Five Things Every Christian Parent Should Ponder

1) God has given you charge over not only their bodies, but also their souls.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 implores us as parents to guide our children into spiritual truth. If you leave this to the “experts” at church, they may begin to see their faith as a Sunday thing and not something lived out during the week. After all, if parents don’t talk about “God-things” with them during the week, they won’t see it as important for their daily lives either.

2) Model for your children how a wife and husband should treat one another. 

My kids “gross” out when Christi and I show any PDA. You would think we were putting hot coals in their eyeballs! Yet, I know that behind their disgust are happy children who feel safe and secure having a mother and father who love each other. A young man needs to see how to treat a woman by the way his daddy treats his mom. A young woman needs to know how to respect and love a man by the way her mom respects and loves her dad. I hope my daughter will want to marry a guy one day who treats her like I try to treat Christi. There is a good chance that will be her standard and expectation.

3) Don’t just focus on their behavior, but focus on their hearts. 

Our goal as parents is not just to get our kids to act right in public. It’s not even to get them to act right at home. We want to go deeper with them. God desires for us to show them the importance of right motive behind their actions. Why do they do what they do? How does the Gospel motivate their thoughts and behaviors? If we just drill into our kids the need to do right things without teaching them the importance of proper motive then, at best, we make them legalists — at worst, hypocrites.

4) Train your children to be measured by grace and not by their performance.

In Exodus 34, God reversed Himself to His people as a God who is compassionate and slow to anger. Yet, God also punished the wicked. His approach is balanced between grace and discipline. Your children need to see you love them for who they are and not what they do. Our kids don’t need to feel we care for them less if they don’t “perform” properly. We give them grace not because they deserve it, but because God has given grace to us. If our kids think we care more for them when they are less of a bother to us then we teach them their value is earned. This flies in the face of what the Gospel teaches.

5) Teach your children to be sensitive to the effects of sin and not desensitized to them.

Everywhere we turn our eyes are filled with immorality. Whether it be commercials, shows, Internet, news, magazines, or billboards, we are inundated with sex, violence, and all kinds of debauchery. Unless we are extremely intentional, we will become desensitized to the effects of these images on our souls. The effect on our children should scare us. If our children become desensitized then sin will become commonplace, and they will live lives of compromise and justification. This is an epidemic in our world today.

Where were you on 9/11?

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:3

I was at my desk in the bank when someone popped their head in and asked if I had heard about a plane crashing into a New York tower. It sounded strange to hear it. Surely they were mistaken. How could that happen? We all gathered around a 32-inch TV in the break room watching grey smoke billow out of the World Trade Center tower. I remember thinking: how could someone make that kind of flight error, and how many had paid the price with their lives? As I debated with others over what might have happened, all doubt was removed when one of the ladies gasped and covered her mouth, her eyes glued to the screen. We all turned back to the television as smoke billowed from the second tower. The news  anchor looked visibly shaken as he reported another plane had hit the second tower.

In that moment, all of us in that room — along with all of our fellow Americans — knew this was deliberate, an obvious attack of terror. The worst was yet to come, though, as reports came in that the Pentagon was hit and another plane had crashed on what appeared to be a direct route to Washington D.C. I remember thinking, what else is going to happen? Then, maybe the most devastating moment of all, watching the first tower collapse into a pile as a massive cloud of smoke rushed down the streets. Soon, the second tower collapsed.

It was all so surreal. It just didn’t seem possible. I felt so helpless watching it. My firstborn was nine days old. What kind of world have I brought my daughter into?

Reality hit, smack in the face, as the facade of safety was ripped from us — we were vulnerable to terror, even on our own soil. The response of Christians varied. Some insensitively pronounced this as an act of judgment upon America by God. Others lashed out with hateful rhetoric towards all Muslims. Many just tried to figure out where God was in all of it.

Someone wrote a poem. We don’t know who as the author was never credited. I think the words capture perfectly where God was in this tragedy.

“MEET ME IN THE STAIRWELL” (author unknown)

You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001.

Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke-filled room with a man who called his wife to say ‘good-bye.’ 

I held his fingers steady as he dialed. 

I gave him the peace to say, “Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK. I am ready to go.”

I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children.

I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn’t coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help.

“I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!” I said. “Of course I will show you the way home – only believe in Me now.”

I was at the base of the building with the Pastor ministering to the injured and devastated souls.

I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer.

I was with the crew as they were overtaken.

I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their

faith has saved them.

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan .

I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.

Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name – though not all know Me.

Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath.

Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; “Come to Me… this way… take my hand.”

Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.

But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do.

However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?

Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey for you.

But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well.

Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are ‘ready to go.’

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

Love, God

Where were you on 9/11 when the towers fell? Did you hold steady in faith that God was still loving? Did you trust Him even though you couldn’t make sense of the tragedy?

For His children, God doesn’t create tragedy, but He is always in the midst of it to see us through… even if it is to Glory.

I Want Friends of Many Colors

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? Malachi 2:10

“I’ve never hugged a white man in my church before.” The sweet lady had been a member of her church for decades and she had the biggest smile as she released me after a vigorous hug. She was physically feeble but her spirit was overflowing with passion and wisdom. She had tears in her eyes and I was immediately confronted with the potential impact of this night.

As I prepared to go up and speak I looked around at the crowd of black and white faces intermixed. It was packed and it was a beautiful picture of diversity and unity. It made my heart smile.

It was a start. A start of something much greater than a movement, more like a transformation. For way too long whites and blacks have segregated in their churches to worship the same Jesus. We have segregated to worship the one who calls all men and women equal. It’s not as ironic as it is sad. How can we ever feel ok with this? It’s nothing like what our Savior would do.

To make things more shameful, there is deep seated prejudice among many white “Christians” and bitterness and hatred among many black “Christians.” This cannot be the will of the Lord. This has to be called out and eradicated. There is no room for it among those of faith.

It infuriates me to see the prejudices until I look at myself more closely. Am I really much different in my actions? How many friends hat don’t look like me? Do my children hang out with kids not their color? Do I make any effort to get to know those of a different race? How can I claim Jesus as Lord over all His church and I only make effort to associate with one color of it?

It is a great thing when events like the other night happened, when two churches of different races come together to demonstrate unity. I preached my guts out that night. I proclaimed how it must go past the walls of that church or it was only smoke and mirrors. I preached it with great passion and intensity. Many made comment to me about my fervency that night. They assumed I got caught up in the moment and understandably so as it was pretty exciting. But that was not the reason behind my earnestness. No, that was because I was preaching to someone in particular who really needed to hear what God had given me… myself. I needed to be reminded that until I really cared enough to befriend those who were black in that service then I was just another part of the problem I preached against.

Christians will you take up this challenge with me? Will you make the first move and connect with believers of another color not to make a stand or statement but because you find them worthy of your friendship? I want friends of many colors. I think I am missing out on good friends who I can love and who can love me. I think my kids are missing out on good friends too.

I am sick of the divide and want to be part of the solution. I am sick of talking about it and doing little to remedy it. Join me. Jesus desires it. The church needs it. We need it.

Special thanks to my church and churches like Washington Street Baptist who have the courage to walk across the unseen line of separation and join together.

God Doesn’t Need You To Try So Hard


Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1

If I got a B on a paper I would sulk and pout and lose sleep for days over it. I couldn’t take anything but perfection when it came to grades, which I had to constantly fight to try and achieve. I stressed myself out in school, constantly worrying about my grades and my future. When I would make the grade, I could not enjoy the moment because another paper or test was pending. It was exhausting.

Any overachievers relate to me? Anyone plagued by perfectionism? Do you ever feel guilty if you don’t work yourself to death on something? Are you what some might call a control freak?  Here is a news alert… God doesn’t need you to try so hard. In fact it could be detrimental to your soul.

The Christian life is a paradox in many ways. We gain our life only when we lose it. The least will actually be first. Giving is better than receiving. When it comes to how we are to live, God is not interested in how much we can achieve for Him. That might shock you but you won’t find verses in the Bible that says, Thou shalt achieve great things for God.

He doesn’t want our efforts as much as He wants our surrender. He put His Holy Spirit in us and gave us the authority of Jesus to accomplish life altering, earth-shattering, transformative things for Him. That doesn’t come  via talent, hard work, ingenuity, or anything else we could accomplish on our own. That comes through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, in us.

It doesn’t mean God doesn’t want our best effort or to use our talents but His word is full of stories of uneducated, unqualified, unprepared participants who didn’t have any influence or position yet changed the world around them. When we read the stories of these men and women, we are not noticing what a great person they were but rather, what a great God they served!

Reality check… you are not capable or equipped to do this life your own strength in a way that will honor God. You need help. You need Jesus. Your greatest efforts will fall short of the eternal, kingdom advancing work God wants to do through you.

Some of you have worn yourself out trying to change your spouse, train your kids, make a business successful, maintain a family on the verge of falling apart, all by your will power and effort. It leaves you weary and on edge. You are frustrated on how little control you have to make things happen. Truth is God doesn’t call us to juggle all of this. He isn’t testing us to see how much we can achieve. This stuff is too big for us!

You want to be a great parent to your children? You want to be an influential grandparent on your grandchildren? You want to live for something greater than a paycheck and two garage house? Then you will have to surrender your talents, your wisdom, your control, your effort to the Lord and allow Him to inspire you, empower you, and lead you into His purposes.

That’s great Dax but what if it doesn’t work?  What if I do that and my kids, grandchildren, or job do not cooperate? Instead of getting frustrated you rest in the knowledge that you are trusting them to God and that He will work in The best way and at the right moment. You find peace in a God who sympathizes with you when those you love make horrible mistakes and refuse to change. You rest in the fact that God is doing things you can’t always see and will always prove Himself faithful.

Whatever you are going through right now, which one of these questions best speak to your approach: Am I putting more effort into trying to fix what I perceive as the problem OR more effort into submitting to the Holy Spirit to receive whatever He would have me to learn and do in this situation? There is a Grand Canyon difference between these two perspectives. One is a futile attempt to do things you cannot do. The other is a place of rest and peace as you surrender to His will. Which one you choose will make all the difference in what kind of person you are.

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.

Control Freak

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There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  1 John 4:18

Infected saints tend to be control freaks. I try so hard to keep my life in order in a way that makes sense and is comfortable to me. I work really hard to make things happen like I think they should go. I struggle in situations where I do not feel like I am in control. I have a hard time trusting others who are handling things on my behalf. I have been told by people who speak hard truth to me that I am a Control Freak. Jesus associates with trying to control things as being a slave to worry (Matthew 6:25). We need to learn that we are not able to bear the burden that comes with worry.

I am learning that when I allow God to work through me He carries the load. When I put my energy into trusting God and not worrying and scrambling,  I enter a state of rest and peace. When I try and make people do the right thing or get a certain outcome I want, I have to stress over it and exhaust alot of energy to make it happen. If it works out the way I want, I feel relief from the stress momentarily until the next situation I feel is “out of control” arises. This approach too life weighs us down and exhausts us.

Stress is heavy. When we look to God we release stress because it is simply to heavy. It weighs us down spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and emotionally. When we run ahead of God we get lost and frustrated.  We doubt God’s ability to lead. We question his competency.  Reality is He is sovereign over all things and we have little to no control over anything. Control freaks do not want to give in to that fact but it is both futile and sinful to try and jerk the reigns out of the Lord’s hands.

God is the one who controls the wind. I heard it said recently that we cannot direct the wind but we can control the sails. It is crucial for a believer to set sail towards the will of God and ride His wave of promise. His promise to us is that He will never forsake us; that He will work all things for our good; that he will provide for us. If we could control things we would mess it all up. We don’t know what is best for us. Only God has our best interest in mind. Only He will work in us for His glory.

We waste a lot of energy on things we cannot control. When we get worked up over traffic, weather, or people who annoy us, we are wasting energy on things we cannot change and allowing that to bother us. The one thing we can control is our attitude. Instead of choosing to be frustrated over our lack of control over situations and people, we need to focus on what God is doing in and around us. Maybe He wants to teach you patience or how to be more merciful.  Try praying for the people in those cars at a stand still around you in busy traffic. Our go to should be prayer. Is prayer our steering wheel or spare tire? Do we look to prayer only when we are at our wit’s end or do we go to it immediately as our source of strength and comfort?

We need to see our attempt to control things as a faith issue. God demands and deserves our trust. We are not in control nor were we created to be so. We don’t have what it takes to be God. Let Him do His work in you and trust in His will.

Interview with a Kia pt2: Turn about is Fair Play

KIA and I have been in a dialogue over the last several months about the faith. I am firmly planted in the faith and he has left the faith. I interviewed him and to keep it fair, he has now interviewed me. While he only gave me three questions I do see them as set up questions for he and his entourage to “catch” me in what they will deem fallacious arguments. Nevertheless, I answered them honestly. I am not using these answers to try and prove my faith. There are times when I will defend and argue the faith. Maybe through discussion from here I will do that. BUT, my answers to his questions were not that. They were my honest reflections.