Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"Pastor Dad" - free ebook

Book Title: Pastor Dad (scriptural insights on fatherhood)
Author: Mark Driscoll
Published: re:Lit, 2009Pastor Mark Driscoll's church represents one of the fastest-rising evangelical wave hitting North American church scene. His church, Mars-Hill Church which started in Seattle in 1996 as a small home-based Bible study has grown to become a mega-church of more than 6000 members to date. This book, distributed free on the Internet talks about fatherhood from a biblical perspective. You can read it online here or download it in pdf. If you prefer, you can also purchase it here. As a service to you, I enclose below some brief notes and a short summary of my thoughts below. This book is quite easy to read, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety.

This book from Driscoll is a refreshing call back to the biblical principles for fatherhood. Without question, it is a tough book that does not mince words. Fatherhood is loaded with solemn responsibilities. Amid a lax modern liberal environment we live in, where anything goes and people are free to choose according to what their feelings dictate, Driscoll's book is a welcome effort to counter laissez-faire attitudes pertaining to family living.

MAIN POINT: The key to godly fatherhood is simply a grace of God. The first thing we must note is that a man can be a good father if he learns first to be a good Christian. To be a good Christian he must realize that God is his Father, as Jesus taught us to pray. (5)

Learning on how to be a good father is contingent on how we relate to God our eternal Father. The essential truth is that children (representing the next generation) are to follow up on the father's faith. Their identity as father and son is tied closely to faith in God. Remember how the Old Testament refers to 'son of' and the way they describe their faith with regards to God. Teach children to worship God as the father worships God.
- Fathers are to be living examples to their children;
- The fathers' fear of the Lord presents security for the children;

Chapter 2 - Fruitful Vine
In "The Fruitful Vine," fathers are asked to be fruitful and that includes the shaping of their children's lives. It is not merely playing the numbers game where one thinks the-more-the-merrier. There is a qualitative aspect that needs to be addressed. Before a father can earnestly equip their sons to get married, they must first train them in living responsibly and purposefully. Too often, people goes into the courtship routine, even in the midst of a spiritual vacuum in their youthful hearts. Without values and principles to live by, any relationships engaged will not enjoy the kind of security a spiritual stronghold provides. Pursuing a godly woman does not simply mean having a good time. It means godly living together, and that any relationship ought to strengthen and preserve both persons' path to godliness. Proverbs are full of tips for young men and women to learn from. As an example, parents who disagree ought to show their children how they get reconciled with each other.

Chapter 3 - Cultivating Kids
Surprise surprise. Cultivating the respect of parents does not come automatically to children. Parents should not be shy to teach this fifth commandment to their kids.
"Practically, this means that everything in the life of the child is ultimately the responsibility of the father." (22)
This is a tall order, and runs much against the cultural laxity on the parents. Parents must take charge. It is not the school's role. It is not the responsibility of the TV/Internet. It is neither the responsibility of society to teach our children. Parents are.
"And no matter which educational option you choose for your children, you and your wife must be their primary influence and instructors." (23)
Chapter 4 - The Masculine Duty to Provide
Providing for the needs of the family is a high calling for the man of the family. This is not restricted to monetary needs. This includes spending money wisely and how the man provides security and how he cultivates relationships within the family. Spiritual, financial and social needs are part of the umbrella of providence.

Chapter 5 - Instruction Followed by Correction
A helpful advice is that the father ought to do his quiet time in the open, so that his children can see and become curious about his spiritual well-being. Do it often enough and the children will learn by seeing and copying. Any teaching and discipline cannot be delegated. Each parent (especially the father) has to take charge.

Chapter 6 - Protecting from Sin and Folly
This chapter is about the father as protector of the children. Preserving their purity, repenting from sins, praying for them, and imparting wisdom to them are core tasks of the father. Temptations toward promiscuity must be addressed right from the start.

Chapter 7 - Countering Culture
Finally, the tasks at hand for the parents are daunting. Against the tsunami of a highly sexed society, the modern culture needs to be countered.
"People love sex, but they don't love marriage; they love sex, but they don't love children. This is because they don't love God." (39)
Things are further confused when the three crucial matters of children, marriage and sex are all separated and talked about as if they are three non-related issues. The fact is that they are all highly related. Parents are to take up the prophetic role to speak forth for God into the lives of their children. This may seem to be a scary call, but as fathers and mothers, we are priests for the family. The conclusion is worth quoting in full:
"More than bigger governments, bigger schools, more free school lunches, more child therapists, more child medications, more daycares, more prisons, and more birth control, we need more godly men who raise their sons to be godly men who raise their sons to be godly men who raise their sons to be godly men." (42)
The teachings in the book are biblical and easy to understand. However, obeying it is more difficult. This is because far too many of us are already like frogs swimming in the warm waters of post-modern definition of freedom and licentiousness. The more repelled we are to the teachings, the more we ought to realize how much the world has influenced our thinking. It is quote counter-cultural and I applaud Mark Driscoll for releasing this gem to the public freely. The main thing is that in order to benefit the most from it, we must be prepared to change our lifestyle. If we have delegated our responsibilities away to others, it is time to take it back. If mothers are prepared to give up their second career so as to become a stay-home mum, fathers ought to give up their extra-curricular activities in order to be available to be a father for their children.

For some of us, it will be really hard, and that calls for steep sacrifices. While it is important to provide for our family economically, we need to realize that just like there are many different vitamins and minerals, a balanced nutrition works best. We cannot feed our families only Vitamin M (money!) all the time and expect all the other vitamins to automatically appear. It does not work that way. So fathers, do not complain like the invalid man at the pool of Bethsaida, always complaining that he cannot walk because others always get to the healing waters first (John 5).

Take up your mat of responsibility and walk the call of fatherhood.


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