Issues vs. Identities
You catch your kid hiding a candy bar behind his back, trying to sneak past you in the checkout line. The dirty little rascal, you think. Over my dead body, will I raise a criminal. You won’t be shamed by him. You are going to stop this before he lands behind bars. You wrest the treat from his paws and stick it back on the shelf.
When you meet up with your wife, you want her to be warned, so you say, “This kid is a thief!”
“He tried swiping a candy bar from the checkout aisle.”
Johnny hides those thievin’ eyes.
“Of all things,” you say, “I didn’t know my kid was a shoplifter.”
Indelible impressions. Okay, you probably wouldn’t be that heavy handed in dealing with your child. But some dads are. In a moment of irritation we can say damaging words. We must learn to separate our child’s behavior from his identity. Just because he sins doesn’t mean we must permanently mark him with his crime.
Saying, “You’re a criminal!” destroys a child’s self image. How much smarter the father who says, “You tried to steal? That’s not like you. You’re not a thief. Now, I am going to punish you because I want you to remember never to act this way again.”
God’s example. If God labeled us according to our crimes, we would all be hopeless. Instead of Mr., Dr., or Rev., we’d all have prefixes longer than a printed page, like “Low Down Lyin’, Cussing, Drunken,… Need I go on?.
Remember that shady character God chose to lead His people? He’s the one who killed someone in anger and then ran from the scene of the crime. God could have permanently remembered Moses as “the murderer.”
Fortunately, God forgives us and helps us establish new identities. After this man’s forty years of leading the Israelites, during which time, he made more mistakes, God remembered him as “Moses, my servant” (Joshua 1:2).
Heroic dads discipline their children, forgive them, and introduce them to the next person as, “Johnny, my buddy.”
Fishing for Faults
The sky was still dark when Dad woke Rusty up.
“What time is it?”
“Time to go fishing.”
Rusty sat up in bed. “All right! Let’s go.”
“Get dressed and bring a jacket. It may be cool out, until the sun comes up.”
While Rusty got ready to go, Dad went to wake up Misty. After Rusty had dressed, he opened his backpack and put in a flashlight, his binoculars, his camera, and an extra pair of socks, because last time he fell in the creek.
Rusty went into the kitchen where Dad was packing a small cooler. “What’s for breakfast?” Rusty asked.
“You can’t be hungry now,” Dad said with a smile. “Breakfast isn’t for three more hours!”
“I feel hungry,” Rusty said.
Dad handed him a granola bar and a banana. “See if that helps stop your tummy from growling.”
“Thank you,” Rusty said as he opened the bar. “Where’s Misty?”
“I think she’s still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Could you go load the gear into the truck while I finish in here?”
In the garage, Rusty got down Dad’s casting rod and carefully set it in the back of the pickup truck. Then he got down his and Misty’s fishing rods and put them next to Dad’s. He got the big green net and tucked it alongside the spare tire. Rusty opened a cabinet door and looked around until he found the orange tackle box. He pulled it out and put it next to the rods.
Dad came out and set the cooler in the back of the truck, too.
Rusty asked, “Do you know where my new tackle is?”
“Should be in the top tray of the box.”
Rusty opened the lid and examined his new treasures, still in their shiny plastic. “These are going to catch some big fish, right, Dad?”
“I hope so.”
“I can’t wait to use them.”
“Well, I’ve got to go get your sister.”
“We should probably just leave her. She’s going to make us late.”
Dad stopped at the door and looked at Rusty. “Why do say that?”
“Remember the time she almost missed Shoshanna’s birthday party?”
“Oh, Rusty. I think she’ll be ready soon.”
“Okay, but I just know how she is.”
Dad shook his head and left the garage.
Rusty went to the bathroom. When he came out, Misty was walking slowly down the hallway, yawning, and carrying a pillow under her arm.
“Are you going to make it?” Rusty asked.
He followed her down the stairs into the garage. Rusty climbed in the middle seat and Misty sat by the door. She buckled herself in, pushed her pillow up against the door, and snuggled her head into it.
Dad joined them and started the truck. Rusty pushed the button on the garage door remote and watched it yawn open. Stars still shone in the dark sky as Dad put the truck in gear and pulled onto the road. Rusty pushed the button and the garage door groaned shut.
Misty fell asleep while Rusty and Dad talked about their plans for a camping trip and the family vacation two months away. Rusty munched on his banana while they drove. Soon, they arrived at the river and parked next to the picnic area.
Rusty followed Dad out of the truck and grabbed the tackle box and fishing poles. Misty stretched and yawned before she asked, “Where are we?”
The skyline had turned a light purple when the three of them walked down to the water’s edge. Misty snacked on her granola bar while Rusty rigged up the fishing poles. He put a bobber, a sinker, and a hook on Misty’s line. Dad put a casting spoon on his. And Rusty opened the package for his new fishing lures. He took one out and put it on his line.
Misty said, “Where are the worms?”
“In here,” Dad said as he reached into the cooler. He pulled out a small white container with a clear lid.
“You put them in with the food?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said with a grin. “I had to keep them cool somehow.”
“Gross!” she said, wrinkling her nose.
“Does that mean you won’t fish with them?” Dad asked playfully.
She shrugged. “I guess we’re going to eat the fish they catch. I just hope there is no dirt in our food.”
Dad helped her get a worm on the hook. She plopped her line in the water near a tree and sat down. “Where’s my pillow?” she asked, stifling a yawn.
Rusty found a big tree nearby and began jigging his new lure in the water, under its branches. After just a few minutes, he had something tug at it. He jerked his line, but it came up empty.
“You had a bite already?” Misty asked.
“Good job, Rusty,” Dad said.
“Can I use one of those lures?” Misty said.
“I don’t know. You might lose it,” Rusty said. “Remember Grandpa’s new lure you lost?”
“I didn’t mean to. I’ll be careful. Please?”
“Huh-uh,” Rusty said. “Remember the last time you borrowed something from me? I let you use my camera and you broke it.”
Suddenly, Misty’s bobber disappeared under water. Dad hurried to her side with the net while she tugged on her line. “Easy,” he said. “Play it in. Bring him in slowly.”
Misty cranked until the fish got close to the shoreline. Dad swooped the net down into the water and scooped up the wiggling, flopping fish.
“We got him!” she shouted. “Look, Rusty, he’s a keeper!”
Dad hooked the fish on a stringer line which he’d clipped around the tree and dropped it back into the water. “Great work, Misty. First catch of the day.”
Rusty cranked in his line and unclipped the new lure he’d been using. He put on a hook, dug out a fat worm, and stuck it on. He clipped on a bobber and dropped his line in the water again.
The skyline shone light blue as Dad helped Misty get another worm on her hook.
Suddenly, Rusty felt a tug on his line. He jerked and the line flew out of the water. Empty. The hook was clean and shiny. “Dad, could I have another worm, please?”
“Well, Rusty, I’m afraid you might waste them. The last one you used got eaten up and we didn’t get a fish. I’m afraid you will do that again.”
“Oh, no ‘buts’ young man. I remember this happening before. In fact, I think it was the twelfth of July, we were fishing in this creek and you let a fish eat a worm then, too.”
Rusty looked at his empty hook. He looked up at Dad. “But I didn’t mean to.”
Dad scowled at Rusty, and then broke into a big smile. “I’m just joking, Rusty. It’s only a worm. I don’t remember what happened last July.”
“But I am serious, too. I’m treating you the way you’ve been treating your sister this morning.”
“What do you mean?”
“You keep reminding her of mistakes she has made.”
“Is that how Jesus treats us, Rusty?”
Rusty thought for a moment. “No.”
“Here, how about a big fat night crawler?”
“All right!” Rusty exclaimed.
“Now, be sure you thread the hook right up the middle of him. Don’t fold him in half or the fish will nibble him off your hook.”
The sun broke bright yellow on the horizon, making the water sparkle and dance as the birds started flitting and chirping around the fishing friends. Within a few hours, they had caught seven fish, and thrown back three that were too small. Rusty had lost one of his new lures and was letting Misty use his other one when Dad announced that they needed to start packing up their gear.
“Can I get some pictures before we leave?” Rusty asked.
“Yes,” Dad agreed.
“Here, Misty, hold up the stringer of fish,” Rusty directed, “and I’ll snap a picture of you and Dad together.” They posed, and Rusty shot. “Now I want a picture of me and Dad together,” he said. “Misty, will you take it for us?”
Misty’s eyebrows went up. “Do you trust me?”
Rusty shrugged. “I think you will be careful.”
“Okay,” she said as she took the camera from him. “Say cheese!”
Have you ever had someone keep reminding you of things you did wrong in the past?
How do we make people feel when we bring up their mistakes?
What does Psalm 101:5 say about those who put other people down?
In the last phrase in our memory verse, what do we learn about charity? Does godly love think evil about people?
Would you rather think about good things or bad things?
How do you know that Rusty learned his lesson in this story?
Who have you talked mean to that you should tell you are sorry?
Record of Rongs
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.
And he saith, Master, say on.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.
And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
When Simon the Pharisee saw this woman, what did he think about her?
He remembered all the bad things she had done.
When Jesus looked at the woman, what did he think of her?
He looked at what a good person she could be with His help. He focused on the things she was doing right.
Do we usually notice people’s strengths or weaknesses? Why?
Role play: Some one visits church, wearing big tattoos and chains. How should people respond? Should they stare? Should they ignore him or her? Ask them to leave?
Someone in your class at church got in trouble. Do you think he wants everyone staring while the teacher talks to him? If you had gotten in trouble like that, would you want your friends telling everyone about what happened?
Go to http://www.devotionswithdad.com/1-19Coloring.pdf and print out as many as you like. Happy coloring!