Friday, February 25, 2005

Bloglet subscriptions

There was a problem with the Bloglet email update, my apologies. Please add your email address again if you do not receive updates in the future. (Lower right column of this blog.)
Improving our Praise

The following excerpt from Discipleship Journal online is helpful. We need to build up our praise muscles!

Parting Thoughts: Worthy of Praise

Last week, while preparing for our small-group study on Isaiah, I was reminded of how often I still choose to focus on the things of this world. Though these things are decaying, dying, and ultimately going to be destroyed, that's still where too much of my time, energy, and attention get directed.

Instead, my activities should be evaluated in light of the eternal, with a kingdom focus. I need to choose to live thankfully, worshipfully, with a growing sense of God's joy and peace in my heart–trusting in and praising the worthiness and faithfulness of my loving Savior.

Here are a few reasons (from Isaiah 24–26) why our God is worthy of praise:
He is the Righteous One.
He is personal (my God).
He is perfectly faithful.
He does marvelous things.
His plans are solid and sure.
He is all-powerful.
He is a refuge.
He is our Saviour.
He is our salvation.
He is our peace-giver.
He is eternal.
He is our Rock.
He is upright and just.
He is renowned.
He is gracious.
He is behind everything that we accomplish.
He has gained glory by all He has done and will do.

In light of these truths, these chapters also give us some natural responses. We're to:
Raise our voices and shout for joy.
Give Him praise from every corner of the earth.
Celebrate Him.
Honor and worship Him.
Bear testimony to the awesomeness and worthiness of our God.
Sing the joys of His salvation.
Set our hearts and minds on Him.
Depend on God.
Wait on God.
Be content.
Passionately pursue our relationship with God.
Live in the light and expanding glory of God.

Need some help getting started? Try praying this passage from 1 Chronicles 29:10–13 (NIV): "Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

"Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

"Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name." With adoration!
Dave Wilson, Editor DJ Online News
Being Smart

We can be really, really dumb as husbands. We forget that our marriage relationship is more important than being right about goofy stuff. Todd "the FamilyMan" Wilson writes eloquently about this in his latest newsletter. (I left the subscription information intact.)

"Hey Dad,
How are things at your house? Life is pretty good at the Wilson’s. The snow has melted, the kids are healthy, and my wife and I are doing great…but that wasn’t the case a couple of weeks ago.
Marriage is like that. One week everything is fine; the next week you are on the downward hill of the roller coaster of life screaming your lungs out.
Yep, that was two weeks ago. Let me preface (I like that word) that by saying it was my fault. I could have easily disarmed the situation by being understanding, sympathetic, and reassuring. Instead, I dug in my heals and said, “I’m not gonna budge. I’m right, and you’re wrong...and that’s just the way it is.”
Not the recipe for a successful marriage.
The whole thing started because my wife didn’t feel like she was number one in my life. She thought I cared more about “the issue” than her. I, of course, told her that was ridiculous and rattled off about a dozen reasons why she was wrong, none of which convinced her.
We couldn’t resolve it...actually, I WOULDN’T resolve it.
For several days (read 1 week), we existed together with no warmth, no gentle words...just cold facts, snide remarks, and behind-the-back whispers. I hated it but was unwilling to resolve it.
Then, the unthinkable happened...she softened, threw her arms around me, and melted me like butter. That night we talked, and it was over. Later, as she slept, I lay awake feeling like a big dummy, ashamed that she had resolved it when it should have been me.
I am ‘da dad. That’s what I tell you every week and that’s what I believe. But this time I blew it. I wasted a whole week (and then some) because I refused to deal with it.
Now you can say what you like about whose responsibility it is to resolve marital disputes...but the truth is: it’s yours and mine.
So, let me ask you, Dad, how are things with your wife? Maybe you’re plunging down the hill of the roller coaster of life. If you are, learn from my mistake, and be the one to resolve it. Tonight, when everything is quiet, ask your wife what she feels. Let her talk, and don’t defend yourself. Apologize if necessary, but do whatever it takes to make her feel like she’s number one in your life.
Remember, you can learn a lot from this dummy.

You ‘da dad!

This newsletter may be freely copied and distributed in whole or in part. If you would like to receive "Familyman Weekly", just ask to be added to our e-mail list. You can reach us at or visit us at Copyright 2005"

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Training for Obedience and Pilgrimage

I've been meditating on Numbers 9:15-23 for a few days, and think there are some great lessons here for men.

" 15 On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the LORD's command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD's order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the LORD's command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the LORD's command they encamped, and at the LORD's command they set out. They obeyed the LORD's order, in accordance with his command through Moses. "

The Shekinah Glory above the tent was a visible signal of God's presence and leadership. The rule of migration was simple: if the cloud moves, you follow it. If the cloud remains, you stay.

There were well over a million Israelites -- imagine how much food and water is needed for a million people in the wild desert! -- being cared for by the Lord's leadership.

God was training them to be obedient. They were to go/stay as He commanded, not of their own preference or idea. It doesn't matter if you would prefer to move on, the Lord hasn't moved on yet. Or if you really like this campsite, you can't stay if the Lord moves on. You are under authority!

God was also training them to have a pilgrimage mindset. You would have to watch carefully every day to see what God wanted you to do. You could make no assumptions about tomorrow's plans -- the focus would have to be on today. This is an attitude of service and Lordship. And you don't wander off where God doesn't lead you.

How are you doing on obedience and pilgrimage, men?
Teaching Blog

I know there are some new readers of this blog in the past few months, so I wanted to point out that I also write at Teach to Change Lives. That blog is focused on encouraging Bible teachers. I've set up RSS feeds and bloglet support (get postings by email) for both blogs, to make it easy for you to keep up!
Kids cutting themselves

A fast-growing trend to be aware of, Dads. Check out Michelle Malkin's column. Reminds me of the demoniac Jesus healed by the lake (Mark 5).
Fun Joke

(Our family really enjoy this joke. There are many copies on the Internet, so I don't know how to attribute credit.)

Four brothers left home for college, and they became successful doctors and lawyers and prospered. Some years later, they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly mother who lived far away in another city.

The first said, "I had a big house built for Mama." The second said, "I had a hundred thousand dollar theater built in the house." The third said, "I had my Mercedes dealer deliver an SL600 to her." The fourth said, "You know how Mama loved reading the Bible and you know she can't read anymore because she can't see very well. I met this preacher who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took twenty preachers 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for twenty years to the church, but it was worth it. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it."

The other brothers were impressed. After the holiday Mom sent out her Thank You notes.

She wrote: "Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway.

"Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home; I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks.

"Michael, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby sound, it could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead, I've lost my hearing and I'm nearly blind. I'll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same.

"Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Terry Storch suggests that "our leadership can be defined in the brief moment of an obstacle. How will you react? How will you guard your vision? Will you persevere?"

He writes, "Leaders, you have been called to lead! And to lead you must persevere through the good and the bad, the up's and the down's. Do not grow weary and lose heart, stay focused on what you are called to do and do not back down."

Good counsel for spiritual leaders in the home, men!

Read the whole article here.
Why People Buy

Marketers have long studied consumer buying habits and identified the top ten reasons why people buy things. (This is the list after you get basic food, clothing, and shelter needs addressed.) In descending order, the motivations are:

1. Make money
2. Save money
3. Save time
4. Avoid effort
5. Increase comfort
6. Increase cleanliness
7. Attain fuller health
8. Escape physical pain
9. Gain praise
10. Be popular


I accept this list as the state of fallen Man's motivations. It's empirically demonstrated -- just go to Walmart and see how many cleaning products there are!

Here's a thought challenge for you. What would the list of motivators look like for completely Christ-transformed hearts? How would you rank these things on the list of motivators for spending [investing] money:

Desire to glorify God
Compassion for others
Desire to see others renounce sin and come into fellowship with Christ
Experiencing true joy
Understand more about God's ways
Deepen relationships with loved ones
Meet physical needs of others

Can you think of other motivators?

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Timing of Change

Great quote from John Maxwell: "When it comes to change, there are three seasons of timing: People change when they hurt enough that they have to, when they learn enough that they want to, and when they receive enough that they are able to."
Critical prayers

Men, one of the most important prayers you should be praying is that our hearts will be passionate and hungry for the Word of God. Pray this for you, for your amazing wife, for your blessed children. Pray this daily.
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Performance Review

Todd "the FamilyMan" suggests we give ourselves a performance review as dads, using the same strategy you have at work. Here's the worksheet. I've got some work to do, men.

If you haven't signed up yet for his newsletter, go here. It's very good.
Recommended book for Dads

Joe White has an excellent book I recommend to you: Faith Training: Raising Kids Who Love the Lord. Terrific inspiration, and very practical suggestions for kids from infants to high schoolers.
Dual Strategy

For Tolkien fans, check out Eric Evers' post on Strength and Weakness in Harmony. Great use of the LOTR to think about law and grace.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Defining Leadership

There are scads of definitions of leadership. I like this one for spiritual leadership: "Helping people hear God's voice and obey it." (Blackaby)

Consider this interesting article from Lisa Haneberg. She writes that leadership is just one thing. And she ends with this fascinating compilation of "one thing"s:

"...the one thing is proactivity with a tinge of charisma that feels compelling, is at the service of others, demonstrates ownership of results, targeted to provide the greatest benefit, and that is delivered by someone we trust."

Think about your role as the spiritual leader in your family, and read that again. Good stuff!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Sign up for Bloglet

It's tough for busy husbands and fathers to keep up with all the good web content you "should" track. Make it easier on yourself. The XML feed is available if you want to use a news aggregator, or sign up to receive email alerts from Bloglet -- look for the signup box on the right side column. (By the way, this is a 3rd party service, so I don't see your email addresses, and they guarantee your privacy.)
Origins of Valentine's Day

There are plenty of stories about St. Valentine, so go to a reliable source. You can check out this brief article from Christian History. My favorite part: "With so many definitions of the word, the next time someone asks you to be their Valentine, you might want to be sure they don't want you to be their martyr."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Where are the Men?

Acts 16 has the amazing story of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail. But there's something that happens earlier that grabs my attention even more.

Paul wants to go to Bythnia (Turkey) but is prevented by the Holy Spirit. He dreams about a Macedonian (Greek) man begging him "Come here and help us." (Acts 16:9). So, not being restrained by God, they go to Philippi, the Roman colony. The first Sabbath day there Paul, Silas, and Luke head for a known place of prayer by the river. They begin talking with the women who are gathered there, and after God opens her heart, Lydia is saved. They stay with her and all the members of her household.

Did you catch it? Where are the men? Paul dreams of a Macedonian man, but they find only women in this place of prayer.

We read in Acts 16:40 that the brothers were at Lydia's house. So there are some believing men mentioned there. But why weren't there men praying that morning (or at least, men gathered there who were open to hearing the Gospel)?

I'm not trying to denigrate women -- it's pure grace that anyone's heart is opened to receive the Word. Since we don't read about Lydia's husband, my speculation is that she was unmarried. But where were the men? What were they doing that was more important than prayer that Sabbath morning?

And where are the men today at places of prayer? We need salty men to come to the Lord in prayer, hear the Gospel, be transformed, and lead their families. I need to be like that. So do you.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

What's Valuable about More?

Satan gets mileage by encouraging us into muchness, manyness, and noise, according to Martin Luther. I was amused to see this story -- it will give you some perspective! (Hat tip -0- Decker Marketing)

An American consultant was at a pier in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied only a little while. The consultant then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish? The fisherman said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The American then asked the Mexican how he spent the rest of his time. The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."
The American consultant scoffed, "I am business consultant and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and, with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution.
"You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?" To which the American consultant replied, "15-20 years." "But what then, senor?" asked the fisherman. The consultant laughed, and said, "That's the best part! When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public. You'll become very rich, you would make millions!"
"Millions, senor?" replied the Mexican. "Then what?" The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Two Useful quotes

"The day hemmed in with prayer rarely comes unraveled."

"The best way out of a funk is to serve someone else. The best way out of writer's block is to serve someone else. The best way to find yourself is to serve someone else. The best way to experience more transformational work of the Spirit is to serve someone else."

Friday, February 04, 2005

No Name-Calling

I laughed out loud when I heard on the radio that schools were taking part in a "No Name Calling Week" campaign. The radio jock said, "What pinhead thought this up!?"

But I've also thought more about name-calling. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 5:22 makes it plain that the Lord takes this seriously, and Ephesians 4:29 suggests that the only name-calling done should build up others -- using positive names!

Name-calling shows up a lot in our political culture. Marvin Olasky notes how the politics of defamation is used in his recent column titled "Twist and Shout":

" Christians and conservatives can find good news and bad news in such mockery. The good news is political: As long as Dowdists are unable to engage arguments and instead depend on ridicule, the left will not rise again in American politics. The bad news is cultural: Those people who believe that people like Bush and Dobson are idiots are less likely to hear and absorb their message of personal and cultural renewal. More people need to understand the games secular liberals play. Here's one rule-of-thumb: No matter how bad a story sounds -- particularly if it sounds bad -- recognize the pattern of defamation."

From the family room to the playground to the internet to the editorial rooms ... we become very, very good at name calling, don't we? It's not just a kid thing (though adults are more sophisticated and suave about it, or so we tell ourselves).

So we organize a school focus on no-name calling to effect a dramatic change? It does draw attention to the problem. But if it's just a bandaid approach (stop calling people names in anyone else might listening!) then it will not solve the heart problem.

The heart problem will only be fixed by the Name above every Name.
Valentine's Day thinking

Making your plans yet? This is big, guys. Don't think of it as a holiday you're compelled to keep up with. Think about this as a unique time of year when the culture works with you to honor your lady. Exercise those romance muscles!