By / Jun 23

Russell Moore recently did an interview with the Washington Times on the importance of two-parent families. 

Read the interview here.

By / Jun 17

It was a sunny Sunday morning when I shifted dad’s car into reverse and slowly backed out of the driveway of my childhood home. My father, freshly showered and shaved, sat in the passenger’s seat; his clothes, photos, and boxes of Bibles and files filled every inch of cargo space. With the help of some neighbors, we had managed to get his TV into the backseat, too. A 10-hour drive stretched out ahead of us. My stomach churned and hands trembled, but I put on a brave face and a smile. “Here we go, dad. Isn’t this going to be great?”

Everything had been just fine in theory. I had been touring retirement communities for months, gathering information, talking with my dad about how nice life would be near the grandkids. I’d been crunching numbers and exploring senior care options. A realtor and I were working to get his house on the market. The rest of the family had been giving much needed help with the house and good advice along the way.

This was the best thing for everyone. This was the right decision. This was me being a good daughter.

The problem was, sitting there in that idling car, I didn’t feel like a good daughter. I felt like I was about to drive off a cliff with my father in tow.

How in all of heaven and earth was I going to do this? Me? The one who can barely keep her own four children fed and clothed some days? The one who does some of her best dancing right along sanity’s edge?

I knew good and well I didn’t have the capacity for this job, and yet here I was called to do it.

As I walk with Jesus and follow him into these places of personal inadequacy, I discover again and again the ever surprising truth that these are the moments of God’s great mercy to us—these moments when we fly past the limits of our own strength and find that the everlasting arms have been underneath us all along, sustaining us when we didn’t realize it, when we thought we were making the whole earth turn on its axis all by ourselves.

I wonder if you can relate to my story. Maybe you’ve been facing some of the same fears I have. If so, I’d like to offer you four insights the Lord has given me as I’ve been caring for my dear father.

  1. Trust God enough to say “yes.” God calls us to walk along paths we could never walk without him. What a beautiful thing it is when we open our arms and receive what he brings, trusting that he will care for us as we yield to him in humble obedience. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exod. 20:12). For me, the call to honor my father meant moving him to be near me. For you it may mean something different. This clear direction from God’s Word gives me the strength that I need to trust God and say “yes” to him.
  2. Remember where you’ve set your hope. The day my father signed the lease for his new home and the finality of this decision set in, I started losing sleep. Three nights into my insomnia, I got up in the dark of the night and went into the living room. With my forehead on the floor—the posture of my best praying—I began pouring out all of my fear to God, calling each one by name. After that, I named all the things I knew about God from the Bible and my own experience. I called out in whispered tones the stories of God’s faithfulness to me. I remembered how he had carried me through troubled waters many times before. I thanked him for his steadfast love for me. As I turned my inward gaze on my sovereign God, my spirit remembered how very little of my father’s well-being actually depended on me. Peace welled up from somewhere deep inside as the Holy Spirit ministered to me in those dark hours of the night. My hope was not in myself; it was fixed and firm in the God who made the universe (Ps. 78:6-7).
  3. Pray continually. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). As I am caring for my father, I am asking God for every single thing we need: a buyer for his house, compassionate and competent new doctors who will accept his insurance, help with his veteran’s benefits, wisdom to navigate the various government agencies who administer his retirement pay and on and on and on. Every answered prayer is a wonder of God, an opportunity to tell of his wonderful works in my family’s story.
  4. Follow the example of your gentle and humble Savior. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Think of the beauty of Jesus’s words in the context of caring for a parent. Jesus sets the example of humble service and invites us to join him. As we are serving our parents, giving rest to them in the humble ways we can, our kind and humble Savior promises us rest for our very souls. What a sweet invitation he offers.

I have lived the last 20 years many miles from my father; now I live less than 10 minutes from him. God has given our family a sweet opportunity to enjoy my father in these years—to hear his stories, to learn from his experience, and to help bring him much needed joy and community.

The way we honor our parents now matters tremendously, both to the generation that came before us and the ones that are following after. May the Lord Jesus be exalted and glorified through us as we honor him in this beautiful and vital way.

By / Jun 14

Jim Daly on the Father to the fatherless: "God had me in the palm of his hand"

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 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’