Love at Last Sight (Kerry Shook) Book Review


Authors Kerry and Chris Shook are encouraging a revolution of relationship strengthening in their new book “Love at Last Sight”.  The Shooks, who founded Woodland Church in 1993, and have seen it grow to a mega church of 18,000 per weekend, believe that relationships are in trouble.  The key relationships in our life, such as with our spouse, children and close friends, needs to move from a “love at first sight” mentality, to a “love at last sight mentality.”

Too many people get into relationships by falling madly in love, but then allow the relationship to lose energy over time.  “Love at Last Sight” challenges readers with Biblical principles to find people in our lives whose relationship needs encouraging, and invest in those relationship intentionally for 30 days.

It’s normal for relationships to strain and grow apart over the years.  For relationships to thrive long-term, people must be willing to risk the awkwardness of letting go of schedules, lists, and personal demands to concentrate on the relationship.  This book is practical and has the tools to challenge, strengthen, improve, and save relationships. This is not fluff reading, but anyone who cares about their marriage will enjoy reading this book.  I encourage you to read and apply the principles in this book today!

As a part of this book promotion, Kerry and Chris Shook challenge you to participate in the national Facebook fast on August 25th.  Their hope is that people will spend time off social media building genuine, authentic relationships….with skin on them!  Will you give it a try?

The Power of 7…Popular Blog Posts


I have found 7 to be a popular number with blog posts. This week I even did an experiment. I posted four posts in a row with 7 principles in each. It prove to be a very successful week, with more interaction than usual. Seven is a Biblical number of completion. I’m not suggesting there is something to that trivia here, but I do believe there is something at work here. What do you think?

Here are my 15 most popular “7” posts:

7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Marriage from an Affair

7 Reasons You Need Social Media as a Christian Leader

7 Dangers of Leading in Isolation

7 Actions for the Times God is Silent

7 Pieces of Wisdom for the Disappointments of Life

7 Reactions to Fatigue (What Happens When I’m Tired)

7 Tips for Healthy Marriage Communication

7 Ways to Keep a Leader on Your Team

7 Reasons Leaders Quit Your Organization

7 Values Of Brokenness

7 Tips For Surviving The Terrible Threes Of Parenting

7 Ways To Recover After A Major Failure Or Mistake

7 Things I Should Have Taught My Sons

7 Top Needs of a Wife

7 False Beliefs of the Leadership Vacuum

The titles speak for themselves. Which do you need to read or read again?

Do you think there is any significance to the number 7 in a post?

BTW, Thanks so much for being a reader of this blog. You can always help by linking to this post on your site, adding it to your reader, or telling your friends.

Three Easy Parenting Principles

I am asked dozens of questions about what we did or didn’t do as parents. I am amazed that God has allowed us to raise the two young men we have in our house, but there were a few principles we practiced consistently.

Here are three principles for parenting I think all parents should consider:

Be intentional – Parenting is hard work. Don’t try it without a plan. It’s amazing how we tend to plan for everything in life, but seldom for our parenting. I know men who have a plan to improve their golf game, but nothing to help them grow as a father. If you want to be a great parent, you must be intentional about that role. Have an overall plan for your parenting and an individual plan for each child, depending on their needs at the time.

Shape the heart – The Bible is clear that we should “Above all else guard the heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) I believe in firm discipline. I also believe in extending much grace. More than anything, however, the parent should learn to know, protect and shape their heart of their child. It is that heart, which will determine the decisions and directions the child eventually makes in life.

Enjoy the ride – Children are children for a very short time. Enjoy those days. Be a fun parent, balancing love with discipline. Laughing together with your children will help relieve the stress of your life and keep them wanting to be close to you well into the difficult teen and early adult years.

For my complete parenting philosophy see THIS POST or read other parenting posts HERE.

Which of these do you most need to improve upon as a parent?

(Speaking of principles, be sure to read my disclaimer post about them from yesterday by clicking HERE.)

Caption This Photo: Winner Gets a Free Book


This is a precious picture from our time in Sierra Leone. I recently returned from teaching pastors in the country and I’m forever changed. You can read a post about the children HERE.

The children wanted to touch us, hold our hands, crawl in our laps, and share love with us. This picture helps share that story.

What caption would you give this picture? Comment on this post with your caption and I’ll pick one of them and send the book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. (This is a great book to help frantic families restore sanity to the most important organization in their life!)

Again, all you have to do is comment a caption for this picture.  I’ll pick the one I think best captures this image. You have until Tuesday, July 27, 2010 to answer.

(Please understand this winner will simply be based on opinion.)

Also, will you say a prayer for the children of Sierra Leone?

The Last Song Movie: Applications

The movie “The Last Song” has a powerful story to tell. Cheryl and I watched it at the theater when it first came out earlier this year, but I watched it again on the plane heading to Africa recently. I encourage you to watch it.

The applications for me are:

  • People make mistakes, even the people we love the most
  • Tragedy brings families together…or further apart…
  • Love is hard, but it’s beautiful
  • Life is short
  • Relationships are worth repairing
  • Forgiveness is a powerful force

Don’t watch it unless you are prepared to shed a tear.

Do any of these applications sound like issues you need to address?

Have you seen this movie? What did you think?

Using Your Influence for Good: Lessons from Sierra Leone


Throughout our time in Sierra Leone children swarmed us everywhere we went, especially Daniel and Jesse, the youngest two on the trip. Their energy and enthusiasm with the children was highly contagious. They became almost like celebrities in every village.

At one point Jessie admitted she felt guilty for attracting such a crowd. She didn’t want people to think she was seeking personal attention or fame. Daniel agreed with the sentiment.

That’s when the thought occurred to me. Popularity, wealth and power are not all bad. Being “famous” is not necessarily something to be avoided. It may depend on how and for what purpose it is being used.

What occurred to me is that Daniel and Jessie were attracting crowds of children, entertaining them with games and songs, and then leaving them to go to the next village. What they left behind, however, was their influence. Those children in remote villages in West Africa will never forget the love and attention they were shown by these two young adults. They will be running through the streets of their village singing “Jesus Loves Me” because of the experience they had with Daniel and Jessie. They will do push ups, because Daniel taught them how and they will recite cheers Jessie recited and they will laugh and dance…all because two people used their influence in positive ways.

Don’t shy away from the influence God has given you. If it is being used for His glory, rather than for your own, it can be very positive. If your motive and heart is pure, and the glory is pointed towards God, be thankful for the opportunities he gives you.

How are you allowing God to use the influence He has given you?

Jesus Loves the Little Children: Reflection from Sierra Leone


Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

I understand the heart of Jesus for children even more from my time in Sierra Leone.

The innocence of children was evident to us in every village we visited. The children would run to us, swarm around us, and follow our every move. They were sponges for the love of God. They were filled with joy and excitement…always seeming to anticipate more.

I was reminded that children are the future of this great country in Africa. The children of Sierra Leone may not remember the war, which devastated their country or the lasting effects it had on this nation. I hope they know the history and never forget the pain and destruction of war, but I hope they see a brighter future and set a new way for this nation.

God bless the children of Sierra Leone.

It also encouraged me as a pastor to continue to invest in our own children at Grace Community Church. I’m thankful for the incredible team God has assembled at Grace who lead our children’s ministry. Under the direction of Katrina Watts and Adam Bayne, our children get to experience worship and teaching with excellence every week. I want to continue to push for adequate funding and resources for these important ministries of our church. They are our future.

God bless the children of Grace Community Church.

Do you work in children’s ministry at your church? If so, please accept my thank you. Have your children been blessed by others who work with them at church? Consider thanking them today.

Advice for Men after the Wife Says the Marriage is Over

I hope you don’t need this post. It is for a select audience.

After I have answered a question too many times to count, I figure more people have the same question. One of the issues I see frequently is what happens to men when their marriage caves in around them and their wife no longer wants the marriage to work. This could be because of simple neglect over the years or an affair, but she wants out and he wants her to stay. When this happens, a man often becomes a vulnerable puppy of a man and literally doesn’t know what to do next. (I’ve sadly seen it so many times, especially recently.) It could be his fault or her fault, but at this point, the man just wants to save his marriage.

Here are a few suggestions I gave a while ago to a man in this situation. Although this is a personal reply to one man, I believe it may have application for many man in this situation. One thing needs to be clear, however; you must own your decision. You know your situation far better than anyone else. These suggestions are based on experience with dozens of marriage situations, but they are simply my opinions and not designed as professional advice.

If you are in the immediate days and weeks after your wife has indicated she thinks the marriage is over, this is what I suggest:

1. Don’t beg. You are likely much more broken and emotional right now than normal, but women are attracted to a man’s strength, not as much his emotional side. (Even if they say they are…over time they want to see strength.) She needs to know you are hurting, but not see you as weak. That balance is hard to strike, but important to find.

2. Sometimes writing a letter works better than talking in person, because you can share your true heart, think through your words, etc, without all the emotions being involved. When the relationship is especially strained, we tend to say the wrong things, which backs the other spouse into a corner, causing defenses to rise and emotions to take over the conversation. Read THIS POST about how to write this type letter.

3. As hard as it is, after you’ve told your spouse your heart and what you want, you have to give her some space. Honestly, she’s probably feeling crowded right now. After a woman has wrestled through this as long as she has, when she’s done, she’s done. That doesn’t mean her heart can’t change later, but for now she feels smothered almost to be around you. I’m not trying to add to your hurt here. I am simply giving you the reality from what I have seen many times. That’s why she may talk about one of you moving from the house. Chances are this was a very long process for her and you just found out how severe it is for her. That’s typical.

4. Build yourself up physically, emotionally and spiritually as much as trying to save your marriage. You’ll need that in days to come regardless of what happens and it will make you more attractive. In these days, you should draw closer to the heart of God than you ever have before.

5. Seek professional help. You probably aren’t as capable right now of making wise decisions. Find someone to help you do this. Ideally this would be professional Christian counseling with you and your wife, but could be a mature friend or minister. Regardless, get personal help if your wife will not go with you.

6. Do your best not to make stupid mistakes during this time. It’s hard to do, because you are vulnerable, but you don’t want the marriage set back further than it is. Spend time in personal reflection, asking God and yourself what you did to contribute to this situation. If you already know your blame, seek God’s forgiveness, your spouse’s and anyone else you have injured.

7. Surround yourself with a few other men you can trust. Be accountable, open and honest with them. It’s especially helpful, and they are plentiful, to find men who have walked where you are walking and survived.

8. Realize that any change of heart in your spouse is going to take longer than you would hope it would. A woman’s heart usually changes slower than a man’s heart. Be patient. Pray that God brings the right people and influences in her life and that her heart changes towards you.

Please know I’m praying for you as I type this. My prayer is that your marriage will be saved, your wife’s heart will change, and the two of you will grow a marriage that glorifies God. Also, again, this post is not professional counsel. You didn’t pay me to receive this, so don’t hold me accountable for it’s success. I can’t stress enough that every situation is different. I would suggest, although, that these situations often have similar characteristics. Hopefully some of this will help.

Men/Women, what would you add to this?

Happy Father’s Day Challenge: The Nurturing Dad

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Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 NIV

Fathers are not usually seen as the nurturing ones in a family. When my boy’s get sick, they don’t want me, they want Cheryl. The Bible, however, tends to also place the father in a nurturing position. We are told not to “exasperate” our children, which means not to wear them out with correction, but to “bring them up”. That phrase literally means that we spend time with them on a regular basis and encourage them in the development of their character.  That sounds like nurturing to me.

The Bible tends to lay responsibility on the father to help set the tone or the climate of the home. A father, who is consistently harsh or is never satisfied with his children, will tend to produce children who lack the confidence to face tough situations in life. On the other hand, a father too quiet and passive to be intimately involved in the lives of children will likely lead to adults who cannot connect well with others, either in the workplace or in their own marriages and homes.

Fathers are often one of the best determinates of a child’s future success in life. If a boy never feels he meets his father’s approval, he may become either an underachiever or an overachiever, but he will likely never feel that he “measures up” in life. A girl whose father fails to affirm her will often seek that approval from another man, often in seeking inappropriate or less than ideal relationships. She may enter marriage unrealistically expecting something from a husband that he may or may not be able to give. I haven’t even mentioned the effects of an absentee or abusive father.

The biggest impact in the life of a child whose father never nurtures is that they often have a harder time realizing the nurturing aspect found in a loving relationship with a Heavenly Father. Without the model from an earthly father, they see God more in the role of Judge than of “Abba”; which is the Hebrew term for our modern “Daddy”.

I’m thankful for the grace and mercy of God that allows so many second chances for fathers who have missed the mark, but if we desire to be Godly fathers, we will strive to nurture our children in love.

For more thoughts on parenting, click HERE.

Happy Father’s Day!

What changes do you need to make this year to be a more nurturing dad?

Children Have Become Media Junkies


Our children have become media junkies. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a study of children ages 8 to 18, which found, not surprisingly, that they are consuming a astounding amount of media entertainment each day. Children now consume an average of 7 ½ hours per day or 52 ½ hours per week of media saturation.

Consider the average daily media consumption of U.S. children according to the study:

  • Listening to music: 151 minutes
  • Watching television: 270 minutes
  • Playing video games: 73 minutes
  • Talking on cell phones: 33 minutes
  • Text messaging: 90 minutes
  • Nonschool computer use: 89 minutes

Do you find these numbers surprising?
Do they alarm you?
If the numbers are what they are, how does this impact the way we attempt to reach this generation with the Gospel?

Your thoughts? Do we run from this part of culture, ignore it or embrace it?

Source: ON MISSION magazine Summer 2010, from Kaiser Family Foundation, February 1, 2010.