“What was the highlight of 2016 for you?” our Christmas party host asked around the dinner table. Beryl and I had the same responses, “First, the birth of 5th granddaughter, Gemma. Very close after that…the Cubs winning the World Series!!”
“Really?” some asked. “A sports event was a highlight?” Clearly, they were not aware of the cosmic significance of the event. At least not of its impact on the Glass clan. Why did this rank as a highlight of the year? Because it was of far more significance than just another sports event. For these three reasons:Read More
If you’ve read many of my posts in the past there’s a good chance you’ve seen me quote an African proverb I learned from a Kenyan pastor: “The boys in the village must be initiated into manhood, or they will burn down the village…just to feel the heat.” When I heard this statement it caused many observations I’ve had about our society to fall into place. It explains why fatherless inner-city gang members turn to violence. It explains why self-absorbed frat boys, with no healthy mentors, assert their will on women. It explains the profound urgency of father-son programs like Peregrine’s Passage to Manhood. Watch this remarkable clip illustrating some mentors who have their eyes on the next generation of African American young men. Man, am I glad for men like this! May their tribe...Read More
Media confession: Beryl and I watch American Idol regularly. Because it often actually moves us.
Sometimes the performances are lukewarm; every now and then they are jaw-dropping. Recently, Kelly Clarkson, the Season 1 winner, told a story through song that brought tears streaming down my cheeks—and those of the judges and many in the audience.
We intuitively know dads matter, but in our dramatically changing family culture that often questions the value of fathers, we sometimes need a reminder. Kelly gave us a jaw-dropping one.
Her song, Piece by Piece, compares her experience with a father who disappeared when she was a young girl, to her husband who is a present, loving father to her kids. “He filled the holes you burned in me when I was 6 years old…He restored my faith that a man could be kind, and that a father could stay.”Read More
A friend in the Chicago suburbs sent me this notice today from the owner of a well-known business in that area: “I am writing to let you all know about the passing of my father. In this modern age where men are often the punch line in a bad joke, I’m here to tell you that Dads matter to sons – even when the sons are almost 50. My father died this morning from an unexpected stoppage of his heart. He had been battling cancer for about a year – and we thought we had a bit more time with him. Nonetheless, today was his appointed day – and I pray he is now at home with our Savior. I’m guessing that few of you will be able to be with us this week – but I wanted to reach out to you all – to let you know what happened – and to tell you to make the most of your days – for you never know when they will be over.” Poignant words, “Dads matter to sons- even when the sons are almost 50.” I can vouch for that. Does this prompt you to say anything to your...Read More
My mother passed away in February, 2010, and my father in October, 2012, so you might think I’m done thinking about saying Goodbye to them. No, their memory and their touch on my life lingers. I’m reminded of them regularly. They were an integral part of my life for 57 years; it’s not surprising that it takes time to get used to their absence. (Click here to see my last post about Saying Goodbye) Sadly, every now and then I’m reminded of my impatience with them as they grew weaker and slower, and as their memories failed. In the summer of 2011 my wife, Beryl, and my son, Alec, and I took my dad to the cottage my sister’s family has just half a mile from the north coast of Northern Ireland. It was a remarkable trip filled with special experiences we shared with Dad, but it was also filled with countless irritations, embarrassing bathroom forays and endlessly repeated sentences. Our return trip to the States began ominously with a long delay out of Belfast. The flight itself was a long series of “biological incidents” in the cramped forward bathroom, visible to anyone who cared to watch. We arrived at Newark Airport (if I never see it again it will be too soon) far too late to make our connections so we had to go through many steps to clear luggage, get Beryl on a flight one way, and Alec, Dad and me overnight in a hotel. It seemed that every hour of our return was filled with exasperation and complexity. Throughout the juggling of our bags, finding a hotel, lining up a shuttle, and pushing/carrying Dad around, it felt like I answered some version of, “Craig, what’s going on?” “Where are our bags going?” “Why is Beryl on a different flight?” “Why are we staying overnight?” “When will we be home?” “Where’s Mom?” countless times. At one point I was admittedly on edge, waiting yet another hour for the hotel shuttle, when Dad asked once again, “Where are we going?” I snapped. Figuratively and verbally. “Dad!! I’ve answered that question several times; are you going to listen this time?!” Looking back, I am embarrassed to admit my impatience, and I remember immediately regretting my harsh tone and cutting words. But nothing prepared me for what came next. Dad, who so often in those days disappeared into a fog of awareness, suddenly became the father again: attentive, perceptive, instructive, gracious, firm, and said softly, “Oh, Craig. Don’t do that.” I have rarely felt such an immediate sense of piercing remorse. I’ve been reminded recently of the dance that “we of a certain age” conduct with our aging parents. At the same life-stage when we are wrestling with our own sense of waning significance, and our far-flung adult children still periodically rely on us for tough advice or limited finances, our own parents become like children and we have to assume the role of adult caretaker. Until we snap like a child and our parent suddenly returns for one achingly convicting comment. Not long ago a friend sent me the following letter from an aging mother to her daughter: “My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story...Read More
If you’re a man, I have good news for you, and I have sobering news for you. The good news: you matter. Despite the questions our society often raises about the value of men, and especially fathers (think Homer Simpson), you have a deeply important calling as a man. Your presence and your words have an enormous impact on those around you. The sobering news: you matter. Your words and presence have impact, but that impact can go either way. It can bring life, security and blessing into the lives of others, especially our wives and children—or it can bring fear, shame and violence. Glory or ruin. In my work as a minister to men, I regularly encounter men who question their value and competency. In fact a deep, hidden doubt in their ability to effectively manage the requirements of their lives is one of the most common traits I see. A few years ago I met a 30-something man who seemed to have the world by the tail. He was the hotshot CEO of a growing company; he had a trophy wife, a beautiful home in the suburbs and a red convertible Porsche he drove at ridiculous speeds to work every morning. He apparently had it all. Then one morning he called me. “Craig,” he said, “I’m on the shoulder of the expressway. I’m heading into a meeting with my board. They know everything. They know my lies, my cheating and my cover-ups. I can’t pull this thing off any more. They know the truth about me—I’m ruined.” Then he burst into tears. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) had it right when he said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation…” That’s just as true today as it was in his time. The only difference is that the desperation is not as quiet. How else can we explain the unbelievable risks so many men take to pursue that forbidden affair, to pad their wallets while their employees lose jobs, to bilk others of billions of dollars in pyramid schemes? What’s going on here? Intrinsic Value What’s going on is that men have fallen for the lie that their value is defined by performance, position, power or possessions. Too many men believe that they matter to others solely because they have the world’s external badges that prove their worth. At the same time they know the truth beneath the surface: they wrestle with fear, anger, confusion, exhaustion. The internal conflict these men live with, the demands of keeping the secrets or keeping pace with expectations, results in men who either passively give up or violently take their rage out on those who least deserve it. You may know some men like this. You may be this man. In Psalm 139, we learn that all men and women have deep intrinsic value because we were knit together by the God of the universe. Even before we were born, God knew us and formed us uniquely, regardless of gender. But when God chose to reveal himself to mankind, he did so as a Father and as a Son. When I did training for a mission agency several years ago, my colleagues and I had the dual roles of preparing those candidates who would go to the field and holding back those who should not. Invariably, some had unhealed emotional wounds that profoundly affected their ability to relate to others in a healthy way. Over the years I saw a consistent pattern in those who were deeply wounded, whether men or women, single or married: almost always, the factor that most heavily influenced...Read More