Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Fatherhood

Finding Peace

As I peek my head around the corner and look down to the end of the dark hallway I’m able to see what made the noise. From the bedroom emerges a little girl. She’s got a blanket in one hand and her favourite stuffy gripped tight to her body with the other. Her hair is dishevelled; a mess that only a sleeping toddler could make.

When she spots me, she shuffles down the hallway with purpose. Without making any eye contact, she presses her body up close against my leg while I finish brushing my teeth. She waits for me and doesn’t move.

Stacey has been out of town on a mom getaway-planning-shopping retreat for the past couple of nights. I’m not sure why this particular child is up at this particular point of the night, but I know we’re all a little zapped from the feeling of just not having mom around.

I finish brushing my teeth and begin the inquisition.

‘Why are you up? Are you scared? Did something happen? Do you need to use the toilet? Are you thirsty? Do you feel sick?’

No answer. No eye contact. Just pressing against me and hugging my leg. No words.

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Wise Words on Fathering

Proverbat_22_6My friend, Kevin Dibbley, wrote an excellent note a couple of weeks ago to a new father. Reflecting on his own experience raising his daughters, Kevin offers some sound advice that rebuked me, encouraged me, and moved me to tears of thankfulness.

If you’re a parent (or know one) you should read this post (or get them to read this post).

Here’s a snippet:

Don’t take yourself so seriously. That may sound like a strange thing to say, especially at a time in our culture when there is a great need for serious parenting, and in particular, diligent and faithful fathering. I am not saying that as a Dad you don’t need to give yourself fully to your calling to love and to lead. What I do mean is that you need to recognize that God is big enough for the road ahead. When Moses was in the midst of his journey leading the nation of Israel, he became overwhelmed by the task. Israel was a tough nation. Moses’ fear, however, was not the dread of seeing how messed up Israel was. He was afraid of seeing his own inadequacies and failures. In fact, at one point, he pleads with the Lord that if the Lord has favour upon him, that He should kill Moses, so that Moses wouldn’t have to look at his own “wretchedness” (Numbers 11:15). You are about to get a life long tour of your own inadequacies. Remember then that God did not put this child in your hands because He wanted you to show how competent you are. He put this child in your hands to show you how great His love and goodness are. Your goal is to point your child to Jesus. You don’t have to be the hero of your child’s story.

Read the full post here: “A Note for Josh at the Birth of Grace.”

A Simple Way to Please Your Father

There are few things that grieve the heart of a parent more than watching the children they love quarrel with each other. When your children are fighting, it doesn’t even really matter (in one sense) who is right and who is wrong. Just the fact that they are quarelling is enough to make the whole situation seem like a loss.

By way of contrast, there is very little that pleases the heart of a parent more than when their children agree with one another and even help one another. Honestly, even if our girls are just nice to each other, it thrills me.

And I know the same is true of God the Father’s heart:

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore. (Psalm 133.1-3)

The heart of our Father longs for his children to get along. And our hearts, like the hearts of little children, long to please our Father. So if we put these things together, we come up with a very simple, practical way for you to please your Father’s heart today.

Are you ready for it?

Be nice to other Christians.

Simple, right? Just be nice. Think nice thoughts about them. Speak nicely to them (including blog posts and comments). Do something nice for one of them. It will bless them, it will give you joy, and you know what? It will even please the heart of your Father who loves you both.

It’s Sexism

As a man who lives with and cherishes his wife and three daughters, there are few things that I find as frustrating as seeing young girls demean their value and objectify themselves by the way they dress. Many of the styles young girls find themselves drawn to these days make me wonder, ‘Why are they wearing anything at all?’

Feminism Divided

Feminism has won the right for women to dress however they want, right? Men have forever been hushed, and trained not to speak about what a woman wears, right? But here’s the thing: A house divided against itself cannot stand. If the goal of feminism was to increase our awareness of the inherent value and dignity of women, but the clothes they choose to wear actually diminish their dignity and value, which side wins? And if we, as men, know that we think differently about inappropriately dressed women, but don’t say something then aren’t we in fact contributing to the diminishing of the display of the dignity and value of women?
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Good News / Bad News

The Numbers

Just recently someone linked to a news article in the Atlantic Wire reporting on a study of teen sexual activity (conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services). Surprisingly, the report suggested that there has been a significant decline in the number of individual teens engaging in the act of sex in their teen years. That’s great news!

Declining Numbers

Here’s something remarkable: In 1988 it is reported that 60% of males in their teens had had sex at least once; as of 2010, that number had dropped to 42%. That’s quite a drop!

A Reflection

My first response was to be quite encouraged by this report. I was also encouraged by the fact that many of the teens who had not had sex cited ‘religion or morals’ as the reason. There is much to be happy about here.

But as I looked at the chart longer, something else jumped out at me. The significant drop in numbers of males having sex in their teen years is not matched by the girls. While there is decline, it’s not nearly keeping up. For the first time now, as of 2010, there are more teenage girls having sex than there are teenage boys. As a father of three girls, that absolutely crushed me to consider.

I suppose this is somewhat to be expected as feminism has become less of a movement and more mainstream culture. After all, movies like Black Swan and Sex and the City seem to be all the rage. As our culture continues to tell our girls that it’s good and helpful and healthy to pursue sexuality ‘without consequences,’ I guess it’s only natural that eventually girls will listen.

The sad truth, however, is that these numbers aren’t movies. They’re not characters who cease to exist after the 1.5 hour romp of fun and exploration. They are people who are being wounded & scarred by these inappropriate sexual experiences that will change their lives (and the lives of their future spouses) forever. It is simply tragic.

Where Are the Fathers?

As I think about the fact that more teenage girls than boys are having sex, one question comes to my mind that I cannot shake: Where are the fathers?

Where are the fathers of these girls who are willing to tell them the truth about the love and intimacy and the intertwining of souls that God intended sex to be for? Where are the fathers who are involved in their daugthers’ lives enough to know who they’re dating and where they are when they are out at night? Where are the fathers who are willing to tell their girls the truth about boys and hormones and selfishness and sin? Where are the men who will protect the daughters God has given them?

I pray that God would give me grace to be the kind of father that my girls need me to be so that they don’t fall prey to the seduction of the world and the lies of consequence-free living and meaning-in-relationships. All of this is a good reminder to me to pray for my girls, beginning now.

Letting My Love Serve Me

This week I’m taking something of a ‘working vacation’ at the family cottage. Last night as I was doing the dishes I was thinking back over the day that was. I got thinking about each of my children and how much I love them. Each of them owns my heart in a very unique way. Each of them has a smile, a laugh, a facial expression, some moment of pure joy on their face that is forever etched on my memory.

There is simply no love quite like a father for his children. There is nothing that makes me feel better than knowing my children are safe, protected, and provided for. And there is nothing that strikes terror into the core of my being like the thought of my children suffering. The thought of any one of my precious girls in pain or sadness makes me instantly recoil emotionally. I get a sick feeling in my gut and I’m instantly overcome with the awareness that I would do anything—anything—to end their suffering and to make them happy again.

I thought about that and I was overwhelmed by awareness of this love that owns me and moves me without me even being consciously aware of it most days.

And then I thought about the heavenly Father and his love. Filled with infinitely more love for his Son—a perfect love for a perfect Son—he willingly chose to ‘give’ him for a world of sinners. He gave him, knowing that he would be mocked, belittled, shamed, abused, scorned, rejected, beaten, stripped naked, and killed: publicly displayed as one bearing the curse of God. That’s a love I know nothing of.

But the love is greater still. Ponder these words, of the Son to the Father:

“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” (Mark 14.36)

My love for my children, being nothing like the heavenly Father’s love, would have been moved to give in, to compromise. But the Father of Jesus has bigger, greater love; his love for Jesus’s glory and for my good is too great to be moved. He was willing to deny his True Son’s request for the good of his soon-to-be adopted sons & daughters. The love of the Father was planned and determined.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief…. (Isaiah 53.10)

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the Lord of hosts. [I will] strike the shepherd….” (Zechariah 13.7; [cf. Mark 14.27])

His love is not just a love that would allow his Son to be sacrificed; his love is a love that would willingly crush his Son. He gave his Son, knowing that he himself would have to give full vent to his holy wrath against his Son on the cross. The Father who loves the Son, crushed the son… for me.

No matter how overwhelming my love for my children may be, it doesn’t hold a candle to my heavenly Father’s love, in scope, in purpose, in depth, in power, or in steadfastness.

I want to make it my prayer that whenever I think of my love for my children, I would let that love serve me by pointing me to the true love of the true Father who, in the gospel, has loved and who continues to love with a greater love than eternity will allow me to explore. Human love serves its best and noblest purpose when it doesn’t end with us, but points us to the one who is love, and who has shown us love in his Son, Jesus.

… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5.8)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3.1)

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