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Our Father Isn’t

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OurFather

Our Father Isn’t Passive and He Doesn’t Provoke Us

Happy Father’s Day! 

Thank you, fathers, for all that you do to lead your families, love your wives, and raise your children to serve God with a lasting faith!  There is literally no higher calling that we could aspire to.

On this special day, let’s remember how fortunate we are to have the Perfect Father.  He has been a Father for an eternity, and He fathers us perfectly.

If you’ve been a father very long you know that fathering is a hard job.  Some days we are too passive and don’t fight for their hearts.  Some days we are too harsh and we just provoke them.  Most of us tend towards one ditch or the other.  But our Father’s love is perfect, and He loves us just how we are!  He is kind and loving, and He is powerfully fighting for our hearts.  No matter what we have messed up He is right there, running out to meet us.  Whether we are the ungrateful prodigal son or the ungrateful judgmental son, this is true of Our Father’s love for us:

It chases me down, fights til I’m found, leave the 99.

I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still you give Yourself away.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

There’s no shadow you won’t light up, mountain you won’t climb up, coming after me.

There’s no wall you won’t kick down, lie you won’t tear down, coming after me.

He loves us and He is aggressively coming after us to rescue us and reconcile with us.  He desires a relationship with us like the relationship He has with His Son, our Brother and Friend.  He is truly a good, good Father!

Do you ever feel like you have to do this on your own?  Like you have to be a man when deep down you feel like a boy?  Do you wonder if you have what it takes?  You can rest in the kind, assertive, powerful, love of Your Father.

 

 

 

Reagan, Lincoln, Washington

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Lincoln

I love to learn about leadership through the good and bad decisions of people throughout history.  Although we probably won’t ever be President, we still have an important role to play.  What kind of challenges is God preparing you to face?  Will your leadership qualities and skills be ready for the task?

Coincidentally, 3 of my favorite Presidents were born in February, so it is a great time to think about their leadership through incredibly challenging times.  Here is a recap of our 5 favorite posts about leadership and history.

Lincoln: The Learning Martyr

Growing up in the Land of Lincoln made me biased, but I have a lot of respect for him.  Here is one reason.

Lincoln:  Sharpened on the Anvil of Leadership

What does Servant Leadership mean to you? For Lincoln, it meant sacrificing his life for justice and unity.

Good History

Includes my favorite history DVD and  a cool timeline of the history of everything.

Monumental Thanksgiving

I also love this documentary about some of our nation’s founders!

MLK Day

Not a President, but influential and a good person to study.

Unstoppable: A Family United

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Our church’s VBS was last week.  (Camp Kilimanjaro by Answers In Genesis. I love AIG…they have such great material!)  It was a blessing to watch so many kids come into the church and hear the gospel.  It is always so gratifying to watch the teamwork as the church body works together to accomplish a big and challenging goal.  But we were blessed in particular this year by watching several families troop in each night and get to work.  As a family.  They each had different skills and talents, and ranged in age from 2 to 52.  (Approximately!)  They helped with the art, with putting up the signs and props, with the drama, the snacks, the setup and the teardown.  They welcomed kids, taught kids, and loved kids.  It was beautiful to watch these families in action.

No More Fences

We live in a world of fences.  It is difficult not to compartmentalize our lives – family here, work over there, church on this side, politics in this box, faith in that one.

We drop our kids off at Sunday School and then go and talk about God with other adults.

We drop the kids off at a babysitter’s and go to a small group to discuss faith and life with other adults.

We drop the kids off and serve at church or in our community.

This separation robs our kids of the opportunity to watch us living life.  They hear us talking about our priorities, but they do not get to see it.

A Picture of the Talk

Life is service.  Life is work.  Life is ministry.  When we ‘do life’ with our kids, it paints an illustration for them of what life is like.  When they hear us talking about God with our friends, we are proving that our faith is something real and valuable to us.  Perhaps just as important, by participating with us in this kind of life, our kids are creating their own identity.

Creating Identity

Most of us don’t take much time to think about our identity, maybe because it is so core to who we are.  But for that very reason our self-identity shapes our path in this life.  We make decisions and choose our path in large part because of who we think we are.  By allowing our kids to work hard this week of VBS we are helping them shape their own identity.

“We are the kind of people who show up an hour and a half before VBS to set up, and who stay an hour late to clean up.  Every night.”

“We are the kind of people who help scared little kids find their teacher and feel welcome.”

“Sure, it’s 10 o’clock on Friday night and we are still at church – that’s just what we do!”

This is not about bragging or feeling superior.  Servant leadership involves humility and sacrifice, without any need to get recognition.  The best gift you could give your kids is to live out the servant leader lifestyle with them.  With them. Together!  They will form an understanding of life that will guide their steps and create their future.

Power In Numbers

God made families when he made Adam and Eve.  The family is the fundamental building block of His Kingdom, and this Kingdom will overcome the world!  When Dana and I are united with our four kids, our power is multiplied.  That unity of purpose and spirit is a beautiful thing, and I know that it puts a smile on God’s face.  Then when you join with other families with the same mindset, like we did during our VBS, we were able to do more than what any one of us could do alone. We were unstoppable!

Bring It Home:  Grab the calendar hanging on your fridge and look through the week’s activities.  How many of them involve activities that you are doing with your kids?  Of those, how many are ‘kids activities’ that you are doing with them, and how many are ‘adult activities’ that they are doing with you?  Both are important, but the point of this post is that you are bringing your kids along as you live and serve and fellowship.

 

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Parenting and Changing

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Elephant

Parenting is a very difficult job that is always stretching me and demanding new levels of efficiency, concentration, relational wizardry, and self-control.  Because of this, I am often needing to improve and to change.  If you have read any of our posts you have probably noticed that they speak of our desires to keep growing and learning and changing.  We believe strongly that we are on a journey and not finished yet.  And that requires change.

But ‘making changes’ is not only focused on me – it also is a big part of my role as a parent.  Think of it – each child (4 for us) has about 18 years for us to lead them through the process of learning…everything!  Of course they will continue to learn after they leave our nest, but the sheer magnitude of helping my 4 kids prepare to enter the world as fully-functional adults can sometimes be pretty overwhelming.  How do I get them to change into the people that God wants them to be?  We want them to be leaders.  We want them to change the world.  But today, I’d be happy if I could get the middle two to stop annoying each other and our youngest to start going potty in the toilet!  The amount of maturing and changing that takes place in those 18 years is mind-boggling.

To summarize, I daily feel the need to change myself and to teach my kids how to change. Continue reading

Foundation of Marriage: Proceed With Caution

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Part 4 of the Foundation of Marriage series.

Nate and I love questionnaires and evaluations. We love assessing things and figuring out new and better ways to do things. But proceed with caution!  We have learned over the years there is a right way and a wrong way to use these tools to improve our marriage and ourselves.

(Route A is the wrong way and Route B is the right, productive way.)

It all starts with the approach! Are you…

A: Trying to point out where your spouse is falling short?

or

B: Trying to help your spouse understand you and what makes you tick?

Your approach determines your words….

A: Accusatory and demeaning statements like “You need to do this better!” Or “You need to stop doing this!”

or

B: Affirming, encouraging, and helpful statements like: “I appreciate when you do this____. ” Or “I know this isn’t your intent, but when this happens, this is how it makes me feel ____.”  “Another way to do it that would be helpful in this situation would be if you could do this___.”

Your words (and tone) determine the outcome.

A: End result: Wounds being made, frustration forming and hope diminishing.

or

B: End result: A plan put in place to strengthen the marriage and move it forward in a productive and positive way. Continue reading

Foundation of Marriage: Your Most Important Customer

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Skyscraper-001

His Needs, Her Needs- Part 3 in the Foundation of Marriage series.

You have probably heard the term ‘the customer is always right.’  And although many customers are very wrong, the adage still makes sense when you are running a business.  If people don’t like the delicious pistachio ice cream you are selling, then it would be in your best interest to find out what kind of ice cream they want and start selling it.  Sure, you can offer free samples and try to persuade them, but if they don’t like it, then it does not do any good to argue with them.  Give the customer what they want.  Serve your customers!

In the same way, you are truly serving your spouse only when you are serving them in a way that they enjoy.  See our review of the 5 Love Languages for an introduction to this foundational principle.  Today’s review is of another book that approaches this same concept from a different angle: His Needs, Her Needs – Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, by Willard Harley.  Continue reading

Foundation of Marriage – Sacred Marriage

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Skyscraper-001

Last week I mentioned that a few books have helped us create the foundation for marriage.  Today we are going to highlight one of those books:  Sacred Marriage.  We were introduced to this book after several years of marriage, and it has become the foundational principle to all else that we think and write about marriage.

Selfless Service

I suppose that is a redundant phrase:  Selfless Service.  But I think it is important to use both words, because too often even our service to others is rooted in selfishness.  The thought, down deep, is “I will do this for her because of what it will get for me.” We may not even be cynical or calculating – sometimes it is just a simple reality.  “If I don’t do the dishes, she will be grumpy.  And that is slightly worse than doing the dishes, so I will do them.”  The point I am trying to make is that Gary Thomas turns marriage inside out with this question:

“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  Continue reading

C13 Leadership: Love Works

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LoveWorksBook

Leadership is hard.  And one of the most difficult aspects of leadership is finding the balance between niceness and effectiveness.  Do you struggle with avoiding the two extremes like I do?

Moms – do you keep your children in line with the fear of your wrath?  Or are you a pushover because you want them to like you and you are afraid of making them upset? 

Husbands – do you rule your home with an iron fist, never letting anyone forget who’s the boss?  Or do you check out and go passive at the first sign of conflict or problems?   

Bosses – Do your employees see you as callous, uncaring, and mean?  Or as a nice guy who never gets anything done? 

Regardless of your role, do you struggle with making the hard decisions that you know are right?

I believe this is a struggle for every person with any amount of leadership responsibility.  Most of us have a natural tendency towards one end of the spectrum or the other, depending on nature and nurture, and these deeply engrained emotions and habits are hard to change.  The ideal leader will be able to land at that perfect spot in the middle, where effectiveness and niceness overlap.  But how?  How can I achieve this superhuman feat?  What strategy could possibly work?  Continue reading

Daddy’s Sweatshirts

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Sweatshirts2

For today’s post I am asking a question – what is it about my sweatshirts that my little girls like so much?

Two times in the last month I have had a smiling little girl make a simple request:  “Daddy, can I wear one of your sweatshirts?”

This is the kind of request that I am powerless to refuse, and I was more than happy to comply.  When I gave them my old sweatshirts to them you would have thought I had given them a brand new outfit!  We have posted before just how important a dad is to his daughters, and this was just one more reminder for me.  Dads – you play a special role in the life of your daughter.  Sometimes the little things will make a big difference, so be alert.

Girls – any advice for me here?  What is it about my sweatshirts that Hannah and Bekah love so much?

Here are a few more posts about the importance of dads to daughters:

Daddy-Daughter Dates

Daughters Need Fathers Like Fish Need Water

Dad Presence = Secure Presence

Don’t forget Dr. Meeker’s site!

 

Sweatshirts

Columbus Day – Beware

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Strange picture, huge purpose, passionate drive

I like Christopher Columbus.  Last year I posted about Columbus and the Crocodile Hunter.  Their common trait:  Passion.  Columbus did what he was designed to do – explore and discover for the glory of God and country.

Unfortunately he left a mixed legacy.  He gets credit for ‘sailing the ocean blue’ and being at the forefront of the movement to settle the new world.  But he and his men also ended up oppressing the natives and confiscating their gold.  This year I will talk about three factors that conspired to sabotage his work, because they can torpedo the work of every leader.  They are found in this verse:

1 John 2:16 (NASB)
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. Continue reading