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Saturday, December 19, 2009

First Real Snow

Last night, we had our first "real" snow of the year, the kind where the snow hits the ground and decides to stick around. As I was driving home from work this morning, I knew that the speed limit was not even an option. Going the speed limit could mean ending up in a ditch, so I took it a bit slower. It took me a bit longer to get home, but I made it. After waking up, my oldest son was chomping at the bit about the snow. He was looking forward to showing me the "snow alien" he had built and wondering where the sled was. Now granted, it was not a lot of snow, but it was enough for children to get excited. In fact, looking out the window now, the snow is lightly falling again.
Listening to Damien, it got me to thinking about the difference between children and grown-ups. Why was my response to the snow so different than his? Why was I dreading the snow, while he was delighting in it? At what point did I begin to see snow as more of a burden than a blessing? Of course the same could be said of most of this world. Wooly bears. Giraffes. Trees budding in the spring and turning brilliant colors in the fall. In the words of author John Eldredge, "At what point did [I] lose [my] wonder at it all?"
These questions led to others. Does wanting to be a responsible adult automatically eliminate being in awe of the surrounding world? Fortunately, that is an emphatic no! Next time I'm driving home on a snow covered road, I'll still be driving slowly. But I'll be seeing it, not as a way of getting home safely, but as an opportunity to soak in the wonder and the beauty of all that surrounds us.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do the dirty work!

Life takes work! The old cliche says that life is what you make it. For the majority of my life, I spent it just "ditty-bopping along," not really heading anywhere, or having any sense of goals. I had no target I was aiming at. And, as Zig Ziglar says, "when you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."
This entry deals with the concept that you have to set goals, and you have to do whatever it takes to achieve those goals. If you want to achieve some sense of financial stability, you have to make out a budget. It will not come by being suckered by some pitchman on late night TV saying that wealth is guaranteed if you buy his system. It will not come by wasting money on gambling. It will not come by wishful thinking, and complaining about your circumstances.It comes by systematically giving, saving, and investing.
If you want to experience a healthy relationship with God, you have to do the dirty work. Now, let me be clear. I am not in any way, shape, or form suggesting that you work hard to make yourself acceptable to God. Paul said that if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord, and believe in your heart that He raised Jesus from the dead, you are already accepted by God. What I am suggesting is that in order to cultivate that relationship, you need to spend time listening to God through His Word, by talking to God in prayer, and by spending time with others to be strengthened in your faith. It may involve waking up early to spend some time alone in the presence of God. It may involve helping out someone in need, and not pointing to yourself as a model of spirituality. It may involve delaying immediate pleasure for the sake of bringing others to Christ through giving to the work of Christ's kingdom, instead of that new bass boat.
If you want a healthy marriage, then it will DEFINITELY take work. It will mean turning off the tube, and tuning into your spouse. It will mean budgeting in date night, at least once a month, if not more often. It may mean a weekend marriage retreat to reconnect with your spouse, instead of a weekend fishing trip with the guys (or weekend shopping trip with the girls).
In each of these examples, there is the thread of sacrifice. We may have to give something, possibly something that is good, in order to get something better. We may have to give up the brand new car, and drive around an old paid-for beater, so we can get out of debt. It may involve going to bed earlier, and missing Letterman or Conan, so we can get up earlier to spend time with God. It may involve missing the big game to take our wives out to dinner. But, when it's all said and done, the life we have will be far superior to any that our plans might have resulted in. As a conclusion, I would like to quote Dave Ramsey, one of my favorite authors. He often says, "if you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." What this means is short-term sacrifices can lead to huge long-term dividends.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Freedom Through Restraint

At first glance the title from this entry seems almost contradictory. Freedom through restraint? Isn't that like "airline service" or "government efficiency"? I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but both my wife and I have found this to be true as we are working on fine-tuning our household budget. We have found that as we live on an agreed-upon plan, that is in writing, we have found so much more freedom to save and give.
Several weeks ago, Stacy and I started attending Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class. During the third session, we learned that in order to achive the financial goals we have set, such as saving for a down payment for a house, and getting debt-free, we need to have a plan. We need a roadmap. We need a blueprint. A written budget/spending plan/cash flow plan is that blueprint.
Our budget is allowing us the not feel guilty about spending money, and also reduces the panic when it comes to paying bills. Each dollar has a predetermined destination. Instead of wondering where all the money went, we are leading it to its destination. We are, as John Maxwell says, "telling our money where to go instead of wondering where it went."
I'm not going to spend a lot of time here explaining all of the nuts and bolts of budgeting, mainly beacause I am still learning myself. But I can say that if you are wanting to have some real peace in your finances, I highly reccomend finding somewhere where Dave Ramsey's class is being held in your area. If not this class, then find a method where you can budget, and start directing the destination of your money, and stop wondering where all you money is going.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wisdom of a Wizard

One of my favorite film franchises is Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Trilogy. One scene that makes me think is the scene when Gandalf and Frodo are sitting together in Moria. Frodo confesses his doubts to carry out his quest to Gandalf. Gandalf responds by saying that "all we have to decide is what to do with the times that is given to us." This is not just a line from a movie or a book. This is about priorities. It could be posed as the question, "what are you going to do while you breathe?" We need to establish priorities. Lately I have been kind of getting away from the topic of passions. But priorities flow from your passions. If you are passionate about maintaining integrity in your marriage, then you will prioritize what websites you visit accordingly. If you are passionate about Jesus and his people, then church and being a part of a small group will be a priority. If you are passionate about getting and staying debt-free, you will prioritze how you spend and save money. Our priorities will flow from our passions. If you ever wonder what you are truly passionate about, look at your priorities. If you want to know how to prioritize your life, then look to your passions.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mindless mob?

Well, as many of you know, the Democrats have been saying that anyone who disagrees with Pres. Obama and his vision of universal healthcare have been tagged as un-American and a bunch of Nazis. Wow! Isn't this the same group who believed dissenting against the policies of George W. Bush wasn't only a right, but an obligation? Isn't it interesting how you don't see the likes of Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon fighting for freedom of speech of those showing up at town meetings, and attending Tea Parties?
I guess free speech only is a right afforded to those who make a habit of bashing what makes America great. If you protest a crucifix submerged in urine, you are accused of censorship, and noarrow-minded bigotry. If you protest for the saving of innocent human life at an abortion clinic, you are villified as being uncompassionate towards women. However, if you protest the passage of a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage, like Prop 8 in California, then you are be socially minded. If you picket for the founder of a deadly gang who was sentenced to death, like Tookie Williams, then you are showing compassion to the underprivileged.
Something is very wrong. To paraphrase Daniel Patrick Moynihan, we have made good evil. and evil good. We see abnormal behavior as exemplary, and traditional, biblical values as oppressive. It's time, folks. It's time to stand up up and proclaim truth as unchanging, not fluid. It's time to promote biblical standards for life, family, and government. It's time that we stop bowing to political parties, and proclaim that it is the governed, and not the government, who make this nation great.
A mindless mob? Sorry, but that is just not the case. We are not a mindless mob. We are a determined bloc of Americans, exercising our First Amendment Freedom of Speech.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rescuing Beauty

OK, so I've mentioned adventure and battle. Am I really going to wade into the deep weeds of rescuing the women in our lives? Yep. So, fully protected by a kevlar vest to lessen the damage of any potshots, here we go.
Women, no matter how tough the exterior, still want to know that someone is willing to fight for them. They need to know the men in in their lives have the necessary strength to ward off various dangers. These may be physical, such as a mugger. They may be emotional, such as low self-esteem. Some may be psychological, such as previous abuse of any kind.
As men we need to have the strength to combat these dangers. Of the longings of the masculine heart, this is the most vital. Go back to the stories you love. How many involved a beauty needing rescued. Indiana Jones rescued Marion from the clutches of the Nazis and the Soviets. Jack rescued Rose from the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. Prince Phillip rescued Briar Rose from Maleficent's spell. Notice that the risk and adventure all had the focus of rescuing the beauty.
As men, we need to see our wives, not as enemy combatants, but rather as damsels in distress. Our wives have dangers they must face. Are we going to allow them to face them alone? What are we willing to risk to rescue our Beauty. What battles are we willing to wage to rescue Beauty? Whatever it takes to rescue, you definitely have what it takes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"This Day We Fight!"

One of my favorite scenes from the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy comes near the end of The Reurn Of The King. A small contingent of soldiers from Rohan & Gondor are getting ready to face off against Sauron's army of orcs, uruk-hai, and other less than savory creatures. Aragorn, last of the bloodline of the kings of old, stands before the soldiers of men. He encourages the men that this is not a day to cut and run, or give up in their battle againt the forces of evil. He cries out, "This day, we fight!"
I think the reason this scene is one of my favorites, because it reminds me that there are still battles to fight. There are still times that standing firm is essential. There still times that backing down is not an option. There is still a need for soldiers to battle against evil.
Even though the battles of today do not involve orcs and horsemen, they are no less urgent. There are still strongholds to be overthrown, in the form of addictions, abuse, and ignorance. There are still victories to be won, like victories over temptation, despair, and apathy. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul reminds us that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities. against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age" (NKJV). Notice that this is in the present tense. It not someting that was happiening, but is happening now. We need to be fighting against the forces of darkness, and stop letting the Enemy of our souls gain any more ground in our country, in our cities, and in our homes. Let this be the day we let the forces of Lucifer know that, to paraphrase Gandalf earlier in the film, "Remeber we are soldiers of Yahweh!"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Life Of Adventure

As men, we were meant for adventure. Some of you may be wondering what I mean by adventure. Do I mean we need to strap on a bullwhip and risk life and limb in our hunt for ancient treasure, like Indiana Jones? Should we go out on a quest to do a seemingly impossible task with a few friends, like Frodo? Do we lead a ragtag group of rebels against a mighty army, like William Wallace?
The answer to all these questions is no, these are not necessary to have an adventure. An adventure is any task that causes you to step away from what you know and are comfortable with, and causes you to take a risk. This risk may be a physical one, such as learning rock climbing (on my Bucket List). It may be personal, such as starting a friendship with someone who is currently just an associate. It may be intellectual risk, such as finally finishing up the degree you started so many years before. It may be psychological risk, such as confronting a past abuser. It may be a spiritual risk, such as explaining to a friend their need for God's grace. No matter what the adventure, there is some level of risk involved.
Why is risk essential in an adventure? Without the risk, you will not be changed. When going through an adventure, it changes you. You come out the other end a different person. You overcome that nagging fear. You widen your horizons by finding a fellow traveller. You accomplish that goal that everyone said was just pointless. You are able to move beyond the past, and look to the future with a renewed sense of vision. Adventure is not a goal. Adventure is an important part of the journey to our destination of restoration.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What Is A Man?

What makes a great book? Not in the sense of it being remembered throught history, buit personally. I think it has more to do with how it impacts the way you think. One of my favorite books is Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. In it, he describes what truly makes us men. According to Eldredge, we men need "a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue." I first read this book in 2005. Since then, I have probably read it six or seven times. Over my next several posts, I will be going into greater detail about what makes up the heart of a man. Are therer any adventures left in this age of technology? Are there any great battles left to fight? In this post-modern age, do women really want to be rescued? I hope to convice my readers that the answer to all three is yes.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Thank God we live in America. Thank God we live in a country where we don't have to fear being a dissenting voice. Thank God we have the freedom the call the President a bozo when is being one (which is 99.99% of the time!) Thank God we can gather together to voice our oppostion.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tea Party

Yesterday I attended my first "tea party." No, I wasn't sipping Earl Grey with my pinky daintily raised. This tea party was a protest of what is happening in our country. It was a protest of how the federal government is taking over areas of our free market system. It was a protest of the outlandish spending the current administration seems to be addicted to. It was a protest of the undermining of our Constitution and Declaraction of Independence. It was a protest of the way Washington has given power to unelected, unconfonfirmed, unaccountable czars. As radio host Jim Quinn has stated, "we now have more czars than a Romanov wedding!" It was a protest of our path toward socialism.
This gathering was a statement. A statement of "no more!" No more unbridled spending. No more goverment takeovers of industry. No more trampling our founding principles. No more power to the unaccountable. No more socialism. It is time we remind those we send to Washington that they work for us. It is time to remind them that it is our money they are throwing around like confetti. It is time to remind those inside the Beltway that this is still a government of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, and for the PEOPLE! It time time for WE THE PEOPLE stand up for America, and stop its slide into socialism.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

YouTube video

Yesteday, I mentioned a song by Rich Mullins. As I was searching YouTube, I found this video:

I hope it inspires you

The wonder of it all

This is such an amazing world we live in. Such an amazing array of plants and animals, mountains and valleys, oceans and deserts. I look at our world, and I wonder when it lost its amazement. When did we become so "scientific" in our appreciation of Creation? When did we cease being in awe of hawks in flights and bison thudering across the prairie? In his song "Calling Out Your Name," Rich Mullins described all these aspects of the wilderness, and he saw all of it as a declaration of worship towards our amazing God. The older I get, the more I have an appreciation for nature. No, I'm not going to become some tree-hugging environmentalist wacko, but whenever I see deer running through the fields, or horses running free, I can't help think how pleased God is in his creation as he designed it to be. Though this world is fallen, it is far from hideous. It is filled with beauty and adventure.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Throw a Log on the Fire!

Ever wonder how to keep your passions ablaze? At our home, we burn boxes, as well as fallen tree limbs. As I was burning some of both this morning, I realized something. Most of us agree that when we are passionate about something, we feel "on fire." The question is, how can we keep that passion burning? I got to thinking as I watched the boxes burned, and the tree limbs. I noticed the boxes would flare up quickly, but soon die down. As the tree limbs burned, I noticed how they may take a little longer to ignite, but they burned longer. That's when it hit me. In order to stay passionate about something, we need to feed that passion. And to keep it long-term, we need to feed it with some "logs." If you are passionate about becoming a leader, wouldn't it make sense to study the lives of great leaders, like Winston Churchill or Theodore Roosevelt? If you want to become a better manager of your money, wouldn't it be logical to attend a weekend Total Money Makeover seminar? If you want to have a great marriage, wouldn't it be wise to study a book on marriage with your spouse? If you want to improve your skills at work, why not study the intricacies of your profession? Many who know me know I am passionate about counseling, and working on my PhD in psychology. One thing I am already stoked about is the conferences I'll be attending to learn how to improve my skills. I don't want to be a flash in the pan as a psychologist. I want to have the same passion when I'm 84 as I do now when I'm 34.

Friday, June 12, 2009

He called him "Son"

One of my favorite parables Jesus tells is the Prodigal Son. The reason I love it so much is when the wayward son comes home, his father doesn't call him a servant, slave, hired hand, or even dude. He calls him "Son." It's like that when we come to our senses, and come back to our true Father. He doesn't call us sinner, disappointment, or failure. He says, "My child is alive." God loves us, and when we return to him, he doesn't stand there, with crossed arms and a furrowed brow, saying, "Yeah?" When he sees us coming to him, He sprints out to meet us, embraces us, and throws a party, with us as the guest of honor.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Power of Story

I was driving home from my Sociology final (yay!) when "Africa" by Toto came on the radio. This is hands down one of my favorite songs. I love hearing about "Kilamanjaro rising above the Serengeti." As I listened, it made me think of how a story can put so much impact on our lives. In his book Epic, John Eldredge reminds us that "story is the very nature of reality." The reason we are enraptured by a great story like The Lord of the Rings or Pride and Prejudice is that we can easily relate to the characters. I'm not saying that all men are destined to be king as Aragorn, but we can relate to his struggle with overcoming what he sees as his shortcomings to embrace his destiny. Not all women are as stubborn as Elizabeth, but all women want to be swept away by true love. Another reason stories speak to us is stories have the ability to take the profound, and make it easy to understand. If anyone understood this, it was Jesus in his time on earth. the Jewish people of that time were wanting to see the Kingdom of God. But what does such a kingdom look like? How many times did Jesus say, "The Kingdom of God is like..." When addressing the Pharisees, he would use an analogy, ususally of vipers and tombs. When expressing how God reacts to a redeemed sinner, he tells one of the most famous of his parables, of a prodigal son, and a Father who sprints to embrace him. Stories are able to do that. They take head knowledge, and make it heart reality.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Funny how things change

Several years ago, I though God was calling me to minister to men to help them live from their hearts. I still am passionate about this, but I am seeing this in less of a "gung-ho" kind of way. I am seeing God leading me to talk to men about being the leaders God has called them to be. We men need to take a stand in our homes, and lead our families. Not in a "I'm the the man, you will oey" type of fashion, but in a way that brings honor to God. We men don't need to be pushy towards our families, but neither can we be pushovers. I have read Paul Coughlin's book No More Christian Nice Guy several times. Each time I read it, I am reminded that God made men to be assertive. I love a quote Dr. Steve Brown of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando says often. He reminds us that Jesus didn't die to make us nice, but to make us his. I look back on the sniveling, whining pushover I used to be, and I honestly don't recognize him anymore. And I'm glad I don't, becuase I'd want to smack him upside the head and tell him it's time to man up!

Friday, May 29, 2009

NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've been reading a book by Shaunti & Jeff Faldhahn called For Men Only. In it, this married couple explain to men how women are different than men in so many way, besides plumbing. I know what you may thinking. "Men and women are different? DUH!" But let me ask you a few questions. Why do you ladies tell your husband about your problems? Why do men feel the need to not ask for help? Why do men enjoy spending time by themselves? Do women really want to be financial stable more than anything else?
Yes, men and women are different psychologocally, as well as physically

Friday, May 22, 2009

Follow your passions

Several books I've been reading lately have been reiterating the idea that success comes by following your passions. And by success, I am not just talking about dollars. I mean having a career where you are able to do what drives you. I used to work with a man who has an incredible talent with an airbrush. He would come into work each day, and his favorite topic would be the latest project he was undertaking, whether it was airbrushing a t-shirt, pinstriping a car, or designing a sign or logo for a business. Everyone who knew him knew what his passion was. There were a few times I would ask him why he was wasting his time in a factory when he has such an obvious talent. He would tell me that he has to pay the bills somehow. He saw his "real job" as a way of supporting his family, and of supporting his passion. He has a website called, where he displayed his work for others to see.
I have another friend who is folowing his passion. He is the worship pastor at our church, and anyone who attends our church can tell he is passionate about leading people in praising Jesus. He is also following his passion in another way. He has started a website called, where worship pastors are able to share the music they have written so others can use their songs in other congregations.
Both of these men are following their passions. Each in their own way, they are successful. I am encouraging you to be a success by following your passions. In his Financial Peace University tape set, Dave Ramsey reimnds us that if you are doing what you love, "you have a vacation for a vocation."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Evil Empire?

I was just reading how a popular rock band does not like that Wal-Mart "refuses" to sell their album because it has a "Parental Advisory" label on it. I will not be mentioning the band, because I don't want to give any free publicity to the band. One of the band members say the chain has an "obligation" to sell alubums with lyrics some may deem offensive. Wait a minute. Isn't Wal-Mart a company within the private sector? Don't they have the right to sell the products they want to? This is not an issue of censorship, as the band, wants to make it be. This is an issue of a bunch of kids who never grew up wanting their way and kicking and screaming until they get it. I have four children. I applaud Wal-Mart for taking a stand for decency in an age when to suggest something is indecent is considered censorship. I pray that the leaders of this company not waver in this stand.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Husbands and Wives

I found a quote of the man most consider to be the founder of the Christian Men's Movement, Ed Cole. He said, "when a man acts like a child, it forces his wife to act like his mother." When I first heard that statement, I was infuriated. It infuriated me, because I never act like a child, never in a million, zillion, bazillion years. Anyone who thinks that is just a stupidhead! Whoa! OK, I guess maybe I do. I throw grown-up fits, which psychologists would call being passive-aggressive. I have said "yes, dear" through gritted teeth. At the times I do these things, I notice that my wife does get more assertive. Crap! I guess rather than be infuriated by this statement, I should be humbled, and realize that I do need to "man up" in certain areas.

Joy in the Journey

As another quarter at OSU-M gets close to ending, I keep having to remind myself that this is a process. I am not going to be a clinical psychologist overnite. It is going to take time. I just need to keep plugging away as I get nearer to the end of the tunnel. I need to remind myself that this not going to take forever. I need to rmind myself that I am get closer to achieving my goal.

Monday, May 18, 2009

thoughts on car repair...

We just got a repair quote from our mechanic. While I won't be telling yoy how much it will cost, I will tell you that it was quite discouraging, especially when you are trying to establish some savings. But as I got to thinking about it, I cam e to realize that we won't have to put this amount on a credit card. We won't have to ask anyone to borrow money to get the van fixed. We actually have the money to fix the car. We may only have $50 in the bank, but we are getting this done DEBT-FREE! A year ago, I couldn't even dream about this happening! And here we are, with a van getting fixed and not going into debt to get it done! How good is that?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What Really Matters

I cam across this quote by President Theodore Roosevelt while reading Wild At Heart by John Eldredge:
It is not the the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
This really shows me that no one can live above criticsm. There will always be those who will look down their nose at others. But it is not their opinion that matters. Only two individuals' opnions matter when all is said and done. The striver needs to know he did his best. He needs to be proud of what he has done. And secondly, it matters at the final day, when that man hears from Almighty God, either, "well done, my good and faithful servant" or "depart from me, for I never knew you." What really matters is what your opinion of yourself is, and what God's opinion of you is. And, honestly, if your opinion and God's opinion don't match up, guess who might be right...

Passionate living

What are you passionate about? What drives you? What is it in your life that energizes you?
Is it spending time with your family? Is it getting out of debt? Is it your future plans? Maybe something else?
I am learning that living life means embracing your passsions. The balance is to make sure your passions are serving you, and you are not serving your passions. What do I mean by that? I mean that we use our passions to lead us closer to being the person God made us to. I am passionate about getting out of debt, and I am using that passion to get to the place where I am able to assist in the building of God's Kingdom without wondering if there is enough money to pay the bills. I am passionate about the outdoors, and I use that to see the handiwork of God in His Creation.
I am learning that passions do not have to get in the way of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our passions can be reigned in to lead us into deeper obedience to Christ

So it begins...

I love life! I know it sounds cliche, but I am serious. I love living! I have determined to not take a single second God has given me for granted. Steven Cutis Chapman, in his song, "The Great Adventure," talks about how we need to "saddle up [our] horses" and live the life God has given us. Anyone ready to get ready to blaze a new trail?