“Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most
2. What we think about most
3. How we use our money
4. What we do with our leisure time
5. The company we enjoy
6. Who and what we admire
7. What we laugh at.”
― A.W. Tozer
“Rules for Self Discovery:
May 12, 2013
To A Wonderful Mother: Erin Rouse,
After almost 10 years of Motherhood I felt it was time for an assessment of your performance as mother to our two boys. The following is your 1 Decade Report Card as a Mom:
Conflict Management: A+ “Erin continues to excel in this area with her two boys. Whether it’s negotiating whose turn it is for video games or who is right in whatever the current argument is, Erin is able to keep her cool and bring peace to potential “nuclear” situations.”
Spiritual Guidance: A+ “Erin consistently points her boys back to the Lord when they’ve gone astray in their thinking or actions. Her continual partnership with their Dad makes spiritual guidance attainable.
Discipline: A+ “As a Mom Erin helps affirm great boundaries that have been set up in the home. She brings a great balance to the Dad in the house who sometimes needs to “lighten up.”
Resource Management: A+ “Between entertaining the boys, keeping up with the house, and working full time as a nurse, Erin excels in keeping all her plates spinning. But Woe unto the male in the house that causes one of these plates to crash!”
Servant Leadership: A+ “Erin continues to be a model of God’s love. Unconditional giving, putting others first and just doing what needs to be done without complaint.”
Culinary Skills: A+ “From experimenting with various new Pinterest recipes, to her infamous Strawberry Parfait, Erin is renowned for her massive culinary chops. All the other kids in the neighborhood are jealous!”
Fun: A+ “Some moms let their kids have fun, this Mom plans for it. Her long term family fun planning always keeps something to look forward to on the horizon. She’s making memories come to life every year!”
Motherhood GPA: 4.0
Motherhood Honor Society: Recognized and Approved
Further Comments: If the next 10 years are anything close to the last 10 years, our children will leave home with a legacy gift. One that was crafted and given to them by a mother who loved and cared for them dearly. Our boys are becoming great young men because of you!
“Pay to all what is owed to them: …respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” Romans 13:7
Love You Baby!
I’m heartbroken tonight.
As Christian parents in a relativistic culture of consumerism, my wife and I are in a daily battle to protect and equip our kids in the world around them.
Our latest obstacle has been violent video games in relation to our two boys. They’ve been around friends recently who are near their age and are allowed to play them.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I get the draw. Boys especially grow up playing cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, war, and battle. I even admit I found myself getting in to war type video games when I was a young adult. However, as I matured I began to realize that these games were contrary to where Jesus desires to lead us.
At first my frustration was with the video game industry that creates “games” out of killing. However, this shouldn’t be a surprise. We can’t expect a Godless industry to produce Godliness.
My heartbreak lies more with Christ followers who play in these virtual killing fields.
The most prevalent argument from others and even my kids (who claim “all” their friends play them) is that “it’s only a game.”
But here’s the truth: Just because we attach the word “game” to a form of entertainment doesn’t mean it isn’t evil.
Would you agree there would be an outcry in the streets if they made a video game out of performing abortions? I know the thought is sickening, but now think about how awful and evil it is to make a game out of killing adults!
Even if we’re put into the horrible position of having to defend ourselves with lethal force, should we still not value human life, and find it difficult? Making “fun” games out of such scenarios only cheapens human life and is against everything Jesus calls us to.
Christian men and women, I challenge you to choose to stand against the tide of our culture and say no to these type of games. Let’s point society back to the truth that Jesus died and rose again because human life is valuable in his sight. Endure the temporary rejection of your kids and mockery of society and say this is wrong. In doing so you will point to what is right.
I can’t change others. I can pray for them.
I can’t see the future. I can trust in God’s leadership.
I can’t save myself. I can trust in Jesus’ work on the cross for my salvation.
I can’t change my circumstances by worrying. I can trust Jesus to provide for every need.
I can’t see people’s motives. I can believe the best about them.
I can’t change people’s actions. I can choose not to be offended.
I can’t earn God’s love. I can freely receive His unconditional love.
I can’t make an impact on my own. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!
Being a true friend is hard. Finding a true friend is even harder.
For me the the flow of deep friendships has slowed to a trickle as I’ve put on the different hats of life: spouse, parent, pastor. I’m not saying it’s impossible, it just takes an exponential amount of effort compared to the fertile friendship fields of college.
If you’re anything like me there is an innate desire for deep friendship. As a man, this shows up in my desire for true camaraderie with other men in my life. My wife absolutely carries a unique role in my life as wife and best friend, for that I’m eternally grateful, but I know there’s something special that can be found in a brotherhood.
Here are 4 pillars I’m putting up in my life to cultivate deep friendships:
1. Praying: “You have not because you ask not.” For years I never even thought to pray for deep friendships in my life. I’ve turned that around and am praying for this daily. I know I’ll be a better a better husband, dad and pastor with other strong men challenging and building me up.
2. Making time: We make time for what’s important to us. I’ve committed to making this a priority in my life even when it seems to bump up against my already hectic schedule. You have to make time for what you value.
3. Getting in the room: Wishing doesn’t change anything. I’ve got to be actively, consistently putting myself in the kind of environments where friendships can grow: in a church small group, grabbing lunch, dinner or coffee with a brother. Sure it would be easier to stay home, but do I want what I’ve always had?
4. Getting Real: In Texas we have a saying: “Just because you put your boots in the oven, don’t mean their biscuits.” Just because you’re in proximity with other guys, doesn’t mean you’re emotionally close. Deep friendships come from deep vulnerability. There’s no way to get there without emotional risk. Take a deep breath and take the plunge.
I’m incredibly grateful for the great guys around me in this season of life. I’m trusting God to lead us in to deeper waters together as we lock arms and walk this great adventure out.
What about you? What’s been your experience in developing deep friendships? What would you add?
As we wrap up our 31 Days of prayer, I wanted to share one more thought on prayer with you.
The WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) movement from the past sometimes gets a bad rap as being cheesy, trite, and unrealistic. But, as a man that has experienced first hand God’s forgiveness and healing through Christ, I really do want to do what Jesus would have me do as a Husband, Father, Pastor, and friend. If you’re reading this you most likely feel the same way.
As we walk through the pages of Jesus’ ministry found in the New Testament, we can find countless moments of Jesus modeling for us how to think, live, serve and as we’ve been doing the last 30 days, pray.
Think about that….God praying.
God the son was conversing with God the Father daily.
Here’s just a few snapshots of Jesus’ prayer life:
And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. (Mark 1:35)
And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away. And after bidding them farewell, he departed to the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:45-46)
And when day came, He departed to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away from them. (Luke 4:42)
But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. (Luke 5:16)
And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)
Jesus wasn’t just going through the motions here modeling how we should be praying. Prayer was his life line and connection with the Father. What’s amazing is that we as Christ followers have an all access pass to this divine life line at all times.
If it was vital for Jesus the son of God to spend time with the father each day, how much more so for us? My prayer is that we’ll seize this momentum we’ve gained in the last 31 days. Let’s take some time to pray that God would draw us to himself each day.
Praying with you and for you.
There’s a common word that you’ll find in the prayers of a mature follower of Jesus. It’s a word overflowing with faith and is missed by many.
It’s the word “though”.
Listen to the prophet Habakkuk put it to use:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.(Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV)
Another way of reading the word though here is: “in spite of.”
In spite of all these things going wrong, Habakkuk says, “God, I’ll still rejoice in you.”
These hardships might not seem noteworthy to us in 2013, but in Habakkuk’s day they made their livelihood through farming and livestock. This scenario would spell disaster to their natural eye.
This “honest about life” prayer that recognizes the real hardships in life, but still looks to God as our ultimate supply is beautiful to Him.
So here’s my question. What’s your “though” prayer?
“Though I lost my job, I’ll trust you to provide.”
“Though I don’t know the next step, I know you’ll guide me.”
“Though this situation seems overwhelming, I know you’ll lead me through.”
Take some time praying your honest faith filled “though” prayer. Be specific with your situation. Choose to trust that Jesus will be there.
I’m praying with you.
One of the greatest investments my grandfather instilled in me was the importance of having persistence in life, to not give up when life gets hard. Picking up this character trait has paid huge dividends throughout my life and I’m grateful.
Jesus himself spoke of the importance of being persistent with God in our prayers, to not give up in requesting God’s hand to move on our behalf. He highlighted this truth, as he did often, through a parable. Listen to Jesus’ words:
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ” Give me justice against my adversary. “ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ” Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. “ And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:1-8 ESV)
Did you catch that? God is actually encouraging us to be annoyingly incessant in our prayers to him.
Jesus makes the contrasting point that if an evil, corrupt, judge will give in and meet the need, how much more so will our loving heavenly dad step in on our behalf. The more we seek him, the more we see him as our ultimate provider and that kind of faith pleases Him. persistent prayer gets God’s attention!
Let me urge you to not give up, but keep on knocking, keep on coming, keep on praying!
Praying with you and for you.