Thursday, January 2, 2014


From Stephen: 
The final present has been opened and crumpled wrapping paper is piled up all around the Christmas tree. All the family is enjoying all the new presents, toys and electronics that were just opened. There is a sense of satisfaction, peace and joy as you drink in the atmosphere of the morning- a culmination of many week's worth of hard work and preparation.

We all love to give our children gifts and watch their faces as they open them. I remember the intense anticipation of ripping open the beautifully wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree, the time lying in bed agonizing over how slowly time was moving, waiting for the agreed upon time when my brother and I could rush into our parents' room, wake them up and then run to the tree to see what "Santa" had brought. Now, there is even more joy in giving gifts and presents to our children, watching their faces, their anticipation and their surprise. It truly is more blessed to give than receive!

Although Christmas is over for another year, I've been thinking about some of the greatest and most potent gifts that we fathers can give our children. So I've made an extemporaneous "Top Ten" list. I'm sure you can easily come up with ten more equally great and important gifts you want to give you kids, but here's my list for now, starting with the first two--Enjoy! 

1. Have a Great Marriage 

Now I realize that it takes two to tango, and that having a great and awesome marriage is dependent on both husband and wife leaning forward and desiring it, but men, we must not shrink back from taking our lead role in this area.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Find out what it means for you to love your wife as Christ loved the church. He laid down his life for us, and we are to take the lead in laying our lives down for our wives. Let's wash our wives with the water of the Word--encourage her with who she really is in the Lord. Find out what her "love language" is and speak it to her regularly. Encourage her daily. Answer her unspoken foundational question--"Honey, you are worth fighting for, you are lovely, you are beautiful, I'd fall in love with you again if I were to meet you for the first time today." 
Find ways to answer her unspoken questions a thousand ways. If you love your wife well and lay your life down for her, it will bring a grounding and peace in her life that will not only benefit you and her, but in my opinion will be one of the greatest gifts you could ever give your children.

2. Have a Great Relationship with God 

think that often we Christians try to make things harder than they actually are. What does it mean for me to have a great relationship with God? It's simple: receive all that the Father has done for you through Jesus Christ. Receive, receive, receive. His love will transform and revolutionize your life. His love will renew your mind, your thoughts, your emotions, your priorities and your desires. Settle in your heart that you truly have been adopted by Him, that he has already done everything for you to have a great relationship with him.

He has already forgiven every sin you've ever committed, those you'll commit today, and all those you'll commit tomorrow and ten years from now. He's given you the gift of righteousness, and when he looks at you he smiles. He's given you everything you need to live for him by his power. So hang out with him in prayer and worship everyday--don't make it some otherworldly super-spiritual exercise when you talk to your Father, but show your kids how you can confidently talk and walk with your amazing God. As your relationship with God grows, it sets the spiritual thermostat of your home to the setting "as for me and my house, we will serve The Lord."  Remember the GOOD NEWS of the gospel, that God our Father loves and accepts us, not based on our good behavior and actions, but on Jesus' actions and sacrifice. If Father God treated us according to our behavior, we would be living under constant condemnation, but remember, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

Our kids listen with their eyes, and no amount of spiritual talk or "Christianese" will have as much of an impact on their lives as them seeing you walk out a life truly loving and serving Jesus. Our children generally will value what we value, and they have a brutal sense of smell for hypocrisy in others. 
So dads, live your life of true devotion to God right out in front of them. They will tend to catch what you have, so if you are living a life of freedom in Christ, that's what they will see, and they'll eventually get there. 

So, there are my top two gifts I can give my kids. Stay tuned for more to come as I share more from my Top 10 List. Leave a comment and let us hear what is on your gift list!
Read Part 2 (gifts 3 and 4). Read Part 3 (gifts 5-8).

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