Saturday, July 31, 2010

Truth As Ballast

Ballast weight in a sailboat keeps the boat from capsizing in a strong wind, and manageable to sail. The overall weight and placement of ballast dramatically changes the performance of the ship in easy seas and rough seas. In times past sailors would use rocks or sand as ballast, stowing them below decks to lower the effective center of gravity. Modern ships use lead, concrete, or water.

I would argue that men as leaders need serious ballast -- and this ballast must be truth. Rightly configured truth keeps us from capsizing in difficult circumstances. Truth used the right way affects our center of gravity.

Example truths that should be ballast for you as a man:

* All leadership roles are stewardship under God's authority. You will be held accountable. (Dan 4:25, 32)

* God has made you competent for the tasks He has given you. (2 Cor 3:6)

* Our Lord is ever-present, ever-available, and mighty to save. (Matt 28:20)

* History is His story. View your daily decisions with eternity in perspective.

Can you think of others?

Get these truths deep down in your heart.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Republishing Some Posts

For the next couple of weeks I'll be republishing a number of posts from 2004-2006 that I think will bless you.

On Self-Control, a Most Needful Attribute of Your Christian Character

We have a love-hate relationship with self-control. We admire it, want it, understand its value. We hate that it makes us wait, causes us to restrain our lusts and passions, and puts others first.

Self-control is a spiritual gift that must be cultivated; self-control is a discipline which must be learned and practiced. Here is what I wrote in my counsel to fathers, "What Fathers Should Teach Their Sons":

"Be Self-controlled. It's instructive that Titus was advised to mentor young men to develop self-control. (Titus 2:6) Self-control is not in-born. It is a spiritual gift (Galatians 5:23) but must be cultivated. Every son has to learn self-control - of his body and his mouth. Some of this is modeled, and some can be explained, but in the end all self-control is learned through practice and corrective feedback. Men master themselves in order to achieve greater purposes. Exercising self-control quashes selfishness.

Everyone reading this has opportunities to practice leadership, in smaller and greater roles. Leaders take responsibility for results -- and this won't happen without self-control. Why? Because leading others demands self-leadership, perhaps the most difficult form of leadership.

Two quotes to ponder in light of the tremendous need for self-control:

"There are a thousand excuses for failure but never a good reason." (Mark Twain)

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself and lenient to everyone else." (Henry Ward Beecher)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How Kids Perceive Dating and Marriage

A friend shared this with me recently, and I pass it along to you for the humor -- and the curiously insightful understanding kids have about adult relationships.

1. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY? (written by kids)
You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. -- Alan, age 10
-No person really decides before they grow up whom they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with. -- Kristen, age 10

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then. -- Camille, age 10

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. -- Derrick, age 8

Both don't want any more kids. -- Lori, age 8

-Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough. -- Lynnette, age 8
-On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. -- Martin, age 10

-When they're rich. -- Pam, age 7
-The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that. - Curt, age 7
-The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do. - Howard, age 8

It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them. -- Anita, age 9

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there? -- Kelvin, age 8

Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck. -- Ricky, age 10

(You can find this, and similar lists, in many places in the Internet, so I don't know whom to credit.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shepherd Your Children Individually

Here's something I wish I had known about (and actually done) with my kids when they were small: a steady pattern of one-on-one discipling time with each of them, each week. Brian Croft outlines a practical strategy for this in his article "How Can I Make Sure I Am Individually Shepherding My Children?"

An excerpt, explaining how we structures his time with his four children:

"1) Monday through Thursday each child gets a day and on his or her appointed day stays up 30 – 45 minutes later than their siblings to meet with me before bedtime. I thought they would be excited about it for a few times, but then grow bored with it. Not so. Years later, they look forward to that time more than anything, which provides a natural accountability when you are tired from the day and are tempted to skip for that evening.

2) We read the passage I am preaching for that week, discuss it a bit, then we read a chapter from a book they have chosen to read. At the end, I take time to ask them how they are doing and how I can pray for them. This is a great way to see how they are really doing and teach them what are good things to be praying for others. Then, I pray for them and take them to bed."

Highly recommended!

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Dad's Memory

My dad died just over 9 years ago, suddenly, unexpectedly. I wear his favorite watch and think of him every day. In some senses he is still with me -- I carry his DNA in my cells, his teaching from my childhood and youth; I use some of his tools, and wear his watch.

But when Jesus tells us "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20) and God promises never to leave or forsake His people (Deut 31:6,8), it's MUCH more than the relationship I have with my dad's memory. The strength of my connection with my dad is a thin, pale shadow of the Lord's connection with us.

Count on God's presence in your life. Always.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Comparison vs. Following -- Only One is Commanded

(This is based on a devotion I did for our church business meeting recently. -- Glenn)

Let's fly through the whole story of Scripture. I'd like you to pay attention to the patterns of "one" and "many."

God created the universe, selected one planet, and planted one garden.
He put one man, Adam, into the garden, and gave him one helpmate.
After they sinned God began to unfold His plan of redemption.
People multiplied over the earth, all with one language.
They started to build the Tower of Babel and God caused them to have many languages. God is still the one God over all the ethne (or nations).
God chooses one man (Abram) and creates one nation (Israel) to bless all the nations.
They have one tabernacle, then one temple.
In the fullness of time one man comes, lives one sinless life, and dies one death for atonement of many. His name is Jesus, the one name under heaven by which men can be saved.
Jesus establishes the church through his disciples, His one Bride.
The Church is represented through many local churches in many nations. Jesus is the One Lord of all the local churches, all the denominations.
When the time is right Jesus will come again to complete the plan of redemption. He will gather His Bride from among the many nations.
There will be one city, the New Jerusalem, delivered from heaven.

Now it is fashionable today (and has been for, oh, 2000 years) to bash the Church. It's easy to look around at other churches and either be critical or feel inferior, just as it is with individuals. Jesus doesn't bash His Bride, and neither should we. Jesus doesn't abandon His Bride or somehow decide He doesn't love her anymore. Neither should we.

Pay attention when I say this:

Nowhere in Scripture does God command us to compare ourselves with others. Not as individuals, not as churches. Nowhere.

Satan is delighted when we get into comparison. Either he can encourage us into pride ("Hey, we're better than they are!"), or he can drape up with discouragement and despair ("We'll never be as good for the Kingdom as XYZ church").

What does Jesus command us to do? Very simply, we're commanded to follow him.

Let's look at Jesus' interaction with Peter in John 21. Jesus has just fed the disciples breakfast on the shore, given Peter clear instructions about feeding his sheep (the church), and explained that Peter wasn't going to die comfortably in his sleep. Then we see Peter's all-too human response:

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." (John 21:20-22)

I can picture Peter pointing at John as he says "What about him?" It's fun to think about John's reaction, but Jesus is direct and plain: "You must follow me." In the Glenn's Contemporary Version this would read, "What part of 'Follow me?' don't you understand?"

You might want to write "You must follow me" on a sheet of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror, or above your desk at work, or in your car.

Let's help each other on this, ok? We don't need to compare ourselves to others, it's not helpful. It's not consistent with Christ in us! The issue -- today and every day, both as individuals and as a church -- is following Jesus. Let's not be surprised if Jesus calls us in different directions, as he did Peter and John. He's in charge of the whole Church, and directs each local church as He will.

"You must follow me." I pray that rings in our hearts!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Learn From It As a Man Does

Every man must learn to give and receive rebukes. I highly recommend Kevin DeYoung's recent blog post on this topic, using a conversation between Robert E. Lee and Jeb Stuart as an illustration. Terrific stuff.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leaders Need Wisdom

I really appreciated Mac Lake's insights from Proverbs on leaders needing -- and struggling at times to get -- wisdom. He lists five factors which stymie our wisdom:

Failure to seek counsel
Lack of prayer

Read the details. Recommended.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

No Man Stands Alone

I love this story about Major General John Rawlins encouraging and supporting General Grant.

The Statue in Washington D.C. That Nobody Notices—But Should
Who is your John Rawlins? Who is your Grant?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Heart Issue with Videogames

C. J. Mahaney gives extremely helpful advice for parents with kids who tend toward addiction to videogames: it's a heart issue.

I see an increasing number of adult men battling this addiction as well. There is significant marketing now towards adult players.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Key Parenting Tip for Dads

Dads, I highly encourage you to read this Roy Exum essay, "Why Climb To The Top?"

This key message about not squelching your children from trying things -- even hard, possibly "unsafe" things -- is much needed today. Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:

When my son was in the ninth grade, he weighed 105 pounds and was a decidedly stringy five-foot-seven. One day he came home to mention he had gone out for spring football practice and … well, I didn’t say much.

By then I’d spent considerable time watching vicious practices on every football field in the Southeastern Conference and knew full well what a 6-4, 245-pound middle linebacker could do when fully loaded with mad. A guy like that, his eyes glazed and possessing speed my child would never know, could indeed cut my baby in half.

So I called the coach, a longtime friend who I knew would run my boy off, and told him my kid was too small, too slow, too dumb and too young. That’s when Pete Potter cut me down like a tree with the words, “Let’s let the boy decide.”

Well, I then tried to stammer an apology or an excuse, telling Pete I shouldn’t have ever called, and he said, “No, I was going to call you … if I ever see you come to even one of your son’s practices I’ll whip your butt. You pick him up every single day after practice, and always buy him a Coke on the way home, but let me be clear; practice belongs to him, not you. Don’t ruin it for him.”

About six years after that, about the same time during the spring, I was at Fort Benning to watch the same boy graduate from the U.S. Army’s Ranger school. They have this elite ceremony, where each dad pins on his son’s shoulder tab, and it is the probably the most moving experience a proud father can experience.

Of the initial 280 hand-picked candidates in my son’s class, 119 hopefuls had “washed out,” unable to stomach the grueling demands that each Ranger must know about himself. How long you can stay awake without becoming delirious? How long can you body function without food? How fast can you go up a 5,000 foot mountain? These are among the nicer things each Ranger must know before that tab is earned because the soldier’s life, the lives of others who will accompany him, depend on it.

A couple of Andrew’s buddies didn’t have anyone to pin on their tabs so I was further honored and one, whose dad lived too far away to come to the ceremony, grinned as I pinned on his patch. “Mr. Exum, sir, may I asked you a question, sir?” I told him I would be delighted and then came, “Sir, who was Pete Potter?”

I laughed, telling him Pete was Andrew’s beloved football coach. “Sir, I figured as much. In February it was about 36 degrees and we were in Dahlonega, carrying 110-pound packs up the Continental Divide. It was sleeting, we were wet and we hadn’t eaten anything all day.

“About 2 o’clock that morning, when they let us take a 10-minute rest, it was the worst minute of my life when they called us back in file. I whispered to your son I couldn’t take another step. I couldn’t do it. I was done. I was going to tap-out.”

The now proud Ranger then recalled. “You know what happened? Your son hit me in the mouth with his fist as hard as he could, and yelled, ‘You never went through two-a day’s with Pete Potter! Get your pack and let’s get our asses to the top of this hill!’”

I tell that story not in a boastful way but as a first-hand reminder that the naysayers, those timid souls who would hold another person back so they themselves won’t reveal their own shortcomings, are a far bigger danger to society than are the risks our young adventurers pose.


Read the whole thing.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

July 4th -- A Special Day

"I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival," he wrote his wife, Abigail. "It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other..." -- John Adams in a letter to his wife Abigail

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Johnny Was Not Just A Bagger

Here's a terrific example of one person deciding to serve others, and the ripple effect through a whole community. What can you do today to serve someone?