The large white board in our dining room received a lot of use today.
First, over breakfast, I used it to explain to my sons a project I was working on from home.
The omni antenna gets assembled, then I affix it to the mounting bracket. Then I connect the LMR-400 coaxial cable. Then I connect the surge protector, and finally the mini-coaxial cable, then the radio.
Using the dry erase markers, I drew the boys a rough approximation of a pumpjack, wellhead, and pump-off controller. Then I showed them a FreeWave radio, and explained the concepts.
During lunch, I used the white board again to explain a shift in house cleaning strategy we were going to try.
Lauren, Evelyn, and baby John were in Billings, so it was just me and the older five. Instead of each boy being assigned to a room of the house, we were going to divvy up tasks – sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, picking up random items on the floor, keeping the cat from scratching the furniture, etc.
I drew a diagram of a full basketball court and explained to my sons the difference between zone defense and man defense. Such relates to not only sports but all of life. And learning to play as excellent individuals on teams will be critical to their success, I told them.
Lastly, I sat them down at the table again when our Pizza Hut dinner arrived.
This time I talked about a recent Facebook Live video I watched by a new friend of mine, Garrett Perks, and his friend Cody Libolt.
I divided the white board in two. On one side I wrote ‘Individualism’ and on the other ‘Collectivism.’ And then I outlined the concepts, as well as specific examples from our family’s experience.
The Hearts of the Fathers
In the first chapter of the gospel of Luke, we read the words of the angel Gabriel to Zachariah about John the Baptist.
“[He] will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
This remarkable phrase “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” comes to mind as I think about using this white board today. What does it mean?
What Gabriel said was a reference back to the prophet Malachi in the Old Testament.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of Yahweh comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
This indeed was God delivering on a promise, as He always is faithful to keep His promises.
But I think it of special interest what the prophet Malachi said John the Baptist would do. What was meant by this turning of the hearts of fathers and children?
In reading about the life and ministry of John the Baptist, we know that he proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, and that he preached repentance.
Earlier in the morning, at one point my children were growing weary of my using the white board to explain random things to them. Before having mercy on them and adjourning, I took a moment to explain that I, as their father, have not only a right but a responsibility to teach them. Indeed, it was for this reason I had purchased the white board in our dining room to begin with.
The White Board
The white board in our dining room is six feet wide and four feet tall. Our table seats ten. With a family of nine – my wife and I plus our seven children – a table this size is not a luxury. It is a necessity.
So too, I realized in recent months that a large white board was a necessity.
My wife and I are homeschooling our children. All of them have been homeschooled since they came of school age, and all of them we fully intend – by God’s grace – to educate at home until they graduate high school.
This school year, I volunteered to teach a writing workshop to the kids in our local homeschool group. And it was here that I realized that my sons are not accustomed to a classroom environment. Attending my workshop, they were very unaccustomed to sitting among their peers for even an hour and listening to a teacher explain things. They were unfamiliar with the proper etiquette of not interrupting, and of raising their hands to ask a question or make a relevant comment.
A large white board at home, I figured, would enable me to familiarize them. And if they choose to go to college when the time comes, they will be that much better prepared to have practiced even occasionally giving their attention politely the way most school-aged children in America do in most public and private schools, even if most of the time my children still continue reading and writing on a sofa, recliner, or bed.
In the second chapter of Proverbs, we read:
“My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of Yahweh
and find the knowledge of God.”
This passage comes to mind right alongside the ones from the gospel of Luke and the prophet Malachi. I do not believe that is coincidental.
One of the things I explained to my sons over dinner was the idea of authority.
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome that we are to obey the governing authorities. Yet we cannot obey the governing authorities without first and foremost obeying God as the ultimate authority. Many anecdotes from the Scriptures reinforce this point.
That is to say also, however, that we do obey the governing authorities whenever they do not contradict God’s commandments out of love for God’s authority.
I think this is part of what is meant by the hearts of the children being turned to their fathers.
So also, though, we find that the hearts of the fathers are turned to their children by God’s Holy Spirit moving and working.
How much of what ails American society today – both corrupt abuses of power and contempt for authority – would be cured if only revival were wrought, and people came to Christ?
Indeed, I should think the nation as a whole would be inestimably better off with a Bible on every nightstand and a large white board on every father’s dining room wall.