By / Jun 17

In 1972, President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation establishing the observation of one special Sunday each year in honor of America’s fathers. He described the rich heritage our fathers share with us as “one for which adequate thanks can hardly be offered in a lifetime, let alone a single day” and called on each American to “make this Father’s Day an occasion for renewal of the love and gratitude we bear to our fathers, increasing and enduring through all the years.”

As Christians, we should be the most grateful of all on Father’s Day. Ours is an even richer heritage because we have a Heavenly Father who has adopted us as his children and placed us into our earthly families as part of his good plan. We know that any love we receive from our parents is a glimpse of the Father’s love for us. 

But because of sin, sometimes giving thanks for our parents isn’t that easy. The Bible says we should give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18), but how do you give thanks when your relationship with your parents is strained or even nonexistent? How can you be grateful when your parents don’t love you the way God intended? 

The only way we can give thanks in difficult circumstances is through Christ. For while our parents’ love toward us may be lacking, Christ’s love for us is always perfect and never fails. He knows your pain, and he will help you to obey his commands to honor your parents and give thanks to him — even when it’s hard. 

5 prayers 

As Father’s Day approaches, let’s do as President Nixon suggested and make it an occasion for renewed gratitude toward our fathers. But even more importantly, let’s give thanks to God, who has graciously given us all things. To help us consider all that he has given us, here are five prayer prompts based on Psalm 100.

Lord, we give thanks to you for you are:

1. Our maker 

“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his” (Psa. 100:3). 

God took such care in creating you — ordaining each of your days and intricately knitting you together in your mother’s womb (Psa. 139:13-16). Give thanks for the man and woman he brought together to give you life. Thank him not only for making you but for making you his. 

2. Our shepherd 

“We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psa. 100:3). 

Jesus is a good Shepherd. Thank him for calling you by name and for willingly laying down his life for you, his sheep. Reflect on how he has led you, protected you, restored you, and comforted you throughout your life — sometimes by way of your mother and father — and give thanks. 

3. Good 

“For the Lord is good” (Psa. 100:5)

We have a good Father who gives us good gifts. Bless him for generously pouring out his grace and mercy on you through his son, Jesus Christ. Thank him for blessing you with adoption, redemption, forgiveness, and a guaranteed inheritance. In addition to these spiritual blessings, express your gratitude for the good gifts he has given you by the hands of your parents as well; thank him for a few specifically. 

4. Steadfast in love 

“His love endures forever” (Psa. 100:5). 

When human love waivers, God’s love endures. Thank him for loving you so much that he has called you his child and for promising never to let anyone snatch you out of his hand (John 10:29).

5. Faithful 

“His faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psa. 100:5). 

The Lord has been faithful to your parents’ generation, he is faithful to your generation, and he will continue to be faithful to future generations. Thanks be to God! Take a moment to recall specific instances of God’s faithfulness toward you and your family. Then as the psalmist writes, “Shout for joy to the Lord . . . Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs” (Psa. 100:1-2).

Forever thankful

President Nixon was right — a single day of thanks doesn’t seem adequate, does it? When you’re God’s child, there’s plenty to be thankful for. So much so that the psalmist writes, “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” (Psa. 79:13)

Still, we do give special thanks to God for our parents on this particular day. May our hearts be filled with gratitude as we consider all the blessings we have received as children of our Father in heaven and our fathers on earth. 

This article contains an excerpt from 5 Things to Pray for Your Parents (The Good Book Company, 2021).

By / Jun 19

Father’s Day is this weekend, highlighting the important part a dad plays in his family. As Christians, we know that we flourish more in the roles God gives us when we take time to cultivate our hearts in a Godward direction. My aim is to provide you with a few on-the-go resources that will be a blessing to your spiritual life and help you grow in the Lord. 


If you are a father who spends a great deal of time commuting, then I would encourage you to redeem that time with a few daily podcasts. Some of the best daily podcasts are published by Crossway. From the Every Day in the Word podcast to their M’Cheyne Reading Plan podcast, you can listen through the entire Bible in less than 20 minutes a day. If you chose to subscribe to a daily Bible podcast, I would also encourage you to listen to a podcast like David Platt’s Praying the Word. Each of these resources can get your day off to a great start.

Beyond resources that are aimed at Christian spiritual formation, if you are looking for weekly resources on news from a Christian perspective, you should check out World Magazine’s The World and Everything In It podcast. Of course, you cannot go wrong subscribing to one of the many podcast resources provided by the ERLC either. Other options would include Brett McKay’s podcast, The Art of Manliness, which hosts frequent conversations on everything from philosophy to productivity. You will likely not always agree with the perspectives of all the participants, but you will certainly learn a lot and be well-informed. 


If you are tech-wise father, I would recommend a few apps to check out. As with the podcasts mentioned above, apps can be a wonderful source of spiritual nourishment. Personally, I use the Dwell app every day in conjunction with a Bible reading plan. The notifications keep me accountable, which has resulted in a wonderful habit of daily Bible meditation. To promote a more consistent prayer life, I use the Echo app, which provides reminders and clear organization for prayers. For those interested in memorizing Scripture, the Verses app makes it easy, fun, and mobile to hide God’s Word in our hearts that we might not sin against him (Psa. 119:9-11).


Of the recommendations of books, there is no end. So, I want to suggest three high-impact books that I believe will encourage you and strengthen you as a father. First, I recommend Dane Ortlund’s book, Gentle and Lowly. Fathers are often browbeaten by Father’s Day sermons with challenges about how they need to “step up” as men. While I get the sentiment, many fathers are working hard and already carry around a lot of feelings of inadequacy. Ortlund’s book is gospel-salve for broken and discouraged soul. 

When we find ourselves to be weak and in need, we must remember that our greatest resource as a father will be found as Christ’s makes his power perfect in our weakness.

In keeping with the theme of feeling broken and discouraged, I would also recommend David Murray’s book, Reset. Much like Ortlund’s book, yet with exceedingly practical and clear steps, Murray helps his male readers assess their condition and find the help that they need in Christ and common grace. 

As a final recommendation, I would like to encourage fathers to read Jeremiah Burroughs’ Puritan paperback, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. While it is an old book, it is a classic meditation on a major problem that many Christian men face on a daily basis. Contentment in Christ is something that must be learned, and Burroughs is a faithful guide in that process.

The ultimate resource 

Being a father is not easy. We have and will continue to make mistakes. We will sin against our wives and our children. We will fail in our professions. Our brokenness will not go unexposed. Yet, when we find ourselves to be weak and in need, we must remember that our greatest resource as a father will be found as Christ’s makes his power perfect in our weakness. My prayer is that these resources will serve the purpose of reminding us where our ultimate hope lies—in Christ and Christ alone.

By / Jun 15

“Watch me, dad. Watch me.”

There are few imperatives a father hears more often from his children than “watch me.” It’s a plea for us to recognize that whatever our son or daughter is doing—catching a ball, jumping off a diving board—is worthy of our full attention. They know we are often busy, often distracted, and they want, at least for a moment, for us to truly see them. By seeing them in action, they believe, we’ll appreciate them even more.

We can learn a valuable lesson from their example: If we want our children to develop godly habits we need to imitate them by saying, “Watch me.”

“Watch me” was the command the apostle Paul gave to his own spiritual children. As he told the church at Corinth, “for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me” (1 Cor. 4:15-16). He also told them, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul repeated this admonition several times to the various people and churches to which he served as a spiritual father (Phil. 3:17, Phil 4:9, 2 Thess. 3:7-9, 2 Tim. 3:10-11).

We have a duty to follow Paul’s example with our own children. As theologian Don Carson says, “Do you ever say to a young Christian, ‘Do you want to know what Christianity is like? Watch me!’ If you never do, you are unbiblical.”

Here are three ways your own spiritual habits can be used as a model for your children:

1. Be ‘watch-worthy’

Every day we are becoming either more like Jesus or less like him. Which direction are you headed in today? Because your children are watching you, that is also the direction you are leading them.

Paul was able to say “follow my example” because he was worthy of imitation. And he was worthy of imitating because he was himself committed to imitating Christ.

If we want to be similarly “watch-worthy” we must dedicate ourselves to developing a broad range of godly habits. We must practice the core spiritual disciplines of prayer and intake of Scripture. But we should also be engaged in service and hospitality, evangelism and self-reflection, character formation and developing wisdom, and so on. Above all, we must daily learn to trust and obey God in all things.

These are not practices that come naturally to us. Developing godly habits that lead us to become like Christ requires vigilance and effort. It requires setting aside the necessary time and energy and finding trustworthy resources. The task also obligates us to seek out mature Christians who we ourselves can imitate. If we are to be “watch-worthy” dads for our children we need to model our own behavior on imitation worthy spiritual fathers.

2. Let them see you in action

When do your children see you pray or read Scripture? Do they only see your bow your head to say grace at the dinner table? Do they only see you open your Bible in the Sunday morning church service? Are all your other times of prayer and devotion done behind the closed door of your office or bedroom? If so, then your children may assume such spiritual disciplines are to be practiced alone and in private.

Find ways to let them see you in talking to the Father and engaging with his Word. And welcome their interruptions. Don’t be dismissive when they ask what you are reading. Explain to them—in language they can understand—what you are learning about God and why it’s important to you.

3. Love their mothers

We live in a broken world, and many of us live in broken families. But if you are blessed to be married to the mother of your children, show them what it means to be a godly husband.

The most important way a husband can love his wife like Christ loved the church is to sacrifice himself for her sake. We are also called to model and channel the love of Christ by leading our wives into holiness. A husband should therefore forgive, pray for, and gently encourage his wife to engage in disciplines that lead to her sanctification.

There is no relationship that our children will observe more closely than our marriage. Having them see how we have a Christ-like love for their mother is a powerful example of how they too should love others.

Note: This article is adapted from material in the NIV Lifehacks Bible.

By / Jun 18

As the apostle Paul noted in Ephesians, the command to honor your father and mother is the first commandment with a promise. Children are called to obey their parents so “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Unfortunately, we now live in a land where half of parents—fathers—are rarely shown the honor due their role. While mothers are still rightly considered essential, fathers are viewed by our society as optional. The result of this demotion of fatherhood has lead not only to the destruction of our individual but to the weakening of our cultural foundations.

Christians, of course, should not need to be told the importance of fatherhood. The Bible is filled with dozens of passages on the significance of fathers and the responsibilities of fatherhood. But when making that case to a secular culture it can be helpful to be armed with empirical evidence of the reasons why fathers are essential to the well being of their children.

Here are 25 reasons based on social science studies that reveal the effects fathers—or their absence—have on children:

1. Fathers’ engagement in their children’s activities is linked to higher academic performance. (Source)

2. Among adolescent boys, those who receive more parenting from their fathers are less likely to exhibit anti-social and delinquent behaviors. (Source)

3. Among adolescent girls, those who have a strong relationship with their fathers are less likely to report experiencing depression. (Source)

4. Close father-adolescent bonds protect against the negative influence of peer drug use. (Source)

5. Adolescent girls who have a close relationship with their fathers are more likely to delay sexual activity. (Source)

6. Adolescent girls whose fathers were present during their childhood are less likely to become pregnant. (Source)

7. Adolescent males who report a close relationship with their fathers are more likely to anticipate having a stable marriage in the future. (Source)

8. On average, adolescents who spent time with fathers doing leisure activities, such as playing games, talking, visiting friends, and engaging in outdoor or athletic activities, reported being more engaged in and enjoying the activities. (Source)

9. Adolescents who spend more mealtimes with fathers together reported, on average, feeling more cheerful, happy, and good about themselves; less angry, irritated, frustrated; and less stressed. (Source)

10. Teens who experienced changes in their fathers’ presence in the home during early childhood reported, on average, lower grades. (Source)

11. Compared with peers who did not live in intact families, adults who had lived their childhood with both biological parents were more likely to agree that it is better to marry, that marriage is for a lifetime, and that children are better off with their biological parents. They are also more likely to disapprove of divorce and less likely to have children outside marriage. (Source)

12. Individuals who experienced parental absence in their childhood were more likely to have never married, less likely to be in an intact marriage, and more likely to be divorced. (Source)

13. For male adolescents, each change in parental marital status (e.g., divorce, remarriage, separation, etc.) between age six and 11 increased the males’ odds of engaging in sexual intercourse by 37 percent. (Source)

14. For female adolescents, the percentage of time from birth to age 11 spent in a single-parent home was related to age at first sexual intercourse. For each additional year spent in a single parent household, the likelihood that females would engage in sexual intercourse during adolescence increased by roughly 8 percent. (Source)

15. When compared to adolescent males that lived with both biological parents at age 14, those living with a single mother at age 14 had almost twice the odds of ever having impregnated a girl. (Source)

16. African-American boys who grow up in an intact home headed by their biological parents are less likely to end up delinquent than their peers growing up in a home without a father (Source)

17. Young African American men and women are significantly more likely to graduate from college if they hail from an intact biological family, compared to single-mother homes. (Source)

18. College-age women who did not have good relationships with their fathers have been found to have lower than normal cortisol levels, which are associated with be overly sensitive and overly reactive when confronted with stress. The low cortisol daughters were more likely than the higher cortisol daughters (who had the better relationships with their dads) to describe their relationships with men in stressful terms of rejection, unpredictability or coercion. (Source)

19. Although father absence does not seem to have consistent effects on children’s cognitive test scores, there is consistent evidence that father absence lowers children’s educational attainment and decreases the likelihood that they will graduate from high school. (Source)

20. Studies on substance abuse have found that father absence affects their children’s likelihood of smoking cigarettes and using drugs and alcohol. (Source)

21. Adolescents who reported having closer relationships with their fathers tended to report lower levels of psychological distress (e.g., how often they feel sad, tense, lonely, excited, happy) compared to peers who reported being less close with their fathers, controlling for family structure, adolescents’ age, gender, race/ethnicity, family income, and relationships with their mothers. (Source)

22. Adolescents who reported having more positive relationships with their fathers were less likely to be arrested, sell drugs, attack another individual, carry a handgun, belong to a gang, damage or destroy property, steal, run away, or receive/ possess/sell stolen property compared to peers who reported having less positive relationships with their fathers.  (Source)

23. Children whose fathers who showed more involvement with them at age seven (that is, more outings with fathers, more frequently read to by fathers, more interest shown by fathers in their education) tended to have higher levels of educational attainment as young adults than peers whose fathers showed less involvement early on. (Source)

24. Throughout childhood (from birth, infancy to age four, age five to nine, age 10 to 14, and age 15 to 17), growing up without a father was associated with higher odds of incarceration later in life, even after controlling for mother’s education, whether or not mother gave birth as a teen, race, urban and regional residence, neighborhood socioeconomic status, family income, family size, and age. Individuals who grew up in households without ever experiencing the presence of a father tended to have the highest odds of incarceration. (Source)

25. Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families. (Source)

Image source: Wikipedia

By / Jun 13

Why are mom’s heralded as role models on Mother’s Day while dads are admonished to get their act together? During that inevitable Father’s Day sermon a few wives clutch their husband’s arm and whisper “He’s not talking about you, sweetheart…”, while other wives simmer or elbow him in the ribs, hoping the message has gotten through.

But God commands that we honor both parents, so let’s use Paul Harvey’s 1964 speech “If I Were the Devil” as a model to lay out what fathers mean to God, what they face, and what we need to do to honor men in our churches.

Fatherhood defines you —Did you know “father” occurs over 1,100 times in the Bible? That’s twice as often as “love.” In Scripture fatherhood is an essential construct. Take Abram, for example. For most of his life his name, which meant “Exalted Father”, was a source of embarrassment for him. Yet despite being childless, God promised to make him “Father of Many.” Three thousand years later, millions still identify themselves with father Abraham.

Jesus also used fatherhood to declare spiritual reality. He said you are set free when God adopts you (John 8:31-50). What are we set free from? Scripture says we come into this world by the intentions of our earthly fathers — ultimately Adam — but are then adopted by our Heavenly Father when we’re saved through Christ.  Many struggle with God because of bad fathers, but that doesn’t negate the meaning of fatherhood.

To paraphrase Harvey, if I were the devil, I would try to make fatherhood meaningless.

Honoring fathers honors God — As Paul says, “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:2). Dads are a picture of God’s loving authority, and that lesson starts at home. But the sinful lesson of dishonoring fathers too often also starts in the home. If I were the devil, I would remove the honor of children for their fathers. By the way, moms: Paul also commanded, “…Wives, honor your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Emerson Eggerichs wrote that unconditional respect is as powerful to men as unconditional love is to women. Can you imagine hearing “I would love you if only…” Yet how many men have heard “You gotta earn my respect!” If I were the devil, I would whisper to women that respect for a husband is old-fashioned, just loud enough for kids to hear.

Honoring fathers revolutionizes society — Fatherhood is crucial to society. According to Dr. Warren Farrell, dads influence compassion, impulse control, memory, and adaptability to change in kids. Farrell found that infants with dads at home were considerably ahead in personal and social development. On the other hand, he also found that poverty, infant mortality, delinquency, truancy, and teen promiscuity are rampant in father-absent homes.  Nearly every shooting over the last year involved a young man whose parents divorced or were unmarried.

So where have all the good dads gone? Men look at fatherhood today and see the rules stacked against them. Fatherhood is a huge risk when moms initiate 70 percent of all divorces and win 85 to 90 percent of custody awards. Dr. Helen Smith writes that 80 percent of suicides every year are men, and that many kill themselves over child custody. Meanwhile, media portrays fathers as chronic idiots or serial abusers. God built men to seek help for others but their help is not wanted and the risk is too great.

The devil has already done a remarkable job convincing all of us that fathers are the problem, not the solution.

Honor fathers to build up the church —Robbie Low, citing years of family research, concludes that dad’s religious practice often determines whether his kids will attend church. When both parents attend regularly, 75 percent of their kids will attend church routinely whether mom goes or not. But if dad is absent and mother is a regular attender, only 2 percent will become regular attenders themselves. Fatherless churches can expect two-thirds of their Sunday school kids to be lost completely to the Kingdom. Still, the Church has accepted the devil’s lie that fatherlessness is normal. Men are abandoning churches in droves and taking kids with them.

The devil appears to be winning, but we know God has given us victory. What can we do to change the view of fatherhood?

Embraces God’s priorities for fatherhood. John Piper was astonished at what Old Testament prophet Malachi prophesied about Elijah announcing the arrival of Jesus Christ. “I would expect a look back at the faithful work of God in the past and a look forward to the final victory,” he wrote. “Instead, Malachi says that God’s priority is to ‘Turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.'” Luke confirms this same message in the New Testament.

Honor fathers unconditionally. God help us if we teach little ones to dishonor their fathers.  Pray for grace and cooperation for divorced couples raising kids under separate roofs so that Christian dads can remain influential in their children’s’ lives. And pray for Godly male influence in the lives of kids raised by single moms.

Stop tolerating father-dishonoring messages. Treating moms well does not require dissing dads. We are ultimately accountable to God our Father to encourage both moms and dads with godly love, honor, and respect.

Inspire and support fathers. Men respond to heartfelt and specific recognition. Take a look at all ministry areas in your church — music, Christian education, and small groups — and create value for both men and women.

Ask what men are getting from your church. Do we just want their wallets or do we engage their potential? Do single parent programs include single dads?  What’s your father outreach strategy? It’s not a coincidence that states with the highest number of fatherless families also have the nation’s greatest financial and spiritual poverty. It’s also not a coincidence that the Brownsville Revival began Father’s Day, 1995.

Start today to start honoring fathers — both Heavenly and human — and put the devil on the run.

By / Jun 12

This Sunday is the day Americans set aside to honor their fathers. Here are 5 facts you should know about fathers and Father's Day.

1. After listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909, Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash. wanted a special day to honor her father, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm. The first Father's Day celebration, June 17, 1910, was proclaimed by Spokane's mayor because it was the month of Smart's birth. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Father's Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.
2. According to a 2012 poll from market-research firm Ipsos, most dads would prefer to either spend quality time with their families on Father's Day (40%) or receive no gift at all (22%). Gift cards were a distant third, at 13%.

3. Based on the unpublished Census data (2008), there are an estimated 70.1 million fathers across the nation. 24.4 million were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2012. 21 percent were raising three or more children younger than 18 (among married-couple family households only).  In the U.S., there are an estimated 189,000 stay-at-home dads (compared to 5 million stay-at-home moms). These married fathers with children younger than 15 have remained out of the labor force for at least one year primarily so they can care for the family while their wife works outside the home. These fathers cared for upward of 369,000 children.

4. There are 1.96 million single fathers (compared to 10.3 million single mothers) living with children younger than 18 in 2012; 16 percent of single parents were men. About 44 percent were divorced, 31 percent were never married, 20 percent were separated, and 5 percent were widowed.

5. Fathers have nearly tripled the amount of time they spend with their children, from 2.5 hours in 1965 to 7.3 hours per week in 2011, according to a Pew Research report that analyzed years of time-use data. Despite that increase, 46% of fathers said they spent too little time with their children, compared with 23% of mothers who said the same; half of dads said they spent the right amount of time.

Other Articles in this Series:

5 facts about euthanasia in Europe

5 facts about marriage in America

5 facts about the March for Life

5 facts about abortion in America

5 facts about the ‘War on Poverty’