Do You Understand The Words Coming Out of My Mouth?

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As Christians, we throw out “faith jargon,” assuming everyone knows what we mean by them. Truth is I think we sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to many… wa wa wa wa wa. The words either don’t compute or they mean something completely different to them than we intended. We are flippant in our words, not thinking about the harm we might be doing if misunderstood. I hope you have come to realize the power of words and their ability to both help and harm:

Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day. -Unknown

We need to think through very carefully how we speak our faith. People who are not of the faith won’t get what we are trying to say unless we are careful and patient to explain it well. Of course this means we must understand our own words enough to explain them. If I use words I don’t really comprehend then I probably cannot explain their meaning to others! We tend to use doctrinal terms (sanctification, saved, lost) in our conversations with those outside our faith that can be misunderstood or even offensive. Before you say the gospel offends, realize the problem is not when the gospel offends but when you do! Yes the truth can be confrontational but we often don’t present the truth clearly, but rather a mixture of words and cliches that leave people wondering what we are really trying to say. Some things we say sound plain weird to one who is not in the know (eat my body). One of the biggest challenges facing Christians today is to understand that in a postmodern world our words can be taken several different ways.

Let me give an example: Ask someone if they believe in God and most will say yes. Not everyone will but a high percentage of people still believe in some higher power. If they say yes does that really tell you anything? My professor used to say, “the worst distance between two people is miscommunication.” Someone says they believe in “God,” they might mean that tree is god, or maybe they have a generic understanding of god as some transcendent other that has no connection with his creation, or he might even believe that he is, in fact, a god. “God” can mean so many things and that has never been more true than it it today. When I say I believe in God is it a monotheistic (one god) understanding or is it a polytheistic (many gods) understanding? Do I believe God is personal or distant? Do I see him as sovereign or limited? You see, asking if someone believes in God tells you very little about what they really believe.

We need to learn to speak differently if we want to engage others in our faith. This starts first with us not speaking at all but rather being willing to listen to what they have to say. Too many times we are guilty of wanting to be heard but not showing the slightest interest in listening to them. The Bible tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. We are often the opposite,  If we want to engage others in our beliefs we should be open to hearing first what they believe.

When you think about it, it is truly arrogant to come at someone using jargon they probably will not understand and to do so in a way that gives the impression what they have to say doesn’t matter; they just need to listen to the truth and buy into it!

My friends, that was not the way of Jesus. He met people where they were and instead of telling them a bunch of obscure doctrine he listened and spoke to where they were. He could only do this by observing and knowing who they were and what they were about. This meant he had to listen and care enough to find out. We could learn a lot from Jesus on how to talk to people about our faith.

Jesus listened and he cared. When he saw the people of Israel it says he had compassion. That word means to “hurt in the gut.” His care was so deep it pained Him to see their travail. If all we want is to hammer them with words, while failing to listen and to care, then we should be shunned and ignored as heartless bullies.

Jesus listened; he cared; he was also bold. I don’t think we lose our boldness to call out sin or to speak challenge to others by being sensitive to them. Jesus definitely did not hold back! He called the Samaritan woman out; he laid into the Pharisees; he showed the adulteress woman grace but told her to sin no more. Jesus did not mince words. If we are willing to listen and to care, we will find others more open to letting us speak into their lives. We need to earn the right.

Flip that around. You would be same way. If someone came at you with words you didn’t know and made it clear they didn’t want to hear what you had to say but wanted you to just listen and then they spoke strong challenges to you, you would close your ears and have none of it! How dare they!?

We need to dialogue with others about our faith but this means thinking through the jargon we use, listening better, caring more, and speaking boldly for their good and not out of frustration or judgment.

Peter said it best: “ but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Five Statements Every Child Should Hear From Their Parents

Words are powerful. Words spoken by parents to their children will help shape them. If we understand the power of our words then we can be more intentional in using them to foster health in our children. I suggest using these five statements on a regular basis with your child(ren):

1) “I am proud of you“- perhaps are kids need to hear this more on their failures than successes. They need to know that our love for them is not conditional based off performance. They need to be able to rest in the consistent grace of their parents.

2) “I am sorry“- our children are people who feel just like we do. We are probably quick to correct them and challenge them to be better but they need to see we are not perfect either. There are times we make mistakes and disappoint them. They need to see us own it and apologize to them. Not only does it set the example for our kids in being willing to apologize when we hurt them but it also shows them respect that we think enough about their feelings to apologize. Sometimes our kids need to hear they were right and we were wrong.

3) “Not everyone will like you“- our kids are special but not everyone will appreciate that. Some just won’t be interested in them and they need to be ok with that. The world should not revolve around our kids and we can’t reinforce their expectation that it does. Help your child not be self-absorbed.

4) “Keep trusting God and He will lead you.”- they need to know that following God is essential for their success in life. Of course words are only as powerful as our actions here. They need to see us trusting in the Lord in our decisions, modeling this for them. We don’t want to teach our children that relying on their own abilities and effort is the key to success. Helping them to become self- sufficient can lead to pride and neglect of God in their life.

5) “It’s okay- mistakes happen“- wiser parents than me have said they wish they would have been easier on their kids, especially in their mistakes. Our kids need to know that it’s ok to fail and that their value is not diminished. We don’t want to teach them to be perfectionists. It will wreck havoc on them and rob them of the joy of life. Let your kids fail and then help them see that it’s ok when they do.

Sacred Home: Challenge To Parents

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For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children. Psalm 78:5-6

As infected saints, parenting is a struggle. We know we don’t own our kids but are given stewardship over them by God.  Still, we are sinful adults training sinful children. Amazing, then, that God created mother and father roles as essential to raising children. Moms and dads play unique roles that, together, make a powerful partnership in leading their children. Both are crucial. God is gracious and can work through a single mom or dad, but a partnership between both parents gives the child the best chance of growing up in the ways of the Lord.

Here are a few ways this fleshes out:

1) Together, father and mother bring a combination of masculinity and femininity to the home that represents the fuller image of God. This lead to healthy children who best understand what male and female are meant to be within the design and will of God.

2) Spiritual neutrality in the home is nonsense. I have heard some parents say they don’t want to force their religion on their children. They want them to be free to make up their own mind. This is foolish thinking! If you bring your children up this way, they will likely be neutral with God, too. They will not follow God, but they will try not to offend him either. This leads to spiritual death.

3) One hour of Sunday school in a 168 hour week doesn’t cut it. If you are trusting in Sunday school to train up your child in the ways of God, you are going to need your child to move in with the teacher! One hour is not enough to sufficiently train them to be godly. The home is the training ground; the dad and mom are the primary teachers.

4) Dads are the spiritual thermometer in the home. If you want your wife and kids to follow God, to listen to His Word and practice what it says, then you have to lead the way. Most dads would like to leave the spiritual work to the moms, but that is not how God ordained it.

5) Set spiritual goals for your children, and work to see them reached. Setting goals makes you accountable before God to work toward them. It helps keep you from getting distracted by the many pitfalls of this world. It helps you not to focus in on good things to the neglect of the great things of God.

6) Take your kids on dates. I regularly take my daughter on daddy-daughter dates. I use this time to teach her how men should treat women. I know these times with me show her she is special. If she feels my love and attention she will not seek unhealthy attention from boys.  Moms, this works well with boys, too!

Parents, knowing the importance of our roles and the stewardship required of us, we need to be intentional about creating sacred moments for our children.  I am sure there are many other good habits that can be established in the home to foster spiritual growth within the family. Feel free to comment below and offer ideas you have heard of or practice.  ~ Dax

 

You Said What On Facebook?


Social media is a great tool for connecting with friends from anywhere, for allowing people into our lives who want to see it, for information, and sometimes even for inspiration. There is a lot to like about social media. I use it constantly for making spiritual challenges and to communicate to church members. I like to highlight good things my kids are doing and to brag on my wife. But social media can also be the devil. I do not exaggerate. I have seen it destroy friendships, marriages, and young adult’s reputations. I have seen it be used to hurt others and as a tool for bigotry and hate.

Here are three specific ways I see social media being used in a harmful way:

  1. 1) A place to publicly shame others.

We see something posted we don’t like or something in the media that angers us and we attack with shame grenades. It feels so right in the moment. We are dispensing justice to the atrocities of what we feel. How dare they? It is only right that I call them out publicly. We feel so self righteous. And then all the people pleasers out there feel the tension of our post and so they like it and make a comment supporting us, most of the times out of a desperate desire to be liked by us than because they agree with our tirade.

You see it all the time. Someone starts their post with “You may not want to read what I am about to say. I am about to rant.’ Two things you should know when you see this. This person desperately wants you to read what they are saying or else they would not feel that way and then put it on public display. Secondly, you will see several comment who don’t necessarily further the discussion or disagree with it but quickly try to associate with the ranter out of a need to be liked. I am not trying to be harsh here but to make us aware of what is happening. It is toxic, my friends.

We also love to bash those who are unreachable to us. Celebrities and politicians are typically our target here. We shame them with hateful posts and feel justified in it because we don’t know them personally and we feel confident they want read it anyway. We just rally the other haters to shame with us. What does it accomplish? Better question is how does God receive glory from it?

Another way we shame is by setting up a straw man, an anonymous person, that we attack. We say something like “For all those posting about such and such, you are this and that.” Then everyone on our feed is left to wonder are they talking about me and if not me, then who?? Again what benefit comes from this. If I see someone saying something that I think is wrong I should approach them personally. That is what the Bible says to do in Matthew 18. This passive aggressive way of calling out the Straw Man is cowardly.

Am I ever guilty of shaming others on social media? I have committed this sin before. I am guilty as anyone. We need to call it was it is, sin. There is nothing Christian about it. The reason it feels so good is because it appeals to our sinful nature. This post will be very hard to swallow because most of us are guilty to one degree or another. The right response is not to justify our actions but to repent. To confess our wrong to God and to stop doing it.

2) A place for married people to connect or reconnect with a  person of the opposite sex in a dangerous way.

I do a lot of counseling and I used to be amazed how much social media played a role in affairs. It has become an epidemic. What starts out as connecting with a new friend or reconnecting with a friend from the past turns into flirting through private messages, which can turn into a whole lot more. Social media makes us much bolder, more confident, to the point we might find ourselves doing things we would not normally do. Before we know it we have crossed a line.

Be careful of open ended questions you ask someone of the opposite sex. i call these “feeler” statements. You are trying to gauge interest or someone is trying to gauge interest from you. It can be very subtle but it has potential to lead to infidelity. Also avoid pitfalls like buying into the notion that a little flirting is ok. It is never ok to hurt your spouse by flirting with someone else. Also never, ever, ever confide in someone of the opposite sex about problems in your marriage through social media. If you re struggling in your marriage meet with someone of the same sex who can offer goodly counsel. If you engage in spouse bashing with someone of the opposite sex, it is a sure fire way to lead to an unhealthy emotional connection with that person.

Jesus tells us to flee sexual sin. He is so serious about sin, like this, that he tells us if your eye cause you to sin, gouge it out! Don’t put your guard down on social media with people of the opposite sex. Don’t assume their intentions are innocent. Hold your spouse accountable on social media. Don’t be paranoid but be aware of who they are talking with. If your spouse gets defensive of your desire to hold them accountable, then that can be a warning sign.

 

3) A place to hate

Some of us need blood pressure medicine because we get so frustrated, so angry, at what some post. It drives us bonkers. Another picture of their child, another solicitation to buy their product, another comment about a topic they know little about. What I have learned is we get the most frustrated about things that we are prone to do ourselves. I was talking to someone recently who made a comment about someone on social media posting selfies all the time. I mentioned to them that I noticed that they posted pictures of themselves constantly too but with someone in the picture with them. They didn’t like that observation from me! Reality is someone could make the same assumption about them as they were about this other person. We need to be careful about judging the intentions of others. We sure don’t like it when it is done to us.

Here is a simple rule. If someone bothers you by their posts unfollow them. Don’t mention it to others to get a jab in on them. If you say something to someone else then you are wrong because you are gossiping and backbiting. It does not matter if they are wrong or not. No one deserves to be shamed by you! Just simply don’t follow them.

Now here is a way to grow. Ask yourself if what frustrates you about them is something you struggle with as well. Be careful of blindspots in your life. Be careful you are not judging something in others that you are guilty of.

Social media can be a beautiful place. It can be a place of torment and destruction as well. If you are Christian then you don’t get a Christian timeout on social media. God expects you to represent Him well on social media. Keep your guard up. If you can’t fight the temptation to be shameful, angry, gossipy, or lustful on social media then close your account for the sake of your own soul.

My 7 Year Olds Devotional Entry


Let me translate my 7 year old’s handwriting. He is responding to the question, “what worries you?” Here is his answer:

Sin worries me. Let Him be inside you. Talk to Him and He will make things right.

Is there anything that can move me more as a dad than to see my son be honest about his own sin and His need for God? Noah is diligent about his devotionals and I am touched often by his honest reflection about God and himself. I am challenged and humbled by my son. I believe one day God is going to use Noah in a powerful way. I pray every day He will not miss what God is calling him too.

We need to pray for our kids to be used by God. We need to provide them with opportunity to grow in God’s word. We need to set the example for them on what it looks like to follow Christ.

I praise God today for my kids and their growing hunger for Christ!
Dax

TOP 5 MARRIAGE BOOKS TO FIGHT COMPLACENCY

 

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LOVE INTENTIONALLY

 

MY TOP 5 MARRIAGE BOOKS TO FIGHT COMPLACENCY

Marriage is organic. It is either growing or dying. A stagnant marriage doesn’t mean it is really staying the same. If not intentional you run the risk of your marriage slowly decaying until you look back and wonder what happened. With Valentine’s Day around the corner it is a great time to get intentional about growing in your relationship. Don’t become complacent!

 

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WHAT IF GOD DESIGNED MARRIAGE TO MAKE US HOLY MORE THAN HAPPY? Often our expectations of our spouse to meet our needs is unrealistic. They are not to be our ultimate provider. This book is for any couple serious about putting God first in their marriage. It will challenge you to grow both in your faith and in your marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

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THIS IS A GREAT BOOK ON COMMUNICATION. Understanding your spouse will result in you being more connected. Understanding your spouses ‘love language” will help you maximize your efforts in communicating your love to them. This is a must read for every Christian marriage. Will open your eyes to how your spouse ticks and what you need to do to wind them up.

 

 

 

 

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THIS BOOK DIVES HEAD FIRST INTO THE DEPTH OF SCRIPTURE AND WILL CHALLENGE EVERY AREA OF YOUR MARRIAGE TO BE BETTER. Chan writes this with his wife, Lisa, as they explore the answer to how to have a great marriage. This book intersects with real life and deals honestly with the challenges of marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

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EVERY MAN SHOULD RUN AND PICK THIS BOOK UP AND READ IT AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR. It will revolutionize how the man sees his wife. It will teach you how to cherish your wife in the way God intended. Apply the thoughts in this book and your wife will thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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BOUNDARIES ARE CRUCIAL FOR A HEALTHY MARRIAGE. Learn how to freely give yourself to your spouse as you are freed up from expectations and pressure. This book is a fresh breath of air into your marriage. It will challenge your approach and put you on the road to health and intimacy.

 

 

 

 

If you find these helpful please share with others. Read these and you will reap the benefits of their insight.

Dax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastors And Politicians And Why You Should Be Careful To Trust Either

PASTORS AND POLITICIANS AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO PUT YOUR TRUST  IN EITHER

Let me start by saying I am a full time pastor. My integrity is one of the most important things I possess. Once it is lost it is almost impossible to recover it. I often forget how skeptical people our of pastors. I assume they’re give me the benefit of the doubt because of my position. Not the case outside the church and downtime a within.

Many see pastors as no better than corrupt politicians, out for their own agenda and fame. Insincere orators who really don’t care about their audience but try hard to convince them otherwise plague the church today. It’s a real turn off. It’s not only happening in high profile churches but in churches of all sizes. Pastors are not trustworthy just because they have Reverend in front of their name.

A Pastor’s integrity is constantly challenged by the mainstream pastors you see on TV. While there are some strong bible preaching from men whose lives live up to their calling, hey are a rare commodity. Men like Adrian Rogers, Ravi Zacherias, John Piper, and David Platt. But not just well known names like the ones mentioned. There are pastors all across our nation who will never be spotlighted bit are faithful servants and handle the word faithfully. These men protect their integrity at all costs. They know their credibility is crucial for being effective in spreading the gospel.

Unfortunately there are plenty of highly visible ministers who seem to be out for only themselves. Who are involved in financial mismanagement, scandal, manipulations, and false teachings. These men give pastors a bad rep. Their polarizing figures. People either hate them or love them. The problem with this is pastors shouldn’t be polarizing because they shouldn’t be that noticeable. It’s not about them. It’s about the message of grace and the cross. When it becomes about them the message gets lost.

Here are a few litmus tests you should consider before you follow a preacher/pastor:

1) He is passionate about the word over his own agenda.

2) He cares more about his listeners than he does his own fame.

3) He makes the name of Jesus famous and not his own voice.

4) He strives to live what he preaches in all areas of life.

5) He readily admits he is not perfect and has struggles and failures like all men.

6) He speaks with a sincerity that bleeds through his words because he believes whole heartedly in the power of the word.

7) His family sees him as a strong Christian at home and not just on stage.

If your pastor(s) exhibit the above then encourage them today. Let them know you notice and pray for them. We desperately need pastors sold out to Jesus and not to themselves.