President Obama’s Father’s Day Challenge

kailuabeach3I love the president’s words about fathering.  Politics aside I have said a number of times on this blog that I admire the president’s commitment to family.  He has “date nights” with his wife.  He goes to his children’s parent-teacher conferences.  He sets aside time just for them.

I love his father’s day appeal to fathers also.  It’s a great standard for which all fathers should strive.  His encouragement: To be a better father than you had.  You can read the complete story HERE. All of us can make small steps of improvement, maybe even large steps, but the key is that we try to improve from generation to generation.  I have told my boys many times that I hope they improve upon what I have done as a father.  My father brightened my day recently by telling me he is thankful for the father I have tried to be.

Fathers, are you trying to improve your parenting everyday?   Do you want to be a better father than the example you had?  That’s how we will improve the generations to come!

A Dozen Things That Encourage Me (Plus One)


Here’s a random post that came to me this morning. I was thinking about some of the things that encourage me in life.




Things such as:

  • The reminder of God’s love
  • Cheryl’s smile
  • Time with my boys
  • A baby’s giggle
  • A Bible verse
  • A big dream
  • A kind word from a friend
  • A special memory
  • A thank you email
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • An answered prayer
  • The awareness of God’s presence
  • The love/innocence of a child

What would you add to this list?  What encourages you?

Great Things Often Come In Small Packages

1187603_98883611Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Psalm 117

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117. I have often wondered what was going through the Psalmist’s mind when he recorded his thoughts for this Psalm.  Was he finished?  Did he get interrupted?  Was there something else he wanted to say?  Was he satisfied with his work?  (Obviously God was.)  This shortest chapter has huge meaning.  If we were to memorize just these two verses and implement them in our life, I think it may make a difference in our perspective on the world and the situations in which we find ourselves.

We often think that for something to be grand it must be huge, but that is not the complete definition of the word grand. (For a definition look HERE.)  Shortest or smallest does not always indicate lack of importance.  Many times it is the smallest detail that determines success or failure with a project.  The shortest moments of time can often cause the greatest and the most horrific life changes.  In my life the shortest words of encouragement have often had the biggest impact.

Are you concerning yourself with the small things that matter most?

I Danced At Church Yesterday

I danced at church yesterday.  I did not dance alone, Cheryl danced with me, but I did dance. Several people indicated they would never believe it until they saw it, so here is the proof.

We are in the middle of a family series and I was talking yesterday about marriage and specifically the need to commit ourselves to making marriage work.  My co-pastor Chad and his wife sang while Cheryl and I danced.  It was a visual picture of the leadership of the church admitting that marriage is tough, but our commitment to make it work is what can make a marriage strong.

You would have to listen to the whole message for it to make complete sense. You can do that HERE.  I also share a few tips to protect your marriage in this message.  For other thoughts on marriage, check out that category of this blog HERE.

I am thankful for a church that allows us freedom to express Biblical truth in creative ways.  What a joy to pastor at Grace Community Church.

What plan do you have to protect your marriage?

The Things You Do For Love

DSCF7001Today was my long mow day.  I have to mow my lawn at least once a week, but about once every three or four weeks I have to get my push mower out and mow places I cannot get to with my riding mower.  One of these places is under the Magnolia tree in my back yard.  This is Cheryl’s favorite tree in the whole world, but it is the tree that may one day cause me to lose my Christianity.  We have been told it may be the largest and one of the oldest Magnolia trees in the city.  I think that means it has lived a good life and it is time to let it go. She thinks that means it is even more special.  Cheryl does not want me cutting any branches on it and it is almost impossible get under to mow, even with my push mower.

As I was mowing today, here are the random thoughts that were going through my mind:

  • I hate this tree.
  • Cheryl takes less time to enjoy this tree than the time it takes me to hate this tree.
  • One time Nathaniel wanted to take a branch from our state tree to school for extra credit. I sent one of these branches. The problem was that our state tree is the Tulip Poplar and this tree is a Magnolia.  Oh well, he didn’t get extra credit, but I did get rid of a branch.
  • If I die early it will most likely be as the result of trying to mow under this tree.
  • If we cut this tree down I could plant a garden.  Cheryl loves fresh tomatoes.
  • I keep obeying Cheryl’s wishes by not cutting this tree.  It seems to me another man once listened to his wife about a tree…let’s see, it was in a garden…and it seems to me the world was never the same again.  Just saying…
  • We have neighbor girls who sometimes like to climb this tree.  Someday they could get hurt. Cheryl hates to see anyone suffer.  Just saying…
  • Magnolia trees are not even that pretty and their flowers have no smell.  Just saying…
  • WARNING: If our youth group ever decides to do another prank at the pastor’s house it would not be a good idea to cut down this tree as a joke.  It would not be funny.  Yes, we are Grace Community Church, so we would forgive you, and I would most likely pay to clean it up, and it would be an impressive prank, but please do not cut down our Magnolia tree.  It would not be funny…but just so you know…we would forgive you.  If you choose to do this in spite of my warning, just remember I told you it would not be funny.
  • I keep mowing under this tree, even though I hate this ugly Magnolia tree, because I want nothing more than for Cheryl to be happy.  If I die trying to please her it will be a worthy sacrifice.  Just saying…

Thanks for sharing my random thoughts with me.  Do you have any situations like this in your marriage, where you do something you do not like to do just because you love the person who wants it done?

Thoughts on Pastor Gary Lamb

(And addendum to this post has been added since the original.  For more click HERE.)

I am so bummed tonight to have heard the news about Pastor Gary Lamb of Revolution Church in Georgia.  I do not know Gary personally, only through Facebook, Twitter and his blog.  I would never be one to put more burdens on a man already so broken, but I cannot get some thoughts off my mind tonight and my blog is one way I express myself.  Since he addressed this in a very public way through his own blog (Read the account HERE), I thought I would share some of the things racing through my head.  They may be good for all of us to consider.

  • I started reading Brennan Manning’s “The Furious Longing of God” today before I heard this news.  On the first page of Manning’s writing he quotes Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me”.  The book is called “A love story for the brokenhearted”.  I think Gary needs this book. I do too!
  • Gary, his family and his church, along with the other woman and her family, need our prayers at this time.  Satan is smiling on this one, but Satan is a liar and a loser.  God can and will have the final word.  Let us pray He has His way in this situation for all parties concerned.
  • Whenever a pastor falls, those outside the church have another excuse to push away from truth.  Some of this comes from the way the church treats its own.  Now is not the time for judgment, now is the time for grace to abound.
  • People are going to begin dismissing everything Gary has said or will say because of this failure.  Please don’t be one of those. His failure does not diminish any truth he spoke prior to today. If anything it makes the truth he spoke even more real.  The fact is that Gary is not a perfect man.  We knew that before we knew the news of the day. If God used him to make a difference in your life or others, be thankful God uses broken people, like you and me.
  • The failure of Gary did not begin with an affair with his assistant.  Somewhere, sometime, Gary let his guard down.  We must all work harder to make sure the proper boundaries are in our life.  I have too many pastor friends who see nothing wrong with meeting with female staff members alone.  You must NEVER, EVER, EVER do this.  NEVER!  Please pastors and other leaders, build accountability and boundaries into your life now, before it is too late.  IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!
  • Many pastors I know need marriage counseling, but they are too proud or too afraid of what their church would think to get it. I hope this news encourages some to take that bold step.

I make this offer to pastors, I am a pastor and a former degreed Christian counselor, if I can help you talk through issues like this, if you are on a limb and need a confidential, non-judgmental friend, feel free to email me at

Effective Child-like Communication Techniques

When communicating with children there is an old management axiom of communication that works well with children also. If you want your children to respond well to your instructions for them, try these steps.

Make sure your communication is:


  • Make sure children understand what you are trying to say. Children are not capable of comprehension at an adult level.
  • Speak their language. Children don’t always understand clichés and innuendoes.
  • Say what you mean.  Don’t make them guess at your meaning.  This may work with your spouse (NOT!), but it will not work with children.


  • Don’t nag children.  It’s tempting, but it’s not successful.
  • Don’t threaten unless you will follow through with the threat. Make sure children understand what you want them to do and then give consequences when they don’t comply.
  • Use short phrases and sentences.  Remember, they have short attention spans.


  • Keep the same values and expectations over time and talk with your children often.
  • Follow through with commitments, even when they challenge your authority or throw a tantrum.
  • Have a vision for parenting (where you want to lead them) so you can consistently lead them there.  Children are more likely to follow if they sense you have direction.

Keep in mind that children learn best by example, so don’t be a “Do as I say, not as I do” parent.  The life you live in front of them will be the loudest communication you offer them.

My Sobering Experience in Juvenile Court

handcuffed_teenboy1What an experience today!  Nate, our 17-year-old son (soon to be 18), had a minor traffic ticket for failure to yield to a yellow light and had to appear in juvenile court.  We went to court and paid the ticket several months ago. I posted a blog about the first experience. Read it HERE. Today we had to reappear to prove he had been to traffic school.  After 3 hours of waiting (attorneys get to go first), they saw our case, which took no more than 2 minutes, and we were on our way.

As frustrated as I was at waiting (I kept thinking my time is just as valuable as those attorneys), I am still processing whether God had us there for so long for more reasons than just to teach me patience.  While we waited we were able to see a side of culture and life than Nate and I seldom see.  Honestly we see more of the good stories of parenting than we do the bad ones.  My heart has not been able to release the pain and sorrow we saw today in juvenile court.

Here’s a small recap:

  • Three children taken from their parents and sent to a detention center…one in handcuffs.
  • One 16-year-old boy had been living at home by himself while his dad traveled.  He was sent to live in state custody…starting tonight!
  • One mother pleading with the court for relief from the enormous court costs her child is costing her.
  • One family ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution for an accident the teenage son had just after their insurance was canceled.
  • Several sets of grandparents raising grandchildren out of control.
  • Teenagers making bombs.
  • Teenagers doing drugs.
  • Teenagers involved in burglary.
  • One child in court for having brass knuckles at school.
  • One parent who said she could no longer accept responsibility for her child.
  • Teenagers who back-talked the judge and their parents in court.  (Imagine what these kids do in the classroom.)
  • Parents who back-talked the judge.  (Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)

I must say the judge did an admirable job of counseling these teens and was firm, but fair.  I wouldn’t want her job everyday.  I have joked with my son about him being my juvenile delinquent, but I was reminded today how blessed I am with two very good boys and how vitally important the role of the parent is today.  I was also reminded how desperately we need to train parents to raise children who respect authority and know the difference in right and wrong.  I was finally reminded that there are good parents in the system who have out of control children through no fault of their own.  All of it though broke my heart.

Has there ever been a time that society needs the church more than today?  Does this kind of thing upset you as much as it has me?  What can be done about it?

Please pray for our youth today.