"I love being a dad," Pastor Brad began. "I've always loved being a dad. I love the nursery. I love playpens and I love toys. I love stories and stuffed animals. And I love chairs like this one," he said, nodding to the central prop for today's message. "And I need to tell you upfront that anything I say here comes from a struggling, imperfect father. And anything of value I say here comes directly from the wisdom of Scripture."
The message focused on three things that happen in the chair.
1) Fears get expressed in the chair.
Becoming a parent causes all kinds of fears to emerge. Can I actually do this? Am I ready for this? What if the baby's not healthy? Can I afford this?
There are real costs associated with raising children. One survey indicated that 40% of all parents said, "If we had known then what we know now, we would not have started."
It's important to know the stakes of parenting. It's not like bringing home a puppy where if things don't work out you can send it to a farm in Iowa.
Parenting forces you to be honest with yourself, with others and with God. It's a mix of excitement and anxiety, and ultimately forces you to say, "God, I need your help."
God's answer is found in Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Fears can overwhelm. Peace comes when Christ displaces fear.
2) Dreams also get expressed in chairs like this.
What will he be like? What will she become? These are thoughts all parents share.
Brad stressed that we want to be careful, though, about imposing our dreams on our children. They need to dream their own dreams, and not be forced to live out ours. Help your kids discover who they want to be.
Ultimately, it is character that counts though. Success is not in what they do, but in who they are becoming. "I share my dreams for my kids in this chair," he said. "I don't really care what they do with their lives. I want them to love God. I want them to do well in school and I'd love for them to be honor students, but what's going to make me the most proud is that they honor God. And that they love people the way Jesus loves people."
3) Nurturing takes place in this chair.
You have to be in the chair for nurturing to take place. And when it comes to giving guidance, you ave to be home for that to happen.
One problem today is that the American Dream has become a nightmare. We have houses, but do we have homes?
Brad mentioned the role of discipline in helping children grow. You need to discipline while they are young enough to learn.
Our focus should be on positives though, not negatives. And it should be a rule of conduct for all that we treat one another with respect inside the home.
At some point your kids will be on their own and you have to let them go, but you never stop being a parent, being there to guide them through the next stage.
As Brad neared the close of his message these are words a father or mother might have fo son or daughter. "I gave you life, but I can't live it for you. I can teach you things, but I can't make you learn. I can give you direction, but I can't always be there to lesd you. I can take you to church, but I can't make you believe. I can teach you right from wrong, but I can't always decide for you. I can teach you to share, but I can't make you unselfish. I can advise you on friends, but I can't choose them for you. I can pray for you, but I can't make you walk with God. I can teach you how to live, but I can't give you eternal life."
Kids have free choise. You can't do it for them. Ultimately, you have to give them to God, and pray. We say our prayers in chairs like that.
Brad says that as he's sat in that chair and prayed for God to show him how to be a good dad, it always comes back to Micah 8:6... to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. It's an adventure that begins in the nursery.