RSS

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Pocket Change

Pocket Change

IMG_6181We met a homeless man during our visit to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis this week.  He was sitting on a park bench with a large backpack at his feet and he kept wiping the sweat from his brow with a dirty rag.  There was a little wooden cross around his neck hanging from a green piece of yarn.  As soon as we walked by him Titus tugged on his mom’s arm and said, “I want to give him my money.”

I love the tenderhearted compassion of a child.  Their first reaction, when seeing a person in need, is to help.  And I hate that my first reaction was, “Don’t make eye contact.  This is a big city.  There are places he can go to get help.”  I hate that I even hesitated.  This was not a pushy time-share salesman on the street corner of some tourist town begging for “just a moment of your time!”  This was a man who carries all his worldly possessions in a sack and doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from.  We’ve become so jaded by the world.  I wish my attitude was more like Titus’ and I’m glad God is using my children to make me more like Him.

IMG_6185

We went back and introduced ourselves and he told us that his name was Steve.  I explained that as we walked by, my son felt like God wanted him to stop and give some money.  Tears welled up in Steve’s eyes as Titus held out a roll of coins that he had brought along to use at the gift shop.  Then following Titus’ lead, Evie reached into her little purse, pulled out a dollar, and timidly offered it to Steve.  I asked if we could pray for him before we left and he said, “I’d like that very much.”  He stood and I put my arm around him and prayed for him then we went on our way.

It wasn’t much money.  Barely enough to buy one meal.  But Steve received something infinitely more valuable.  The love of God, poured out through the obedience of a child.  On a day full of sight-seeing, I thank God for opening my eyes.  It was a brief encounter and took almost no time out of our busy day, but I pray that experience stays with my children forever.  I know that I won’t soon forget it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Family, Ministry

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

75 Things I Want to Teach My Kids

75 Things I Want to Teach My Kids

Growing up, there was a poster by H. Jackson Brown Jr. titled, “Life’s Little Instructions” that hung on the back of our bathroom door.  It provided great reading material to a captive audience and I always thought it was one of my mom’s better ideas.  Some of the life lessons I saw on the back of that door have stuck with me for years and I want to pass similar life lessons on to my kids, along with some other tips I’ve learned along the way from friends and family (special thanks to the Facebook responses I received).  If my kids can understand and apply half of the things on this list, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something as a parent.

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. (Luke 10:27a)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27b)
  3. Keep jumper cables in your vehicle.
  4. Return the shopping cart to the corral in the parking lot when you’re finished shopping.
  5. Never go up a ladder with just one nail.
  6. Always return a borrowed vehicle with the gas tank full.
  7. Don’t tailgate trucks hauling animals.
  8. Always hold the door for the people behind you.  (and the further away they are, the more fun you have watching them hurry when they realize you’re holding the door just for them)
  9. Keep a level head.  Psalm 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.”
  10. (from Pop) Don’t date anyone you wouldn’t want to marry.
  11. (and Pop’s favorite) “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts in life.” – Coach Paul Cooley
  12. Don’t eat the yellow snow.
  13. Take along a small gift for the host when you’re a dinner guest.  A book or a pineapple is a good choice.
  14. When you give a book as a gift, write a short note in the front cover.
  15. Rewind your VHS tapes before you return them to the video store (hey, they might make a comeback).
  16. Plant a tree on your birthday.
  17. Sprite® does not taste better through your nose (ask your aunt Erica).
  18. Shake hands with a firm grip.  No one likes to hold a dead fish.
  19. Ten percent is a tithe, anything more is an offering, and they’re both commanded in scripture.
  20. Hide-a-key.
  21. Don’t buy cheap tools.  Your Pop still uses a chainsaw from 1973 for a reason.  The last one I bought worked for 2 years.
  22. Relax.  When something stressful happens, ask yourself, “will this matter in five years?”
  23. (from aunt Melissa) Act like somebody.
  24. Parking close to the door isn’t necessary and the walk will do you good.  Make one lap through the parking lot and if there’s not a space up close, just find one close to a shopping cart corral (see #4).
  25. Observe speed limits.  Speeding isn’t worth risking the danger or the ticket.  You’ll catch up to the speeders at a red light anyway.
  26. Be a good loser.  Lose without excuses.
  27. Be a good winner.  Win without boasting.
  28. Don’t let your gas tank get below a quarter of a tank.  You’ll get better gas mileage and you’ll never risk running out.
  29. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  30. Don’t flush public toilets with your hands.  Use your elbows or your feet.Titus_Flushing
  31. The mute button was added to cell phones so you could flush without making the other party on the other line uncomfortable.  Use it.
  32. Honor your father and mother.  I know it sounds self-serving, but it’s the only command in the Bible with a promise attached, and it’s a good one.
  33. Don’t accept “good enough” as good enough.  Any job worth doing is worth doing right.
  34. Don’t undertip the waiter just because the food is bad; he didn’t cook it.
  35. Use your time and your words carefully; neither can be retrieved.
  36. Don’t buy cheap toilet paper, and check for it before sitting down.
  37. What you post on the internet, echoes in eternity.
  38. Keep a well stocked first aid kit.
  39. Read “Skill With People” by Les Giblin at least once a year.
  40. (Mamaw’s favorite) “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
  41. Smile when talking on the phone.  The other party will hear it in your voice.
  42. Don’t confuse wealth with success.
  43. When you need professional advice, get it from professionals, not from your friends.
  44. Use a fountain pen.
  45. When you say, “I love you,” mean it.
  46. When you say, “I’m sorry,” look the person in the eye.
  47. Take off your sunglasses when you talk to someone.  The eyes are the windows to the soul.
  48. Don’t ever ask a woman when she is due, no matter how positive you are that she is expecting a baby.
  49. When you see tourists taking pictures of each other, offer to take a picture of their group together.
  50. Practice the spiritual discipline of fasting.  It’s found all through scripture, yet we often overlook it’s importance.
  51. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Colossians 3:23)  Fill out God’s expense report, mow God’s yard, take God’s dog for a walk, etc.
  52. Buy whatever kids are selling on a card table in their front yards.
  53. Love people. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Roosevelt
  54. Never say, “My child would never do that.”  Your Gran made that mistake right before I peed on another kid.
  55. When there’s a piano to be moved, don’t reach for the stool.
  56. Take your dad golfing.
  57. Return things you borrow promptly and leave a thank you note.
  58. Remember that everyone’s favorite subject is themselves.  Talk about them instead of you and they’ll think you’re the most interesting conversationalist in the world.
  59. Never hit a basketball with a baseball bat; especially if it’s laying on the ground.
  60. When you find a coin on the ground, pick it up and give it to the first person you see.
  61. Pictures of places without people in them are boring.
  62. Don’t make fun of people who speak broken English.  That just means they know more than one language.
  63. The Andy Griffith Show was the best television show ever.  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
  64. Don’t eat a fried pie unless you know what inside (if it’s your grandmother’s it could be peaches, but it could be refried beans)
  65. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  66. Don’t get caught glancing at your watch or your cell phone when you are talking to someone.
  67. Be the first adult to jump into the pool or run into the ocean with the kids. They will love you for it.
  68. Pull your car over when a funeral procession is passing.
  69. Set a good example.  Ask yourself, “If my children grow up to be just like me, what kind of children, will my children be?”
  70. Buy the most medium product.  You don’t want the cheapest item and you don’t need the most expensive.
  71. Don’t use your cruise control in the rain.
  72. Give away any clothes you haven’t worn in more than a year.
  73. Choose your spouse carefully. From this one decision will come ninety percent of all your happiness or misery.
  74. Don’t smoke.  It won’t send you to hell, but it will make you smell like you’ve been there.
  75. Hang a poster on the back of your bathroom door to help teach a few of Life’s Little Instructions.

 

NOTE (July 1, 2014): Due to the overwhelming response from this blog, I’m adapting a version of this list into a short devotional book and also a poster for your bathroom door.  Follow this blog for future updates and I’ll let you know when they are ready.  God Bless.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Family, Personal

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Why I stopped watching The Office.

Why I stopped watching The Office.

Let me begin by saying we don’t watch that much TV.  I realize that “not much” is a relative term, but compared to the average American, my family’s TV consumption is minuscule.  The latest Nielsen Co. report said that the average American now watches more than 151 hours of TV a month. That’s about five hours per day and an all-time high, up 3.6% from the 145 or so hours Americans reportedly watched in the same period last year.  Five hours a day!  I barely sleep that much!  That being said, we don’t live under a rock either.  We have a satellite with a DVR and subscribe to Netflix, so while we don’t watch as often as the average American, when we do choose to watch TV we have enough options to be selective about what’s on the box.

Gravity Falls - Dipper and Mabel Pines

Gravity Falls – Dipper and Mabel Pines

With three kids, most of the shows we watch on a regular basis are either animated or they feature furry puppet monsters.  Mandi’s current favorite is Gravity Falls, a cartoon about twins, Dipper and Mabel Pines, who are spending the summer with their eccentric Great Uncle. Their “Grunkle” Stan runs a tourist trap called The Mystery Shack in the remote Oregon town of Gravity Falls, where paranormal phenomena occur on a regular basis.  It’s like The X-Files for kids (or for parents who have to watch cartoons when the kids are around, but enjoy story lines about werewolves, time travelers, ghosts, gnomes, mermaids, and mystery)!  Ok… I like it too…

Aside from the litany of cartoons and kids shows, the one hold-out for Mandi and I, the one “send-the-kids-to-bed-so-we-can-watch” show has been The Office.  The mockumentary follows the lives of the employees at a failing paper supply company in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  I still remember watching it for the first time (against my will, I might add, because I thought it would be incredibly boring) during season 3.  After an episode called Conflict Resolution, I was hooked.  The dry, sarcastic humor and the way the employees interact with each other and interact with the camera was hilarious.  We bought each season on DVD and when the first 8 seasons showed up on Netflix, you would have thought we won a Dundee Award.

Did I feel a twinge of guilt when someone would curse or use the Lord’s name in vain?  Ill-at-ease when the professing Christian on the show was mocked, or when the show made light of Meredith’s alcoholism or Kevin’s addiction to porn, or Creed… well… just being Creed?  Was I uncomfortable when Stanley’s affair was covered up by Jim and Pam’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy, or when Angela was sleeping with Dwight and Andy at the same time?  What about Michael and Jan, or Michael and Holly, or Michael and Pam’s Mom, or Michael and Concierge Marie?!  Did I have a queasy feeling in my stomach when Oscar’s homosexuality was applauded or when he had a gay affair with Angela’s husband the (State) Senator?  Yesh.  But the moment passes, Jim pranks Dwight, I’d laugh it off, and say to myself, “This isn’t as bad as most shows on TV.”

no_officeSo why the change of heart?  Why did I stop justifying my actions and turn it off?  It’s not one thing in particular, but a series of events over the past few weeks that brought conviction and change to my tv watching habits.

A couple of sermons that I heard recently drew my attention to these verses:

1 Corinthians 6:18a tells us to “Flee from sexual immorality.”

1 Thessalonians 5:22 takes it a step further when it tells us to “Stay away from every kind of evil.”

And Ephesians 5:3 says “But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints.”

The word translated “sexual immorality” in this text is the Greek word “porneia”.  It’s a pretty general term used in Greek literature to cover anything from adultery to fornication to prostitution to homosexuality.  Basically it’s any and all sexual activity outside of marriage.  In his book Hole in our Holiness, Kevin DeYoung says, “The simplest way to understand porneia is to think about the things that would make you furious and heartbroken if you found out someone was doing them with your husband or your wife.”  If someone gave your spouse a hug or even a kiss on the cheek (in some cultures) it wouldn’t bother you, but much more than that and they’re on dangerous ground.  And God’s Word tells us to flee from it, don’t participate in it, don’t watch it, don’t even think about it, FLEE.  As Christian’s we should abstain from even the appearance of evil, as not to hurt our witness and bring shame to the name of Christ.

fearedorlovedThe Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Prop. 8 and DOMA became a topic of conversation around the office and caused one of my employees to ask alot of questions.  He sat at my desk inquiring about my views on same-sex marriage, knowing that I’m a Christian.  I explained my reasons for supporting a Biblical view of marriage, and we discussed his views as an atheist.  All the while, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit was saying, “This is who you’re trying to reach.  This is who needs to hear the gospel, and he knows what you watch.  He knows what you laugh at.”

There was no power in my testimony.  I knew that my words didn’t carry the weight that they should because my actions didn’t back them up.  I heard a quote in a sermon by David Platt a few days later that further emphasized this truth:

“If we roll our eyes and shake our heads when we see the Supreme Court ruling on this case, yet we turn the channels on our TVs to watch the trivialization of sex on shows and advertisements, to surf the Internet to find images in order to satisfy our lusts, to go to movies that glamorize sex … and entertain sexual thoughts and desires outside of our own marriage, then we have missed the entire point,” Platt said*.

I have a friend who could repost this blog and label it, “Why I stopped watching Friends.”  We are all at different points on our journey, but we cannot be obedient to Christ’s command to “flee from sexual immorality” and “stay away from every kind of evil” if we continue to willfully listen to filthy language and casually watch sexual immorality unfold on a 30-foot screen at the movies or a 30″ tv at home.  We lose our effectiveness to share the gospel with the ones that are closest to us; our friends and family who don’t know Christ.  They know what you watch.  They know what you laugh at.  Does it match up with what you believe?

*To watch or listen to Platt’s full sermon, The Cross and Christian Sexuality, visit http://www.brookhills.org/media/series/the-cross-and-christian-community.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Ministry, Personal

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,