Being a Father in a Child’s World

Humans are self-aware. Some people are more or less aware of themselves than others, but it is safe to say that we are conscious of ourselves all the time.

We are aware enough to avoid doing things that might be inappropriate or embarrassing. We are aware enough to know our responsibility at work, or whether people of interest to us are nearby.

Yet for all that self-awareness, and possibly because of it, we often fail to see ourselves as others see us. This is particularly important in our role as a parent.

I was reminded of this in recent years as a Grandad. I was visiting one of my children and the suggestion was made that some of the grandchildren might like to have a sleep-over at Nanna and Grandad’s house. There was great enthusiasm for the suggestion. I was a little surprised because I don’t think my home is particularly interesting to young children.

What I had to recognise is that my grandchildren see me through their eyes. They see me as a very significant person in their life, as a grandad. I might see myself as an older man, with greying hair, interested in matters that children wouldn’t even understand. I might see myself as of no interest to young children, but to some young children I hold a special place.

I remembered how much I enjoyed visiting my grandparents and exploring around their home and yard. They might have spent most of their time talking with my parents, but they were still very special people in my world.

So a few years ago I recorded a podcast for Real Talk For Real Men, discussing being a Father in a Child’s World. I wanted to point out just how significant men are as daddy in their child’s life, and why being a dad is not as ‘natural’ as we have thought.

I tried to point out our need to view ourselves through the child’s perspective. And also how to guard your kids’ precious emotions by watching how you react to them.

I also discussed why a dad’s interaction with his children will shape the child’s impression of who God is, and what might happen to your children as adults if you are not diligent in how you represent God to your children.

I suggest that all parents, Mums and Dads, listen in to that podcast. It’s available at: https://realtalkrealmen.podbean.com/e/real-talk-4-real-men-episode-31-being-a-father-in-a-childs-world/

Getting Real

My journey with the Lord has been most powerful when God dug past my facade and dealt with the real me on the inside.

It is easy in life and in our faith to play the game, look the part, go along with the routine and go through the motions, while the reality of the thing is missing. 

We can play at our role as parent, giving a child the attention they seek, but not really connecting with the child in the deeper way that’s best for us and them. We can pray, read the Bible and go to church, singing the songs and listening to messages as passive participants, rather than being actively and deeply involved in the process.

I praise God that at times, when I am in that sorry mode, God breaks through, usually by calling me to be real with him and with myself.

God is real and His love, power and salvation are very real. Heaven and hell are real, and so too are the spiritual realities we cannot see, such as angels, calling, curses, blessings, demons and the like. Our blindness to those things does not change them or diminish their effect.

So to truly become alive in the fulness of the life God gives us we need to get real with Him and allow Him to get real with us.

In my early school years I discovered I had a serious problem with embarrassment, yet I was keen to be up front in the spotlight. I tried to overcome embarrassment by a mask of bravado and confidence. Eventually, however, in my late teens, God wonderfully dealt with me. He challenged me that I was fake. I felt convicted about my plastic facade and sensed God warning me He could not deal with fake people. I felt God assure me, deep on the inside, that if I would just be who I really am, without pretence, He would transform me. He promised to make the real me much more impressive than my fake image could hope to be.

It took me time to work through that challenge. I even pushed it aside for a long time. The fruit has been wonderful, giving me freedom on the inside.

What greatly helped me to work through the challenge was the assurance that God truly loved miserable little me, the real me, just the way I am. I was blessed to hear a number of preachers press the point of God’s love until I could really grasp that God truly loved me.

The assurance and confidence that brought me nearly half a century ago has been wonderful to enjoy ever since.

Yet God has had to challenge me since then, about me being real with Him. I can drift back to routine and miss engagement with the reality of my faith and my walk with God. When I decide to truly connect with God again, not just doing the spiritual routines I am accustomed to, I always find a refreshing.

Consider what it might mean for you to be sure that;
God loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3);
the Love of God casts out fear (1John 4:18);
God’s plans for you are good (Jeremiah 29:11);
God will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5);
God will crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20);
God binds up your broken heart (Psalm 147:3);
when Jesus sets you free you are truly free (John 8:36).

Maybe a starting point, if you find it hard to be real with God, is to pray something like this:

“Lord God, I want to know You and to be constantly blessed in my walk with You, but I find it hard to connect. I am probably filled with all sorts of distractions and issues the enemy has sown in my heart. I call on You to break through for me and to reach me at my deepest level, pouring Your love on me and assuring me that it is safe to abandon everything so I can know you better. You are my saviour and I cannot save myself, to I call on You to be my champion in this challenge and to draw me toward You as You reveal Yourself to me and in me. I ask this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.”

Are You Listening?

I didn’t know I had to learn to listen. I didn’t know listening was a learned skill.

Let me tell you what changed all that.

As a young pastor in New Zealand, at my first church, I was approached by a man in the congregation who wanted to share what he had learned at a training program run by his company.

I chaffed at this request to share, since he wasn’t going to share a Biblical truth, but some secular material shared in a secular context. What’s more the topic was about ‘listening’ and surely anyone who needs to learn to listen must be not very smart.

However I gave in and allowed him to share at one of the Men’s Group meetings. He hadn’t been speaking for long, quietly and unimpressively, when what he had to say really got to me. In just a few minutes I became deeply convicted that I knew very little about listening, was a terrible listener and probably looked arrogant and uncaring many times.

For instance, he said that most people don’t listen when they talk with others, but simply look for opportunity to draw attention to themselves. As they hear the other person speaking they think of something they want to say, to show their knowledge, understanding or impressive experiences. At that very moment they stop listening and wait, somewhat impatiently at times, for the other person to draw breath or end their point, so they can jump in and say what they want to say.

The other person is likely in the same mode, so people’s points get interrupted, and they become more heightened in their tension to impress on the other what they want to say.

In those situations the talking isn’t a matter of communication and sharing, but of verbal ping-pong, almost a verbal battle.

A true listening actually wants to hear what the other person is saying, and their listening is a gift to the other person, honouring them and giving them room to express their inner thoughts and to be heard and understood.

A good listener doesn’t interrupt or cut someone off. They invite the speaker to say more and to express even more of their ideas. A good listener gives feedback to the speaker, in order to confirm they have understood and to show the speaker that their words are worthy of being confirmed.

I never did any of those things. I most often bombarded people with my own ideas and thoughts and became aggressively persistent with my ideas if others didn’t seem to be impressed with what I had to say.

Much of this probably came from my insecurities and my pride. It was the mode of talking that my school friends engaged in, and that my brothers and I used frequently. I was well schooled in not listening.

I was ungracious, arrogant, self-absorbed, highly opinionated, assertive, impressed with myself, wanting and needing to look smart and well informed, insecure, vulnerable, false and a bunch more unpleasant things.

So that lesson on listening was a wake-up call for me, alerting me to something that was so basic and such a foundational element of our lives, talking with others, which I didn’t have a clue about. It made the point that there are probably many other areas of my life where I am equally as ignorant.

Over the decades since then I have often caught myself back in my old mode of talking ‘at’ people instead of communicating ‘with’ people. I have painstakingly tried to learn not to interrupt, and not to be too hasty to show up others if I thought I knew better than them.

I also had to review the whole business of having an opinion, since it is really of no value except to inflate our opinion or ourself.

I have at times been a good example of listening, drawing out of others their thoughts and blessing them with my time and attention, and listening ear. I realise now that by giving attention I give honour, and that by listening effectively I bless others.

I did a podcast recording about my Listening journey and you might like to listen in as I talked about it with my podcast partner, Guy Mullon at Real Talk for Real Men, as part of the Real Men 24/7 project.

The link to the podcast is: https://realtalkrealmen.podbean.com/e/real-talk-4-real-men-episode-23-listen-to-transform-your-life/

Meanwhile, let me ask you a very serious question. Are You Listening?

Why Me?

Why should Almighty God call me to write notes for your spiritual refreshing?

Why indeed? I am just another man, with my own set of limitations and distractions. Though I may be good at putting words together that doesn’t mean the words themselves have any value at all.

When it is all said and done only that which is quickened and used by God’s Holy Spirit will produce spiritual fruit.

All I can do is write as I sense the Spirit’s prompting, aiming to be faithful to the Word of God, which is the Sword of the Spirit, and allowing the fruitfulness of God’s Truth in my life to be expressed in such a way that it speaks to others.

The Apostle John used the term “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), referring to Jesus as the ‘Word of God’ taking on a human body. That idea, however, also has another meaning, that of the Word of God spoken into our lives impacting our humanity so powerfully that it becomes part of who we are.

A Bible picture of that is Mary, Jesus’ biological mum. Archangel Gabriel told her the great news of her selection to be the mother of the Christ. She responded with the phrase “let it happen to me just as you have said” (Luke 1:38). By submitting to the Word that came from God that Word was able to become a physical reality in her life.

So God’s truth is not just a theoretical, philosophical reflection on reality, but a life-giving force that is intended to so impact you that you are not the same any more. That Word is meant to be received by you in faith so it can impact you in spirit, soul and body, transforming your mind, emotions, personality and will. When that happens the Word has ‘become flesh’, been converted into practical reality in the real world, specifically your personal life.

So, Why Me? If I can share with you those areas where God’s Word has had fruitful and productive impact in my life I can encourage you that the same possibilities are available to you too.

I am just one of millions of people who could share such things with you, but, by the Grace of God, you are reading this, so maybe, just maybe, God wants something of what He has worked in me to become your personal experience as well.

Why Bother?

Why should any of us do anything if it has been done before? There are volumes of devotionals and Christian insights available for those who care to find them, cheap at an Thrift Shop, or specially featured as the latest and greatest in a Christian book store. You can freely download the thoughts of great Christians from multiple websites. So surely there is no need for me to write devotional thoughts too, is there?

Yet there is something in God’s economy where ‘streams’ are important, ‘rivers in the desert’, where God opens up springs of refreshing for people.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it will spring forth; will you not recognise it? I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

I love the fact that God doesn’t open up one particular river, or one particular type of stream. Reference to ‘rivers’ suggests to me the multi-facetted ways God can employ to speak into our hearts and lives.

Some people are deeply touched by a song or poem, while others find key Bible verses leaping out to speak to them, and others find preaching impacting them powerfully. 

God can use His testimonies, His truth, His law, His love, His Spirit, His Gospel, His Anointing, fellowship with His People, His Authority and so much more to being blessing, victory and transformation into our lives.

Look at the different streams listed in Psalm 19:7-9.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

I am a servant of the Lord, with my own small world of influence and my own personal journey with the Lord to draw from. So I am one of God’s springs of living water. I am a stream for those who care to drink and be refreshed.

As a teenager I was on holidays near the ocean, waiting on God for direction. I felt directed to Isaiah 43, not knowing what it said, and verse 19, about rivers in the desert, encouraged me. I sensed God promising me that in the desert areas of my life there would be complete transformation; the desert turned into rivers instead of hot burning sand, like the desert blossoming like a rose (Isaiah 35:1).

I link that too to the text about ‘wells of salvation’. 

“Therefore with joy will you draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

Note it is not one well, but multiple wells.

God is pouring into your life from multiple sources. Make a point of tasting from God’s rivers and drinking from God’s wells. 

Let God’s ‘truth’ set you free (John 8:32). 

Let the Son of God set you free (John 8:36). 

Let God’s Spirit bring liberty to you (2Corinthians 3:17). 

Listen to preaching that impacts you (1Corinthians 1:21). 

Let God’s Word bring light to your inner man (Psalm 119:130). 

Bring your prayers to God (Jeremiah 33:3). 

Receive power through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). 

Receive God’s love in your heart (Romans 5:5) and let God’s love drive out fear (1John 4:18). 

Humble yourself so you can receive God’s grace (James 4:6). 

Put your faith in Christ so God’s Salvation is released to you (Ephesians 2:8). 

Use God’s authority to resist the devil (James 4:7). 

Be encouraged by godly Christian fellowship (Hebrews 3:13).

And there is much more.

God has made many ways to bless you. Are you drinking from His wells and swimming in His rivers, or are you stuck in some dry place?

I encourage you to ‘get under the spout where the glory comes out’ (as the old saying goes) and get refreshed by being in a church where people love God and relate to Him with His truth and power, and by reading the Bible daily, even if you don’t think it’s doing you any good, and get around those who enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Take new ventures into Praising God, Loving others, sharing your faith, caring for the needy, learning God’s Word, and enjoying God’s presence in your life.

God has made the way and provided the rivers. Jump in and start swimming.