Monday, June 21, 2010

'Dad' - How Serious Do You Take It?

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deut 3:19-20)

Happy Day after Father's Day, Dads!

Below is an article that Greg Richmond emailed me yesterday that affirms how children mimic the spiritual life of their dads. What will you choose?

Study Confirms: Fathers are Key to Their Children's Faith by S. Michael Craven

I am afraid that our culture in general (and as a result, many fathers themselves) has reduced the role of fatherhood to something nonessential or unnecessary. Many men today regard parenting as being primarily the mother's role and somehow no longer associated with masculinity or “real” manhood.

Instead, many have succumbed to modern cultural caricatures—along with radically feminist psychology—and the label of hunter-gatherer, and thus assume this is their primary contribution to the family. As a result too many men, including professing Christian men, express their role as father exclusively in terms of financial provider. The fact is children are not looking for financial provision; they are looking for love, guidance, and a role model for what it means to be a man.

During the colonial period in America men defined themselves by their level of community involvement and fatherhood. Marriage and fatherhood were seen as being among the highest aspirations in a man’s life. This is likely due to the fact that people at that time were less individualistic. Today the highest aspirations of men seem to be career success and personal leisure; and against these they seek to balance marriage and family.

The lack of actively involved fathers has produced societal conditions necessary for the intervention of government. It is a sobering fact when the government is compelled to respond to the failure of such a fundamental institution as family! In 2001 the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services under President Bush launched its Fatherhood Initiative with this statement:

The President is determined to make committed, responsible fatherhood a national priority … [T]he presence of two committed, involved parents contributes directly to better school performance, reduced substance abuse, less crime and delinquency, fewer emotional and other behavioral problems, less risk of abuse or neglect, and lower risk of teen suicide. The research is clear: fathers factor significantly in the lives of their children. There is simply no substitute for the love, involvement, and commitment of a responsible father.

While the research does indeed show that paternal absence (whether it is physical or emotional) is a significant contributing factor in almost every category of societal ill, my concern is the spiritual consequence.

A rather obscure but large and important study conducted by the Swiss government in 1994 and published in 2000 revealed some astonishing facts with regard to the generational transmission of faith and religious values. (The full title of the study can be found in the online version of this article.)

In short, the study reveals that “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”

The study reported:

1. If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all.

2. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

3. If the father is nonpracticing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church!

Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or nonpracticing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the nonpracticing, as if loyalty to the father’s commitment grows in proportion to the mother’s laxity or indifference to religion.

In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). One reason given for this distinction was that children tend to take their cues about domestic life from Mom while their conceptions of the world outside come from Dad. If Dad takes faith in God seriously then the implication for children is that God should be taken seriously.

This confirms the role of father as an essential spiritual leader, which I would argue is true fatherhood. Fathers are to love their wives as Christ loves the church, modeling the love of the Father in their most important earthly relationship. Fathers are to care for their children as our Father in heaven cares for us and finally, fathers are the ones to teach their children the truth about reality. It is the father who should instruct his children in their understanding of the world and everything in it using God’s revelation as the basis by which they analyze and respond to life’s challenges and opportunities. It is the father who is essential for sending his children forth with a biblical view of reality and a faith in Jesus Christ that is rooted in solid understanding and not merely blind tradition.

It is time for fathers to return to honorable manhood and reconsider their priorities and realign them with God’s commands, decrees, and laws, teaching these things to your children “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7 NKJV).

Happy Father’s Day!

© 2010 by S. Michael Craven

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Is this what we want?

Should this be what we want?

"I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent." (Luke 5:32)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What are You Saying?

A friend of mine from high school posted this on facebook last week:

If the world is listening to “You” what are they hearing?

Great question . . . . Any thoughts?

Because I can tell you: The world is listening.

All of us are telling a story.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Someone sent me this quote recently from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"The church is the church only when it exists for others. It must share in the secular problems of ordinary life, and it must tell men of every calling what it means to live in Christ."

What do you think?

Bonhoeffer was a WWII era German protestant pastor who was executed by the Nazis for his resistance to their movement. He was hung just three weeks before Berlin fell.
If you have never read his book, Cost of Discipleship, it was one of the formative reads of my young spiritual life.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Whether you're a baseball fan or not, try to stay with me on this post - I think you'll be glad you did at the end. . . .

If you are a sports fan at all and have been near a TV the past few days then you have seen the video that this picture is from at least a million times.

It's the final out (or what would have been the final out) of an ordinary Major League baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians last Wednesday night.

Except that at the time Armando Galarraga - the pitcher for the Detroit Tigers - was throwing a perfect game. Meaning that NO ONE for the entire game - 8 2/3 innings - had reached base. Believe it or not only 20 perfect games have EVER been thrown in Major League history (see this post).

OK, to the point of this post.

The umpire at first base - Jim Joyce - called the runner safe on this play. The replay shows he was clearly out. It 'robbed' Galarraga of one of the greatest feats in sports. A feat pitchers seek all their life.

And yet, in my opinion, what happened next was greater.

Galarraga did not explode or curse Jim Joyce (which is done very often in baseball). Instead he smiled on the field, and in the post-game interview said:

"He really feel bad. He probably felt more bad than me. And nobody's perfect and we're all human. I really give that guy a lot of credit to tell me, 'I need to talk to you "You don't see an umpire after the game come out and say, 'Hey, let me tell you I'm sorry,' That doesn't happen."

This was after Jim Joyce did something unheard of and went to the Tigers locker room and apologized to Galarraga.

I said this in a facebook post earlier this week:

"Maybe even better than a perfect game is seeing men live life well." So true.

Galarraga was a great example of how you respond when life doesn't go your way.
And Joyce displayed a great picture of owning your failures.

Life isn't about perfect games! In reality, none of us throw them. Life is about living well, putting others first, and impacting others for the sake of what is good and righteous.

Thanks Armando and thanks Jim, for showing us there are better things than perfect.

A Walk . . .

Our beautiful twins take a significant walk today at 12:30 . . . as they walk across the stage and get their high school diplomas. Unbelievable.

And they are both such beautiful young ladies. How thankful and proud we are!

It just happens so fast . . . Go Sarah! Go Laura! Chase Jesus to the ends of this world!

Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish!