Monthly Archives: January 2011

Man Up: The Garage

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This week I am taking some time to give dads some tools for leading their families spiritually.  I will use rooms of a house to describe the different ways that we need to lead.  Today is “The Garage.”

For some men the garage is the place that we call home. It is our escape, our man cave. We go to recharge and get some alone time. We need time to be alone with our tools and hobbies but we also need alone time with the Lord. As men we need to start “manning up” in our own spiritual development.  We cannot lead our families until we are walking with the Lord personally.  But how do we do this? Here are some simple starting places in walking closer with the Lord. They are simple yet it is the simple things we have a hard time doing.

Schedule Time with God

If you are anything like me, if you don’t schedule it, then it won’t happen. Find a time in your day when you can stop everything and find a quiet place to be alone with God.  It might be in the morning before the rush of the day or during lunch when you can get out of the office.  Start small by scheduling 15 minutes to be alone with God.

Talk to God

Move away from trying to sound religious or use the “right words” and just talk to God. Throughout the Psalms David is brutally honest with God and uses some pretty colorful language. God just wants to hear what is on our minds not flowery religious language.

Spend Time Reading God’s Word has some great Bible reading plans for every stage of spiritual development. If you like technology, download the YouVersion app for your cell phone or iDevice. It is a great app for reading multiple versions of the Bible. Before you jump into reading, ask God to show you what he wants you to learn. As you read look for ways that the principles might be applied to your daily life. How does what I am reading change how I should live my life today?

Most likely, you have heard this advice before, but are you following it? These are the first steps but if we follow them, we will experience God in new ways. This will give us the energy and insight we need to begin to be spiritual leaders in our home.

Check back tomorrow for the next room in the house, “The Kitchen.” I think I might even cover “The Bedroom” in the next few days. Men always want to get to that room.


Man Up

One of my favorite commercials this football season has been Miller Light’s “Man Up” campaign. It makes fun of the feminized manhood or  metrosexual style of man purses and skinny jeans. I believe we as dads need to hear this message of “Man Up.” Too many dads are content to let their wives lead the family spiritually. We come up with many excuses for running from this responsibility and meanwhile our wives and children are looking to us to lead them.

I am not the biggest fan of contemporary Christian music but Sanctus Real’s song “Lead Me” is my theme song for the year. Below is the story behind the song. The next couple of days I will take time to explain some practical ways that dads can man up and be the leader that our wives and children need.

Kids and the Lord’s Prayer

Hillary and I have been trying to teach our daughters to pray and it doesn’t seem to be working. Anna’s prayers at dinner are speedy and it is impossible to hear what she is saying.  We know it is a valuable spiritual discipline for our children but for the longest time we didn’t know what else to do.

Sitting in church the other day, I had the idea of teaching our kids to say the Lord’s Prayer at dinner.  Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus how they should pray and the Lord’s Prayer is Jesus’ answer.  For this reason, I think it is important for our children to know the Lord’s Prayer and begin to understand what the phrases mean.

Last Friday night we gave each of our daughters these sheets of paper to color and put together with two staples on the left.  The pictures give them an image of what the phrase below it means.  At dinner we get out the booklets and read the Lord’s Prayer together.  So far it seems to work for our girls.  I thought I would pass it along to you all if you are trying to find ideas for how to teach your children to pray.

What seems to be working for you?  What creative ideas do you have for teaching your children to pray?

Why I’m Scared of Working in a Church

I’m scared of spiders, the Scream movies and going under water.  But nothing scares me more than working for a church. But wait you say, aren’t you working in a church? Yep, pretty much. But let me explain my fear.

I grew up as a pastor’s kid and have seen lots of stuff go on in the church.  I have attended conferences where pastors of mega churches are worshiped and praised for what they did to lead their churches to greatness. Pastors are known to read the newest books from the business world that spell out how to make a good business great.  They study how to lead teams well and how to motivate customers/parishioners. When their church grows by the hundreds and even thousands, they write books, speak at conferences and produce video podcasts. We celebrate their transformational leadership.

But what does this have to do with my fear of working in a church? I am scared of using the latest leadership tactics, the newest motivational skills and a well defined and communicated vision to grow my ministry. I’m scared that I can be successful (numerically) in ministry and God doesn’t even have to be a part of it.

Paul writes, “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:4-7). The Corinthian church was worshipping specific leaders and this was causing division in their church.  Paul makes the fundamental point that these leaders did their task but it was God who caused the growth.  We get it wrong when we praise church leaders for their amazing leadership and forget that it is God who should be worshipped. Without God, spiritual growth cannot happen.

This means that first and foremost, I must be bending my will to the will of God each day. I must realize that my first priority is to follow Christ, not to lead my ministry. When I switch those priorities and forget God’s centrality in the ministry, then things get scary.

Help a School in Need

“A child miseducated is a child lost.”  John F. Kennedy

With massive state budget cuts, schools across our nation are in need of basic supplies.  Donors Choose is a great website for finding specific needs in your community schools and showing you how to make a difference financially.  I found 1o needs right here in Champaign.

Check it out here:

The Power of Vulnerability

J.R. Briggs, a friend from Taylor, shared the video below on Facebook.  I dare you to watch it.  It will challenge your assumptions and hit you at the core of your self. In the video, Brene Brown tells a very personal story about her research into the power of vulnerability.

Marriage Reflection

Last Saturday Hillary and I took an hour to reflect on the past year and talk through what we learned. Hillary found these great reflection questions from Simple Mom that were our guide for the discussion. Some of the questions were easy for us (What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? – we moved halfway across the country). Other questions were hard (In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?).  It was definitely a meaningful exercise for Hillary and me.

This Saturday we are going to work through the next set of questions focused on how we will flourish in 2011. It is important for us to learn from the journey of last year but also to set good practices in place for 2011.

Babble: An Honest Parenting Website

I am always on the lookout for honest parenting resources that don’t sugar coat the tiring, yet rewarding journey that is parenting.  Last night we heard about Babble, which turns out is full of great resources and articles for parents.  Here is my favorite, a description of the best and worst of the developmental stages.

Boredom and Creativity

I don’t remember being bored as a child.  Maybe it was because we didn’t have a TV and that we had a huge field outside our back door.  Maybe it was because I thought I was Daniel Boone with my big hunting knife and hatchet. Maybe it was because I am a boy.

Now that we have daughters I am realizing that boredom is alive and well. Especially this last week when our oldest daughter was on Christmas Break. Just tonight Anna, our oldest, asked what we were doing after dinner. We had played board games several nights in a row and entertained them through most of the days.  Anna finally became frustrated and exclaimed, “I’m bored!”

At that moment I was totally ok with Anna being bored. She has new toys from Christmas and multiple things to do around the house.  She can figure out an activity for the night on her own. If we continue to be her activity coordinators, we will just be worn out all the time.  I think our daughters will also lose some of their creativity if we are always programming their days.  Obviously balance is the key here. I found this great article which says that we need to structure “unstructured time” for our kids. Too often we run ourselves ragged trying to program our kids’ lives when what they need most is to be bored. After boredom comes creativity.