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Hello my name is Kurt and I am an ANGERHOLIC

Hello, my name is Kurt and I am an ANGERHOLIC. I’m 49 years old and for the first time in my life I’d like to openly admit, I’m an ANGERHOLIC.

That is to say, I’ve chosen to be angry.

Why? Several reasons.

Let me start with one: My anger gives me focus and clarity. In junior high I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I suffered the ridicule of other kids at school for it and began fighting the label since then. Through my dyslexia and I learned long ago that when I get mad or angry I can begin to think more clearly.

Therefore, I’ve been self medicating for years, hiding behind the FEAR that if I’m not angry, I’ll forget things, mess them up or even worse.

This is just ONE of the reasons I choose to sin in my anger. It’s an area that as a man I am showing others (bride, family and friends) where I don’t trust God to do His work – and despite – my faith in Him – my anger invalidates my witness all the way around.

So hold me accountable. Call me out. For if you don’t I could get worse (Hebrews 3:13).

How about you? Why not think about ONE key sins in your life and write it out before the second half of the word HOLIC.

Maybe it’s lust, jealousy, gossip,etc. You fill in the blank.

Take a pic and post it in my comments. Then as The Body of Christ we can pray and lift one another up!

God loves you and so do I.

Kurt

Former Stanford student Brock Turner who was sentenced to six months in county jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious and intoxicated woman is shown in this Santa Clara County Sheriff's booking photo taken January 18, 2015, and received June 7, 2016. Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department/Handout via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Brock Turner – A Message to My Sons and Daughters

To My Sons and Daughters,

As hard as I try to protect you from the evil in this world, I am sure by now, through social and traditional media you’ve come to learn the story of Brock Turner a young male student and athlete at Stanford University.

You’ve come to learn of the evil encounter he had with another young woman behind a garbage dumpster in the middle of the night.

You’ve come to learn the depravity Brock lowered himself to in taking advantage of a young woman sexually.

You’ve come to learn that as far as just punishment for your transgressions, maybe just maybe, justice was not fully served to Brock Turner for his actions that fateful night through the American system of justice.

You’ve come to read the young woman’s response.

Before your thoughts and internet searches take you any further – let me speak to you as your Father.

To my Sons:

Guys, take a moment and search your heart. As a man developing into an appropriate sexual being my heart tells me that deep down you revile what Brock did to this young woman. Within your heart you’ve come to judge his actions and determined what he did was quite monstrous.

Really?

Is that really what you think?

Do you catch yourself thinking: “Brock was a monster that night. I’d never do that. What an animal. He deserves worse!”

Then why my sons do you continually look at porn on the internet? Why do you look to satisfy your flesh in the images of men and women depraving themselves of common decency filming and getting paid to perform indecent sex acts?

Are you not as monstrous as Brock for simply viewing porn and acting out on it with the arm of your flesh?

Hey, don’t take my word for it:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:28-30 (NASB)

Yeah, Jesus nailed it my sons. Cut out your eye and cut off your hand if they’re causing you to stumble sexually.

Simply because you have not committed the same heinous sexual act as Brock Turner that night, as my sons, I need to tell you – you are in your heart – if you are acting out sexually through internet porn and your selfish fleshly behavior.

Instead, think on this verse:

“In the same way, you husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way [with great gentleness and tact, and with an intelligent regard for the marriage relationship], as with someone physically weaker, since she is a woman. Show her honor and respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered or ineffective.” 1 Peter 3:7 (AMP)

Now I know you’re not married yet my sons, but someday you will be. In the meantime, it’s time to get prepared, prepared appropriately. As such, chew on this verse. Here are some highlights:

  1. Live with women in your life in an understanding way. Do you understand that you’re looking at porn keeps a significant gap between you and them?
  2. Live with women in your life as is they are symbolically weaker. I know, I know, our society is making women out to be equal to men and then some. But as my son, I want you in your heart and in your mind to regard them as weaker from the standpoint of, “How would I treat someone weaker than me, needing my genuine help?” It’s simply a point of view Jesus wants you to take on in that, your heart will treat people better, if you genuinely care for their better interests and well being.
  3. Honor the women in your life. How can you honor a woman? Two words: “Eyes up”. Look at her face, not her figure. That means your ears will be doing more work than your eyes. Trust me on this one.
  4. Respect the women in your life. How can you respect someone? It’s a carry over from #3 on this list: Listen to her. I literally have to count to three before I respond to your mother sometimes. Why? For the simple reason as a man I am a problem solver, and before your mother finishes what she is saying, I have the answer and want to hit the buzzer to show I am her hero with a solution in hand. Don’t do that. Let her talk, count to three before you respond TO ANYTHING and see if you need to say anything at all. Chances are, you don’t.
  5. Finally pray for the women in your life, at all levels. Whether they are your mother, sisters, friends or future bride. Accomplishing the first four tasks outlined in this letter from Peter you can see he’s telling you, “Guys, you want to increase the effectiveness of your prayer life, do some housecleaning with regards to the way you treat women. You’ll spiritually grease the skids to your prayers with God. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.”

There you go my sons. Please soak up what I’ve shared.

Now, as to reaching you my Daughters:

Girls, as your Father, my heart breaks for you as you’re reading these accounts from the courtroom drama, witness accounts and the media. I feel as if somehow the impenetrable wall I’ve tried to surround you with as a loving protective Father erodes daily.

You are precious to me. So let me go on record:

As your Daddy, while not physically doing what Brock did that night, early in formation of me as a sexual being and then the early years of my marriage I did partake in the evilness of internet porn that I’ve just warned my Sons about. I had to be broken of it through the exposure of it and reconciliation of it through my marriage to your mother.

Today I am reconciled. To God, to your mother and to my family.

Through all the static, through all the media hype over Brock Turner and even the shell of my former life, as your Daddy, I want you to know – you have immense value and worth.

I’m not the only one who cherishes you. There are honorable men, younger than me, maybe for you – who are seriously trying to cherish you.

There are men who see you, as the Lord God sees you: Precious and Unique. An ideal to uphold.

Yet, sometimes they are having trouble doing so.

Even as honorable men in your presence they are having trouble seeing you as the Lord sees you through the tight outfits you’re wearing, through the low-cut blouses you have on, the way you’re speaking ever more directly to them in person and ultimately through the texts they are receiving from you.

Please as my daughters, do not fall prey to victim mentality our culture is trying to drown you with as women. Through our media, through a divided set of sub-cultures you are being bombarded with the news all men are perverts. You’re being lambasted with all men want is to sexually play with you. You’re being told all men are pigs.

It’s pervasive, it’s overwhelming and it’s almost too big a set of messages to drown out and overcome as honorable men.

Or is it?

The challenge to my sons, to call Brock Turner a monster on one hand, while being involved in internet porn on the other hand is hypocritical at best. Would it not be an equal summation to you as my daughters that to call men pigs and perverts while dressing, acting and communicating inappropriately be the same conclusion? Simply one challenge for sons and one challenge for daughters parallel to one another.

Daughters, please set your sites on this woman:

Description of a Worthy Woman
10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her [h]hands [i]in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And [j]portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From [k]her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds [l]herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her [m]hands grasp the spindle.
20 She [n]extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And [o]supplies belts to the [p]tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the [q]future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the [r]teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who [s]fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the [t]product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:10-31 (NASB)

My Daughters, you have a hand in how you are seen and how you are valued. Like my Sons, who I am asking to treasure you, please treasure them in the way you dress and communicate. What I am talking about is reciprocal.

The case of Brock Turner has heightened in me the need to call both my sons and daughters equally to righteousness. In the end set your mind on things above. Do not focus on the sins of the people of this earth, their depravity or their actions which you revile.

Know that as my Sons and Daughters I cherish your worth daily and I expect of you to cherish others worth in my absence.

Your Loving Father

 

sad-2

The Church’s Reluctance to Process Failure and the Antidote

I’d been waiting for the call.

Painfully I wanted someone to ask me how I was doing. Someone to check in on me. Someone to see if I was ok and that everything was getting better.

Yet I never got one.

After 13 years leading nearly 1,200 mentors at pregnancy centers, speaking at countless banquets and even getting recorded on Focus On the Family by Jim Daly with a guy I’d personally mentored I resigned and stepped down from an organization I’d created. I’d followed a passion of mine I fired up a ministry that fit a niché and I got a lot of people to follow me as a non-profit leader.

The issue: I’d gotten into a wrestling match with my board of directors and I lost big-time.

Yet after stepping down, no-one called me. No-one checked on me or my family. After sending a letter to my entire donor base and even former board of director members that I’d be stepping down I did not receive a phone call, email or text asking how I was doing.

That was until yesterday, nearly two and half years later…

“Kurt buddy, how are you doing with stepping down at Guys For Life and how are you processing failure?”

In joyful shock I told my friend Steve, “Brother, you have no idea how comforting that question is. For more than two and a half years I’ve been waiting for someone to ask how I am doing. To have the guts to challenge me on failure and more. An here you are asking me today. Praise God.”

From there I shared with Steve what God’s been doing in my heart. How he has returned me as a father to the hearts of my bride and children. How losing the battle with my board was the best thing, and though I disagreed with the way they handled things in 2013, I could see how God used them like Cherubim with flaming swords to keep me from creeping back into the garden I’d made know as Guys For Life. If I’d snuck into that former role, they would have killed me, and rightfully so.

You see, Steve wants to go further with God. He wants to pursue his passions, maybe it’s his calling and he’s trying to figure things out.

Reflecting on his own personality he saw similarities to mine, and though we’d only spoken a handful of times over the years, Steve called to get my personal advice on some of his next moves wanting to serve men in Christ.

We spoke for an hour. He’d speak, I’d listen. I’d speak, then he’d listen. It was a great time to chew the possibilities.

Yet, in doing so, Steve unlocked two important areas of my heart:

  1. First, he gave me a conduit to discuss my failures and process them more.
  2. Second, he gave me a chance at redemption, demonstrating I had value in God’s eyes by asking my advice.

In The Church today, we as a body, have the hardest time at processing failure. That is, regardless a person’s failure as a new convert or long-time meat eater, we as The Church do not look kindly, nor to the best of our abilities work on restoring a brother or sister in sin, after an honest mistake gone misunderstood and more.

As Pastor Mike Chesire wrote in an article for Christianity Today in July of 2013 titled: We Need To Stop Eating Our Own he shared:

Despite what you will hear from some religious leaders in today’s church culture, the average Christ-follower walking out the door is not weak, unwilling to commit, or intrinsically selfish.

The vast majority of these Christians are leaving for two main reasons: First, and foremost, they are tired of being treated harshly by other Christians. Second, they feel the church has lost relevance to its community and to what they are going through in their everyday lives.

Catch that? The first reason people leave The Church is not because of preaching, teaching, elder issues, etc. but rather – they are tired – of being treated harshly by other Christians in The Church.

Yeah, as a leader I bombed. I trusted in my own power. I did not listen well to others at times and was a serious ‘driver’. Maybe even unapproachable due to an overconfident spirit. So I get that people may not want to talk to me, thinking (and I wholeheartedly assume this) “Kurt will never listen. He’s so convinced he’s right.”

Yup, that was me. Good talker – bad listener.

In spite of that, I can tell you the immense pain in not hearing from anyone, or at least people I thought would contact me. The silence get’s you thinking, “Is this how I respond when I see people fail? Do I get what I want from them (like a luscious banana) and when I view them as refuse (the leftover peel) go about throwing them out, seeing them as garbage and nothing but waste should they slip up in any way? Maybe other people view me that way?”

Yet, when Steve asked me how I was doing, how I was processing failure he helped shore up a spiritual truth, that is:”But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

By asking me how I was doing and digging deeper Steve unlocked the area of my heart needing restoration. Through talking, he encouraged me. Through listening he lifted me up. Through processing it all, with him and Christ as the chord of three strands, I am protected against sin’s deceitfulness.

Amazingly I agree with Andy Woods list of 9 reasons Why the Church shoots Its Wounded. Paraphrased:

  1. It saves time and money – It’s easier to read someone a tract, then get involved and invest in their life.
  2. It makes the Gospel harder to sell to the community – Church is messed up, who wants to follow our example?
  3. Sometimes they have to pick sides – We don’t always support victims.
  4. They’re hurt – Even leaders are hurt, not just sheep.
  5. Pride – Helping someone might infer ‘guilty by association’.
  6. Desire – We want life easy, not slowed down by messed up saints.
  7. Fear – Like a scared dog, we ‘Bark’ at the wounded, because we are scared.
  8. They confuse forgiveness with approval –  Treating someone as if they had never sinned seems to be approving of the sin itself.
  9. They’re just as disconnected with God as the wounded soldier. – We just don’t know how to say it.

Yet this is where we find ourselves in 21st century America. Eating our own, shooting our wounded and as The Church exuding a reluctance to process failure.

After Steve allowed me to speak, to share my story, to hear what God is doing and lead me through the process of discussing failure, he added one more component: He asked for my advice.

What?

I remember asking myself, in my head before I went on, ” Don’t you remember Steve, I bombed in ministry, I blew things up – yet you want my advice?”

Steve broke through the barrier when he said, “Kurt I hear your heart, you didn’t have a moral failure. You may have been headstrong in your leadership, however, I hear you’ve grown immensely since stepping down. From where I sit I see you mentored thousands of men to reach others, save children from abortion and lead people to share the Gospel. Where’s the failure in that?”

He than asked for my advice on men’s leadership and Gospel issues.

Like those of us members who are the Body of Christ, The Church itself on earth, Steve ignored the temptation eat his own, to shoot the wounded and fought the reluctance to process failure. In that hour Steve held the hand of Christ, and then held mine. One spirit, united, connected, forgiving and redemptive.

Think about it.

TAKE AWAYS:

  1. ACCEPT THERE WILL BE FAILURE – If you’re the least bit truthful, recognize you fail and you fail often. Then, openly allow EVERYONE else you know to fail without your continual judgment.
  2. REACH INTO THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT HAVE FAILED – As a Christ follower live out Hebrews 3:16 and encourage a brother or sister to the point they are guarded from sins deceitfulness through your loving faithfulness.
  3. REDEEM PEOPLE WHO FAIL BY VALUING WHAT THEY ARE THINKING – It’s a process I call, “Honor the Man” and you can see Jesus doing it in all four Gospels where he honors the one speaking, by listening intently to them, regardless their sin position. Try it.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

hug

As You Start Your Weekend – Hug Someone

It’s Friday. The weekend has begun.
While you’re enjoying yourself Father’s, why not hug some more?
TOP TEN BENEFITS TO HUG SOMEONE :
1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.
2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.
4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.
6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.
7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.
9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.
10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1 1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.
Think about it…
Beer

How a Bud Light Saved My Life

I’m going out on a limb here, yet I have to admit, I’m becoming a bit of a beer snob.

That is, after brewing a bit of my own beer, then getting introduced to other beers by guys at church and small groups I circulate with I’m developing a particular taste for quality drafted beers and ales.

My beer of choice is anything by St. Bernardus brewery, they will always do me just fine. Even a Smithwick’s Irish Red or a Goose Island Matilida will satisfy.

Yet last Wednesday my life was saved by a Bud Light…

It was a long and deeply frustrating day.

There I was at home all alone mowing my lawn and doing a good job at tearing up my lawnmower. I was getting angry, deeply frustrated and my neighbor who lives across the street does one of those attention getting whistles really loud at me. The mower shuts off and he asks, “Hey, you want a beer? You look thirsty.”

What you need to know is backdrop to this story as to why this was the Bud Light that saved my life.

I live in a home deep in the woods just outside of St. Louis County for 8+ years. In all that time my neighbor across the street has appeared somewhat frustrated with me.  My silly dog ran through his freshly tar sealed driveway and drug her paw prints along his newly stained deck and I remember the tongue lashing I received. Maybe it’s my kids riding their bikes way half way up into his driveway. I’ve always assumed my neighbor really did not care for me or my family.

He’s older, retired and just not very talkative. For years whenever leaving the house alone, or with my family, I would cordially wave to my neighbor across the street. He’d oblige and wave back. From what I could tell it was just neighborly tolerance. I could not have been more wrong about my neighbor.

Yet today was different. I had had a really bad day.

Early in the day my laptop was just not agreeing with me. It took 3 restarts just to get to operating speed and I needed quotes to go out the door, emails to be returned and the like. Yet, my laptop had other plans. Type, crash, type type type, crash – restart – UGH!

Then while trying to get that part of my day going my smart phone begins exploding with requests for help from multiple friends and business sources. It was as if (jokingly) everyone conspired to contact me at once with questions they needed answers to. My only reaction was, “You gotta be kidding me! Now? Now everyone I know wants my attention? Ugh!”

Then it came time to drop off contracts I’d signed with clients and get work rolling. I kid you not, I found myself getting into three (yes 3) traffic jams in St. Louis while I was trying to turn in contracts, trying to get work done, and trying to earn money for my family. I had just about had it.

So I came home, looked at the clock and saw it was 4:45 PM. All I could think of was, “Dang it! Another day going down the tubes! Sorry, but I am not letting this day go to waste!” And standing there in my driveway in front of the garage made up my mind to pull out the ole’ rusty lawnmower and hack the overgrowth in the front of my property.

Unfortunately my mind and heart was was fried by the time I got going on my yard project. I’d unfortunately let the way my day was going get the better of me. More than that, I let my expectation of how the day SHOULD HAVE gone get the best of me and I turned my back on God’s goodness as I began tearing into my yard.

Have you been there? Just trying to be a son of God, just trying to be a good husband, just trying to be a good father, pay your bills by doing work for your family and nothing seems to go right? Nothing seems to go your way.

So you personally decide in your heart and even say “By God I will have some level of accomplishment to this day and nothing will go to waste as long as I’m in charge!” So you decide to do some yardwork, some overlooked project or something else and it’s all downhill from there.

Ever been there?

That was my day.

I’d decided in my heart I was going to get something back, something I felt I’d been robbed of.

My payment? A sense of accomplishment.

So I tackled the 50 yard stretch in front of my home under trees and began fighting the weeds and fighting the poison ivy trying to cut down all of the weeds and overgrowth that I had ignored for weeks. Shamefully, I bet I even took the Lords name in vain once or twice under my breath and my neighbor across the street noticed.

Push – pull – womp – womp – restart – push – pull – kick – drag – huff & puff… This overgrowth aint beating me! This day will not go down in flames!

Then out of the blue, a guy I literally think can’t stand me or my kids cause I believe he thinks we’re probably the neighborhood Hoodlums calls me over to sit down on his patio and have a beer to relax.

At the moment he called me, you need to know what was going though my mind and heart. I’ve been living through the roughest patch personally and professionally over the last two years. Our family is returning to ministry work and that day my broken heart thought, “When is someone going to pick up the phone and call me to see how I’m doing? I’ve been there for a good number of people God, when is someone going to be there for me?

You see, I was not mad at my laptop. I was not mad at my smart phone for exploding with requests. I was not mad at being stuck in traffic and I was not mad at feeling I’d accomplished nothing – what I was truly mad at was the feeling as if I was all alone. So grabbing the mower and tackling my yard was my physical/spiritual way of shaking my fist at God upset with what He’d given me that day – better yet – what’d He’d given me for the last two years of my life through trials.

In my anger while mowing I said aloud in my head the question God needed to hear from me. A question I’d buried in my spirit unwilling to say, that is, “Why God? Why do I feel so alone as You are leading me? Are you there? Do you even care about what I am going through?”

God answered me in my anger. He touched the heart of my neighbor to touch mine.

My neighbor, the guy I had assumed a great deal about was the very guy who cooled me down. He offered me a beer and a chance to sit down and talk – MOST IMPORTANTLY – a chance to be listened to.

The parallel?

I’d been assuming a lot about God’s love, or lack there of and God in His unique way had to show me the shortcoming of my selfish thoughts by placing my neighbor in my life at the EXACT time I felt alone most.

God’s already supernaturally saved me through his Son Jesus – yet – mentally He continually rescues me from my thinking by placing people, events, circumstances and trials in my life.

I’ll go one step further, my heart tells me that God physically saved me that day and kept me from having a heart attack by placing my neighbor in my path at the time I was most physically consumed in my anger.

And all it took was a Bud Light to save my life.

TAKE AWAYS:

  1. MEN’S ANGER – is no laughing matter. It’s scary, divisive and life-threatening. If people are asking why you seem angry more and more it because you are. Seek help now. Try this resource from Focus On The Family
  2. SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT – Is another sign of stress in your life. If you do not feel fulfilled and lack a sense of accomplishment chances are there is a hole you’re not letting God fill. As a man, stop and share this with trusted men of The Church, your small group or pastoral counselor.
  3. NEIGHBORS – So you think your neighbors don’t like you, that you can’t get along, or fill in the blank. Think again. More than 90% of our perceptions of others are wrong and rooted in the enemy of God’s lies we choose to believe. Walk across the street and SHARE and RECEIVE God’s love for you.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Ephesians 4:26

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31

Think about it…

SOAP

4 Lessons in Fatherhood From Doing Dirty Dishes

I was washing dishes early this morning while my precious kids were getting ready for home school and went to get some soap for my scrub pad.

There were not many dishes to do, however, the dispenser was running a little low on soap. So like many times before, I grabbed it with all my strength in one hand, and all the frenetic pressing power I could muster in the other hand and I frantically pressed the top of the dispenser hoping to affect the outcome of getting just enough soap for my sponge to finish the dishes.

C’mon now, admit it, you’ve been there too.

You know what I am talking about, when you think to yourself, “If I just press the daylights out of the top of this thing I can get what I need.” So press, press, press, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze…

Sometimes you get a little soap and sometimes you only get suds.

IMG_8833Today, all I got were suds.

Now as a father of 10 kids and us having to do dishes 3X’s per day I have to be BRUTALLY honest; The store bought refill was just below me, in the storage part of my sink, directly below my dirty dishes. But did I go for it? No. That’d take too much time. That would cause extra work and it’d also cause the possibility of a spill, even more work.

Press, press, press, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze! C’mon! I know I can get a little more goo outta this dispenser!

Ugh! Just bubbles…

There I stood in my kitchen with the balance of the galaxy, space and time and all human knowledge right there in my hands; Keep pressing and squeezing till I was going to go crazy or to humbly submit that I really needed a refill of soap.

Hmmmmmm. What to do?

To the delight of many whom are reading this blog, I humbly submitted to refilling the soap dispenser from the ample soap supply from just below me. Now don’t laugh, but when I did, I thought I heard the sound of laughter. As a son, as a husband, as a father and as a leader I contend I heard God laughing at me – as only He could – to make a couple of points.

4 Lessons in Fatherhood I learned from doing dirty dishes:

  1. ADMIT THE OBVIOUS – As a Father I sometimes approach a situation KNOWING EXACTLY the outcome before lifting a finger (no joke intended). Yet, in my earthly power I try to affect the outcome otherwise. By my power, not resting in God’s truth or grace, I poo-poo the obvious and like pressing the daylights out of the soap dispenser, hoping for another outcome, I ignore the obvious. There are many obvious truths that stare me in the face all day long. As Father, when you’re facing any situation (which you know the obvious outcome too) admit it in advance. Save yourself, your family and your marriage the time and frustration.
  2. REACH DOWN DEEP AND GAIN AN OVERWHELMING SUPPLY – Remember, my added supply of dish detergent was right below me and I did not want to reach down for it. Psalm 42:7 (NIV) says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Meaning, the deepness of God calls you to a deeper place in Him. As a Father, if you’re doing shallow things (like me trying to get dishes done on the skimp) in an example like this, symbolically you can’t Hear God calling you to go deeper in Him. My submitting to the knowledge of dish detergent just within my reach, yet, balking at the chance to get for fear it would cause more work or to slow me down – was a spiritual indicator. I did not want to let the simple deep knowledge of God impact me. Go deep with God your father through simple truths and gain your overwhelming supply.
  3. GET THE RIGHT REFILL – I could have reached for something else on the counter (if I had it) and tried to make that work to get my dishes clean. I’ve done that before and it was not the right stuff. Yet in my stubbornness I kept plugging away. The Right refill was just below me and at my feet. When I grabbed it, though I spilled some, it was overwhelming how simple the decision to SUBMIT to God’s knowledge and use the right stuff to clean from the get-go. As a Father what are you refilling with? Baseball, Football, Golf, your job? What’s in you, that is the wrong refill that should your bride, your kids go to press you as a dispenser will come pouring out? If you’re not taking time with your Abba Father on-on-one, what comes spilling out might not get the job done.
  4. ENJOY THE SPILLS – As I went to refill the little dispenser, like I thought, there was a little spillage. I was dreading it in advance, but as it overflowed and I put the cap back on I snapped a picture of the soap running down and over my hand and onto the counter TO REMEMBER the supply, the overflow and the spillage of God’s love for me. His love spreads for me, cleanses me and is fragrant (way more than blue dish soap). What about you? As a Father are you allowing the spills to happen in your home? Or does everything have to be picture perfect? Take it from me, God can clean up your messes, let the spills happen.

IMG_8834Today’s morning dishes were the most meaningful dishes I’ve done in a long time. Providing lessons in Fatherhood for a good long time.

My prayer is that as a father you not spiritually do what I physically did with the soap dispenser. Submit to the simple knowledge of God being your supply, rely on Him daily as your refill – and make sure – that when you are pressed for supply people get God’s soap and not your flimsy suds.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

Think about it…

 

babes

Joy Through Suffering – How A Couple In Unexpected Pregnancy Makes It

This last week was incredibly tough.

Thursday-Friday of last week my lovely bride Heidi and I suffered a painful blow to the heart through losing another child to miscarriage. This is our seventh child to bypass this world altogether. There are not many words to fill the holes, close the gaps and truly relieve the pain of such a personal loss.

As the father of ten children and two grandchildren, now with the loss of our seventh child on top of it all, one or two close friends of mine have asked me, “How do you do it? How do you keep going on with your vision for family after such a painful loss?”

And then it hit me.

My answer to that question is not very far off from how a young couple does facing a similar question when facing an unexpected pregnancy.

Our answer and their answer to “How do you dot it?” is exactly the same.

Our answer is HOPE.

Let me compare the two versions of HOPE by sharing a piece of Heidi’s and my personal story.

As a 19 year old kid in 1986, starting college, full of vigor, I mistakenly thought I was the ‘Cat’s meow’. Heidi, my girlfriend was a 17 year old woman in high school, full of academic potential and was also a literal knock-out. Together, we both lived life as if we were bullet-proof and enjoyed every moment we had together to the full. When I say full, I mean full – as in – sharing all of the benefits of a married relationship when we were not married.

So it should come as no surprise that after a few months of dating we ended up as a pregnant couple.

What made it work for us then (having our fist child and then starting a family) and the core reason we are still together today (almost 30 years later) is the HOPE we have in God and the HOPE we have in one another. Yes we fail and we fail a lot. Yes, it’s also true that I have blown it way many more times than Heidi. But in the end, we always have HOPE that whatever we are experiencing has a solid purpose and a core reason for our growth.

Fast forward that HOPE to today and the loss of our seventh child.

In a world consumed by selfishness – children – or the thoughts of bringing children into this world (dare I say) are mired, weighed down and frowned upon for a whole host of reasons that at their core stem from pure human selfishness. Topics such as world population, world economics, world resources, world this and world that reign supreme. We live in a world consumed by the world, and well, children (from a worldly view) may impact that world negatively.

What in the world? (Tongue in cheek)

Years ago, lead by a personal study Heidi was doing, we both came to a place and developed a vision of giving over our family size as our spiritual act of worship to God. We’d seen how we both treated the subject of birth control as a tool to simply meet our own selfish ends. While it would have been easy to look out at the world and say, “The world is so selfish, we’re going to do this act of worship to go against the grain.” No friends, it was only after a close study of our own behavior, our own actions that we were convicted of activity as a couple – just me and Heidi. At the conclusion of our self-reflection and prayer we came together ‘as one’ and we agreed one of the most intimate ways we could truly worship God is to present God ‘our family womb’ as true  act of spiritual worship. So we gave him our family size right on the spot.

We’d seen in His word how time after time He opened and closed the wombs of Godly people following Him. So for us, if we as a couple were one in our thinking, “Why would He not do the same with us as obedient worshipers?” If God is real, why not worship Him really?

The very first time we became pregnant after making this decision we lost our first child. Young in faith, young in marriage I can truly say that loss was not a big blow like I’d imagined it would be. Painful yes, but just a small pain. Why? My take is that we were pregnant so shortly after and the joy of this new pregnancy consumed the pain of the first. Plus our hope was fresh. We’d seen God’s people have a great perspective on wins-vs-losses.

After losing ALL his children and ALL his property in an attack by Satan, we’d seen Job had a great perspective that gave us HOPE. “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:20-21 (ESV)

Yet the following verse in Job became our invisible family mantra deep down “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job 1:22

Since 1996 we’ve been pregnant 15 times. Eight children are with us now and seven have gone on to be with God as His worshipers. We had victories and we have had loss. Through all of it, the vision Heidi and I share, to give over our womb as a spiritual act of worship, and regardless what WE WANT If God is God then He can do as He pleases with us and in the end, should we have a child born or one lost to miscarriage, we will not charge God with wrong.

This is our HOPE.

It’s no different then when a young couple faces an unexpected pregnancy.

Think about it.

When they have a vision built on HOPE, that their world can get better, that this life IS NOT as bad as what others are telling them – they will strive for a better outcome by accepting responsibility for their pregnancy, care for one another, care for their child – and quite possibly – care for starting a family together.

That is their HOPE.

Where do they get that HOPE? (The Sunday School answer is God) but the real answer is you and me.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, SO THAT we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)

Get it? You and I have HOPE because we’ve been delivered HOPE and it’s our job to keep delivering HOPE because they need HOPE.

Even though Heidi and I have tremendous pain in the loss of children to miscarriage, even though people let us down, even though this world is full of disappointment and tremendous suffering, YOU AND I MUST DELIVER HOPE if God is going to get GLORY and be made REAL and VIABLE to a desperate world in need.

For me and Heidi, we follow this simple biblical equation:

SUFFERING PRODUCES CHARACTER – CHARACTER PRODUCES HOPE – HOPE PRODUCES GLORY

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:1-11

This is how we as a couple have been comforted. How we have been given a vision of HOPE, and ‘come what may’ have purposefully decided as a couple to continually deliver HOPE to others in need. Our place to deliver that HOPE is with the 5M kids ages 15-24 who are facing unexpected pregnancy this year just like we did in 1986.

Think about it.

How can you deliver HOPE today?

 

UPDATE

 

 

Joplin Tornado

Why So Many Christians Fail

For the better part of my life, I’ve given my heart, soul, mind and strength to the core belief that Jesus is real, I was born a sinner, as a result of my sin I would be separated from God, Jesus took my place on the cross, accepting his love and forgiveness and believing in Him as my sole savior would reconcile me to His Father God and now – I’m his. Once and forever saved.

My bride Heidi and I were baptized into this new covenant with Jesus May 31st, 1997 and since then we’ve been raising our family with a Christian worldview. We’ve been living a Christian worldview and as best we can (mistakes and all) been trying to love everyone we encounter with the same love, grace and forgiveness that’s been extended to us.

Mind you, we’ve dropped the ball, ignored the ball and even hidden the ball – in our sin – along the way. Yet still, we press forward.

As a 48 year old son of the King, husband, father, friend and guy lucky enough to lead others in ministry I’ve discovered something in my own walk that I see many of us who have given their lives to Christ repeating over and over.

It’s but one spoke in a wheel of growth, yet if you will allow me as your friend in leadership to share, I think it may prove beneficial to you.

WHY SO MANY CHRISTIANS FAIL

10In his book The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do Author Mark Atteberry writes one full chapter titled “Living Below Our Level of Belief“. Hence, the title alone in bold 44 point sized font emblazoned across your computer screen might suffice for the rest of this posting. Yet for this posting I want to pinpoint one thing Mark wrote of and how it applies today to why so many Christians fail.

Mark writes there are three core sins, that as he says, “slip past our radar and nestle unnoticed into our daily routines. They are Materialism, Worry and Superiority.

As for Materialism, we hear a great deal about that subject weekly as Christians hearing sermons in the West. On the other end of the spectrum, many sermons are awash on church websites and servers nationwide to the subject of Superiority. Yet that one sin, smack dab in the middle – Worry – is the one I’d like to speak of.

Mark writes, and I agree, that in view of the Bible and Philippians 4:6 (NLT) which states, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” many of us who believe would see the subject of worry – to be a sin.

However, we worry a lot. Like Mark I think I can also make the point as to ‘why’ we have a tendency to worry so much.

I live in St. Louis, Missouri, just four hours east of Joplin, Missouri. I’m sure just stating the word “Joplin” we all remember how this country was mesmerized just watching the news for weeks in May of 2011 as one of the seven deadliest tornadoes blasted its one-mile wide path of destruction through Joplin.

In its wake 161 people had lost their lives, 7,000 homes were destroyed, 2,000+ buildings we destroyed and more that 16,500 insurance claims were filed. We saw as a nation that little olé Joplin Missouri had become Hell on Earth.

As a daddy, my precious kids saw the news, saw the devastation which occurred and asked, “Could that happen to us?” St. Louis is no stranger to wild thunderstorms and each season they make their way through. So when the tornado sirens in our development go off at 11:00 PM at night – sure, you can bet, we are concerned. Better yet, we flat-out worry, ‘Could that happen to us?”

A core reason we Worry so much is – we’ve seen bad things happen to other people – and instinctively know – bad things CAN happen to us.

Our Worry causes us to live below the level of our beliefs so many times. As a result of Worry, our prayer life is greatly impacted. Worry impacts our prayer walk for the negative like we could never imagine.

As a leader, let me get real and let me get really personal to painfully illustrate the power of Worry and the negative impact is can have on prayer life.

For years I tracked with a fellow brother and friend the Reverend Douglas Merkey founder of Churches For Life who in our time of fellowship taught me one little Christian the following principle:

YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH LEFT UNGUARDED – WILL BECOME – YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS

He taught me as we spent countless hours talking to one another, having fellowship and building each others ministries up in the early days that each of us as leaders have spiritual gifts that shape up as leaders.

As a leader on ministry for 13+ years I can tell you that through every known assessment my greatest strength and spiritual gift is the gift of FAITH. That is, being given this gift I often have a trust and confidence in God that allows me to live boldly for Him and I manifest my faith in mighty ways.

For me, how this shows up in my life (when I am connected to God’s leading) comes through the Holy Spirit using this gift in me to encourage and build up the church in her confidence in God.  I simply trust that God is sovereign and He is good.  I take Him at His Word and put the full weight of my life in His hands.  I expect God to move and am not surprised when He answers a prayer or performs a miracle.

As evidence I give you the 500+ pregnancy care centers and nearly 1,200 male mentors I encouraged for 8+ years at GFL to get actively involved with men in unexpected pregnancy. That’s faith.

Yet remember what my brother Doug taught me early on in ministry:

YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH LEFT UNGUARDED – WILL BECOME – YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS

In spite of all that great and faithful success, I was unguarded as a leader at times. As a result, as high as the mountain peak was on one side – was the deep dark valley – on the other.

Through a painful set of circumstances  and the revoking and reinstating of our ministry by the IRS as a functional non-profit I found myself as a leader at odds with my own board of directors. Guys I had handpicked, men I thought had my back. Through our struggle, being a man of faith who was unguarded and unchecked I began to rely on my abilities, my strength and my charisma to get things done with my crew.

Instead of prayer, leaning on God and trusting that He would get victory, not me, I began to trust the power of my own arms.

The result? I saw, just like a tornado that had ripped through Joplin, Missouri I understood the potential for things to go really bad for me, my board, my family, my donors and everything I’d worked on so hard for 8 years to simply blow-up and explode. Silently, I began to Worry.

In my Worry I picked up every tool I could to fix things with my board and all I got back was a cold non-responsive and heartless response. They’d come up with a list of things to accomplish which should normally take weeks and I’d got done in days. All the while hoping my ability to make things right, would make things right universally.

The more I tried, the worse it got. The more I pushed, the father we got away from one another.

And then I hit bottom.

In a heart-felt meeting with the board, after we’d accomplished some restorative goals – we were still not seeing eye to eye. Later in the week at dinner with my bride I confessed that my struggle to make this all right had become an idol to me.

In that time I convinced myself that God wasn’t listening. I believed He could have helped and didn’t. As a leader I wondered if He really cared. As a result my prayers overall grew less in power and faith became more needy and were placed further apart.

This is why so many Christians fail: We Worry. Through our Worry we revamp, build and construct our prayers exclusive to our circumstance – and when the circumstance is not repaired the way we desire – our prayers weaken, lessen or fade away all together.

SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?

The best way I can answer that is through the example of David. As a leader David had an entire army after him. David had an army destined to kill him simply because he was chosen by God to lead – and the other guy was jealous and heartbroken about it. Boo-hoo.

Remember, I believe part of the reason we fail so many times as Christians is that we Worry. Our Worry leads to a prayer life that lessens and weakens and in its place we try to get stronger without God – wanting victory in our own power, not His.

But that wasn’t the case for David.

Read ALL of Psalm 18 below and notice something about David (a leader who by far has made more and worse blunders as a leader than any of us) and his desire for victory THROUGH HIMSELF but solely credited to The Lord for doing so.

Ask yourself:

  1. What am I worried about as a leader?
  2. Do I see myself trying to manufacture ‘wins’ at the expense of lessened or a weakened prayer life?
  3. By making myself the winner, not God, how does this illustrate I live below the level of my belief?
  4. What are 3 issues I can give over to God and let Him win, not me?
  5. How would my prayer life look different if I actually began to understand my Worries and handed them to over the King?

PSALM 18 (NLT)

1 I love you, Lord;
you are my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
3 I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and he saved me from my enemies.

4 The ropes of death entangled me;
floods of destruction swept over me.
5 The grave[a] wrapped its ropes around me;
death laid a trap in my path.
6 But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry to him reached his ears.

7 Then the earth quaked and trembled.
The foundations of the mountains shook;
they quaked because of his anger.
8 Smoke poured from his nostrils;
fierce flames leaped from his mouth.
Glowing coals blazed forth from him.
9 He opened the heavens and came down;
dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.
10 Mounted on a mighty angelic being,[b] he flew,
soaring on the wings of the wind.
11 He shrouded himself in darkness,
veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.
12 Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him
and rained down hail and burning coals.[c]
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded
amid the hail and burning coals.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies;
great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused.
15 Then at your command, O Lord,
at the blast of your breath,
the bottom of the sea could be seen,
and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.

16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
18 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
but the Lord supported me.
19 He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me.
20 The Lord rewarded me for doing right;
he restored me because of my innocence.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
22 I have followed all his regulations;
I have never abandoned his decrees.
23 I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin.
24 The Lord rewarded me for doing right.
He has seen my innocence.

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
to those with integrity you show integrity.
26 To the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.
27 You rescue the humble,
but you humiliate the proud.
28 You light a lamp for me.
The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
29 In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.

30 God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
31 For who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
32 God arms me with strength,
and he makes my way perfect.
33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
35 You have given me your shield of victory.
Your right hand supports me;
your help[d] has made me great.
36 You have made a wide path for my feet
to keep them from slipping.

37 I chased my enemies and caught them;
I did not stop until they were conquered.
38 I struck them down so they could not get up;
they fell beneath my feet.
39 You have armed me with strength for the battle;
you have subdued my enemies under my feet.
40 You placed my foot on their necks.
I have destroyed all who hated me.
41 They called for help, but no one came to their rescue.
They even cried to the Lord, but he refused to answer.
42 I ground them as fine as dust in the wind.
I swept them into the gutter like dirt.
43 You gave me victory over my accusers.
You appointed me ruler over nations;
people I don’t even know now serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me, they submit;
foreign nations cringe before me.
45 They all lose their courage
and come trembling from their strongholds.

46 The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted!
47 He is the God who pays back those who harm me;
he subdues the nations under me
48 and rescues me from my enemies.
You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies;
you save me from violent opponents.
49 For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations;
I will sing praises to your name.
50 You give great victories to your king;
you show unfailing love to your anointed,
to David and all his descendants forever.

DAD BACK

Disciple Makers – Don’t Love Their Opinion Over Others

In 2002 I was called into leadership at a local pregnancy care center in St. Louis. Before I served a single male client in unexpected pregnancy – an unresolved sin in my heart  – soon became apparent to the staff, yet was hidden from me.

That is, as a guy understanding his spiritual gifts, one of them being the gift of prophecy (To Exhort, Console and Lead the Body of Christ BACK to what she should be doing) I leveraged my gift inappropriately. Instead of loving The Body of Christ I fell short as a leader and loved my opinion more than people or anything.

Everywhere you turned at the center, be it a meeting, the way I adorned my office to the very working with male clients my opinion, and how highly I held to it, painfully projected itself on everything my eyes could cover. You can’t make disciples loving your own opinion more than you love other people.

In our case, we were bringing in male clients to a pregnancy care center (not the ideal environment for guys) where any move we make – be it furnishings, letterhead, the way the place smells and even how the staff behaves towards male clients could send them running out the door. All they need is one single reason to run – and they’re gone.

One male client in particular rings a painful bell.

His name was Tim. Unlike the majority of male clients visiting our center, whom wanted their girlfriend to go through with an abortion (so they could pursue their dreams) this guy wanted to man up as a Daddy. His girlfriend however wanted an abortion. So he set an appointment with our office to come talk. Being the lead male mentor and program director, he was assigned to me.

I remember the front desk clerk ringing me in my office that my appointment arrived. I ok’d her to send him back. While I was knee deep in preparing a Powerpoint presentation, with my back turned towards my office door – I smelled him. Yes, I smelled him before I saw him. As I turned around all I could see was a greasy teen, in leather, hat backwards covered in tattoos and piercings. In my head, and thankfully inaudible, I said, “Why the Hell would anyone want to do this to themselves?”

From there Tim told me his story. The incredible lengths he’d gone to pleading with his girlfriend to have the baby and give their relationship a chance to work. It went on for 45 minutes. While he spoke out loud at a decibel well within my range of hearing it was as if it was all static. I did not, repeat, did not hear a single thought he shared. All I did was form a strategy for what I thought he needed.

It was March of 2004 and The Passion Of The Christ by Mel Gibson just came out and our church was giving away tickets for members to invite people to the movie. I had two in my pocket and was scheduled to take my bride Heidi with me the same night and day I saw Tim in the office.

Instead of listening to Tim’s heartfelt plea for realistic help, I opined that what he really needed was a savior in Jesus Christ. I mean, that’s what this is all about anyway, right? Bringing people the Gospel was all that mattered and using a pregnancy care center as a stepping stone to do so was the truth.

So I leap-frogged over what Tim shared for 45 minutes and at the end I asked him if he wanted to go to a movie that night and talk more. Tim, for his part, thought I was caring and listening. Yet, deep down, I’d already cut him off at the pass and put together an alternate plan.

We met at the theater and I told him what movie we were seeing. He told me he was raised in a broken Christian home and that he was still unsure about Jesus, The Church and all that jazz. Do you think I listened to him say that? Nope, I blew right by it saying he’d be ok. We entered the theater and the movie began.

For the next 127 minutes we watched Jesus get brutally flogged, beaten and crucified like no other film ever put together. I was a quivering mess by the time the credits rolled and soon began to realize I’d made a huge mistake.

As we exited the theater to talk I tried as best I could to switch gear AWAY from what we’d just witnessed and tried to call up in my mind what Tim and I were meeting as mentor and male client was all about. Tim was having none of it. I remember him saying, ‘I don’t know whether to say I love you or hate you for taking me to this movie.” We spoke for another 3-5 minutes and he was gone.

I tried calling his cell phone the next day and got voice mail. I tried the day after, and after, and after never getting a response. I don’t know if Tim and his girlfriend became parents. I don’t know if they split up. I don’t know if they had an abortion. All because I loved my opinion more than my fellow man.

Why am I writing you this? Why does it matter? Don’t I as a Christian leader and speaker know that people want more POSITIVE writings than they do POINTED writings?

Yup, I sure do.

Yet, I’ve never held to the belief to give the Body of Christ sugar, when it needs meat.

Today I found myself on Facebook taking the enemy’s bait to get into an opinion and position contest with another brother in Christ. Today I saw the wages of my sin was death and I saw there could be a death in my relationship with my brother in Christ, whom I love. And it reminded me of a sin issue I’ve carried (maybe my own thorn in my flesh) all the way back to a client named Tim.

Please read:

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:22-26 (ESV)

My youthful passion is to fight. To fight with my opinion. As a Disciple Maker it’s caused me to NOT pursue righteousness, NOT rely on Faith, NOT love and NOT be at peace.

I took today’s Facebook bait as a new beginning to again build a quarrelsome spirit.

As HIS servant, guess what. I am NOT supposed to be quarrelsome, but rather I am to be kind to EVERYONE. Yes, the word says EVERYONE. I must be able to be taught, even as a leader. I am patiently to endure evil (not avoid it of gripe about it). I am to correct my opponents with gentleness. On Facebook, I admit, I’m not all that gentle.

As a result, as a disciple maker, if I love my brother, more than my opinion, God’s word promises they may be granted repentance, come to truth, may come to their senses and could possibly escape the snare of the devil – AFTER – they’ve been captured by him to do his will.

Whoa – you mean that by LOVING PEOPLE MORE THAN MY OPINION could possibly leave room for God to do HIS work and NOT ME?

Unbelievable.

Think about it.

 

A Fathers Embrace

The Power of a Fathers Embrace – Start Now

I want to tell you a story. A deeply personal story.

I grew up in a home in West St. Louis County. Ballwin as a matter of fact. There I spent several formative years on good ole Churchill Lane with other kids my age, the perfect public school environment and a set of parents who deeply loved me.

From the age of six and a half till I was just about thirteen years old I lived in a little three bedroom home that was a developmental sanctuary. One of the most development elements I can remember as a young boy was the nightly routine my father brought into my room when it was time to go to bed.

As I was going to bed and the lights were going down my father sat on the side of my bed and asked me how my day went. Good or bad I’d tell him. Then he would tell me he loved me and I’d respond in one-accord the affirmative, “I love you too Dad”. From there he’d pretend to get up, waiting for me to squeal and assertively tell him not to tickle me. After I thought I’d pulled it off in telling him not to tickle me, he’d turn to me ever so coy and would begin tickling the daylights outta me.

Howls and screams would abound. I was wiggling and he was tickling. A joyous ruckus for the ages. The images lovingly etched in my heart.

Then I matured. Got a deeper voice. Grew taller and gained muscle.

I can remember being on a basketball team as I was becoming a man. Somewhere between 12-13 years of age, sinking a winning shot at the end of the game and remember running clear across the court to jump into the arms of my dad. I must have cleared 10-12 chairs in my leap and looked like a flying squid to him. For all I can remember is my Father standing there like a chiseled statue. He did not move, he did not say anything and he sure did not say, “I love you”.

It was painful climbing down off of him. Something changed. The same dad I remember tickling me till I turned blue was not engaging me on any level. I was shocked.

A separation began between me and my Father. For the next thirty-three years I did everything I could to hear those three little words again from my dad.

I starred in school plays, joined several performing choirs, was an athlete in every year of high school, delivered signing telegrams, became a star sales person and won awards at every sales position I had and even went into full-time ministry thinking my performance at one time would ‘nudge’ my dad to say “I love you”. But none of it impacted him like I wanted and I could net get him to respond like I wanted.

Then in November of 2012 I hosted a banquet for a ministry I lead. The speaker was John Fuller from Focus on the Family and he gave a masterful presentation on the Prodigal Son. As only John could do, he turned the subject into the Forgiving Father. For twenty-five minutes he kept us spell bound listening to him as he transparently spoke about being a father of rules, a father of discipline. How he as a dad had blown it at times and how, now, well on into his years as a dad he realized so much more about grace. Using the backdrop of the Forgiving Father ~and not~ focusing on the prodigal son John sweetly demonstrated the Father’s love for us.

My dad was in the audience hearing this, some thirty feet away from John. As soon as John was done speaking it was my turn. I reminded the guests of all the wonderful things happening with our work, the reason they were there and how they could support our calling. When I was done I quietly made my way to my table.

My dad sprang from his chair, came directly over to me and knocked me off my feet. He:

  • …told me I did a great job.
  • …told me he was proud of me.
  • …said, “I love you”.
  • …gave me a great bear hug.

All I can tell you is this: That single embrace and personal encounter taught me more than any sermon, any Christian broadcast or real world example of love by my bride and children ten-fold. For a longing in my heart to hear my Father say, “I love you” – a yearning to feel my dads embrace and – a hunger to know he appreciated me as father-to-son were fulfilled.

It’s the same for every child born today. I’m not special, I’m not unique. I’m not in this thing all alone.

More than 2.5 million men ages 15-24 are going to become fathers this year – and the lions share – have or never will experience the power of a fathers embrace like I have. They will never know the restorative healing power of a fathers touch, and as such, not know how to embrace their children.

As a Father, you can help break that cycle.

Here are 3 ideas you can try, right now, and break the curse of an untouched child:

  1. Start early and often – They’re easy to hold when they are little. Kiss them, hug them and embrace them appropriately ALL the years they grow in your house. (Yes, I still hug and kiss my 17 year old son, who lets me, in front of his family and peers)
  2. Say what was not said to you – A good number of you reading this were not told, “I Love you” often or maybe at all. Deep down, you know you want it said to you. Well if you want it said to you, think of how much more your precious kids want it from you. Break the barrier, if you’ve got God’s love, give it away (WITH YOUR MOUTH) often and without fear.
  3. Turn around and make it right – Those times you want to walk away mad knowing in your heart you should be doing something else with your child to make it right – well dummy – that’s the Holy Spirit bonking your noggin. Take His cue. Turn around and make it right. Your transparent repentance before your child will build them up, help dirve down the temptation for them to lie to you and keep them from seeking some one else’s approval at any cost.

It took my dad 33 years to return to a place he and I were comfortable with. As a result, my dad, well into his 70’s and I talk on the phone more than 2X’s per week and get together when we can having a blast talking and loving one another. A great healing and acceleration of our relationship has occurred.

Can you imagine if something had happened where my father would have been taken from me – before – he could do this?

Now imagine that in your life.

Now imagine that in 2.5 million guys ages 15-24 becoming father’s this year.

As a man, start embracing your children and defeat the enemy of God – TODAY.