Living the crazy life that God has given me!

Family

Being a Dad is Dangerous

beware-dad

Over the weekend we talked at Elevation about being a dad and how that is dangerous for Father’s day. I believe that being a dad is dangerous and it is not because of what happens when you tell someone to pull your finger. I believe that being a dad is dangerous and it is not because of the way that you can dominate the people in your family. I believe that being a dad is dangerous and it is not because of the genetics that they have in their body.

I believe that dads are dangerous because of the influence that uses or don’t use in the relationships that they have. Dad’s are dangerous because of the way that they influence the families that they are in, dads are dangerous because of the way that they care for their children, and dads are dangerous because of the way that they love others at work. A dad’s influence is what makes them dangerous.

In fact one of the ways that I have been thinking about it is this way; “Dangerous Dad’s influence on their surroundings, their surroundings don’t influence dad’s.” The analogy that we used when talking about this was the carrot, the egg, and coffee beans. The idea is that a boiling pot of water represents the different environments that dads are involved with, it would represent the surroundings in which we find ourselves each day.

When you place a carrot into the boiling water eventually the carrot is going to become soft. Being soft has nothing to do with your waistline or if you are an emotional person. Being soft has to do with being selfish! You have allowed your surroundings to influence you to think that as a dad it is all about you. The unfortunate thing is that many men believe that being a dad is about them when the actuality of being a dad is about others. So becoming soft leads you to mush all about you!

When you place an egg into the boiling water eventually the egg is going to become a hard-boiled egg. Being hard is again nothing physical like hard muscles or hard as being a badass and can fight your way out of a situation. When we allow the surroundings of life to make us hard it is about our hearts. I believe that we have many men that because of either something that has been done to them or done by them when it comes to their choices they have become hard-hearted. They struggle with the idea of loving someone or being loved by someone and it creates hateful people. The way that I was thinking about it was, “Hardened Hearts Create Hate Fueled Habits”. We have habits that have been created out of hate because of what is going on in our lives and that means we are influenced not being influencers.

But then when you take the boiling water that you used for the carrot, or for the egg, and you add to it coffee beans the water is going to be changed. It is going to become coffee. (We call it Christian Crack.) But the coffee is giving of itself to the surroundings and it influences the water. You see when a Dangerous Dad is able to see that he is called to be an influencer not influenced by his surroundings that he becomes DANGEROUS! When a dad is giving of himself and is influencing his surroundings that he becomes an influencer. For me I believe that it is when Jesus changes a Dad that the soft spots are hardened, the hard spots are softened, so that they are able to give of themselves just like Jesus did. That is TRULY when a dad become dangerously influential in their surroundings. So I am hoping that today you see that you can become a Dangerous Dad!

What are the soft spots in your life and what areas of your life have you become hardened?

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Living In My Dad’s Hand Me Downs

dad-helping-son-tie-a-necktieWhen you are growing up as the oldest of four kids there is no one to give you hand me downs, except your dad.  Now if you don’t know what hand me downs are then you were either an only child or your family had enough money to make sure you had lots of new clothes.  So this is not going to be a story that you can probably relate to when it comes to clothing.  But by the time we get done here you are going to see that you are probably dealing with some hand me downs when it comes to your life.

Being the oldest of three boys and one girl and growing at a rapid rate around 8th grade I needed a lot of clothes quickly.  You see I grew 9 inches in one year.  So that meant I was constantly wearing pants that were called high waters. (If you don’t know what that means then we can’t be friends.)  My mom used to joke that they were just the right length when I left the house in the morning but by the end of the day, they were too short.  The problem with growing that fast is that it gets really expensive and being the oldest of four we were not in a place to buy jeans every other day.  That meant I was getting dad’s hand me down clothes.  Which you might think that can’t be that bad.  Well if at the time your waist is a size twenty and your dads is a size thirty then it can cause some issues.  But, you belt up and you keep going.  Now here is what you might not know about wearing your dad’s hand me downs, it makes you feel grown-up.  I mean to a 13-year-old boy you are now wearing man’s pants.  They aren’t the kiddie pants in the boy’s area of the store they come from Men’s clothing, you see what I mean?  Yes, they didn’t fit you perfect but, you knew that at that moment you were wearing man’s pants.

Flash forward to now.  I am no longer wearing my dad’s hand me down clothes. I am a dad of my own with a son and yes at one point in his life I gave him one of my shirts or even a pair of pants.  And yes the same was true for him as it was for me when I was his age the waistline was for sure not the same.  But I can remember as clear as a bell my son looking at me and saying, “Thanks Dad I really feel like a man wearing this.”

Here is the problem for many of the men that are around today.  They never had that moment with their dad where they got to wear his hand me downs. Maybe it’s because their dad was no longer alive, maybe it was because their dad was in prison, or just maybe it was because their dad chose to not be in their life.  No matter what the reason that little moment in life where you were able to see yourself develop into a man never happened and it is something that you have been thinking about with each day. Who knows you may be a dad now and you are trying to figure out what you are going to do for your son when the time comes in his life where he is starting to become a man.

Here is my encouragement to you. Don’t buy him a shield, don’t buy him a trip up some mountain, or create some party that lets him know he is becoming a man.  Just grab a shirt, grab a pair of pants, take him one of your ties and let him wear them for a little while.  Because the truth of the matter is that he is going to probably outgrow your stuff anyway. I am not necessarily saying he is going become a bigger man then you physically. (It could happen.) But he is going to outgrow what you have given him and that is ok because that means he is becoming his own man.  Which is what you want so that someday when you see him as a dad he is going to let your grandson live in his hand me downs.


The Death of Fatherhood is Devastating your City Today!

Sad yound man

No matter where you live I want you to know that the death of fatherhood is devastating your city from the inside out right now, today.  Here in the United States the statistics are staggering when it comes to fatherless homes:

  • 25 million children in the United States are growing up in fatherless homes.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
  • 71% of all adolescent substance abusers come from fatherless homes.
  • 80% of all in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes.
  • 70% of adolescents in juvenile correctional facilities come from fatherless homes.
  • 60% of rapists come from fatherless homes.
  • 70% teen pregnancies happen in fatherless homes.

    (Statistics from National Center For Fathering 2015)

The statistics are not any indication on the women that are left with the heavy responsibility to care for children in many cases on their own.  These women are doing the job of two and doing it, most likely while they are working more then one job.  They are not the reason that we are talking about fatherhood.  We are talking about fatherhood because in most cases (not all cases) that we have men that are walking away from their responsibility and opportunity to be a FATHER.

Fatherhood

So what does this mean for us today? What does this mean for us in the coming years?  I believe that it is an amazing opportunity for those of that have had a father or have grown into fatherhood to help both young man and high school boys.  It is the opportunity that we have to be a part of breaking the chains of dysfunction that have lead to the slow death of fatherhood.  Here are some ways that we can take this opportunity and begin to make a difference:

  • Start where you are at with the boys that are right in your own neighborhood. I guarantee that you will see some young guys throwing the ball around or kicking that ball around on your street.  Just take some to spend with them playing and talking. It is amazing how much a kid will talk while they are playing.
  • If you are father then take the time to get to know the other boys or girls that are hanging out with your children.  Don’t just let them wander through the house without them seeing or getting to know there is a father in the place.
  • Take the time to talk and mess around with the boys and young men that are involved in your church.  You just might be exactly what one of these mothers are looking for when it comes to helping them encourage their children. (I had two men in my life that were just like this)
  • If you are single man that has no children of your own then I challenge you to get involved with an organization that would enable you to mentor a young man.  I know that there are many amazing organizations like this where ever you life. (Where I live we have an amazing group called, “Save Our Youth”.)

Here is my challenge to you whether your are a father or not, do something. Take the time to get involved in a child’s life.  You may never know the difference you can make by helping be a part of being a FATHER.

What are some other ways that you can get involved in the lives of children that are living in fatherless homes?


Refrigerator FRONT Challenge

IMG_1760What does the front of your refrigerator look like today?  What do you have on the front of your refrigerator that communicates who you are as a family?  I want to invite you to take the refrigerator FRONT challenge today.  Before you even read this I want you to STOP and GO look at the front of your refrigerator and tell me what you see?

What is on the refrigerator that shows you are proud of your family?  What is on the refrigerator that shows you love your spouse?  What is on the refrigerator that shows what is important to you? (Included is the front of our refrigerator)  Why do you think that I am asking these questions? (Another question)  I am asking you to look at this because honestly it’s a place where your children go to daily, where you friends stop and look when they are over, and where you spend a some time.  The front of the refrigerator is the place where you can cast vision for your family, where you celebrate wins, and where you can place things that are a matter of prayer.

If you look at our refrigerator in this picture you can see pictures of children that we sponsor as a family and one my daughter Danielle sponsors on her own.  You will see two postcards that have some really amazing friends that are working on the mission in Vanuatu. Those cards remind us to pray for them.  There is a picture of our family that when I look at it reminds be me to be first thankful for my family and then second to pray for them no matter where they are of what they are doing. We have a small picture for Michelle and I up in the corner in a magnet we got while we were in Hawaii.  That is for me to be first thankful for my marriage and then second to pray for my wife and that our marriage will remain focused on Christ.   There is a green card where Morgan wrote out the message from our of experiences at Elevation.  It is a reminder for us about God has given us each special abilities that we are to use to point people to Him.  There is a picture of me as a freshman in high school at Rangeview High school in Aurora.  That is up there so that my family can make fun of me. (I get it 80’s clothes.) There is an orange card from our church that reminds us to know our neighbors, “Beyond the Fence”.   We have filled this card with our neighbors names and when we hear them share something that is in their lives we then write something so when know how to pray for them.  Then finally a magnet from Elevation the church that God lead us to start a little over 7 years ago.  I pray for the church family that is in need of Go’s grace and I pray that I will be the leader that God wants me to be for this church.

So what is on the front of your refrigerator? What are you doing to cast vision? What are the ways that you are using this simple place in your home to grow and lead your family as followers of Jesus?  If you want to feel free to post pictures of the front of your refrigerator here or on my facebook page. (Click here)


Prepare for the END

Prepare for the end

Over the last several years I have been actively involved in a funeral home here in the community of Aurora.  I know that might sound strange but years ago I had an amazing group of men challenge me to prepare for the end of life.  I had only been to one funeral growing up so I was intimidated to say the least when it came to this season of life.  But through their support and encouragement I came to understand the necessity of knowing what to do when it comes to the end of someone’s life.  So now as a pastor in the community where I grew up it has enabled me to help friends and family when it comes to a loved ones last wishes.

But one of the things that I have realized is that man men and women don’t prepare with the end in mind.  I know, I know you are probably thinking but that is morbid.  I don’t want to think about my own death.  Ok I get that but here is what I have learned over the last 20 years.  You are not the one that has to deal with your DEATH.  Why? Because you are DEAD!  What happens is either your spouse or your children are left with the emotional and sometime very painful task of paying and planning for your final resting place.  I have experienced this time and time again where I am speaking with a room full of family members and they all stare at each other saying, “I don’t know what we are supposed to do.”  Well here are a few things that I am going to challenge you to do for the sake of your family:

  • Type up exactly what you would like to have happen to you after you have passed away. (I.E. funeral, cremation, burial, thrown in the ocean, whatever)
  • Go to a funeral home and talk with their pre-needs area.  This is where you can find out exactly what the cost will be for what you desire.
  • Start paying now for what you desire for your final resting place. (The costs will change year after year but at least you have payed the way for this.)
  • Place everything in a folder. Mark it and let your spouse or your kids know exactly what it is and how it will help them.  (Yes most likely they won’t want to talk about it but you are taking care of them in the long run.)

You might be asking yourself, “When should I put this together?” or “How old should I be to start this?” Here is my encouragement to you.  NOW!  We are not guaranteed to be around tomorrow, so do the best that you can now for your family.  This might even be a good thing to discuss with your spouse as you start planning so it doesn’t come as a shock when you hand them a folder of your preparation for the end.

What are some things that you are not sure about when it comes to preparing for the end?


Seek the one to Reflect the One

TheVow_ArtworkI am excited to be able to start the new year with a goal of writing on this blog at least twice a week and making it a part of what we are doing at Elevation.  I am also going to be writing to help husbands, fathers, and men to be all that God wants them to be in each of their lives.

So today is kind of a two for one! We have started a series called, “The Vow”.  We are talking about the vows that we need to take serious if we are going to be prepared for marriage or to have strength in our current marriages. Because if you are reading this you probably have like me seen the stats or studies that show that half of marriages are not making it for the long haul.  And most men are like me where we did not have the best or if any examples of what it means to be a Godly and loving husband.  So it is my hope that we can start the conversation where we can give men a place to start when it comes to preparing to be great husbands or help those husbands to grow and get better.

I have been reading through the book of Psalms and there is one that is specific about what it looks like for a husband to spiritually lead his family.  We talked about what it looks like to, “Seek the One, to Reflect the One” to our spouses or women that we want to marry in the first message of our series.  So read with me Psalm 128:

Psalm 128 (NLT) A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him. May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!

The writer is talking about how it starts first with the fear of the Lord and of the one who is following in the Lords ways.  Then it says that we will enjoy the fruit of our work because of who we are following the Lord.  But then it show how as we “SEEK THE ONE” it will enable us to “REFLECT THE ONE” to the people in our homes.  It is says that the wife will be like a fruitful grapevine flourishing within your home.  This shows that as you make Jesus the one in your life and that he grows and shows through you that your wife will flourish, that your home will be better because of the both of you being affected by Jesus and that your HOME will be different because of you both being changed by following the Lord.

It then goes on and talks about the kids! Your kids will be affected by the way that you and your spouse are being changed as you “Seek the One to Reflect the One” as a couple. The future of your family the future of your kids are being lead by the way that you are being lead by Jesus.  If we want to be a part of changing the directions of our families legacy’s we do that be following Jesus.  It also points out sitting around the table, maybe this week as you, “Seek The One to Reflect the One” you have a conversation around the table with your kids about what you are learning or doing as a follower of Jesus?

But then it talks about seeing Jerusalem prosper and that you may live to enjoy your grandchildren and see Israel have peace.  As I studied and read more this is showing that as we “See The One to Reflect the One” that it will lead to change in our community, that we will be a part of the change to generations of people because of the way that we are following Jesus.  What you do as a follower of Jesus and as a husband and as a father can be used by God to change the communities that we are in and the generations that are to come after us.

What do you need to do this week to “Seek The One to Reflect the One”?  How can you make sure that your wife is flourishing? How are you getting your kids around the table to talk about following Jesus?  Take some time to pray and think about this and please feel free to leave a comment and share what you are planning to do.


Dad to Daughters

kidsI was never prepared to be a dad let alone a dad of two daughters.  I mean I was a boy so when we had our son I kind of had that one figured out.  But daughters really, two of them, I was really deep in the weeds.  So I wanted to be able to share with you some of the things that I have learned being the dad of two daughters that have grown up to be amazing women. So here you go:

  • Listen to your wife!  I had to listen to my wife a lot because I am the oldest of four and my sister was ten years younger then me.  So I was clueless to a lot of areas when it came to what girls didn’t need or did need from a dad.
  • Hug them always.  One of the things that I always have done is hug my girls.  I hugged my girls even when they didn’t want me too.  Yep I went against the first one but that was only because I wanted my girls to know that I was going to love them and care for them whether they wanted me to or not.
  • Be Honest with them.  Now if you are a dad to a girl then you know the dreaded questions that start like this, “Dad what do you think about . . . ” insert hair, dress, make up, and a long list of others.  Unfortunately when we first started with these questions I was to honest and I did not set up my answer.  So I had a lot of looks from my wife and coaching with, “You don’t say that to a girl”.  To which I would answer, “Well then why did she ask me?”  So I would preface my answer by saying, “Do you want me to be honest?”  Now I said that when I didn’t like what I saw and I have said that when I did like what I saw. (Be consistent)
  • Set the Tone.  If you want your daughter to have a man that is going to love and care for her, then you need to set the tone.  So that is where you as the dad need to model exactly the kind of man that you want your daughters to look for in their life.  In fact I think that you should set the bar so high that your girls will go out on dates with the young men in their life and expect them to act like you.  And when the young men don’t act like you make sure you teach those same girls to not except it. So if you haven’t got what I am saying, then here you go.  Love your wife the way that you want your daughters to be loved.
  •  Prepare them for Life.  I know that you are probably thinking, well that is a big statement and you are right it is.  But I believe that it is something that is very important. So prepare them to handle their finances, prepare them to take care of their car, prepare them to defend themselves if needed, prepare them to speak up, prepare them to trust, and prepare them to leave home well.  I don’t expect my daughters to have to have a man to take care of them, I know that they can do it.  But I also want to prepare them for a life with another, so prepare them to talk with a man, prepare them to love someone, prepare them to sacrifice for someone, you see prepare them for life.

There are just a few of the things that I would say are important when it comes to being a dad to daughters.  But here is the last one and the most important prepare them to say, “I am sorry.”  How do you do this? Learn to say it yourself.  If there are some others that you can think of then feel free to comment and share them.