Fathers for generations shape our lives in ways we don’t realize. All of us have become taught by successive generations of fathers who have shaped our lives by what they did or didn’t do. This goes all the way back to our first father, Adam! When he sinned, sin entered into the world and has infected every generation since (Rom. 5:12). The culture in which you live and have your identity bears the effects of the curse and its accompanying iniquities.
Identity Principle Four: Fathers direct the identity course of their children by what they do or don’t do.
Fathers determined the philosophies of life, religions, work habits, and family patterns of every nation—its culture. I’m not ignoring the impact of women, but their place in each culture is determined by what the men did or didn’t do. In order to be identified with your people and have the power of their acceptance, your fathers (the men in your society) and you have allowed the culture to shape your lives. The only exception to this is when someone desires to identify with another father, people, or culture. Isn’t this true?
Absent fathers create empty children
If you look back to the previous identity exercises at the list of people with whom you wished to identify, you might conclude that you gave those people the power to shape your life. In one sense, you did open the door to their influence. However, you might be surprised to discover that it was your father or the lack of having a father that was the primary cause. Your father, by what he did or didn’t do, impacted your search for identity. If a father doesn’t fill his children with his presence, love, and purpose, then they will be searching for someone or something to fill the void. Absent fathers create empty children and rear another generation unprepared for life, both practically and spiritually.
The father directs the identity course of his children
A father actively or passively establishes his child’s identity course. First, we see this principle explicitly stated by Simon in his declaration of Jesus’ identity in Matthew 16:16. Jesus’ identity is directly related to His Father. “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” The Father directing Jesus’ course in life is affirmed as we read that Jesus never did or spoke anything on His own initiative (John 5:30; 8:28, 42; 12:49; 14:10). He lived by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of His Father (Matt. 4:4).
Second, this principle is implied in Jesus’ reply to Simon in Matthew 16:17-18. He told Simon his understanding of Jesus’ identity came from a revelation from His Father in heaven, thus testifying to his belonging to His Father. This called for a new identity: Simon became Peter.
And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Third, in a spiritual sense, this principle is verified in the application of the gospel. Everyone who is born again receives the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Son, because each belongs to the Father (Galatians 4:7). Our hearts turn to God, the Father, because His heart is turned to us! He thus directs our identity in life through His Spirit, who seals, directs, and protects us (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Fourth, this principle is evident in life through various cultural rituals and examples. Children are typically identified by the names of their fathers. In many cultures, the last names actually communicate sonship/sonhood. For instance, "ovich" in Russian means "son of." In Scandinavian countries, "sson" or "ssen" indicates one is a son of a man (Andersson). In English, John’s son was at one time identified as Johnson. Believers are called sons of God, when identified by God (1 John 3:1).
Some groups, such as those of the Jewish faith, have ceremonies celebrating the identification of sons and daughters with their fathers’ faith and identity. Some tribes in Africa continue centuries-old rituals of fathers “calling out” the sons of the community into manhood.
Fifth, this principle can be observed in our society. If a father doesn’t fill his son or daughter with his spirit (his influence), providing hope for the future and a meaningful or purposeful relationship, the son or daughter experiences a nagging emptiness. This emptiness demands to be filled. It is a longing to belong or be connected to power. The children whose father doesn’t have time for them or who doesn’t know how to provide a relationship with hope for the future will seek relationships or experiences offering what they lack.
If you’ve ever coached children or youth you have probably noticed the boys or girls who are lacking direction and love from their fathers. They are starving for attention and approval! Gangs become surrogate fathers to sons abandoned by derelict dads. The popular tenth-grade cheerleader sets the dress fads for dozens of girls who want to be connected with her because she gets the attention of the boys. Her power becomes their power. But why would the girls want the attention of the boys? Why does a guy want to join a gang? One primary reason is that dads haven’t known the importance of sealing their sons and daughters in their identity and thus leave them open, empty, and vulnerable.
On the positive side, exemplifying the relationship between the heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus, a father may direct the identity course of his son or daughter by what he does. If a father has a vision for developing and maintaining a relationship with his children, which prepares them for life, fills their emotional and spiritual tanks, and provides clear hope for their futures, he sets them on a course of fullness and purpose.
Fathers must seal their children’s identities
Imagine going into a store to purchase a bottle of water. Upon finding one, you check the cap and notice the seal is broken. Would you purchase that bottle? Probably not, because you fear someone may have put a contaminant into the water, or perhaps someone has actually taken a swig from it! We seal bottles to protect the contents and to preserve what is contained therein. The seal is an assurance.
Now think of your children as bottles and your giving meaning, purpose, and hope to them as sealing them. That seal protects all of the truth and teaching you put into them and prevents their being polluted by lies, worldly philosophies, and carnal allurements. However, if you don’t seal them, in effect you send them off to school open, without sealed caps. What you’ve instilled in them may be lost, and their souls may become open seedbeds for anything promising them a sense of significance and power. The ignorant or otherwise occupied father determines the identity course of his child by not sealing his child.
A father’s example
One father did it this way. On his son’s 12th birthday, in an official and loving way, he communicated to his son that he belonged to him, was loved by him, and together they were going to walk from boyhood into manhood. Here are some of the ideas this father had for sealing a son.
- Give an official acknowledgment of belonging/connection.
- Give vision and meaning to the relationship.
- Teach him about his body.
- Teach him how to be a leader.
- Teach him how to know God’s Word, pray, interpret Scripture, and discern truth from error.
- Teach him how to understand a woman and love her with God’s kind of love.
- Teach him the skills men need to care for a family.
- Covenant to walk through life together.
- Assist him in discerning God’s will for his life’s work, ministry, and mate.
- Inform him as he becomes secure in his identity in Christ, he will decrease and the Heavenly Father will increase.
- You may learn more at www.spiritofelijah.com/chariot/chariot_39.php.
Obviously, this was the beginning of a long process that took place daily. The important thing to note is the hope communicated to the son. Meaning, purpose, vision, hope, and relationship were communicated. This father’s heart was turned to his son, and the result was the son’s heart turning toward the father. This sealed the son; much like the Holy Spirit seals the sons of God, and a cap seals a bottle. Without this process, a son may seek other identity sources in women, careers, and money.
Next month we will continue to talk about how a father directs the identity course of his children. We’ll gain some insights into our dads, and look at how we can be men of integrity who live anchored in who God has said we are. Until then, I hope you’ll consider the impact of your dad on your identity and your own impact on your children.
Recent video messages
This past month, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at a men’s breakfast and a father/son camp. Some of those messages were video recorded and are available on YouTube. Others were recorded and are available on the spiritofelijah.com website. Here they are.
Rethink the Way You Live: Did you know that heaven isn't someplace way out past the moon? How close is God to you? In this message, given at a men's breakfast at Great Commission Church in Olive Branch, MS, Norm Wakefield unpacks three foundational truths:
- You live in the presence of God.
- You only see yourself and this world clearly from a heavenly perspective.
- You can live in heaven now. Live your life from an eternal perspective.
“That Day”: We all have only two days for certain: Today and “that day.” “That day” in the Bible is called the last day, the great day of our Lord Jesus Christ, the day of Christ Jesus, the day of His coming, the great and glorious day, the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, the day of redemption, the day of the revealing of the sons of God, and the last day. How we live our “todays” will determine what we will experience on “that day.” Norm Wakefield, executive director of The Spirit of Elijah Ministries unpacks from Rom. 8:16-31 what we can expect “today” and on “that day.”
Click here for the Father/Son camp download page.
Live to Love with Alan Cutting (The Believer's Journey) & Norm Wakefield.
Equipped to Love: Building Idolatry-Free Relationships
I am excited to inform you about an old, but new, resource. We have published the second edition of Equipped to Love. People who have read both Equipped to Love and Live to Love suggested that I bring Equipped to Love back into print because it is a resource they felt more comfortable sharing with others who either are new believers, preparing for marriage, or ignorant of the whole idea of idolatry.
I believe that Equipped to Love, second edition, is now a great introductory resource to Live to Love. It has been shortened and updated to deal with some of the more errant progressive ideas of love, I've also purposefully written it to be a "lead in" to entering into the discipleship focus of Live to Love. Equipped to Love is a wonderful resource for small groups or families. In a sense, it is a prequel to Live to Love.
I hope you'll consider sharing Equipped to Love with friends, family members, and whoever you think can benefit from learning how to build idolatry-free relationships. It is available at www.spiritofelijah.com in print, ebook, and audiobook.
Resources by Jerry White, Jr.
Spiritofelijah.com has the privilege of hosting a resource page for my friend and mentor, Jerry White, Jr. He and his wife, Gerrie, have had a tremendous impact on our lives since we were 29 years old. Although he has a webpage (adisciplesnotebook.org) where video resources are available, his books are only available on our website. I invite you to visit http://www.spiritofelijah.com/jerrywhite and become familiar with the spiritual riches God has given to the body of Christ through Jerry. Here is a brief description of what is available.
- Fellowship With God: This brief and simple book (80 pages) has been used to help many discover the reality of true fellowship with God beyond just having daily devotions.
- The Spirit and Presence of Christ: An invitation and simple instruction in how to seek and experience a vibrant relationship with Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit
- God Drew Near: Personal testimonies of God’s grace written to encourage and increase your faith, love, and hope.
- A Disciple’s Notebook: Excerpts from writings of spiritual giants throughout the ages have been chosen because of their deep insight and inspiration into relationship with Jesus Christ.
- A Disciple’s Notebook II: Another collection of excerpts from writings of spiritual giants throughout the ages which have been chosen because of their deep insight and inspiration into relationship with Jesus Christ.
Host a Live to Love Adventure at your church or homeschool organization.
The Live to Love Adventure is a Friday-Saturday event which invites and equips God’s people to live to love with Jesus for the rest of their lives. The goal of the 10 part series is to grow intimacy with the indwelling Jesus Christ by learning how to be His disciple in a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus launched a live to love movement when He commissioned His disciples to go make disciples who would love the world with Him. I would consider it an honor and privilege to present the Live to Love Adventure at your church or organization. Promotional videos and resources are available at www.livetolovewithjesus.com. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At livetolovewithjesus.com there is also a streaming video of the Live to Love Adventure which you can use personally or in your small group, family Bible time, or as a discipleship tool.