Thursday, September 18, 2014

Prepare yourself

I've been thinking lately about why sometimes I feel like God is speaking to me and other times, even though I'm doing the same thing, I hear nothing.

I think it boils down to having a heart that's prepared to hear from God. 

It's funny. I was thinking about this and then I came across the following devotion from Rick Warren. I think he captures what I want to say better than I can say it:

Let’s say you’re a gardener. You’ve learned that you can take the exact same seed and plant it in three different locations and get three different results. In one spot, you’ll get giant tomatoes. In another, you’ll get small tomatoes. And in a third, you’ll get nothing. What’s the difference? It’s not the seed; it’s the soil. The soil must be prepared for the seed.
The same is true when you hear God’s Word. Your heart has to be prepared for the Word. If you get up late, have trouble finding a parking spot, and are irritated as you rush into church, you’re probably not going to hear God’s voice! You’re not in a receptive mood.
That’s why you can take two people to church, set them side-by-side, and one will walk out thinking God really spoke to him and the other won’t get anything out of the service. The heart of one person was prepared; the other’s heart wasn’t.
The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19b-21 NIV).
For good reception, this passage teaches that you have to have four attitudes:
  • You must be quiet. You can’t hear God if you’re talking.
  • You have to be calm. You can’t rush God. If you’re frantic, you’re not going to hear him. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” My translation of that is: “Sit down, and shut up.”
  • You have to be clean. Before you can meet with God, you need to take out your emotional and spiritual garbage. You need to get rid of the stuff that stinks in your life. You get rid of the garbage by confessing your sin to God and agreeing with him that what you did was wrong.
  • You need to be humble. Be ready to do whatever God tells you from his Word. A prideful attitude won’t work.

I especially resonate what he says about being calm. I am too often rushed.

In light of what Rick says, I have a challenge to issue, especially if you call Hub City Church your church home. Before you come to our worship gathering on Sunday, prepare yourself. Before you show up at your Hub Group, prepare yourself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Aim for the fly

In his new book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson shares the following story:
In theri brilliant book Nudge, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Suntein cite some fascinating examples of the way small and seemingly insignificant details can have a major impact on behavior. The men's restrooms at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam are a good example. When the restroom designer etched the image of a black houselfly into each urinal, it reduced spillage by 80 percent. According to Aad Kieboom, the man who came up with the idea, "If a man sees a fly, he aims at it."
I love that. It makes me wonder: What small and seemingly insignificant actions or behaviors or attitudes could transform our lives in significant ways?

We often think that big things make the biggest difference. What if that's wrong? What if we could do a few small and seemingly insignificant things? 

Here are some ideas: Read the Bible each day. Talk with God throughout your day. Limit your time on social media. Add some silence to your day. Say no. Say yes.

What's a small thing that could make a big difference for you?

While we're figuring that out I think it might be time for those of us with boys at home to etch some flies into our toilets.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A glimpse into the world of boys

Anybody that has boys, or works with boys, has wondered at one time or all the time, “What is going on in their head and in their world?”

Rosalind Wiseman gives us a glimpse in her book Masterminds and Wingmen.

As a father of three boys who wants to be a better father of my boys, this book is both fascinating and helpful. It’s fascinating in the sense that it gives those of us outside of boy world a glimpse into boy world. It’s helpful in that if gives practical advice about how to handle the plethora of boy world issues that our boys face on a daily basis.

She covers topics like gaming, girls, sports, the pressures that come from the Act-Like-A-Man-Box and the hierarchy that exists in boy world. Some of the topics were very relevant to my family situation. Others were interesting but not all that helpful. I didn't agree with everything she said or recommended, but that doesn't take away the value of this book which is why I highly recommend it for all parents of boys and anyone who works with boys on a regular basis.

An added bonus is her free book called The Guide for teen boys. I downloaded it for my boys and one of them has already devoured all 300+ pages. 

I need to make a disclaimer: I am a follower of Jesus, a Christian. For my fellow Christian friends: Neither of these books are written from a Christian perspective. I don't think that's a problem, but it is something you need to know, especially if you encourage your son to read The Guide. I'm not afraid of my boys reading stuff from a non-Christian perspective. I don't think you should be either. But I do think it's important to talk about different world views.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Don't give up on growth

I read this devotion from Rick Warren today and it was too good to keep to myself.

“Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.” (Romans 6:13 NLT)
Have you ever wondered why doesn’t God answer your prayers immediately? There are a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that he wants to know if you’re really serious. There’s a difference between a desire and a whim. When you have preschoolers you learn this. They ask, “Daddy, can I have this?” You answer, “No,” and they forget it. If they keep saying it over and over, it’s not a whim; it’s a desire.
God doesn’t answer whims. If you don’t care about praying about it more than once, it’s a whim. So God wants to see if you really mean business.
The second reason is that God is not a vending machine where you put in a prayer and the answer immediately pops out. God doesn’t serve you; you serve him.
If God answered every one of your prayers instantly, you would be the most self-centered person on the planet. Remember the movie “Bruce Almighty”? Jim Carrey’s character was given the ability to get anything he prayed for instantly. Whatever he asked for, he got it. He basically ruled the world! He also turned into a pretty terrible person.
You know the mess you’re in right now? You didn’t get into it instantly. You didn’t just make one bad choice; you made a lot of bad choices. So God has to peel the onion, one layer at a time.
If you’re serious about letting God change your life, you’ve got to hang on and not give up until God blesses you. Most people miss God’s best because they give up too soon. They give up in the struggle.
Don’t do it. Commit to God changing you — in his time. Don’t let go until he chooses to bless you.
Recovery is a process. Healing is a process. Growth is a process. It’s not a one-time event.
The Bible says in Romans 6:13, “Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (NLT).

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Maybe we should write a marriage book

I have read that everyone has a book in them. I'm not sure if I think that is true but I think I may have a book or two in me, but the question that keeps me paralyzed is, "What would I write about?"

I could write about planting a church. Actually, I have the outline of a book already written. Nathan was impressed that I have 12 chapters. But who wants to read a church planting book from someone like me? 

Liz and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary this past Sunday. Over and over again we heard three thing: Congrats, 18 years is a long time, and how do you do it?

I know a lot of people who are having a tough time in the marriages. Some of my good friends are separated or divorced. I saw today that an old friend of mine is separated. It breaks my heart. 

We don't have a perfect marriage. There's no such thing. But I love my marriage. I love being married. And I love Liz. 

All this got me thinking that maybe we have something from our experience to share. 

So maybe we should write a marriage book. It's just an idea. In the meantime, if you need advice, ask. I would love to chat with you.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another reason to be a Clemson fan

The wait is over. College football starts tonight! For those of you (not to mention any names, Mike Adler...) who are still unsure who you should support let me share the follower WSJ article and graphic. Go Tigers!!!

Following three consecutive 10-win seasons, including back-to-back top 10 finishes on the field, coupled with four straight years ranked among the top 10 percent in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report, Clemson football again is perched in the top right corner of the Wall Street Journal’s grid of “admirable” and “powerhouse” programs.

(The WSJ grid is available HERE - WSJ Chart

Clemson is the only FBS program nationally to finish each of the last three seasons in the top 25 of both polls on the field, and in the top 10 percent of APR scores in the classroom. Clemson and Stanford are the only two FBS programs with a top 10 final ranking in the USA Today Coaches poll and a top 10 percent ranking in FBS APR scores each of the last two years.

The Journal places teams across an x-axis based upon on-field success with a y-axis correlated to off-field reputation. According to the article:

We decided the thin line between admirable and embarrassing with a weighted calculation of every team's academic performance, NCAA violation and probationary record, attendance figures, off-season arrests, total funding it takes from the university or state and amount that student fees subsidize the athletic department.

This is the Wall Street Journal’s fourth annual grid, and Clemson has been in the top right quadrant each of the last two years.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Small parenting wins

There's no such thing as a perfect parent. If you're a parent then you know this because, well, you're you. 

Even though there's no such thing as a perfect parent there are times when we, as parents, feel like we had a win.

I had a small win yesterday.

Ever since our boys were born I've been praying that as they grow older they will still want to spend time with us. I want my kids, when they are grown up, to want to spend time and have a relationship with Liz and I. That's a really big win for Liz and I.

Yesterday Nathan came home with information about his 8th grade field trip to NYC. He shared his plan to pay for over half of it himself if we can pay for the other half. That's a pretty good plan. But then he told me that he really, really wanted me to go because I'm a great chaperon. He said it a number of times.

That's a win in my book. He, as a 13 year old, actually wants his dad to go on a trip to NYC with him and his friends and spend time with him. 

Now let me be clear: Life is not always like this. As anyone who's ever had an adolescent knows, life is a roller coaster of emotions and this afternoon there may be a shout fest in my home, but yesterday we had a win.

So what's a win for you? I think small wins are what keeps us moving forward as parents. 

Now I guess I'm headed downtown to start panhandling in order to get some money to pay the outrageous cost for the field trip. If you're interested, I may have a kidney for sale.