His poisoned soul will grow to resent the weakness in his Father. “I will be better. No one will walk over me. I will silence those who try,” the King’s son resolves.

 

Solomon’s appetite for wealth and his wish for “quiet” becomes his boy’s mandate. Upon enthronement, Rehoboam lunges for control. Counsel to pronounce a nationwide crackdown fits like a glove, but the people will not have it.  He loses ten of the twelve tribes, to Jereboam, one of Solomon’s house servants. But wise old Solomon had seen it coming. The Patriarch’s insight had led to foresight and in the very next proverb he predicted, “A wise servant will rule over a disgraceful son and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.” (Proverb 17:2)

 

A King’s troubles at home portend trouble in his realm. A man’s weaknesses privately flesh themselves out in public. It is true for kings of nations and rulers at home. It is predictable, but also preventable. Solomon’s downfall was that he did not take his own advice. Every man decides if he will follow suit.

 

A Special Announcement from The Meeks.

 

Manabouts is preparing a treat for you to enjoy AFTER Christmas! Exiting 2017 and leading into the New Year, we will reflect on twelve of King Solomon’s most common teachings to his boys. More than that, we are spicing things up by inviting twelve guest bloggers to address those topics! Whether it is dealing with rebellious sons or where to start with a boy under five, these guys will short-cut the learning curve by sharing what has worked and what hasn’t. Real estate salesmen, engineers, missionaries, businessmen, and YouTube sensations will share advice for us dads that’s true and VERY practical.

 

Join us for “The Twelve Days AFTER Christmas: Beginning and Ending with A Father’s Wise Counsel ” beginning December 25th.

The Train of Shame: Unstoppable?

Big names are in the news today on a train of shame – powerful, influential, successful, but unfaithful men. In public they are princes; in private they’ve been predators. The country winces and wonders, “Who will be the next famous celebrity to become infamous by morning?” Some shrug, “All men are the same.” But are they?

 

A man’s ascent to power and national fame followed by the surprise dive over the precipice to the rocks below is a story as old as the Bible. Wasn’t it King David Israel praised just before he stole his bodyguard’s wife and then tried to cover it up? When men of God fall, it does reinforce the notion that all men are sex addicts and forces the question, “Can there be a faithful man?” Studies made by the Associated Press and the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy in 2016 are enlightening.

 

  • 22% of men say that they’ve cheated on their significant other at least once during their marriage, and 14% of wives admit to straying.
  • 36% of men and women say that they’ve had an affair with someone they work with.
  • People who have cheated before are 350% more likely to cheat again than those that haven’t.

Are there faithful men out there? Apparently….yes. The flip side of 22% unfaithfulness means 88% faithful.  Even if the studies are being conservative, they indicate that a lot of men (and women) are faithful; which is good news, but before we breathe a sigh of relief other stats need consideration — the epidemic of porn usage in America.

 

“In August 2006, a survey reported 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography. Of over 1300 pastors interviewed, 54% said they’d visited a porn sight in the last month!”   And there is more to dishearten. Statistics from 2017 show that “eight out of ten (79%) men between the ages of 18 and 30 view pornography at least monthly.”  If these statistics seem less egregious than the current abuse debacles in the news, it is hardly the case. Jesus said, in essence, “Groping with the eyes is equal to groping with the hands, and neither is an acceptable way to treat a woman.” The bottom line is that while men who admit to acting out their sexual perversions is less than 25%, those practicing the virtual abuse of women is nearer 80%! But, believe it or not, things are actually worse.

 

The most alarming statistic yet involves the ones at the back of our national train of shame – our children. Family Safe Media reported in 2005 that, “The largest group of viewers of Internet porn is CHILDREN BETWEEN AGES 12 AND 17, and the average age of first exposure to Internet porn is 8 YEARS OLD!”   Celebrities and politicians are the lead cars of many to follow unless our US train-wreck of sexual misconduct can be stopped. Can it? How?

 

It isn’t going to be an easy job, but the train can be halted. And though it isn’t a popular idea in some circles, it will take the actions of men (males). I see three steps fathers and mentors can take to empower their sons (and daughters) to avoid personal derailment.

 

1-    Unfaithful Fathers and Mentors need to openly confess and repent. A boil’s healing begins with a lance. Giving care to avoid harming others, men need to come clean. Admission of guilt is good, but an admission of need is better. Men need to drop their pride, step out from behind their masks, and engage the help of men who can lead them through recovery. We aren’t suggesting a national vomit-session, but an appropriately timed and sensitively done admission of the problem to those who can help.

2-    Adult men need to take steps to break the power of sexual misconduct in their lives. What father can expect his son take seriously his warnings against sex addiction when he himself is involved? God expects men to be able to control themselves, even their eyes and thoughts. Spirit-controlled men do NOT succumb to the passions of the fleshly nature. When dads, mentors, and role models begin to practice self-control, boys will follow like metal flakes to a magnet.

3-    Men need to make a priority of leading their sons into a healthy, biblical sexuality. American fathers surrender the battle every time they hand over these duties to others. Fathers are best equipped to take this responsibility. No politician, educator, sexpert, or even the best mother is as well suited for this job.

It will take time and effort to restore the dialogue between fathers and sons because many dads lack the knowledge of how or what to communicate, but this can be remedied through the patriarchs in whom God has preserved the knowledge of these ways. Learning is possible and a reboot of healthy generations of men is only as far away as the current one.

 

A first glance, the statistics above resemble the 2010 blockbuster Unstoppable in which Denzel Washington and Chris Pine just manage to stop a fast-moving runaway train from derailing and spilling tons of toxic chemicals into the city of Fuller, PA. Men, our sons, daughters, wives, and communities need us to throw the brakes on this runaway train of national shame before a total derailment and the toxic spill of sexual perversion sickens our the entire population.

 

A SPECIAL OFFER FROM THE MEEKS:

 

Guys, we want to offer some help to you who are seriously ready to halt this out of control locomotive.

 

First and foremost, we suggest the book Surfing for God by Michael Cusick. His book is concise and lays out both the causes and action steps to address the problem of pornography and all sexual misconduct.  Let us know your thoughts if you have read this or are just starting out!

 

Don’t Stop Now: Young Adult Males Need More Fathering, Not Less

I have worked in the field of higher education for almost twelve years.  I first began as a professor at a mid-sized secular university where I taught masculine subjects, including architecture and construction management.  I not only trained students to develop designs, build models, and use power tools but built full-scale buildings with them as well.  After ten years as a college professor, the Lord transitioned me to serve as a campus minister to a small private university.  His calling to collegiate ministry has allowed me to expand beyond the educational and professional development of young adults to an even more important area: spiritual development.  Through both of these careers on college campuses, I have witnessed many disturbing trends as well as spiritual needs, the bulk of which relate to young adult men.

My experience in higher education has shown me an important truth: males in college need more fathering, not less.  It is often assumed that when young males leave home to pursue an education that the father’s primary work is complete – young males must now completely grow up and become men who can function on their own.  They do not need too much input from their father lest they stay dependent.  In reality, fathers of college-aged males should do the exact opposite; they should be a young adult male’s primary mentor.

Some of the most important decisions a young adult male will make tend to occur during the college years.  Most will determine their vocational path or at least a general direction.  Many will decide the type of woman they might someday marry or even find their spouse in college.  Most crucial during the young adult years, however, is the establishment of a God-centered worldview.  For eighteen years, males live under the protection of their father’s home as well as his faith.  The college years will no doubt challenge the worldview of a young male’s childhood and demand that they establish their own during these transitional years between adolescence and adulthood.

When considering the magnitude of the decisions inherent to young adulthood as well as the establishment of worldview that naturally occurs during this time, fathers must view these years as some of the most essential with their sons.  Numerous individuals – from professors to peers – attempt to pour knowledge into young males during the collegiate experience.  Young adult males will be mentored and discipled by a variety of individuals and towards a diversity of causes and ideals.  Without a father to spiritually mentor them and help them synthesize new knowledge as well as complex cultural and relational experiences, young males will often drift towards a secular worldview.  Self will be the prominent focus of this worldview and career, entertainment and pleasure will be areas of fulfillment.  A relationship with God will be limited to a childhood experience and not become an adulthood reality.

Over the years, I have led a couple of different multigenerational men’s ministries.  One of the most repetitive comments I receive from older men – one’s in their sixties, seventies, and eighties – is that they wish their father, or a father-figure, would have shared with them important truths about a developing a Christ-like manhood during the young adult years.  Many of these older men believe that their greatest mistakes and bad habits were made once they were living on their own after high school.  Although it was their time to launch into the fullness of manhood, they realized that the spiritual mentorship of a father would have prevented numerous heartaches, bad decisions, and detrimental practices.

Fathers of young adult males: father them more, not less.  Fathers of high school boys: prepare to father them as much, if not more, during their young adult years.  I am not suggesting that young adult males stay home rather than attending college or get a degree and then return home afterward – quite the contrary.  Young adult males definitely do not need parents babying them and enabling passivity.  They also do not need to live under the same rules as they did in high school.  What young adult males need is their father to continue with them in their journey towards the authentic manhood that God desires.  A father-son relationship should expand in depth and fathers must provide guidance on more mature issues.  As someone whose career has focused on this demographic for much of my life, what I am suggesting is that fathers don’t stop the primary discipleship of sons during the young adult years; they should enhance it and evolve it to meet the needs of their sons.

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Bio: Chad Everhart serves as one of nine regional campus missionaries for the Kentucky Baptist Convention as well as Campus Minister to the University of the Cumberlands.  After ten years serving as a professor and department chair of architecture and construction management at Appalachian State University, Chad answered God’s call to a mission field and people group for which his previous vocation prepared him:  college students.  He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a dissertation focus on professors as key disciple makers.  Besides being a major school nerd, Chad loves to hike, surf, hunt, fish, and farm.  He and his wife, April, have been married for 12 years and have four young children.

What Mr. Carr Got Right: The Best Advice from an Old Guy

When I graduated High School, 41 years ago, I visited with Mr. Carr, a respected church elder in his eighty’s, and asked him the simple question, “If you were my age again, what would you tell yourself?” He gave a very short answer, “Keep it simple, Stephen. Keep it simple.” While I tried to grasp all that he meant in his reply, the blanks surrounding his summary statement were more than my eighteen years could fill. I believe I can do better now approaching my sixtieth year.

 

Keep it simple by keeping God first. – Jesus said, “Many will say, “I did good things in your name! We ate together!” and yet, they will be told, “I don’t know you.” So, what does putting God first mean, because these folks seem to have done it pretty well? I think the evidence of God being first in a person’s life is what they do when no one is looking and no one will know. Jesus said what is done in secret will be rewarded. The most secluded, least public room in a person’s house is their closet; the secret place in a person is their heart. What happens in your heart is of chief importance, to God.

 

When you begin your day, do you seek Him? When you have free time, what do you do with it? Play video games, talk with friends, check Facebook? None of these are inherently evil, but if your escape is chronically to them, it reveals your heart. Jesus was always snatching moments away with His father — early in the mornings, late into the night, when he was distressed in Gethsemane, or when he wanted to share something special with friends. What He did in his spare time reveals what was in his heart.

 

Keep it simple by speaking to build up. — Words are so powerful. It was with words that God created the universe. He could have used his hands, but he didn’t. Words were more powerful. Scripture says words hold the power of life and death. James tells us to exercise great caution, “Be slow to speak.” You have the power to choose what you will say. That is great power.

 

Choose to use your words to speak good of and to others. Say what builds people up, gives them hope, draws attention to their best. It is a common practice of our Enemy to accuse and ridicule, but God’s way is to overlook an offense. Practice the best uses of your words – be an encourager and a promoter of what is good and possible in people.

 

Keep it simple by listening deep. — If you are talking, you aren’t listening. As powerful as words are, listening is even more powerful. Silence is golden; it is valuable. As powerful as Jesus’ messages were, He listened first, “What I say is only what I have heard from my Father.” We can’t actually know WHAT to SAY until we LISTEN. Therefore, listening is the higher virtue.

 

Train yourself to hear the feelings, emotions, and motivations intertwined with what people are saying. Learn to hear the heart within the facts. When you hear God say, “Give to the poor,” there is more going on than a discussion on giving money. If you are listening well, you’ll discern His command includes giving with humility, giving in such a way as to protect the dignity of the poor, giving to the limits that are best for the recipient, giving without seeking recognition for yourself, giving in trust that God will supply your needs, giving as an extension of God’s compassion for those in need, etc.

 

Excel at listening. Give one ear to your Heavenly Father and the other to His children. Listen deeply, below the surface, hear their hearts — and then choose your words carefully. Listening simply keeps relationships from becoming complicated.

 

Keep it simple by living for forever. – Jesus said, “Work for things that last.” Paul agreed, “If for this life only, we have hope, that’s miserable.” Don’t live your life for now, live it for forever. Paul said it, well, simply, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. Do something useful and share with others.” There is the “closet-life” (quiet, no fanfare, God-first type life) again. Do you also see the “other-focused life” that listens and encourages? They are all bundled together, but what a challenge it is to keep life neatly bound in that simple package! Society and circumstances complicate and multiply the list of things required for happiness and wellbeing. My old friend’s advice will keep you free from the burden of those entanglements and complications

 

Keep it simple:

 

  • God first.
  • Listen deeply.
  • Speak to build up.
  • And Live for forever.

 

It’s what I’d tell my self if I were eighteen again…. and one more thing…. I’d tell my self to tell Mr. Carr, “You were right. Thanks.”