New Year’s Non-Resolution Resolutions

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It’s the last day of 2015 and a new year is just a few hours away.  Recently I asked several people if they made New Year’s Resolutions to improve their lives each year and if they did, did they keep them?  Almost everyone said they made a resolution but had never kept one!  That got me thinking.  If we always break our resolutions, why not make some Non-Resolution Resolutions?  You know, use a little reverse psychology on ourselves and make some resolutions that, when we break them (which we are likely to do), it will actually be good for us!

So here are a few of my Non-Resolution Resolutions for 2016:  

I hereby Non-Resolve Resolve to ….

Be Less Healthy –  That’s right.  I’m going to gain weight, take up heavy drinking, eat only sugar and never exercise.

Not Read My Bible Every Day — Nope.  Not me.  I’m not opening my Bible every day to hear directly from God.  Who would want to do that?

Be Mean to My Wife and Kids — I’m going to be a terrible family man and a poor spiritual leader.  I’m going to fail to provide for them or protect them.  I will never encourage them or forgive them either.  They are the ones who are lucky to have me.

Not Give Regularly to My Church or Charity — No way. I’m going to feed my greed and hoard my money (or spend it on extravagant stuff that I don’t really need).  Why not?  It’s all mine anyway.

Be an Absent Friend — Who needs friends anyway?  Why would I ever help anyone else?  I’m going off the grid of friendship.

Hold Lots of Grudges — I’m mad and I’m not going to take it anymore!  I will never forgive anyone for anything, no matter how small and no matter what it does to my relationship with them or to my own emotional and physical health.

Never Read Anything — I’m giving up on reading.  No books.  No articles.  No blogs.  I’m already smart and wise enough, why would I try to improve by reading?

Watch More Mindless T.V. Shows — I will spend every free hour I have (when I’m not spending my money on stuff for me) sitting on my couch in front of my big T.V. and endlessly watching reruns of Oprah, Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer. I might throw some binges on something with vampires or zombies too.

Never Pray — Not once will I pray.  Not for guidance or gratitude.  Not for help or forgiveness.  Not for understanding.  Nope.  Not once will I speak to God all year.

Well, those are my 2016 Non-Resolution Resolutions.  I think when I break these (which I am certain to do since I never keep my New Year’s Resolutions), I’ll have a pretty good year and so will those around me!

Happy New Year!

On My Mind and Heart: 3 Things I Do Before Breakfast

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Routines are important to me.  If I can get into a routine of doing something at the same time, in the same way, every day, the chances of me continuing to do it are much greater than if I leave it to chance.  You are likely the same way.  Today when I was thinking about what to write this week, I thought I would share some of my daily routine.  Here are 3 things I do before breakfast everyday.  I’ve been doing them for a long time and I can’t hardly remember not doing them.

One: I Pray for Carrie (My Wife)

I pray for Carrie every day.  I pray that she would be blessed.  I pray that she would be protected.  I pray that I would be a good husband for her.  Men – praying for your wife is one of THE most important things you can do for your wife and marriage.  Only you can give your wife a husbandly blessing.  So, if you don’t do it, then it’s lost forever.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or long, but it absolutely should happen – every day.

Two: I Read the Bible

Most days I read at least one chapter from Proverbs (there are 31 chapters so I read whatever chapter number corresponds to the day of the month) and then something from the Old Testament and something from the New Testament.  There are some days that I wake up later than I wish or have something else going on so on those days I at least read at least one passage (or even just one verse).  When you read the Bible it is hearing directly from the Lord.  For me, it helps me get my mind “straight” before I start a day full of meetings, emails and conversations.

Three: I Read Something Else

There’s an old saying that goes something like this:  “There is no difference between the man who can’t read and the man who doesn’t read.”  It is so important to read something every day.  I know it’s a lot easier in our culture to just watch t.v. or listen to the radio, but actually reading results in things that watching or listening will not.  When we read, we are choosing what goes into our minds instead of having it chosen for us.  When we read, we comprehend differently and deeper.  Reading causes us to think much more about the topic we are reading about than if we just listen to someone else talk about it.  I read different things: magazine articles, blog posts, the newspaper and, of course, a variety of books (see my Reading List here).  Reading gets my mind “warmed up” for the day and thinking about things I would probably not think about if I just drank my coffee and headed out the door.

Those are a few of things in my daily routine.  Maybe you will choose to incorporate some of them into your daily routine too.  I’d love to hear about your daily routine, so post a comment and share what gets you off to a great start in the morning.

A Message about Fatherhood to Dads, Moms and Children of all ages and stages

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A request was made to write a post about Fatherhood.  It’s an important topic – for dads, moms and children – of all ages and stages of life.  I hope you enjoy it …

This was a special message for fathers, children and mothers for Father’s Day 2013. Here are my sermon notes from the message on June 16, 2013.

3 THINGS CHILDREN SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FATHER

(note: Remember, we are all children, so this applies to all of us).

Honor Your Father

This is a command (the 5th) and is also mentioned several other times in the Bible (including by Jesus).

Ephesians 6:2-3 – Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.

What does it mean to “honor” your father? We go through stages, that overlap. First, we honor our father by being obedient when we are younger and under their authority/household. Strive for “first time obedience” which is especially honoring of him. Second, we honor our father by showing respect, involving him in our lives, allowing him to participate with us and on behalf of us in our lives. (illust. – Sadie and Willie returning dress on Duck Dynasty). Third, as they (and we) grow older, we honor our father by caring for him.

Learn from Your Father

Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

note: this passage, written to a son from his father, encourages an active seeking of help and advice from the father. From our fathers we learn about life as well as about how to do things. We can also learn from our father’s mistakes. In any event, I believe that dads want “better” for their kids and desire for their children to learn from them – both the good and the bad.

Forgive Your Father

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” – Matthew 6:12

Fathers make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. Forgiving them for those may be the best father’s day present you can give him. Forgiveness is about leaving the past in the past and focusing on the future.

3 THINGS MOTHERS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR CHILD’S FATHER

This section is for mothers — all mothers. Even if you are not with your child’s dad any longer, you have one of the largest influences over the nature of your child’s relationship with his/her dad.

Encourage (don’t nag) Dad

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – encourage one another and build one another up, …

Try not to impose what you think is right upon the dad/child situation. This often leads to a situation where whatever dad does it’s not “good enough.” Be encouraging. Tell dad “thank you”. Compliment him.

Praise Dad in Front of Your Children

I read a blog post recently titled “Is Dad a Hero or a Bum – the Answer often Depends on what Mom Thinks.” — That is so true. Praising dad in front of your child strengthens the relationship more than you can imagine. You can do it — at one time in your life you thought at least something about this guy was pretty awesome.

Be a Partner

Don’t setup a situation where it is “mom and the kids v. dad”. Don’t hide things from dad. Don’t complain about him with the kids. Instead, do all you can to be a partner with the dad — unified in parenting the children as a team.

3 THINGS FATHER’S SHOULD DO FOR THEIR CHILDREN

Be a Godly Example

Like it or not, good or bad, you ARE an example. But are you a Godly example?

John 13:15 – For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Being a Godly example involves being an example in these areas:

Character – this is what you are all of the time, no matter where you are or who is around. Your kids are watching you. Are you a man of honesty, integrity, consistency?

Discipleship – this is showing your kids what it looks like to follow the Lord Jesus and grow in your faith. Do they see you going to church, studying the Word, etc.

Service – your kids need to learn from you that life is not about them (or you) but about other people. They learn this from your example in serving others who need help, serving your church, and serving your community.

Demonstrate Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is the theme of the Bible — God loves us not because of anything that we can do and in spite of anything that we have done. Your kids (especially your daughters) will come to believe that God loves them the way that you love them. Love them unconditionally, which means:

Love them for who they are, not what they do

Love them in spite of their mistakes and bad choices

Remember: love is an action not a feeling

Leave the Right Legacy

You will leave a legacy of some form. But, God has given us the power and the freedom to choose what our legacy will be. Will you leave a legacy where your children and your children’s children seek to know the Lord personally? Or will it be a legacy of absence, abuse, excuses or mediocrity?

Marriage Matters: Love Geography

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“Love Geography”

note:  These are my sermon “notes” from this Sunday’s message.  (They are notes, I haven’t written this as an article so please excuse the abbreviated words and sentences.  To get the most out of this message, please go to the Adventure Church website and listen to the audio).  You also can read my notes from the first message:  What If I’m Not Married?

If you were going to place your marriage on the “Love Map”, where would it be right now?

The Beach? (honeymoon feeling, a party, everything’s perfect)

On a Mountain Top? (things are going fantastic, we are super blessed, great things are happening to us and our family)

In a Valley? (things are going poorly, something’s wrong, we are arguing often, life is a struggle being married to this person)

In the Grand Canyon? (there is a crisis, someone is having an affair – physically or emotionally, divorce seems like the best option)

On the vast and fertile Plains? (life is good, there is nothing that is dramatically exciting but neither are there any serious problems, day-to-day we are generally content, our children are doing well, we rarely argue and when we do it’s not a knock-down drag-out fight, or, if it is one, we apologize quickly and move on) (note:  most of marriage is going to be in the Plains)

In the Desert? (life was good, but for some reason our relationship is dry and generally lifeless, we are missing nourishment and refreshment, days are hot and difficult, nights are cold and distant)

In the middle of a busy City? (we are very busy, everywhere we turn there is something to do and another responsibility, our kids keep our schedules full and we are running non-stop)

Where are you?  and  Why does it matter?

note:  Marriage is a journey and a destination.  You can probably see your marriage in one of these geographical locations (and can surely remember some times when you were in another location).  Where we are in the journey, and how to navigate the journey matters because:  God presents Himself to us in the marriage relationship (husband to wife, and wife to husband).  He also presents Himself through our marriage to others:  our children, our friends, our church and the world.  Marriage is a means by which we experience God and His grace.

How do we navigate the journey of marriage?  Here are some travel tips:

See the Whole Map

(note: we tend to only see where we are right now and fail to see all that marriage can, and does, bring.  It is important for our marital health and the success of our journey to see the big picture of marriage by seeing the whole map).

It’s not Unusual – remember that where we are is not unusual.  All marriages travel through different locations, and most, at one time or another, will travel through every location.  You are not the first to be in your current situation and you will not be the last.

It’s not Permanent – Your situation won’t last forever.  Circumstances change.  We change.  God changes us and others.

It requires Commitment – Mark 10:9 “What  God has joined together, let man not separate.” – note:  The way to successfully and joyfully navigate the marriage journey is to recognize that you have made a commitment to each other and to God as well.  Commitment is being willing to stay through the difficult times (desert, valley and canyon) even when it’s not enjoyable, in large part because you know that the plains and mountains are there to be experienced.

Recognize Where You Are

It takes Communication

Truth Telling CommunicationEphesians 4:25 “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Gentle, Non-Advesarial CommunicationEphesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Reflect on How You Got There

note:  good or bad, it’s important for us to notice how we got to where we are.  When we take notice of such things we will see patterns of:  being in the Word (or not), being in community (or not) (especially accountability), serving others (or not).

It takes Examination2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?”

It takes ConfessionJames 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

note:  confession isn’t easy or fun.  but, confession removes the “splinter” from our souls that is festering and hurting (maybe not all of the time, but it keeps showing up).

Pack Correctly

note:  on the journey of marriage, we must “pack” with us the right things.  Here are a few things to make sure we pack:

Patience“Love is patient” note:  it can take a while to get out of a valley or through a desert.  It can take a while to learn how to climb a mountain to the top.

Sacrifice“Love is not self-seeking”  note: your marriage should be about the other person, giving 100% and expecting nothing.  (when we do that, we are all more blessed in the end).

Forgiveness“Love is not easily angered, Love keeps no record of wrongs”  (we forgive even before forgiveness is sought and definitely before forgiveness is earned, if ever.  that’s what Jesus did for us on the cross – He forgave us before we repented!)

Remember the True Destination!

note:  the true destination:  Your marriage is not as much for you as it is for others.  Marriage is meant to be a representation to the world of the relationship that exists between Jesus and His Church.  It is:  unconditional love, sacrificing, forgiving, patient, etc.

Marriage Matters: What if I’m NOT married?

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This week at ACC, we began a series related to marriage.  Our first message answered common questions that we receive from people who are single.  You can get the audio on the Adventure Christian Church website.  (notice that, by request, I put a little more commentary in my notes this week than I have in past postings).

Here are my notes:

Don’t I need to be married to be complete?

2 Peter 1:3 – God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness …

What blessing is there in being single?

1  Corinthians 7:32-35

note:  freedom from pressure, free for ministry, free to give (often, depending on situation)

What should a pre-marital relationship “look like”?

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 – It is God’s will that you should be sanctified:  that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.  The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

1. You should be prepared (i.e., you should know if advance what you are looking for)

verse 3: It is God’s will that you should be sanctified:  that you should avoid sexual immorality;

2. It should be disciplined (i.e., dating is partly about learning discipline, patience, and putting the other person first;  refrain from living together)

verse 4:  that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,

3. It should be Christ-centered (i.e., your relationship should be with a Christian; don’t fall into the trap of “evangelistic dating”)

verse 5:  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;

4. It should be based on friendship (you must be friends first; dating is about finding a companion whom you will be in union with forever;  you will want to be friends with that person!)

verse 6:  and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.  The Lord will punish all who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.

5. It should be tempered (your relationship should mature slowly and deliberately, just as a potter tempers clay before use; holiness in a relationship takes time)

verse 7:  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

I’m 16, can’t I choose my own boyfriend / girlfriend?

note:  Not by yourself you shouldn’t!

Ephesians 6:1-3 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

note:  parents — be involved; “let go” appropriately

Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

I used to be married.  Is my situation different?

note:  Yes, it is, and at times, very much so, especially if children are involved.  There are more people involved / to consider, plus additional issues such as blending families, parenting issues, authority issues, etc.

Red lights, yellow lights, green lights.  –  note:  Usually, a person married before will have to navigate (pay attention to) a lot more yellow lights and red lights than a person who has never been married.  see, book:  Dating and the Single Parent by Ron Deal

We are thinking about getting married.  What should we do next?

Proverbs 15:22 – Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.