I’m Off Today…Here’s Why

I’m off today…

My “Type A” personality says I probably should be working…

I’ve been traveling a great deal lately…

I have work to do…

It’s called catching up…

But I’m off today…

Why?

Because my wife is off today…

And I love my wife…

Here’s the reality I try to live everyday…

If I don’t protect my marriage I can’t help yours…

If I don’t invest in my marriage, I can’t invest in your marriage…

If my marriage is struggling, so will my other work…

In fact, so will every part of my life…

I’m a better pastor when my marriage is strong…

So, don’t work too hard today…

I scheduled myself off…

BTW, be honest: What’s the state of your marriage today?

My Advice: Don’t Always Give People an Answer

multicultural mentor

I have a theory I practice often.

I’ve been using it for many years — as a leader, father, a friend, and a pastor. It’s not always what people come looking to me for, but I think it’s the best practice.

I don’t always give people answers.

  • As a pastor, people come to me for answers.
  • As a dad, my boys come to me for answers.
  • As a friend, people come to me for answers.
  • As a leader of a team, people come to me for answers.

In either case, I don’t always give people answers.

I don’t try to solve their problems for them.

Now, please understand, if there is a clear Biblical answer for their problem or issue, I give it to them. I’m talking about the issues more difficult to discern. Things such as career choice decisions, the calling in life decisions, who to marry, etc. — the unwritten answer type decisions.

For those type issues, I probably have an opinion, but I never “have” the answer.

Instead…

I help people discover a paradigm through which to make the decision.

  • I become an objective listener.
  • I help them see all sides of the issue.
  • I share Scriptures that may speak to both sides of the decision.
  • I serve as an outside voice.
  • I may diagram the problem, as I hear it, so they can see the issue on paper.
  • I help them learn to pray and listen to God.

And then I release them to make a decision.

Here is my reasoning…

If I solve the problem:

  • I’m just another opinion — and I may be wrong.
  • They’ll resent me if it proves to be a wrong decision.
  • They’ll never take ownership of the issue.
  • They’ll likely do what they want anyway.
  • They won’t learn the valuable skills of listening to the voice of God.
  • They won’t learn from experience.

My advice:

Don’t always have an answer.

Help people form a paradigm through which to to solve their problems or make decisions.

Are you too quick to have an answer sometimes?

2 Words that Always Motivate Me

“You Can’t”

Oh yea?…we’ll see about that…

Cheryl and I hang out together on Saturdays. It’s our favorite time of the week. We do whatever we want to do…together. Many times that involves eating. Our boys say when they are old and boring, they want to be like us…often driving miles just to eat somewhere new or unique.

On a recent Saturday we found a new breakfast place. It was good…not as good as we hoped for…but not bad. We had plans that evening to drive an hour away to an Italian restaurant we had heard about, but never been. In the middle of the day, I told her I was going to eat something…I don’t remember what. She said, “You can’t eat that now. You won’t eat any supper.”

Oh yea?…we’ll see about that…

I didn’t want something to eat as much as I wanted to show her I could eat whatever it was and still eat a full supper.

That’s a simple illustration, but it’s repeated throughout my life. Tell me I can’t and I want to prove that I can.

What is it about me?

Am I alone in this desire to prove those two words wrong?

(BTW, You can’t comment on this post and tell me you’re like me…or that I’m weird. YOU CAN’T!)

Remembering Those Who Serve

Most of my readers know by now that I live in a military town. Our church is full of modern-day heros who have sacrificed to keep us free as a nation. I’ve written 10 Reasons I Love Our Military Families previously. Today is a day to remember all that took place, honor the fallen. Hundreds of fire, police and medical personnel, along with hundreds from our nation and others died on 9/11. I heard today that 90 countries were represented in the deaths on 9/11.

In a military community, the remembrance takes on a deeper meaning, because that day changed how many in our community have lived these last 10 years. In our church alone, we have several widows, several parents who have lost children, and hundreds of families who have spent more time separated more than together, because of the events of 9/11. There have been 603 lives lost this far into the war on terror from our community.

This week, as we remembered the events of 911, three of our brave soldiers were interviewed. Here’s is the short interview we shared today.

Please pray for our military and families and for our nation! Please continue to remember those who serve, our military, as well as our police, fire and emergency personnel. Thanks for all you do!

10 Reasons I Love Our Military Families

I am honored to live in a military town. All my life I have known soldiers. Some of my best friends and family have been military-related. Our church has a large military population. I have heard people talk about the burden of military families on a church, because every three years they have to be replaced. The family in this picture was in our community group, but left our church for a reassignment. Cheryl and I could not love a family anymore than we love them and we’ve loved staying in touch with them.

I have always felt our church was stronger because of our military families, for as long as they might stay.  Therefore, as we celebrate military families, here are 10 Reasons why I love the military families in our church:

  • They are some of the most dedicated people I know
  • They bring experiences with them from around the world
  • They have great work ethics
  • They are expectant of great things from God
  • They are appreciative of any ministry
  • They make wonderful volunteers
  • They build friendships for life
  • They are sacrificial givers
  • They raise awesome families
  • They are brave soldiers, protecting my right to do what I do

God bless our military and God bless America!

(I previously posted this over 2 years ago, but thought it appropriate to re-post, slightly edited, in honor of this weekend.)

7 Ways for a Wife to Encourage a Husband

I previously wrote 7 Ways to Encourage Your Wife. Several wives (and some husbands) asked for the counterpart. How do you encourage your husband? Fair enough.

I have been guilty of assuming men are simple to encourage, so I had actually written previous posts

If a wife wants to encourage a husband

and

A secret a husband keeps but needs you to know

each involving just one thing to do. You should probably read those posts first, but to keep with the women’s post…

Here are 7 ways to encourage your husband:

Give him a break from sharing details or emotions – Unless the situation demands it or he wants to share them, let him share the basic facts and information in a non-emotional way. It may be all he knows, has observed or remembers. Give him times when “That’s nice” is enough for an answer.

Brag on him – Especially to your friends… Let them know your guy is the greatest! Be sincere, but do it often and make sure he hears you.

Appreciate his interests – If he likes golf…learn a little about the game…enough to encourage him on a good day. If it’s fishing, cars, or football…well…you get the idea… (Bonus points: Give him hobby time – Most men love knowing they have your permission to enjoy a hobby, without wondering if they should be doing something else.)

Understand his work – A man is often more defined by what he does than anything else in his life. Know enough about his work to recognize his accomplishments.

Be available to him – And occasionally without a lot of effort on his part… Remember…you asked…or at least some of you did. :)

Assure him you’re okay…and he’s okay – On this one, I have to be honest…many times we are left wondering if everything is okay. We can’t read emotions as well as you do, but we know when you’re NOT okay. You can encourage him by assuring him nothing is wrong, even if you can’t process at the time how you feel or “what’s wrong”.

Let him fix something – This is not just with his hands…unless he can do that sort of thing…(I can’t) but with his mind. He’s wired as a fixer. Give him an actual problem to solve…and let him solve it without your help.

I almost said “let him eat steak”, but decided some men may prefer ice cream…so I’ll let you decide that one… You know your husband better than I do! :)

Men, what would you add to my list? What are some ways your wife can encourage you?

Do You Need to Take the WHAT Test?

W H A T

I’ve often written this with three steps, but I’ve found something is more memorable if it has an easy to remember formula.

If you are trying to complete a difficult assignment…

When you aren’t certain all parties are as committed as they need to be…

When you are trying to rebuild your trust in a relationship…

Before you commit to a partnership…

At the beginning of an important venture…

Take the WHAT Test

Where Where do you want to go? Seriously talk through the end goal. What do you want to accomplish? Define a win! Make sure this part is very clear up front.

How – How will you get there? What’s the plan? Who is going to do what? Who’s responsible? Who’s in charge? What are the necessary steps involved?

Agreement – Are you in complete agreement with the previous two? This is critical. Don’t neglect this important step. Don’t move forward without this step. Are you sure that you are sure?

Tenacity – Are you willing to pay the price to see it through? Most great ideas fail…not because they weren’t great ideas…but because no one had the tenacity to see them through. Decide on the front in that all parties have a “whatever it takes” attitude. This will save you many headaches and heartaches down the road.

WHAT you are trying to accomplish will seem more attainable when you can pass the “What Test”.

There are dozens of applications for this simple formula, but the point is that strategically thinking through these steps will help protect and build or rebuild the relationship; plus keep all parties from being disappointed.

Does it help you to script things like this to help you remember and apply them?

When there aren’t words to say…

I did the funeral for an 18 year old young man once. (In fact, I’ve done a few too many funerals for children when the parents are still living.) For this boy, I went to school with his mother and his father is a dear, personal friend. He was supposed to start college the following Monday, but tragically died in a car accident on the prior Sunday night. He was a well-loved, funny, popular boy and the funeral home was packed with people paying their respects. As you can imagine, there were hundreds of students wrestling to understand why this happened to their friend.

In times like these, there usually are no words that can fully bring comfort to the family. They are hurting. They are hurting with a pain whose depths most of us can never imagine. I frequently get asked, “What should I say to the family?”

When there aren’t words to say…

Say nothing if there’s nothing to say…just be there…

Tell them you’re sorry…but don’t try to make explanations…

Give them a hug…and hold them until they let go…

Cry with them…and assure them you care…

Pray for them…and do this continually after you leave their presence…

When there aren’t words to say…

Just be a friend…

When was the last time you were in a situation where there was simply nothing to say? 

Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin?

Suicide sucks!

I realize this is a heavy issue for this blog, but seriously…I have had to sit with people several times after a loved one committed suicide. A clouded or confused mind may see suicide as the only way out, although it is never the right option, but it is never easy reconcile for the people left behind. I believe one of my dearest pastor friends died of a broken heart after his son committed suicide. Sadly, suicide appears to be on the rise. Our local paper reported this week (see article HERE) that our state has been awarded $1.4 million to aid in suicide prevention.

Suicide sucks!

This post is not aimed for those who have ever considered suicide…

If you are at all thinking of taking your life…STOP and call for help NOW!!!

This post is for those who are victims of knowing someone who has taken his or her life…

One of the things I hear after a suicide breaks my heart. Families are often left wondering what happened to their loved one. Well-meaning people often repeat something they’ve heard before…that friends and family members who commit suicide are destined to be separated from Jesus the rest of their lives. They assume that suicide is the unforgivable sin. I’ve encountered people who struggle for years with the thoughts that their loved one died apart from Jesus. The only problem with that assumption is that I can’t prove it in the Bible.

Yes, suicide is a sin.

Murder is a sin…taking a life is a sin…suicide is a sin…

Please don’t resort to that…There is always a better way…

If you are at all thinking of taking your life…STOP and call for help NOW!!!

But, suicide is NOT the unforgivable sin.

The grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient even for this sin…

I’m fully convinced there will be brothers and sisters in Christ who are in Heaven, who were experiencing terrible trials…who felt trapped or helpless…who made a bad decision…who took their life…but fully believed that Jesus was the only answer for salvation.

Jesus describes the unforgivable sin in Matthew 12:22-32. It says nothing about suicide.

I know this is a delicate issue. You might read THIS POST or THIS POST I found which addresses this issue in better detail.

I’m praying for those struggling with this issue as I post this…