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Random Musings

Some thoughts from the Godly Daddy scene …

- When I’m driving and my mind goes daydreamy (probably not a good idea), I have wondered about how our child-raising experience must compare to our Biblical ancestors. Did Samuel turn to his kids in the back of their five-seater chariot and tell them to “Share the stone tablet or I’ll turn this thing around?!” Did Rebekah put her kids in a clay play saucer with dangly wooden toys just hoping they would stay occupied long enough so she could go wash clothes in the Jordan River?

- Before we had kids, Darling Valerie and I already overpacked for trips. Now that we added two little ones we have so much stuff loaded in the car just to go to Chick-fil-A that it looks like we’re driving cross-country with the Beverly Hillbillies.

- Earlier this month we were up by the Tennessee River near Waverly. There’s something refreshing about going on vacation off the grid with no cell service or paved roads, and my grandfather’s hand-drawn map to the lake house includes specifics such as “country store,” “sawmill,” “duck pond” and “gravel road.” All it was missing is to “Turn left where the old oak tree used to be” and “Look for Butch the bull by the side of the road, and turn right.”

- When I was single, my language was peppered with pop culture references to movies like “Anchorman” or “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Nowadays it’s all “Dora the Explorer” and “Thomas & Friends.”

- I find that when I’m talking to my kids when they’re fussy, I sound like Andy Samberg during that “Saturday Night Live” skit where he plays Mark Wahlberg talking to animals: “Hey, little baby. It’s good to see you. I like your little toes. What’s all that crying about? We should do a Flip camera movie together, whaddya think? Say hi to your mother for me, okay?”

- How does a great Godly hero like Nimrod end up being just a name that is used as an insult? In Genesis 10:8-12 Nimrod is described as a “mighty hunter before the LORD” who built up great cities. Now? You call someone a “nimrod” and you’d better have your dukes up.

- Our mini Cooper is such a ball of toddler energy, the only way to catch up to him is like how former baseball commentator and former catcher Bob Uecker described the best way to catch a knuckleball: Wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up.

- I’m going to start a gym for only fat people. It will have a BMI limit of 30 percent. Fall below it, and you’re kicked out. We wouldn’t want to intimidate those folks who are on the treadmill with a 44 oz. Slushee in the cupholder, now would we?

- That being said, you’re never too old to enjoy a snack of Goldfish crackers and Kool-Aid.

- DV and I have decided that to properly lose weight, we should just follow what Cooper does all day and eat what he eats. We’d be exhausted and starving, but we’d lose 10 pounds a day, even by eating only chicken and fries.

- I frequently regret teaching Cooper some things, such as “Ring Around the Rosies.” It’s neither easy nor pretty when a 36-year-old fat man has to “all fall down.”

- We’ve been emptying warehouses to buy diapers for almost three years now. You’d think by being a part of the diaper companies’ “clubs,” we’d have enough points to buy a Volvo. Not so much. They are a little stingy with the freebies. We barely have enough to get a free Volvo key chain.

- Jeff Rushing

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Where’s the Rewind Button?

Have you ever held a grudge? Did you ever have someone say or do something to you that you felt that was just unforgivable? Have you had someone do something totally opposite of what you told them to do and it caused them to fall? The “I told you so” syndrome has swept this nation like never before. We find ourselves with our noses in the business of people and yet we really don’t even know their hearts. We give them advice, we tell them how it is, we tell them “I told you so” when they never even asked us for the advice, and sometimes they even ask for the advice that they rejected. We have to find that fine line between distance and unforgiveness. Many of us walk around this world bitter because we don’t get our way in other people’s lives, because we think we know it all, or people do things to us that we just can’t explain. Now, you are probably wondering where this is going. I am setting a foundation to the title of this message and I hope that it makes you and I really think. I pose a question for the both of us today that I hope will help you to pause and think before holding a grudge or unforgiveness; where’s the rewind button? You know, when you miss a point in a movie or a story and you can just flip back or rewind the tape and see it again.

When someone does the things that I have mentioned before that cause us to harbor bitterness, where is the rewind button so they can go back and fix that mistake that they had made? Do we continue to throw it in their faces each time they do something we disagree with or do we let it go and move on? In Matthew 18, Jesus told a parable of a master and his servant who owed him a large sum of money. The servant did not have it and begged the master for leniency. The master had mercy on him and set him free. However, the servant went out and found another servant who owed him money and demanded he pay what he owed. The master caught wind of what was going on and in verse 32 Jesus reveals his response, “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” It is interesting to see that in verse 33 Jesus said, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Now, you are probably pondering, “you mean the same God that has the love, grace, and mercy to send His Son to die for me would not forgive me?” The answer is clear. We are so quick to quote the goodie scriptures but when it comes to God’s demands of our lives, we are quick to forget those scriptures. Can you find the rewind button to delete what was just said here? Just kidding. But all jokes aside, we need to let it go. Many would ask, “how many times must I forgive this person for the same thing. I do it over and over and it’s tiring!” Peter asked this question “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus spoke to him and said, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Are you harboring unforgiveness toward your mate or your child? Are you upset because your employer treated you unfairly? Remember, God calls you to forgive them, whether you believe they deserve it or not. It is so easy to harbor that bitterness. It so easy to say, “they haven’t forgiven me, then why should I forgive them?” The enemy loves to use bitterness and unforgiveness to his advantage. It opens the door for strife and anger to enter. It’s so easy to let the situation sit on the back burner and fan the flame. I pose this to you today and to myself, put out the flame, get out of the pot, and move on. Sitting in your world of bitterness and anger is not going to change the person or the situation.

Your bitterness and anger is not going change the situation. There is no way that we can go back and make that person, who did wrong, do right. Bringing it up will not cause it to happen, it only hurts the person and hurts yourself. I want to say this in closing; what would you do if God came up to you and threw everything you ever did in your face? Now I am not saying that you can go sin like no one’s business. I am saying that when you have repented, God has forgiven it as far as the east is to the west. (See Psalm 103:12) Don’t be an instrument of Satan, but be an instrument of God. So, quit trying to hit the rewind button and hit the pause button and pray on this.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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In Awe of Him

A few years ago, I went camping in Missouri with my family and we just enjoyed the beautiful nature that was created around us. On the first night, the sky was so clear you could see all of the stars in the sky as far as the eye could see. I was reminded of Psalms 8:3-4, which says “When I view and consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained and established, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earthborn] man that You care for him? “ Could you imagine all those stars in heaven being numbered and known by their name by their Creator? In Psalms 147, the psalmist wrote “He determines and counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names.” After reading this, it puts in prospective of how awesome God really is.

I used to find myself saying “awesome” so much that I could hear God saying “is it really awesome?” When God spoke that into my heart, I looked up the word awe and awesome. The meaning was this “have an overwhelming feeling of reverence.” I just couldn’t imagine saying that ice cream made me have an overwhelming feeling of reverence. I mean, I love it and it makes me feel good but does it make me have an overwhelming reverence for it? I don’t think so. I had to then ask myself, am I in Awe of God? Whenever we talk about God, do we talk about Him as “the big man upstairs?” Or do we talk about Him as the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning, and the End?

We serve a God who cannot be destroyed and cannot be outdone. We serve a God that presented Himself in the form of a babe that grew to be a man who died on the cross so that you and I can have a relationship with Him. No longer is there a barrier between him and me. No longer is there an awkward silence or delayed response. Now, it is you and God. There is no one to cut in the line in front of you. There isn’t any dial tone. There is no busy signal. There is no rejection. You and God are One on one. How incredible is that? It’s not a deep message; it’s not anything that you have to fast and pray on to figure out. It’s pretty simple, our God is an awesome God!

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Daddy!!

Have you ever been to a soccer game and suddenly are met with John Doe whose son, Jimmy, is on the field playing? You can look into his eyes and see such pride reflecting in them. He’s calling from the side lines, screaming out the plays that he “should” do and it’s right in your ear. But you never forget Jimmy’s dad because the goalie just threw the ball into Jimmy’s face. Why do you not forget Jimmy’s dad? Because Jimmy’s dad just went running across the field at the very goalie who threw the ball into Jimmy’s face. He did not just run across the field, he charged across the field. Got the imagery yet? Our God, our Father is the same way.

Let’s take a look at Psalms 18:6-19. David said, ” In my distress {when seemingly closed in} I called upon the Lord and cried to my God; He heard my voice out of His temple {heavenly dwelling place}, and my cry came before Him into His {very} ears. Then the earth quaked and rocked…” Get this… Whenever you cry out to God, “Daddy!!!” He looks down and says, “There is no one in Hell that can touch my child.” You are probably in shock by the four letter word but it is literal that no one in Hell, no demon in Hell, not even the devil himself can touch you. Yes, he can throw darts at you, he can hinder your progress in life, he can even place people in your life that will harm you but he himself can not harm you. So often we sit in our pity party, crying over spilt milk that we fail to remember that God Himself will come down from the throne and kick the devils rear guard. Too often we are busy worrying about what bill is going to be paid next that we fail to go to the one who created the money to pay that bill. Too often we forget the faithfulness that God is longing for and instead we head to the phone to get a “word.”

Don’t be deceived Christian. Don’t listen to the devil call into your ear that “God is not listening.” If we call upon God and cry out to Him, the Word says that He is “inclined to hear us.” He is happy to hear your complaints. Just a side note, I often wonder if in Heaven there is a black box with the word “suggestions” engraved on it with no opening at the top. Why? Because God already knows what is best so He’s not open to suggestions. He’s open to your request, He is open to your thoughts, He is open to hear your heart on the matter, and yes, He even will change His mind on a matter if you approach Him in prayer but suggestions our God does not take. End of side note. So get ready child of God. He’s listening to your request. He hears you. He understands you. So don’t wait until your 11th hour to cry out to Father God. He may wait to answer you until then but He wants to hear it now. God later confirms what He’s going to do in Psalms 37:9-10 when he cuts off the enemy.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Now I Understand

When I was child I seemed to have gotten in trouble all the time. Those who know me personally might find this hard to believe, but yes I was often a trouble maker. I used to jokingly say that everyday around 2:00 pm, just before my nap, I would always get a spanking for something I’d done earlier that day. It was inevitable, but I knew that my actions carried a reaction. Every time when I had to “assume the position” my mom or dad would always say “son, this hurts me more than it will hurt you”, in which I would reply something like “Yeah right, you’ll be able to sit after this and I won’t”! Of course I exaggerate about the “not sitting” but I never got the whole “this will hurt you more than it hurts me” line. Was there a wrist pain they received in the act of paddling or a wearing down of one’s rotator cuff? I didn’t consider the broken heart pain.

Now that I am older, and much wiser I might add I finally understand this profound statement that has bugged me all these years. I have a five year old daughter who is incredibly headstrong. The confidence and leadership abilities she currently possess will suite a thirty year old woman and not a five your old little girl. My daughter is extremely smart and bright and she knows this. She wants to question everything, argue her point, and challenge you when you go against her. These are all great traits that will serve her well later on in a career, but not at five years old. Since her younger brother has come along we’ve noticed that she’s become more possessive and selfish with her things. Just today her brother was sitting on her blanket, she didn’t like that, yanked the blanket out from under him, and he busted his lip on the hardwood floor.

When it comes to discipline, we do spank our children. There are a lot of parents who are against this and have other methods, but as long as the spankings work, we will continue to administer them, as they were administered to my wife and me when we were younger. This being said when our daughter acts out like she does we always give her one warning; a shot across the bow if you will. If she continues on with the act that earned her the warning she gets a spanking. I always make it a point to get down on my knees, look into her eyes, and calmly explain to her why she is getting a spanking, what it was that she did wrong, and then I utter my own version of the infamous phrase. I don’t tell her that it will hurt me more than her, but I tell her that it breaks my heart to spank her. I finally understand what my parents meant by this saying. It breaks my heart to see my daughter, who I love and cherish more than life itself, have tears in her eyes, and that this spanking will bring more pain to her. I administer the spanking then immediately hold her and tell her how much I love her.

If we did not punish our children, who would, they grow up to be? Would they grow up to be defiant to their superiors and to the law, selfish, and unloving? Would they grow up not knowing that life has its consequences, and that every action has recourse? These are the reasons why I discipline my children now, and in the same why it breaks my heart. I want my children to be God fearing, obedient, children/youth/adults who know who they are and whose they are. I’ll admit my wife and I are struggling with the discipline of our daughter, because she seems to continue do her own thing. We take some of her favorite things away from her, send her to bed earlier than her brother, and of course spankings. Still nothing seems to be working. It is a struggle to say the least.

Now that I’ve exposed my daughter’s misbehaviors I feel I need to explain why I love her more than any little girl alive in this world. My daughter is so beautiful. She is going to be a beautiful young woman and cause me a great deal of grief when the boys come a calling (this will be one short call believe you me) Her smile will melt your heart. When she gets excited about something the expression on her face is illuminating. She can be so funny in her sayings and facial expressions. She literally cracks me up. She’s always asking me to dance, and I always do. She likes to wrestle and I’ll play along. She’ll sing her bible songs, and I’ll join along. I love my daughter and everything that makes her unique; however my heart breaks when she does wrong. I do not, nor will I ever, love her less. I discipline because I love her, and love what she will become.

-Steve

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Into the Blender We Go

As God would have it, Josh would be a young married man who would find himself at the end of the relationship with his wife. The marriage wasn’t meant to be, didn’t work out or they came to the end of their ropes, whatever the case may be, they were no longer married.  Shortly after, Josh met his new bride and along with this beautiful woman was another beautiful woman.  Her four year old daughter was brought into the picture and now the two became three. As Josh would say, he had an instant family.  Not long after their marriage began, they were blessed with a little boy.  Being married now 2 years, Josh and his bride have blended their families.
“Something I had to realize when I married my wife is that when I married her, I married my daughter.  These two lives were now combined into one and she was a major part of it.” Josh became candid, as he always is when he is passionate, during our talk about blended families.  “I became very resentful of Katie. For some reason, it rose up in me.  Perhaps it was a selfish nature. She wasn’t ‘my daughter’. Then I came to the realization that she didn’t ask for me to marry her.  She didn’t ask me to marry mom.  She didn’t have a say in it. Now, I have realized that I am married to my daughter.” Josh has come a long way from being resentful to loving his new daughter. It didn’t come without a price.
Josh had to learn that he was first a husband to his wife then the father to the daughter that wasn’t really his.  I listen to Josh and how he fervently cares for both his children. One thing that he learned is “anyone can be a dad but it take a real man to be a father.”
Along with the resentment towards his daughter, he found that she had a hard time adjusting that he was the disciplinarian.  Many times in blended families, the children become hostile and resentful because now they have multiple adults attempting to act as the parent and this causes much confusion.  Josh had to work with his wife and her daughter to find a healthy balance to the discipline. In the end, though Katie prefers her biological father’s relaxed parenting style, it is Josh who gets hugs at night and the privilege of praying for boo boos.
 I believe that when we find ourselves in this situation, we can truly relate to the Father.  He has adopted each one of us as His own.  Recently, I grasped a revelation that was shared by a pastor friend of mine.  When John was writing the book of John, he referred to himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved.” The word love is often mistaken as the Greek PHILEO love which means to simply approve of  but instead, this word for Love was AGAPE meaning “to be fond of.” John grasped the theory that Jesus didn’t just like him but Jesus truly was fond of John.
How often do we miss the opportunity to relate to our children through AGAPE love instead of PHILEO love our children? Josh and his beautiful bride will have the opportunity to love their children with the love of a parent. But now Josh will have another great opportunity, to show his daughter that she is special to him because he chose her.

I would probably add a disclaimer like “This article is not intended on taking the place of marriage counseling or any other professional advice. Please seek the advice of a competent professional.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Thoughts on Modesty (Part 1)

C.J. Mahaney writes the following in his book  entitled Worldliness:

Dads, I want to urge you to take responsibility for your daughters’ dress. Fathers are absolutely essential to the cultivation of modesty. When a young lady dresses immodestly, it usually means her father has failed to lead, care for and protect her.  Without a father’s care and protection, she may be daily exposed to the lustful minds of men.

My three daughters are grown and married now, but from an early age I sought to impress upon them the importance of modesty. Before an article of clothing became a permanent part of their wardrobe my girls had to get my approval. This wasn’t always easy—for them or for me. Modest clothing is hard to find. Sometimes, they’d arrive home after an all day shopping trip only to hear me say: “That’s not gonna, work, my love. I’m so sorry, but exhaustion from shopping doesn’t excuse immodesty. We’re not going to compromise.”

We confronted this very issue several years ago.  Pastors gladly live on used clothes. When our oldest daughter was 3-years-old she came into some shorts that had writing on the backside. What possible reason would there be for writing on the back of a 3-year-old’s shorts?  They were quickly relegated to play-at-home shorts and even then were to be worn backwards.

I see no reason for any girl (especially Christian or those being raised in the gospel) to want such writing except to say, “Look here!”  They mustn’t then wonder later why all guys want is to get into the very shorts they’re advertising! “You can’t deal me all the aces and expect me not to play,” crooned the country star. Yes, there is a word to be said to our sons as well.

Some may say, “C’mon, Maxwell, shes just three and they’re just cute shorts.” To that I say, “Shes not just three. She’s already three and already processing and learning the definition of modesty. I’d rather her learn that from Scripture, not you.” I understand the nature of total depravity, which means that I and my son are like dumb oxen and stupid birds (Prov 7.22-23). We need no help luring our eyes to inappropriate places. Men will take the bait every time. Therefore, I don’t intend to teach my daughter to set the hook.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Who is on Your Heart’s Throne?

There is a podcast I use to follow and I recently picked it back up and started following it again called www.crosspoint.tv. The pastor of this church, Pete Wilson, started a new series called “Empty Promises” that basically centered on idolatry and what we seek after that only Jesus can fulfill. Things in our lives that we consistently meditate on to the point of consuming us, and in the end, it’s never enough. Now idolatry can be anything that takes the place of God in our lives and it’s not necessarily always another god like Buddha, Baal, or anything else we typically think are idols. Idolatry can also be things like appearance, success, money, relationships, acceptation, and anything that we think we need in our lives that can deliver us to that next stage and make us “truly happy”.

I admit I really hesitated on writing this post because throughout this series God has opened some pretty dark doors I’ve had in my life that I chose to keep shut. Doors that I didn’t want to acknowledge therefore I would continue to live my life as I always have. I chose to post this because of the possibility that there are other readers out there who might be caught up in the same idolatry that I am, and are screaming to get out. Therefore I’m choosing to be obedient, and reveal something that honestly not very many people know about me.

I guess you can consider me a likable guy. I am like this because I am a people pleaser. I am always making light ended conversation with people, making them feel comfortable, and if I can get you to laugh or smile then my job is done. What you don’t see on the exterior though is this incredible need to feel accepted. I long for it. If I’m not accepted by one person then it literally consumes my thoughts until I can either resolve in my mind that I’m right or I can convince this person to like me. But it goes deeper than that. To be accepted I feel that I need to have the “perfect” life. I need to have the job to appear that I am successful. I need to have the money to make my family feel secure and in my mind the life “they” deserve. I need to have the house that I’ve always wanted, and take the trips to build memories with my family and friends. If I feel that I am lagging in one of these areas, I take drastic measures to change my situation. If I don’t feel that I am making enough money I hit the career sites frantically looking for the next job that will fix all my problems. In my mind I’m looking for the right salary that will make everything right, the right benefits that will allow these vacations and family time, and the right job that will turn heads when I tell them what I do for a living. When I do this I end up robbing myself when the phone doesn’t ring or the “Although your qualifications are impressive….” email that always follows. I am robbing myself because when you consume yourself with something and you don’t get it, you feel like a failure.

Another setback of mine that comes with being a people pleaser are my highs and lows. Now my wife, the one other than God who knows me the most, will tell you that I rarely get depressed. My depressed days, on an outward appearance, will typically play off of me just being in a bad mood. If I get an email at work that praises my actions, recognized for something great I did, or as a soloist, complimented on a song I sung, then I am on an extreme high. However with extreme highs come extreme lows. If I am chastised for something, do something that has let someone I care for deeply down, then I am in an extreme low. It might not show, other than a bad mood, on the outside, but on the inside I am devastated. Being in an extreme low I begin to revert back to the fact that I need to “fix” my situation taking me right back to the paragraph above. It is a continuous cycle because I am constantly trying to find the one thing that will fulfill my life that in the end will never be enough. I am seeking a fulfillment that can only be filled by none other than God.

It may seem after reading this that I am a non-Christian, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I know without a doubt that I am a child of God’s, and I accepted Him into my life to be my Lord and Savior. However, being a Christian does not mean that every day will be a day of perfection. In fact God uses the circumstances in our lives so that His love, grace, and mercy can shine through brighter than ever before. I have simply replaced God on the throne of my life with this overall need for acceptance. Whatever is on the throne of your life, this is what consumes your thoughts, desires, and actions. God has sat on my throne many times throughout my life, but every now and then I replace Him. Not intentionally and not in one swift movement, but I slowly replace God with other desires of my heart. When God is sitting on my heart’s throne then I am truly at peace with my circumstances regardless of how large or small they may be. I have no doubt that God allowed me to pick back up on this podcast at this particular time, because He needed me to hear this series. He needed me to realize that He is not on my throne seat and He wants what is rightfully His. After going through this series I came home the other night to an empty house. This is a very rare occasion, but the family was over at my in-laws and I needed to pick up a few things before joining them myself. In the quietness of my bedroom I laid face down on my bed and with great conviction I spoke with my God. I asked for forgiveness for replacing Him with this feeling of acceptance. I asked God to take His place back on His throne, and I asked God that His name be praised through the circumstances He allows into my life. No job, no income, no, appearance will ever give me what my God can give me. I will be provided for because my God will meet my every need. All of these things that I feel will make my life complete mean absolutely nothing because they will never fill the void I am looking for. My God has given me and will continue to give me peace as long as He is on the throne of my heart.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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What is a Man’s Man Exactly?

I know you’ve heard of this saying before. “He is a Man’s Man”, generally referring to a more than macho version of any of us. But what really makes up a “Man’s Man”? Do they have to be as tough as the Brawny Man? His main task in life is geared around housework, so he’s out. What about these WWF wrestlers? They’re full of testosterone and steroids, but they also wear tights and shiny red boots, so they’re out. Oh I know, bikers. Harley riding, leather wearing, hardcore bikers. But even as tough as they are is this what a Man’s man is measured by?

I bring this up because these days there are all sorts of men out there. I can just look within my own circle of friends and find vast differences in each individual person. For instance, I have friends that are as strong as an ox, and then there’s me. I have friends who are daredevil firefighters, and then I have some who analyze reports all day. I have friends who work on massive electric generators that can power a small city, and then I have friends who can move millions of dollars with the stroke of their pen. We are all different but at the end of the day we are all still men. So this begs to ask the question, is there a Man’s man in existence today?

One of my friends owns a successful landscape company. He works all hours of the day in the Memphis 100 degree heat. He is toiling the ground, uprooting trees, and doing everything by the sweat of his brow. Look at me. I am in an air conditioned office surrounded by bottled water, an LED TV, and am wearing a suit and tie. Am I less of a man than my friend because my line of work is not as rugged as his, or his line of work is not as comfortable as mine? Absolutely not!

According to the Childress Dictionary a “Man” is defined as one who lives to serve God,  accepts his responsibilities, takes care of his family even if it means sacrificing his own needs before theirs, being a spiritual leader for their family, loving their wives unconditionally, setting an example to his children on how a husband and wife should treat each other, never giving up, and probably the most important next to being a spiritual leader, spending quality time with your children and spouse. These are essential qualifications for being a man and it has nothing to do with your job or whether if your hands have calluses or paper cuts, it’s how you live your life that defines you.
So I ask the question again, What makes up a Man’s Man? You do.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Broken Toys

I can remember as a child that I loved to take apart my toys. Whether it be something simple like a Hot Wheel or something complicated like the remote control car. Never knowing if I would ever get it back to what it was created for, I would look inside and be inquisitive. I guess all boys are that way. We like to find out for ourselves how something works or how something is built. We desire to be a creator of something or an inventor of something, it is a right to passage for us. It’s the same thing with life. We try to take apart our finances to see what is being done incorrectly or we separate our marriages to decide who really is at fault. We find ourselves so often wanting these miracles and yet we are not willing to work for it or even trust God for it. We have all these needs and desires but you refuse to ask. Instead you complain and whine about what you don’t have.

Sounds pretty harsh but we end up treating God like a genie instead of God. You don’t rub a bottle and out pops God with three wishes for you. He’s not into wishing. In Matthew, Jesus said to ask and you shall receive not beg and you shall get. There is always balance to the Word of God. This is not a name it or claim it gospel nor is it a prosperity gospel. You can’t call out into the heavens that you have a million dollars and a Rolls Royce. However, you can’t walk through this life with the mentality of if I don’t expect it then I won’t be disappointed if I don’t get it. So many of us, myself included, want deliverance but we won’t let the shackles fall off of us. We won’t let the ball and chain break and I don’t mean your wives men. You have to leave the problem; you have to leave the situation to God. He says to “cast your whole cares” not some of them. Many of us decide to carry around the ball and chain and wonder why we are so tired all the time. We carry the burden of our lives around like bricks on our backs and we wonder why we are always in pain and always sick. We want to rest but we don’t trust God to give us that rest. We want wisdom and yet we aren’t quiet enough to receive it and when we are, we ignore it and call it the devil. We give the devil way too much credit. Many times, our worst enemy is ourselves. We think way too much, we talk way too much; sometimes we just need to chill and see what God is going to do. When you have a bill that is sitting there that you don’t have the money to pay for, worrying about it will not pay it off. Sometimes we just need to sit and wait on God. There again is balance. If you are not working, then you don’t eat (see 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

God’s not going to bless you if you are blatantly dishonest and lazy. I was reminded of a story of a father and his son. The son brought his toy that was broken to his father to fix. The father took the toy and began to work on it. While he was working on it, the boy climbed up and tried to help. The father would place a tool on the toy and the boy would put his hands in the middle trying to help him fix it. Soon, the father sat the boy down and handed him the toy. “It’s still broken” the boy exclaimed. The father looked at him and said, “You seem to know how to fix it better than I so I will let you work on it now.” The son was confused about the whole scenario. “But Dad, I don’t know how to fix it.” The father took the toy back and said, “Then let me fix it.” What is the moral of this story? The Father wants to fix your problems. But He can’t fix them if your little hands keep getting in the way. In short, let God be God. Don’t try to fix what God is trying to fix.

Finally, cast your whole care on Him. God wants you to rest and not carry the burden of it all. Jesus died so that your life would be full of abundance and blessings. We often over analyze our situations when God is simply calling us to “be still” and know that He is God. God wants you to trust in Him for your rest. Trust in God for that rest, let Him be your peace, and your life will never be the same. I thank God that He has placed that desire in me to rest in His care and not worry about the trials around me.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Stop being so stiff-necked

Our founder wrote recently about having to discipline his daughter. It certainly seemed as tough on Steve and his wife as it was on their girl.

It still feels like my mini Cooper is too young to understand when he makes bad choices, but at 2 1/2 I think we’re the ones who aren’t ready to discipline him too harshly yet. We need to discipline ourselves to crack the whip, so to speak

He hates, hates, hates taking his medicine twice a day, no matter how hard we bribe him or try to hide it in chocolate milk. 

I must have said 100 times, wouldn’t it just be easier to drink it in three seconds than go through the games? Likewise, it’s just a 30 minute drive to and from church and my in-laws’ home. Isn’t it easier to relax than spend the entire time whining?

I get so frustrated when he disobeys me because deep down I really don’t want to discipline him. We get along so well and have so much fun, why would he test me?

Then again, doesn’t God think it’s easier if I would do as Jesus says, and not, let’s say, wasting dollars in the vending machine at work for Diet Coke and Ding-Dongs instead of giving that extra money to the poor?

That little voice in my head – at least the one I listen to – says, “How many times did God and His prophets call the chosen people ‘stiff-necked’? Wouldn’t it have been easier to obey God and eat the manna from heaven with a big thankful smile than go through the effort of making and worshipping a golden calf?”

In Exodus 33:5, the Lord doesn’t pull any punches when he tells Moses to shake his finger at the stubborn Israelites and let them know how close He is to getting that switch from the tree in the backyard to exact some punishment: “Tell the Israelites: You are a stiff-necked people. If I went with you for a single moment, I would destroy you. Now take off your jewelry, and I will decide what to do with you.”

Whenever I’m frustrated by Cooper’s 2-year-old antics, I need to just look at the above picture of him at the allergist’s office after he made it through the trauma of testing, and remember just how precious he is and how much he loves me and relies on his Daddy and Mommy to get through the tough times.

If only I would apply that same sense of comfort of resting in the arms of a loving and sympathetic Messiah when I am going through tough times.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Message to my Employees

Last Fall I noticed my employees go through a slump that I knew all too well. It’s that slump where you are not content with your current situation and your mind starts turning to find ways to fix it. When you get in this state you become tunnel visioned with this task and when it doesn’t happen as fast as you’d like then depression can set in. I’ll be honest, I’m going through this right now. I found this email I sent to my employees. Not only was it a great reminder to them but as you can see it is an ongoing reminder for me.

I wanted to share with you a struggle that I’ve had earlier in my career that you might be going through now. It’s that feeling of being stuck, not having any ambition, and basically not knowing what you want to do with your life. I would always beat myself up over these thoughts because as a person it always felt that I was a failure in life because I feel so bad about my current status. I saw friends of mine take the leap into their own businesses and succeed. I saw my peers get breaks in life that I wish I had and it always felt that life was leaving me behind. These feelings would always lead me to look for new opportunities in other fields but then again finding more disappointments at every turn. So the question was, how do I correct this feeling, and how do I do my current job and feel good at the end of the day? For me I prayed, read my bible, and consulted with very close friends but at the end of the day this is what I determined about myself.

  • My Job does not define me. Yes I am a banker, but I am so much more than that. I am a son, husband, father, friend, musician…and the list goes on and on about what attributes I have in this life that truly define who I really am.
  • I am in a respectable career: If you think about it, banking is a respectable career, it always has been. Whether you are a teller or a president you are a banker and that is a good job to have. I dare say people admire you for being a banker and will seek your advice when needed.
  • I offer a necessary service: At the end of the day I help people. Practically everyone has a bank and depend on us to manage their financial picture whatever that picture may look like. Yes sales, deadlines, and other “corporate pressures” like this can interfere but I’ll be honest with you our bank is a breath of fresh air in this area compared to other banks I’ve worked for.
  • I matter. Yes, employee wise I can be replaced but I still matter. I matter to my family, I matter to my friends, I matter to my church, I matter in this life.
  • Finally the reoccurring assurance that my peers, friends, and mentors remind me of, we are all still young! Who says we have to be at the top of our game at this stage in our life? We are simply      on a journey. Do we settle on our current state? You can if you want to, but I dare say we all have ambition to do more. Whether if it’s as a banker or in a field that more closely fits our dreams. We have the time to accomplish this. Let’s not be so tunnel visioned on getting to the prize where we miss out on the journey there.

Since I realized these facts my outlook on getting up every morning to go to my job, and getting over the mundane day to day duties has decreased if not completely gone away. I still have “those” days but I am quickly reminded of these facts I just mentioned. The reason why I shared this with you, is I remember being there, I remember the feeling, and since no one was there to remind me that I wasn’t the only one going through this, I thought I’d let you know. I appreciate each and every one of you for your diligence to give excellent service, and maintain a professional outlook on life. I close all of my personal correspondence with a phrase that I try to live by daily, Out Live your Life, so…

Out Live Your Life,

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A Good Reputation

It’s not enough to say that you are a Christian. No one really cares if you are a Christian. It’s pretty simple that they only care about the fact that you act like a Christian. Going to church on Sunday and Wednesday does not designate you as a Christian. What designates you as a Christian is first that you have accepted Christ as your savior and the Lord of your life. But second to that is that you show the fruit of Christ. In Matthew, it says that they (people) will know you by your fruit. If you are not being fruitful in your life as a Christian then it is pointless to claim that you are a Christian. If someone cannot identify you as a follower of Christ, then there is something seriously wrong with this equation.

      Time after time, Daniel exhibited himself as a follower of God. He refused the idolized foods of the king’s court, he refused to bow to the king’s commands to revere the king as a god, and he focused to be all that God had for him to be. He wasn’t so much concerned with what others thought of him and this made his reputation not only exceptional with the people of the land but also made him favorable to the king. When you put God first, your reputation does not suffer. It may not seem favorable at the time but you will soon see that the favor of God will be upon you. In Matthew 6:33, it is written to “seek first the kingdom of God” and “then all these things will be added unto you.” If you see God first, the rest will fall into place.
       As Sara and I have made a commitment to get out of debt this year, we have seen the favor of God. We have sought His kingdom first on the finances that He has entrusted us with. I am not boasting but merely giving you an example. Just before Christmas, we had decided that we wanted to get out of debt and needed to cut down more of our lifestyle. We continued to give and tithe according to what we had promised. However, things were still tight financially. I didn’t know how we were going to get gas that week much less Christmas for the girls but I know that our God is faithful. At some point, someone had placed a couple of gift cards in my mailbox at work and blessed us with enough for Christmas for our girls and gas for the next week. If you are faithful to put God first, He will be faithful to you. What does that have to do with reputation? If Sara and I had been stingy people who never gave and who put God last, God would not have put on the heart of that person who knew us to give us that gift. The reputation that you have will cause you to reflect the glory of God.
       The news is often plagued with people who are scheming and swindling other people. We see time after time the corruption of businesses and even in the government which has destroyed the reputation of those involved. You don’t hear much from those companies after the fact other than a negative reputation. In 1 Peter 3:12-16 (NLT), it says; The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil. Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” With that said, God is watching over you right now whether you are doing what is right or not. However, He only will listen to the prayers of those who are doing right before Him. Not only will He hear the prayers of the righteous, but He will also be faithful to show the good reputation of that person. In Proverbs 3, it says in the Amplified that God will grant you “favor, high esteem, and a good name in the sight of God and of man.”
       In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, Paul wrote to the church that it should be the ambition of their lives to live a quiet life of minding their own business and working with their hands. Following that, it says “as a result, people who are not Christians will respect the way that you live, and you will not need to depend on others to meet your financial needs.” Your faithfulness to seek first God’s kingdom and to live a quiet life of authenticity will gain you a great reputation. In short, God is calling you to live a authentic life.
       Our children are desiring to see us as fathers have a good reputation.  When pass on into eternity, what is the story of our lives going to be? How are we going to be remembered? There is a new song by Sidewalk Prophets that talks about how they’d be remembered once they had faded into a memory.
“I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You “
Don’t be a fake Christian. Be a Real Christian.
     My Note To You: If you haven’t accepted Christ as your savior or if you have been living with one foot in the world and the other foot on the throne of Grace, I implore you to seek God and ask for His help. If you have received Christ or committed to living a life of excellence, I ask that you find a pastor or a great local church that has people that will pray with you and disciple you.  
 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Make Good Choices

We are in THAT stage with our 5 year old daughter Emmerson. It’s the stage where we have to constantly remind her to make the right choices during the day. The choices can consist of should I obey my parents/teachers? There are the choices of not listening when asked to do something or even better, making her point known even after we have told her NO! There is an overall theme here and it’s centered around “Doing Her Own Thing”.

The other day was one of those days. I got my afternoon phone call from my wife Shannon with the dreaded words “Emmerson has something she needs to tell you”. The phone was handed to Emmerson and all I heard was a sobbing mumbling little girl who apparently did not have a good day. Through the sobbing I was able to make out some words like “Daddy, I (sniff sniff) bad day (sniff sniff) today. I (snot bubbles) disobeyed my teacher (sniff sniff) and wasn’t doing what I (snot bubbles) supposed to do, and got in trouble”. I asked to speak to mom, which Shannon translated that day’s events saying Emmerson was not obeying her teachers and  she was using the chalk when she wasn’t supposed to, not doing what the rest of the class was doing etc etc. Well when I was growing up we lived by the golden rule (at least our Golden Rule) “You get in trouble at school, you get in trouble at home”

Emmerson did receive her punishment that evening which included writing a personal apology letter to her teachers for misbehaving and being disobedient. That night as I was sitting with Emmerson by her bed after prayers I told her the very thing that I tell her and her brother every night before they go to sleep. I sit them down, look into their eyes and say “You make me very happy, and very proud”. I then went on to tell her that no matter what she does in life, I will never ever stop loving her. There is nothing in this world she could ever do, for me not to love her. When she does do wrong I told her that it breaks my heart because I know she can do so much better, but I will always love her.

After I gave her kisses and hugs I went back to my easy chair and pondered how identical my relationship with my kids is, compared to my relationship with Jesus. I put myself in my kids place knowing that I mess up all of the time. There are things that I’ve knowingly done (doing my own thing) that I knew broke God’s heart. Every time I break God’s heart though and ask forgiveness, He is there to remind me that He will always love me, and I (His own creation) make Him very proud. My kids see this compassion from me, and now as a dad I see more clearly the same compassion from Christ.

Does this mean that I can continue on with my mischievous ways without persecution? Absolutely not. Just like I as a dad have to punish my children, my own sins have punishments. Proverbs 29:15 says To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a child who does his own thing brings shame to his parents. Without discipline we would sin without knowing. Without discipline we would be so unruly that we would eventually cross someone the wrong way who can end us. Without discipline we would never know the full sacrifice and cost for our sins. We are to be disciplined so that we remember how much we hurt the ones we love, when we are faced with future sin. So as I ushered my daughter out the door this morning I gave her a command that her mother and I give her every day “Make Good Choices”. God knows I need to tell myself the same thing.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Life Beyond Easter-Forgiven/Not Forgiven

The sugar high has worn off, the plastic eggs have been emptied, the deviled eggs have been eaten, the ham has been devoured, the crosses have been taken down, the productions have come to an end, the church pews are emptied, and the fake grass has now found its way to the trashcan.

It has been a few days since you and I put on our best suits (okay, just you. I had class with a bunch of 5 year olds with glue and crafts ….I am not stupid …) to go to church, some of us for the first time in a year. Now that all is said and done, what’s next? I was reflecting as I was reading Max Lucado’s Cast of Characters this morning on this very thought; “What happens once Sunday is over?” We dream of chocolate Easter bunnies and passion plays but when it is all said and done, it’s just another faded memory.

Once the stench of death had left the tomb and the grave clothes had been removed, the tomb remained vacated. There was no longer a body to be viewed, a death to be mourned, or a memory to be remembered.

It was the day that the earth shook and the trees trembled at the sound of Christ defeating the enemy and winning another victory for the team. The King of kings would take a step into time and visit those that He loved and would serve them once more.

Could you imagine the life of one of the disciples, Martha, Mary, or the mother of Jesus after the resurrection of Jesus? In just a few verses, we are given a glimpse of these days and in such detail, we are told a story not only of the resurrection of Christ but the reinstatement of Peter. Peter, who had denied Christ, had been fishing off the Sea of Galilee with some of the other disciples. They hadn’t caught any fish all night and they were dog tired. Something interesting occurred. Jesus stood on the bank of the river and saw that these men were struggling for fish. They had been out all night and now, they were going to have to leave defeated so they thought.

Jesus called from the shore saying “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” (John 21:5) The disciples called back to Jesus, not knowing who he was, “no.” They had affirmed that they had caught nothing that day and they didn’t know who this stranger on the shore was. But Jesus would assist them once again in their lack. “Throw your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” (John 21:6). Casting the nets in faith, they caught 153 large fish and their nets hadn’t been torn.

Next, the one that Jesus loved would notice that it was Him on the shore. I love Peter’s response. He put on his tunic and “jumped into the water and headed to the shore.” This was so inspiring to me because in verse 8, it says that “the others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from the shore.” Peter didn’t care where he was in the sea and he didn’t care about anyone else but Jesus. His eyes were focused on the one that just a few days prior he denied. Peter wasn’t concerned if Jesus was still upset about that incident. He was only concerned that his Lord was on the shore and he wanted to get to Him.

My prayer is that we each day jump out of the boat and swim to Christ with no regret, no fear, and no condemnation. Peter had denied Christ. He had betrayed Jesus. He didn’t care. He just wanted to get to the Master. He wanted to receive all that Jesus had for him.

After Easter, what would we do? The chocolate bunnies have been eaten, the passion plays have been ended, and the sermons have been taught. Now, we swim into the arms of Jesus, the One who died for the sins of the one who had betrayed Him.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Why is this Treadmill making me Fat?

I know you’re thinking not another Treadmill thread! I don’t want to hear about resources spent on things I just had to have but never used. Ok we do still use them; they are just converted into clothing racks. No, I’m referring to what some call the Hedonic Treadmill. This is the cycle we find ourselves on when we up our lifestyle as our income progresses. The Hedonic Treadmill is a word picture that illustrates the idea that more money doesn’t always equal greater happiness. However, research has shown that the happiness money brings tops out at a family income of $70K. This is a nationwide number that reflects what it takes to care for all basic needs and a bit of comfort as well. Surely, living in a low-cost region like Memphis would bring that number down significantly. If this is the case, then why do we constantly forego things we know will bring us happiness to chase more money. Constantly working double shifts at the expense of time with friends and family is one example.

Here comes the tie in……

As one who strives to be a Godly Daddy, is it our responsibility to manage worldly expectations of our family and if so, at what cost? How many of us have set a target level of income that will allow you to meet your families Godly goals. How many of us have Godly goals that have been agreed upon with your spouse? I only say this because I have been on the treadmill for 10 years. By God’s Grace, my income almost doubled every other year for 10 years straight! After 10 years and a pile of debt later, I realized that this treadmill is not only making me fat, but also mentally unhealthy as well as taking me further from my family and God. Maybe there is someone out there that can keep their standard of living low while maximizing earning power. I guess I am just not that disciplined. So I felt like I had two options,  give up my standard of living or miss precious time with my new daughter. In today’s USA that is a tough decision because so much of our identity is wrapped up in our profession and stuff. I challenge you to accept a completely different option that God showed me. I was led to right size my profession and life. This has allowed me to accept God’s direction and change work environments. This was and is a huge leap, but regardless of the outcome, I will enjoy my life. By right size I mean have that conversation where you define what is truly important to you and your spouse. Out of this conversation will come an agreed upon goal for your family. I say goal because you may not be able to make changes quickly. You like me may have made commitments that take time to right size. This goal is our Godly Daddy journey. Each journey is different. I am not implying that everyone will get what they want in a career, but we can all understand the purpose of work and do it for our Lord.

As we celebrate Holy week, this topic makes me think of why Jews eat the Matzah all week. A cracker eaten in Freedom taste much sweeter than the best Steak in captivity. My prayer is that I will not choose to enslave myself and neither do you.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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