The scripture board on the wall of my two-and-a-half-year-old son reads:

“Be on your guard, stand firm in faith, be a man of courage, be strong; do everything in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Years ago, long before my son was even an inkling, I came across that verse as I was sending my own father one of many letters I composed over the years to share with him the message and importance of salvation, and the value of life in Christ. My sister, mother, and I came to know the Lord in 1980, but it took another 17 years, seven months, and 26 days worth of praying, heart softening, and brokenness for Dan McEvoy to surrender.

And it wasn’t this letter or the above verse that pushed him into it. No, this letter I was writing simply to tell him how blessed I was to have begun dating a woman (who eventually became my wife) for whom faith came first, and I was giving God all the glory and credit and all that good stuff, and probably telling him how God delights in blessing those who trust in Him.

With the letter I enclosed a quick-and-dirty page of graphic art involving the aforementioned verse from Corinthians in some fancy font, with a clip-art picture of a sailboat, kind of as a visual aid to my letter, indicating, I suppose, what it was like for the man of God to live in this world under the Captaincy of Christ.

Well, so. After he died in 2001, I found that letter and piece of “art” in my father’s desk, looking as if it had been read and glanced at often. Something in me knew then that if I were ever to have a son, I’d commit to raising him to manhood under these same five principles:

Be on your guard. Be ready, be alert. Expect God to be involved, expect Satan to attack. Let the wonder of creation still catch your eye.

Stand firm in faith. Be unmoved because you know intimately that of which you believe in. Become biblically literate.

Be a man of courage. Fear is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7), so go your way boldly. The worst that can happen – even death – still ends in victory and glory for the Christian.

Be strong. Physically, yes, let’s take care of ourselves, and present our bodies as holy. But remember that the Lord is the strength of the strong (Ephesians 6:10), and that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Do everything in love. Here’s your motivation, because he that doesn’t love doesn’t know God (1 John 4:8), and the world shall know you by your love (John 13:35).

So when Jordan was born, and we had the dedication service at our church, that’s the verse we selected to have read. My sister-in-law’s sister-in-law (confusing enough?) had previously painted a scripture board for our niece’s nursery, and graciously consented to create one for us as well. And there it has hung in Jordan’s room for 31 months now. From time to time, I’d mention it to him, and read it aloud.

Two weeks ago, he started reciting it by memory. Well, the first two phrases, anyway. He asks me to read it all the time, and do the arm/hand motions he made up (an arm curl for “strong,” arms crossing heart for “love,” etc.). He has me calling it our “Man-Creed,” which I think is completely awesome. When I get home today, he’s going to smile at me and ask if we can say our Man-Creed, and my heart will swell with fatherly pride.