I was asked for a “Top 10” list from someone in our Bible study who didn’t know my dad so I gave her a “Top 1” list with a few numbered additions. Would love comments with additional scriptures, bullet points, etc
#1: Be a man or woman of the Word.
One of his favorite verses was Psalm 119:97 “Oh how I love Thy Law! It is my meditation all the day.” Those were not just pretty words to him, but a way of life. He constantly reminded people of the need to apply God’s Word to their lives by reading it (Deuteronomy 17:19), meditating on it (Joshua 1:5, Psalm 1), studying it (2 Timothy 2:15), telling others about it (2 Timothy 4:2), and helping others learn to study it (2 Timothy 2:2). He had a deep and genuine love for the Words of his Savior, and it showed in how he treated everyone around him, made decisions, etc.
#2: Let God’s Word affect your decision making process.
Romans 4:3 says “what does the scripture say?” This was his standard way of seeking to answer questions and make decisions.
#3: Be affectionate, and not afraid of showing emotion.
Far from being a hyper-emotional basket case, Dad was the toughest man I’ve ever known…and I’ve been around and worked closely with some extremely tough men. It’s interesting that biblical tough guys showed emotion as well. David was a celebrated giant killer (1 Samuel 17:50) and had a very Greek hero like persona due to his battlefield exploits to the point that when he returned from battle the women were known to sing that “David has slain his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Although the fact that it’s put into song points to the conclusion that he may not have literally had that many “confirmed kills”, he was no doubt a great leader and a tough warrior who had killed many, many enemies. However, he was known to be VERY emotional! (see 1 Samuel 20:41, 30:4, 2 Samuel 12:22, 13:36, 18:33…)
Jesus was also an extremely tough, imposing figure. He single handedly drove the merchants out of the temple (Matthew 21:12-13), and “set [His] face like a flint” in order to “endure the cross” (Isaiah 50:6, Hebrews 12:2). However, He too showed emotion in public (John 11:35).
Dad was a great example of a tough guy with a capacity for emotion. The notion that “crying” is always a sign of weakness in men is utter nonsense perpetrated by men who are not secure in their manhood.
#4: Love the Creation.
“the invisible things of Him from the Creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…” (Romans 1:20). We might paraphrase this to say that “the attributes of God can be clearly observed by looking at the things that He has created.” Dad LOVED being outside, and took every opportunity to smell flowers, point out songbirds and insects, etc. I also don’t think I ever saw him walk outside on a clear, starry night without looking up and quoting from Psalm 8, Psalm 19, or some other passage which extolled the “eternal power and Godhead” by observing “the heavens.” Obviously, his adoration was not directed toward the created things themselves, but appropriately, toward the God Who made them.
#5: Get up early.
O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek thee…” Psalm 63:1 was a verse that dad lived by. He was up at 4:00am every day to seek the Lord through Bible reading, meditation and study on the Word of God, and prayer.
#6: Be together as a family as much as possible.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says “and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children…”, and dad ensured that we gathered up every night to sing, and read God’s Word. Also, whenever we got older and busier, dad would say “I’d like to stay in as large a groups as possible.” He steered us toward activities that we could maximize our time together. His way of thinking was that he’d rather his children be influenced by a man seeking God (Dad!) than by others outside the home who weren’t necessarily doing that.
#7: Use a “rod” for disciplining kids.
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15 Dad was a believer in corporal punishment and had many, many scriptures to support his actions. Though it’s wildly politically incorrect these days to lay a finger of discipline upon a child, that aversion is not in line with God’s Word. Some parents say that they “love them too much” to do that, yet the bible says that “he that spares the rod hates his son, but he that loves his son with discipline him early.”(Proverbs 13:24) Over and over again in Proverbs it says that an indicator of a “fool” is a person who will not heed instruction, while a “wise” person does. Proverbs 23:14 says to “beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” That’s strong language by today’s standards, but Dad believed that it was a definite endorsement of spanking, and that “driving foolishness far from him” causing him to listen to his earthly father, would make it more like that they would eventually heed the Word of their Heavenly Father (1 John 3:23) and put their faith in Christ. It workedJ Also, he kept a list on the refrigerator of “spankable offenses” which went something like:
Rebellion – 1 Samuel 15:23
Lying –Proverbs 12:22
Disobedience- Ephesians 6:1
#8: See every person as a “soul for whom Christ died.”
Acts 17:26-27 says that God created “of one blood, all men…that they should seek the Lord.” Dad was constantly reminding us that the prejudices that we sometimes saw or heard about growing up in the deep south were not of God, and indeed, were satanic. To say that all men are not equal when God has decreed that they are, is pure blasphemy. Also, if has Christ died for the “sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2), how can I look down upon anyone? He constantly reminded us of that. Also in Revelation 5 it talks about the multitude of saints around the throne from “every tribe, tongue, people, and nation” saying “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!… for Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy Blood!”
Since heaven is multicultural, we might as well go ahead and practice getting along down here!
In my own life, this view of mankind has led to countless opportunities to give the Gospel. For instance, in Iraq I often had breakfast with two African American officers from another unit due to the fact that our schedules co-incided, and we quickly became friends. They were both from the Chicago area, and when that they found out that I was a born and raised Mississippi kid that grew up in the swamp, they asked how I had overcome racial culture of the south to the point that I could be best friends with them. Now being that they’d never come that far south, I’m sure that what they thought, and actual reality did not line up exactly. However, I was able to give them the Gospel starting in Acts 17. (This happened a lot actually)
When a person views other souls like the Lord Jesus does, they are much more likely to be quick to share their faith like Philip did in Acts 8.
#9: “Leave peaceably with all men.”(Rom12:18)
Dad could put up with anything. Sometimes us boys would tell what drastic measures we’d take if we were in his shoes and he’d just say something like “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you; live peaceably with all men”…I’d rather be a little inconvenienced and keep a good relationship than start a blood feud with a neighbor.” He was never weak or naïve, he could just put up with a lot, and it was a great example to me.
#10: Be a man.
In 2 Kings 2:2 King David told his son Solomon to“…Be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses…”. Here was a warrior, a tough guy, who was in essence saying that to be a “real man”, you need to be obedient to God’s Word. In our culture, especially, it seems, in the rural south, the concept of true manhood is distorted to an almost satanic degree. To many people, how big a buck you kill, how hard you can throw a punch, how little “crap” you take from anyone, how many outlandish things you can do to burnish your notoriety throughout the countryside, etc are marks of real man. However, God’s Word says that the true indicator of a “real man” is his obedience to God. Even when speaking of the angels it mentions their great strength, but then says that they “do His commandments and hearken unto His Word.”
Dad always said that obedience to God was the true measure of a man, not exploits or anything else…and he had the authority of God’s Word to back him up on that.