How to Forgive Your Father

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As I mentioned in a recent sermon, one of the hardest things for us as we see God as father is how we feel about our earthly father. That relationship impacts so much of how we see ourselves, the world around us and God. It impacts how we feel about ourselves and how we let others treat us.

As you take steps this week to let go of any hurt done by your earthly father and forgive him, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

One, remember your sin. It is easy to simply look at the brokenness of someone else and overlook our brokenness. As you forgive someone, you begin to come face to face with some of the things in your own heart. If you skip over these things or not deal with them, you will find yourself having a hard time understanding God’s forgiveness. Remember, God’s grace was extended to you and your sin, my sin, the sin of your father put Jesus on the cross.

Two, forgiveness does not mean you pretend something didn’t happen. Forgive and forget is a nice phrase, but I’m not sure it is realistic or biblical. We always remember something. It is part of our story, our life. We don’t simply pretend that hurt, broken promises, or even abuse happened. As you forgive and move forward, don’t pretend something didn’t happen as that will keep you from health and wholeness.

Third, forgiveness does not mean you have a relationship with someone. You can forgive someone and keep them at a distance, which you may need to do depending on the situation for your safety.

Last, God forgave you and this is the basis for letting go of anything. Why did God forgive you? He loved you and this forgiveness is what we are to extend to those who hurt us, including our father.

It may be hard to believe, but forgiving those who hurt you the most is not only something a follower of Jesus is called to, it is also the only way to living the life that God calls you to live. Many people walk around with hurt, that turns into bitterness because of something they won’t let go of. And that is not the life that God has called us to live.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Tim Challies on The preacher’s cheat sheet.

Preparing a sermon is one of the most gratifying and the most difficult tasks you’ll ever face. There is joy in finding meaning in the text, in finding structure, in developing just the right outline, in discovering the perfect illustration. But there is also labor and, at times, intense spiritual warfare. 

Bob Russell looks back at 40 years of ministry and says what he would do differently and the same if he did it all over again.

If I could do it again, I’d stay in one place for 40 years and then step aside at age 62. 

Brad Lomenick on 12 tips to being a better communicator.

Drew Dyck on What hollywood gets wrong about heaven.

Did a 4-year-old boy from Nebraska really visit heaven? I don’t know. My hunch is that the popularity of such stories tells us more about our view of God than the place in which he dwells. Ultimately I believe we flock to gauzy, feel-good depictions of heaven and tiptoe around the biblical passages mentioned above because we’ve lost sight of God’s holiness. I fear we’ve sentimentalized heaven and by extension its primary occupant. I worry the modern understanding of God owes more to Colton Burpo than the prophet Isaiah. And I think this one-sided portrayal diminishes our experience of God. We can’t truly appreciate God’s grace until we glimpse his greatness. We won’t be lifted by his love until we’re humbled by his holiness.

7 things a good dad says.

I have found myself thinking back to the many models of fatherhood I have seen and admired through the years. What made these fathers admirable? What set them apart? What was it that they said to their children? From these models I have drawn seven things a good father says.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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How to optimize your energy and your tasks to work better.

Do what you’re best at when you’re at your best.

 

Jonathan Merritt on Grace. I can’t recommend his new book Jesus is Better than You Imagined highly enough.

Brian Dodd on 16 tips to be a great speaker.

Because leaders have to cast vision and inspire those on their teams to action, the ability to communicate well is a necessary skill each leader must have.

Reflections on the Noah movie. Helpful list.

Gloria Furman on Missional motherhood.

Eternity means that childrearing is an awe-full, serious joy.

Tim Challies on 7 things a good dad says.

“I love you.” Men can be so petty, so prideful, and hold back those words. Yet there is no good reason for it. The more awkward it feels, the more urgent it is. From the dads I admire I’ve learn that a father needs to say, “I love you,” and he needs to say it often.

 

 

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Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy

Marriage

Last week, as I wrapped up our series Beautiful at Revolution, I preached on Proverbs 31. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

One of the things that struck me is verse 23 when we are told what her husband is like.

There are many sides and applications to this verse.

The first is to women, which I blogged about here. The other is to fathers of daughters.

Many fathers talk a big game about protecting their daughters, yet when it comes down to teaching them about sex, fashion, modesty, who to date and marry, they cower in the corner.

Every man wants to know that their life will matter. Every man wants to leave a legacy when they are gone. This is why it matters how involved you are in your kids lives and what you teach them. When your daughter marries a man, your legacy will be determined by him.

This man, will teach your grandkids how to worship Jesus, how to read their Bible, he will teach them a work ethic, he will teach them about Jesus, money and generosity, sex and fashion. He will teach your grandsons how to view and treat women by how he will treat your daughter. He will treat your granddaughters about how men treat women by how he will treat your daughter. All of these things will be taught by him.

Now, think about how men are involved in who their daughter marries.

They often know very little about the man who marries his daughter. They only know that their daughter likes him, he claims to be a Christian and he came to ask permission for her hand. What a guy.

Sadly, this is typical and seen as a good thing and not even close to be able to know if he is worthy of your daughter.

Men, do more than this.

I’m not saying you should go on a date with your daughter, but be around her and the man she wants to marry. Watch him. Spend time alone with him. Ask him about his relationship with Jesus. Talk about theology and the gospel. Ask him about purity and sex. Is this personal? Yes. You know this from your life to be true, your sexual history dramatically impacted your marriage.

My hope for men is that they step up to the plate and serve their daughters in this way. You encourage your daughter in school, in a major, jobs to take, opportunities to spend time on. Then, when it comes to marriage we think, “That is her choice.” Everything you help her in is her choice, this one, marriage, is just the most important life decision she will make outside of following Jesus.

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Tell the Story of Your Kids

What is your story?

This week, Ashton turned 5. Hard to believe he is 5.

It meant that it was also time for me to write him a birthday letter. This is a practice I started with our daughter when she was born.

One of the things I believe a dad can do it help to tell the story of their child’s life to them. I feel like with the rise of technology and pace in our lives, we lose an aspect of stories and remembering.

So, every year on their birthday I write them a letter about what happened in their life in this past year. How our family changed, how they changed, milestones in their life. I save each letter and will give them to them when they turn 18 or graduate from college. I haven’t decided yet.

My hope is that this will be a chronicle of what happened, a way of showing them how they became who they are, where they came from. As I talk to a lot of young adults, there seems to be a loss of not only who they are, but where they have come from. A rootless feeling for many.

I want them to see their heritage, so that as they move into the world as an adult, they know where they came from and who they are.

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Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

bookOne of the books I read as I prepared for our current series at Revolution was Dr. Meg Meeker’s great book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know.

To me, this is such an empowering book for fathers. We often feel unsure, at a loss of how to relate to our daughters, how to treat them differently than a son, or how to feel like we are moving forward in a relationship with them.

This book is about what a daughter needs from a father that a mother cannot give.

Here are a few things I highlighted:

  • What you say in a sentence, communicate with a smile, or do with regard to family rules has infinite importance for your daughter.
  • Friends, family members, teachers, professors, or coaches will influence her to varying degrees, but they won’t knead her character. You will. Because you are her dad.
  • Loving your daughter better might seem complicated to you, but it’s very simple to her. Being a hero to your daughter sounds daunting, but actually it can be quite easy. Protecting her and teaching her about God, sex, and humility doesn’t require a degree in psychology. It just means being a dad.
  • Fathers, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter’s life.
  • Boyfriends, brothers, even husbands can’t shape her character the way you do. You will influence her entire life because she gives you an authority she gives no other man.
  • Being a twenty-first-century hero is tough stuff. It requires emotional fortitude, mental self-control, and physical restraint. It means walking into embarrassing, uncomfortable, or even life-threatening situations in order to rescue your daughter.
  • Whatever outward impression she gives, her life is centered on discovering what you like in her, and what you want from her.
  • The only way you will alienate your daughter in the long term is by losing her respect, failing to lead, or failing to protect her. If you don’t provide for her needs, she will find someone else who will—and that’s when trouble starts. Don’t let that happen.
  • Authority is not a threat to your relationship with your daughter—it is what will bring you closer to your daughter, and what will make her respect you more.
  • Nothing feels better to a teen or young daughter than being protectively embraced by dad’s strong arms.
  • Do a gut check on your own beliefs, and think of what sort of woman you want your daughter to be. She’ll learn not only from what you say, but from what you do.
  • If you don’t accept the authority that is naturally yours, if you don’t set high standards, if you don’t act to protect your daughter, if you don’t live a life of moral principle, your daughter will suffer.
  • The minute you waffle on your convictions, you lose stature in your daughter’s eyes.
  • Let me tell you a secret about daughters of all ages: they love to boast about how tough their dads are—not just physically, but how strict and demanding they are.
  • When I talk to daughters about their fathers, the conversations are almost always emotionally charged. They adore their fathers or hate them—sometimes they do both simultaneously.
  • Your daughter yearns to secure your love, and throughout her life she’ll need you to prove it.
  • We talked about how difficult it is for parents to be realistic about their own children. Because we want them to make good decisions, we assume they will. We want to believe our kids are stronger, more mature, and better capable of handling situations than other kids. And that’s when mistakes happen.
  • Most parents pull away from their teenage daughters, assuming they need more space and freedom. Actually, your teenage daughter needs you more than ever. So stick with her. If you don’t, she’ll wonder why you left her.
  • Daughters who feel a stronger emotional connection with their fathers feel more attached to them. And the more attached she feels to you, the lower the likelihood that she will be depressed or have an eating disorder.
  • Girls hate feeling invisible.
  • When you show a genuine interest in being with her, she feels more attached to you.
  • If you listen to your daughter attentively for ten minutes every day, by the end of the month you’ll have a completely new relationship with her.
  • Boundaries and fences are a must for girls, particularly during the teen years.
  • Remember that whatever she says, the very fact that you thoughtfully and consistently enforce rules of behavior makes her feel loved and valued. She knows that these rules are proof that you care.
  • Your daughter needs to feel unique and important in your eyes.
  • When fathers don’t teach their daughters humility—that we are all created equal and are equally valuable—advertisers, magazines, and celebrities will teach them otherwise.
  • Girls who have the gift of humility are better placed to have deeper, longer-lasting friendships. With humility, your daughter is free to enjoy people for who they are; she’ll have no haughty desire to cut people out of her life.
  • Happiness is truly found only when it is routinely denied.
  • Protect her budding sexuality and defend her right to modesty. Reiterate to her that sex isn’t a simple bodily function—it is powerfully linked to her feelings, thoughts, and character.
  • Parents are the most important influence on their teenagers’ decisions about sex.
  • Think very seriously about her as a girl growing into a woman, a sexual being. When she is three years old, think about what you want for her when she is twenty. You must, because even when she’s three you give her messages about her body—whether it’s beautiful or chubby. And all these messages count.
  • Your daughter needs you to hug her often. If you are gentle, respectful, and loving, that’s what she will expect from boys. And she needs to know—all the time—that you love her.
  • All girls from eleven years old on feel fat. They feel ugly, pudgy, pimply, and unattractive. Watch how your young teen stands. Most girls slouch if they’re tall. If they’re short, they wear platform shoes. Girls almost inevitably lack confidence in their appearance. So move in and hug her. The effect can be profound.

Here’s the short: if you are a father of a daughter or will be, you need to read this book. As soon as possible. I was so challenged and encouraged by this book in how to interact and love my daughter to become who God created her to be.

To see other book notes, click here.

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A Mother’s Heart (From a Husband’s Perspective)

If men are honest, we’d like to understand our wives, we try to, but we are often left scratching our heads as to what they need, what they want and what they are trying to say. While men love to stay in the world of logic and avoid emotions at all cost, women stay right at home in emotions. For men, it rarely makes sense and if you ask women, they will tell you it doesn’t have to make sense.

Over the last month, as we’ve shared with people what is happening in our adoption, waiting to bring Judah Mamush home it has been hard to describe the agony of what it feels like. I told one guy that we’ve discussed putting Katie on a plane so she can go to Ethiopia to be with Judah Mamush until he passes embassy and he said, “Josh, you need to stop trying to control things.” I said the same thing to a couple of Mom’s and they all looked they were going to cry.

While the last month has been hard for me, it has been different for Katie. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about my wife and the heart of a mother that hopefully will be helpful to other men (whether they have kids or not).

Here they are:

  • A mother feels differently than a father. While this is true of men and women in general as I said earlier, when it comes to parenting it is even more true. A mother feels the loss of something different than a father does. I miss Judah. I can’t wait for him to be here, to play soccer with him, teach him to ride a bike, to do things with him. Katie longs to hold him, to snuggle him, hug him and tell him that he is loved. To give him a feeling he has not had in his life, a feeling of safety, of belonging.
  • Be honest with your wife about your heart. While men often get labeled as callous or insensitive because we don’t cry or feel the way a woman does, it is important to be honest with your wife about your heart. A wife always wants to know what you are feeling, what is running through your head and heart. When we left Judah Mamush on our last day in Ethiopia, he was on the ground screaming and crying because he didn’t know if we were coming back, he only knew we were leaving. He doesn’t speak English so we couldn’t say, “We’re coming back.” Katie is on the verge of losing it and I did everything in my power to pick him up and not cry. I couldn’t even talk or else I would’ve cried. I am almost crying retelling this story. As we left and over the last month, it has been important to my wife’s heart to know of my heart, to know how it hurts, to know my longing as a father for my son. To not be the man and just bottle it up and with tough upper lip. That’s why a wife thinks her husband is insensitive, because he holds back. 
  • Distance is easier for men to handle. Men can handle distance in relationships because of how we handle emotions. We are able to compartmentalize things, get busy and forget about things because we are laser focused and don’t multi-task our emotions. I can go a whole day and not think about something that Katie has thought about all day while doing 15 other things. This can create a sense for women that their husbands don’t care or don’t feel. That isn’t it at all, it is just that we push it to the back of our minds so that we can do other things. If I thought about Judah the way Katie did, I would never get any work done. She can think of him, teach our kids, have coffee with someone, make dinner and still think of Judah and post something on Facebook that isn’t related to Judah.
  • Hold a woman when she cries, don’t ask questions. This has been one of our rules in marriage from day one. Katie has told me, “When I cry, just hold me and don’t ask why.” This is just solid advice for a husband, but even more so in the moments of parenting when you as the father can’t fix a situation or do anything about it. I can’t make the Ethiopian embassy go faster or look at our paperwork. I can’t send Katie on a plane to Ethiopia to bring Judah home any faster than it is going and that is frustrating.
  • A mother’s heart is a mystery. While I’ve learned some things, a mother’s heart is a mystery to me and will remain so. It feels and responds in ways I can’t even imagine. It longs in ways that I don’t. It aches in ways that don’t even cross my mind. It is a mystery, and yet, as a father and husband I am grateful for it. It forces me to feel in important ways. I can easily be tough and not emotional, but walking with Katie through this time, meeting Judah and holding him and then the agony of having to say goodbye to him has taught me a lot about being a father and the love God has for me.

My hope with this post was to honor my wife and the beauty and power of her heart as a mother. But to also help men know how to best honor, love, care for and support their wives and the hearts that beat in them. To encourage them to be a mystery, to have emotion and to handle things differently from men.

The Sins of a Pastor || Giving Away too Much at Home

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Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.

So far we’ve covered:

  1. Your Bible is for more than just sermon prep.
  2. A pastor being untouchable.
  3. The pastor’s family. 
  4. The need to be needed. 

The fifth sin that many pastors deal with is the sin of giving away too much at home. I think this sin could just be labeled to all men.

This can look any number of ways:

A pastor disciples people for a living so is lazy at home. Much like the first sin we discussed that a pastor uses his bible only for sermon prep, when you disciple people for a living, the last thing you want to do is come home and do more “work.” As a pastor, I get this. It is easier to disciple others than those closest to you. The problem is that as a man, you are called to pastor your family. Every man, every father. Many men fall into this trap because his wife spends more time with the kids, he lets her disciple more than she should. Now, hear me out here because if you miss this, you will miss the point. In our family, Katie spends more time with our kids than I do. But, as the head of our house, it is my job to set the tone of family worship and discipleship. Together, we talk through what our kids will learn, what as a family we will study, what things she thinks will work best for our kids at their various ages. Too many men simply let their wives do this alone instead of walking together in it.

Does not give a vision to his family of where they are going. Many pastors are strong visionaries. They lead building campaigns, launch new ministries, cast a vision for where their church is going. Yet, they have no vision for their family. Think for a moment, do you have a way of deciding how to spend your money or time as a family? How do you know who you should spend time with? What is the most important thing for your family in the next 2-6 months? How will you know if the next season will be busy or if it is time to slow down as a family? Your family needs this, they need the structure that you as the husband/father should provide.

If you don’t have a clear mission statement for your family, read this. The bottom line, if your ran the church how you run your family, how would it go? How long until you got fired for having no vision or organization?

Makes his church more important than his family. Many pastors children grow up to despise the church and the reason is because they grew up feeling like the church was more important than they were. Dad skipped things for church stuff. They were pushed aside for things at church. Now, pastors should work hard, just like any other man. No child should grow up feeling they got leftovers from their dad.

Here are some ways to communicate to your wife and kids they are more important than your job:

  1. Tell them. One day, someone else will pastor Revolution Church. I will die or retire. No one else will parent my kids.
  2. Date nights and daddy dates. Every week you should have a date night with your wife, pursuing her, wooing her, loving her. Every week, you should have a daddy date with one of your kids. Spending time with them, doing something they want to do.
  3. Don’t look at email, social media or messages when you’re off (especially during dinner). This seems obvious, but a lot of people in our culture are addicted to technology. We go into cold sweats at the prospect of not checking social media or email for an evening, let alone a whole day. If that’s you, you should for sure turn it off.
  4. Communicate your family’s important to your church. Tell your church from up front how much your family matters. Bottom line pastor, if your marriage or family falls apart, so does your ministry. If your marriage falls apart and your church doesn’t fire you or put you on a leave of absence, you shouldn’t be there anyway. It is one of the qualifications of being an elder. You should never use an illustration that paints your wife or kids in a bad light. Need an illustration of what not to do, use yourself as an example. Talk about how important they are. Tell your church that by valuing your family, they are valuing the church. If I’m talking to someone at church and one of my kids comes up and says, “Excuse me Dad” like we’ve taught them, I’ll ask the person I’m talking to to wait. If this frustrates them, that’s okay. My wife and kids are that important. I’d expect and hope someone would do that to me.
  5. Be at their stuff.  As a pastor, you have a flexible schedule. Use that to your advantage with your family. You can work on a sermon after your kids are in bed, you don’t have to do it at 2pm during a school recital.

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What to do on Daddy Dates

I get asked a lot by Dad’s what to do on daddy dates, how do you talk with your kids on daddy dates. If we’re honest as Dad’s, daddy dates are something we want to do, they are fun, we want to have a relationship with our kids. It is just intimidating.

I first started daddy dates when Ava was 18 months old. I wanted to give Katie a break and I decided early on I was going to beat that punk kid with cheap jewelry, driving his dad’s car from stealing her heart. I figured I had a head start.

Here are some goals for a good daddy date:

  • It is about being with your child. Turn your phone off, be present with them.
  • Do what they want to do. This isn’t about what you want to do, although sometimes it can be introducing them to a hobby of yours like rock climbing, hiking, fishing, depending on the age.
  • It doesn’t have to be anything major. You don’t need to go out to eat each time. You don’t even need to spend money. One of the favorite things for my boys is to take them to a skate park where they can ride their scooters while I watch and make videos of it.
  • Talk to them. This is awkward depending on their age, but try.
  • Listen to some good kids worship music in the car. This is our current favorite.

Questions I ask:

  • What are you learning right now in school?
  • What do you want to talk about today?
  • How can I pray for you?

Because of the age of our kids, right now daddy dates typically are me with one of them at a local coffee shop sharing a treat. Find a rhythm that works for your family. I do one daddy date a week with a different child, they each take turns.

What do you do on your daddy dates that works well?

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Raising a Boy to Become a Man

The last 3 weeks at Revolution have been amazing. We have had our highest attendance the last 3 weeks and God is doing some amazing things. This week, we are continuing our series The Perfect Kid as we dive into the topic of “Raising a boy to become a man.”

There is a lot of confusion in our culture as to what a man is. Most images of men are TV or in the movies are not helpful. They are often portrayed as weak doormats, the dumbest person in the house, domineering, abusive, drunk, uninvolved, absent. Consequently, women don’t know what they are looking for in a husband, which then means women don’t have an idea of what their husband should do in a marriage, or what a woman does in a marriage.

This trickles down when you have children. What are you training your son to become? Do you have a clear vision of manhood that you are passing on to him? What about what you teach your daughter she should be looking for?

Scripture has a lot to say about what a man is to be, what a father is to be, what a husband is to be and what we should be raising our sons to become.

It is very different from what culture says a man should be, because it has a different goal.

We will also be doing Q & A with a special guest this week that I know is going to be awesome.

You won’t want to miss it!

So, do whatever you have to do to get to Revolution this Saturday night (and don’t forget to bring a friend with you)! This is a great week to bring a friend (especially families with boys), every parent wants help and advice when it comes to parenting, so this is an easy series to invite them to. To use an e-vite, just go here. And come expecting to see God move and do something huge in our lives.

Remember, we meet at 5pm at 6620 E 22nd St.

See you then.