Saturday, February 25, 2012

What One Thing Are You Entitled To?

We live in an entitlement culture, and our marriages and kids are dying from it. The entitlement attitude of "I deserve something for free" is pulling us down as a people and as men leading our families.

Tim Challies is spot on:

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As a Christian, I believe in one entitlement.

I’m entitled to Hell. That’s the only entitlement I have. That’s all I deserve, because of my sin. Anything else is grace, an unmerited bonus from the God of all grace. I don’t deserve a breath of life, a crumb of food, a drop of water, a stitch of clothing, a cent in my wallet, or an hour of education. I’m not entitled to one friend, one vacation, one verse of Scripture, or even one sermon. I’m certainly not entitled to salvation and heaven. I’m entitled to damnation and Hell.

That sense of entitlement makes me seek mercy, receive mercy, enjoy mercy, and be merciful to others. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “What have I that I did not receive as a free gift of divine grace? How therefore can I ever boast as if I had actually been entitled to it or earned it?”

So, there are basically only two ways to live: with a proud and angry sense of entitlement or with a humble and thankful sense of responsibility.
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Read the whole article.  This is great conversation fodder for your family.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Han Solo Shot First!

Men, I encourage you to consider this commentary from Bill Whittle, and think about how we're training our sons.  Remember that TV, movies, and videogames have a tremendous influence on worldview.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Do You Fall Into This Gap Trap?

Let's face it, men, we're confronted with gaps all the time between what is and what we'd prefer:

Money
Intelligence
Physical attributes
Accomplishments
Gifts and Talents
Marriage
Parenting
Work
Possessions
Courage
Respect and Praise we receive
Giving
Entertainment

As you scanned down that list I'm sure examples came to mind.

These gaps between what is and what we'd prefer (even if our preferences would be bad for us or our loved ones!) create tension.  Emotions, especially anger, flood into these gaps.  These gaps fuel both pride and discouragement.

Here's my challenge to you: consider whether it is God who points out the gaps as a means of drawing you further to Himself and living to glorify Him by serving others, or your own selfishness and self-centeredness that makes the gaps feel so big.  [This may be an excellent issue to discuss with your mentors and men who know you well.]

Both sources of "gap" identification happen to men all the time.  But selfishness and self-promotion steer us into gap-trap, which makes us ineffective childish fools.  Godly gaps are bridged and traversed in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we become more manly.



Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Prepping for Easter

Easter is April 8 this year, men.   That's about nine weeks away.

What are you doing in February and March to prepare your family for this holy celebration?

Need some ideas?  Check out this 2011 guide for ideas: Suggested resource

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are You Being "With" ?

This was the devotion I led at our recent church business meeting. -- Glenn
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This ministry is always about people, and always about Jesus, and is larger than any one of us.


‘With’ is an important word, a powerful concept. I’d like you to listen for ‘with’ in these Bible passages:


"Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons." (Mark 3:13-15)

So Jesus chose men to be with him and be his disciples. That “being with Jesus” time had a powerful influence on them:


When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)


The elders have spent some time in the recent months thinking and praying about developing leaders in our congregation – not just for our own boards and teams, but leaders who can influence the world.

We can do leadership development and training the cheap way or the expensive way. The cheap way is to spend about $60,000 and send a bunch of people off to cool-sounding week-long training classes and have 'em come back with certificates. The expensive way is to man up (and lady up) and pour your life into someone by being with them.

Let’s consider some opportunities:


Enormous challenges for teenagers -- they need men and women who will be withthem. They need good families. That's why we invest in youth staff and want to be there for parents.


We need to be with our spouse. We need to be with one another as
believers-- this is why we stress small groups!

Thousands of people who live in the neighborhood we live in are desperately lonely. These people need someone to be withthem.

There are over a billion souls in unreached people groups who have not yet heard about the God who wants to be with them. That's why we're emphasizing cross-cultural missions and sending people from our fellowship.

And when we grow weary, we will remember that we will be with the
Lord. He is faithful on his part: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

We are told that we will be with Jesus at the end of earth as we know it:

"They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Revelation 17:14)


[You can tell the whole arc of the Bible story around the word ‘with’: God created Adam and Eve and was with them. Sin broke that fellowship. God worked out His plan to restore relationship so that through Jesus Christ we can be with Him again.]

Sounds great, doesn't it? Let's be real with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ: it's harder to be with specific, real, imperfect individuals than to talk about it. Much harder. Many times, it is beyond our capacity and our capability. The little committee members in our heads say, “Ok, but let’s go be with somebody besides this guy.”

The open secret is that the power to be with people is our abiding

connection with Jesus: "4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch

cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can

you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches.

Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for

apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he

is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are

gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and

my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for

you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so

prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I

loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will

abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and

abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy

may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:4-11)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

3D Printing

Something our children will take for granted: 3D printing to create objects.  Remarkable.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mentoring a Younger Christian

Outstanding article: "How to Influence a Younger Christian" 

Print this off, pray over it.  Who is in your sphere of influence?  Encourage them to watch you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Doubtful on the 'Singularity'


Ray Kurzweil continues to predict that with the exponential gains of computer systems and digital technologies, the “singularity” event is coming when computers surpass human capabilities – less than 20 years from now.  The “global brain” of networked computer systems will somehow usher us into a new kind of utopia, and effectively let people live forever.  (See his poular book, The Singularity is Near

Call me a curmudgeon, but I’m a skeptic. 

This is a massive leap from the current capability curve, and depends on a critical epiphenomenon that would be more terrifying than helpful.  PCs are faster now, but software still does what we tell it, and not even what we intend most of the time. 

Are there truly no problems that can’t be solved with more CPU cycles, more data?  Hello, is anyone married, have children, or tried to co-create something with others in a project?  (“Gee, Timmy, your problem is not that the team isn’t getting the project completed on budget, it’s that your PCs are too slow.”)

Upload yourself to the ‘cloud’ brain so you can live forever?  Most of us routinely struggle to fully describe our experiences with a language we’ve spent a lifetime using.  I’m not sure how we’re going to translate 100 billion neurons of memory (with something like 10^14th interconnections into digital format.

We socialize our learning, and codify some learning into systems (markets, governing laws, accepted practices), but in general every person and every generation has to learn the same lessons.  Our collective data grows over time, but more slowly than the collective knowledge. Wisdom accumulates even more slowly.  Why would there be a different paradigm for a digital network?

The digital network requires an enormous amount of infrastructure, electricity, and maintenance by (you guessed it) human beings.  Kurzweil’s future view requires even more.

My view is that the “singularity” is a secularists fantasy.

There’s no doubt that we’re only partially into the digital age, and we will see some remarkable things in the future.  Why?  Because of our imagination, our drive, our ability to dream.  I’m a big proponent of technology used to help people do more and be better. 

Why do I write about this on a blog titled “Be Bold, Be Gentle” ?  The truth: the people you and I work with are extraordinary.  They have amazing potential.  They’re not machines, and do not have the limits of machines.  Grip this truth, believe in them, and help them achieve more than anyone thought possible.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Recommendation: Boring to Bravo


(Why do I have a book review on presentations on a blog for husbands and fathers?  Because I know many of you give presentations at work, in civic organizations, and in church. -- Glenn)



I highly recommend Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve, and Inspire Your Audience to Action, by Kristin Arnold

I have recommended other presentation books in the past, so why do I recommend you study this one?  The main reason: the focus on interacting with and engaging your audience.  This is an essential skill for presenters and teachers today.  Presentations which change minds and lives must be engaging.

Kristin Arnold is a good writer, so you'll enjoy the reading time.

I particularly appreciate her comments about the mindset you need to cultivate in order to engage an audience. The book is written more for professional speakers and trainers, but you'll find most of it applies for small group presentations and teaching times.

If you want to be selective in reading this book, study the chapters on stories, use of humor, illustrationss, interacting with Q&A, and calling for decision/action.

Boring to Bravo delivers the promise implicit in the title. Get it. 

Monday, January 09, 2012

Hold Up a Mirror and Say...

Men, hold up a mirror and say this aloud:

"You are the leader of this family.
God holds you accountable.
Cherish your wife.
You are a model for your son(s).
You are a model for your daughter(s).
You can't lead people to where you aren't.
God made you a man, so act like one.
You can do 3 to 10 times what you think you can do.
God enables you to do everything He asks you to do.
Yeah, you're tired. You can still serve.
You are secure in Jesus Christ.
No temptation is stronger than God.
You are not your own, you were bought at a price."

Repeat as often as necessary.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Engraved


There are some verses and passages you go back to time and again.  Isaiah 49:16 is one of mine:

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands"


A few thoughts to encourage you:

God is speaking to his children of Israel, and by extension, we who have been grafted in and adopted as heirs.  Think of how sensitive your palms are, and how visible they are to you.  They're never more than an arm's length away!  "Engraved" suggests permanence and lasting effect.  This is not magic marker or ball-point pen scrawling to remind you of something ephemeral.  What is engraved?  Not a picture of story of my ancestors, but me.  What a precious statement from the God of the Universe!

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands"

Thursday, January 05, 2012

20 Seconds of Courage

We watched the "We Bought a Zoo" movie recently, and I really liked this scene. What can you and I do with just 20 seconds of insane courage? How can we talk with our boys about these matters?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A Father's List of Things Learned

Men, go here now and study "Things I Have Learned" -- this is a list of truth statements from John Piper's father, plus his commentary.  Excellent, outstanding.

Study it.