Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Community Matters

Over the last couple weeks at River Oaks, we have talked about taking a journey towards real community.

We looked at the only part of creation that God looked at said it was "not good." Genesis 2:18 tells us God does not think it is a good idea for man to be alone. Not only that, God will not fill that void in our life, but it can only be met by interacting in deep ways with other people.

Part of our discussion was introducing our new focus on Community Groups. Our goal is to have every regular attender of River Oaks in a Community Group that meets (at least) a couple times a month for some study, fellowship, and prayer.

If you would like to hear the message I did on this, you can check it out HERE (scroll down about half way).

One way we want to help encourage people into Community Groups, is by modeling it for you in a midweek class called What's Next. Beginning on Wednesday, September 10, I will be leading a Community Group here at River Oaks. If you have every wanted to "try out" a Community Group, this is your chance!

We will meet from 6:30 to 8:00pm, have some snacks, teaching, and prayer. We will also have babysitters for your kids. It will last 6 weeks and then we hope to spin off home-based groups, before we start another model group!

So, if you are not in any kind of Community Group, or maybe your group would like a chance to hit the "re-start" button, consider joining me!

Show up any Wednesday you'd like (just sign up, so we know to be looking for you)!
Invite friends (even if they don't attend ROCC)!

Creating a community takes effort and intentional focus. We want to help with What's Next. If you need more information shoot me an email. If you would like to join me on September 10, go HERE, and look for the What's Next logo.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Boy Dads Post -- Show Some Heart

I am a regular contributor for a great site called It is a site dedicated to dads raising boys (it has a sister site called for mothers of boys).

So, click over and check out my post this month on showing our boys our hearts!

Show Some Heart

While you are, would you please do 2 things:

1. Sign up for their monthly email
2. Share with any other boy dads you know


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Die to Live

Paradox (as defined by Webster):  A seeming absurd but possibly true statement

The Paradox Principle says if you want to live a better life, there are parts of your life that must die.  The idea of having to die to live is a great paradox.

From a worldly view it makes no sense.  The world tells us to get as much as we can.  Get it however we can.  It is a view that has no regard for others.  It has no regard for serving others.  It has no regard for loving others.

Once you become mature enough to realize that everything is not about you all the time (a real shocker, I know), you are one step closer to understanding die to live.

If we truly want better homes, kids, jobs, or anything else, we must be willing to first die within those areas.  Then they will get better.

  • If you want a better marriage, you need to give up some of your selfish behavior and focus on fulfilling your wife's needs and loving her more.  Saying your martial trouble would get better, "If she would only..." is selfish and will never lead to a better marriage.  If you want your wife to be more romantic, maybe you need to be more romantic.
  • If you want a better relationship with your kids, you cannot say, "If they would only....".  If you want your kids not to mouth back, maybe you should not yell at them.
  • If you want more fulfillment from your job, saying, "If my boss would only..." is not the answer.  If you want recognition for your work, maybe you need to do something worth noticing.

We have to be willing to give up (read: die) those things in our life that are the real root of our dissatisfaction.  I must be willing to love others more than myself.  When I do not get out of my life what I want, it usually is a result (if I will honestly evaluate it) of my effort, my attitude, or my perception...not on the action (or inaction) of someone else.

Die to live.  Die a little, live better.

What areas of your life do you need to die a little?  Make a list.  Once you begin to die, you will be begin see victories in areas of your life.  These victories will encourage you to have bigger deaths, which will lead to bigger victories.

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For...whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it"  Jesus Christ

Jesus understood the Paradox Principle.  He was the ultimate example of dying to live, both figuratively and literally.  He lead his disciples by serving them.  He allows us to live because he died.

Die a little, live better.

What a seemingly absurd statement that might be true.

Try it and let me know if it works for you!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Balance (revisited)

"Wow. With four boys, I bet you guys are always on the go!"

We get that a lot from people and I know as our boys get older, a good portion of my (and my wife's) life is going to be spent at ball courts, football fields, church activities, and in the car between all those events.

But, we are working hard to keep our family from being over-involved or worse, letting our kids run our home. Believe me, it is hard when it seems like the boys are bringing something home every week they want to do:

Basketball Camp
Football Camp
Church Camp
Golf Camp
Preschool field trips
School events
Cub Scouts
Swim Lessons

See? I'm tired just thinking about all those things.

Worse yet, with most of those things it is not just the boys doing them, but they want us to help, chaperon, or coach!

As we have looked at the years ahead, we have made a conscience effort that we will not over-commit ourselves or our boys. The reality is, with each son not being the only child in the family, they are not going to get to do everything that comes along, and they need to learn to be OK with that.

So, it all come down B.A.L.A.N.C.E:

Belive in your child's abilities and desires and help foster those things.
Each your kids are different and each have different things they like to do and are good at. Make sure you recognize those things in your kids and help them to develop those skills. Don't make your son play football if he would rather play soccer. Remember: Your dreams (athletically, academically, or vocationally ) may be very different from your son of daughters.

All things are permissible, but not beneficial.
Biblical wisdom that rings true for this topic. Just because it is offered to your daughter does not mean she needs to participate in it. Help her find the thing she really likes to do and encourage her to do that. Steer her to those things that are going to help build life-long skills you can build on as you raise her.

Love your kids enough to say "no". Remember, Parent First...Friend Second.
Yes, he may get upset, call you the worst parent ever, pout, complain that "everyone else gets too", and all those other things kids do to guilt their parents into giving in. That's fine. That's why your the parent: To make the tough decision for the family. You laugh when your child says, "But dad, everyone else is doing it", but in reality many parents are using that same reasoning for why they never tell their kids "no" as a parent, they feel they don't want to be showed up by other parents who "give" their kids more.

Always have a plan. You need to know how your going to handle all these events, camps, and nights out before they come up for discussion. Amber and I have always said we are going to do our best to not have a son involved in more than one thing at a time, because it is just too much. We place a priority on things like Awana's (which all sons are in) and then will allow one other "thing" for them to be involved in. Right now, #1 and #2 are in Youth Football,  and #3 and #4 are in Youth Soccer. Plus, swimming with #2 and #3 is right around the corner. That's plenty. The reality is, with just those things we have something going on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night and Saturday mornings.

Never say "no" and then follow it up with "just's too much!" You need to be able to explain why you have said "no". It is absolutely OK to tell your son, "We are too busy for you to do that, so you can't." Use those moments to talk to him about the importance of time management, the cost of things, and the value of having time for family and not always having being somewhere or doing something. Plus, you need to let them know that is OK that you have some quiet / alone / personal time as well.

Compromise where you can. Nobody ever said being a parent is the most convenient job in the world. Remember to allow your child to choose (where possible) and support their decision as their parent. Your support of them now will build trust between you two...and the closer you are now, the more likely they will trust you with other things that come their way in life as they grow.

Eyes on the prize. As parents, we have the responsibility to raise Godly children. If I give my boys everything they want, let them do everything they want to do, and am too busy to teach them about God and the salvation offered in Jesus, then I have absolutely failed as a parent and I believe I will be held accountable for that someday. I cannot simply lean on Sunday School teachers, Church Camp, and Awana's to bring my children to a saving knowledge of Jesus. That is my job and I need to make sure as a family we are not "so busy giving to our kids", that I fail my primary role as parent.

(SIDE NOTE: If that is my job dad, why would we expect our Heavenly Father to give us everything we want, let us do everything we want to do, and not teach us about Him and how to get closer to Him. That is for another post. I digress.)


Finding balance is hard. In a society where the parent(s) that give their child the most or best appears to "win", you need to make an intentional effort to worry about the health (mental, physical, AND spiritual) of your family as a whole. You need to not worry about what your child's classmates are doing. You need to remember that you are responsible for your entire family, and sometime the greater good is to put the reins on the give everything, do everything, allow everything mentality that is standard for parents today.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Redeem it

"Where does the your time go?"

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity. Let you speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:5-6 (NASB)

I appreciate these two verses and all the truth they hold. The idea of "...making the most of every opportunity," is actually telling us we need to be "...redeeming the time," (KJV) we spend with those who do not have a growing faith Jesus.

The underlying current of our conversations need to be full of Grace. Paul tells of think of Grace as salt. Salt makes food more favorable, and easy to swallow. It's no fun choking down some food you don't like. It's also no fun choking down a conversation from someone that is rude, harsh, uncaring, or unloving. Grace is the seasoning that makes truth easier to swallow. Grace is what convinces people there is something different about you. Not what you say, but how you treat them.

So, what are your conversations about with those around you? Let me give you a hint: It is the things you dwell on when you are alone. Those "internal" conversations in the quiet times of the day are, inevitability, what spill over when you talk with people.

This is the real truth in those verses for me: Before you can fully redeem the time you have with others, you need to redeem the time you spend alone.

How much time during the week do you waste on things that don't matter? They may not be sinful or harmful, they just are dumb to spend SO much of your time on?

Fantasy Football?
Video Games?
Working Out?

Again, not one of those things in and of themselves are sinful. You do not need to deactivate your FaceBook, Twitter, or Instagram account. But Proverbs 12:11 reminds us, He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense. (NASB) The real problem is when those things become too important in your life, they can replace God. Once you have moved your relationship with Jesus off to the side or treat it as another "social event/obligation", you have lost your ability to share your faith (in person or by the way you live) with others.

You laugh, but I was convicted this past weekend with this question: If I had to give up my iPhone or my Bible for 3 days, which would I choose to go without....and no, having the Youverson Bible App  doesn't count.  Ouch.

Where can you redeem time in your own life? Your alone time? Early mornings? Your drive to work? Your lunch break? Watching TV? (If you are an average American, you spend over 5 hours watching TV.)

What are you listening to in the car by yourself? "Worthless things"? What about listening to a Bible teaching podcast instead? There are some great ones out there (Andy Stanley, James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, and Matt Chandler are some of my favorite) Or praise/worship music? What you dwell on matters. Lots.

Again, don't think I'm saying you can't, and it's not sometimes nice to, completely unplug - one of my favorite podcasts by the way? Car Talk from NPR Radio.

But, what if you could just spend an extra 30 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day dwelling on, thinking about, and growing in your faith?

How much more Grace would you have to season your conversations?

How can you redeem some time for yourself this week?