the genesis of this challenge was a couple of things: first, luke 2:52 says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. second, men's fraternity challenged men to take serious the observance of specific rites of passage for our sons.
so, today, josh, me, my dad, two of his uncles and his youth pastor celebrated my son becoming a teenager and a young man. we went to fire of brazil, and enjoyed a man's meal, and then spent time giving him symbolic and significant gifts. along with the gifts, were words of wisdom, love and a challenge given by each man.
gotta say this...i was BLOWN away by what God laid on these guys hearts to share. i won't share all of the details here, only a few highlights.
thad (uncle) - talked about how a knife is a tool and also a weapon. he then gave my son his favorite knife that his grandfather had given him. he talked about how our tongue is a lot like the knife - it can be a tool or a weapon! powerful truth my friends!
jason (uncle) - talked about digging deep, holding our ground and standing our ground as followers of Christ. he challenged my son to never give in or give up - he told him to dig deep into God. he then gave josh a cool camp shovel as a symbol of digging deep.
sergio (youth pastor) - gave josh a lock and talked about how a lock provides protection and security. he then challenged josh to protect the anointing, purity, passion and Godliness that he had - powerful!
papaw (josh's grandfather) - took several moments to explain what a prayer shawl is and then gave my son a prayer shawl and a book that explains how to use it in our prayer life. papaw then gave josh his great-grandmother's family bible! this blew me away! this was the family bible that was used for family devotions early in my dad's life - priceless!
finally, i gave my son a bible (an "every man's bible" - from the Every Man series) and challenged my son to stand on this truth. i told him that although he was not yet a man, he is becoming one and that he's growing into a young man, the truth is the rest of the men at the table today weren't fully grown men either - that we are all growing into our relationship with Christ, changing daily, becoming more like him. i told him that we welcome him into this band of brothers, this fraternity of men, that we open our lives to him and welcome him as one of us. but i also told him that although we may and will fail him, the Word of God will never fail him.
he thought that was the end of the ceremony, then i asked him to turn around and face away from me...i then pulled out a sword that i wanted to give him as a visual reminder to trust the sword of the spirit, the word of God. his face reflected utter shock and disbelief - it was cool.
my final thoughts:
- this is a day he will always remember - i know this because he's told me at least 3 or 4 times
- i validated him as a young man and a young man growing in Christ
- i told him i understood that he's still a teenager and we are in no way going to short change that experience of his life
- guarding your tongue, digging deep, protecting your life/eyes/heart/mind/body, prayer, the Word - what more can you challenge a man with (that's not really a question - everything God wanted said today was)
- finally, it's so cool to see how God orchestrated this entire day, all of the words and the powerful impact it made on my son