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What’s a Father to Do?

My daughter’s birth brought me up short, a wake-up call to learn the heavy responsibilities of what it means to father a child. What did I know about being a dad? I knew nothing!

What does it take to be a good father? I reasoned that fathering a child is more than just bringing a child into this world, and exchanging butterfly kisses. Fathering is a life-long responsibility. It is a forever commitment. That is, if a man truly wants to “father” his child.

So what to do? I wrote a description of what I wanted my daughter to become. I wanted her to become a woman of integrity, honesty, and good morals. For that to happen, I decided I needed to model these qualities for her. That meant I had to be who I wanted her to become. I was sure a strong faith in God, who has those same qualities, would help.

I started early. While she was still pretty young, I started taking her out on daddy-daughter-dates. I wanted her to experience a good example of how a man should behave. I opened doors for her. I held her chair for her. I ordered the meal and the drinks, and explained to her appropriate behavior for a young woman on a date. We talked of what she would want in a man, and how she wanted to be loved and cared for. We talked about integrity, honesty, and chastity. We talked about faith in God, and whether faith was relevant. We even discussed the Bible, which gives answers to most of life’s questions that arise.

We continued to “date” until she married. I knew I would only get one chance to get it right. She would only be young once. I knew that if I were to impress on her heart the values I knew were important, I had to talk about them at home, when we were out, and when she got up in the morning and went to bed at night.

Now that she’s married, with children, we still go out on an occasional daddy-daughter-date. She feels free to talk openly and candidly to me because the door to that kind of relationship opened long ago. We can explore together answers to more mature questions that are on her heart. We can pray together for solutions to problems she faces in her grown-up world.

I found that it takes a lot of effort and commitment to be a good dad. I discovered I had to do it on purpose, with purpose, to make a plan and work the plan. I set out on a mission to be a good dad and devoted myself to make it happen. We still exchange butterfly kisses; we have a very special connection, my daughter and I. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

 

Why do I do the things I do?

A short drama:

Setting: A quiet place with a single stool or chair.

Character 1 enters and sits, and covers his face.

Voices are all off-stage

Character1:                 What have I DONE?

Voice 1:                       (voice off-stage) Hey, take it easy! Everyone does stuff like that.

Character1:                 I wish I hadn’t done it. I want to do better.

Voice 1:                       Nah, you’re not strong enough to be that good. They drove you to it.

Character 1:                 Yeah? Probably so. But I shouldn’t have, anyway.

Voice 1:                       Don’t worry about it. You didn’t do anything THAT wrong.

Character 1:                 Go away! What I have done is wrong and I wish I hadn’t done it.

Voice 1:                       (Evil laugh) Hey, it’s not your fault.  Don’t feel guilty! Man, your parents were way too strict!

Character 1:                 They WERE strict…

Voice 1:                       Right! Exactly! You only feel bad because of how they raised you so strictly.

Character 1:                 Maybe.

Voice 1:                       Sure! That’s it. Suck it up!

Character 1:                 (Clenches fists) I just have to be stronger, that’s all. I won’t do it again, I WON’T!

Voice 1:                       (Evil laugh) Yes! That’s the best you can do!

Character 1:                 Well, I AM only human, after all. I can’t be perfect.

Voice 1:                       Right! You’re human!

Voice 2:                       (Patiently) You can’t do it in your own strength.

Character 1:                 (Looks up and around, searching) Huh?

Voice 1:                       Yeah! That’s right! You’re too weak! Loser!

Voice 2:                       I can help you.

Character 1:                 How?

Voice 1:                       (Loudly) Hey! Don’t listen! He’s lying!

Character 1:                 Really? I don’t know….

Voice2:                        I speak the truth.

Voice 1:                       STOP! Don’t listen! You are WEAK!

Voice 2:                       Come to me, I will give you rest.

Voice 1:                       NO-O-O-O!

Character 1:                 Why do I do the things I do?

Voice 2:                       I made you in my image. Come to me.

Voice 1:                       (Interrupts urgently) He’s just human! He can’t help it.

Character 1:                 What do I mean? I mean I find myself doing the things I know I shouldn’t do, and I don’t do the things I should do.

Voice 1:                       Exactly! That is GOOD!

Voice 2:                       I am able to help you with that.

Character 1:                 How? I am too dirty, too unclean.

Voice 1:                       Yeah, you slime-bag! You don’t deserve anything good!

Character 1:                 What can I do?

Voice 2:                       You can do nothing, but I CAN.

Voice 1:                       See? Don’t listen to him. He doesn’t make any sense!

Voice 2:                       Are you willing to let me?

Character 1:                 Let you what?

Voice 1:                       (Like a child who makes noise because he doesn’t want to here.) La, la, la, na, na, na!

Voice 2:                       (Over Voice 1) Are you willing to let me help you?

Character 1:                 (Over Voice 1) I can’t stand it any longer! I want to do what’s right.

Voice 1:                       No! No! Don’t listen! Not again!

Character 1:                 (Weeping) Why do I do the things I do?

Voice 2:                       Be holy as I am holy.

Character 1:                 I want to be holy, but I can’t.

Voice 2:                       Let me fill you with my Spirit.

Voice 1:                       ARRRRRRGGG!

Voice 2:                       I can fill you with Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Self-Control.

Voice 1:                       (Fading screech)

Character 1:                 What are all of these?

Voice 2:                       The fruit of the Spirit. They become evident when filled with my Spirit.

Voice 1:                       (Desperate moaning)

Character 1:                 How can I have these?

Voice 1:                       (Sounds further away – groaning and mumbling, almost like curses)

Voice 2:                       Surrender your will to mine, and consecrate yourself only to me.

Character 1:                 Is that all?

Voice 1:                       (Weakly) Too easy!

Voice 2:                       (Kindly) That’s it. That’s all I ask.

Character 1:                 That’s a lot.

Voice 2:                       Yes. I ask your ALL.

Voice 1:                       (Further away) No way you can do it! NO!

Character 1:                 How do I do that?

Voice 1:                       (Hissing static)

Voice 2:                       Simple! Just ask.

Character1:                  Ah! Faithful is He who calls, who will also do it.

Voice 2:                       That’s right! Come to me.

Character 1:                 I will do it!

Voice 1:                       (Screaming way off in the distance)

Character 1:                 Will you make me holy? I give you my will, my whole self.

Voice 2:                       DONE! Welcome into my presence!

Character 1:                 You are my peace!

Voice 1:                       (From very far off) No-o-o-o-o!

Voice 2:                       Well done, my servant. Welcome.

Posted August 24, 2013 by Don Gardner in Uncategorized

Garlic & Integtity?

Garlic. Just mentioning the word evokes memory of how it smells. I have a clove of garlic in my hand. Its strong, pungent odor assails the taste buds and makes my mouth water. I peel off the paper-like skin. My nose stings and tears fill my eyes. Garlic reeks through the house as I chop it into tiny pieces and place it in stew.
Garlic flavor permeates the vegetables and meat in the stew, flavoring everything—even steam billowing from the boiling pot smells like garlic.
Garlic is garlic inside and out, and will always be garlic, no matter how I chop it, slice it, or cook it. My fingers reek of garlic. Garlic saturates everything it touches. It doesn’t go away easily. Tomorrow, the kitchen will still smell of garlic. After eating the stew, my breath, even my skin will smell of garlic.
Daniel of the Old Testament was like garlic inside and out. Not because he smelled, but because a Godly integrity saturated him through and through. It penetrated everything he touched—everything he did. Daniel’s character had a strong quality, difficult to corrupt, and difficult to suppress. He couldn’t hide it—it is who he was.
When he was elevated (Daniel Chapter 5) to be over King Darius’ entire kingdom, it was because of his integrity. When jealousy arose among the other leaders, they tried to destroy him by watching for anything he might have done amiss. But we are told they could not find any ground to accuse him of any wrongdoing. His integrity was impeccable. They had to manufacture a way to trap him by passing a law they knew his faith would not let him obey. They passed a law that everyone in the kingdom must pray only to Darius or die.
Daniel immediately went into his chamber to pray and to worship God. His enemies caught him in the act of praying to the one true God.
I have discovered that a person’s character is who he is. It suffuses everything he touches, everything he does, in much the same way. It is who people perceive him to be. Integrity is a condition that does not vary with circumstances of life or personal preferences. I have learned that a person of strong integrity will be strong in character. Conversely, a person of weak integrity will be weak in character.
Is integrity a condition that varies with circumstances of life or personal preferences? I think integrity is an ethical quality. It is moral excellence. It is honesty. It is innocence of motive. It does not have bad intent or improper behavior. Daniel was filled with the Spirit of God. He worshiped God only. He depended on God for everything. Daniel’s integrity was righteousness of the heart. It was a transparency of Godly motive. It saturated him through and through. It nearly cost him his life.
Now I am faced with a question. Will I allow God to fill me with His holiness? Will I let Him infuse me with the odor of righteous integrity?

Honor, Portrait of God

All that I know about who God is comes mainly from three men in my life. One is the pastor I grew up under. Another is my father-in-law. But the primary example was my dad. He was a man who loved us with all his heart, yet didn’t hesitate to use the rod when we needed it. He loved God. He loved his family. He loved his church. He lived his deep faith in front of his children, and he lived it with honor and consistency. I honor him. I honor him for his faith, for his selfless service and sacrifice to family and church. He inspired me and discipled me in my faith. When I turned 18 he told me, “The only thing a man has in this world that will leave a mark is his honor. It is honor that makes a man, not his age, not his size. It is honor.” I’ve always tried to live up to that statement. I believe it is pleasing to God to live with honor. Honor fetches the image of honesty, truthfulness, correction, and reproof. Honor conjures perceptions of uprightness, righteousness, fairness, faithfulness, and dependability. Honor is integrity. It may represent a portrait of God.

Posted March 19, 2013 by Don Gardner in Uncategorized

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Surrender to God’s Call

My hands are shaking, Pain creeps into my clenched fingers. My heart beats a bass drum in my ears.

I’m standing bent forward, staring at my hands cramped on the back of the seat before me. Decision time. Now. My knuckles turn white, I can feel my pulse throb in my neck and migrate toward my temples.

My knees quiver, and my feet wont budge. I have to move. I must decide. Do it now. No, don’t move, I must, just one step. I can’t. I must. His silent voice tugs on my heart.

Sweat trickles down my side from my armpit. I must choose. Decide now. Do it now. Sweat beads on the back of my neck and tension makes my arms rigid.

Breath. Breath in. Hold it. Breath out. Again. I can do this. Just choose. If no, I’ll burn in eternity. If yes, my destiny will change forever. I am alone surrounded by a crowd. I must decide alone. Alone with God.

Suddenly, I’m moving. Decision made, I rush forward and kneel at an altar, praying, asking God to forgive me, to save my soul. He answers and peace floods my entire being.

God called me to preach the Gospel and make disciples. I knew this even before I accepted Christ as my savior. I struggled with the decision to be saved. I knew if I accepted Christ, I would have to preach. I didn’t want to preach or to be a pastor, or a missionary, or any kind of minister. But He called.

When I went to the altar and asked Jesus in my heart, I had to simultaneously accept the call to ministry. My destiny changed. No longer could I live to satisfy self, but I started living for God. His desires became my desires.

At that altar, His presence, His will became the focal point of who I would become.

Posted January 21, 2013 by Don Gardner in Copywrited, Uncategorized

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