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David Burchett Christian Blog and Commentary

David Burchett

Author and Speaker

There have been a lot of dire statements over the past few days about the future of Christianity in America. Some have declared that America will be judged harshly by God after the recent events. I am not smart enough or holy enough to know how or why God will judge America. I remember in Genesis when God mercifully offered to withdraw judgement if a handful of righteous people could be found in Sodom.  Abraham started by pleading for the city if fifty righteous people could be found. He eventually asked for mercy if only ten righteous could be found and the Lord agreed. You know the rest of the story. There were not ten righteous people to be found in that city of debauchery. I am pretty sure there is a far bigger number of sincere followers of Jesus in our country than that. So I don’t know how God is going to proceed. Maybe we needed a wake-up call to get off, as one old pastor colorfully called it, “our blessed assurance”.

Others are proclaiming America to be post-Christian and perhaps even celebrating the trend. I wonder if a paraphrase from Mark Twain might not be in order here. “The death of Christianity has been greatly exaggerated”. To be sure the cultural dominance of Christianity has been deeply wounded. That did not happen in the last month. That has been slipping away for years. But that may not be such a bad thing. Christianity always seems to be more effective when playing as an underdog.

My friend Ed Underwood put our current cultural status in wise perspective in his excellent blog.

First Century Christians didn’t think in terms of getting their way in the courts and power centers of the Empire. They thought in terms of survival for another day to serve Jesus in a broken world. As house churches erupted in an affluent but cruel and decadent empire society turned on them with murderous rage. When the message of forgiveness transformed their lives the gospel awakened a radical sense of cultural compassion. Unwilling to participate in unjust power structures and cultic worship of the emperor, believers stood alone and without political shelter. Peter and Paul were martyred under Nero (54-68) and John exiled under Domitian (81-98). To claim the name of Christ in those simple times was to invite vicious, unrelenting persecution.

Nevertheless, they gathered in the name of Jesus and worshiped him by living lives that portrayed the Savior’s message of forgiveness, love, and justice.

And that ragamuffin group of people changed the world by loving and serving selflessly and fearlessly. The early church had no chance to “win” the culture war. Instead they built a community of believers that infiltrated the culture.

To be completely honest I am concerned about our country and it goes way beyond the most current news. But I am not worried about the church and God’s plan. Both will prevail. God said these words to Peter in the Gospel of Matthew.

“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  (Matthew 16:18, ESV)

So I feel pretty confident that the media, the government and the culture will not prevent God from accomplishing His purpose. I have recently been meditating on a verse from Psalm 16.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”  (Psalm 16:1-2, ESV)

I love the fresh take on this passage in The Message.

Keep me safe, O God,
    I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!”
    Without you, nothing makes sense.

That is my meditation for this week.

Be my Lord for without You nothing makes sense.

Nothing has changed in the Sovereignty and Holiness of God in the past month. Nothing. So I am not afraid. If fact, I am excited to see what God will do now that many of us have shifted our focus back to where it should have been all along. On a God who is loving, holy and sovereign and still very much in the business of accomplishing His eternal plan.

Dave Burchett is the author of Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace.

Every dad leaves a legacy. I have learned a few things through trial and many errors about being a dad who is trying to leave a positive legacy. Previous installments (follow the links below) detailed two ways to leave a good legacy:

  1. Love Your Wife
  2. Affirm Your Kids

Today we will examine one more way to establish a positive legacy. And we are adding a very dangerous twist today. I polled my three sons about my strengths and (gasp) shortcomings as their father. Those knee-buckling results were both sobering and encouraging.

First, the third way to leave a positive legacy as a dad.

3.  Enjoy every mile of the journey as you model being a man

The best description I have heard about being a parent is this bit of wisdom:  “Parenting…the days are long and the years are short.”

In his book, Being a Good Dad When You Didn’t Have One, Tim Wesemann gives his readers a two-word piece of advice: “Lighten up!”  He says that adults laugh an average of 15 times a day while children laugh 400 more times. “Sometime between childhood and adulthood, we lose 385 laughs a day! That’s a great loss!” Wesemann says.  “Maybe we need not only the faith of a child but the funny bone of one as well.”

I agree. One of my favorite moments happened on a family trip. Brett is several years younger than his siblings. I was addressing his older brothers’ behavior when I snapped at the boys and said in my best dad voice, “You are acting like children.” Brett was only five, and he thought I was including him in the accusation. He pondered the comment and then said, “But I am a children.” The laughter from the backseat derailed my dad authority and it definitely lightened the moment. The family that can laugh together has a huge advantage in the journey.

The Psalmist wrote these words:  “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Sometimes it is hard to remember what a blessing those little ones are when they are throwing down a tantrum at Target. I encourage parents to enjoy every phase of their children’s journey. And I learned that what your children take away as favorite memories may be surprising. One of the questions I asked my sons was their favorite memories of time with me. I expected that they would remember the big trips we took together or some expensive outing. I was humbled by their responses.

Firstborn son Matt:   “My favorite memories are throwing the baseball/football in the front yard of our Pecan Valley house, going to baseball games and growing up around sports.”

Second born son Scott:   “Playing catch in the backyard for hours on end, even when your knees hurt.  Going to cut down Christmas Trees every November and stopping at the Dairy Queen on the way home.”

Youngest son Brett:   “You coaching my sports teams and going to cut down the Christmas tree.”

Silhouette of Father and Young Child Playing Baseball OUtside

It was the little things that counted for them. The memories that really mattered to them were things that cost me only time. Each one of the boys felt valued when they felt I had sacrificed or made a special effort to spend time with them. I thought the big things mattered the most but I was wrong.

Model what you are teaching. Here is a powerful quote from Clarence Budington Kelland:  “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and he let me watch him do it.” Wow. I have seen that prove out in my own life. I can tell you exactly what my father modeled for me, but I would have a hard time remembering any of his lectures. I believe that is an overlooked component of the wisdom expressed in Proverbs:  “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” That training should include being a role model and then the verbal training will sink in. Being an authentic role model makes the message effective.

You are a role model for your children, like it or not. Your children will, to one degree or another, model their lives after you. You have inherited some of your father’s characteristics and your children are inheriting some of yours.

Brett wrote in his responses,  “you are my biggest influence for everything.”  Scary. Whether you know it or not (or mean to or not), you are influencing the lives of your children and your children’s children.

You are a role model and every dad needs to reflect on that responsibility.

When I asked my boys what I had taught them, this is what I read:From Scott:  “You taught me to love the Lord and trust Him with my life.  Your spiritual growth over the past decade has inspired me and taught me a lot about how to grow in the Lord. You taught me to be loyal and hard working in everything I’m involved with, and most importantly, to never give up.  Burchett’s aren’t quitters, even if they want to be sometimes.”

From Brett:  “You taught me how to be a strong Christian man and how to play sports.”

From Matt:  “Never quit something you started. Work hard. Do everything with excellence. Treat everybody with respect and genuine kindness.”

Before you think that I am some really great Dad, let’s return to the third question I asked the boys: what they wish I had done differently. Their responses were consistent and they saddened me. I share this in the hope that young dads will take this to heart.

Matt:    “I wish you could have been home more.”
Scott:  “I wish you could have been home more.”
Brett:   “I wish you could have been home more.”

That still makes my heart hurt. That is what I wish I had done differently. I wish I would have been home more. I cannot change the past. God is gracious and loving. My relationship with all of my boys is wonderful despite my misplaced priorities at times. Love does cover a multitude of sins. My sons know they are loved. They know they have my approval and respect. I am blessed by them.

Dave Burchett is the author of Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace.

This week I am doing a brief series on leaving a legacy as an earthly father. Every dad leaves a legacy. The only question is what kind. The first step to leaving a positive legacy is to love your wife. For some readers that already has not worked out. That does not mean that you cannot leave a positive legacy. There are many ways to redeem the father/child relationship. The second part of leaving a legacy that endures is to be an encouragement to your kids. Paul wrote this simple instruction to the church at Colossae.

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21, NIV)

The Message translates this verse  like this….

Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.

I cannot remember hearing a lot of teaching on that verse over the years. It is really easy in this success mad culture to discourage your children. Nearly every dad wants his child to be successful. What is wrong with that desire? There is nothing wrong with that if we balance that desire with love, encouragement, and awareness of your child’s unique design. Sometimes we forget the journey we have traveled in our own lives. Frank Clark said that “a father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be.” Ouch.

I came into this whole dad thing wanting a star athlete. But I had forgotten one little detail. Where did I expect they would dig up those genes to be an All-American quarterback or college basketball star? I deepened my gene pool considerably when I married Joni but she can only contribute so much.

What I got were three guys ranging from average to very good athletic ability. What God gave me was three godly men of integrity. Men that are kind and loving. I have been blessed more by their character and wisdom than I could have possibly have been blessed by awards and trophies.

The dad factor may be more critical than we ever realized. Christian author/speaker Josh McDowell commissioned a study that involved 2,000 children ages 12 to 17, and 1,000 parents. The study revealed that children raised in a SINGLE PARENT home were 30% MORE LIKELY than the national average to be involved in drugs, alcohol, and violence. I can almost hear some of you saying, “That’s no surprise. I’ve always felt that divorce was the major cause of youth violence. I’m glad WE have two parents raising our children.”

Read on.

Adolescents raised in TWO PARENT families in which the father had a poor to fair relationship with his children were 68% MORE LIKELY than the national average to have problems with drugs, alcohol, and violence! That floored me. Two parents in the home are no defense against the problems we’re discussing unless the father is close to his children. If he is not, his children are at more than twice the risk of children raised in single parent homes.

Teenagers raised in two parent families in which the father had a good to excellent relationship with his children were 96% LESS LIKELY than the national average to become involved with drugs, alcohol, and violence.

These statistics show us that many of the things that we have assumed would protect our children will not necessarily do so. You can raise your children in a two parent family in a “good” neighborhood, send them to a “good” school, and even take them to church. But if there is a lack of emotional attachment, if there is no loving bond between the children and their parents, particularly the father, children of every background are at some risk.

I am not talking about being a perfect father. These kids (and even many of us) are simply looking for the affirmation and blessing of our earthly fathers.

When Scripture says that God is our Father, it is telling us that these needs can be met by Him. This is where our role as Christian dads becomes so important. There are no perfect earthly dads. But it is critical that we understand the impact that we have on our child’s relationship with God. Some may find it hard to get excited about the scriptural descriptions of God as a father because of the imperfect models of fatherhood they have experienced here on earth.

Some remember a father who was too wrapped up in his job, his buddies, and his hobbies to provide much support or affirmation. He might have been one of those men who believed that their only job was to bring home a paycheck, while Mom was responsible for everything else. Others might recall a dad that was demanding, cold, and unapproachable. Children can tend to transpose their father experience when they think of God as Father.

I have talked to many men my age who are still desperate for the approval of their fathers. And I know that is true for women as well. Jim Valvano, the now deceased coach, said “My father gave me the greatest gift that anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”

Yesterday I noted that I had asked my sons to critique my performance as a dad…both good and bad. Here is one comment from eldest son Matt.

The biggest lesson you taught me was to believe in my ability to accomplish things I never thought possible.  From the kid who got C’s in 8th grade math to going to graduate school at a great university. I could never have accomplished this without parents, and a father, that believed in me.

Don’t EXPECT your children to be perfect. Don’t expect them to meet all of your expectations…to fulfill all of your goals for them…to be what you want them to be. Be grateful for who God made your kids to be. Too many fathers try to live out their own lives through their children. Every child is different. They are not a clone of you (Thank God!).

My son Scott wrote about something that he wished I had done differently.

I wish that you would have made more of an effort to understand me and my personality at an earlier age.  I think Mom did a good job at this, but that might have just been because I opened up to her more.

This is a great example of how husbands and wives are a team. Joni told me that I needed to spend more time with Scott. She sensed what I did not. She made me mad, hurt my feelings and made me feel like a bad dad. And thank God she did that. I became intentional about coaching Scott’s teams and being with him. It still took a few years for us to really understand one another but I believe Joni’s loving intervention saved our relationship. Today our relationship is awesome. Who knows what would have happened if my bride had not challenged me about that shortcoming in my relating to Scott.

Father’s Day might be a great time to give a gift back to your children. You can give the gift of forgiveness. Or you can ask for forgiveness.

Remember that all children want the approval of their fathers. If you have not done so, I encourage you to give the gift of approval this Father’s Day. Give your children the gift of believing in them. Step 2 to leaving a positive legacy as a Dad is simple but powerful. Encourage your children and believe in them.

Dave Burchett is the author of Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace.