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Dancing Father Hug

May 24, 2012 1 comment

I don’t think for a moment that I have it all together as a father. As is the case with every guy, I am figuring it out as I go and sometimes that is not a good thing. I make mistakes on a weekly basis and as a result my daughter inevitably carries with her frustrations, pains, and wounds of different kinds, each with it’s own cause.

My church has helped me see that there is hope for dads like me who have so much love in their heart for their children but are painfully aware of the times they fail to live up to the enormity of the call.
For years they have made freedom ministry for adults a key point of focus and are now starting to invite kids of different ages to participate. This post however is not about that. It is about how we as dads can participate in helping our kids experience a certain level of freedom through our interactions with them. I want to illustrate my point by relating a personal story that happened a few months ago.

Every year Gateway Church puts on a Father/Daughter dinner and dance. It is an even that my daughter looks forward to all year. We take a few dance lessons leading up to that night. She picks out a new dress, I wear my suit and we get to spend the night with 100+ other dad’s and their girls. Dinner is always great. I get some kind of beef. Megan gets chicken strips and fries which are sometimes better than the beef, so I sneak a bite or two.

Megan loves music and dancing. Every year before we walk in she makes a point to tell me that “as long as the DJ is playing music, we will be dancing.” So we are always the last two on the dance floor which was again the case this year.

After dinner is when this story takes a turn for the miraculous. The first miracle is that I neither passed out nor had a heart attack on the dance floor. The second miracle was something that happened in Megan’s heart. It happened while she danced.

The music thumped so we danced fast, did the “Push” (which we learned in one of our lessons), a little Cupid Shuffle, we rocked The Wobble and when it slowed down I took advantage of every opportunity to hold her close and slow dance. It was a bit cliche and could have been an image right off of the cover of a Hallmark card but about half way through the night she began to stand on my feet as we went around in circles. Her height put her head right at my chest, just under my chin and she would rest it there often. Her arms wrapped around me in a warm bear-hug. I followed suit and as we danced I whispered small phrases about how important she was, what a beautiful young lady she had turned out to be and how proud I was to be her dad. Heartfelt words that every little girl wants to hear he daddy tell her. While these words washed over her I began to feel tears soak through my shirt and her stomach started to quiver against mine. I tightened my grip around her and gave her a safe, assuring kiss on the head, allowing her to get out whatever was coming to the surface. A subtle weep turned into a full sob and then into what some women call an “ugly cry”. But nothing was ugly about this one.

We stayed like that for what seemed like ages but it could have only lasted a minute, maybe two. When she stepped off of my shoes and back onto the dance floor I got on my knees in front of her and gave her one more hug and walked her into the hallway and to the ladies room where she went to “freshen-up”.

As I stood there waiting for her I realized that what we had just experienced was what Freedom Ministry calls a “Father Hug”. It is a moment in which someone receives the healing power of God’s love through another person. Usually adults receive them from someone other than their real dad to heal wounds they have carried for years from their fathers. That night however, Megan was able to experience one as it was intended to be, from her real earthly father and the impact it had on her was obvious.

I take absolutely zero credit for it. I was only the conduit God used that night to bless her. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know what it was he dealt with and healed. What I do know is that freedom and healing can and should happen not just at church with the help of a pastor, but in our homes.

Part of my role as a father is to represent God in my home and demonstrate to my wife and daughter what He is like and treat them with the same grace and tenderness He would. The enormity of that responsibility is all together too much for my mind to handle and I constantly wonder how that is even possible.

Here is the message of hope: Even in my failures and times of weakness, there are moments like our “Dancing Father Hug” that remind me that God is really the one who does it as long as I am ready and willing to let him work through me.


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Honoring a Dishonoring Parent

December 10, 2011 4 comments

In the spirit of full disclosure and before you move on to the next paragraph you should know that what follows is not coming from wise personal counsel bases on my own lesson learned. It instead comes from what God has shone me in what I believe is the answer to a question I, and many of you, have had to ask ourselves countless times. In writing this I am not speaking down from a pulpit, but lying flat on the floor.

This is actually a blog I would rather not write because doing so places me in a position of greater accountability and compels me to do what I can to improve the relationship I have with my parents…which I admit is something I often don’t care to do. Divorce and abuse of different kinds and even my fairly recent commitment to Christ has caused a number of fractures in my family to the point where I have not spoken to most of them in the past 6 months or longer. In reality I have no place to write about restoration in that context but I hope that my full disclosure will help you know that if your can relate to many of these things than you are not alone.

Anyone who has darkened the door of a church has heard the verse, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

This brings to mind great memories for those who had a good family life and strong, positive parental influence in their lives. They smile and don’t give this commandment another thought. For them giving honor is almost second nature. Please know that I do not think negatively towards those who fall into this category in any way. You are much needed as mentors and support for those in the next group.

The other group of people who are the focus of my writing feel immense pain and confusion at the mention of this passage of scripture. For them, their family is broken and in many ways, their parents were less than admirable and even abusive. They ask the question, “How can I honor a parent who dis-honors me?” or “How do I give honor to the dad (or mom) who spent years abusing me?” For them, answers are hard to come by.
I put myself in this questioning group of damaged souls.

I don’t know what the typical “Pastor answer” is to these questions but let me share with you what God pointed out to me while reading 1 Samuel in my car during lunch this week.

1 Samuel is where we find the story of Saul and David. If you remember, Saul was made king by God through Samuel, the Prophet at the time. Saul did things that were serious infringements in God’s sight and he was rejected as King. This is where David comes into the picture. At God’s direction Samuel goes to the house of Jesse where David is anointed as King but he does not take up this mantle yet. Instead he goes into the service of Saul and becomes well know after he kills Goliath. David looked up to Saul as a father but it was at this point that Saul began to become jealous of him because of the favor God had given him. This is where we pick-up the story.

Saul’s jealousy quickly turned into disdain and hate. It was not long before he began to express those feelings physically. In fact, it got so bad that he repeatedly tried to kill David. Realizing that he was in serious trouble, David left. Saul pursued him, not satisfied until he completed the dark plan his mind had conceived and incubated for so many years.

While my experience is not that extreme I know some can relate to this type of danger at the hands of their parents. Either way I think it is obvious that Saul’s actions do not in themselves merit honor or respect. Most would even say David had significant reason to protect himself with force, which he had multiple opportunities to do. But instead, this is what he said.

“Saul, my lord the king. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’s anointed. Father, now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.”

At this, Saul shows contrition and momentary repentance and promises to leave David alone. That quickly changes and again, he is following David. Once more, David had the chance to put an end to it by taking Saul’s life but does not, and Saul repeats his apology. Seeing the pattern, David puts more distance between himself and Saul. They lived the rest of their lives separated from one another.

Despite all that Saul had tried to do to him, David mourned bitterly when he heard that Saul had been killed in battle. He had always had God-like love for Saul.

“Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan.”

You know how in Acts it says that David was a man after God’s own heart?

I think that is the point. David was put into the care of a man who he looked to as a father but treated him with contempt and abuse. I can only imagine how that must have hurt him to see Saul throw a spear at him. I know many of us have had verbal, spiritual and even physical spears thrown at us from our parents. Perhaps the way we start to honor our parents in this situation is by first not wishing that harm will come to them and making a point to not be the source of such harm. Maybe it is even confronting them in love like David did to tell them that as their child what they did or said was wrong and hurtful but despite it all you wish them the best. For those cases where their contrition only lasts a short while and the abusive action continues, it is justifiable to do these things and followed by separation for an amount of time determined by God, which may be until death.

I don’t pretend for a moment that any of this is easy or that there are most certainly other considerations that may come into play that I have not addressed. But I can say with 100% clarity that there are more answers in scripture for our daily problems and questions than we could ever use. If any of this rings true to you, please go and read 1 Samuel starting in chapter 15 through 2 Samuel chapter 1 while asking God to continue to expand the idea of honoring our parents through this story. I pray He will show you much more than I did here and give you direction on how to begin the process of showing honor to those who dishonor you.

Fathers with Daughters

August 2, 2010 2 comments

For about 3 months now I have had daughters on my heart.  Not just my daughter…but daughters everywhere and the men who are given the title of “daddy” in their lives.

Little girls eventually grow up to be women and the way their fathers relate to them from infancy to adulthood has a profound impact on who they are and how they interact with God as well as other people.  Men naturally know how to relate to sons.  All that takes is a karate chop or a car.  Girls seem be different and even mysterious to us.  The tricks we use with boys seldom work with girls.  Instead of a karate chop they want a caress…a crown to replace the car.  How many men truly understand what their daughters need/want from them and know how to give it to them?

“Life for Carrie was closer to life as God meant it to be for every little girl.  She knew that her father cherished her.  She was his princess.  He was her knight in shining armor.  He wanted to spend time with her.  Carrie knew her mother loved her and wanted her.  Hers was a world where her father protected her, her mother nurtured her, and she was enjoyed.  This is the soil a girl’s soul was meant to grow in; this was the garden her young heart was meant to flourish within.  Every little girl should be so loved, so welcomed – seen, know, treasured.  From this place she can become a strong and beautiful and confident woman.

Carrie’s father was present to her.  He saw her, and he made it clear that he enjoyed what he saw.  He lavished affection on her with his presence, his protection, his delight.  There were names he had for her – secret names only they knew.  He called her “Kitten” and “Princess” and “Little Darlin’.”  Little girls need the tender strength of their fathers.  They need to know that their daddies are strong and will protect them; they need to know that their fathers are for them.  Above all, a little girl learns the answer to her Question(s) from her father.  “Am I lovely?  Do you see me?  Do you want to see me?  Are you captivated by what you find in me?  Am I worth it?”

This quoted section is from a book called Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge and is going to be the basis of a men’s group I am going to lead starting at the end of August.  The group will be specifically for fathers of daughters and will focuse on how to strengthen and enhance that relationship.  It is my desire to invest in men who are committed to their role as fathers and together learn how to raise the next generation of powerful, confident, women who are secure in themselves and in their relationship with God.

If this is something that stirs your heart too, than please contact me for more information about the group or pass this on to someone you think would be open to joining me for this unique men’s group.

The group will meet Tuesday nights from 7:00-8:30 at my house in Keller.  The first meeting will be August 31st.

These Stones Are To Be A Memorial

July 10, 2010 2 comments

Psalm 78: 1-4

“O my people, listen to my instructions.  Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable.  I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.  We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.”

I have been thinking a lot about my daughter and what I am doing as a father to help her develop her own personal relationship with God.  What message am I conveying in my everyday interactions?  Are my actions a reflection of my relationship with God and do they match what I say?  Just as important, how well does she know the story of what God has done in my life?

When the Israelites were ready to take possession of the Promised Land they had to cross the Jordan River.  As a demonstration of God’s strength and favor, He parted the waters before them for the second time and allowed them to cross over into the place he had prepared for them.  To make sure future generations remembered this miraculous event, he had them take stones from the middle of the river and stack them on the edge of the bank.

Joshua 4:5-7

“Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan.  Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?  tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

We tend to be a lot like the Israelites…forgetful.  It only took days for them to revert to old ways of thinking and disregard the miracles they had just witnessed.  This was a pattern they repeated over and over again.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times God did something for me or spoke to me in a powerful way that I thought I would never forget.  Now, many of those experiences are only a distant, vague memory.  How unfortunate that I did not pass on that experience or write it down before it slid to the back of my mind.

What God does in our lives is vital to the faith of our children and future generations.  What are we sharing with them?  What miracles of salvation, providence, healing, restoration, deliverance and understanding do we need to tell them before they are washed away by life?

What “Stones” do you carry that testify of God?  Take some time this week to begin to write them down so your children, grandchildren and those around you can be strengthened by your declaration of God’s faithfulness.