Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Duty

Fathers do many things for their children.  They provide for them. They protect them.  They discipline them.  They teach them.  They lead them.  I am sure if you made a list of things a father should do it would be similar, but you are probably thinking of physical needs, protection, discipline, teaching and leadership.  Did you know that God expects a greater duty? 
Alpheus holding Hannah

The Bible calls fathers (and mothers) to do something else. 
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 - "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."(NIV)

Ephesians 6:4 - "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."(NIV)

Genesis 18:19 - "For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."(NIV)

In just these few verses, the Bible makes it clear that God expects fathers to teach their children His ways and His Word.  This is the greater protection, provision, discipline, teaching and leading.  

God knows that most fathers, even those who don't read the Bible, will take care of the physical needs of their child.  

Alpheus fishing with the girls.

Luke 11:11 "What father among you, if his son asks for bread, would give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead of the fish?  (ISV)

Physical care is not enough though if you are a Christian father.  You are commanded to care for the spirit of your children as well.   God holds ALL fathers (not just pastors, Sunday school teachers or deacons) responsible for bringing up children in the admonition of the Lord.

Alpheus snuggling with Sarah
I thank God for a husband who consciously seeks to fulfill these commands through the power of the Holy Spirit as he submits to God!  As Alpheus often reminds us, he may not be perfect as a father, but by God's grace he is purposeful as a father.

Here are some of the ways that Alpheus has purposed to admonish, teach, and direct our girls to God and His Word.

Red Oak Mountain near Alpheus' childhood home.

*Since the girls were babies we made family prayer time a part of all meals, driving in the car, bed time, and whenever we heard of a prayer request.  This is a very simple thing to add to your family if you aren't already doing it.  It is not hard to say a prayer asking God to bless, heal, lead, or whatever the need is.  But what a powerful impact this has on our girls.  They know that when there is a problem, big or small, that we pray about it.

*We have also made it a practice to buy godly videos, games and books on their current level.  We have also made it a practice to watch and read them together, because this allows us to talk about any errors, or missing parts, or parts we wanted to emphasize.  These have been given as gifts because we want them to see that this is something special for them.  If you are a bit rusty on your facts of the Bible, a Bible trivia game is a great way for both of you to become familiar with events and people in the Bible!  Sermon stories will catch a child's attention if they have heard the name or story before!  Our girls often nudge me and smile when these coincidences happen!

Alpheus reading during family worship (too close to bedtime for Mary!)
*When our two oldest were 2 and 3 we started having family devotions.  At first this time was only about 15 minutes and involved a lot of singing (by parents) and running/dancing (by toddlers).  As the girls have matured, our family worship has matured.  We sometimes spend up to an hour if we are reading a chapter from a biography, or if we are watching the Jesus of Nazareth movie, or singing and reading scripture and praying.  Alpheus definitely makes reading a portion of scripture an important part of family worship time. 

Ready for church, Daddy! January 2007
*We have made God's day (Sunday) and holidays different from the rest of the week/year.  For example, we try not to do any house work or shopping on Sunday, but instead do all those things other days.  We only read certain books or watch certain movies on Sundays.  We always go to church.  (We would do this even if he wasn't the pastor.  When Alpheus was between churches we never missed  Sunday worship.  If we are on vacation, we find a like-minded church to attend.) Also if we celebrate a holiday that has a Christian meaning to it, we don't emphasize the worldly side of it.  In these ways our children see that we are different from the world and we then can teach them about why we make these choices, pointing to the scripture that has convicted us.

*Alpheus models humility and repentance to the girls.  Even if it isn't a sin against them, he may tell them about it to show them that the walk of a Christian is not easy, but filled with times of victory and failure, repentance and praise.  

Hannah and Lydia helping Daddy pick green beans.
 * Recently God led us to another way in which Alpheus can lead them spiritually and it has been such a blessing to his bond with the girls. For the last several years the biggest girls have taken notes during the sermon.  When Mary started 3rd grade we had her begin to take notes too.  At first the notes were just on loose paper and were discarded after a cursory look by me.  Then Alpheus had the idea that it would be good for them to keep them in a notebook that they carry to the church.  Then he began to look at the writings.  The girls would bring them to him at the end of church and he would put them in his office to be read during the week when he returned to study.  He would then write notes to them answering any questions, encouraging any thoughts they had shared, or explaining the ideas further.  It has been nice to leave the notebooks at the church because it has kept us from forgetting them.  The girls really look forward to seeing what Daddy has written to them!

I look forward to the future ways God will show Alpheus to shepherd our children's hearts!  I would like to encourage all Christian fathers who might read this.  May the Lord help you start making changes as God directs you to fulfill this duty required of you.  

***Dear Sisters who may not have a godly husband to lead your children.  I pray that you would take heart in this scripture, "He is a father to the fatherless and an advocate for widows. God rules from his holy palace." Isa 9:17   God will use you and possibly other godly men in your church or family to meet the spiritual needs of your children.  

With All My Heart~

1 comment:

  1. So good! I pray that many will read this and take this to heart! What a blessing to have such a loving, Christian upbringing for your girls. It is a lot of work but your efforts will be far reaching and your reward eternal. God continue to bless your family. Love, Mom


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