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 Principles Every Dad Should Practice With His Son

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12

Too many dads are absent and are eroding the health of their families. I don’t mean they are not physically present. Often, they can be found “on the premise” but they are not engaged. Dad’s, your kids need to have your attention, talk with you, be challenged by you, and learn from you. Your son(s) especially need to learn how to be a man from you and the truth is they most likely will follow in your footsteps whether it’s the right path or not. How you treat his mom is probably how he will treat his wife. How you communicate love and affection or lack thereof will be most likely how he communicates it with his children.

I have come to understand that there are several strategic things I can do with my two boys that will help them become the man I believe God wants them to be:

1) Quality Time– first of all, your boys need you to spend time with them. They need alone time with their dad. When I do spend time with them, my boys need to know that they have my undivided attention. They need to know I am fully engaged in the moment. I think there are a few ways to communicate this to them. Eye contact is a big one. They need to see your eyes and that you are connecting on their level. I think asking questions of your boys about their interests and feelings communicates interest. I think showing interest in what they like to do makes them feel valued. All of these things maximizes time spent with them. It will create memories they will never forget.

2) Show them affection-  boys are not like girls but that in no way means they don’t need hugs and words of affirmation consistently from us. They need to hear we love them and that we are proud of them. They need our affirmation. It is food and water for their young soul. If affirmation is not given then they might feel they never measure up or that they cannot do enough to earn your favor. Your kids don’t need to earn your favor; they need to be told over and over that they already have your approval. I try and hug and kiss my boys a lot. I don’t let it be awkward and I fight through their shrugging it off. I don’t let their body language deter me. They need my affection whether they realize it or not.

3) Vulnerability- my boys need to see me be vulnerable. They need to hear me share about my struggles and weaknesses. They need to see me admit wrong and be quick to apologize to their mom when I mess up. They need to see that I can take responsibility for all my actions, good and bad . They also need to see me communicate my feelings. That I am not scared to talk about being hurt or sad or happy. They need to see me be sentimental at times. My boys need to see me dote on their mom. At certain times they need to see me cry. Real men are willing to be vulnerable. I need to model that for them.

4) Talk with them about sex- I am amazed how many boys grow up to be men and only learn about sex from their friends and television. What are we thinking? I know the topic can be awkward for both the dad and son but they need to hear from us on sex. They need to know that being curious is normal and that having sexual desires are natural. They need guidance from us on what is appropriate to do with those curiosities and desires and also what is not. They need not feel embarrassed when they ask tough questions or express what they are feeling about sex. They must know  their dad is a safe person they can talk to and not feel ridicule or embarrassment from. I don’t let my boys anticipated awkwardness on the subject keep me from talking about it with them.

5) Teach them how to be a man- I want my boys to not live by fear: to be willing to stand up for truth when others don’t: to treat a woman with honor even if it looks old fashioned: to do what is right and not necessarily what is popular. To me these qualities define a real man. It is not about being gruff and loud and working to make them see how strong you think you are. Macho-ism is often a ruse. I think real men treat women with respect, our sensitive to others, do what they say they are going to do, love Jesus, show affection to their family, and are willing to sacrifice anything for the good of those they love. If I hope to see my boys be this kind of man then I have to model it for them and guide them to it.

Our boys are a blessing. You only get a small time with them to train them for adulthood. Don’t look back and regret that you didn’t do the things above to help your boys be the men God wants them to be.

Criticism is What You Need to Grow


If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. Matthew 18:15

There are many things we love to receive: a gift, a pat on the back, a million dollars! Some things we never want to be given: a pink slip, toothache, shark bite, or criticism!

Please, no shark bites. But truth that is criticism can be just what you need to grow. Sure, it doesn’t feel good to have someone call your issues out. We try really hard to debunk what they have said because we don’t want to feel the shame that comes over us for being flawed. We do not like to have our issues called out, but truth is, criticism is good for us when it is given in the right spirit, coming from someone whose motive is pure and gracious.

Criticism gives great perspective. One person said, “Criticism polishes my mirror.” It makes things that are fuzzy in my perception of myself come into focus. We often have blind spots and don’t realize how we are perceived, what our facial expressions communicate, how what we say is taken, and many other things that we do not realize people are seeing as flaws in us.

When someone has the courage to reveal it to us in love, we would be foolish to disregard or discredit what they are saying. We should receive it humbly and thankfully. Some of my biggest moments of growth came when someone cared enough about me to tell me the truth, and I received it. Sure it stung, but I grew because they said it and I had the courage to receive it.

Here are some things to consider when receiving constructive criticism:

1) Do not take it personally. If they care about you, they are not attacking you personally or trying to hurt you. They want to help you.

2) Feedback makes you stronger. One of the most valuable gifts, and one given sparingly in complete honesty, is feedback. Feedback that is critical might hurt our pride, but ultimately, we should want to be better and not deceived into thinking we are better than we are. Hurt my pride before you let me keep making the same mistake over and over again!

3) It expands your perspective. You just can’t see things sometimes. They are just out of your peripheral vision. Until someone points it out, you don’t realize certain things about you. If you are hypersensitive and insecure, you will run from criticism because you can’t face the fact that you are flawed. This is tragic, though, as you miss opportunity to increase your range of sight and see yourself more clearly.

4) It challenges our people-pleasing. This is a big one for me, personally. When someone contradicts me, I do not need to see that as persecution. It is exhausting trying to live for the approval of everyone. Being able to give and receive criticism is a way of living healthier in your relationships.

5) It deepens your relationship and trust. When someone has the courage to approach you in love and critique you, and you respond correctly, I guarantee your relationship will grow to a deeper, more trusting level. That is a person you want to keep close to you. It is a rare find, a friend like that.

Let me sum it up: If you are not open to constructive criticism, then you are not open to growing as a person.

Ten Things Every Church Member Likes To Hear From His or Her Pastor

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I am super blessed to serve at Heartland Worship Center. Like all churches, it is made up of infected saints, but it truly is a family. They love their pastors well and trust them to lead. Not only that, they are a joy to lead.

Most pastors feel like I do, but are they saying it? Here are ten things every church member would like to hear from his or her pastor:

  1. “I love you.” Whether the budget is in excess or deficit, attendance is high or low, or whatever good or challenging times are about, the church needs to hear their pastor say the words. It cannot be assumed. It needs to be said and said often. The people need to know pastors care for them.
  2. “I want to be here for a long time.” It is so common today for pastors to have a short tenure. The average is less than five years. With such a short stay, it is hard for churches to fully follow their pastors as they wonder when they will leave. Churches need to hear from pastors that they desire to stay long-term. If you cannot say this as a pastor, then you need to find somewhere you can for the good of the church.
  3. “I will provide a vision that is biblical and obtainable.” People without vision perish, the Scriptures tell us. The people of God need to know what they are called to do. They need a compelling vision to unite them. A pastor needs to inspire them to follow a vision that makes the name of Christ famous and glorifies the Father.
  4. “I will say the hard things even if it offends you.” Pastors should not set out to offend their people as some kind of spiritual marker, but there are things that need to be said that will not always sit well with sinners. Pastors have to stand against abortion, abuse, sexual sin, immodesty, immorality, homosexuality, and anything else that is offensive to God. It matters not if it is popular to say or not. A pastor’s standard is not the will of the people but the will of God.
  5. “I will put my heart and soul into my preaching and teaching.” The people of God are desperate to hear God’s Word. Every week, they need to be confronted by its truth in their lives. The pastor must use every opportunity to bring it with passion and clarity, depending on the Holy Spirit to take the Word and penetrate the hearts of the people.
  6. “I will not cater to a few.” Pastors cannot give preference to their buddies in church. They serve all the people, even the ones they disagree with or whom annoy them. It hinders the church if pastors cater to the powerful, wealthy, or popular of the church.
  7. “I will pray for you daily.” How can a pastor be effective for his people if he does not pray for them daily? They need to hear often that he is interceding for them. A praying pastor is an effective one.
  8. “I will share my faith with the lost.” Pastors must lead in evangelism. It is crucial we share the faith outside the walls of the church. Pastors must be on the front lines of this. This means developing relationships with lost people and not just Christians.
  9. “I fail often in my walk with Christ.” Pastors need to be vulnerable with their people about their failures. We are all infected saints. It is crucial the people don’t feel preached down to but preached in to. This will only happen when the pastor shares his own convictions brought on by the Word of God. Good shepherds are honest about their struggles with their people.
  10. “I will communicate with you what is going on in the church.” Church members desire to know what is going on in the church. This means clear and consistent communication. There is no way to get the word out on everything perfectly, but the people should feel the pastors take the time to let them know what is going on.

Pastors are called to people, and those people need to hear the above from their pastors. It is an honor to serve the Lord and our people. Let them hear it.

Divine Appointments Happen Everyday

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

When I worked at the bank, every day brought a divine appointment. What do I mean by divine appointment? Glad you asked. It is an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who has crossed your path. Might be a stranger or a coworker or a family member. Regardless, it is someone that you encounter where opportunity arises to share your faith.

For me, I helped people with their finances. That afforded me many counseling sessions as people looked to build homes or manage their money. Personal stuff always came up. Daily I was set up for a great opportunity to share Christ. Problem is… I rarely took it. I would hear people share their struggles or fears, creating a great launching pad for me to share the gospel. I would discuss with them concerns over their marriage and children. Fears about investments and retirement.  I always offered advice but never mentioned Jesus. A little bit of advice is one thing but Jesus takes it to a whole new level.

I always wanted to share Jesus. I had it in mind but I always talked myself out of it. They are not here to be preached at… this is a bank not a church… they will feel awkward… I will feel awkward! I rarely went through the  door God opened for me.

I would hint at things like church or the Bible or prayer. I saw this as seed planting but honestly it was just me being scared to speak the gospel. They were sharing with me their hurts and pains. I had the answer for that! I just needed to share it. Whether they received it or not was not my mission. I was to share Jesus with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). I was not to be ashamed of the gospel because it was the only thing that had the power to save them (Romans 1:16).  

Then I had a client die. She had bought a motorcycle and I did the financing for her. She had told me she was struggling with some things and wanted to ride to spend more time away with her husband. I listened and offered some quick wisdom but no Jesus. On her first trip on her bike she lost control and hit s guard rail. She passed on the scene. To this day it haunts me that I didn’t seize the opportunity to share Christ with her. I pray she knew Him.

The issue is getting started. Where do we begin? Here are some good conversation starters to sharing the gospel with those you encounter during the week:

  • What is your view of God and His role in your life?
  • Have you ever thought that God wants to help you deal with that issue?
  • How specifically can I pray for you?
  • May I tell you how God helps me with my issues?

Once you have started the conversation you what to share with them the gospel. Sharing the gospel means leading them to an understanding of sin, Christ’s sacrifice, and their need for Him. The Bible needs to be shared here to lead them to Christ. Here is a suggested plan:

  • Romans 3:23– all of us sin. Sin means missing the mark. We don’t meet the standard God demands for us to be acceptable. His standard is perfection. None of us are perfect.
  • Romans 6:23– Sin has a consequence. It is eternal death. Because of our sin we fail to meet God’s standard and therefore we will be found unworthy. You are not right with God on your own merit.
  • Romans 5:8– While we were unworthy, Jesus did something for us that we couldn’t do for ourself. He took on our penalty and died in our place. Because of  his sacrifice, we can have forgiveness of sins (John 3:16).
  • Romans 10:9-10,13– How do you receive the benefits of all Jesus has done and get right with God? You have to believe. You respond with faith, believing that your sins are covered by Jesus. You submit your life to Him and your sins are no longer held over you.
  • Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17– You are now a new creation. You have been transformed by the gospel. You need to now live by faith and trust in Christ.

We are given divine appointments every day to share the faith. Don’t pass on them hoping someone else will share. God wants you to share your faith with them.

Dax

 

5 Things to Never Say To Your Wife

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Wisdom means knowing when to say something but also knowing when to keep your mouth shut. For those who are married or in a dating relationship, you learn quickly that there are some things that shouldn’t be said. When they are spoken it can get ugly quickly. Here are five things I have learned through my own school of hard knocks not to say to my wife. Maybe they will help you learn quicker than i did. These are in no particular order. They all are equally  foolish!

 

Why can’t you be more like…

Now it really doesn’t matter who you finish a sentence like that with. Comparing your wife to anyone will be all but disastrous for you. You might pay for it for years and years. Comparisons are a bad idea! Heed my advice here. Your very life may be at stake.

Stop being so sensitive.

Being that you are most likely the reason your wife is agitated at this moment makes this statement even more dangerous. If you want to have the exact opposite effect of what you were hoping, utter these four words. I promise you that your wife will not say “Honey, you know you are right. Forget I said anything. I am being foolish. Want me to make you a sandwich while you rest and watch TV?”

Yes, you do look fat in that.

If you need my advice here of why this is a mistake then go ahead and consider yourself a hopeless case and pray that your wife is the most gracious person, besides Christ, to ever live.

You’re starting to remind me of your mother.

Mother In Laws are great (Mine reads my blog so I am using discernment here). But I assure you that your wife does not want to be compared to her. If you have said it I feel confident you did not mean it in that moment as a compliment. Sure you meant; “Dear, you are beginning to remind me of your mother. Your cooking is getting amazing and your beauty continues to increase!”

What’s wrong now?

Perception is reality. You might have the best intentions with this question but let me interpret for you in terms you will understand how your wife hears it, “Woman when are you going to stop breaking down and I have to come and fix you over and over again. I have better things to do.” I will repeat myself here that this will not go over well for you. If you communicate to your wife that she is a burden then she might very well show you how much she can make this a reality for you.

 

I recommend striking these five statements from your vocabulary to never be uttered again. Your world will be a much happier place if you do.

 

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