I have been involved in lifting weights since I was a teenager and I love it. But one of the very first things I was taught was when you are working out never lift heavy weights on your own. If you are going to shoot for a heavier weight or you are going to lift your max weight then you need someone there just in case you get stuck or can’t lift it. There has been time and time again where I have needed a lifting partner to help me. Just that little nudge, a yell of encouragement, or even the ability to grab the weight and rack it before I crushed my chest or blew out a knee. Everything that a lifting partner is taught to do when helping someone lift. Usually, when I was getting ready to lift the heavy weight I would find a good friend or a team-mate that I trusted and knew had the strength to lift what I was lifting. (I would pick a lineman who looked at what I was lifting and would laugh and say, “puny defensive back”.) Then I would get on the bench or I would get under the bar in the squat rack, get in position and begin lifting.
I tell you about this not because I am huge and all muscle but because I think we could use lifting partners every day of our life. Each and every one of us could experience powerful life change when we have life lifting partners. Just think about it your getting ready to make a big decision, call your lifting partner. You are getting ready to start a new job, call your lifting partner. You are struggling with an addiction, call your lifting partner. You are struggling in your marriage, call your lifting partner. Here is the problem most of us wouldn’t do that because we believe that we can handle the heavy lifting all on our own. We have been taught that we don’t need anyone else when things get tough. Except for when we are lifting heavy weights. (Why?) Here is a verse in the bible that I think sets the tone for what we need to do:
Galatians 6:2 (NLT) 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Why is that we can lay down on a bench and try to lift heavy weight and then realize it is too much and then go ask someone for help, but we won’t do it when our marriage is struggling. (Pride) We can step under a bar that has 45 lbs plate after 45 lbs plate on it straining against a squat rack barely lift it and say I can’t handle this at all, then go a lifting partner. But when our kids are having a really hard time we won’t say a thing. (E.G.O. – Edging out God)
Here is what I am suggesting today start to develop a relationship with some LIFE lifting partners. I guarantee that there are other guys just like you trying to lift and then carry some heavy burdens that could use your help. You see that is what is so amazing about when you get LIFE lifting partners it doesn’t become a one-sided relationship. There is give and take, there is the encouragement in the form of a pat on the back along with maybe a kick in the butt. You have another person or persons that you can call when the weight of the burden is just getting to be too much, so the can step in and help you lift and carry that burden.
So start by thinking about at least two or three other guys that you like to hang out with in your relationship circles. Then take a couple of weeks to pray about asking those guys to think about being lifting partners after you have explained to them what lifting partners could be for each other. Once you have asked them then take a couple of weeks for each of them to pray about the opportunity of being lifting partners. Then come together and talk some more about who is in and who is out, then plan the next time you are going to meet as LIFE lifting partners.
Now that you have some guys that are willing to be LIFE lifting partners just meet and talk about what you all hope to get out of being lifting partners. Then establish what will be your natural rhythms for when and where you are going to meet. You also want to let each other know that as you begin to share and pray for each other that whatever is shared with lifting partners stays with lifting partners. (Unless someone is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else.) Then ask each other how you can pray for each other, pray and enjoy the rest of your coffee, beer, or soda just hanging out. Then just continue to meet, talk, pray and hang out just a little reminder to take your time and not feel as if you have to go deep right away. Let the Holy Spirit guide your moments and let the time you spend together lead the conversations.
(This was written for men but it can very easily be used for women as well. The truth is that in my experience is that women already do this kind of relationship way better then we men do. But if this is something you can use by all means go for it. Too many people are spending their lives trying to carry their burdens all on their own.)
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.
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?
At the beginning of this year I made the decision to be disciplined when it comes to the important areas of my life. I made the decision to be disciplined when it comes to my health, my life with Jesus, my wife, my leadership and my writing. (at least this writing) I had come to the realization that over the last couple of years that I had allowed stress, laziness, and other people’s priorities to take over how I was living life. It is amazing how easy this can happen, especially when you have not decided to be disciplined with your life.
So when it comes to my wife I have set the goal to make sure that we go on at least 3 dates a month. I have also placed on my phone an app that I think that many people would find useful. (tell you soon) When it comes to going on dates with my wife I want to do things that are going to fulfill her love language and make her feel that I have planned something special just for her. Now if you don’t know your spouses love language then you need to either get the book, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and read it or you can listen to it on audiobook. Once you know the love language of your spouse you need to then download to your phone The Five Love Languages App. Why would you do that if you have the book? Because it has a challenge and it has ideas of how to date your mate. That’s right they give you ideas for dates and ways to talk with your spouse in their love language. I don’t know about you but to me that is a WIN!
So I have decided to make my wife and her love language a priority I have decided to be disciplined about speaking and living in her love language. Do you know your spouses love language? Have you read the book? What can you do to speak in your spouses love language?
We see people with cardboard signs all the time that say, HUNGRY or NEED FOOD. But what can you do about it? What if you could help a family that is in need get food in a dignified way? This is the question that we have been working to answer over the last couple of months. So at Elevation Christian Church we have an amazing group of volunteers that take our building and set it up for a free market that helps people that live in our community that are in need get food in a dignified way.
So to do this we work with an organization that helps us provide quality food through the free market to the people in our community. We choose to work with this organization because most of the time when you ask people to donate food they give you the food products that they don’t like (sauerkraut) or have had for years. (Expiration not noticed) Or when you ask people to donate money they think they are already helping someone by giving them money as the pass by them holding their cardboard sign. I watched a TED TALK where the Mayor of Albuquerque talked about how by donating financially to a food bank or free market can make a greater impact when it comes to helping people get food. Unfortunately when we give someone money on the street is less likely to go to feeding them but to feeding their addiction. So at the Free Market at Elevation we are able to purchase large amounts of quality food where we can then give it to the people that are in need for FREE. That is why it is called, “The Free Market at Elevation.”
Through the amazing volunteers at Elevation we create a mini grocery store with grocery carts and all where people can get the food they need for themselves and for their families. We also have people called, “Shoppers Helpers” that walk through the Free Market with the people from the community to build a relationship with them. It is not someone that probes about their issues or their needs but someone that can become a friendly face. Then once the person is done going through the market the shoppers helper asks how they can pray for that person and gives them a card or some encouragement. We recently had over 100 second graders from a local school come and help set-up and while they helped they also created cards to give to the shoppers of the Free Market. I was told that one man went through the market for the first time where he recieved his food, had someone pray with him, and then he recieved one of the second graders cards. What I was told was the man thanked his shoppers helper for their prayers, then began to walk out of the building, while he was on the front walk way he read the card from one of the second graders. He was so overcome with with the care and the card that he came back into the building with tears streaming down his face to let the volunteers know how thankful he was for the food, the care, and the card. He said that it was all just what he needed that day.
I tell you this because you can be a part of the Free Market at Elevation. You can help people that are in need of food by your donations and when you donate you know that they are getting quality food and dignified care at the same time. Just click here. Because when you do you will be doing what is best for the person that is most likely going to be holding a sign some day saying, “In need of food”. Be a part of the movement to make sure that someone is being fed and fed well physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
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?
So starting in the month of February I am going to be recording once a month a podcast for dads. Single dads, married dads, divorced dads, future dads, empty nest dads, and mentor dads of kids in your community. So once that I have the podcast location and have the logo I will be posting the information for you start tuning in. But what I want to do is invite you to share with me here in the comments section any questions that you might have about being a dad. It is my hope that we can together discover and recover some of the amazing things that are to be done as a dad with and for our kids.
List below any questions or thought that you think would be good to cover on a podcast for dads. Because we are going to Dare U 2 Dad!
I 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.