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.

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

 

Last Week of Jesus- Thursday

 

 

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36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.    Matthew 26:36-44

It is Thursday night. In less than 24 hours Jesus will be dead. Could you imagine the emotional turmoil of knowing tomorrow would be your last? Jesus was humans and he was struggling with knowing what was to come.  So he led his disciples to go and pray. His favorite spot was the Garden of Gethsemane. He and the disciples had just finished the Last Supper for the Passover. Jesus had watched as Judas left the table to go and betray Him. He passed the cup to Peter, knowing that Peter would deny him three times tomorrow. One last intimate meal with his twelve, knowing they would all scatter from Him in His hour of greatest suffering.  Jesus needed perspective so He went to the garden to find peace, guidance, and comfort from His Father.

How Jesus dealt with his impending suffering and death epitomizes how we should deal with our own pain and tragedy. We can learn how to deal with our own times of trials and pain from Jesus here in three specific ways.

Jesus brought Friends With Him

In His most difficult hours, anticipating His own death, Jesus drew his friends close to him. During these difficult times, we need people to walk with us. So many times we isolate form others when facing tough times. Be vulnerable with them. You are hurting. Ask them to bear it with you. People who care about you will do that. Jesus never shut them out. Even though they were often confused and probably frustrating to him, He included them until the end. He needed them.

Don’t Write Friends Off If They Fail To Meet Your Expectations and Disappoint You

Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him. It had been a rough and tiring week. They were emotionally and physically spent. While praying, the disciples fell asleep. Jesus was disappointed to say the least. Wouldn’t you be? You are going to die and your closest friends fall asleep on you when their supposed to be praying for you! But what I want you to notice is that Jesus did not write them off. He continued to let them in and share His burden even after they disappointed Him. He needed them and He did not let their mistake destroy the bond. We need friends to be with us when we are hurting but we need to remember they have their own lives to live and their own struggles to face. They may fail to meet our expectations perfectly in our time of need. Show them grace. You need them. Let them be there for you even in their imperfections and quirks.

Jesus was Persistent In Praying

Jesus found a special place to pray. He found His prayer closest. No coined prayers offered here. Jesus prayed his guts out. His intimacy with the Father was on full display. Jesus prayed all night and did not stop until he had peace and His answer. Notice Jesus didn’t get what he asked for. He wanted to be saved from the torture, the pain… He wanted to be released from impending death. Yet, His Father said no. His Father’s will was for Jesus to die for humanity. The very ones to kill Jesus was who He would be dying for.  Jesus submitted fully and came to peace with what his father desired. We give up to quickly in our prayers. We pray a quick prayer and walk away already anticipating no clear answer. Why? We need to pray with determination. We need to cry out to God and not stop until we hear from him. God will answer if we seek Him until he does. If we need to pray all night then so be it. God will answer.

What a gut wrenching night this was for Jesus and his disciples. To know that tomorrow you die. Jesus could have stopped it. He had the power to do so. Yet, he submitted to His Father and died for us. He went through all of this suffering for me and for you. When we suffer, He is with us. He understands our pain and agony. He has experienced it. We are never alone. He walks with us all the way into eternity.

Should I Confess My Sins

I am a Christian. My sins are forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west. I stand completely blameless before the Father because of Christ’s sacrifice.  When God sees me He sees a perfect creation. That is not because of us. It is a complete work of Christ in me and not anything I have earned by my own effort or behavior (2 Cor 5:17-21).

So if I am blameless in his sight, completely pardoned before I even commit the act, then why bother confessing sins?

Does scripture actually tell us to confess sin or is that a church tradition? Let’s look:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.      1 John 1:9

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.    James 5:16

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.    Psalm 32:5

A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.     Psalm 51:1-5

So confession is biblical and must be a part of your life as a believer.  You see it both in the Old And New Testament. Some would argue that confession was necessary before Christ only, but it is also commanded of believers in the New Testament too.

In  order to best understand confession, it is helpful to look closely at the word in its original language. It’s construction gives us insight into its importance for the spiritual life. The word confession in the Greek is ὁμολογέω (homologeo). It is created by two separate words: homo and logeo. Home means  “same,” like in homosapien (same species). Logeo means “word,” like its usage in John 1, the logos (word) became flesh and dwelt among us. So confession means to “say the same word.” Don’t miss the significance of that: confession is saying the “same word” about sin as God does. It is to be in agreement with God about the nature of sin. How does God see sin? He hates it. So we should confess the same thing to God by acknowledging that we also hate sin and see it as a destructive force in our life. Sin dishonors God and by confessing it we acknowledge that sin is unworthy of the gospel at work in us.

To confess or not to confess is not an option for a believer. We must acknowledge our sin. We don’t need to confess to a priest or any human agency but have direct access to the Father (Hebrews 4:16).

Should we confess our sin to each other?  We are to confess sin to each other but only so we can help each other carry that burden (Galatians 6:2). I would confess sin to other Christians  I trust to help carry the burden and to hold me accountable.

Confession does several things for us. When we confess sin we are living out the gospel. Confession shows our desperate need for grace in our lives. Confession also keeps us humble as we admit daily to our struggles with sin.

Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer gives us the best insight into our calling to confess:

4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.  Luke 11:4

Confession is good for your soul. You don’t need it to be forgiven but how can you call yourself His if you don’t despise what He despises. We must take sin seriously and confession is how we acknowledge its destructive force in us.

I suggest every night before you go to bed confessing your sins to the Lord. Thank Him for His forgiveness and grace and provision to overcome sin.

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.