change your life. change your world.

                                                 Vol 10 • Issue 6

Browse our website or contact one of the
                                      IN SKIN
                                      By Lily Neve
I read once that a go...
Real                                                                         God has created

My father didn’t tell me how to        Any man can be a father. It          I watched a small man with thic...
By Alex Peterson

Parents who are concerned about their                    Problem solving
One tendency of parents is to be too quick to fix    is possible to build rather than undermine self-
the problem or provi...
Ways that you can show your children respect          do that right now.” And if you don’t catch yourself
include:        ...
Train up a child in the way he should
go: and when he is old, he will not
depart from it.—Proverbs 22:6

Thank you,
                                             An open letter by ...
The connection
By Julie Vasquez

God’s idea of prayer is not a ritual,   If God is your
but loving and lively communica-
W H AT I S G O D L I K E ?
                                                                            Some people picture...
All my friends were
                                                       distancing themselves from
I had pushed away a
person who loved me
dearly and only wanted to                                 In that time of desperat...
A godly father...

…bases his life and        …teaches his children the              Look on the
actions o...
Leading                Your children need Me, like you do. They need to learn
                       to include Me in thei...
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Activated June 2009

  1. 1. change your life. change your world. Vol 10 • Issue 6 INFLUENCE Life-changers wanted CONFIDENT CHILDREN 5 ways to help kids blossom REAL FATHERS Every child needs one
  2. 2. Browse our website or contact one of the distributors below to enjoy the inspirational, motivational, and practical help offered in our books and audiovisual material. Vol 10, Issue 6 Activated Ministries PO Box 462805 Escondido, CA 92046–2805 USA Toll-free: 1–877–862–3228 Email: personally speaking Activated Europe Bramingham Pk. Business Ctr. Growing up, the last thing I expected to Enterprise Way become was an editor. For starters, I was a Luton, Beds. LU3 4BU United Kingdom miserable student—“miserable” in both senses of the word. From +44 (0) 845 838 1384 almost the first day of first grade, I struggled to keep up with the Email: class, and language was never one of my better subjects—at least not Activated Africa until tenth grade. The difference-maker then was my dad. P.O. Box 2150 He had been an Army war correspondent during WWII and then Westville 3630 a newspaper reporter for several years. He had changed careers in South Africa +27 (83) 556 8213 order to better support his growing family, but journalism was in his Email: bones. When he offered to type one of my handwritten tenth grade Activated India papers and saw how utterly clueless I was about writing, he clicked P.O. Box 5215 into gear. And when he explained what needed fixing and why, G.P.O. things started clicking for me. Bangalore – 560 001 Over the next couple of years my English grades improved, which India Email: gave my sagging self-confidence a boost, which helped me pull up Activated Philippines my grades in other subjects. It would be another 25 years before I P.O. Box 1147 tried to do anything more with what Dad had taught me, but when Antipolo City P.O. I did, much to my surprise, I discovered that his passion for pushing 1870 Antipolo City words around a page had been contagious. So here I am, thanks in Philippines Cell: (0922) 8125326 large part to my dad, doing what I now love to do, as part of a close Email: and talented team, for a God I love and a publication I believe in. Activated Australia Who could ask for more? +61 2 8011 4345 That’s my story and that’s my dad. The two seem inseparable now, Email: and I think that’s the way God means for it to be. Good fathers help make us who we are. They are one of His special gifts, and father- Editor Keith Phillips hood is one of His special callings. The more I think about that, the Design Giselle LeFavre more I wonder why we waited so long to do this, our first issue in Illustration Sabine Rane tribute to fathers. Production Jessie Richards © 2009 Aurora Production AG Keith Phillips For Activated All Rights Reserved Printed in Taiwan by Ji Yi Co., Ltd. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 2
  3. 3. GOD IN SKIN By Lily Neve I read once that a good father prepares us for our relationship with our heavenly No matter what choices I make, Father, God. My father may not realize it, I will always be his daughter and but one thing that shaped my life was a conversation he and I will always have his love. had sitting on a hill overlooking our home the summer I was 18. He probably doesn’t even I didn’t feel like one. I was only all the gifts I have ever received remember it—so simple and 18, and I didn’t have a clue. Wait from him, I am most grateful for yet so typical of him and his a minute—yes, I did. In that that assurance. wise and loving way of advising situation I knew exactly what I It took me awhile, but eventu- without overtly giving advice. should do. Not that I wanted to ally I realized that my father’s love We talked about everything do it, but I knew. And I ended and trust mirrors God’s. that day, and I found myself up doing the right thing largely God teaches us to walk and telling him about a boyfriend, the because Dad believed that I then lets us run on our own, problems we’d encountered, and would, that I had the capacity to. believing we can succeed but what our friendship might lead to. Not every decision that I’ve always being there for us when I don’t remember how I explained made from that point on has been we fall or need help. “You are a it all, but I do remember how the right one, but that conversa- special person,” He tells us, “who awkward I felt. After I’d gotten it tion helped me onto the path to can do something wonderful all out, I looked at him and asked independence and got me believ- for Me and others.” And when plaintively, “What do I do now, ing that I could succeed at life. we mess up, as we often do, He Daddy? Tell me what to do.” Knowing that someone believed whispers, “Whatever you do, “That is a tough decision,” he in me helped me later when even I will always love you,” and He began, “but you’re 18. You’re harder decisions came my way. helps us do better. an adult now. I’m not going to Dad has always made it clear Thanks, Dad, for the gift of tell you what to do, because you that he not only believes in me, God’s love in flesh and bones! already know what you should but he loves me unconditionally. do.” No matter what choices I make, Lily Neve is a member of I looked at him blankly. No, I will always be his daughter the Family International in I wasn’t an adult yet—or at least and will always have his love. Of South Asia. 1 3
  4. 4. Real God has created a new immortal Fathers By David Brandt Berg soul and placed it in your hands. Every child needs a father mother, even before the child is themselves—all kinds of things. or father figure. Especially as he born. Then he needs to learn to I got a lot of satisfaction out of it grows older, he needs a father help her with the baby. He needs and a lot of reward. even more than a mother. A to realize how taxing it is for her, I tried to spend at least an father comes into the picture in a and he should share the load as hour or two with my kids every big way during adolescence, when much as possible. day. I started reading them Bible the child needs discipline and Childrearing is not always easy stories as soon as they could strength more than ever. Fathers or fun, but if you have real love understand speech. Of course are usually the disciplinarian of for each other and the child, you when they were very small they the family, whereas mothers are will do whatever is needed. It also couldn’t follow all of it, so the inclined to be a lot more easygo- becomes easier when you remind youngest usually dropped off ing and lenient, especially if they yourself what an amazing thing to sleep first. I’d read from the have to handle the job alone. has happened: God has created King James Version and trans- A man can start being a good a new immortal soul and placed late it into the Daddy Version, father by taking good care of the him or her in your hands. With explaining almost every phrase. His help it is now your respon- Then I’d act it out, and they sibility to see that child through were just fascinated. this world. Someday you’re going to be I loved being a parent, and thankful that you had a part in I spent hours at it every day. those children’s care and training. I fixed bottles during the night You will have helped form another when my children were babies, human being. That’s thrilling! and I fixed them breakfast when Are you equal to the task? No, they got older. I taught them but God is, and He will help you how to eat and how to dress if you try! 1 A PA R E N T ’ S P R AY E R May we so live that all our children will be able to acquire our best virtues and to leave behind our worst failings. May we pass on the light of courage and compassion, and the questing spirit; and may that light burn more brightly in these our children than it has in us.—Robert Marshall 4
  5. 5. FATHERHOOD My father didn’t tell me how to Any man can be a father. It I watched a small man with thick live; he lived, and let me watch him takes someone special to be a calluses on both hands work fifteen do it.—Clarence Budington Kelland dad.—Author unknown and sixteen hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the My father used to play with my Character is largely caught, and bottoms of his feet, a man who brother and me in the yard. the father and the home should came here [to the U.S., from Italy] Mother would come out and say, be the great sources of character uneducated, alone, unable to speak “You’re tearing up the grass.” infection.—Frank H. Cheley the language, who taught me all “We’re not raising grass,” Dad I needed to know about faith and would reply. “We’re raising You have a lifetime to work, but hard work by the simple eloquence boys.”—Harmon Killebrew children are only young once. of his example.—Mario Cuomo —Polish proverb A father carries pictures where A good father is worth a hundred his money used to be.—Author A man’s children and his garden teachers.—Jean Jacques Rousseau unknown both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing Until you have a son of your own, When I was a boy of 14, my season.—Author unknown you will never know the joy, the love father was so ignorant I could beyond feeling that resonates in the hardly stand to have the old man Father of fathers, make me one, heart of a father as he looks upon around. But when I got to be 21, A fit example for a son. his son. You will never know the I was astonished at how much —Douglas Malloch sense of honor that makes a man he had learned in seven years.— want to be more than he is and to Mark Twain, “Old Times on the Directly after God in heaven comes pass something good and hopeful Mississippi,” Atlantic Monthly, 1874 a Papa.— Wolfgang Amadeus into the hands of his son.—Kent Mozart as a boy Nerburn, Letters to My Son The greatest gift I ever had Came from God; I call him Dad! Noble fathers have noble To her the name Father was another —Author unknown children.—Euripides name for love.—Fanny Fern 1 5
  6. 6. CONF i DENT CH i LDREN By Alex Peterson Parents who are concerned about their Problem solving children’s progress at each stage of their develop- Parents are often amazed to discover how ment, as nearly all parents are, need to realize what capable and resourceful their children are an important role a child’s self-image plays toward in solving their own problems, with a little that end. Children with positive feelings about guidance. All children encounter problems; that themselves, who believe they can succeed, are far is a necessary part of growing up. It is through more likely to. dealing with such challenges that they learn Children make their first judgments about problem-solving skills that are essential for success themselves and their abilities in the context of their in life. It takes time and patience to help children home. Parents can find opportunities every day to learn to solve their own problems, but it is a wise develop their children’s self-confidence, which in the investment that will pay big dividends when the long run will help them grow into well-adjusted, children get older, their problems become more well-rounded adults. complex, and the stakes are higher. 6
  7. 7. One tendency of parents is to be too quick to fix is possible to build rather than undermine self- the problem or provide the answer. That may meet esteem, even in what might otherwise seem like an the immediate need, but it hinders the learning impossibly negative situation. process. It’s like the saying: Give a man a fish and Not all children misbehave when they feel you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you insecure; some become withdrawn or underachieve. feed him for life. Teaching problem-solving is more But however the insecurity is manifested, the first important and more beneficial in the long run than step in rectifying the problem is to recognize it, and providing solutions. Helping children work through the second step is to go to work on the cause from a their problems also shows that you have faith in positive angle. them, which boosts their confidence and self-esteem. This is how God works with us. He could solve all of our problems with a snap of His fingers, Cultivate mutual respect but instead He usually expects us to reason things Mutual respect strengthens the bond of love in through, consider our options, and do what we can a parent-child relationship. It also engenders unity, before He will step in and do what we can’t. He obedience, and appreciation. involves us in working out the solution and brings Respect within a family is manifested through us along step by step, not to make life more difficult consideration, understanding, thoughtfulness, a but to help us grow from the experience. willingness to listen, and loving communication. And it works both ways; if you want your children to show you respect, show them respect. Insecurity issues Children learn by observation and imitate what No matter how much parents love their children they see. If lack of respect is the problem, it prob- and try to meet their needs, situations will come up ably started with the child’s parents, peers, or other that cause the children to feel insecure, and insecu- influences such as TV, movies, or computer games. rity is often reflected in behavioral problems. Minimizing such negative influences is half the Bad behavior needs to be corrected, but unless the battle; setting clear guidelines as to what’s expected parent understands what prompted it, the correction and then consistently upholding that standard is may hinder more than help. Was the misbehavior the other. the result of natural childish experimentation—a bad idea that seemed good or fun at the time? Or was it the result of insecurity—trying to fit in, impress, or win new friends after moving to a new neighborhood or changing schools, for example? Bad behavior is only a symptom, so correction alone is like lopping off the top of a weed; it will soon be back. Parents need to identify and go to work on the root of the problem, the underlying cause. Depending on the age and maturity level of the child, try to help the child come to his or her own conclusions by approaching it from the problem- solving angle. That may not be easy in the heat of the moment, but remember, the goal is to correct the problem, not to punish the child. By making a clear distinction between the problem and the child and then involving the child in turning the problem situation into a learning situation, it 7
  8. 8. Ways that you can show your children respect do that right now.” And if you don’t catch yourself include: in time, an after-the-fact explanation and apology  Treating each child as an individual will set the record straight. By giving the child  Being sensitive to their feelings; putting yourself an opportunity to be part of the solution to your in their position problem, you will have turned a potentially damag-  Not belittling them or using sarcasm when they ing situation into a positive one. falter  Not intentionally embarrassing them  Asking and suggesting, rather than giving Positive reinforcement commands Praise is a superior motivator. Children thrive on  Paying attention when they speak and hearing praise. It’s more important and more beneficial to them out; not being too quick to provide your praise a child for good behavior than it is to scold for perspective bad behavior.  Treating them as though they were slightly more There are times when admonitions and cor- mature than they actually are rection are needed, but by learning to preempt  Giving their ideas serious consideration; thinking problem situations with praise and other posi- in terms of how you can help their ideas to work tive reinforcement, you will build self-esteem in your children and find yourself less discouraged, exhausted, and frustrated at the end of the day. It’s Avoid misunderstandings a win-win parenting strategy. Sometimes it seems that children choose the The more you focus on the positive, the more worst possible times to misbehave, and sometimes things you will find to praise your child for and the it is not so much actual misbehavior as it is annoy- less you will have to deal with bad behavior. Praise ing behavior. When parents are under pressure, are encourages actions that warrant more praise. preoccupied with other work or other thoughts, Be consistent, be sincere, and be creative—but aren’t feeling well, or are simply not in a good be believable. For example, if the child tries to do mood, that’s bound to affect the way they interact something new with disastrous results, commend the with their children. Some things that are normally effort, not the outcome. Or if the ill-fated attempt allowed or overlooked—a certain level of noise or was meant to be a surprise for you, commend the rambunctiousness, for example—push the parent thoughtfulness. Always accentuate the positive, and over the edge, resulting in harsh words, more severe make the good memorable. 1 punishment than the offense actually warrants, or “the look” that sends the message “You’re in trouble” but leaves the child confused. Children usually don’t see the big picture, so when a parent’s frustrations boil over like that, they often assume more of the blame than they actually deserve, which can lead to even more damaging conclusions—“Mommy wishes I wasn’t here,” “Daddy doesn’t love me,” “I’m no good.” Avoid such confidence-shattering misunderstand- ings by catching yourself short of the boiling point and putting the questionable behavior in context. “I would love to hear you sing that song again, but right now I need to concentrate on driving.” “I have a headache, so I’m going to have to ask you to not 8
  9. 9. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.—Proverbs 22:6 INFLUENCE Whenever you hear of whereas 72 percent of the boys Put high expectations in front of someone doing a great thing, who said that their fathers rarely [young people]. Give them love. you may be sure that behind it or never spent time with them Give them support. They will somewhere is a great background. fell into the group with the lowest succeed.—Said Sewell It may be a mother’s training, levels of self-esteem and were also a father’s example, a teacher’s more likely to have emotional influence, or an intense and behavioral problems. experience of his own, but it More surprisingly, the study the greatest sermon has to be there or else the great found little difference between A farmer had an unusually achievement does not come, the positive effects of good father/ fine crop of grain, but just a few no matter how favorable the son relationships in two-parent days before it was ready to har- opportunity.—Catherine Miles homes and homes where the vest, there was a terrible hail and father was absent (as in divorce wind storm. The entire crop was Fathering helps situations) but nevertheless demolished. After the storm was selF - esteem took time with his son. Similar over, the farmer and his young A study by the British parent- studies have found that in a son stepped outside. The little ing research project Tomorrow’s father’s absence, another father boy looked at what was formerly Men found that fathers who figure such as a stepfather, uncle, a beautiful field of wheat and, spend a few minutes each day grandfather, teacher, or mentor, with tears in his eyes, looked one on one with their sons greatly by assuming an active role, can up at his dad, expecting to increase their sons’ chances of have an equally positive effect. hear words of despair. Instead growing into confident adults. he heard his father softly sing, Of the boys who said that their “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let fathers spent time with them and me hide myself in Thee.” Years took an active interest in their Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear later the son, now a grown man, progress, more than 90 percent to listen, and a push in the right said, “That was the greatest fell in the “can do” category, direction.—John Crosby sermon I ever heard.” 1 9
  10. 10. Thank you, Dad An open letter by Angie Frouman Dear Dad, For the tasty little healthful For the times when you had These are some of the thoughts treats you brought home for us to put your foot down and that come to mind as I sit down kids, which we always looked make me toe the line and abide to write you for Father’s Day. I forward to and enjoyed so by our family rules (now that hope you know how much I love, much—thank you. I have kids of my own, I know admire, and appreciate you. For being the one to take how tough that is, and how For showing me through your me shoe shopping and for not important)—thank you. example of giving your life in stopping till we found the perfect For believing in me when it service to others for the past 37 pair—thank you. was time for me to spread my years, that every sacrifice we make For doctoring all those wings and fly, but I was sure I’d for Jesus and others is worth scraped knees, splinters, and bungle it—thank you. it—thank you. maladies of every sort, and for For teaching me how to For all those times when the dispensing all that extra atten- negotiate the rental contract outlook was bleak, but you held tion and moral support in the on my first place away from on and kept trusting Jesus to pull process—thank you. home—thank you. us through—thank you. For all the amusing and For being a fun and For making time, despite animated tales of your adventurous grandpa to my your work deadline that day, childhood—thank you. kids—thank you. to help me finish my project For the bedtime stories, which For those one-on-one times for Bible class when I was in were always a high point of my you spent with me, in spite of the 2nd grade (I still have that day—thank you. your busy schedule and long booklet!)—thank you. For making me feel safe and to-do lists, which always meant For not getting impatient secure no matter where in the the world to me—thank you. over my childish questions world we were, just because you and nonsensical conversation were there—thank you. Your daughter starters—thank you. For all the great basketball For all the memorable trips you and softball games we played Angie Frouman is a member of took us on and for lugging all our together when those were my the Family International in extra baggage—thank you. passion—thank you. Mexico. 1 10
  11. 11. The connection By Julie Vasquez God’s idea of prayer is not a ritual, If God is your but loving and lively communica- tion between a father and his Father, please beloved children. But sad to say, most people call home! don’t think they can talk to God like that. Some think they’re not religious enough, not righteous How do we establish such a enough, or not spiritual enough. relationship, especially when we Some think He’s too big, too far feel small and unspiritual and above them. Some think He’s too unworthy? How do we make that busy to be concerned about them connection?—Through His Son, and their problems, which they Jesus. think must seem awfully petty None of us can really grasp to Him. Some feel unworthy, not how great and wonderful God contact with. He is the One we can good enough. Some feel guilty our Father is, because He and approach God through. or ashamed about things they’ve His Spirit are greater than the If you have prayed to receive done. Some are even afraid of whole universe. He’s so beyond Jesus as your Savior, you already Him. If only they understood how our comprehension that He had have that connection. If not, you differently God sees it! to send us Someone who could can make it right now by sincerely God wants to have a personal show us His love, Someone we praying a simple prayer like the relationship with each of us, and could experience, Someone who following: He wants it to be the deepest, could bring God down to the level Dear Jesus, I believe You are the most meaningful, most fulfilling of our limited human understand- Son of God and that You died for and rewarding, most natural part ing. So He sent His Son, Jesus. me. I need Your love to cleanse me of our lives. Now that’s not to say Jesus lived for thirty-three from my mistakes and wrongdo- He wants to take away from the years on Earth in human form and ing. I now open the door of my other relationships and activities experienced the joy and sorrows heart and ask You to please come that we enjoy and consider impor- that we as humans experience.1 into my life and give me Your gift tant. To the contrary, He wants to Jesus has been here, so He can of eternal life. Amen. be a part of all that. He wants to understand us and be the link make our day-to-day living easier, between us and God. 2 “The Connection” is adapted He wants to give the things we We can get personal with Jesus. from the booklet Prayer Power experience greater meaning, and He even told us to ask Him into from Aurora Production, and He wants to enjoy them with us. In our hearts: “Behold, I stand at the is available from one of the a word, He wants to make our lives door and knock. If anyone hears addresses on page 2. 1 better. He wants to add a wonder- My voice and opens the door, I ful new dimension to all that we will come in to him and dine with John 1:1–3,14 1 do—the dimension of His loving him, and he with Me.”3 He’s the 1 Timothy 2:5 2 presence. One we can have direct, personal 3 Revelation 3:20 11
  12. 12. W H AT I S G O D L I K E ? Some people picture God as an all-seeing eye carrying around a big stick, ready to clobber them; or as a cruel tyrant, some kind of monster who is trying to frighten them into hell. But actually, He is love! He is our loving heavenly Father who is trying to love everyone into heaven. He’s so close, so intimate, so personal, so loving, so kind, so tender, so gentle, so concerned—and He’s waiting with open arms. The only reason He follows us around is that He’s hoping we’ll turn around and meet Him with open arms. —David Brandt Berg Understanding God You don’t have to understand God in order to love Him. In fact, no one can ever fully understand God. It’s impossible because, as He says, His ways are far above our own. “As the heavens are higher than What baby the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”1 Forget trying to figure out God! Just accept His or little child love by faith. Jesus tried to make it simple. He said, “Unless you are converted and understands all become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”2 What baby or little child understands all about his mother about his mother or father, or how he was born, or all about life? Yet he is instinctively attuned to the most profound thing in the world—love. He feels his or father? parents’ love and receives it and responds with love. The Bible tells us that “God is Spirit”3 and “God is love.”4 He’s the very Spirit of love in your heart. It’s impossible to fully understand God and His love, but it is possible to receive His love and to love Him in return. Making a personal connection with the God of love Isaiah 55:9 1 is so simple that many people can’t believe it. It’s just a matter of 2 Matthew 18:3 asking in faith and receiving. 3 John 4:24 —David Brandt Berg 1 1 John 4:8 4 12
  13. 13. All my friends were distancing themselves from their parents, and I felt compelled to follow suit. And so, as a child, I had immense love and respect for him. He was my dad, and I would do whatever I could to please him if it would get me just one more minute with him. But as happens, I grew older. Passing through my preteen and early teen years was rough. I felt as though I had to pull away from him, as that was what kids did at that age. All my friends were distancing themselves from their parents, and I felt compelled to follow suit. I’m sure it’s not easy for parents to watch their kids drift away, but I refused to see that back then. I grew older still, and we grew even further apart. When I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and got into delinquency and drugs, I pushed my dad out completely, not wanting to face retribution for my poor decisions. He might have understood part NOW I SEE of what was going on, but I didn’t. I was blind to how my actions hurt him, and I couldn’t see that he wanted to see me make something of myself simply By Peter Story because he loved me. That was a concept beyond my years. All I could see was the world immediately I have to say that I genuinely admire my around me, selfish people doing selfish things, and dad. But in saying that, I also have to admit that I thought he was one of them. wasn’t always an easy thing for me to say. Over the Things got even worse, and eventually I got into years I’ve come to see more and more how much I trouble with the law for an act of sheer stupidity. couldn’t see. But rather than admit where I had gone wrong, I let I was the youngest of three children raised by a these things turn into resentment toward my dad. single dad. I’m sure it was tough for him, but he Every step he took to try and help me see how I was didn’t act like it around us. I can see now how wise messing up my life was perceived by me as another that decision of his was. He had many difficul- step to control me. ties of his own, but he made sure he remained an When I was 17 and the last of his children still example of our heavenly Father so we would feel living with him, we had a falling out and I moved safe and secure. out. He tried to help me see the road I was headed 13
  14. 14. I had pushed away a person who loved me dearly and only wanted to In that time of desperation, about to hit bottom, I turned to Jesus. When I did, He helped me begin help me out of love. to see how blind I had been for years. I had pushed away a person who loved me dearly and only wanted to help me out of love. I made amends with my father, and I am now down, but I was determined to hang on to my pride able to look back on those dark experiences and and be master of my own destiny. No one but me actually be thankful for them, in part because they would make decisions about how I was going to live. gave me a much deeper respect and love for my I moved in with some friends and continued dad. Through his example, I learned to appreciate further down the road I was following. If I had those who lay down their lives for others, simply thought things were bad before then, it was clear because of love. It was that appreciation that led that my life was now like a car careening downhill. me, at age 19, to dedicate my life to serving God In the months that followed, I got into some very and others. Five years later, I’m still finding new troubling relationships, often didn’t have food to reasons to be thankful for a dad who cared so eat, found out the true value of my “friends” when much for someone who cared so little for him. they attempted to take advantage of me in drug I couldn’t see it then, but now I see. deals, and narrowly escaped jail. I finally saw that if I didn’t slam on the brakes soon, I was headed Peter Story is a member of the Family for a big crash. International in Mexico. 1 Unconditional love In the parable that Jesus told about the prodigal son,1 do you remember how the father acted when the boy returned home? Did he run up and sniff his breath to see if he had been drinking? Did he comment on how poorly he had cared for his clothes? Did he criticize his straggly hair and dirty fingernails? Did he inquire about the balance left in his check- ing account? Of course not. He hugged the boy—the hug of loving acceptance. —Dr. Bob Pedrick Luke 15:11–24 1 14
  15. 15. FEEDING READING A godly father... …bases his life and …teaches his children the Look on the actions on God’s Word. Deuteronomy 12:28 Word of God. Deuteronomy 6:6–7 bright side …sets a good example. …understands his A SpiritUAL ExErciSE 1 Corinthians 11:1 children’s limits and sympathizes. …has strong moral Psalm 103:13–14 Life is seldom problem free, and it seems that character. many of our problems involve the people closest to Proverbs 20:7 …treats his children us—family members, co-workers, neighbors, and gently and lovingly. others with whom we interact on a regular basis. Even …seeks God’s guidance in Colossians 3:21 if those people aren’t the cause of our problems, they raising his children. are affected by our reactions to them. If we are in the Judges 13:8b …corrects his children habit of reacting negatively, that can sour life and when needed. relationships faster than almost anything else. …loves his children Proverbs 13:24 One of the secrets to both happiness and success unconditionally. Proverbs 3:12 with people is to not allow the relatively small prob- Luke 15:11–24 lems and irritations of daily life to cast large shadows. …is rewarded in his Helen Keller hit on that truth when she said, “Keep …provides materially for children. your eyes to the sunshine and you cannot see the his family. Proverbs 23:24–25 shadows.” The apostle Paul was more specific when 1 Timothy 5:8 3 John 4 he said, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things …is actively involved in are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things his children’s education are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is and moral training. anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”1 Proverbs 22:6 For the next couple of weeks, why not take a few Ephesians 6:4 minutes each night to reflect on your day? What were the high points and low points? Did you thank God for the highs? How could you have reacted better to the lows by looking on the bright side? There’s some- thing to be gained from even the worst situations if you look for it. By recasting the events of your day in a more positive light, you condition yourself to react more positively in the future. 1 Philippians 4:8 1 15
  16. 16. Leading Your children need Me, like you do. They need to learn to include Me in their daily lives. They need to learn the way to trust Me when the going is hard. They need to learn to depend on Me. They need to learn to bring their problems to Me. They need to learn to pray for others. They need to learn to listen to My voice, so I can help FROM JESUS WITH LOVE them make the right choices. Most of all, they need to learn to love Me and accept My love. Do you want your children to learn all these things? They will as they see them in you. The best way to get your children to go the right way is to lead the way. I want the best for your children and it is Mine to give, but you are the channel through which most of My blessings will flow. How much I am able to work in your children’s lives depends largely on how much I am able to work in yours. Love Me with all your heart. Seek to please Me. Ask Me to lead the way. Follow closely, and I will do the rest.