Do You Understand The Words Coming Out of My Mouth?

What you talking about willis Meme.jpg

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.”

4 Reasons Boycotting the National Anthem Hurts Rather Than Heals


It is a privilege to live in the USA, an honor most of us take for granted on a daily basis. While many still face prejudice, even that is quite tame to the immense freedom and prosperity all enjoy in our amazing country.

So our NFL players got the idea that kneeling during the National Anthem and saluting of flag would evoke change. Since they are boycotting the flag, are they also willing to boycott the freedoms that come with it? I think not.

From my perspective, the problem with NFLers demonstrating during the National Anthem is multi-fold:

1) The National Anthem, along with saluting the flag, is not the issue nor does it represent the issue.

The National Anthem resounds with powerful words of freedom and patriotism. Blood, sweat, and tears were shed for the words of that song to be more than just words. When people kneel when it is sung, it is disrespecting the sacrifice of our ancestors and legacy of their bravery. If you want to make a statement about racism and injustice, pick another way. It feels like you are throwing the baby out with the bath water here.

2) Americans are guilty of giving their sports heroes credibility in subjects they don’t deserve.

Yes, they are incredible athletes who have risen to the top of their sport. They are not politicians, historians, attorneys, orators or anything else they often try to represent. We must recognize this fact. Sure they have a right to express their opinion, but we should not give so much credence to them just because they can throw and catch a ball well. We empower their voice to be more than it really is, more than we ought to.

3) We have to be more direct in dealing with the problems.

Kneeling during the anthem doesn’t make change. It only causes controversy and divisiveness. Change comes when influencers of all races come together to find forgiveness and set the tone for peace and unity. Standing as one – a team representing a diverse group of people united for a common purpose – is far more effective in the fight against division. On the field and in every facet of life.

4) Boycotting the National Anthem is hypocritical.

You can’t boycott the symbol of freedom, yet partake in all its blessings, and be taken as an authentic voice of change. I don’t think racism is acceptable on any level.  However, protesting this way is not only ineffective but makes the situation even worse. The hypocrisy of the athletes has only brought more unhealthy intensity to the issues, and we are more divided than ever.

In this great country, we do have a right to protest. But we have a greater responsibility to love, to respect, to uphold each other. To stand as one nation under God, indivisible, for liberty and justice for all. With this pursuit, may the only knee we take be to the One who can bring us all together.

When Men Lose Their Backbone at Home

PassiveMan.jpg

Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.  1 Peter 3:7

Men can be two different people. The man you see at work, with his friends,  or on the ball court is not necessarily the same man you observe at home. At the work place men can be driven and assertive, engaged, leading, and high energy. In their element they are confident and strong, like a lion. Conversely, when they get home many men transform into a passive invertebrate. Assertive and vocal with their friends, coworkers, and teammates, they are reduced to a passive blob with their wife and children. Sound a little extreme? Maybe so but there seems to be an epidemic among men where the wife is the leader and strong voice in the family instead of him. The results don’t seem to be better among Christian men. Christian men often remain passive at home, yielding to their wives to make decisions, direct the family, and train the kids. Christian men often leave it to their wife to handle the spiritual things of the family. God is not ok with this.

Men convince themselves that their primary purpose is to provide monetarily  for the family. Yet, no adult I have ever met has felt the greatest thing their father did for them was bring home the bacon. Men give much of themselves to their work  and hobbies and little of themselves to their family. Being masculine to most men means working hard and not being romantic, being sensitive to his wife’s emotional needs,and being vulnerable with his children. Many men are insecure and are not willing to be vulnerable and emotional, even with their family.

Why do men turn passive in the home? Most likely they just want to keep the peace. They are emotionally spent from work and they just want to do as little as possible emotionally at home. They avoid issues, tiptoeing around potential “landmines.” When they do finally voice their opinion it is ignored or steamrolled because the wife knows for better or worse, she is in charge.

Some men would read this and think they are giving their wife just what she would want, to be in charge. Most women I talk with tell me the opposite. Recently a lady in my office lamented: “I would love to be able to follow my husband’s lead but he prefers to let me lead. When I ask his opinion he tells me whatever I want to do.I not only want to follow I need to follow him. Yet, he will not lead.” Men opt out. They take the easy road and they are misguided into thinking that their wife is ok with that.

Adam was passive with Eve. When God calls Adam out for their sin He rebukes Adam for “yielding to his wife.” Adam is a wet noodle. He just goes along with what she desires. He doesn’t take a stand even though when God rebukes Him He is quick to mention He didn’t agree, that it was she who did it!

When men are passive at home, their wives respect for them erodes over time. They feel isolated and alone in overseeing the family and raising the children. The sons are robbed of an example of what it means to be a real man, one who is sensitive, vulnerable, and engaged. Their daughters often marry passive men because they have watched mom run the roost all their life. This is not how God intended it to be.

Now I am not saying that the husband is ruler and the wife and kids need to act like slaves. I am saying that men need to be present in the home in a direct and influential way. They need to be carrying the bulk of the load. They need to stand up for their wife and children where needed. They need to have the “hard talks” with their children and not just leave it to mom. They need to be a shoulder for their wife to cry on. They need to be quick to listen and slow to try and fix it. Men need to be engaged spiritually and emotionally with their family. It is not the woman’s job to take care of those things.

Families need men to grow a spine at home and stop just taking the path of least resistance at home. Men need to step up and lead their families. I find that most women are willing to let their husbands lead if they will just do so.

Here are a few things that would be great steps towards being the leader God has called the man to be:

  1. Pray over your wife and children.
  2. Be a good listener to your wife and do not try and quickly fix the issue
  3. Engage your wife and children in emotional subjects
  4. Be vulnerable and admit your faults and failures to your wife and kids
  5. Show your wife affection in front of the kids. Teach them how a man should treat a woman.
  6. Take your kids out on dates and listen to what they are going through.
  7. Do devotions with your family at the dinner table or before the children go to bed.

Step up men. Let’s be the leaders God has called us to be in our families.

A Plea For Modesty

modesty.jpg

Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense…   1 Timothy 2:9

In shopping for my daughter’s clothes, I am reminded of how little attention is paid towards modesty anymore. Almost everything is so shorter and revealing. Nothing is left to the imagination. Finding modest clothes is quite a task!

Women have to fight to not be looked at as sex objects but finding clothes that don’t give off that vibe is difficult. I come off as an old prune when I talk hand length and no cleavage to my daughter. I am ok with that though.  I don’t back down though because I know how men think and how they will see my daughter if they are invited to do so by her outfit. If any dad is ok with that then he is not much of a dad.

Here is what every woman needs to realize. Lust is an issue. An issue for both men and women but especially for men. I know this because I am one and I talk to men often about this issue. Temptation faces us at every turn and the struggle is real. Jesus addressed this issue:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  Matthew 5:27-30

God is adamant that his creation will not be reduced to an object of lust. He takes it seriously enough to tell us to pluck out your eye or cut off our hand if need be to avoid sinning! I rarely meet a man who does not struggle with lust and those who tell me they don’t… I assume they struggle with lying as well. Our struggle is not helped by the short skirts and shorts and the revealing tops. I am not a woman so I enter dangerous territory here but I can only assume this is why women would wear revealing clothes… to be noticed.  Well, unfortunately men are noticing and they are falling into sin for it.

I don’t know if women know this but men are reducing them to their looks when they wear revealing clothes. Men don’t care about their IQ, personality, or spiritual health in the moment. Men’s attention has been moved to her body and she becomes an object of lust for him. There is no respect or genuine care. It is about animal instinct in that moment. Not healthy for the woman or the man. Here is what I believe: What you wear says something about who you are. To think it doesn’t is irrational.

We want to teach our daughter about the importance of modesty as a Christian. We want to teach our daughter that her body is meant only for her husband. It is not to be on display for men to notice. She is not an object but a person worthy of respect and care. She is much more than her body type. We will preach this to our daughter. My wife will model this for her through her modest dress. I will continue to give affection to my daughter (even though she acts awkward when I do) and hope that she will not feel the need to find value from other men because she is receiving it from her daddy.

Now a disclaimer here: there is a big difference in making oneself look attractive versus making oneself look seductive. If you are modest in your dress and yet a man finds you attractive that is on him if he takes it too far with his eyes and thoughts. You shouldn’t degrade your beauty. God made you how you are. That is much different than you giving the man a head start into his imagination by revealing half the puzzle. I think a woman knows the difference if she is honest with herself.

I pray that parents will talk more about modesty with their kids. That dads will teach their sons not to reduce women to objects of lust. That women will model for their daughters how a woman shook dress. I pray Christian women will not buy into the cultural conditioning that sex is the only way to be truly appealing. That they will be courageous and hold each other accountable.

Dressing revealing is not harmless fun. It is tempting and leads others to commit sin. God is definitely not ok with it and neither should we be as His people.

 

Sometimes They Will Hate Us


“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”  Romans 1:21-23

Over the past few months, I have engaged in dialogue with those who deem themselves atheists. Consider there are two types of atheists you will encounter if you share your faith. There are atheists who don’t give any credence to faith but are not necessarily looking to proselytize Christians to their side. They do not believe in Jesus but can recognize benefits Christianity has in the world. There are also atheists who see it as their mission to attack Christianity.

This is the group I have encountered lately. They cannot stand the idea that Christians would “judge” them as someone needing to hear the Gospel. Filled with much pride, they despise being seen as a target of our evangelism. They get very defensive and spit out vile attacks. Why? Because they have to constantly defend their view. There can be no possibility they might be wrong. The very idea the Gospel is true is condemning, so they attack it vigorously. I have been called every name imaginable in trying to dialogue with them. They get personal quickly.  They hate easily.

But it’s not me they hate. It’s Jesus. Like Romans 1 predicted, they claim to be wise but are fools in their thinking. They are deceived.

Here are some things to consider if you find yourself speaking to those who attack your faith:

1) Don’t Get Defensive– As Christians, attacking back is not the answer. We have to give a solid defense of what we believe and not back down from the truth, but our conversation must be seasoned with grace and respect. I have failed in this often. It is hard to stay kind when being attacked.

2) God Will Have the Final Word- They will blaspheme God and insult Him with poisonous vile. God doesn’t need us to be His defender, though. When they attack God, don’t feel pressured to change their minds. I know all too well I cannot. I am confident God will have the final word. He will call all men to account. “‘Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

3) Your Calling is to Love– It’s easy to love someone who responds well to us. Not so easy when they attack us. Yet, God tells us to love those who persecute us. Our kindness reaps hot coals on their heads with hope it will lead to repentance. Love is the only  way. First Corinthians tells us love is patient and kind. They need to see that from us. When they do, we are a living display of the Gospel to them. One of the most loving acts you can do is pray for them by name. Lift them up to the Lord, and ask Him to move in their hearts. He alone can transform them.

When we share the faith, there are going to be those who attack us. We should not be surprised. Jesus was attacked and killed for speaking the truth. So were the apostles. We should expect no different when we are faithful to share. Let’s not hate those who speak against us but love them. Nor let fear or anything else shut our mouths from proclaiming the Gospel.  ~Dax

Teaching Student Athletes A Lesson from The Masters Golf Tournament


Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.  1 Corinthians 13:4

In watching the Masters this week I am reminded of a sacred rite within golf…. etiquette. Etiquette can be defined as the “customary code of polite behavior within a group.” There is a respect that resonates around most golfers as they speak about the game, the course, peers, and the spectators. There is a high expectation for the players to be thoughtful and encouraging. In fact if someone acts out in golf it is treated as a stain on their career. Good behavior is not just expected but demanded. Politeness is a timeless trend in golf.

You see this politeness displayed in many ways. Someone hits a good shot and the crowds roar. It only takes a second before the golfer is asking them to quiet the adoration for himself so the other golfer can have quiet to hit his shot. Golfers are careful to not step in anyone’s lines, to repair the course divots, to yell “good shot” when their competitor hits a drive or a putt. When the round is over they take their hats off and shake hands. Every act is thoughtful and considerate.

In this Masters tournament, Tom Watson played his last round. The crowds roared their appreciation for him. The players constantly stopped their game to applaud him. Tom showed respect by leaving an egg sandwich on the 13th hole bench by the tee box in honor of his caddie, Bruce Edwards, who had died more than 10 years ago.  This type of story unfolds over and over in golf.  The game is wrapped in this kind of manners and respect.

What if this etiquette began to carry over into other sports, especially among our children? Sure there are certain rules of etiquette in every sport but more emphasis on respect could be displayed.  More emphasis by coaches and parents to teach their kids to respect the game, themselves, and those hey play the game with and against.

Parents,  we need not only teach our children to have a drive to win and play hard but also to show respect for the game and to their peers. Of course that starts with parents being courteous and kind as they watch their kids play sports.

So many times it comes back to me that Christians are acting out at sporting events. Parents are yelling at the ref or ump. The kids of those parents often get angry or pouty, imitating their parents. I’ve witnessed parents yelling at other parents over a game involving 6 year old’s!

 

There are no Christian time outs allowed at the game. We should keep our emotions in check and remember it’s a game. I feel like the name of Jesus is dishonored by angry, jealous parents at sporting events as much as anywhere else. It’s a shame.

 

Whether you like watching golf or not, you have to respect the etiquette shown by the players and the respect they have for the game and their peers. It is commendable and worth imitating.

God cares how we act. He is not ok with us responding out of anger even at a sporting event. He is never ok with us treating others with disrespect. He demands a kindness that should be displayed at all times. When we fail to do so we should be quick to apologize for the namesake of Jesus. Golf reminds me of the importance of kindness and respect. We would do well to learn from it and teach our kids the same.

                Only You Christi


Beautiful is what I remember first about you

Both Inside and Out is how I define you


Godly is what I came to respect most about you

Using it to help Sanctify my own soul anew  

Being Mine is what I cherish most about you

Promising till last breath that will ever be true


Growing old together I long to do with you

Until the blessed day Christ calls our lives due