5 Critical Needs for Dads

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We are in a crisis of men these days. Godly men are in shorter supply. Do a quick Google search and you quickly find some of the ramifications of absentee fatherhood on our society.

As a fellow dad, I want to use this Father’s Day to challenge my male readers. This is for you fathers and fathers-to-be.

Here are 5 critical needs for dads:

Shape up – “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11) The privilege of fatherhood should sober us into the responsibility of fatherhood. I’ve met a lot of dads (me at times) who need to grow up so we can better help our kids do the same some day. I am not suggesting we stop having fun. I hope that never stops for me. I’m speaking of childlike immaturity that injures healthy relationships. I can never forget that my children will often be partially shaped for life by my example. For example: Where do you need to put away childish ways? Is it with your senseless anger? Is it in your pity party practices? Are you like a toddler when it comes to patience? Are you selfish with your toys?

Step up - I’ve never known a godly woman who didn’t want her husband to take the godly role of spiritual leadership. I’ve known lots of men who didn’t know how so they never even try. Men, we need to take an active leadership role in our home. We need to lead our families boldly towards Christ. The world isn’t going to do this for us and neither should the church have to do it. The church should be our partners, but our role as dads is to lead. Do it! In what ways do you need to better lead your home?

Show up – That means “Be there”. Don’t dump the responsibility for your home on your wife. Be there from the crying babies and the dirty diapers, to the rebellious teenager and the sex talk. Your children will spell your influence in their life many times with one word…TIME. Would your children say they feel they are a priority in your schedule and your attention?

Stand up – “As for me and my house…” Men, we need to protect our family, wherever possible, from the ills of this world. When my boys were young, I monitored what we watched on television and what we listened to on the radio. I enforced Scripture in the home as best I could. I led our family to discuss Biblical principals. I wasn’t always popular with them for every decision I made, but I’m thankful today for the foundation my boys have and the Christian lives they are living. I believe much of that is a direct result of decisions Cheryl and I made, (and Cheryl allowed me to make) to take a stand in our home when the boys were young. Men, what stand do you need to take to better lead your family towards truth?

Serve up - I heard a preacher many years ago, early in my life as a husband and father, that he wanted to “out serve” his family. I’ve set that as a goal ever since. I want my wife and children to recognize I’m willing to sacrifice my desires for theirs. I heard a story of a family who never knew their father’s favorite piece of fried chicken was the leg. He never ate it. Years later they learned it was because he thought it was the best piece and so he always saved it for them. I’m not advocating you skip the chicken leg, but that man had an attitude of sacrifice. That level of commitment won’t be done holding the television remote all the time. It will more likely be done holding a wash rag and a bucket of water. How can you better serve your family?

This is a tough stuff. I know it. When I offer such a challenge I sometimes hear from men who say too much is expected of men already and I shouldn’t bash them more. They mention the sitcoms where the man is always made out to be the idiot who never does the right thing. I get all that. And, I agree. This is not intended to be more stress, but I believe we need more accountability not less. More leadership. Not less. We need to raise the standard for authentic manhood. It’s been lowered enough. We need men willing to defy the norms and be men of God. Men who are bold in their love of family, bold in their faith in God, and bold in guiding their family to better reflect Christ to the world.

Here’s to the challenge men! I’m praying for you as you love and serve your families.

Happy Father’s Day Dad! I believe in you!

You may want to read:

10 Things I’d Do If Raising a Daughter Today

10 Things I’d Do If Raising a Son Today

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Go to Bed Tonight

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Did I begin today in prayer?

Have I read my Bible today?

Did I give today my best efforts?

Did I make someone’s life a little better today?

Did I take steps towards the dreams I have and God has for my life today?

How did I add value to the world around me today?

Was my attitude ever in the way of me or others having a productive, happy day?

Can I put today behind me, go to sleep, and give tomorrow another chance?

How can I improve my answers tomorrow night?

Am I ending today in prayer?

12 Random Pieces of Life I Love

Grandmother with grandson having fun at home - whispering secret

Sometimes it’s the little things.

A lazy Sunday afternoon nap after a great morning at church.

Picking raspberries in Michigan and “testing” them along the way.

Inside jokes with friends.

A song that brings back a nearly forgotten memory.

Sitting on a porch swing listening to a gentle rain.

Laughing as a puppy plays.

Discovering a “hidden gem” of a restaurant when not even looking.

Wrestling with a two year old boy.

Sharing a smile with someone you love.

Waking up at Grandma’s to the smell of fresh coffee and breakfast.

A small child whispering in your ear.

Saturday mornings with no agenda.

That’s 12 of mine. Add one, two or twelve of yours.

Take time today to reflect on the moments that make memories.

And don’t forget…

Sometimes it’s the little things.

12 Things I’d Do If I Had a Perfect Marriage

Still In Love

I don’t have a perfect marriage. I have a good marriage. We work at it.

But, it isn’t perfect. Our marriage…probably like yours…is a work in progress. And, the reason we don’t have a perfect marriage is because there are two imperfect people in this marriage…just like in your marriage.

But through years of counseling and working with hundreds of marriages in distress, I have a few thoughts on what it would take to have the perfect marriage. I’m not saying I will ever get there. You won’t either. But, having a standard to push for, that I actually push for, always seems to make me better than I am today…and I am striving.

And, it takes two people working for the same goal. Doesn’t it? Many of you know that all too well. It’s always sad to me when one person gives up on the challenge.

But, all I know to advise people to do is to do your part. And, I’ll try to do mine. The best I know how. (Which some days is better than others.) Hopefully two hearts will be joined together more and more into one heart if each of us strive to do our part.

But, if I had a perfect marriage…

Here are 12 things I’d do:

Never go to bed angry.

Always consider her interest ahead of mine.

Invest my best time, apart from my time with Christ, in her.

Love Christ deeply and model His love for her.

Protect her heart. Above all things.

Value her more for who she is than what she does.

Honor her with my words, always striving to build her up and encourage her.

Listen to her, without trying to fix every problem she has.

Pray for her more than for myself.

Encourage her dreams and be her biggest cheerleader.

Never take what we have for granted.

Remind her often all the reasons I married her…and that I’d do it all over again.

That’s my list.

Which of these do you most need to incorporate into your marriage? Maybe if we…I….just worked on one of these at a time…we’ have…I’d have…an even better marriage than we have today.

What would you add?

10 Remembrances on Memorial Day

American Heroes II

Today we remember.

Your sacrifice.
Your pride of duty.
Your love of freedom.
Your strength.
Your family’s commitment.
Your courage.
Your patriotism.
Your honor.
Your contribution.
Your legacy.

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you!

(Memorial Day has rightly expanded focus in recent years to honor all troops, past and present. In days of extreme, continual sacrifice of our military we can never say thank you enough. A special thank you to veterans John R. Edmondson, Sr. (Air Force), John R. Edmondson, Jr. (Navy) and Dr. J F Burney (Army) Father, brother and father-in-law to me. All of you soldiers, and your families, have made and are making us proud.)

Anyone you especially remember on a day like today?

5 Reasons We Attend Church While on Vacation

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As you consider your vacation this year, I want to encourage you to find a church wherever you are and visit.

One of the first things Cheryl and I do when we go out of town is look for a place to attend church on Sunday. We’ve had some incredible experiences attending other churches and its one of our favorite parts about vacation.

I know many pastors who look forward to some weeks they don’t have to attend church. I have often been asked if we are legalistic because we don’t take a vacation from church while on vacation. Do we feel we “must” attend church in vacation? Is it because I’m a pastor?

Absolutely not. We feel no obligation. It’s what we want to do.

Here are 5 reasons we attend church on vacation:

We love church. Church is the best part of our week. We don’t view church as an obligation. It is a privilege. We believe the church is God’s plan to make disciples. It’s our community. It’s where we find our best friends in life. It is a large part of what fuels us for the week ahead. Why would we take a vacation from that?

We get to worship without distraction. Honestly, Sunday can be a very distracting day for Cheryl and me. We are both busy with ministry obligations. On vacation we are freed to worship.

We get to sit together. Cheryl is beside me during the worship portion of the service, but she has never stood beside me while I preach…even as many times as I’ve asked her to. :) Actually, we did dance together on stage in one service. On vacation we enjoy being together for an entire service.

We learn from others. I love sitting under the teaching of other pastors. Cheryl never admits to anyone preaching better than me, but she seems to take plenty of notes when we are out of town. :) We also always go home with new ideas and renewed energy from attending other churches.

We get to encourage another pastor. We know how much we love visitors. On vacation, we get to attend another church, pray for the pastor, and many times meet and pray for the pastor and pastor’s spouse. Those have been awesome experiences over the years.

Please understand. I’m not saying you have to attend church when you’re on vacation, but don’t dismiss it too quickly either. It could be one of the greater parts of your vacation. (And if you’re ever in Lexington for vacation, come see us. Did you read my post about vacationing here?)

Do you ever attend church when you’re on vacation?

5 Words That Can Shape Your Parenting

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I learned much of what I know about parenting after I was a parent. Thankfully, my two boys are model young people. I would say I have two of the greatest young men as sons that any parent has ever seen. (Biased…aren’t I?) But, seriously, we have seen good fruit from our labor as parents. I believe that is in part because we followed certain principles. Again, we learned as we went and it was purely the grace of God, but we were intentional.

These principles can greatly increase your success as a parent, in my opinion. This comes not only from my personal experience, but also my training as a counselor, and my observation and counseling with hundreds of parents through the years of ministry. Keep in mind that principles are not promises or guarantees, but I believe you have a better chance of success if you follow good principles than if you do not.

Here are 5 words that can shape your parenting:

Plan – Most of us have a plan for other areas of our life, but not for our family. Plan a strategy for raising children the way you want them to go. We had a personal parenting plan. You can read it HERE. We reevaluated every year and made individual plans for each child based on their needs at the time. Do you have a plan?

Protect – It is critically important to protect your relationship with the child so that you can maintain influence over them for the rest of their life. This is not accomplished by giving them what they want, but by gentling balancing discipline with love. Are you willing, for example, to say no, or to make them wait for something, even when it is uncomfortable and unpopular with your children (and their friends)? Do you work to build their trust in you as much as their obedience to you?

Control – This one gets me in trouble with some parents, but that is when they don’t always understand the magnitude of their parenting role at an early age. There is a time to gain control over a child’s actions. It’s when they are very young. When they are learning all the basic things of life we take for granted. I encourage independent personalities, but you don’t have to let them throw a temper tantrum, for example. When is that an acceptable response as an adult? And, you can make a four year old attend Sunday school even when the would rather not…for another example. Are there times you don’t want to go to work? What do you do in those times? There should be an element of control for a child not old enough to choose wisely and then a gradual release of authority is given to them as they get older. Too many parents allow too much freedom early and then try to get control back when the child tries to be an independent teenager. It should be the opposite. You are training a child in the way he should go. Take advantage of the years where they desperately need and will comply with your wisdom.

Invest – Children require an intentional investment of time and energy over time. Having children who grow up well does not usually just happen, but it is as a result of the right investment of parenting. We have children for such a short window of opportunity. We can’t waste that time with opportunities that only produce temporary rewards or pleasures. Which has more importance…your work, your hobby…or your children? Do your actions portray your answer?

Model – You cannot expect children to learn principles you are not willing to model for them. Children should not be held to higher standards than you hold yourself. Are you living a life they can follow and turn out the way you would want them to be?

Are there any words you would add?

How to Get Your Wife more Interested in Sex

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This is a guest post by my friend Jennifer Degler. Jennifer attends the church I pastor and was actually on the search team that brought me to the church. She is a Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, life coach, and co-author of No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice—Instead of Good—Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends. A frequent speaker at women’s events and marriage retreats, she also maintains a counseling practice in central Kentucky. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and the founder of CWIVES, a ministry devoted to helping Christian wives enhance their sexual relationship (cwives.com ). Jennifer and her husband, Jeff, have been married for 25 years and have two children. Visit her Web site at JenniferDegler.com

I asked Jennifer to post on this issue, because I know it is something every marriage deals with, including the majority of readers of my blog…pastors. Though the issue may be more personal than normal posts, I believe Jennifer, as a professional, a strong believer, and a woman, can address this issue much better than I can, and I believe it’s an issue that can help many marriages if they work through it. I also know I’ll be criticized for posting this. (I know the pastors and other Christians who pretend this is not a real issue, even though they know it is.) But, let me say this to the most “spiritual” among us…if this issue is affecting a marriage, it becomes a very spiritual issue, because it will impact the commands on marriage…the two becoming one flesh…and yes…in a spiritual sense. In Jennifer’s marriage counseling (and mine), you can’t address most marriages in trouble and not see this issue presented. And, I wish I didn’t have to give these type disclaimers…but I do. (If you get a chance, as a supplement to this post, read 1 Corinthians 7:1-16.)

Here’s…

“How to get your wife more interested in sex”:

I’m often asked by husbands, “How can I get my wife more interested in sex?” Sexual desire is complicated, but you can help your wife want sex more if you deliberately cherish her heart by practicing the 5 P’s.

Pursue your wife. You were “a man with a plan” when you were courting her. Don’t stop pursuing her just because you caught her. Wives want to be wooed. Ask her which she prefers: cards, phone calls, texts, emails, dates you plan, gifts or flowers for no reason, surprise visits, lunches, conversation you initiate, etc. The more you woo, the more she will want you.

Protect your wife. Protect her safety, her reputation, her energy. You are protecting your wife when you take care of potential trouble areas women sometimes overlook, such as an odd car engine noise. Most husbands would gladly take a bullet for their wife, but do you protect her reputation? Do you speak well of her, both in her presence and when she’s not around? If family members speak rudely to her, you are protecting your wife by respectfully requesting they speak kindly to and about her. The number one sexual difficulty wives report is lacking energy for sex, so when you load the dishwasher and put the kids to bed, you are protecting a scarce resource: her energy. The more you protect her, the more she will appreciate and desire you.

Provide for your wife, beyond financially. Women are nurturers who constantly think of others’ needs and how to stretch themselves to meet those needs. It’s exhausting. When you are mindful of what your wife needs and then provide it, well, this feels amazing. Husbands, look at your wife: What does she need in this moment that you could provide? A break, a chair, a cup of tea? My husband brings blankets, water bottles, and snacks to our son’s games. I am the most provided-for-wife at every game…and I bet he is the most rewarded husband afterwards.

Profess she is your wife, proudly, publicly. When men are proud of something, they show it off. How do you introduce your wife to your friends? “The old ball and chain?” “My old lady?” “The Boss?” You are painting a verbal picture of how you see your wife. Is it flattering or denigrating? A husband who proudly tells the world, “This is my wonderful, beautiful wife!” helps his wife feel better about herself which translates into a more sexually confident wife.

Pray for and with your wife. Christian wives are turned on by a praying husband. It’s true. Forget those new silk boxers, just hold her hands and pray with her. She will see you recognize and care about her needs. When you pray for her, you are hitting on all 5 P’s. My husband left this message on my voice mail, “Honey, I didn’t get to pray for you before you flew to your speaking engagement. Let me pray for you now.” And he proceeded to pray for me, and as I listened to his message, my only thought was, “He is the sweetest man. I can’t wait to get home and rip off his clothes.” Prayer = the ultimate aphrodisiac.

(I borrowed 3 of these P’s from Steve Harvey).

5 Steps When You’ve Offended Someone

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All of us say things we wish we hadn’t said. We all offend people at times. Everyone knows what it is like to put foot in mouth.

Doing so is common, but what do we do afterwards?

Here are 5 Steps When You’ve Offended Someone:

Recognize that you will offend some people. – Actually, that should come before the incident. Even the most gentile-minded, peace-pursuing people are occasionally offensive. Sometimes the person on the other side of the offense has issues that make them easily offended. Sometimes we just say or do the wrong thing. It’s working to do so less often and never intentionally that should be our goal.

Pursue peace – Our goal should be to be at peace with others, as much as it depends on us. This too should be set, as a goal, before it’s needed, so you’ll respond accordingly when it is needed. Strive not to say or do things which are offensive. This often means learning to think before you speak.

Ask forgiveness and seek to rebuild trust. – Sometimes the best thing a person can do is to say they are sorry. Many times people want to pass blame, make excuses, or wait for the other person to make the first move towards reconciliation. If you know a perceived offense has occurred, put your “big boy pants” on and break the ice of forgiveness. Don’t be afraid to take the blame if it will bring peace in the end. Remember though that trust is built over time, so don’t be “offended” if it is not given to you instantly. You can release your own guilt once you’ve sought forgiveness.

Examine your life. – If you seem to consistently find yourself in situations where others feel offended by you; maybe the problem is you. Don’t be afraid to look at the “speck” in your own eye. Examine areas of your life where you are consistently offending others.

Stay true to God’s plan for your life. – While we should attempt to live at peace with everyone, we should never avoid offending people at the sacrifice of God’s plan for our life. Jesus’ best work was offensive to many. If you are being obedient to God, you will find it offends some (maybe many.) Don’t let that distract you from doing God’s will. And, don’t hide in the offense you made. Move forward.

What do you do when you’ve offended someone?

Mother: The Word of the Day

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Mother

Is there a sweeter word in the English language?

Mom

Momma

A word that comes with deep meaning and emotion.

Unconditional love.

Sacrificial giving.

Forgiving easily.

Striving to provide perfect environments for the ones she loves.

Incredible patience with little hands.

Strength beyond measure.

Always believing the best from her children.

A model and teacher of compassion.

Skilled for laughing at kid jokes that aren’t even funny.

Accepting of others.

Stability during chaos.

A tender touch but a hug that never lets go.

Mother

What do you think of when you hear the word mother?