Recently had a friend ask me what I do to disciple and invest in my kids.  Thought I’d share my response here:

Investing in your kids starts first with your passion for Christ and second in your pursuit of your wife.  Psalm 127 is one of my favorite scriptures for fathers.  God has to be the builder of our household otherwise it won’t work because we’ll be doing it by our own strength and wisdom (which we all know is deeply flawed).  Our wife and our kids have to see Christ’s work in us and through us or all this stuff below will do is create either legalists or rebels.  Our goal is to give them a big and clear picture of Jesus, root their identity in Him (not school, friends, or girlfriends/boyfriends), and help them take ownership of their faith.  This cannot happen if I tell them not to fight with their siblings and I yell at mom or them and don’t clean it up.  I can’t tell them to grow in their faith and not model the life of a man fighting every day to root myself in God’s means of grace through the scriptures, prayer, and godly men who hold me accountable to my leadership.  I can’t tell them to be bold in their faith if they never see me engage with my neighbors and live on mission.

Here is how I think and live out a day of discipleship with my kids:
Morning – Character building time: We do breakfast together and we read progressively through Psalms and Proverbs.  I don’t read a whole chapter per se, but get to one key truth that sticks out to the kids.  Then we drive to application of what that will look like in their life today.  When they get home and we do dinner its the first thing we talk about.  It starts a community of accountability to see how they are living out their faith and not just learning information.

Dinner – Gospel building Time: We slowly move through one chapter of the bible together.  Right now we are in John.  Each of my kids has their own bible and I encourage them to read along with me and to write in their bibles (as they are old enough to do so).  I read a small portion of scripture, depending on the length of the chapter and then we ask three driving questions – What is the main idea of what is going on, how does this point us to Jesus, and what does this mean for our lives?  Our kids are young so this can be crazy but I always want this to be fun, interactive, and drive towards application.  This opens itself up to teachable moments where you can catch your kids doing good and praise them for it.
Two other important things we do at dinner is to talk about the high’s and low’s of their day.  This gives you the chance to talk about their lives and really find out what’s going on.  Secondly, I always come prepared to talk about a world event.  Recently the Haiti tragedy has given us some good time to talk about the greater world around them.
I always finish by having one of our kids pray the truth we learned over our family.

Bed Time – Teachable Moments: I put the kids together with Cherise every night and we have light reading and down time with the kids.  I’ve attached a reading curriculum that someone sent me a few years back that is good for ideas on other books that are good to read with your kids.  We just read through the Chronicle of Narnia series together.  I am big on having my kids read so we’ll read together, talk about it, and then they read by themselves for about 30 minutes.  This is also a great time to linger with one of your kids and have open talk time.  I’ve found that if I lay in bed with them and let them talk that this is where I really find out who they are and what is going on in their lives.  I finish up by praying with each of them individually.

Dating Your Kids – Relationship Building Time: Once a month each kid will get a date with me or Cherise.  We’ll take them out to eat alone or out for ice cream.  I want my boys to know that they are important and I want them to know how to treat a woman when they get older.  I want my daughter to know what to expect from a man and how a man of God should pursue her.  I also do a daddy breakfast once a month with everyone that is school aged and just have fun and tell silly stories.

Overall, I want my kids to see:

  • Me pursue Christ so they have a model of Godly leadership
  • Me pursue their mom so they have a model of covenant relationships
  • Me pursue them with intentionality because they are valuable to me and Christ


Best devotional book for your kids (this is the one I read with the little guys every night):
http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Storybook-Bible-Every-Whispers/dp/0310708257/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263964593&sr=1-1

Great book for how to raise your son:
http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Modern-Day-Knight-Fathers-Authentic/dp/1589973097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263964574&sr=1-1

Raising your daughter:
http://www.amazon.com/She-Calls-Daddy-Robert-Wolgemuth/dp/1561796522/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263964695&sr=1-1
Haven’t read this yet but it looks promising:
http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Modern-Day-Princess-Pam-Farrel/dp/158997574X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263964626&sr=1-1

Here are some great audio resources on parenting:
http://theresurgence.com/shepherding_a_childs_heart_conference

Hope this stuff helps.

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My life has changed quite a bit over the past two years.  My schedule is so random and chaotic that it is hard to order my world and feel like I’m always maximizing my time.  My goal for 2010 is to get more productivity out of each minute of the day.  Let me rephrase this whole concept, I am accountable to God for how I use this one life I have.  Accountable to Him, not out of fear or guilt, but the joy of a life lived with purpose and intent for the sake of seeing people rejoice in the Gospel. Paul says it well in Colossians 4:5 – “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.”

Jonathan Edwards has challenged me in this area of my life.  check out some of his resolutions:

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

“No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it.”

-Alexander MacLaren (1826–1910), Scottish preacher

I love these articles: Yahoo!

Anyone want to come join a great church in killer location?

DontWasteYourLife

This weekend we are kicking off our move to Sunday mornings and in a new location with a big BBQ with some bounce houses for the kiddos.  We are using this as a time to invite our whole city to come join us for a celebration of the life that is happening in our humble church.  Please pray for our church, this move, and all our new friends who will be joining us.

We are also kicking off a new series that I’m really excited about called Don’t Waste Your . . .  We are going to be tackling the issue of what we are living for and whether we are wasting our lives away or living life to the fullest.

Here is the blurb that we are putting in the Watermark News:

“Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially ‘deify.’ We will look to it with all the passion and intensity of worship and devotion, even if we think ourselves as highly irreligious. ” — Timothy Keller

Have you ever looked at your life and wondered – Is there more to life than this?  We live in a day and age where we are told to be whatever we want to be and to believe in whatever feels right for us.  We love freedom of choice and we love trying new experiences, but that type of lifestyle can lead to a daily reality that is detached from deep relationships and using the one life we have for something that is bigger than ourselves.  Could it be that a life that is spent pursuing new experiences and personal pleasure in jobs, relationships, even sex, is not leading to freedom but to imprisonment?  What if you could find your greatest happiness and deepest fulfillment, not in spending your life on you, but in magnifying the creator of the universe?  This is a series for anyone who has wondered if God loves them and has a bigger plan for their life.  In the next few weeks we will take a look at how the love of God may be different then you’ve ever thought.  We are going to go on a journey to see if the unwasted life is the life that seeks its own joy by putting the infinite value of Jesus Christ on display for the world to see.

What a great day.  We transitioned to Sunday mornings today and things couldn’t have gone better.  Had a great time of worship, had some visitors who’ve heard about us, and had a group of 18 friends from Watermark in Dallas join us.  Tanner Abel laid down a great worship set as we are working on creating our own “hymn book” of songs that are deep and personal for our church.

I wanted to take this morning to remind us that what will define us as a church will always be the reality of Christ being lived out passionately and vibrantly.  My dream and prayer for Watermark is that we will be known for our outrageous commitment to allowing the gospel to amaze us daily, for seeing people break free from the chains of struggle and addiction, for loving one another so sacrificially that others are drawn to a new level of relationships, that we love and engage with our friends who have never known Christ so well that they get to see the tangible kingdom of God in their lives in a way that they can’t help but be drawn to the movement of God.

For fun we started off the morning with this video:

Here is the question, who is the most courageous person?  Is it the first guy who unabashedly got his groove on because of his passion (albeit with some “help”) or was it the second or third guy.  My friend Ben Bacon seems to think that it takes more guts to be the second guy than the first.  My thought – the first guy was the trend setter.  Anyone can follow, but it takes a person of unique purpose and commitment to let it all hang out irregardless of what the broader community is doing.  The bigger question is, is what he is giving himself to worthy of being thrilled by not just in the moment, but for a lifetime?  You be the judge.

I’ve decided to add a chapter of some type of devotional book to my time with the Lord every day this summer.  I started with Packer (Deep), then Tozer (Passionate), Mason (Joyous), and now this book that I plead with you NOT TO READ – Crazy Love.  This book was written by a guy who has completely lost it and I mean completely.  He goes by the name of Francis Chan but I’m really worried about this one.  This guy has the audacity to believe that among other things:

  • Our relationship with God should be MORE than reading our bibles, attending church, and avoiding big sins
  • That our lives should not be lived for our pleasure but wholeheartedly for the purposes of God and that ultimate pleasure is found there and no where else
  • That we should leave the comforts of our lives to take risk and pursue adventure so that more people would actually hear about this Jesus guy
  • Radical living not for the sake of an adrenaline rush but for the sake of the fame of Christ should be . . . . (wait for it) . . . normative
  • The bible should be read literally (he obviously doesn’t understand that we are in a post-modern and emerging time when silly ideas like this are incongruous with mainline worldviews) and that the key purpose of the bible is to talk about God and not us
  • He believes the size, scope, and complexity of the universe actually points to a creator and not to a cosmic accident, but additionally these facts should make our hearts rise up to worship (who cares if there are 350,000,000,000+ galaxies that we can safely approximate exist)
  • That God could actually be holy, eternal, all-knowing, and all-powerful, fair and just, and that our lives should praise Him moment by moment because of His holiness and worth

I know most of you reading this won’t be tempted to read a book like this much less try to believe or live a life according to these silly ideas.  Let’s just continue to be good people because that’s the main reason that God, if there is one, would let us into heaven.  It would never be something crazy like His love shown to us by creating a universe beyond our comprehension, making us in His image, not destroying us for our selfishness of replacing His value in our lives with stuff and people, then coming to earth to die for the sins of humanity and rising to new life so that one day He would return to make this whole world whole, and doing all of this so that our standing/relationship with Him wouldn’t be based on our actions as miniscule men and women but based on His perfections as almighty God so that He might receive all the glory and honor and we might be left with just delighting in Him and worshipping Him for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

Wait, that sounds like the better option.

You’d better read this book . . .

What do you risk completely giving every aspect of your life to the reality of Christ?

What do you risk if you don’t?

If you read this and it offends you, why does it?
If you read this and agree, then why isn’t your life more offensive?

Here is an e-mail that I sent out to the men of our church today.  Hope this encourages your day and challenges your leadership:

I have been praying specifically for our leadership and the men in our church today as I have been fasting.  I’ve prayed for each of you men individually and God’s vision, Christ’s maturity, and the Spirit’s passion for your lives.  I love OUR church and I love being able to serve alongside each of you.  Thank you for your leadership and the way you serve boldly and humbly without being asked.  Thank you for serving willingly and with a happy heart when you are asked.

This past week I was given the gift of hanging out with a group of really sharp and Godly church planters.  Unfortunately I heard some stories about men on their team who had cheated on their spouses, stabbed them in the back, along with other various and sundry actions that were rooted in placing self in front of Christ’s glory and His church’s good.  If we are going to truly be a city on a hill and a church that God chooses to use for His fame in this region then we also have to be men who deal with hard times, temptation, struggles, and sin with a gospel grounding, a gutsy determination, and by living in the light with godly men.

In my study in Nehemiah I was impacted by chapter 6 and specifically these verses 6:10-13:
10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.”  11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.

I love the biblical vision for manhood.  It calls men to be REAL men.  Men who fight for what is right and against what is wrong.  It calls us to cling to God as our source of strength and vision for our purpose.  It bids us to love our wives (or prepare for our future wives) sacrificially and to build up our children to know who they are and the greatest calling on their lives, which is to be wild eyed imitators of Jesus Christ.  It calls us to be influencers of everyone around us and to lead from humility and grace through Christ’s power in us.  It calls us to build with all of our God given might and gifts so we leave an indelible mark on every task we put our hands to.  It calls us to create culture and impact this world as we beckon Christ to make His kingdom known in our lives and through our lives.  It bids us to come and to die so that life may abound from the resurrection power at work in us.

Most men are never called to live or invited to lead in this way.  What God is doing in our church is not common and therefore it is a gift.  It is a privilege that God has graciously placed in our hands and your future, my future, and our church’s future is dependent upon our stewardship of this grace.  So my charge to each of you is to lead.  Start by making the challenge of finding your greatest strength and joy be in Christ today.  Take your wives on dates, teach your children what passionate faithfulness looks like tonight, show your employers what a Spirit filled work ethic looks like, share your faith with your neighbor, enjoy the drive home with the radio off and sing to the Lord a new song, let your cup run over especially when the day is hard, look to Christ not at porn, allow yourself to be amazed by the gospel message that Christ stands in victory over everything you feel stands against you and that your eternity is hid with Christ in heaven, not by anything you’ve done but through Christ’s finished work on the cross.

This is an unabashed call to not wait to lead but to let your passions loose so that the next 50 guys that come to our church feel loved  so well that they see the Spirit transform their lives, that they are invited into a brotherhood where they can set down the broken cisterns of money and comfort and lust and every other other thing that is sucking life from them and with Nehemiah and with us say “I will not go” except to where the cross calls me and that I’ll do it with real men.

In Him,
Michael

Had a chance to relax and renew this past week with about 250 other church planters and their wives.  There were so many take aways but maybe the sweetest moment for me was twice a day we would worship together in song.  Don’t know if I’ve ever heard singing that would best be described as “hungry” like that ever before.  What made it different was that this was a room full of missionaries.  Men and women who are on the front lines of ministry.  Taking the gospel to the most needy and most difficult areas of the US and the world.

Out of that time I gained a new favorite song – Taylor Sorensen’s Gloria 34.  I first saw this on a Mars Hill video and then the guy who led worship this week re-wrote it into a worship song.  It’s a great way to sing through Psalm 34, check out these lyrics:

I sought for the King
And He heard me
And delivered me
From my lonely fears
They looked unto Him
And they would attend
And all their faces
Were made unashamed
(Refrain)
Gloria, Gloria
Gloria, Gloria
(Chorus)
O, taste and see
That the Lord is good
All you people
All you saints
All you children of the King
When was the last time you tasted, really were overwhelmed by the person, the means, the expense, the method, the aim, the weight, the glory, the joy of your salvation?
Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:11

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