Sunday, April 29, 2012

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me - Part 7

Several years ago, I was involved in a prank that rated 10 out of 10 on the camp prank scale.  Yes I was the youth minister at the time.  Our group was stationed in two different cabins - one for the guys and one for the girls.  One night, the girls made the mistake of leaving all their swim stuff out on the railing in front of their cabin to dry.

I remember laying there in the dark talking with the guys, when I wondered out loud, "wouldn't it be cool if we took the girls' swim stuff, tied it in a long rope, and strung it between the roof of that shelter out there and the light post?"  It wasn't ten seconds before the guys were out the door.

The prank was fantastic.  One of our guys (that I was sure could handle it) climbed on the roof of the shelter and taped the "rope" along the entire length of the roof.  Two of the girls had their own life jackets.  They made up the ends of our "rope".  We sent the tallest guy (happened to be a counselor) up the tallest step ladder we could find positioned on top of a picnic table.  He fastened the life jacket about 17 feet up the light pole.  It looked like this.


I was sure to wake up early.  I crouched behind my car and watched the girls jump to try to reach their stuff.  They weren't within five feet of the lowest point.  That was one of the most joyful small-scale moments of my life.  Kind of sick isn't it?

Getting to the point...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Motivation and Big Decisions


When we face major life changes, decisions, or transitions, it is unrealistic to expect ourselves to stay motivated and have the same willpower that we normally do.  It's important for us to step up and lead our families through these exciting and difficult times.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Desert Week: The Highlight Reel

So this is the end of Desert Week.  Hope you enjoyed it.

This week:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Desert Week: Things To Do With Kids - Go Camping


This spring, my dad and I are taking my son camping for the first time.  I am in no way a camping expert, and I've never taken little ones with me.  While I love to get outside, it has historically revolved around running.  It's only in recent years that I have even begun camping.  So instead of pretending to know what I'm talking about, here are some nice links to help you in your adventure.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Desert Week: 5 Ways to Stay Motivated



Losing motivation is honestly one the scariest things that happens to me.  It feels like I have no control over it, though I know it has to do with my own brain.  Immediately, I see my plans and goals in jeopardy.  Nothing says “desert” like being stuck without motivation to get unstuck.
Lack of motivation is something we all deal with.  Whether you are trying to lose weight, get in shape, spend more time as a family, read more, or start a side business, your ability to stay motivated can be the limiting agent in your plans.
Luckily, as I’m getting older and more mature, I’m learning how to recharge the old motivation batteries before I find myself facing a complete breakdown.  Here are five ways I’ve found to help you when you lose your motivation:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Desert Week: The Scriptural Armory - God Uses Bumbling Screw-Ups


Moses is a really interesting character.  Obviously, he’s a hero.  He saved an entire race from the hands of extreme oppression.  Though reluctantly, he followed God into an amazing adventure marked by opposing royalty, a pillar of cloud and fire, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from Heaven, and receiving direction from God etched into tablets of stone.....not your average afternoon outing to the mall.  But we tend to forget that the same guy who encountered God in all of the above ways, started out by murdering someone then fleeing for his life to a far away land.
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?” 14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well (Exodus 2:11-15, NIV).

Desert Week - Re: What the Race to the South Pole Can Teach You About How to Achieve Your Goals



I read another amazing article on Art of Manliness this morning, and couldn’t help but chime in.  This one looks at two competing treks to the South Pole taking place in 1910 - one ending in success, one ending in death - and learning from the contrasts between the two approaches.
There is one specific lesson I found particularly interesting.  The team winning the competition was focused on one thing - reaching the South Pole first.  The team that lost, had two goals.  They were attempting to reach the South Pole first, but also scientifically study the Antarctic environment.

The authors of the article point out a very important lesson.  If you want to be successful, focus on one goal.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Desert Week: What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 6

Welcome to Desert Week on Lead Yo Fam.  For those who didn't read last week's Highlight Reel, all of this week's posts are desert themed.  If you are wondering why, I really don't have a good answer.  It just seemed to fit, so here we go.

In 1977, George Lucas introduced the world to one of the great cinematic heroes in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, launching a global phenomenon.  Out of the barren deserts of Tatooine and into the hearts of millions world-wide, roars an elderly Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Not only does Obi-Wan have mad Jedi skills, he also has his rugged, rebel individuality that draws the admiration of men like dune banthas to an oasis.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Highlight Reel


Last Week


On Sunday/Monday, we kept on keeping on with "What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 5".  Love is not rude.  If you are like me, you are rude.  The problem arises when we go to lead our families after being a slob.  Our wives and kids are going to have a difficult time taking us seriously if we can't even behave ourselves in a halfway decent way.  You can't hold a family meeting in the stink you just made, my friend.


On Tuesday, we joined a conversation on Tentblogger.com, where John Saddington posted an article originally directed to entrepreneurs insisting they probably don't need as much money to get started as they think.  In "Lessons From Cutting Our Living Space In Half", I extrapolated to address all men, describing the experience we had with selling our house and consequently cutting our living space in half. Bluntly, we buy a lot of crap we don't need.  This thought was burned into my cranium as I took box after box and bag after bag of worthless stuff to the thrift store.  Spend your money on experiences, not stuff.  It's cheaper in the long-run.  Memories don't take up space.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Things To Do With Kids: Don We Now Our Bib Overalls


My wife says that the only men that should ever wear overalls are those whose work somehow requires it.  I strongly agree with her.  But, if you are a guy that just loves the feeling of covering your entire body with one continuous piece of denim, here's your chance.  Take your kids out to the farm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Interview With School Psychologist


School psychologist, Kirstin Wilson, was kind enough to spend some time with me talking about the effect fathers' decisions can have on their kids.  I think this video turned out great, and hope you enjoy it.  Much thanks, Kirstin!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Scriptural Armory: Bait In The Water

"By transgression an evil man is ensnared, but the righteous sings and rejoices."
- Proverbs 29:6, NASB

Photo from official River Monsters Page
If you follow me on twitter, you may know that I am a HUGE River Monsters fan.  I first stumbled upon River Monsters during a marathon one night on Animal Planet.  I went to bed really late.  For those of you who have never had the pleasure of beholding the glory of this show, host Jeremy Wade, travels the world following ridiculous stories of man-eating, fresh-water fish.  In most cases, he finds them.  Before I watched Wade's heroics, I hated fishing, but now I am a man inspired.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lessons From Cutting Our Living Space In Half


I just read a great article on Tentblogger.com called "How Much Money Do You Really Need?".  Read it.  John Saddington makes some really good points.  I thought I would join the conversation.

Moving

Last August, my wife and I sold our house that had been on the market on and off for about four years.  Not surprisingly, we lost our pants in the deal...and then thousands of shirts.  Believe it or not, we were really excited to move on, so it didn't bother us a great deal.  We had been praying for the house to sell for years.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 5

Do you remember that cartoon The Ren and Stimpy Show?  If you don't, it was a cartoon that aired from 1991 to 1998 on Nickelodeon featuring a chihuahua and a cat most known for their song "Happy Happy Joy Joy".  Surprisingly enough, it's rated Y7, though here is the parental report.  The show was unabashedly, unashamedly rude, which was it's only real appeal. (source: IMDB, "The Ren & Stimpy Show").  To be honest, I never really liked it. It was too over the top.

Now it's time to get personal.

I have chronic sinus trouble.  Sometimes I can't breathe, and there are some different.....we'll call them practices....I use to clear my nasal passages.  There is a consistency that ties them together.  They are all gross.  These things no one should ever do in front of another living person.  Instead of excusing myself, I often do what I need to do to breathe in front of my wife and son.  It is repulsive. They tell me it is, but I am too rude to care.  (I'm going to work on that in the future, honey).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Highlight Reel

This Week:

On Monday, I shared with you a story of the greatest dodgeball player who's ever walked the earth, Ryan McCarty.  Even greater than Ryan's dodgeball skills is his heart for God.  As my mentor, Ryan told me the key to success is to find where God is working and be there.  The problem comes into play when fathers are arrogant enough to think that the only thing God wants to do with their families is dad's thing.  Love is not arrogant.


On Tuesday, we reflected on an article by John Maxwell.  Maxwell reminds us that the way we spend our time today greatly impacts tomorrow, though sometimes we forget it.  I extrapolated this concept to focus on the family.  As fathers, it is very easy to get pulled off our game.  Everyone wants all of us.  The fact of the matter is the people and things and people we give our time to are the things and people we grow.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Things To Do With Kids: The World's Greatest Game

In last week's Highlight Reel, I promised to tell you about the greatest game the world has ever beheld.  It's called Tomato War.

Here's the first secret.  I invented it, so I am way biased.  But it really is the most fun I've ever had playing a game.  Just look at the joy in my blurry figure throwing the frisbee below.


Supplies:

- Field
- 2 Large Trash Cans
- 1 Quality Frisbee
- Several Large Cans of Whole, Peeled Tomatoes
- Goggles
- Boundary Markers

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Wife and I Talk About Our Marriage And How We Saved It

My wife was gracious enough to join me in a video to talk about our marriage and how we saved it.
  




The Scriptural Armory: Dealing with Disappointment


Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
"I am disappointed with myself. I am disappointed not so much with particular things I have done as with aspects of who I have become"(source: John Ortberg, The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, 2009).
When I read that for the first time, I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I thought someone else feels this way?  Maybe there's less wrong with me than I thought (this is still up for debate). We're reading this Ortberg book with our small group, and the consensus is that nobody really told us when we were growing up adults don't really have it all together.

I guess I just thought all along that at some point, I would cross over this magic line and become an adult...a certified, well-adjusted, adult. I would have the answers.  I would have a GREAT job.  I would be achieving life goals left and right.  Things would be easy for me, and I would be able to show my kids how to do life without a thought that my advice is really a load of crap.  You know what I mean?  All along, my teachers, principles, astronauts, presidents, sports heroes all said I could be whatever I want.  I could do whatever I want.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

People You Grow



In an article entitled, "How does today impact tomorrow’s success?", John Maxwell talks about the impact our decisions today have on our future.  I do not think this could possibly be overstated when it comes to the arena of fatherhood.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. Part - 4

Not Ryan McCarty
When I started out in youth ministry, my senior minister set me up with a mentor.  His name is Ryan McCarty.  Ryan is one of the biggest, strongest men I’ve ever been around.  I saw Ryan play dodgeball once at a large youth retreat.  It was truly terrifying.
The high school boys are running like frantic chipmunks around a tennis court, with Ryan standing in the middle of his team, a menacing figure, just waiting for the opposition to run out of ammo.  You can tell he's a seasoned dodgeball vet.  Unfortunately for the kids, he's also college baseball vet.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Where Did The Easter Bunny Come From?



Last night, my wife and I were sitting around wondering where the Easter Bunny came into the mix, so I decided to do a little research.  I was surprised at what I found.


There may not be a more controversial figure in folklore than Peter Cottontale.  Many conservative Christians view his cute, cuddly demeanor as a rouse disguising his evil intent to commandeer our remaining Jesus holiday.  However startling it is, the Easter Bunny is not the candy conglomerates attempt to make a quick buck.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Helicopter Easter Egg Hunt

I realize this is not a typical Lead Yo Fam post, but I couldn't resist...

Imagine Church in Westfield, Indiana hosted the most amazing outreach event I've ever seen.  They kicked off an easter egg hunt by dropping 10,000 eggs out of a helicopter.  I had to show you this video I took while I was there.


Crazy, huh?

The Highlight Reel

This Week


On Monday we dove back into 1 Corinthians 13:4 with "What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 3".  When Paul says that love is not jealous, he is not referring to romantic jealousy.  Rather he is talking about love in general - agape love, and the jealousy that causes us to make stupid consumer decisions.  It's the kind of jealousy that causes rivalries between siblings and neighbors.  We demonstrate love when we play the spoiler to society's games - when we say no to the Jones'.  In doing so, we protect our families from financial crisis and cluttered homes.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Things To Do With Kids: Go Exploring

Where does that road take us?  What's that park like?  Is that restaurant any good?  Go exploring.  Stop asking questions, and find out.

I'm here in New Smyrna Beach, Florida with my family, my folks, and my brother.  Florida was named by Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer who discovered this peninsula during his quest for the fountain of youth.  After spending the week here, it seems that all the exploring has already been done.  But has it?

My parents have been here four of the last five years, but this is our first time.  With the addition of a three year old comes the need for a playground - for those times when you just can't handle sand between your toes any longer.  Last night, armed with a Garmin and list of playground addresses, we set out on a little voyage of our own.  We didn't find the fountain of youth, but considering I'm still in my twenties, we founds something way better.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice From Andy Stanley


Today, I'm going to introduce you to a book that changed my life.  It's called
Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide? by Andy Stanley.  I'll point out two lessons from the book and how they changed me.  I am recommending this book so strongly, that I don't want to blow it for you when you read it.

Lesson One

"Simply put, you must choose to cheat at work rather than at home"(p. 12).  In other words, the law of scarcity applies to our very being.  Everyone wants all of us - our bosses, our pastors, our wives, our kids, our in-laws.  But you just can't be everything to everyone.  We all try at some point, and eventually we all fail.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Scriptural Armory: How To Hear The Voice of God

Hearing the voice of God is not as hard as people make it out to be.  There is so much gobbledygook out there about listening to God, that I think we have confused ourselves about something that is really pretty simple.  From what I can tell, most of the confusion comes from two basic questions that aren't being answered.  1. What if God can't get a hold of me?  2. How do I actively seek God's voice?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Five Tips for Creating a Five Year Family Plan

I have a confession.  There is a blog that I read religiously called Simple Mom.  I don't read it because of some secret desire to get in touch with my feminine side (if you even suggest it I'll punch you in the face right now).  I read it because it's content is incredibly good, even though I'm certainly outside of author, Tsh Oxenreider's, target market.  Listen to me when I say, "get your family in touch with her work now"!  She also has a book out called Organized Simplicity.

Today, Oxenreider published a blog entry called "I Wrote A Five Year Plan (and you can too)".  You can read it yourself, but she encourages her readers to create a five year plan for their family.  During my vocational ministry years, I was involved in a great deal of long range planning, so I thought I might be able to add a short list of helpful thoughts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 3


1 Corinthians 13:4 says "Love is not jealous"(NLT).  So is it wrong for a man to be jealous if his wife is getting too close to another man?

We live in a very tolerant and accepting society.  Men and women are supposed to have their own space.  How often do we hear someone say, "It's alright for me to look as long as I don't touch" or "there's nothing wrong with a little flirting" as long as it stops there.  In general the notion of a jealous husband is met with fury and suspicion.  Accusations of a controlling personality are sure to follow.

Strangely enough, this verse seems to support such views.  If he loves her or she loves him then they will be ok with an anything goes relationship, granted there is nothing physical happening outside the marriage.  My wife and I have friends who say their spouses have no business influencing their lives - separate checking accounts, calendars, and agendas.  The verse does say that love is not jealous, but something just doesn't sit right with me about this.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Highlight Reel

After looking around at some other quality blogs, I've decided to add a "highlight reel" for Saturdays - a look at where we've been the last week and where I am taking you next week.

This Week


On Monday, we learned how to be patient and kind in "What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 2".  It's not just about practicing patience by putting ourselves in especially annoying situations.  It isn't some magic pill that we take, and suddenly we express love appropriately.  In every heated situation there comes a time when we can take a step back to deescalate the tension or step up and escalate it.  When we step back and cool it, we're being patient and kind.  Thus, we are showing love.  It's up to YOU to get it done.


On Tuesday, we reflected on an entry by Donald Miller and a subsequent comment by author 'Z'.  This was all about filtering our relationships, and whether or not we are right in demoting a friend if he is detrimental to us in one way or another.  I used Miller's entry to launch into a discussion about how to structure our relationships like Jesus.  We have those who are in our "inner circle", those who are true friends, then there is everyone else.  Sometimes, it becomes necessary to demote and promote friends.  My rousing illustration can be seen to the right.

"The Scriptural Armory - Teach Wisdom's Ways" featured Proverbs 4:11-13 which says, "I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths.  When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble.  Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go.  Guard them, for they are the key to life"(NLT).  How do we stop the moral decline of America?  Fathers need to learn how to make sound, moral decisions, then teach their sons wisdom's ways.


Thursday, we had another installment of "I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind".  This time we heard from Ron Stohler, Pastor of Adult Ministries at Grace Community Church - my current church home.  Ron encouraged men to follow God whilst their families along with them.  Much thanks to Ron for his contribution!


Friday, we uncovered another great adventure for you and your own....to the beach!  While it's probably too late to go on an impromptu spring vacation out to America's coastal areas, there are tons of fresh-water beaches and parks to enjoy across the country.  There's most likely one within an hour or two of your home.  With tons of stuff to do and a low price tag, you can't go wrong leading yo fam to one of these awesome locations!

Next Week

Monday - What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 3.  1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love is not jealous.  So is it wrong for a man to be jealous if his wife is getting too close to a male friend?  I'll tell you Monday.

Tuesday - We will join an interesting discussion brewing somewhere on the web.  Can't tell you specifics, because the conversation has yet to start.

Wednesday - The Scriptural Armory will equip you to listen to God.  You know the story of Elijah hearing God's soft, quiet voice in 1 Kings?  I see a different lesson in the story than most current interpretations.

Thursday - In "I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind", we take a detour from the interviews as I introduce you to a book that changed my life - Choosing To Cheat by Andy Stanley.

Friday - Tired of going to the mall?  Does that waiter know the names of you, your wife, your kids, your pets, and your kids' best friends?  Sounds like it's time to awaken your latent explorers.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Things To Do With Kids: To The Beach!!


Thank goodness!  It's spring break time.  I don't know about you, but we are ready for a vacation in the Christy household.  We've had a ton of changes and a lot of stress since our last vaca; I assume we are just like everyone else.  This time we are going to the beach with my folks.....can't wait.

So here is my suggestion to you.  To The Beach!!  I can almost hear your thoughts...your inner cynic seeping through time and cyberspace.  You say, "Chase, the beach is forever away.  We don't have money or plans to go all the way to [insert ocean-front destination of choice]".  This is where I stop your affront to my creativity.

Throw your family in the car and visit one of our many fresh-water beach locations throughout the continental U.S. (or anywhere else in the world for that matter).  Because of the proximity of lakes, rivers, and creeks to our homes, you can make a weekend or extended weekend out of it, and there are about a zillion things you can do depending on your chosen destination.  Hike, fish, kayak, run, drink coffee, camp, just to drop a few ideas on you.

As I mention occasionally, I live in central Indiana, USA.  When people around here talk about going to the beach, one can assume they mean to take a vacation to Florida or South Carolina.  There are a lot of great things about going south in the Spring - namely the weather.  The downside is the distance.  It's expensive and takes a lot of time to get down there and back.  We're dropping about 1200 bucks on travel alone for our trip.

We central and south hoosiers forget that we are a Great Lakes state.  Lake Michigan is just a few hours north, enabling the diligent family leader to take his crew on a quick get away for a fraction of the cost of going down to the South.  It might not be warm enough to swim in the water, but there are fewer sharks.  Plus, there are some neat cultural opportunities around lake towns, especially if you get off the beaten path a bit.  I don't know about you, but I HATE feeling like I'm in a tourist coral.  Going to Orlando majorly weirds me out.

Any place worth its salt (pun intended) as a tourist location will have tourism info out there.  I found this great site on Michigan Beach Towns.   Here's some info. on Colorado River tourism.  Here is a cool lake in California.  I won't insult your intelligence.  I know you can perform your own Google searches.

Even if you already have a great Spring Break trip planned, put this one in your back pocket for a weekend in the future.  Remember, when it comes to traveling, you don't have to go big or go home.  Sometimes a small, lower-priced trip is a great change of pace. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Ron Stohler

Grace Community Church has had a big impact on my life on two different occasions.  My family was part of Grace during my middle school years.  We all know how difficult those years can be, but the fine leaders at that time helped me find an identity - so important for adolescence.  There was an intern when I was in 7th grade named Todd.  He taught me how to lead worship, and that has been HUGE in my life ever since.


Recently, my wife and I moved back to the area.  I decided that church shopping was out of the question for our family, so we have only gone to Grace.  We are incredibly glad we did.  While no church is perfect, the leaders at Grace have created an environment that is welcoming yet challenging - a difficult balance to achieve.  Their pursuit of excellence shines out of every corner, yet things are not over the top showy, and there is no fear to get a little messy.


Ron Stohler is the Pastor of Adult Ministries at Grace Community Church.  Simply because of the size of our church, I have not personally met Ron.  We connected through e-mail.  When I told Ron what I was up to with this blog and how I could use his help, he was gracious enough to pitch in his two-cents.  He knows how to pack a punch in just a few words.  Here are his responses.


1.  If there is one thing you could tell a young father/husband what would it be?


You cannot lead on your own. The battle is too hard. You need your Heavenly Father to lead you. And you need the company of other men of valor.



2. As you look back across your ministry experience, what is the most important ritual or tradition for men to instill in their families?


Simple things like eating together, praying for them at bedtime and serving together.


3. What is one common mistake you see men make, and what should they do differently?


We get so caught up in our work or personal mission that we can leave our families in the dust.


4. In as few words as possible, what does family leadership mean to you?


Follow me as I follow Christ. 1 Cor. 1:11


5. What is THE most powerful way a man can impact his family's relationship with Christ?


Pray for them and with them.


Ron also recommended The Expeditionary Man by Rich Wagner.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Scriptural Armory - Teach Wisdom's Ways



"I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths.  When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble.  Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go.  Guard them, for they are the key to life"(Proverbs 4:11-13, NLT).


One of the biggest problems with my generation is the distinct inability to make sound decisions.  Instead of thinking critically about situations, we tend to simply do what we think everyone else does or whatever feels good at the moment.  Personally, when it has come time for me to make big decisions in life, I have often faltered.


For instance, while the average college student changes his major around four times, I changed mine eight times.  When it came time to make a decision about buying our first house, I totally jacked it up.  We couldn't sell it when we needed to.  When we finally did, we had to bring $30k to closing.  I know I'm not the only one who gets himself and family into these types of messes.


Look at these statistics.  According to CreditCard.com, (source: Sallie Mae, "How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards," April 2009), the average college senior graduates with $4,100 in credit card debt.  Two thirds of college students graduate with student loan debt.  The average of that debt is $24,000 (Source: Demos.org, "The Economic State of Young America," May 2008).  The average debt of a person in their twenties is $45,000 including all categories outside of mortgage (source: Debtmerica.com, "Debt Plaguing Young Adults", 2012).


Poor choices are not simply confined to finance, or vocation.  According to a study involving 38,000 people, ninety-five percent of Americans have had premarital sex.  Additionally, the study found that the rate has been stagnant since the 1950's!  (source: Truthdig.com, "95% of Americans Have Had Premarital Sex", 2006).


So how do we step up and stop the cycle?  First, we have to learn how to make good decisions.  There are lots of resources directed to adults.  I searched The Art of Manliness archives and found two solid articles right away.  Then, it is up to us as men to involve our kids in decision making.  According to Don Keehner.  It's super important to show our kids what it looks like to follow God.  It can be messy, but life is messy.  Knowing that prepares young men to no end.  


Next time you have a big decision, use it as an opportunity to "teach wisdom's ways" to the next generation.  It might not be picture perfect, but it is sorely needed.
13 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Response to "Do You Filter Your Relationships" from Donald Miller

On March 26, 2012, Donald Miller published an article to his blog entitled "Do You Filter Your Relationships? You Probably Should"  You can read the article for yourself if you would like, but his basic premise is there are people who will negatively affect you.  Don't let them be a part of your life.

In response, an author who refers to herself as 'Z' writes an articulate and respectful rebuttal to Miller's post.  You can find that response in the comments section at the above link.  Her premise is essentially Jesus calls us to accept everyone in our lives.  It's part of being a Christian.

I agree with Miller and with 'Z'.

Circles

Have you ever heard anyone talk about circles of influence?  It is a relationship model that looks like a target.  I learned about it in seminary, and have seen it here and there in my reading.  It looks like this:

See my beautiful artwork?  I obviously lack skills in handwriting and drawing.  You can even see how I messed up on the back.

In your life there is you.  Then there is your inner circle.  These people are really, really close to you.  This might be your wife, your best buddies, your mentor, your siblings, etc.  My wife and my parents are in my inner circle.  I don't make any life decisions without talking with them.

Next, you have friends and family who play a significant role in your life.  You don't necessarily run life decisions past them.  You don't necessarily bare your soul to them, but they are important to you in an emotional way.  We have friends that we see several times a year.  I love being around them.  I love exchanging ideas with them, and hearing what they have to say.  I love to keep up with them, and watch their families grow.  You have people like this in your life.  You know what I mean.

Then there's everyone else.  These are the people who are not close to you.  It is a pretty broad group since it includes the rest of the world.  What does Jesus say about the rest of the world?  He says to love them.  He says that "God so loved the world that he gave his only son"(John 3:16).  These people are in your life as we are all part of the same world.  When we encounter these people, we should be respectful and friendly, seeing Jesus among them.

Let's take a look at Jesus' earthly ministry for a second.  Jesus used this model for his relationships.  There was Jesus.  Then there were three - Peter, John, and James.  Next were the 12 plus some of the other folks that he hung out with frequently.  Then there was everyone else.  Some of these people loved Jesus and followed him.  Some hated Jesus and tried to kill him.  While Jesus is God, he was limited during his earthly ministry by his human condition.  Jesus escaped the crowds throughout the gospels to rest, or to pray with his circles.  Why?  Because these other people were exhausting.  Did he love them?  Yes, but he couldn't be around them all the time.  Their immediate needs would have derailed his ultimate purpose of saving the world.

My point is not to get into a lengthy theological debate about who really is in Jesus' circles.  While Jesus is 100% man, he is also 100% God.  I trust my readers do not share this precise scenario, so I ask you take what I am saying in good faith.

Crashing the Party

Sometimes someone can inadvertently wander into a circle where he or she doesn't belong.  The effects of this can be devastating.  Think abuse - emotional and physical.  Maybe someone always needs you; he's always pulling you away from your family to help with this or that, never gives back, and really doesn't give a rip.  Maybe this one dude gains your confidence, then embarrasses you, on purpose, in front of your coworkers.  Sometimes rotten spouses can destroy their wives' or husbands' lives.

When someone is too close to you, he needs to be demoted.  You can demote him to that outer group of friends or to "everyone else" land.  This doesn't mean that you are condemning him or her to hell.  It simply means it's not a good relationship.

One might contest that demoting someone will prevent you from sharing Christ with him.  Let me ask you this.  If this guy is throwing you off your game all over the place, are you really going to be an effective witness?  Maybe you are not the one God is using to share Christ.  Do you think you are the only one God can use?

Wait a second!  Did God ever demote anyone?  Let me think...Satan, Adam and Eve, Judas Iscariot to name a few.  Yes I think he did.

In conclusion, I agree with Miller and Z.  If someone is truly a jerk, we should demote him.  That doesn't mean we curse him, or hate him.  It simply means we put them in a place of less importance regarding our own life path.  If someone is a bad influence on you, stop listening.  Garbage in garbage out.

What is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 2


Last week in What is Love?  Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 1, we discovered that people (Americans especially) simply do not know what love is.  This week, we're going to begin unfolding the answer to the question.


"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance" (1 Cor 13:4-7, NLT).


That's a lot to swallow.  Let's break it, break it down now.  


Play the video below as you read on.




Love is patient and kind.  Those are two words I wouldn't use to describe myself.  I'm one of those go, go, go kind of guys.  If time management were a cup, I'll take mine overfilled.  Hold the ice.  People who have gotten to know me in the last couple of years might not recognize that, because I've had to be so intentional about creating margin in my life.  By nature, I am not...people in general are not especially patient or especially kind.


But there it is.  Love is patient and kind.


When I interviewed my dad, he said his greatest regret as a father has been a lack of patience, so maybe it's hereditary....I don't know.  I do know my dad is honestly one of the most patient guys I know.  What does that say about the rest of us?  What does that say about me?  How far off am I really?


King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, once said, "Finishing is better than starting, patience is better than pride.  Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool"(Ecc 7:8-9, NLT).  


Man, I must make an idiot out of myself at an extraordinary clip.  But, love is patient and kind.


Have you ever seen anyone suggest that the cure to impatience is going out and sitting in a traffic jam, or joining the longest line at the grocery store.  I've heard this suggestion multiple times.


That makes sense to me.  That's exactly what we need - a whole bunch of angry people stressing themselves out.  Can you say road rage?  Is bag line rage a real thing?  If not, I suppose we just invented it.  Seriously, next are you going to suggest to recovering alcoholics everywhere to chill out in bars?  "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear you've been struggling with lust.  Here's a gift subscription to Playboy to help you on your journey."

The best  - the only solution to impatience and unkindness, with God's help, is to simply breathe.  Just stop.  There's really no other way around it.  I don't care how much practice you put yourself through, or how many anger management classes you attend.  There comes a moment in every situation when you have to decide to escalate or deescalate the tension.  Our nature is to push it...to get the most charge out of that second when we lose control.


I'm telling you to withdraw in that moment.  By withdrawing you are loving.


Do you have any stories about impatience to share?  They could be funny, scary, educational....doesn't matter.  Leave a comment to share it with the world.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Things To Do With Kids: Church Playgrounds


A few weekends ago, it was a bit too cold for us to go to a playground, and my son had smelled Spring in the air.  In other words his activity level had gone through the roof.  After peeling him off the walls fifteen or sixteen times, we had to get out, but I didn't want to blow a hole in our entertainment budget for him just to be able to run around.

We remembered that one of the churches in our area has an indoor playground open to the public most of the week.  I had been putting off going there thinking it wouldn't be worth the twenty minute drive, but when we got there, I was blown away.  The facility was about the size of a gym and looked like a non-profit version of the old Discovery Zones.  The equipment was in great condition!  They had an area for parents to relax while they watched their kids.  Most importantly, my son had a blast venting his extra energy.

So here's the tip.  Look at some of the church websites in your area to see if any have an indoor or outdoor playground facility open to the public.  I would start with some of the larger churches that have access to some non mission-critical funds.

If you are a leader of a church, let me suggest designating your playground equipment for public use and get the word out there.  Man, what a simple and effective way to reach out to your community!  I provided a link in the photo caption to the aforementioned church.  

Some important legal items - They had clearly marked signage about playing at your own risk and rules including #1 - the all-important "Parents must supervise their kids at all times".  There also was a volunteer at the front door to the building - always a good idea when the building is open during off hours or if your offices are located out of the way a bit.

Things To Do With Kids: St. Patricks Day

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Don Keehner


Profile picture from tpcc.org
Whenever I describe Don Keehner to someone, I tell them he is one of those few guys whom you meet and know immediately he has been with God.  Don, or "Keehner" was my wife's and my youth minister in high school at Trader's Point Christian Church.  He is the man who married us, and we have stayed in contact since then.  He's been married to his high school sweetheart, Kelly for 22 years.  After being in youth ministry for a number of years and the senior minister at Northview Christian Church in Danville, Indiana, he now serves as the discipleship minister at Traders Point Christian Church in Zionsville, Indiana.

The following is an interview I conducted with Keehner over the phone this morning.

If there is one thing you could tell a young father/husband, what would it be?
Love your wife, and pour into and understand her.  Reinforce it in your marriage.  Wives kind of doubt inwardly sometimes, “ok, does he really love me?”
For us guys, sometimes we think we can say, “I love you” one time on Saturday and we are good for a week.  Then we think that our wives wouldn’t question it or doubt it.  But what I have found is that continually reminding and showing affection towards my wife is incredibly important.  From that, she gains a solid foundation of believing it.
Reinforcing love looks different for each couple.  For some that could be a letter, for some it could be verbal, for some it could be a gift, or writing it on a mirror.  Sometimes it’s a touch in a crowded room, or a look in the eye...just to say, “I love you, and I’m thankful.”  You just have to keep reinforcing it to your wife.  I don’t think that ever stops.  It’s not for just young married.  I’ve been married twenty-two years.  You just have to keep reinforcing.
Keep reassuring your wife of your commitment.  The more I do that, the more I think about it as a man, and want to stay committed.  As men, we are so easily tricked.  We lose focus, at least I do.  When I remind her of my commitment, I remind myself to stay focused.
What is the most important ritual or tradition for men to instill in their families?
In my family, we try to stress the importance of living by God’s Word.  We’ve been pretty good as a family at reading it together.  As the kids get older - even at 3,4,5 we tried to demonstrate a repentance in front of them...an acknowledgement that dad messes up too.  I try to admit to my kids when I go wrong and help them understand why.  Make the Gospel flesh in front of them.  A lot of times that comes out in being open when I’m wrong towards them due to my attitude, my frustration, due to my lack of sleep....it comes out in my flesh winning.
At times we’ve had to trust God faithfully.  If your children are older, and you have a change at church, you sit them down and explain that to them.  They will say, “Dad, why?  Those are all my friends?”  I know when they are younger most everything revolves essentially around the family.  They have no concept of time and distance, so they kind of make their friends as you go.  
As they get older, we try to live in front of them our struggles, but also our clinging to God.....how hard it is, but it’s good to follow his ways.  It doesn’t always mean we paint a beautiful picture of our walk with God.  The way my wife and I have always approached it is just to be very real in the joys of following Christ and the struggles of following Christ.  That started at three years old when I forced my daughter to stand on the fireplace longer than I should of, because she is strong willed and I wanted to win.  I told her that wasn’t right of me.  I needed to apologize.  When I lose control I need to admit it, repent, and make amends.  And that’s been my continual walk with them, just to say we are trying to live in a manner that is instructed by God....live in grace.  We say , “sometimes I need you to offer me grace”, then I reciprocate back to them.
What is a common mistake you see men make?  What should they do differently?
Where they put their priority in regards to time.  We live in a culture that demands a lot, and we lose track of what’s important.  We live in the North American culture of consumerism.  We believe in putting in a good work so you can earn a good paycheck.  We often end up sacrificing the family.  We sacrifice the important for the immediate.  
Men need to make a certain amount because it makes us feel good.  That causes us to spend more time on the job of time, to neglect our family, to put more effort into making money.  We need to make a living, don’t get me wrong, but we fail a lot of times as we sell ourselves to the job instead of our family.
It is hard to balance your time on your own.  You have to be in a community; at least I do.  You can get tricked.  I would say their is a spiritual force at work.  That is the way Satan works in our culture.  We are affluent, we can make money....not easily, but it is readily there.  It can be a good thing, but we can fall trapped to it.  
We can have an abundance, but that doesn’t mean we are providing what our kids and our wives really need.  A lot of times that is just a physical presence - our time, and our energy put towards them.  If you get home and you are completely beat, how can you have energy for them?
Don’t work so hard to succeed at the things that really aren’t that important.  You have to succeed at what is really important.
In as few words as possible, what does the term “family leadership” mean to you?
Both husband and wife relying on Christ to lead them as they do his will and fulfill his mission for that particular family.
What is the most powerful way a man can impact his family’s relationship with Christ?
First, he has to have a relationship with Christ and pursue that, and love being loved by God.  He has to protect that, and always be growing in his walk with Christ.
The husband has to pour into his wife and love her.  Teaching is more caught than taught.  The kids are going to see, “my dad loves my mom”, and they are going to be attracted to that...before they get freaked out when they realize what you do behind closed doors.
Lastly, spend time with your kids.  Encourage them and walk with them, so they know what’s important to their dad....however that is communicated to them.  There has to be a focused effort to spend time with each kid.


Related Posts:


I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Brian Christy

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Ron Stohler

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Andy Stanley

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Scriptural Armory - Guard Your House

In the beginning, God created everything.  You know the story - Day and Night, Sky, Ground and Oceans, Vegetation, Heavenly Bodies, Birds and Fish, Animals, then lastly Humans.  Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them"(TNIV).


Let's take a pitstop here.  Sit back in your chair and clear your mind.....easy there don't fall asleep.  Think about how beautiful it all was.  I've thought a lot recently about the scars and scabs civilizations have left on this beautiful earth.  That old abandoned house on the corner - what an eyesore - it wasn't there.  The carbon monoxide that chokes you when a big truck drives by - it wasn't there.  Chernobyl - it wasn't there.

Adam and Eve had it all - literally all - this beautiful, unadulterated world, no work, and to top it all off, God walked with them in the garden.  Can you imagine being able to just walk and talk face to face with God?

But then Eve encountered a serpent.  This was no ordinary serpent, rather a serpent possessed by Satan himself.  Satan had one intention that day and one only.  He wanted to desecrate God's masterpiece.

And he succeeded.  It didn't take much.  He just had to say, "You will not certainly die . . . For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil"(Gen 3:4-5, TNIV).

That was all it took to ruin the entire universe.

And it's so easy to blame Eve.  After all she was the one who took the first bite.  She was the one who had the nerve to chat it up with The Deceiver himself.  She was the one who gave the apple to Adam.  It was obviously all her fault.

"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it"(Gen 3:6, TNIV).

Uh........wait a second.

How did Adam get his apple?  Eve gave it to him.  It was an easy hand off since he was there too.

Get this - ADAM WAS STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO HIS WIFE WHEN SHE DESTROYED HUMANITY!!

He was sitting on the couch watching football.  He was all numbed out.  He was drunk.  He was mowing the yard for the fourth time this week.  He was "working late".  He was out with his buddies.  He was sitting there playing Call of Duty, while his wife had an out loud conversation with Satan.

Adam's lack of family leadership led to the fall of the world.  Sure, Eve was to blame too, but Adam did nothing.  He wasn't all in or all out.  He was just.....complacent.

I don't know about you, but I will not sit there and let Satan have a conversation with anyone in my family.  I intend to teach my family the difference between good and evil.  I will build hedges to protect my family from the dark parts of the world.  With the help of Jesus, I will aggressively hunt the demons that torment my people.

Peter describes Satan as a lion looking for someone to devour(1 Peter 5:8).  When that lion turns up around my house, I'm getting my gun.

Do me a favor.  Right now, decide to do the same for your family.  Don't let your own complacency destroy your little corner of humanity.

He will come.  Grab your gun.  Guard your house.