Not My Job

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When one child recently told me “not my job” when asked to do a household chore, and another told me “you are not the best anymore” when I was honoring what I’d said about not getting dessert without eating dinner first, it got me thinking…am I starting to become more your friend than your father? That’s a slippery slope to navigate, so, I want to set the record straight right now and be crystal clear in where I stand on the answer to that question…

It’s not my job to give you a cookie when your siblings are eating one for dessert and you want one too. It’s to teach you that there are rules. Eating your dinner before you get dessert is one of them. It pales in comparison to the rules you will experience as an adult…and when you’re an adult, you can choose to eat dessert first if you want. ūüėõ

It’s not my job to ensure you’re happy. It’s to help you find joy…even in your darkest moments.

It’s not my job to ensure you get what you want. It’s to teach you the skills you will use to provide for yourself and your own family some day.

It’s not my job to keep you from falling. It’s to teach you how to get back up and try again.

It’s not my job to get involved in every argument or fight you have with siblings or friends. It’s to teach you how to respectfully interact with others who have opinions and beliefs different than your own…and to show you how to think outside the box…and to admit when you’re wrong.

It’s not my job to think for you. It’s to teach you how to think for yourself.

It’s not my job to pick up after you or to clean up your messes. It’s to teach you how to care for yourself so that you can be a contributing member of society, not a drain on it.

It’s not my job to make sure you never lose, or that you always win. It’s to teach you how to lose without losing your cool…and how to win with grace and humility. There are winners and losers in life. There is no prize for participation when you become an adult. The sooner you learn that, the better your odds.

It’s not my job to keep you from being hurt. It’s to teach you how to see when others are hurting and to help them.

It’s not my job to serve you. It’s to teach you how to serve others.

It’s not my job to pay for everything you want. It’s to instill in you a work ethic that says “If I work hard for it, I can buy it myself.”

Likewise, it’s not my job to give you money (i.e. allowance) for doing nothing. The government is doing that well enough for all of us. It’s to teach you money management so that you have the ability to live a debt-free life if you choose wisely. You need to know that merely existing as part of our family (or society in general) is not worthy of getting a handout. You want money from me? Earn it. Know, though, that in life there are things we adults do without reward or compensation. Likewise, some chores around here are expected of you…without compensation…simply because your existence contributes to the wear and tear on the things we have.

It’s not my job to see that you never experience anger, frustration, disappointment or sadness. It’s to teach you the sanctity of life and that every life matters…and how to control your emotions and to show respect for others regardless of how you feel.

It’s not my job to teach you to avoid conflict. It’s to teach you to approach conflict like you’re walking up to a small fire with a bucket in each hand. One is filled with water…the other with gasoline. How you react to the situation (I.e. which bucket you choose to pour on it), is what will determine the outcome.

It’s not my job to keep you from making mistakes. It’s to help you learn from them. Many of the best lessons I’ve learned in life came from the mistakes I made. There will be times you’ll make the same mistake more than once. Until you learn from them, you’re destined to keep repeating them.

It’s not my job to make sure your heart is never broken. It’s to show you how to lead your heart, not be led by it.

It’s not my job to make sure you have friends. It’s to show you how to be a friend to others.

It’s not my job to make sure you’re right all the time. It’s to teach you truth…and that there are absolutes in life, regardless of what society wants you to believe about this. There are some grey areas in life, but there also exist a set of absolutes that are true…regardless of whether we believe them to be true or not…and it’s my job to equip you to defend those truths.

It’s not my job to make sure you don’t ever miss the school bus. It’s to teach you time management…and how to make a plan and execute the plan, and to have a contingency plan…because “when you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

It’s not my job to stand over you constantly to ensure you don’t sink. It’s to teach you how to swim. In the beginning that means providing you a life jacket to keep you afloat until you can stay afloat on your own. And when you do sink, I’ll be there to extend a hand to help you up…not out…up. Because there’s a lesson to be learned in sinking…one you won’t learn unless you get yourself out.

It’s not my job to fast forward through the commercials and previews for you. It’s to teach you patience and self control…and that good things come to those who wait.

It’s not my job to fight your bullies for you. It’s to teach you how to protect and defend yourself from tyranny. And that in some situations, the best defense is a good offense.

It’s not my job to keep you and your siblings from ever fighting. It’s to remind you that some minor conflict within the family is a natural thing, but that family comes first…we stand on our family’s side in times of conflict from sources outside our family.

It’s not my job to ensure you always have a roof over your head. It’s to teach you to be thankful for what you have…because camping out with nothing but the stars overhead is fun on occasion, but the harsh reality is that it’s all the “roof” many in this world have. We’re blessed beyond what we can comprehend. Don’t take it for granted.

It’s not my job to teach you how you should vote or who you should vote for. It’s to instill in you a love for your country and a respect for those who’ve served, bled and died to protect your freedoms, including your right to vote…and that it’s not your right to vote…it’s your responsibility. When you don’t vote, you give up the right to complain about your elected officials and anything they do.

It’s not my job to solve all your problems. It’s to teach you critical thinking skills…how to explore multiple options until you discover one that works to solve the problem for yourself.

It’s not my job to make sure you catch a fish with every cast. It’s to make sure you know how to fish. When Jesus told the disciples to put down their nets and taught them to be “fishers of men”, not even they “caught” every man for Christ. It’s called fishing, not catching, for a reason. We win some…we lose some. But you won’t win any unless you cast the line.

It’s not my job to respond to your every request for my attention. Likewise, it’s not my job to be with you 24/7…that’s not healthy. It’s my job to teach you independence…and to take care of my spiritual, mental, physical, and psychological well-being…because when one of those is out of whack, I’m of no use to you or anyone else. Trust me, my sanity is important for your well-being…and as much as I love hanging out with you, I need to be away from you sometimes too.

It’s not my job to argue with your teacher for not giving you an “A”. It’s to teach you that we get out of something what we put into it…and to earn the “A” yourself.

It’s not my job to shelter you from the storm. It’s to help you weather it. The strongest trees in the forest are the ones who survived the storms, high winds and forest fires.

It’s not my job to see that you never lack what you need. It’s to teach you the survival skills that will help you overcome adversity. Trees that survive drought do so by sending their roots deeper into the ground in search of water. The deeper roots provide more strength for the tree. They’re stronger because of the drought than they were without it. The deeper your roots, the stronger you will be.

Likewise, it’s not my job to see that your every need is met instantly. It’s to teach you how to recognize the needs of others and to show love and compassion to those less fortunate than yourself.

It’s not my job to provide you the latest and greatest “thing”. It’s to teach you to be content with what you have. I grew up without 24/7 internet access, cell phones, DVR’s, or iPods…and I survived. You will too.

It’s not my job to put only foods you like on your plate. It’s to teach you where your food comes from and how to provide food for your own family some day, whether by working a job for the money to buy it…or hunting it yourself.

It’s not my job to make sure you have fun at school. It’s to teach you respect for your elders and those put in charge over you. For that matter, it’s not my job to provide you nonstop, fun-filled activities throughout the day or to constantly entertain you. You want to have fun? Do what I did…pick up a book. Go outside. Explore your world.

It’s not my job to see that you grow up to become a firefighter like me. It’s to let you see how much I love my job and to instill in you a passion to serve your community. I will love and support you, no matter what you do with your life…that’s what dads do…it’s how we roll.

It’s not my job to love you more than your mother. It’s to remind you that she and I existed before you…and we have to live with each other when you leave out on your own. She comes first…yes, before you. I love you, but I love her more. Get over it. Guess what? I love God more than her. She’s over it.

It’s not my job to force you to believe what I believe. It’s my job to share what I believe and allow you to choose for yourself.

It’s not my job to make sure you never feel lost. It’s my job to show you that you’re already lost. So am I. It’s only through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying for us that we are ever found.

It’s not my job to be your friend. It’s to be your dad…and to teach you how to be a dad someday too. I don’t always get it right, but I’m trying my hardest with every day.



I Wouldn’t Wish This On My Worst Enemy…or Would I?

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Have you ever put any thought into who that might be? I hadn’t, until now.

You know, I’ve said the first part of that title so many times over the years that it’s almost become a habit…something I say without giving it another thought.¬† I’ve been battling the flu since December 30th.¬† The coughing got worse the first week of January while I was dealing with my mother’s recent passing, but the cough was it…no other symptoms.¬† Until two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago it crept in and made its home in my body…and wiped me clean out.¬† This past month has really been a time to say “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”¬† And when I said that aloud the other day, my mind started thinking of who that might be.¬† Old bosses.¬† Former school classmates who tortured me.¬† Coworkers who just grate on my last nerve.¬† No, I wouldn’t consider any of them enemies.¬† An enemy…Satan is an enemy.¬† He’s my enemy:

“Be alert and of sober mind.¬† Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

So if Satan is my enemy, he’s got to be my worst one right?¬† I mean, I can’t imagine anyone being a worse enemy than Satan.¬† Can you?¬† He is, after all, the father of liars:

“You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.¬† He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him.¬† When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.” – John 8:44

So if Satan is our enemy…indeed our worst enemy…would I be in the right to wish upon him this sickness that I just said I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy?¬† I mean, when I said it aloud, I was thinking more about my worst earthly enemy…not really a spiritual enemy.¬† Either way, we’re called to love our enemies, right?

“You have heard that it was said, ‚ÄėLove your neighbor and hate your enemy.‚Äô¬† But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.¬† He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.¬† If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?¬† Are not even the tax collectors doing that?¬† And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?¬† Do not even pagans do that?¬† Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48

So as followers of Christ, we’re called to love our enemies.¬† I get that.¬† Easier said than done, but I get it.¬† I’m not the best at this, but I try.¬† I try to turn the other cheek…I’m human so I don’t always get this one right, but I try.¬† I’m a work in progress…as long as God is keeping breath in my lungs and life in my body, He has not finished making me into who He needs me to be in eternity.¬† So I’ll be honest…I’m not quite there on the whole “love your enemy” thing yet.

But I certainly don’t walk around wishing ill will on my enemies all day either…Mostly.¬† Yes…the occasional thought does cross my mind as someone cuts me off in traffic, or someone at work is making life difficult for no other reason than because they can.¬† I am human after all.¬† But with the help of the Holy Spirit and the grace and mercy found in Christ, I’m able to push it aside and move toward forgiveness…and love.¬† After all, we’re called to “hate the sin, not the sinner”, right?

“Love must be without hypocrisy.¬† Detest evil; cling to what is good.” – Romans 12:9 (i.e. “hate the sin”)

“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” – Romans 5:8 (i.e. “not the sinner”…because if Christ loved me in my sin enough to die for me anyway, who am I to not love someone else because of their sin?)

Which brings me right back to where I started…am I called to love Satan?¬† We’re taught in Isaiah 14:12-15 that Satan is one of God’s fallen angels.¬† So he’s an angel who sins.¬† But by the very nature of who he is, he’s not just an angel who sins…he IS sin (re: John 8:44 above).

So which is it…if we hate the sin but love the sinner, where does that leave us with our relationship with Satan?¬† Should I hate what he does (sin) and yet love him?¬† Or since he IS sin, is it okay to hate not only what he does (sin), but also hate him?¬† What do you think?¬† Is it okay to wish this illness on my worst enemy, or not?



Where’s Your Vision?


Way back in my teens, I was driving the car one day, with dad beside me as a passenger. I don’t know what caused him to say what he said, but it’s been a driving force in who I am today. I don’t believe when he said it he had any idea how it would shape the rest of my life, or that it would have farther-stretching meaning to me than he intended…but it certainly did. It took many years for what he said that day to fully sink in for me, but somewhere in the back of my mind that single statement has been lingering ever since they crossed his lips.

Driving wherever we were going that day, I remember only that we were on a 4-lane divided highway, with moderate traffic ahead of us. I’m sure this is hard to imagine, but back in my younger years, I was not the safest young man on the road. I had a bad habit of following too closely and driving over the speed limit (okay, yes…I’ll admit…I still struggle with this sometimes…just ask my wife). On that day many years ago, I was doing just that…following too closely…when dad had had enough…”your problem, son, is that you’re not looking far enough down the road. I think your bad vision has you watching right in front of you, but you have to be looking down the road at what the drivers who are in front of the car right in front of you are doing.”

Do you do that too? Pay more attention to what’s going on right in front of you than what’s going on down the road? Is your vision focused on your immediate future, not the long term? Are you more concerned with your next two moves than the ten that follow those? The mark of any great chess player is that he has the vision to see every move played out before the game even starts. He can anticipate how his move will affect his opponent’s move, and so on throughout the entire game. His vision is not focused on the next two moves…it’s constantly ten (or more) moves ahead.

In every aspect of our lives, our vision has to be on what’s down the road…what’s the bigger picture? If we’re only focused on the car right in front of us, we’ll never see that up the road, cars are swerving to miss a hazard in the road…and by the time that hazard is right in front of us, it’s too late for us to avoid it. While we must certainly be aware of what’s going on right here and now in front of us, our vision has to be focused down the road…on the bigger picture. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 4:18 that “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.‚ÄĚ Our decisions are a reflection of where our vision is focused…where our eyes look, our body follows.

God has a vision for you…and for me. If we’re so wrapped up in our lives that we’re focused on the daily tasks of survival, we’ll never see the vision He has for us. It’s not until we open our eyes to the bigger picture of what’s going on around us and ahead of us that we’ll see He has a plan for our lives that takes us out of the moment…the temporary, and moves us into the future…the eternal.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.'” – Jeremiah 29:11-12

So where is your vision? Where is your focus? Are you constantly looking behind you…living in the past? Are you looking around you at what others are doing and following the crowd…just blending in? Are you looking right in front of you at what lies only immediately in front of you? Or is your vision focused on the bigger picture?

Where has God placed you on this great big planet? In all the history of the Earth, He placed you and I right here…right now. We’re all right where we are in this moment in all of time for a purpose. What’s yours? If you don’t know…there’s one way to find out. Ask Him to reveal it to you. He might…He might not. If He doesn’t right away, it’s not because He doesn’t have a plan for you…it’s because you’re not ready for it. Ask Him to help you prepare for it…so that when He’s ready to reveal it to you, you have the capacity to see the bigger picture…to better grasp how great His vision for you really is…so you’re able to see clearly the vision He has for you.



Gracious Abba Father, may you find favor on your humble servant, though I have nothing of me to offer that you require to complete your will. I am but a speck of dust in this life in the here and now, and yet you have found favor on me and placed me here to serve and honor you. For that, I thank you. I believe I have at least a glimpse of the vision you have for me, and yet I know I’m human…that my vision is not yours…what I see is not what you see. Open my eyes, Lord, that I might see more clearly the vision you have for me and my life.


My Step Into the Light


I’ve been struggling with something as of late.¬† In recent months, I’ve been in a funk.¬† No desire to read the Bible.¬† No passion to pray.¬† No sense of intimacy or depth of feeling to my relationship with Christ.¬† In my prayers and preparing to facilitate a men’s 8-week Bible study based on the movie Courageous that starts tomorrow night, two things are occurring:

1.¬† I’ve been praying that God would reveal to me all the sin in my life, so that I can confess it and repent.¬† Whether it’s sin I know of or sin that I’m not aware of, I’ve asked the Lord to help me see it and turn from it…to follow hard after him.

2.¬† The devil has been upping his efforts against me, causing me to question and doubt that I am able to lead other men through the Bible.¬† Specifically, I’ve been struggling with the fear I find in the answer to the question “am I the man worthy of leading other men? I am not qualified or able to do what He’s asking me to do”.

Words today from Jayne Patton, a dear sister in Christ and author behind the Freshly Brewed ministry, challenged me and helped me to better understand what I’ve been grappling with.¬† She posed the question:¬† “What would it look like if you let go of the things that hold you back in your walk with Christ? If you stopped worrying about what your [family] would think of you. If you stopped worrying about what your friends will think of you. Proverbs 29:25 says ‘The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that.‘¬† Fear disables.¬† It disables you from fully experiencing God‚Äôs very best.¬† It disables you from experiencing the life He has planned for you.¬† That doesn‚Äôt sound very appealing to me‚Ķ”

It doesn’t sound good to me either, which got me thinking.¬† In preparing to lead this Bible study, the Spirit has been revealing all the varying sins in my life.¬† As each is revealed to me, I begin to pray that God would strengthen me to overcome it…that He would fill me with Himself that there is no room for my sin.¬† And I continue praying for the courage to face my fears.¬† Today, I’m putting into practical application the courage God is giving me…and I’m outing my sin publicly.

It’s a battle I’ve been fighting for over 20 years.¬† I’ve been keeping this secret sin hidden for so long that the habits have become second nature.¬† I’ve shared this with, and have the support of a loving wife…and I have a trusted friend as an accountability partner…a man of God who’s not afraid to call me out when I need it.¬† But it’s not enough.¬† In my humanness and my addiction, I find ways around the accountability.¬† In my preparations for starting this Bible study tomorrow, I believe God is calling me to be Courageous.¬† To take it up a notch.¬† To stand boldly and profess that I am weak, and He is strong.¬† To bring my hidden sin out of the dark and shed the Light upon it.

So here I stand…admitting what I’ve hidden in shame for the majority of my life.¬† I’m putting myself out there in the hopes that I no longer have to live in a tension-filled relationship with my Savior¬† I’m believing that the Light invades the darkness to reveal what is hidden so that it remains hidden no more.¬† Believing that when the Light permeates the darkness, there can be no darkness remaining.¬† Knowing that admitting this publicly provides me even more resolve to overcome it.¬† Knowing that it puts the fear on the table, so that I can move past the fear and be all that God desires of me.

And it’s my hope that through fighting my addiction to pornography here publicly I can not only prevent you, my young children, from making these same mistakes, but that I can be an encouragement to other men in the same struggle.¬† As my sister in Christ offered her encouragement to me today, it’s my goal that God would “sanctify it ALL in order to use it ALL at His discretion and at His direction.”¬† The choice to pursue Jesus with everything is a daily choice.¬† I fail some days.¬† And at the end of the day, I lay my head on the shoulder of the God who forgives.¬† And every morning I wake up with The Lord who wipes clean the stains of my past, filled with the Spirit who is rested and ready to walk with me.

I will address this topic here in much more depth over the course of the next several months, as God leads.¬† In His timing, I will write about what He leads me to reveal.¬† It will be in no particular order.¬† For right now, I’m emotionally exhausted.¬† This note has been a long time in the making…months of prayer and thought has gone into how to share this.¬† I’m winning this battle now, but I know that as I step out to begin walking other men through the Word, that Satan will continue trying to knock me down.

For now, I’m content to open to the world the door to my darkness…to step out in faith and follow Him…to step into the light.



What If Our Daily Bread Isn’t Steak & Eggs?


I know this is hard to imagine, but as a child, I wasn’t always the best choice maker. I was known to be stubborn and hard-headed, and could give my parents a run for their money. When I wanted something, I wanted it right now…and no one (not even my parents) were gonna tell me no. With dad often working, 40+ hours a week plus commute time, mom was home with us more than he was, and thus was often the one who bore the brunt of my attitude problems. I can recall hearing mom say something like “we’ll deal with this when your dad gets home.” Oh, the fear those 5 little words would instill. “When your dad gets home…”

Of all the times I remember hearing those words, I don’t ever recall feeling good about what was to come…no excitement. No joy. No peace. Nope…those words meant trouble was on the horizon. I had done something that was soon to be bringing the wrath of God down upon me. (okay, maybe not God, but I was a kid…might as well have been God when the man you admire and respect was coming home to rain down punishment on me).

I would usually wait with dread and despair for what was coming. Hide in my room and hope she’d forget to tell him. Hope he would be too tired to deal with it. Pray for divine intervention. Never did I pray for the discipline that was to come. I was desperately praying for a reprieve from the belt…never once did I pray to actually receive the belt. What child in his right mind would pray to be disciplined?!

Father give us this day, our daily bread…” When we hear that, we usually equate “daily bread” with good things…things like our food and nourishment. When asked how we should pray, Christ’s response was to first show us our need for total reliance on the Father for our daily sustenance…for all we need. When God rained down manna from the heavens for His people, He supplied their need…gave them exactly what they needed for that day…no more…no less. I don’t know how it tasted, but I can imagine after eating the same thing over and over for awhile, what they wanted was a nice juicy steak, cut thick and cooked just right, with some steamed vegetables and warm garlic bread on the side. But they didn’t get what they wanted…they got what they needed.

And that’s just one of the awesome things about God. He gives us what we need, right when we need it…in His timing, not ours. Whether we realize we need it or not. We’re His children. And like children often do, sometimes what we need is discipline. As painful as the discipline can be, as scary as it is to face, as much as we dread it…it’s necessary. We’re children. Children need discipline. Not necessarily punishment…discipline. Punishment is anger-based. Discipline is love-based. God doesn’t punish us…He disciplines us. Because He loves us. So when we ask God for our daily bread, are we truly prepared to accept it, even if it’s not steak and eggs? Are we willing to accept our daily bread, even when what we truly need today is to be disciplined?



Lord, may I be willing to accept your discipline, along with your provision. Thank you for loving me enough to recognize my need, even when I can’t. Thank you for loving me enough to discipline me so that I would come back into fellowship with you. Thank you for overlooking my grumblings when the daily bread you provide is the manna I need, not the steak and eggs I want.


I Like it Here

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The last week or so since I wrote Welcome to My Vulnerability has been pretty good.¬† I’ve been staying pretty busy…very busy actually.¬† This time of year gets pretty hectic with all of you in school and the Upward Sports season starting up.¬† Throw in some of the other ministries I’ve committed my time to, and I just don’t really have the time to sit down and spend much time writing.¬† I miss it.

As I write this, I’m watching Bubba play cars on the chair beside me before we leave for school.¬† I was clearing memory cards from the camera last night, uploading pictures and making room.¬† We had pictures dating back to the fall of 2010 on there, so I was getting a first glimpse in several years at what life was like back then¬† So much has changed since then.¬† Life is pretty good right now…even for all the hectic nonstop action we have going on during any given week.¬† I often think back on the times when y’all were kids and wish we could go back.¬† To a time when you were still learning to walk and talk.¬† After browsing through pictures last night, I realize I’m good.

Perhaps it’s because I have been so focused on preparing for the basketball season…so wrapped up in my rather large and ever-growing to-do list…that I just haven’t had the space in my head for much else…for any negativity.¬† I like it here.¬† I like being right here.¬† Right now.¬† In the moment.¬† I don’t want to live in the past.¬† Or dwell on it any longer.¬† The funk I’ve been in for much of this past month has kept me from truly enjoying every moment for exactly what it is.¬† Our life.¬† I’m ready to push the memories of that incident aside and move forward.¬† I like it here.¬† I like the present.¬† I like watching you play.¬† I like playing with you.¬† I look to the future with hope and confidence.¬† And with one eye on the future and one eye on the present, I have no eye left for the past.¬† And I’m good with that.¬† I like it here.



The Ultimate Do-Over


I just seem to really be missing the boat here lately. I’m sitting here waiting while SD is at her Therapeutic Horsemanship session, and I reread my previous note. Perhaps I didn’t see it when I first wrote it this morning because I was rushed trying to get to our Daddy Daughter Date Day. Or, perhaps I was just so focused on saying what I needed to say, that I couldn’t see past what I wanted to say. Either way…for whatever reason…I missed the boat.

The “Do-Over”…of course I believe in it. If I didn’t, I would be unable to receive the forgiveness offered in the grace and mercy of my Savior, Jesus Christ. The ultimate giver of the “do-over”.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13-14

I’m thankful and appreciative beyond words that I can go to God and confess my sins. That I can spill my ugliness at the foot of the Giver of Life. That He takes my sin and washes it away. That He cleanses me and makes me new. That He forgives me when I don’t deserve it. That no matter how many times I fall…no matter how many times I seek forgiveness for the same sin, He hears my sincere heart every time and accepts me into His kingdom…through the redemption of the Son. Thank you Lord for being, and remaining, the Author and Founder of the ultimate “do-over.”

I pray daily that you, my children, would one day know Jesus like I do…even better than I do.



The Do-Over Only Works on the Playground

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Do you believe in “do-overs”? In giving grace and showing mercy to someone and allowing them a chance to do something again, to try to right a wrong? I am. Unfortunately, that’s nearly impossible to actually do when our “do-over” is needed after we say something we shouldn’t have said. We can try, but we’re just never really able to completely wipe the memory of our words away.

It’s been almost a week since I wrote. For me, that seems like an eternity. I’ve just not had the passion within me to write much this past week. My last several notes took a lot out of me, and I’ve not had the desire to even think about or discuss the root of my problem, the incident at work that threw my emotions into a tailspin.

This morning, mom and SI had left for school, and while waiting for NE’s bus to pick him up, I enjoyed sitting and watching him play. I haven’t just sat and watched you or your siblings just play in awhile. I’m usually sitting with the computer on my lap, a phone in my hand, or while walking around doing stuff around the house…I don’t remember the last time I just sat and watched. And in my time watching NE this morning, I heard God. For the first time in at least a week, I heard God’s whisper. It’s amazing how clear He is when we when we sit and be still:

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.‚ÄĚ – Psalm 46:10

In God’s whisper this morning, He convicted me, and immediately I knew that I had handled a situation last weekend poorly. And just to drive the point home even further, I spent some time in the Word afterward…and this is what God showed me:

“for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body.” – James 3:2

I spent almost all of last month in the book of James, but apparently in all that time, I didn’t learn what God had brought me here to learn. God spent a month preparing me for last weekend’s email, and had I heeded James’ warning, perhaps I would have handled it better. It’s apparent, I’m not as mature as I’d like to think I am most days. At 39 years of age, I’m obviously as immature as they come. The rest of chapter 3 talks about controlling the tongue…and chapter 4 talks about being proud or humble. I read these words dozens of times last month…literally several dozen times. So when the email from a family member arrived in my inbox on Saturday, I recognized that I needed to take some time to digest it and put some thought and prayer into my reply. What I failed to actually do was put some serious prayer into it. You see, controlling the tongue is not just about watching what you actually let cross your lips…it’s also about what you write. I should have picked up on that before last Saturday…my immaturity is painfully obvious.

For what it’s worth, I did wait to reply. I prayed some throughout a busy day at work, and I put some thought into my reply. I should have put some more thought and prayer into it, because I almost instantly knew it was the wrong reply. I don’t fault this family member for reaching out to me. I don’t fault the family members who asked him/her to reach out to me. I know that everyone’s intentions were in right place. That they were trying to help me through a difficult time. I tried as eloquently as I could to word my response in a way that made that clear…and in a way that did not put this person on the defensive for what I claimed was an attack at my faith.

I failed…because if I had written back with what I believe God would want me to have said, it would have been much different. If given the opportunity for a “do-over”, I would simply say:

“Thank you for caring enough about me to write to me. Thank you for having the courage and for loving me enough to reach out in faith to try and help me through this. I appreciate it more than you will ever know. It means the world to me that you care enough about me as a person to write to me. Please know that I’m good. I’m working through my issues with this incident, and God is carrying me through it. I may sometimes walk through some dark places with my emotions, but I won’t be there long because I have the resources to get through it. I’m good. Thank you again for loving me. I love you too.”

But, that’s if we lived in a world where the “do-over” actually worked. Learn from my mistake child…because we don’t. The “do-over” only works on the playground.



Share Your Burdens


I had a tough call at work yesterday…one whose images will be engrained in my mind forever.¬† God has been teaching me lately that I cannot, on my own, bear the burden of what I see, do and experience in my job.¬† The demons inside me only live there because I allow them to stay.¬† I’m learning (albeit slowly) that in addition to leaving our burdens at the foot of the cross, we need someone on this earth we can confide in…someone we can bear our souls with.¬† We are not meant to walk through our valleys alone.

“Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.¬† But how can one keep warm alone?¬† Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.¬† A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

I received an email this morning with a link to a video “Dancing in the Mine Fields” by Andrew Peterson.¬† I find encouragement in this song…to know that my wife is in this “minefield” of life right alongside me.¬† She may not always completely “get” the pain of what I’m carrying…but she “gets” me, and she’s willing to help carry my burdens with me…if I’m willing to share them with her, so that I’m stronger with her than I am alone.¬† As a man, I have to fight the instinct to share these burdens with her because as men, it’s engrained in us from birth to be the “tough guy”…to “man up”…that men don’t cry or show emotion.¬† However, I believe King Solomon knew that the internalization of our emotions and feelings can lead to self-destructive behavior, and he saw the strength we have in numbers.

I’m still working on the HOW part of sharing my burden of yesterday with my wife, your mom…but I know that when I’m ready, she’ll be there to let me.¬† Because pain and suffering is not inclusive to only those in my field, I pray you boys will one day have a wife…and you, SD, will have a husband…who each “gets” you enough to let you confide the deepest secrets of the pain you will eventually have buried deep within your own soul.¬† Please don’t carry your burdens alone.¬† Give them first to Christ…and then share them with your spouse, because we were meant to share our burdens.



P.S. If you found this note and are particularly interested in following how I’ve been dealing with this, you can read My Scar Revealed and Looking for Hope

Salvation vs. Relationship

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Today I’m reflecting on some of the many prayer requests that have come across my path this week.¬† For whatever reason, it seems that a lot more prayer needs have been brought to my attention this week…more than I recall in recent months anyway.¬† It makes it painfully obvious that we’re living in a broken world filled with pain, calamity and heartache…and we can only find a true peace within a relationship with Jesus Christ.¬† Like any relationship, though, we have to invest something to get something.

Our relationship with family, friends and even coworkers requires some level of commitment on our part to be successful.¬† If one party is always on the receiving end…never giving…never sacrificing things like time, effort, talents, and commitment to grow and deepen the relationship, then it remains a shallow existence.¬† On the surface, it looks…and feels…good.¬† As long as the waters of life are smooth, the relationship runs smoothly.¬† But once the winds pick up and the waves start rocking back and forth, the relationship won’t hold because it’s not rooted in commitment from both parties.¬† The foundation is week.¬† A deeply committed relationship has to be rooted in selflessness, not selfishness.¬† It has to be a two-way street of give and take…not a one-way street of take and take.
The foundation Christ provides for our relationship with Him is solid.¬† It’s built on strong and unwavering rock, and it’s deeply rooted in the numerous selfless acts of love He demonstrated throughout His life, leading up to the ultimate sacrifice…dying a brutal death for us.¬† The foundation for our relationship with Christ is found in the Holy Word, upon which we can see and know Him.¬† He already knows us: “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.” – Psalm 139:16)¬† To deepen our relationship, it’s up to us to get to know Him.

While our salvation through the grace of Christ is a free gift to all who accept, to fully benefit from the RELATIONSHIP, we have to get to know Him…and we can only do that through the Word of God.¬† The Word of God is alive, and it has endured the test of time.¬† It is as alive today as it was when He first breathed it into existence…and it will continue to live as it endures all that is yet to come…FOREVER.

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” – 1 Peter 1:23
Imperishable…living…enduring.¬† God has something for you within the pages of His Word today.¬† He already did His part.¬† He’s already invested in the relationship.¬† He’s waiting for us to stop taking and start giving…to start investing.¬† If you already have the salvation of Christ, then it’s time to deepen your RELATIONSHIP with Christ by investing time in reading the Word.¬† It’s the only way we can fully draw upon the power within.

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