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Monday, June 16, 2014

5 Decisions No Dad Regrets

As a father of 4 I have made my share of mistakes and blunders. I've over-reacted to issues not that important, and under-responded when I was distracted or overwhelmed with other pressing issues.  Yet, there have been 5 decisions that I've never regretted that I'd pass on to you this week following Father's Day. 

  1. My Wife Comes First:  This is where many couples go wrong, they choose their kids before each other.  While this may seem like a valiant and even sacrificial response, the problem with putting your marriage on the back-burner is it eventually dries up.  Although I forget the source, I recall reading early in our parenting journey, "The best thing you can do for your kids is love their mother."  I've never forgotten this and tried my best to fulfill it. 
  2. Go to Their Events:  This is a high priority for me as a dad.  Nothing tells a kid they are valuable like attending their events (sporting, concert, drama, etc...).  When you attend, don't criticize (even constructively), just enjoy being immersed in their world.  I know they're boring and sometimes painful, but it is not about the event, it's about you valuing your child's world.  In the exceptions when you can't, make sure you explain to your son or daughter the circumstances.  I have found my kids to always be more than understanding.  
  3. Have Fun Together:  The older your children get, the harder this becomes.  In their teenage years the peer group becomes more important to your kids.  This is a fact of life and must be accepted and encouraged.  However, find ways and times to have fun together.  Sometimes it begins with complaining (perhaps often), but shared experiences provide a foundation for your relationship.  Honestly, this one you have to work hard at, but is worth it. 
  4. Spend Time Individually:  This one my kids seem to fight over.  It could be going to the store for mile, or coming early to the church for a service or event.  Believe it or not, your kids actually like you.  Time alone reminds them why.  
  5. Pray With and Over Your Kids:  First let me say you don't have to be super spiritual about it and you don't have to make it into a grand event.  It might be in the morning before they go to the bus stop, or in the evening before they go to bed, for others who have dinner together this would be the best time.  Bottom line, I've never met a dad who regrets having prayed with their kids too much, but have met MANY dads who wished they had led their children spiritual, but missed their chance.  
Dad, your rule matters more than you'll ever realize.  It takes strength, perseverance, and a tender confidence to be a dad. Keep up the good work.  We are in it for life!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

5 Decisions to Keep Moving Forward

Each season of life has looked very differently... much like Winter and Summer.  However, the one consistent element has been the demand on my time.  At a very early age I began to learn as much as I could about managing my time, prioritizing, and bigger picture items of discovering my purpose and giftings.  While this is a work in progress, the result of the early years of learning from respected leaders, reading every book I could get my hand on, and listening to every tape/CD/MP3 I could find have put me on an intentional pathway.  This includes personally, relationally, spiritually, physically and vocationally!

  1. Become A Life-Long Learner:  I'll give John Maxwell credit for this one, because that's where I read it first.  He said, "A Leader is a Learner.  Stop learning, and you'll stop leading."  Those that don't take their personal growth seriously do not take their future seriously.  While I give Maxwell credit for writing this, I have to give my Dad credit for living this.  From his 2 Masters programs to his recent Doctorate, my dad has modeled life long learning.  His thirst to grow and become all God has designed him to be drives him to read.  To this day I picture him reading the Greek New Testament from his big Lazy Boy Chair while the family (& him) watched the Cosby show.  To this day he reads a constant flow of books. 
  2. Focus on Relationships:  While my personality's tendency is to be task-driven, I decided soon after graduating college that Relationship are my task.  Therefore, I prioritized my relationship into my life's schedule and decisions beginning with my wife, then my children, and then to other relationships.  While I can never meet all the relational demands that ministry and pastoring present, my attempt has been to focus on investing in relationships.  After nearly 20 years of marriage and ministry I can honestly say this decision has served me well and helped me survive much.  WARNING... to benefit here you must focus on the RIGHT RELATIONSHIP.  Not all relationships are created equal.  some will tear-down, others build-up.  Some with encourage, others discourage.  Some will speak life, others will only speak negativity!  Focus on the Right Relationships.
  3. Know Your Life's Mission:  Knowing your mission in life allows you to make informed and wise decision. It allows you to say "NO" to opportunities that might not be for you, and "YES" to those that are. It also allows you to answer the answer of SIGNIFICANCE as you examine your life.  Sometimes your missions is your vocation, other times your vocation helps financially support your mission.  Either way, discover this as early as possible and pursue it with all your effort!  And if you feel like you're late in the game, start NOW and watch your God who created you redeem the time!
  4. Find Healthy Ways to Escape:  I say healthy ways, because many find unhealthy ways to escape from pressures and stressors (i.e., alcohol, pornography, dishonoring relationships, overeating, etc...).  For me healthy escapes have been hobbies such as Going to the Gym, Riding my Bike, recently working in the yard or pool, Going on a Date with my wife, etc...  Whatever works for you, find it.  Not only does it clear your mind, provide rest from normal activity... it also brings clarity about the pressures and stressors.  I can't tell you how many good ideas have been birthed on the saddle of my bike, or on the belt of a treadmill.  
  5. Finally, Major on the Minors:  Perhaps you've heard the opposite... "Major on the Majors, Minor on the Minors."  All I can say is that I've watched those who lived this way end up broken disappointed people.  The reason:  its the little things over the long haul that make the difference.  The little attitudes, little mistakes, little sins, little compromises, little harsh words... that make the impact over the years.  When you Major on the Minors, I've discover the Major Areas of life will be taken care of as well.
If you're feeling stuck, or like your on top of the world... your decisions TODAY will affect your TOMORROWS.  Be sure to make the decisions that will keep you moving forward.   The good things that God has in store for you are still AHEAD!!!


Monday, May 19, 2014

10 Things to Teach Your Son about True Manhood

  1. Being a gentleman is still worth the effort:

    - Hold the door.

    - Stand up when a woman leaves or joins the table.

    - Walk on the “splash” side of the sidewalk.

    - Attempt (gently) to pick up the tab.

    - Go get the car when it’s raining.

    - Offer your hand…

  2. At the same time, be respectful: All the above “gentlemanly” actions must be offered subtly, and  - if necessary - set aside graciously when refused.

  3. Take responsibility: In a word (well, two), “step up.” True manhood takes responsibility for its actions, choices, values and beliefs. And – while taking responsibility, manhood is also willing to admit – with grace - when it is wrong.

  4. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable: Real strength allows other people in. Manhood is honest about feelings and not afraid to be known. True manhood never builds a wall where there should be a window, or a fortress where there should be a sanctuary.

  5. Actually “being” a man is more important than “talking” like one: Real men don’t just stand up and speak up - they “put up” too. Loud talk and tough posturing don’t cut it. True manhood involves finding a need and doing something about it. Real men don’t complain about social problems – they go out and do something about them. Real men don’t point fingers – they work for solutions. Real men get calluses on their hands – not from flapping their lips.

  6. Listen respectfully, disagree politely and never exclude women from conversation: True manhood is inclusive. It may be strong, but it’s unfailingly polite. Men who equate bluster or machismo with strength are typically covering something up. Men who think women have nothing to contribute to the conversation need to wake up and smell the 21st Century.

  7. Love is stronger than muscles: True manhood understands that brute force is less compelling than self-giving love. The best solutions to difficulties involved applied love.

  8. The first shall be last: True manhood puts others first. Jesus is quoted more than once as saying something like this: If you want to be a leader, then the place to be is on your knees, with a towel in your hand, washing someone’s feet.

  9. Manhood is – sometimes - more about what you could do but didn’t than what you could have avoided but did anyway: There’s a lot of restraint – a great deal of “Quiet Strength” in true manhood. Real men tend to always have something in reserve.

  10. True manhood is more about giving than about getting: Our culture often touts a “men see what they want, then they go out and get it” view of manhood. But true manhood is more along the lines of “see what the world needs, then go out and do it.” Strength leveraged for the benefit of others.

    Taken from: http://www.allprodad.com/

Monday, April 7, 2014

Blinding Darkness

One year, my elementary school took a field trip to Crystal Caverns in Kutztown, PA.  We were thrilled and excited to both go to a famous cave, but also to be out of school :).  Those working at Crystal Cave knew how to capture us kids' imagination.  They allowed us to "mine" for "jewels" in the bags of dirt they gave us.  Even though we knew they had placed those plastic jewels in the dirt, we were thrilled.

As they led us through the cavern, they brought us to a place deep within where they instructed us to no longer move around, but remain very still.  They intended to turn off the lighting.  Once the light were off, we were instructed to place our hand in front of our faces and try to see our own hand.  It was amazing, although my hand was only a few centimeters away from my eyes, it was Blinding Darkness.  The room was completely void of light. 

They allowed the darkness to settle in the room, to the place you could almost feel the black covering.  Our guides were not creating a scarey atmosphere, like perhaps some experience on halloween events.  It was simply the first time most of my classmates and I had ever experienced a space void of any light!

In the beginning of the Gospel of John, he introduces us to Jesus in his opening word as the light.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

For many, spiritual darkness has been all they've know their entire lives.  It is beautiful to see someone exposed to the light for the first time.  At first they shrink away from the blinding shine as it is uncomforable for their eyes.  However, once the initial shock wanes, the light changes everything.  

I pray that the Light of Jesus would shine into your life, into your home and into your circumstances.  For when His Light shine, the result is LIFE! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sower and Eaters

In my studies, I recently came across an on-line article written by Andrew Wommack that really impacted me.  I though I'd share a portion of it with you!

2 Corinthians 9:10 says,
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

This verse says that God gives seed to sowers and bread to eaters. These terms are being used metaphorically to talk about how God gives extra to people who are givers and supplies the basic needs of eaters.

Eaters are those who are using their finances primarily for their needs. Sowers are those who use their finances primarily to give to others. This is about the attitude of the heart toward giving. Those who desire more money so they can get more “stuff” are eaters. Those who desire more money so they can give more are sowers.

Of course, sowers have to eat too. So, as the money flows through, there is always plenty for you. But those who are only seeking to get their needs met, will only get their needs met. They won’t have the abundance that comes with being a giver.

This answers a lot of questions. Eaters are always focused on what they need, and therefore, God doesn’t give them an over-abundance. They would just spend it on themselves. Just two verses prior to the verse we are studying, Paul said,
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

Notice that the reason God makes grace abound toward you is so you may abound unto every good work. Prosperity is not for you. It’s so you may bless others. That’s a radical thought.

Many people believe prosperity is all about greed, and that’s why they oppose it. But true Bible prosperity is so you can be a blessing to others. The attitude that says “I’ve got enough. I would never ask for more” is the wrong attitude. That’s selfish. That shows the attitude of an eater, not a sower.

If you are a sower, God will bless you with a super abundance of finances that will more than supply your need and enable you to give as you desire. Second Corinthians 9:10 says God gives seed to sowers, so it’s accurate to say that if you are short of seed (finances), then you are not sowing like you should. God will see to it that sowers have money to abound unto every good work.

http://www.awmi.net/extra/article/sowers_eaters