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.
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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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How To Have A Positive Attitude: It's Simple!


Having a Positive Attitude is simple.  

That may sound unbelievable, but let me explain.

This morning I was reading Cultivating A Positive Attitude by John C. Maxwell.  He said one thing  that really hit home with me - "Achieve a goal every day. Some people get into a rut of negativity because they feel they’re not making progress."

I live in the Indianapolis area.  We used to be Peyton Manning's town (I'm wiping the tears off my keyboard).  While Peyton will be sorely missed, there is one thing that he does that drives me crazy.  Let me demonstrate this pretend, but typical exchange between Peyton Manning and any give media person.

Media Person 1: "Peyton, have you thought at all about where you might play next?"

Peyton: "No.  I have just been working hard every day to get back to where I need to be."

Media Person 1: "You haven't thought at all about what's next?"

Peyton: "No.  I just do my best everyday to get back to playing football."

Mass Hysteria.......

Media Person 2: "Peyton some people say you are the greatest quarterback to ever play football.  How do you think getting cut by the Colts will affect your legacy?"

Peyton:  "I just love playing quarterback.  There are so many greats."

I'm just sitting there wondering if anyone in their right mind believes this crap.  I mean, who in that position wouldn't be thinking about where he is going to play next or how he will be remembered 10, 20, 30 years down the road.  Deep down, I have always wondered if Peyton Manning is a robot. It would explain a lot.

Not so long ago, it dawned on me - what if Peyton is being serious?  What if he really, honestly does his best at all times to focus on the moment to moment - on the next game.  If that is the case, maybe he isn't just a thorn in the side of the media outlets who are trying desperately to get a story.  Maybe he's on to something.

So I decided to give it a try.  I started to direct my attention away from whether or not my name will be legendary when I die (yes I think about these things.....pathetic I know).  I stopped getting caught up in whether or not I will ever live in one of those houses I saw on HGTV as a high schooler, and assumed all people get to live in at some point in their lives.  I stopped worrying about whether or not I will ever be perfect, or that my family will be perfect, or that my son will have a scholarship to college (he's 3), or when we will be 100% debt free, or what the heck the Colts are going to do next year.

Instead, I started thinking about making the moment count.  I found a simple devotional routine that gets me centered on Christ every morning.  I started a blog, and focus on getting the most out of every post.  Instead of getting anxious, negative, and frustrated about my progress towards our 5 year goals that I try to achieve in a week's time, I just focus on what needs to be done in the next hour.  And sometimes, I scrap it all and just hang out with my family.

I might not be a football player, but I think I've learned how to stay positive.  I guess you could describe it as simplicity.  See.....I told you having a positive attitude is simple!

Please tell the world how you keep a positive attitude.  Use the comment box below to lend a hand.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 1



Love.  The central theme in any vomit-inducing chick flick.  I can't tell you how many movies I have been forced to watch that go as follows:
  1. Male (good looking) and Female (also good looking) want nothing to do with each other.
  2. Male and Female start to notice each other in a different way - leading the audience to ask (as if this has never happened before), "Will they end up together??????"
  3. Male and Female realize there is, in fact, love in the air.  Whereupon, they have sex immediately.
  4. BUT, there is a catch.  No! Could this be the end of this match made in heaven?
  5. Nope.   Male and Female end up together.  OR Occasionally a writer will get "creative" and in the end both parties go their separate ways.  However, those are not the movies we have to live through more than once.

Let's face it.   Hollywood has no idea what love is, or if they do, their poker face is dead on.   But is Hollywood the villain here, or does it simply mirror the thoughts and beliefs of our society?

Some Research:

In 2008, The Barna Group released a study that found " . . . among all Americans 18 years of age or older, whether they have been married or not, 25% have gone through a marital split".  According to the 2008 US Census Report, the divorce rate (3.5 per population of 1000) is just under half of the death rate (8.1 per population of 1000).

Either we do not know what love is, or we are having a heck of a time showing it.

Some Perspective Please:

There are about a thousand "what is love" references in scripture, but in my opinion this is the most poignant.

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing (1 Cor 13:1-3, NLT).

Are you freaking kidding me?  Paul says that possessing love is more important than KNOWING ALL OF GOD'S SECRET PLANS AND POSSESSING ALL KNOWLEDGE.  

Think about that.  How many years have you spent in school?  I have spent about 18 years in school excluding pre-k.  I have recently come to the realization that I know nothing, and yes, I suppose I am chilling with my boys Socrates and Plato on that.  I have spent that much of my life learning hardly anything at all.  I put that much value in the tiniest bit of knowledge.
And yet, Paul says I could know everything there is to know about everything, and it still doesn't matter squat diddly poo (nada...nichts...rien...nani mo...méishénme) compared to truly - honest to God - "getting" love.

The fact of the matter is that as family leaders, we have to get this thing resolved.  If we don't know what love is or how to do it, what hope is there.....really?

We are going to figure this out together, you and I.  This is Part 1 of a series called, "What is love?  Baby Don't Hurt Me."  Tune in each Monday as we answer this question once in for all.

Oh....and one more thing:


Related Posts:

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

Things To Do With Kids: St. Patricks Day


On Friday each week, I'll be highlighting things to do with kids.  Not sure about you, but sometimes I feel like my family is digging deeper and deeper ruts into our normal stomping grounds.  Family leaders, forage ahead to show their kids "this is how you spend your time as a God-fearing adult".  Plus, my wife is super happy when I have a good idea for something to do, and we all know, when mama is happy, everyone is happy.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's day.  I'm not Irish, and I'm not interested in drinking green beer.  So what does that leave us?

It leaves us a couple of great options!  

Many towns and cities have St. Patrick's day running races.  Before I lose you, most of the distances are manageable for anyone to walk.  Usually they have a few different distances to choose from, and a children's fun run - a very short distance.  AND everyone gets a t-shirt.  When you wear it, people will assume you ran the race, and that you are secretly ripped.  You can't go wrong!




If you've never been to a race, they're a lot of fun!  The atmosphere is like a big party.  It's a blast just to be there even if you aren't participating.  Additionally, it takes a lot of volunteers to pull it off, so if you like what you see, your family could sign up to serve the community next year.

The downside is that they can get a little expensive.  The better the experience, the more you can expect to pay.  But the fun runs and walks are usually cheaper than the competitive race.  Plus, the proceeds for almost every road race go to a good cause - fighting cancer, school funds, arthritis, hospitals, churches - you know the good stuff.

Another option is the good ole' St. Patty's day parade.  They're fun.  Most of the time they're free, and you get your fill of bag pipes for another year.  What could be better?


Even if you're not Irish, get out there this weekend.  Show your family a great time!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

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

Brian Christy pretending to be psyched about gum ball gift from grandson.
This is the first entry in a series called, "I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind".  One entry each week I intend to highlight some other voices on the subject of Family Leadership.  Some voices will be of men I know and respect.  Others will be of authors, pastors, or counselors - people you might consider "experts" in their field.

To kick things off, I decided to interview my dad, Brian Christy.  Why not?  I'm lucky enough to have an exceptional dad.  Am I biased?  Yes, but then again how many men hate their dads?  Mine has done a lot of cool things for a lot of different people.  Most important of all?  He has led his entire family to love the Lord.

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

Brian: Be patient with yourself, your wife and your children. It is sometimes difficult to have enough vision to see down the road and get a clear picture of where you will be as a family. Sometimes we make small decisions seem much more important than they really are. The most important thing to remember is that a sincere desire to follow God should be the ultimate purpose for our lives. The life-road each of us take will have twists and turns, roadblocks, high speed lanes, times of feeling completely lost, and more surprises than we can ever prepare for or imagine. It is our responsibility as husbands and fathers to help provide as much vision as possible to make the road clear for our family, and at times it is to serve as the GPS device that helps them find their way.

Chase: As you look back, what have been the most important rituals and traditions for your family?

Brian: I think in some ways the most important ritual we have had as a family is to remind one another to be cautious of rituals and traditions. Oh sure, we have some holiday family traditions and we sometimes make a ritual of watching the Indianapolis Colts, but on a spiritual level it has always been important to my wife and I that our children know that faith is far more than traditions and rituals. Our faith in God should be about personal commitment to the one who created us. We should focus on making our faith practical and relevant in our culture so that others might be drawn to Jesus through everyday relationships. It can be good to make a tradition of practicing our faith as long as we keep in mind that those traditions do not replace true personal commitment to Jesus.

Chase: As a father, what is one mistake you have made? What would you do differently?

Brian: I think the greatest mistake I have made as a father is that I have not always been patient enough with my children to allow them to learn. If one of my kids wanted to help me with a project, I was always in too big of a hurry to get things completed and too much of a perfectionist to deal with their fledgling efforts. I am sure that there are a number of skills that they are lacking today only because I was not patient enough to wait for them to learn.

Chase: In as few words as possible what does "family leadership" mean to you?


Brian: “Family leadership” means leading by example.  It doesn’t matter what or how much you say, but instead it matters most how you live.

Chase: What is THE most powerful way to impact your family's relationship with Christ?

Brian: There is nothing I can say or do that will impact my family more than living out my faith. Sometimes we talk about spiritual pitfalls. Sometimes my wife and I give spiritual advice, but THE most powerful way to impact my family is to openly express a desire to follow God and serve Him no matter the cost.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another Tool in the Walt Kowalski Toolbox


On March 12, 2012, my favorite blog, The Art of Manliness (AoM), referenced one of my very favorite movies, Gran Torino, in an article called, "The Walt Kowalski Toolbox" If you have not seen this movie your manliness is at least a notch below where it could be.  No, seriously.  This movie will literally make extra hair come out of your chest.

AoM's article - superb as always - focuses on three essential elements that, according to Gran Torino's Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), make up the most basic tool kit.  These magical items are (drum roll please) Duct Tape, Vise Grips, and WD40.  From there, AoM does their thing, going into detail about each item's history and uses.

I want to focus your attention on another tool in Walt Kowalski's toolbox.


The Role Model.  

It's history?  As old as time.  It's purpose?  Fixes broken lives.

For those who aren't familiar with the story, Walt Kowalski is a grizzly old man living in his beautifully up kept house in a very unkempt part of town.  Gang violence is rampant; the pressure to join even more so.  Walt, a Korean War vet and widower, hates to be bothered and has ZERO tolerance for what he considers to be human trash around his house.  The signature line of the movie is Clint Eastwood telling an intruder to "Get off my lawn" (gun to face, awesome manly voice).

But alas, there's a teenage boy, Thao, who lives next store with no father - no one to encourage him as he combats the ever increasing peer pressure to join his cousin's gang.  In a moment of weakness, Thao is coerced to steal Walt's prized Grand Torino, only to be caught.  Even though Walt is cranky and hateful, he starts to see the need in Thao's life for a father-figure, and even helps his family.  He doesn't do anything special to win Thao over.  He just shows him a few things that every man needs to know and spends some time with him.  I won't spoil the rest.

Let me get to the point.  Buying tools is easy.  Being a role model is hard.

While you can go to Lowe's and get a watcha-ma-call-it-do-dad for $5, little johnny across the way can't go to walmart and buy a replacement for the dad that ran out on him when he was three and a half.

I know.  It takes guts to go out of our comfort zones.  I literally am the worst person in the world at talking to my neighbors.  I got to know my neighbors once.  Within a year, they moved a thousand miles away.  But I am telling you that if you want to be a true family leader - a true man - you have to be willing to be a role model to kids around you.  Plus, your kids need to see you care.

So who is that kid to you?  Is it a neighbor?  Is your youth leader looking for some volunteers (I'm certain he/she is).  Could they be your own kids?  There's a distinct moment in my memory when I realized that I had to wake up as a dad.  I looked at my son and realized his dad is either going to suck or be awesome, and I have to decide which it's going to be.

Be a man.  Be a leader.  Be a role model.

........and watch Gran Torino.

I want to hear from you!  If you have a story, comment, thought....anything, please comment below.  Let's get this thing going!

* Gran Torino is rated R for violence and language.  However, these elements are contextually accurate and realistic rather than gratuitous.  In other words, they give the movie a realistic heaviness that it deserves.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Angry Much?


If the above picture is a representation of your personality, we may have issues.  Let's face it.  It's impossible to be a good leader if you're angry all the time.  Our church, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana, is working through a preaching series called Self Denied.  To be blunt, it's about getting over yourself.  It addresses the who's who list of sin problems, so every week is quite a jolt.  This past week, our senior pastor, Dave Rodriguez, preached such a great sermon on the very relevant topic of anger, that I felt compelled to pass along my notes.  

He used two different texts, Genesis 4 (Cain and Abel) and Colossians 3:1-14.

When you think about it, when do you get most angry?  Most of us start turning green and tearing our clothes when our own self-worth is threatened.  I get the most upset with my son when he acts up in public.  Why?  Not only is he exhibiting behavior that I need to correct and bothering the innocent bystanders.  He's also making people question my parenting skills.  The fact of the matter is that while people might be a little upset over being disturbed, they probably don't know who I am or really care about my parenting skills at all (they are exceptional I assure you).  If we can simply recognize that it's our fragile ego that's making us explode, we may be able to disarm ourselves before it's too late.

Another interesting point - when we get angry, our minds secrete two chemicals.  One numbs us out while the other makes us feel in control.  I don't know about you, but conscience-numb, adrenaline-hyped dude is not my first pick to meet in a dark alley, let alone my first pick to follow.  And just like any other chemical process in the brain, we can get addicted to being angry.

If you look like this guy all the time, you may want to rethink your emotional reactions and choice of attire.


So if we have an anger problem what should we do?

1.  Practice self-denial.  Colossians 3:5 says, " . . . put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world"(NLT).  It doesn't just happen.  We have to get in the habit of aggressively killing these things in favor of following Christ.

2.  Practice patience.  During my keenest moments of self-actualization I see that I'm just not as important as I think I am.  I, I really can wait for other people....queue sarcastic applause.

3.  Some tools to help us get there:
- Have a quiet time.
- Slow the heck down.  Build some margin in your life, and stop rushing around so much (easier said then done of course).
- Focus on the journey more than the todo list.
- Have a one-line prayer that you say when you feel yourself getting all worked up.


*This is based on the sermon Anger - Patience preached by Dave Rodriguez on March 11, 2012 at Grace Community Church in Noblesville, IN.  While my remarks are original, all of the points herein are from this sermon, and I do not claim authorship.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Product Review: Dave Ramsey's My Total Money Makeover



This year my wife and I started getting serious about our finances.  For the first time, I've found a system that actually works.  Throughout our marriage we've been relatively frugal, but we haven't allocated our money very efficiently.  I can't tell you how many budgets I have written up.  However, what good is a budget if you don't have a very effective way of sticking to it?

In January, I drank the Ramsey Kool Aid and started using Dave Ramsey's My Total Money Makeover Site.  Along with great advice and direction, it has a very powerful budgeting tool he calls Gazelle.  They provide a free thirty day trial, but after that it's $90 a year (includes cash envelope system and My Total Money Makeover Book).  I am thoroughly convinced it's worth it.

I won't bore you with the technical details of how the site works since you can play with it for free.  I will tell you that planning your budget, recording the big expenses, and using only cash for our day to day purchases is WORKING!  Just since January, my wife and I have paid down our debt $14,000, and have a clear plan for the future.  No magic - just hard, goal-oriented work.  Give it a try!

BTW -  I am in no way paid by or affiliated with Dave Ramsey, just wanted to pass along a sweet recommendation.

Dude Just Go Home

At the end of your work day, don't screw around, go home and spend that time with your family.

There is really nothing like sitting back when the day is done and shooting the breeze with your work buddies.  I think you can literally feel the stress blowing away.  All day, you've had to talk about work.  You've had to concern yourself with productivity, time management, and a get it done attitude.  But not anymore.  Now you have time to geek it up.

But then there is the other side of the coin.  You need to get home because your wife is expecting you to mow the yard.  You told your kid you'd shoot hoops.  There's that family stuff that you really just don't feel like doing at the end of a long day.  On top of that, you've got that annoying commute.  And if you bail in the middle of an all important fantasy football conversation to go home to see your wife, your buddies are gonna give you so much crap.

Really, who the heck cares?  Dude, just go home.

I am telling you, there are very few things that make your family happier than when you make them a priority with your time.  And habitually leaving work on time amplifies that voice in your head that tells you your family comes first.

Now if you are actually working after hours all the time?...now that is a topic for another post.