Dear Ben, Brooks, and Eli,
I’ve been thinking about how much harder it is to be a boy today than it once was. Boys were meant to climb trees, dig in the dirt, collect bugs, and conquer unexplored places in the back lot, but today’s parent often feels the pressure to schedule nearly every waking hour of their children’s lives, leaving little time for imaginative play.
In this fast paced world we live in, there are fewer opportunities for children to learn how to spend time alone or play creatively with others. I confess it’s all too easy to respond to cries of boredom by popping in a DVD. But TV, video games, and a sedentary lifestyle cannot give boys the exercise, healthy fun, and preparation for manhood that is found in “exploring new lands and digging for gold”. I am reminded that we must fight against a world that attempts to eliminate all the noise and rowdiness out of our sons and grandsons, punishing them when they are simply acting the way God designed them.
Of course there is a good and necessary place for discipline and without it you will miss the wonderful things God wants to do in and with your life. The Bible is full of warnings about following the way of the fool. As you read the book of Proverbs you will see that both wisdom and folly are calling out to you, and the way that you choose will be a matter of life and death. My prayer is that you will choose life.
To that end, I pray that you will gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of your own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ; Philippians 3:8-10.
Men who are in Christ understand that they are undeserving recipients of God’s mercy who need reminders of the gospel every single day. Here are some of the marks that characterize their lives, which I pray will be true of your life:
Gospel centered men have a deep hunger and thirst for God’s Word. They look to the Bible to remember God’s great mercy to undeserving sinners and to learn wisdom for living a life that honors Christ. As you grow in your knowledge and love for God, the Spirit will direct your lives whether you remain single or get married for the glory of God.
Gospel centered men strive for a heart that is wholly devoted to Christ. Undivided devotion is marked by purity of mind and body and a desire to guard your heart. The world will not make this easy, tempting you with many things that appeal to your flesh. But the Good News is that, through Christ, you have been given power to say no to sin and walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord. God has many blessings for those who follow the path of wisdom.
Gospel centered men guard themselves from the foolish woman and when they seek a mate they look for someone who loves Christ more than anything else. When it comes time for you to get serious about marriage, look for a woman who delights in being who God made her to be, a helpmate and life giver. Pray for a believer who is secure in her identity in Christ, one who is so amazed by the grace given to her that she lavishes it freely upon others. Run hard after a woman who seeks wisdom from God’s Word rather than the world. When a man and woman join together in marriage for the glory of God, they have the privilege of displaying the covenant relationship between Christ and His church to the watching world.
Be assured there is no perfect woman just as you will not be the perfect husband. You will marry a sinner just like you but that’s okay because our perfection lies in Christ. When you remember that your salvation is possible only by God’s mercy and grace, you will be able to extend ongoing forgiveness when your mate lets you down.
While some of these things may seem far away, the truth is, you are already becoming the men you will one day be. So run, jump, build, climb, dream, and discover who God made you to be. Listen to the wisdom of your parents and practice obedience for this honors God (Ephesians 6:1-2). Become a student of your dad, uncles, and grandfathers, who continually strive to be the men God created them to be. And as you grow, seek out other godly men who can disciple you as well.
One day, much sooner than you think, you will no longer be boys but men, and it will be up to you to pass the baton of faith onto the next generation. While I don’t know what life will look like then, as long as the Lord gives me breath, you will have a praying grandma. Every day, lifting you to the throne of grace, I ask God to grip your lives with the amazing truths of the gospel, raising you up to be strong and courageous men, mighty warriors for His kingdom.