Aug 03

Parenting – My 44 Thoughts

What you’re about to read  are just some of my thoughts – not all of them, just 44. So what’s the point going to be? Parenting is an art, the more you practice it, hopefully the better you become. But the fulcrum lies on how you define the art of parenting…

Technically, I suppose you could just go through the motions as a mother or father, and it would be considered parenting. But, not necessarily good parenting. I leave the definition of “good or bad parenting” to you.

So what I’m about to write are just my musings about parenting, as a parent. You can agree, disagree or be indifferent. I just hope you’ll take an inventory of your own parenting style. I hope you’ll think about areas in which you might enhance your own parenting style.

I’ll do this in a list fashion but in no certain order… I will also refrain from saying thinks like “I believe” or, “in my opinion”  every time, and just preface it with the fact that this should be understood – in other words this is just my take and nothing else – no science or studies are  involved. Some of my thoughts may inspire you to say things like, “What a prude”, and that’s fine, form your own opinion.

Here we go…

  1. Parenting is hard
  2. Parents are called to be parents and not best friends with their children. That’s why your title is “parent” and not “best friend!”
  3. A parent’s job is to teach their children what they need to know so one day they can leave.
  4. A lot of “right decisions” are  going  to make you feel terrible for some odd reason – they shouldn’t!
  5. It’s OK to say no if you have nothing more than a “gut feeling” that something just doesn’t seem right.
  6. Take your kids to church – they are depending on you and so is Jesus.
  7. Your children are God’s gift to you, so give thanks often.
  8. Teach your young men to open doors for ladies. If you’re a dad – model that behavior yourself.
  9. Teach your kids to say “yes sir, yes mam and no mam and no sir”. Maybe seems old fashioned but I believe it’s timeless.
  10. Teach your kids to say “thank you” and to say it  liberally.
  11. Tell your kids “thank you” often.
  12. Tell your kids “I love you” often and don’t take for granted that they know that.
  13. Don’t ask your kids if  they want to go to church – remember that you’re the parent. Lead like one.
  14. If there is an age level appropriate program for your children on Sunday mornings in church – make sure they attend it. They’ll learn more there.
  15. Teach your children to make their bed as soon as they are old enough and have them do it – everyday.
  16. Teach your children to cook and clean.
  17. Have them learn how to change a tire and check the oil.
  18. Teach them to tie a tie.
  19. If you say something will happen the next time they act that way – follow through.
  20. Spend quality time with your children – they grow up fast.
  21. Make sure they learn to eat vegetables – boiled okra and raw celery excluded.
  22. Teach them how  to wash and fold clothes.
  23. Have your sons mow the lawn as soon as they are old enough.
  24. Once they are old enough, make sure they have jobs, at least in summer and part time the rest of the year, when possible.
  25. Teach them the Apostles Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, so they will always be grounded in their faith.
  26. Teach them how to wash/dry dishes by hand.
  27. Make sure you know they have completed their homework.
  28. Make sure they are ready for school – the night before and early enough that corrections can be made without being up too late.
  29. Don’t take something your child has done wrong that belongs on the value menu and then supersize the discipline.
  30. When your child does something wrong, try asking yourself – will this make any difference a year from  now and discipline accordingly.
  31. Be careful when allowing your child to be in so many  extracurricular activities that it effects the family, finances, grades and church attendance.
  32. Explore the possibility of learning a musical instrument early.
  33. Model the behavior you want your kids to copy – they’re watching
  34. If you’re married, make sure you tell your spouse “thank you, I  love you”, etc – your  children are watching.
  35. Take your family on vacations – they don’t have to be extravagant.
  36. Love = Time- spend time with your kids. They will never forget it, and neither will you.
  37. Don’t scream at your kids – remember they are God’s gift to you. So, Discipline them appropriately.
  38. Teach  them how  to polish their shoes.
  39. Teach them what matches when it comes to clothes.
  40. It’s OK to tell them that certain clothes may not  be appropriate for them – goes for guys and gals.
  41. Teach your boys to be gentlemen.
  42. Teach your daughters to be ladies.
  43. Did I mention, take them to church, say I love you a lot, model the behavior you want them to copy?
  44. Teach them to keep their rooms clean. Keeping yours clean will go a long ways.

Agree, disagree, or be indifferent, but maybe just one on the list may resonate and create action. These are my 44 thoughts – for now.

Jul 26

Speed Reading Pt. 2

Hopefully you’ve already read Speed Reading Pt1. and have practiced a little! If not, that’s OK keep reading.

What I’m about to tell you will hopefully help with your comprehension as you read at the speed of light (not sound! Light is faster than sound!)

Books

  1. Read the entire index first. This helps get an overall direction to where the author is about to take you.
  2. When you begin each chapter see if there is a chapter summary – if yes, then read it first. Some authors provide a bullet list for you.  If you’re in a bind for time, this may suffice in lou of reading the entire chapter. If a chapter summary  doesn’t exist, then try reading the last paragraph as it’s probably a summary in itself.
  3. After checking to see if a summary exist,s then see if the chapter includes highlighted/bold words. Again if they exist, the author has done the work for you. They’ve told you what’s important. So read those before reading the chapter.
  4. Before or after reading the book you might also find a summary of your book already available on the internet.  Just search to see, then speed read your book. Your comprehension should improve.
  5. When reading, don’t read a sentence more than once. We often read a sentence more than once which slows your reading – quit going back over stuff you read until you’re finished with the chapter.

Remember, some material doesn’t lend itself well to speed reading but most does.  Try these new tips to help you speed read with better comprehension.

Jul 18

Stop the Fade – Staying Strong in Spirit and Church

The problem? Fading in your spiritual growth and blaming others! Yup – I said it. As a minister I see this all the time. Many seem to place unrealistic expectations on the church for their spiritual growth. When these unrealistic expectations aren’t met they begin to fade – attend less and less in many areas of church life – especially in worship.

The solution? Simply take responsibility for your own spiritual growth. I recently read that there are no bad teams but only bad  team leaders. In a spiritual sense you are the leader and the church is the team, so to speak. While there are pockets where this isn’t true, almost all churches offer multiple ways to assist you in growing spiritually. If, you take the mature responsibility of using them.

It’s my belief that the more involved in your church you become, the less likely you’re going to fade in your spiritual growth and worship attendance.

At the church I currently serve, we have at least 4 areas that we deem important.  It’s my belief that getting involved  in as many of these as possible is crucial to stop any potential fade in the future…

  1. Worship –
    1. Making a commitment to be physically in worship each Sunday
    2. Become enthusiastic/excited about worship
      1. Get into Worship
      2. Sing out loud using your outside voice
  2. Growth Track
    1. Starting Point 101 – Church history, past, present and future. Sacraments, Mission/Vision, what it means to be a disciple, Christianity as a lifestyle, etc…
    2. Essentials 201 – Spiritual growth assessment. This helps you gauge potential areas in your spiritual growth that you might want  to enhance. No one sees the assessment but you! Then, suggestions are offered to assist you in those areas.
    3. Discovery 301 – Spiritual gifts assessment. Discover your spiritual gifts then learn where you might use  them by serving both inside and outside the church.
  3. Life Groups
    1. Meet with people that will become some of your best friends ever!
    2. Meet at various times and places.
    3. These groups hold you accountable for our spiritual growth and service.
  4. Service
    1. Serve inside the church
    2. Serve outside the church

It’s my belief that when you become actively involved in the life of your church (past just attending worship) you lessen the likelihood of the dreaded fade. Because otherwise, you’re probably going to fade, maybe it takes a year, 3 years, 5 years, but you’re more than likely going to experience the fade.

I want to encourage you to take responsibility of your own spiritual growth. Most churches like ours offer a plethora of opportunities to choose from. Get involved, take responsibility, make your Christian faith  a lifestyle! Call your church today and register for something they have to assist you in your spiritual growth, get involved, serve, so you avoid the fade!

You got this!

Jul 17

Methodist History and the Trial of 1737

The Trial of 1737 is a trial that I’m sure John Wesley (founder of Methodism) would like to forget.  It seems that while in London he had been introduced to James Oglethorpe who had apparently started a new colony in America. That colony would be what we now know as Georgia. Wesley would be encouraged to go to America and would take up a short residence in Savannah, Georgia.  And that’s how the Trial of 1737 begins. It’ll involve what appears to be 2 jealous lovers, Wesley being one, an angry Husband being the other and an an episode centered around Communion.  If you’d like to read more about Wesley’s potential conviction then read all about it here.

Jul 11

Speed Reading Pt.1

Several years ago I was challenged to become a prolific reader by my leadership coach. For me, that meant I wanted to read at least 2 books a month – and not just thin ones. That was on top of other reading that I’d be doing. In order to do that, he also challenged me to learn to speed read.  Yes, speed reading is a real thing, so I set out to learn to speed read. Over time I have taught others to do it as well. Recently I was asked to teach others once again to do the same. So, I thought I’d write a few tutorials that have worked for me.

2 points you need to be aware of:

  1. Speed reading may not  be for you. There are times when I read at a regular pace. Most times I don’t.
  2. Some reading material lends itself to speed reading better than others.

Tips to get you started:

  1. Start practicing by reading silently without saying the words in your head. For now read at your regular speed.  Did you know that you even did that? Most people read by saying the words in their heads when they read silently. Your brain does not  need this to process the material. Saying words in your head can slow you down when you really start to increase your speed.  As you practice this you’ll get better at it. It will be a hard discipline to learn because you’ve been doing it all your life. Some people are able to master this but still prefer to say the words in their heads. But, in my opinion it will eventually be faster if  you  can learn to do this.
  2. As you start practicing number 1, start using a pointer. There are a lot of options for this technique. This is  not rocket science but will increase your speed over time. Start by just using your index finger as you read by placing it below each word you are reading. As with all pointers you should use a smooth sweeping motion. In other words, no hopping or stopping on words, just a calculated sweeping motion under each sentence. Your eyes  will slowly learn to focus on the pointer. Another choice of many is to  simply use a writing pen or pencil. But here is the wildcard that some people love – a 3×5 note card. This technique requires you to just see one line at a time as you slowly slide the card down the page from top to bottom. Some believe this allows more focus and can increase speed.

Give these a try and I’ll give you even more tips in future tutorials.

 

Jun 29

Breath of Fresh Air!

What a breath of fresh air when I heard Derek Carr’s (Now the highest paid NFL player) words when asked,…. I’ll get to that in a minute as I need to set this up…

Over the last several years NFL QB’s have not had the best of press. Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel are two that come to mind. I truly hope that they get things worked out in their lives as there is so much talent in both.

So when the reporter asked Derek Carr what he would do with his 125 million, he said,

“The first thing I’ll do is pay my tithe like I have since I was in college,” Carr told CBS Sports. “Giving $700 on a scholarship check. That won’t change. I’ll do that.”

What a breath of fresh air – he will pay his tithe – like he always has since college.
This resonated with me on many levels. Mainly, because that’s when I started tithing (in college) and have never stopped. Because I started tithing early you might think it made it easy to tithe the rest of my life… I think you’d only be partially correct. Yes it did make it easier but not because I didn’t make much money, but because I remained accountable to God. The amount doesn’t always matter because it’s still 10% for everyone, Tony Johnson making minimum wage at Olympia Sporting Goods or Derek Carr making 125 million, it’s still 10%.  Either feels like a chunk of change at the time!  Secondly, it sounds like he didn’t hesitate or question what he’d do with it. You receive income – you tithe. There came a day when I quit questioning whether I would or should tithe, I receive income, I tithe.
What a breath of fresh air to hear about a sports figure in the news for something positive. Even better though is it tells others about his conviction to Christ.
At least that’s the way I see it.

 

 

Jun 27

Why People Leave Churches – My Current Take

What I’m about to say is just my take on why people leave churches, your mileage may vary. As an addendum my thoughts are not all inclusive.

Let’s begin… I believe that there are 3 types of church growth: Biological (new babies), Conversion (new Christians – what Jesus was very interested in) and Transfer (people church hopping).

It’s the third I’d like to focus on. Some transfer growth happens when someone moves to a new town, but most transfer growth happens when people get disgruntled with their current church. Usually this is couched with various reasons – “I’m not getting fed”, “there’s nothing here for me”, “I couldn’t find a place to fit in”, etc… Then they move to a new church, it’s the one they have always been looking for – then guess what? Over time that same church becomes the one where they begin to say – “I’m not getting fed”, “there’s nothing here for me” and “I can’t find a place to fit in” etc…

Case in point… I received an Email years ago from a church  member (we now call them partners at my current church) that listed all the great reasons they decided to join. Then about  4 years later I received an Email  from that same person listing reasons why they were leaving.  Oddly enough those reasons were almost identical to the one they said were the reason why they loved the church so much. What?

People leave churches, and they always have, and they always will. My prayer is that somewhere we become honest with ourselves as to the real reason why we are leaving.

Real reasons why people leave – my take…1.  We fail to be honest with ourselves and think that it’s all about me.  It’s not, it’s really about impacting others on Christ’s behalf. A by-product of that, is that we do get something out of it. We must be taught, trained, we must grow in our faith. But many times this is the school we go to with the end goal of impacting others in our community. 2. We fail to take responsibility to get  involved in service and  small group learning environment. We encourage you to serve both inside and  outside the church. This reaffirmsyyour important role as part of the body of Christ – the church. Small groups, not corporate Worship, is where the real learning can take place. This group often becomes a second family. This group is the one that looks after you and holds you accountable to your Christian life – which should be becoming a lifestyle. 3. The grass always looks greener on the other side. It’s that way in all of life, why should the church be any different?

Here is what I know, that I want you to know. Some things are worth sticking around for. Your church community, I believe, is one of them (if you ever contemplate leaving for any of the above reasons). In my experience the majority of those that leave have never really gotten past just corporate Worship. Many didn’t get involved in other events the church offered – never served much, never attended other events, didn’t serve much in the community, etc… But many who leave because they believe the grass is greener eventually realize that all grass eventually has to be cut just like the old.  These people, if they’re not too proud eventually find there way back home and are there to stay.

Recently I read some ideas from Sebastian Junger (NYT best selling author – The  Perfect Storm, etc…). When asked, “What would  your 70 year old self  advise your current self?” Here is what he said, “The world is this continually unfolding set of  possibilities and opportunities, and the tricky thing about life is, on the one hand to have the courage to enter into things that are unfamiliar, but  also having the wisdom to stop exploring when you’ve  found something worth sticking around for.”

I think, if we’re honest, most church communities are worth sticking around for. The church I serve now is one of them.  This church is impacting our community like no other church I’ve served.

But that’s just my take.

Jun 15

Men Eating Meat – Cross Generational Gathering…

Men Eating Meat – a Cross-Generational Gathering of Friendship Church men was a huge blowout!  I wanted to create a fun atmosphere for men to gather and just talk.  No agenda, and certainly no hidden agenda! When I first conceived the idea, I was hoping for maybe 20 men that might be interested. At the close of registration, we had reached the restaurant’s limit of 65 and couldn’t accept anyone else!  It truly was a cross-generational gathering of men! One person had the family tree – son in law, grandsons, two great-grandsons and the boyfriend of his granddaughter! Fathers and sons and friends of friends and friends of sons, grandfathers, single men, and married men – you get it!

The meat and conversation was fantastic. We had loaded pork potatoes to ribs and everything in-between. The conversations varied from boats, cars, baseball, and football. Surprise, surprise – right!

I started things off thanking them for being at the first and last gathering of Men Eating Meat. But surprised them with “this isn’t the last meeting of our Cross Generational Gathering of Friendship Men and their male friends.”  There will be more to come, so keep on the lookout for the next gathering.

As one could expect, I received a lot of suggestions of other possibilities for our gatherings! From Bowling, a Chili Cook-Off for bragging rights, Barbour Motorsports Park in Birmingham, that just happens to have a Bass Pro Shop next door, to many other suggestions!

It’s always awesome to create fun atmospheres for men to come together in a healthy way and just be men!  It’s also a lot of fun learning from those older and younger than us. To hear great stories and laugh a lot. To eat with our hands and talk with our mouth’s full! To have BBQ sauce on our face – on purpose, and feel comfortable with it knowing no one is going to ask us to wipe it off!

From where I sat, all had a great time!

Until next time when men gather…

Jun 07

Church Closings Revisited…

United Methodist ministers meet annually with other ministers and church attenders. This is known as an annual conference. It’s a visioning/business meeting sort of thing.  Reports are read and presentations are made that highlight the state of the church.

One of the reports/presentations includes churches that have closed. It’s always sad to hear the church names read while a picture is placed on the screen. It’s one thing to hear a name but  another thing to see the church. They come in many forms and happen in what seems every type of community.  During this presentation, people that have attended those churches as part of the church body are asked to stand.

This year it hit home more than usual as a close friend stood when his childhood church’s name was added to the list.  The church was 9th Street UMC in Decatur, AL. His mother was still a part until it closed. In fact, it’s the church you see at the beginning of this post.

Every church seems to have a season and some close. They close for various reasons… Lack of vision, leaders like the power of their position and won’t give up their post, financing, lack of ability to attract new people or even the lack of desire to have new people, just to name a few. I also believe that there are times when you can do all you know to do and it’s still not enough. The season is over.

As I heard the names read this year, as in years past, I wonder how it ended up this way. Who wants to be a part of a church that is declining to the point of closing? My guess is nobody!  The churches, at one time had been vibrant and full of life, as people who stood on the conference floor when their church was read could testify.

I understand that some churches come to the end of their useful life – none of Paul’s churches still exist. But what frightens me are  those churches that close that hadn’t finished serving God the way God had hoped.  That could happen in many ways, I’ll leave you to guess what that would  look like…

But the one question I have relates to our love for the “have nots.”  Did any of the closed churches quit loving  the “have nots?”  Did they love on those they had, “the haves” and  lose sight of the ones they didn’t, the “have nots?”

Loving the “haves” is very important. But, in my opinion, the love for the “have nots” must be incredibly important too. Nothing earth shattering here. While many believers may agree, the question remains, what are we doing to reach  the “have nots”  on a personal level?  Many believers would agree that we should, but how many actually have a personal strategy for actually reaching the “have nots?”  Many may have a detailed strategy, I just don’t know, but my hunch is, my gut instinct is, they don’t – but I hope I’m wrong.

If you don’t have a specific plan to reach the “have nots”, then I hope you’ll give it some thought. I don’t think  we need to pray about “should we”,  but instead pray that God will guide lead you in ways to do it.

It’s something to seriously think about, if we haven’t, and time to put that plan into action.

May 30

Habits of Productive People

Who doesn’t want to become more productive? To feel great about the day’s accomplishments! If you want to become more productive, these might be the ticket for you!

These come from Forbes Magazine’s online article 9 Habits of Productive People:

  1.  Cut your  “to do” list in half
  2. Take more breaks
  3. Follow the 80/20 rule
  4. Use your morning to focus on yourself
  5. Tackle your challenging tasks before lunch

To see the details and learn the next 4 then read more here!

Older posts «