Don’t Be the Spoiler of Joy in Your Home

Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family. 1 Chronicles 16:43 NIV

What difference do you make in your home? David returned home to “bless his family”. Do you bless yours?

I am sure your family loves you. You are the mother, the father, the brother, or the sister. Of course, they love you, but are you lovable? Do they actually like you? Are you a positive influence on the health of your home? Do you add to its success, or take away from it?  If they had a choice would they hang out with you today?

Think about it for a moment. When you enter your home, what happens? Do people get excited? Are they glad you are there? Can they expect to see a smile, hear a kind word, or know they can approach you in peace? Are you a blessing to your home?

More important perhaps: Would the people in your home agree with your answers to the previous questions?

When my boys were little, sometimes I found myself as the spoiler of joy. I would come home, they would be excited about something in their life, and I would crush their spirit with my attitude.  Thankfully not many of those days (I think they would agree), but enough that I remember them.

There were days that my role was a disciplinarian…when I had to make hard decisions, but other times I was that person because I had a bad day at work or I was in a bad mood. There were many times, when I took the stress of life out on my family.  In those times, I had to remind myself that my home needed me just to be a dad who blesses them. As it turns out, the days with my boys at home were quickly gone. I am thankful for the times I chose to add joy to the home.

David went home to his family…and he blessed them! All of us play a role in creating the mood of our home.  We can choose to be a positive or a negative influencer of that atmosphere. All of us have bad days, but the way we respond to our family is most important.  Considering the current mood you are adding to your home, could that verse have been written about you?

Have you ever been the spoiler of joy in your home?

A Week Of Thanksgiving: The Top People on My List

I’ve been writing about people I’m thankful for this week, encouraging you to do the same. Obviously our greatest thanksgiving should be for our personal relationship with the Living God, but I’m thankful He allows us to have people in our life to love and help shape us. We’ve shared about people who have helped us professionally, been consistent friends, and helped us grow spiritually. You can still do that in the previous posts HERE, HERE AND HERE.

Today, I want to share the group most of us would put at the top of our thankful list….our immediate families. The people in my life I’m most thankful for are my wife and two boys. I’ve previously shared most of these points about them, but they are still true today.

Cheryl:
• Models patience for me.
• Cheryl wants nothing in life but to see her family happy. That keeps me grounded in life.
• I want nothing more than to make see her happy, so she gives me a consistent goal in life.
• Cheryl makes me to be a kinder, gentler person.
• You can read a separate post I wrote about her HERE.

Jeremy:
• Jeremy models forgiveness for me. He is the most forgiving person I know.
• He encourages me to slow down and enjoy the moments of life.
• Jeremy shapes an “it’s okay” attitude in my heart.
• Jeremy is a relationship builder and opens me up to deeper conversations.
• You can read a separate post I wrote I about him HERE.

Nate: (My 19 years old)
• Nate has always modeled reality for me. He sees things more in black and white.
• He holds me accountable. He can be my biggest critic, but he’s usually right!
• Nate stretches my innovation. He’s a creative thinker and always challenges status quo.
• He keeps me light-hearted. There is no one who makes me laugh more than Nate!
• You can read a separate post I wrote I about him HERE.

This year, as I prepare to have a daughter, I’m also extremely thankful for Jeremy’s fiancé Mary. Mary has been in our life for quite a few years now and we have always loved her as a daughter. We are happy our son was smart enough to make it official! Mary is so much like my wife Cheryl, so I know our family, and my son, is being blessed. She has beauty, grace, and compassion to offer everyone she meets. I wrote about her more HERE.

Who are you most thankful for this year? Describe your immediate family to me.

The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round

I saw this plaque in a store window in Michigan recently. I snapped a quick picture. I didn’t need the plaque, but I love the statement.

I dont’ know where the saying originated, but the most memorable time I heard it was when Jack Nicholson said it in the movie “Bucket List”. It’s a powerful and true statement about life.

It has a similar thought process to one of my favorite verses from Scripture. Ecclesiastes 11:3: “If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.

It reminds me that life happens. Seasons change. Troubles come and they go. You cannot navigate around them. The wheels on the bus go round and round. Sometimes fast. Sometimes slow. Occasionally over rough terrain. At times suffering from a flat tire or two…

I’m also reminded that during the toughest times of life, when we can’t seem to catch our breath and the wheels are turning so swiftly, that:

  • We learn more.
  • Our faith grows
  • Our witness potential expands
  • Our God can be glorified

How are your wheels turning today? Which season are you in right now?

Week of Thanksgiving: One Consistent Friend

Do you have a consistent friend…one who has stuck with you over the years…through good times and bad times of life?

Are you thankful for them?

This week I’m focussing some posts on sharing thoughts of Thanksgiving. You can read yesterday’s post HERE.

I’ll start the discussion by sharing one of mine.

Chuck was my radio partner for 17 years. I recently had to give up the show we did together due to my work schedule, but I know our friendship goes beyond a couple of microphones. I have always considered Chuck like a brother. I would trust him with my life. I remember the time he had some heart complications and was taken to the hospital. As I started to rush out the door to go see him, my wife reminded me that only immediate family was allowed in his room. Without thinking I said, “Well I’ll just tell them I’m his brother.” Cheryl told me they might suspect something. Chuck is black and I am white. If I needed something today I would simply have to call and Chuck would be there. I love that guy.

Now your turn.

Who is that one person, besides your immediate family, who has always been a consistent friend?

Friday Discussion: Do Opposites Attract?

This Friday discussion originates from a discussion we had in my community group meeting this week. Our topic was marriage and in almost every couple, the husband and wife were extremely different in how they approach situations. It wasn’t a strictly male/female discussion. The males and females were split on some of these issues. It was just that two people wired completely different had married one another. I do know from a counseling standpoint that these difference also cause conflict, but is it who we are attracted to…those that will naturally conflict with our personalities?

So today, share your opinion: Do opposites attract? Do they work to make the relationship stronger?

I’ve always heard that is true, although I don’t know if any research has been done to prove it or not. I see it a lot of it, but is it always true?

Are we attracted to people with different personalities from ours?  Do we want to marry someone who is going to naturally conflict with us?  I’m asking more than the male/female question…that one is natural.  I’m asking are you differently wired….one organized, the other not…one a planner, the other not…one high stressed, the other laid back…that kind of difference.  Perhaps one way to address this is to answer the question: Are you opposite from your spouse or loved one? What are things that drive you nuts about your partner, but may be the things that actually attracted you to him or her?

What do you think?

Share your thoughts with me and dialogue on this Friday discussion. I love reading your opinions.

Don’t Shy Away from the Word Balance

Over the years, I’ve heard differing opinions on the use of the word balance. I’ve learned there are many who actually hate the use of the word. For example, some say the life of a Christian is never balanced because God wants all of our lives. I couldn’t agree more. Others say it’s impossible to balance between work and home because one of them deserves our greatest energy (our home), and yet the two extremes will always compete for our best time and energy. I completely agree. In those contexts, I agree balance should not be our goal. We should prioritize our life around the extremes of life, ensuring that those things we value most receive our greatest attention.

Balance, however, doesn’t always mean things are equal. I prefer to use the term balance to describe how a person responds to the extremes of life. Balance to me means a person learns to stand up…keep their equilibrium, even when things in life are not equal…out of balance. When life is crazy, which it often is, the person of balance learns to juggle each area where over time none of them has to suffer. A balanced person prioritizes his or her life around what is most important, for me, that means first my relationship with God, then my family, then my work and my service to others, and then organizes life in a way where each area receives adequate attention for success.

I realize much of this discussion is semantics, but i believe it has importance in principle also. People who want to achieve success in all areas of their life must find ways to give adequate attention to each area, without neglecting those things/people of greatest importance in life. That requires balance. (The Proverbs 31 woman had balance.) I met with a new father recently and he’s having to learn how to balance marriage, parenting, and his work life, while attempting to be successful in each part of his life. He’s learning balance.

The leaders and people I respect most in life are those I see learning to balance success in all areas of their life…at home…at work…and in the world.

Don’t shy away from the word balance. Just learn to use it well. Gaining a sense of balance is a process that often takes years and even a few stumbling moments to accomplish, but it’s worth the challenge.

What does the term balance mean to you? In what area of your life are you most out of balance?

7 Emotions from the Male’s Side of Infertility

Cheryl and I have often said that one of the greatest trials we have walked through in ministry with people is the hidden pain of infertility. Every time we celebrate the birth of someone’s child we also know of a couple who can’t seem to get pregnant or have recently had a miscarriage. (I wrote about the pain of the childless in a previous post HERE.) Many reading this post will have walked through this pain personally.

One aspect which I may have overlooked is the man’s side of this issue. I knew men struggled with infertility also, but I am not sure I realized the extent of their pain. Recently I was talking to a man who shared his personal and hidden pain during he and his wife’s time of infertility. It opened my eyes to the man’s perspective.

When a couple is battling infertility here are 7 emotions the man often feels:

Helpless – “My wife and I are hurting and I don’t know what to do” is the emotion many men feel. Being wired to fix things, this problem, like many issues in life, isn’t often fixable and the man feels helpless.

Protective – The man, in an attempt to defend his wife may think, “I don’t want you to hurt anymore”, which might lead him to react in ways that make the wife feel he isn’t as interested in having children as she is interested.

Insecure – The man is probably asking, “Am I not enough?” This is a hard one for women to understand, but it’s even Biblical. Read 1 Samuel 1:8 for an example. Men naturally struggle with insecurity, but especially during this issue.

Empty – I knew the woman felt this emotion during infertility, but I am not sure I realized the man does as well. A man who wants to be a dad may feel like something is desperately missing in his life.

Scared – A lot of times the man is thinking “What if it’s my fault?” He may fear that something physically wrong with him is keeping his wife from experiencing the joy of motherhood.

Frustrated – Men don’t understand why this is happening to their marriage, so they may wrongly become frustrated with themselves, with God, and even with their wife.

Inferior – Men dealing with infertility often wonder why other men can get their wife pregnant, but not them. They may struggle with a sense of worth and doubt their abilities in other other parts of their life.

This post is not new information for those of you who have or are struggling with this issue, but, again, I never understood the weight of burden this was to a man’s life. I have always known from experience the pain in a woman’s heart who deals with infertility, and even the weight it places on a marriage relationship, but my friend helped me understand the specific side of this issue relative to men.

Keep in mind, most men are not as equipped to talk about their emotions as women may be. Some men don’t even know they have seven whole ranges of emotions (semi-joking here). Men, if this is your issue, don’t struggle alone. Be vulnerable with your wife and a few other men who can walk with you through this issue.

Men (and women), have you dealt with this issue? What have you learned that could help others?

Men, since this post addresses your emotions in this issue, please add your thoughts to help other men. Women, did you ever understand this issue from a man’s perspective?

7 Phrases We Should Never Use to Start a Sentence

In years of doing ministry, through personal experience, and by living life with others, I’ve learned a few things not to say. I’ve seen well-meaning people make proclamations they can’t keep.  What I’ve come to realize is that life has a way of throwing us surprises, so we should be proactive in guarding our heart and life.

With that in mind, I would be careful starting a sentence with the following phrases:

I’m not worried about my marriage because…

I’m not tempted to…

My spouse would never cheat because…

This can’t fail because…

I could never lose my job because…

My kids will never…

You wouldn’t understand because…

Have you been snagged by one of these statements?  Which one do you need to guard against the most?

Addressing a Porn Generation

When I was a teenager, if I wanted to view porn, I would have had to find a magazine. Honestly, even though I may have wanted to, I never had or found a “stash” of porn. I knew everyone in stores where I might have bought some and if my friends had their own stash of pictures, they never shared them with me.

I did some babysitting as a teenager in addition to my grocery store work and I found some magazines at one of the houses where I worked late one night (after the kids had gone to bed). I wasn’t really snooping. They were in the magazine rack, next to the recliner, which I thumbed through while watching Saturday Night Live. (In the golden years of SNL!) Anyway, those images are still with me today. As much as pornography was probably a part of my generation, it wasn’t that accessible to me.

My boys have grown up in a different generation. Since they have been old enough to be curious about such things, access to porn has been readily available if they wanted to look. No, I’ve never had a stash hidden around the house, and we always monitored their activities closely, but our house has always been connected to the Internet and, because of that, pornography has been programmed into their culture. Today’s generation has been saturated with opportunities to experience pornography.  In fact, all of us now have equal opportunity in this area of temptation.

I wish I could tell you this change doesn’t matter, but having sat with dozens of couples whose marriage is falling apart because of an addiction to pornography by one spouse, I have to speak against this part of our culture. Pornography is seldom talked about, but it is rampant and is destroying people and marriages. I consistently talk with young men who have been addicted since an early age. I’m certain that is true for women also, but I mostly have dealt with men about the issue. Pornography causes them to view their wives differently and cheapens the value of sex in their marriage, not to mention the emotional damage it does to the wife, forcing her to question her worth and her husband’s commitment to her and the marriage.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think legalism is the answer, but I believe the church must address this issue.

If this is your issue, before it ruins your life, let me offer a few points of encouragement:

1. Know there is a way out of the hold pornography has on your life if you are willing to find it.

2. Recognize that the consequences of pornography are huge and get help. It’s never too late for God’s grace to rescue you.

3. Get accountability now. You will be embarrassed, but you are not alone in this struggle. (1 Cor 10:13)

4. Ultimately you’ll want to learn to refocus that same passion and attention towards Christ. He is the answer for everything that ails us. Then you can begin to love your spouse as he or she deserves to be loved.

The sooner you start some of these steps, the sooner you’ll break free from the hold pornography has on your heart….and you know you want to be free!

Have you faced this battle? How do you guard your heart here? What should the church be doing with this issue? What suggestions do you have for those in this battle?

Orange Week: Churches Partnering with Parents


It took years before I felt comfortable teaching about parenting. I don’t feel adequate to teach about parenting adult children now, since I’m still doing that, but I feel better about helping parents of younger children. Our boys have become healthy, well-adjusted, God-fearing children.

This week is Orange Week; a ministry of The ReThink Group. It’s a week to talk about the Orange strategy of partnering churches with parents, believing that the combined effort works better than either one of them working independent of each other. I’m happy to participate. Grace Community Church uses and believes in the Orange strategy. If you want to improve your ministry to families, attend the Orange Conference next year.

Cheryl and I owe all our success at parenting to God’s grace, but it’s also true that we were extremely intentional with our parenting. Our boys were early teens when I surrendered to ministry, but they were raised in the homes of committed church members. My boys have been “pastor’s kids” less than 10 years, but we were “orange” parents before we knew the term. The ideal arrangement for us was to be in a church that believed in helping us direct our children towards Christ, but not doing it for us.

I didn’t want the church parenting my children. I didn’t want my boys to learn all the important life principles, even the Biblical principles from the church, but I realized that the church should and did play an important role in the life of my two boys. Some of their best friends were in the church, which helped them make wiser decisions in school. They found mentors in the church, which helped for times they didn’t want to talk with me. Cheryl and I became better people and more committed believers in the church, which made us better parents. The reality of us working with the church in our parenting was powerful and I’m confident it helped mold our boys character to what it is today. For more on my parenting philosophy, click HERE.

Are you partnering with the church to improve your parenting? Are you taking advantage of the opportunities the church offers? Are you being intentional in your parenting? How has the church helped shape your home?

For more information about the Orange strategy of helping churches partner with parents, click HERE.