July 21, 2011

Just For Men (Part 2)

If you missed yesterday's post, read it first: PART 1

While I could go on and on with other lists of things I think we as men need to take care of and attend to, I think I need to skip all of that. Let's get down to business. Over the past several years I've been incredibly frustrated, burdened, and broken over how many women I see spiritually leading their families. And yes, some of them are single moms, who may have been walked out on and left to teach, raise, and provide for their children on their own. I pray that we (as the church) step in and become family for these families. But I'm being a bit more specific with this post. I'm referring to a woman I watched for 10 years, raising her 2 daughters to be Godly servant-hearted women. Modeling what it looks like to be a selfless loving wife and mother. Walking into church every Sunday. Alone. While her husband was ______________. Fishing? Golfing? Sitting on his dead a$% while she faithfully showed her daughters the importance of walking with the Lord. What is this?

I'm thinking about another mom who tried to fight the same battle for her daughter and son - battling (warring) against college football and the country club. And another mom I'm watching fight the same battle right now. These are just the ones that I see - the ones that are right under my nose. How many thousands of women right this moment are walking the road of raising their children to know and follow Jesus Christ...and walking the road alone. Dad's there - physically. But not spiritually. Dad usually even professes faith in Christ. Dad says, "I'm a Christian". He's got proof. He showed up on Easter for crying out loud!

If you're a man, and you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, and you're not spiritually leading your family, you're fooling yourself.

I'm not writing this to chastise you, condemn you, or judge you. But I am writing as a brother in Christ to warn you: You are missing the greatest opportunity of your life - to love, teach, and lead your wife and kids to follow and trust in the ONLY One worthy! There will be no regret in your life of greater significance than if you look back and realize that you forfeited this responsibility and privilege. We are called to "make disciples". That begins under our own roof!

If you want to be a man, love the Lord, walk with Him, and lead your family.

July 20, 2011

Just For Men (Part 1)

Disclaimer 1: This blog is aimed at no one person. No friend or acquaintance inspired (or provoked) these thoughts or words. So if you read this and wonder, "Is he talking about ME?", No. He is not. This is for ALL men.

Disclaimer 2: Ladies, This post is addressed to men. It is for men to read. But it is also for you - so that you don't have to be the one to say these things. (Or maybe because you're not willing to.) Either way, you probably don't want to read this, but (I hope) you'll be glad I wrote it.

Guys: There are some things that I think all men need to know. And most of these aren't going to be super-spiritual - or spiritual at all! Some of them are (or should be) common knowledge, but it's obvious and apparent that that's not the case. So I'm taking the liberty of sharing some things I think we all should know. If you disagree, great! Would love to hear about it. Hopefully you'll find one golden nugget of semi-mind-blowing proportion in this that will change things a bit for you. (And also note: I have no interest in you becoming the next metrosexual casualty. But it's time we understand that being a MAN doesn't mean you need to be a foul-mouthed, un-groomed barbarian.) Either way, here we go.

1. NO woman wants to know that you trim your EAR & NOSE HAIR - but even more so, they don't want to know that you don't! Some of you may be thinking, "I don't have any hair sticking out of my nose or ears!" Great! But someday, you probably will. And NO ONE wants to see it! That's the reason they make these things called Ear & Nose Trimmers. They're not geniuses; it's just their way of telling us, "Hey buddy. We don't want to see that!"

2. Take care of your FEET! This will not be the manliest thing you ever do. And I'm not telling you to bring it up in the locker room or at the barber shop. But if any other human being besides you has to look at, smell, touch, or be in the same room as your nasty feet, do something about them. They make a thing called a FOOT FILE - it's like sandpaper on a tongue depressor. Buy one. Go on the back porch. Use it. [Repeat] Get the 8 years of dead skin off your feet and - prepare yourself for this one, you big sissy - put some lotion on those bad mommas! Remember: In Jesus' day the thing they took most care of was their feet. So if you're wondering WWJD...? He would tell you the same thing!

3. Stop talking like you're still in high school. Allow me to be more specific: YOU AREN'T IN HIGH SCHOOL ANYMORE! I know, it was cool to fling all sorts of profanity and expletives out there just to get people's attention and create some shock value. The shock has worn off. Seriously. Your use of the F-Bomb or "@#$%*!" in a sentence does nothing other than make you look like an undereducated idiot. And you're not an undereducated idiot! (At least I don't think you are.) So don't talk like one.

What would you add to the list? 
More to come....

July 18, 2011


I don't know about you, but when I was in school I hated to read. And when I say "school", I mean all 20 1/2 years of it! K-Seminary. But this crazy thing happened once I finished that part of my journey - once there was no one telling me what to read of that there would be a quiz over it next Thursday. I began to love reading. I started seeing all these windows opening to viewpoints and ideas that I hadn't thought of before. And sometimes I would even read things and think, "I know this already", which is good because it actually makes you feel a little bit smarter. And I'll take all of that I can get. While the 10 years or so after I stopped paying to be a "student" were filled with a newfound desire to read, the last 2 1/2 years of being a pastor has brought me to an even greater level of hunger to be challenged. And I've come to the realization that as a pastor and leader, I have a very simple but profound choice: READ...OR DIE!

Maybe death sounds a bit harsh or drastic to you. Maybe it would help to know that I'm not (necessarily) talking about physical death - like you're going to catch a horrible disease or get pummeled by a train. I'm talking about the death that sets in due to mental or spiritual apathy - the toxic numbness that can spread in and through leaders and pastors who stop being challenged to ask "Why" and who cease to press their creative imagination as to HOW they're reaching people for Christ and HOW they're leveraging the indescribable responsibility of communicating God's Word to those who are willing to listen. We must read or die! 

[And before I go further, please understand that everything said in this article is me living under the assumption that you're already disciplined and relishing every moment that's available to you to spend in God's Word. If not, don't read another word of this blog! Go spend time in the Word!]

I wanted to share with you a few books that I've read (or re-read) lately, a few that I consider to be a must-read for anyone in the position of pastoring or leading people, and even a few that you may not like at all. 

Lately I've been reading:

  • "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (Re-read) I don't know that I've ever read a more foundational mandate for and accurate description of Christian community as it should be. This book challenges me on many levels.
  • "The Unity Factor" by Larry Osborne. If you're a new pastor or church planter, you can't afford to miss this book. Larry shares so many retrospective insights into his first years of pastoring and how we can effectively develop and cultivate our leadership teams. (Anything he writes, read it!)
  • "Elders and Leaders" by Gene Getz. Only a chapter or two into this one. While I still consider Strauch's book "Biblical Eldership" to be the best (next to the Bible), so far this seems like it might be a pretty good compliment.
Some books that I believe EVERY pastor &/or Christian leader should read:
  • "Spiritual Leadership" by Oswald Sanders. My pastor (Dr. Gary Smith) recommended this book to me 12-13 years ago before I left for my first full-time ministry position. I've read it at least 3 times! It is such a pointed and deep insight into the character, integrity, and discipline of a Godly leader.
  • "Next Generation Leader" by Andy Stanley. Like I said with Larry Osborne, if Andy Stanley writes something, read it. (I would read his diary if he let me!) Number one lesson almost every pastor has to learn is "You can't do it all!" This book reminds us that we were never called to do it all. 
  • "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire" by Jim Cymbala. If you aren't living a life of prayer, everything else is void. Awesome book!
More books that have made incredible impressions on me:
  • "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan
  • "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper
  • "The Radical Cross" by A.W. Tozer
  • "Church Unique" by Will Mancini
  • "Visioneering" by Andy Stanley
  • "The Pursuit of Holiness" by Jerry Bridges
What books are you reading?
What would you recommend?

July 14, 2011


My Dad had more stories from his time in Vietnam than he was willing to share. But one story that he told me on several occasions still sends chills down my spine. One insanely hot day (which in my understanding was descriptive of just about every day he spent there) my Dad had been ordered to finish digging a foxhole. Assuming that, like me, you've never been in a foxhole, this is a large hole in the ground where soldiers can take cover or rally when under fire. (Never actually heard of a fox being in a foxhole. That's weird. Moving on.) So my Dad is digging this foxhole and he's probably about shoulder to neck deep when he throws a pile of dirt and notices in his periphery that the "stick" in the dirt was moving. Not thinking much of it, he just kept digging. Until he noticed out of the corner of his eye that the "stick" was now sitting upright and staring at him. [This is where it gets good.] As you've most likely figured out, this was no stick. No, my friends, it was a king cobra! The mother of all venomous nastiness was staring my father straight in the face. And all he could tell us after that was that he jumped straight out of the hole, ran for his life, and never looked back. [Some 40 years later, that shovel might still be laying in that hole!]

At some point in time, we all start digging a hole. It may be that we get really used to doing something a certain way and don't even remember WHY we started doing it. Maybe for you it started with something you said or did - something you should have humbly shut down, apologized for, or even repented of - and you just kept right on going. Addictions don't start that way; they originate with bad choices and bad habits. This divide didn't grow between you and your spouse because of an argument last week. That was just the final pile of dirt that you hoisted over your shoulder. And if I ever have a heart attack, it won't be because of that one order of waffle fries. You can blame the 10,000 waffle fries that paved the way. So many times there is such a simple starting place for us - the solution to begin growing, recovering, restoring, repairing, or breathing new life is as simple as this: STOP DIGGING!

Here's reality: Most of us aren't going to have a 30 pound poisonous snake to awaken us from our slumber to pry the shovel out of our hand. And while most of us aren't stupid enough to wish for that, what we don't realize is that it might be the thing that saves our life. Or our marriage. Or our career. Or our church. STOP DIGGING! And unless you have said snake drop in to shock life back into you, you're going to need a fresh perspective. And not wanting to drop another bomb on you, but YOU will probably not have that fresh, objective perspective. It will have to come from someone or somewhere else. You may have to ask someone to tell you what you really don't want to hear. [But you DO want to hear it, because you know that you're tired of digging this hole that's leading you to absolutely nowhere!]

Are you currently digging a hole?
Is there a shovel that you know you need to put down?

July 12, 2011

Take My Advice...

"Take my advice..." Have you ever heard those words? Have you heard them lately? Sometimes we hear them and roll our eyes, probably because the person saying them says them regularly. People who walk through life constantly trying to give everyone else advice most likely have no concept of how to ask for, take, or even hear anyone else's. Sure, those people are out there. But let's forget about them for a minute. What about the others - possibly many others - who have actually been there, walked through it, have experienced it, and could shed some serious wisdom and light on things for us? Are we listening to them? Taking their advice?

Proverbs 12:15 tells us, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." Wisdom is not only evidenced by seeking out advice, it's often FOUND in the advice. It's discovered in the simple willingness to ask for it. And most of us probably have nothing against hearing advice, yet we sit here rarely receiving any. Why? If we know we could most certainly benefit from the wisdom of others, why aren't they sharing it with us? I think the answer is pretty simple. Here it is:


Most of the people you know whose advice is probably worth heeding, listening to, and at minimum, prayerfully considering, are also most likely endowed with enough humility that they're not going to come (at least more than once) and try and solicit it to you at your doorstep. They need to know you want it. They're not vacuum salesmen, they're friends. They may have also read Proverbs 12:23, that tells us, "Wise people don't make a show of their knowledge..."

If you've finally reached the conclusion that there are those around you who potentially have something fruitful to share with you, ask them to share it. Don't expect them to just know you're waiting anxiously for them drop their advice bomb on you. It won't happen. If you're never receiving any advice - any Godly, humble, fruitful, prayerful advice - then you're probably not asking for it.

Who's given you good advice lately?

Dig Deeper
Proverbs 13:10, 13
Proverbs 14:12, 15:22

July 11, 2011


It's great to be back home, in the office, and getting back into the swing. But I enjoyed - and desperately needed - that vacation! Several days of mindlessly roaming the beach, playing with my kids, laughing with my wife, eating some great food, and meditating on God's Word were like medicine. Like medicine you actually want to swallow. I'm grateful. And rested. Now let's do this!

Several things to blog about. Start posting tomorrow.
Hope you've had some time to unwind and let the Lord renew your heart!