Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle

Kent Ernsting

I was smitten from my first sight of him. The first time I held my newborn son in my hands the tears began to well up in my eyes. A deep sense of love enveloped me when I looked into his amazing eyes. I loved that little guy with everything within me. I thanked God for him and I pledged him back to God from that moment. I was struck with the tremendous stewardship responsibility that I now had, to raise him to become a godly young man. I knew that I could not complete that task without God’s help and the help of many others along the way.

Now he’s 14 years old, stands 5’8′ tall, and he’s strong enough to fold me into a pretzel. He routinely aces me on the tennis court. He’s a fullback on his freshman soccer team and he feels responsible for every ball that an opponent gets past him and into the net. He’s smart and brave and he wants to show others that he has what it takes to be a man. I will probably not know if I have successfully completed my task of parenting him until he is in his thirties. The indicator will be whether or not he is living a God -honoring life and rearing godly children.

I don’t know about you, but the challenge of shepherding my son through his young adult years with purity as the goal has been a daunting one for me. How can I talk to him about purity when my own sexuality has been complicated? I have had to deal with my own issues on the subject. We all know intuitively that we need to be the one talking to our kids about sex, but how do we do it?

I am an imperfect parent, but I want to pass along some tips and strategies that I have learned from others and have used with my son.

The first is the principle that RELATIONSHIPS COME FIRST. As long as I keep the relationship that I have with my son strong, then he will be willing to receive guidance and coaching from me. As Josh McDowell says, RULES WITHOUT RELATIONSHIP LEADS TO REBELLION.

I look for ways to spend time with him. Relationship growth occurs when we do things together like going to his games, working together on projects, playing pool with him, and taking him camping with me. It helps me to relate to my son and for my son to relate to me. Relationships are what life is all about.

I want him to know deeply and intimately how to connect with another person in a life-long committed relationship. I want him to experience it first in our father/son relationship. Eventually he will transfer that into a relationship with his wife.

Sex education is really not so much a matter of providing information as it is a matter of deliberate character formation. The first messages are the most potent; it is far more powerful to form a child’s view of sexuality from scratch than it is to correct the distortions the child will pick up in the world. This is a concept that I picked up from a very helpful book by Stanton and Brenna Jones, entitled How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex. In fact, it was their book that gave me what I needed to know and say to my son when we had our first ‘key talk’ in a local restaurant. After I finished my explanation he asked, ‘Dad, do you eat that green stuff?’ as he pointed to the parsley on my plate.

I took my son camping for a weekend before he entered junior high school. Together we listened to the ‘Preparing for Adolescence’ tapes by James Dobson and we talked about the content of the tapes. Between disc golf and fishing we discussed what would be happening to him in the coming years.

We spent a weekend at a sexual abstinence until marriage conference interacting with various speakers, presentations and youth events. We went to a Promise Keeper rally for youth where the message o purity was presented through music, worship, extreme sports, speakers, and multimedia.

I take him to church regularly and help him plug in with youth groups and their events. Now he is attending Young Life where the message of purity will be reinforced. I want him to know about redemption when he stumbles and about the love of his creator sustaining him throughout his life.

Look for opportunities that will challenge both you and your son such as rock climbing, rappelling, or canoeing. Bathe your son and his future wife in prayer. Let’s talk about how it turns out when our sons are in their thirties.

Please see Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle.

David Goes To Anger Management

James Hutchison

In our lives we face many things that block the goals we have set for ourselves. Sometimes, when our goals are unmet, we become angry. In many cases, anger is a by-product of our not getting our way. But there are times when our anger may be a secondary emotion that hides our true feelings. Back when we were children we learned to hide our emotions to spare ourselves from more pain. We learned that it was unacceptable to cry on the playground. ‘Suck it up,’ they said, or ‘Don’t cry, be a man.’ We were encouraged to, ‘Fight and defend yourself.’ We learned that the only emotion that was OK to express was anger. What that means is that many of us have been stuffing our feelings since we were five years old, with anger being the only emotion we are allowed to show.

In our recovery it is our responsibility to look back on our lives and see what self-preserving strategies we have been using since childhood to keep us from pain, strategies that are no longer useful and should now be abandoned. King David was faced with such a task. When David was on the run from Saul, he and his men had moved into the Desert of Maon, where they provided security for a man named Nabal. They watched over Nabal’s flocks and shepherds to see that no harm came to them. It was common practice for the owner of the sheep to pay for this protection when it was shearing time. At the appropriate time, David sent ten young men down to see Nabal about the payment due. Having been a shepherd himself, he was well versed in the business practices of the day and knew the proper way to ask for his payment. I think that David felt safe being back in the fields with the sheep, because it was a reminder of the days of his youth. Judging from the wording in the Bible, he also probably felt that there was a kind of father-son relationship with Nabal.

However, Nabal did not see it that way. He insulted David and his servants, and told them that they were not even worthy of bread and water. The young men returned to David and told him what had happened. When David heard what was said, he turned to his men and said, ‘Put on your swords!’ So they put on their swords and David put on his. David was really angry with Nabal, and was about to show him how angry he was! David said, ‘He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with me ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him.’

David felt and expressed anger in this situation, but deep down he may really have been hurt.

This was not the first time he had been rejected by a father figure. When David was a young man, he was not even invited to the sacrifice and consecration by Samuel, an event that David’s father and brothers attended. It was not until Samuel asked for David that he was summoned and anointed as the next king. Nothing is mentioned about how David must have felt to find out that he had not been invited to the sacrifice, and we have to wonder if this was typical of the treatment that he received from his father and brothers. Then, after David became the son-in-law of Saul, he expected to enjoy his status as an adopted son. Instead, he soon found out that, again, a father figure rejected him in his life. So, we should not be surprised by his reaction to Nabal’s rejection. To us, and those who were with him, it seems extreme. But maybe David was reacting to the pain of again not feeling valued as a son or a man.

As counselors, we look for this kind of exaggerated reaction as a sign that something else–something deeper–is at work. The feelings that we stuff, such as feelings of worthlessness, incompetence, rejection, and the disappointment from our inability to please those we love, including God, may be buried beneath the anger. So when you, or your family, are suffering from your anger, take time to reflect on what is really going on in your life. Look closely to see what the real cause of your anger is. Then enjoy the grace that Jesus freely gives. Forgive yourself and others who have hurt you in the past, and experience the healing of your soul.

For more help on Anger see Boiling Point.
Also, please prayerfully consider joining our Anger group at the next New Life Weekend.

Thoughts on Endurance in Recovery

Dave Boyle

One of the most famous speeches in history occurred at the time of the Second World War. The British troops were discouraged, as the Nazi’s seemed to be making gains every day. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, stood up to address the English troops one day at a particularly low point of the war and in his raspy voice said, ‘Gentleman, never, ever, ever,””.ever, ”’ever, ”’ever, give up.’ Churchill then sat back down. And we all know the results of the war; the Allied forces came back to defeat the Nazis, and the world was rid of Hitler and his henchmen for good.

But here’s a troubling hypothetical: what if the British troops had given up? What if the Americans had said, ‘this is too hard. I’m not going to take all this time and effort for something that might not work out in the end.’ Where would you be now? Well, you might not be enjoying many of the freedoms that you are currently enjoying.

Given the scenes that have been beamed into our living rooms from Iraq, and the valor of the brave men and women who are over there fighting, I am not about to compare striving for sexual sobriety with the gruesomeness of war. Yet the principle that Prime Minister Churchill wanted to get across to his troops is the very same principle that we need to use in our daily lives to stay pure, and that is endurance.

Don Henley, the drummer for the rock group The Eagles, once told a reporter that one of the reasons for the band’s success is that when the band toured, the repetition of doing the same songs over and over again, night after night, never seemed to bother them, because they loved playing the music. That’s how it must be with us if we are to stay sexually pure. You can look at having a daily quiet time, where you read God’s Word and talk to him, as repetition, or you can look at it as a new and fresh way to connect with God each morning. Going to that recovery group every Friday night–at the same place with the same people–can be repetition, or it can be an exciting challenge to share your victories and help other guys do the same. Going to the therapist’s office each week can be an act of drudgery, or it can be a healing hour where you continue your journey to get to the root of the lust that has been so destructive in your life.

Paul knew a little about perseverance and endurance. In 2 Corinthians 6:4 he says, ‘Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses.’ Later in the same book he talked about those hardships and distresses: ‘I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one (think ‘Passion of the Christ’). Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night on the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countryman, in danger from the Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food’ (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). So I think he is qualified to make the following statement in Hebrews 10:36: ‘You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” So really, endurance isn’t a suggestion, it’s a command. It’s been said that 80 percent of success is just showing up. And if that’s the case, then I say that 80 percent of showing up is endurance. With a web site that gets as many hits as this one, I know that there is at least one guy who is reading this who is ready to chuck his sobriety and go act out. Don’t do it! Endure! Persevere! Pray! Call somebody! Do whatever you have to do to endure in purity. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.