Affectionate Pursuit (2 of 3) | Devotions with Dad

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Affectionate Pursuit (2 of 3)

For DAD Only:

Heart Chase

“I’ll disown you!  I will disinherit you!  Don’t you dare leave dirty socks on the bathroom floor again!”  Don’t we men often get a little excessive in our zeal?  We want our kids to be perfect.  We want them to have every advantage we missed.  We want them to avoid every mistake we made.  So we drive them far away from everything we hold dear:

“This is my house—I’ll make the rules—If you want to eat at my table you’ll go to church like it or not and you’re going to love Jesus, you hear?—And you’ll memorize your whole Bible and you won’t sneak off anywhere with your friends to try any of the stuff I did when I was a kid because I’m in charge around here! AndifanyonethinkstheyknowbetterthanIdothey’vegotanotherthinkcomingbecauseI’myourDAD!”

What an impact on the kids!  Are they stunned? Yes.  Motivated? No.  Our kids won’t adopt our morals just because we scream about them.  In fact, the things we force the hardest in their youth will become some of the first things they will discard later in their teens.

As fathers who live in a wicked world, we can become panic stricken about the condition of our children.  We don’t want to see them do THAT.  But conveying that conviction takes more than mere concern.

Let’s zoom out of our own little homes and pathetic world and look at this from God’s view.  These things concern Him, too.  So, look at Him:  Jesus didn’t get red in the face, screaming, “You’d better shape up or I’m leaving!  If you don’t clean up your act, I’ll give you eternal acne!  And I will ground you inside the church for a whole month if you don’t change your attitude! BecauseI’minchargehereandyoudon’twantMetogetangrydoyou?”

Last week we saw the Master picking up children and hugging them.  What does He know that we often miss?  A person’s behavior works through his heart, not his head.

When I try to control my children’s actions, I only create robots, drones, hypocrites.  I must reach their hearts if morality will last.  You are doing this Dad series: to win your child’s heart.

Motives, desires, and habits live within the heart.  Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19).  Our heavenly Father doesn’t need to convict our heads—He convicts our hearts.

Jesus impacted multitudes during His earthly ministry by befriending them (Matthew 11:19; Luke 15:1; John 15:15).  The religious leaders of His day had approached people’s heads, but Jesus won their hearts.  Effective fathers do so with their children.

Ask yourself:

Am I winning my children’s hearts?

Do they obey because they love me?

Or do they obey out of fear?

Have I threatened them into good behavior?

Or have I inspired them to godly living?

Sharpen your dad-kid bonding ability with these five heart winning techniques:

Spend time with your child. Take a break from all the “important” stuff, sit down, and do a project together.  Read a book, make paper airplanes, or walk the dog together.  Let him be with you long enough to see your values in action.

Buy him surprise gifts on occasion. This means more to some kids than others, and you certainly don’t want to create a greedy child.  Do this when your child least expects it and don’t ever use it as a way to ease your conscience for not being home enough.

Compliment him. None of this paper-thin “atta boy” stuff.  Real, meaty bragging about what he has done right.  Praise the child for trying something new.  Cheer for the kid who learns cooperation and teamwork.  Get vocal about a kid who does something without being told.

Hug your child. Let your children feel your touch in a loving way.  Give piggyback and horsey-back rides.  Lavish hi-fives, butterfly kisses, bear hugs, and snuggle time.  Just a good-night kiss doesn’t satisfy most children’s need for human contact.

Do something for your child. Build him a bookshelf, help rearrange his bedroom, or make his favorite breakfast.  Let him see that you think he is the most important person in the world.

Implementing those revolutionary practices (which Jesus modeled with His “children”), you will find a drastic change in your kids’ ratio of obedience to the “I didn’t hear you” mode.  Show me a child that feels like his dad’s best friend and I’ll show you a child who does what he’s told without rolling his eyes.

Children want to feel valuable.  Test this.  Once you win your child’s heart, the rest of the battle becomes strategy, not bloodshed.



Dad, read this story with your kids:

Searching for Puppy

Rusty and Misty’s new dog liked his new home and his new family.  Rusty just knew Wiggles would live with them forever since no one had called on the “Found Stray Dog” ad they had put in the newspaper.  That’s why he was so shocked the morning he let the dog out the back door and couldn’t find him a couple minutes later.

Rusty put on his crinkly blue coat with the soft insides and went out to look.  “Wiggles?  Where are you?” he called.  He looked all around the back porch and along the side of the house.  “Wiggles!”  He searched under the deck and behind the barbeque grill under the gray tarp.  “Wiggles!”

Rusty walked back inside and asked his mom, “Have you seen Wiggles?”

“I thought he was with you, Rusty.”

“Well, I let him outside to use the bathroom, and now I can’t find him.”

Misty spoke up, “He’s probably just hiding.  I’ll get my shoes and coat and help you find him.  Mom, we’re going outside to look for Wiggles… okay?”

“If you don’t find him in the yard,” Mom said from the kitchen, “then let me know and I’ll help you.”

“Okay,” they answered as they hurried outside.  Rusty looked all around where he had looked before.

“Is he in the garage, Rusty?” his sister asked.

“No, the door’s closed.  He couldn’t be in there.”  Rusty’s eyebrows went up with a new idea.  “But I didn’t check over by the trash cans…”

The two of them ran over and looked around the trash containers behind the garage.  “Wiggles?” they said often as they moved things around.

“Maybe he’s in front of the house,” Misty suggested after a minute.

“He’s never gone out there before… but let’s look.”

They ran out front.  “Wiggles?”  They looked around the shrubs and front steps.  Rusty looked down the road.  “Wiggles!” he yelled, “Wiggles?”  But nothing wiggled.

Misty began to get tears in her eyes.  “Do you think he went out in the street and got hit by a car?”

“I don’t see him anywhere… I don’t think he would do that,” Rusty said, trying to calm her fears.  “Let’s go get mom.”

They stomped back inside, talking at the top of their voices about not finding their new friend anywhere.  “We’ve got to go look for him, mom, please?” Misty begged.

“Sure, kids.  Help me find my coat and scarf,” she said as she zipped up her boots.  They found her stuff and soon they all piled out the door to find their new little dog.

“Wiggles!” Rusty yelled, hoping to see the waggling little pooch come running around the corner.

“What about in the parking lot?” Mom asked, looking over at the cars clustered in front of the little grocery store.

“Let’s look there!” Misty said, grabbing her mother’s hand.  The three of them hurried across the lawn, stepped over the curb, and started looking around the parking lot.  Rusty bent over and peeked under several cars while calling, “Wiggles!”

They asked a few customers if they had a seen a dog in the lot, but everyone said they had not.  So, they decided to walk down the edge of the street in front of their house.  “Wiggles!  Wiggles!”  But they didn’t see him anywhere.

“Can we ask at the Dawson’s house?” Rusty asked as they walked by it.

“Yes, let’s try there,” Mom said.

Misty knocked on the door.  Mrs. Dawson, with her white hair in pink curlers, answered it with a smile, “Hello, neighbors.  May I help you?”

“The kids lost their dog,” Mom told her, “and we were wondering if you had seen him anywhere.”

“No, youngins, I’m sorry,” she said with a shake of her head.

“Well, we’re sorry to bother you,” Mom said.

Mrs. Dawson winked at Misty and Rusty and said, “If I do see a little dog, I will tell him to go straight home.”

“Thank you!” they said as she closed the door.

Rusty, Misty, and Mom strolled slowly back into their yard.  “Where could he be?” Misty sniffed.

Rusty turned his head a little, “Hey, did you hear that?”

“What?” Mom asked.

“I thought I heard something,” Rusty said.  “Wiggles?”

They listened.  A faint squeal carried across the yard.  “Hear that?” Rusty said, with his eyebrows pushing up like little elevators.

“That’s just the neighbor’s gate squeaking in the wind,” Misty said.  They all glanced over at the neighbor’s gate which was closed and latched tight.

“I think we did hear something, Rusty, call him again,” Mom said.


This time they were sure they heard a faint whimpering sound.

“I think he’s under the deck,” Misty exclaimed as she ran to the back of the house.

Rusty followed close behind her, but when they found nothing under the deck, he said, “We never looked on the other side of the garage.”

Mom and Misty followed Rusty as he walked around the side of the garage where bushes and a couple trees grew.

“Wiggles?” he said.

They heard, “Wwwwuuuuh, wwwuuuuh…”

“Oh, wiggles!” Rusty shouted.  “There you are.”  But the little dog didn’t move, he just lay on the ground.

“What’s wrong with him?” Misty asked.

“Is he hurt?” Mom asked.

Rusty knelt down beside his pet.  “Wiggles?  What’s the matter?”  Wiggles wagged his tail slowly, swish, swish, swish in the leaves.  Rusty tried to pick the dog up, but he couldn’t… he tugged and tugged.  “Mom, he’s stuck to the ground!”

Mom knelt down beside him.  “Wiggles, what’s the matter, boy?”  She looked under his neck and said, “Rusty, look, his collar is hooked on this tree root.”

“What?… Oh!”  Rusty unbuckled the dog’s collar and slipped it off.  Wiggles jumped up and started running in circles around his family.  He wagged and wiggled, prancing and dancing for happiness.  Misty picked him up and hugged him, “Oh, you’re alive!  I’m so glad to see you again, Wiggles.  I love you!”

Rusty petted the dog in his sister’s arms.  “I’m so glad you’re back, Wiggles!  We need to celebrate!  Mom, can we go do something for him?”

Mom laughed.  “Like what, Rusty?  We can’t take him to out to eat or anything.”

“Oh, I don’t know.  We could go buy him a present or something.”  Just then, Dad pulled his little truck into the garage.  “Dad!  Dad!” Rusty called as he ran over to see him.  “We found Wiggles.”

“I didn’t know we lost him,” Dad replied.  Rusty began explaining to him how Wiggles disappeared, the places they had looked, and where they finally found their little pet.  When he had finished the story, with help from Misty and Mom, Dad said, “Well, I think we need to do something to celebrate!”

“Yes!” Rusty said, his smile hiding his eyes.  “Let’s go eat!”

“Actually, I was thinking we should go celebrate at a place where Wiggles can come with us.”

“Where?” Misty asked.

“At Pet World,” Dad said.  “We need to get Wiggles a leash and maybe a chew toy.  It’s been a week now and no one has called to claim him.  If we are going to keep Wiggles as our pet, we better get him some nice stuff.”

“All right!” Rusty said.

In a few minutes, the whole family had piled into the minivan and were headed to the store.  On the way, the cell phone rang.  Mom answered it.  “Oh, yes… yes we did…  Uh-huh…  Well, kind of… Okay, if you are sure…  And where do you live?  Okay, let me talk to my husband and we will see what we can do.  Okay, I’ll call you right back.”

After she closed the phone, Dad asked, “Who was that?”

Mom sighed and said, “It’s a guy who saw our newspaper ad and says we have his dog.”

Find out what happens next time.


Why did Rusty and Misty look so hard for their dog?

Because they loved him.

How do you think the dog felt?

Do you think God feels about us the way Rusty & Misty felt about their dog?

How does God come looking for us?

When we feel Him at church, in prayer time, or children’s church.

Let’s read I John 4:19.  What does this tell us about God’s love and our love for Him?

Just like Wiggles loved Rusty and Misty because they showed him love, we also love God because He shows us love by meeting our needs and giving us a good life.


Print off the free coloring picture at




Read the following scripture with the family:

Sheep Search

Luke 15:1-10

The Story of the Lost Sheep

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

The Story of the Lost Coin

“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

(The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson)


What do these parables tell us about God’s love for us?

Usually, we apply these stories to God seeking after unsaved people.  What does it really say?

How does this apply to our lives?  How do we wander away?  How does God seek after us?

Let’s read Jeremiah 31:3.  What does this mean to each of us?

Let each family member share the impact this has on their lives, to know that God loves them with a love that will never die.

In Romans 8:37-39, what do we learn about God’s love?


Memory Verse:

I John 4:19

We love him,

because he first loved us.

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