Tag Archive: Family


I can tell it’s time for a vacation.  The articles of the  last few weeks have been hard to write.  Usually, when the mind is not putting things together, it’s time to take a break.  I tell people all the time when I sense they are running on empty, “Even Jesus took a break, and you ain’t Jesus.”  My time away is still ,as of today, 16 days away.  I see light at the end of the tunnel.  In the mean time readers, you may have to put up with my ramblings that may seem to run all over the place.  It’s how my tired mind works.  Or doesn’t.  

I like to listen to Johnny Cash’s music.  His songs are so full of life.  People who have had struggles and I mean serious struggles seem to relate to his songs.  My personal favorite is “A Boy Named Sue.”  I remember the first time I heard that one.  I laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  Johnny came out with that one in 1969.  I was 10 years old.  I thought it was so funny that someone would name his boy, Sue.  

Just the other day my iPod shuffled the classic hit into play mode.  Again, a smile crossed my face as I ventured back to 1969.  Only this time, not only did I enjoy Johnny’s live rendition, I focused on the words of his dad.  He named him Sue because he knew he was not going to be along, and he wanted his boy to grow up tough.  A bit over the top, but the message comes through.  He loved his son enough to give him a girl’s name.  Let’s just say it was a different world in 1969.  

We could argue all day long that if that dad really loved his boy he would hot have wandered away.  I use the word “wander” on purpose.  Jesus describes us as wandering sheep in Luke 15.  Do you know why sheep wander? It’s easy.  They are natural wanderers!  Sometimes I think we forget the basics of Jesus’ teachings.  Jesus had no real issues with our nature.  Our fallen nature should not surprise anyone.  In that amazing chapter written by Dr. Luke, Jesus is addressing the group who thought they had their act together.  He describes us as lost sheep, lost coins, and rebellious kids.  In all of this, Jesus does not issue one single negative comment.  Instead, he talks about his love and grace.  His love to find us and welcome us home.  HIs grace to restore us in relationship with Him.  

I have way too many discussions with fellow “Christians” who want to talk about the reasons we are losing the next generation.  We want to blame technology.  We want to blame the education system.  We want to blame the youth group leaders.  We want to blame just about anything we can get our hands on.  That is, as long as you don’t blame me.  You can blame me, though.  I will admit I’m a natural wanderer.  I get lost at times and, yes, I too can shake my fist at my God and take off on my own path.  Any one of those three will impact my church, my family, and my community.  That is, if I don’t have a sound understanding of the nature of man and the nature of God and how they engage one another.

It is at this point we need to stop our debating and useless blame shifting.  The struggle to give the gospel to the next generation has been an issue since man sinned.  After Adam and Eve came Cain, and he killed his brother.   Noah had an issue with Ham.  David, yes, the great King David, a man after God’s own heart, had serious next generation problems.  In case you don’t know, his one son sexually abused his sister. David’s son Absalom killed the abuser-brother.  Eventually, Absalom rebelled against dad, but, was killed fighting against him.  Don’t forget Solomon, the one son left.  He had serious women issues.  What did David do in all this?  From what we see, not much at all.  

There are plenty of other next generation problems in Scripture as well as the entire history of the church.  It is a common problem.  We waste too much time trying to fix blame.  Fixing blame takes the heat off of those trying to find a solution.  

In the end of the day, each one of us needs to take personal responsibility as we address the next generations.  Instead of judgment, we need to express grace.  Instead of fixing blame on everyone and everything else, we extend mercy by taking responsibility for our failures and sin.  Instead of building walls expecting the next generation to leap tall buildings in a single bound, we express our love by walking with them as the Prodigal Father did in Luke 15 with our arms wide open looking to embrace our natural wanderers.

We as adult individuals either live our lives thinking we are the potter, or we live our lives understanding we are the clay, being honest with our human nature and responding with great love, grace, and mercy.  It’s truly the Jesus way.  

I can hear Johnny Cash now…”I hear the train a coming…”. I hear the vacation train coming around the bend.  

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Once again I scan the various stores on line and can’t seem to find the right gift for my wife.  She is not easy to buy for this time of year.  She doesn’t wear makeup (she’s naturally beautiful).  She is not a big jewelry person.  I used to buy almost all her clothes, but since styles changed I have no idea. 

Black Friday came and went with no ideas hitting home.  Cyber Monday was full of gifts that hold zero interest.  It’s going to be a very hard Christmas gift-wise.  I could take some guesses.  I’d buy her one of those light up Cowboys sweaters I see on T.V., howeve,r I enjoy being married.  I’m about ready to give up!

I did get an idea last night. We were at our community group meeting.  We are reading and discussing a book titled Caring for One Another.  Chapter 6 talks about building personal and prayerful relationships.  It is almost a lost art these days.  It was a great discussion.

We were talking about the obstacles to a personal relationship.  One of our members boldly proclaimed, “Nobody knows each other anymore.”  He was right!  

It was right at that moment I got my idea for Christmas.  I know it sounds strange, but, as I Iistened to the conversation, it became clear.  Instead of gifts, my wife and my family need time with each other.  With our fast-paced society and many working long hard jobs, the amount of quality time we spend with each other is getting less and less, and we don’t need research to prove the point. 

When husbands and wives come to the office for some work on their marriage, I guarantee every time there is a deficit in quality time together.  There is a little exercise that has the couple actually say how many hours a week they spend doing various activities during the week.  Let’s consider sleep.  Eight hours a night times seven days a week has an individual sleeping 56 hours a week.  With 168 hours in a week after sleep, it leaves 112 hours.  Add 8 hours a day for work and we are down to 72 hours.  We work this exercise.  Without fail families end up in the deficit, and we don’t even get to time spent dedicated to one another.  The worst one I saw recently was a negative 22 hours.  Something had to change and change quickly.

My family is no different.  Ministry is not a 40-hour a week job.  Both my wife and I are in ministerial positions.  We have double trouble.  Some weeks I spend more time with my dog than with my wife.  That is not good.  

In our world there is another element stealing our time together.  Other people no longer have to knock on the door to interrupt the family.  All they have to do is text.  Ministry might be the worst of all occupations.  Church members will text any time of the day or night about non-essential topics.  We talk a lot about grace.  If only it could be applied to a non-answered text at 10:30 p.m. about the topic being covered in the morning Bible study.  

Even if we choose to not answer, we then disrupt our lives with thoughts and feelings about not answering.  Sometimes it’s just easier to answer the text.  Meanwhile, our family time has just been lost, and those moments lost will not be recoverable.  

The more I talk with my friends I find this is the norm.

This Christmas, instead of giving a nice gift that, over time loses its value, consider giving your loved ones what I believe is the most important commodity…time.  We can make more money, but we can’t make more time.  Only so much time is allowed to all of us.  There is no such thing as a “time” bank.  

So, this year there will be one present to open.  The other ones are dedicated commitments to spend quality time together.  That means saying “no” to others.  It involves making decisions with the other person in mind.  I won’t remember the many Christmas presents I have received over the years.  I will remember the walks on the beach, the laughter as we talk about our crazy family, and the times we turn our phones off and enjoy each other’s company no matter where we are and no matter what we are doing. 

He drug himself in the back door once again.  Ten hour days.  Six days a week.  Six years running.  His faithful wife once again had dinner ready.  By this time his daughter was in middle school and the boy was in fifth grade.  The sibling rivalry stuff was in full gear.  Seldom did they look across the table at one another.  If they did it was usually a glare.  Meanwhile, without one single word his wife’s body language yelled at him that it had been another one of those days.  We don’t need to define it.  We all have them.  When they start to string together life turns gray, vanilla, ho hum and the ruts grow a little deeper.

No use upsetting the apple cart at this point.  Let’s see if they can get through dinner without WWIII.  After a little light chatter silence settled in for a few seconds even though it felt like hours.  To break the silence, the tired dad asks his daughter, “How was school today.”  I don’t know what he expected.  “Fine,” was mumbled between bites of food.  I don’t know if Guinness has a record for the most days a dad hears “Fine” from his children but he would bet he was nearing the world record.

Turning to his rambunctious ADD son he hesitated for a moment then let the same old question fly, “What did you learn in school today Buckoo?”  With a gleam in his eye and a smirk on his face the lad responds in glee, “Nothin.”  “Nothin, not one single bit of new stuff learned today?” Dad employs.  “Nope, Nothin.”

At just about every American dinner table they learn what made the ruts in the wagon trails as we moved west.  Running over the same old place over and over again with little movement to the left or right will without a doubt create a rut.  Welcome to dinner.  Rah.

Dad was starting to stew so he looked at mom and let her know he was tired of working so hard and so long to send the kids to private school if all he gets for his effort was “Fine and Nothin.”  He forgot her body language just a few minutes ago told him it was probably not a good time to complain, poke or prod.  We don’t have to go into detail at this point.  Let’s just say mom let it be known that he had no idea what it was like to deal with Ms. Fine and Mr. Nothin over homework before dinner.  Here we go!  The game is on.

Only today, dad was not going to put gasoline on the fire.  Nope, it wasn’t worth it at least not in front of the kids.  Silence once again ruled the dinner table.  It’s a good thing this family was not in the technological age or the iPods, pads or phones would have allowed each one to retreat into their own world hoping dad doesn’t want to have one of “those” talks.

For some reason that only God can say the worn out dad turned to his daughter and asked a different question, “Honey, we are supposed to be a Christian family, have you experienced God lately?”  With mouth agape and the look of complete astonishment she muttered, “No.”  “Well, why not?” He quickly retorts.  Like any middle school student she actually replied correctly, “I don’t know, do you?”  Dad turns to the easily distracted ball of energy to his left and asks the same questions.  The replies were repeated once again.

It was his wife’s turn.  Made as well make it a perfect trifecta.  “Hey Babe, how about you, have you experienced God recently?”  She looked at her two offspring and replied, “Not with these two in the house.”

At this point all three are staring at their father and husband in disbelief.  He got em.  They had no idea what he was up to.  Come to think about it, he had no idea either.  He simply knew they claim the name of Jesus on Sunday but Jesus was hard to find any other hour of the week.  Something had to change.

“Well, I tell you what,” Dad got charged up.  “I’m going to ask these questions at least one day every week until God shows up.  When he does, I want you to share it with us so we can all enjoy God together.”  It took several weeks.  Slowly, the family began to respond.  The first question they started to answer was “Why not?”  The list of distractions began to grow.  All excuses and blames.  Dad didn’t argue.  He affirmed the struggle to find God amidst the hustle and bustle of life.

Eventually, weeks down the line, the youngest responded, “Yeah Dad, I did experience God.”  With a surprised look Dad asked him, “Share it with us I want to enjoy it with you.”  He did.  It was small but it was powerful.  The family began to share.  They began to talk about life.  They began to talk about Jesus.  Jesus showed up and it changed this one family forever.

Sometimes, we just don’t ask the right questions.

This morning I have the grandkids. It’s amazing how much energy they expend at 6:00 a.m. Their energy demands attention. Just the other day I let the 6 year old ball of energy stray a few minutes behind the house showing the neighbor our bird houses and feeders. Within a few minutes he was showing me his cut finger with blood dripping off his elbow. Let’s just say the rest of they night was lost. Life has a way of using up our greatest commodity.
What’s our greatest commodity? It’s not gold and silver even though we desire on financial stability. It’s not wheat and grains even though we do like good food especially those covered in chocolate. Maybe chocolate is the greatest commodity. No, not really. Some think a good spouse and a family is the greatest commodity. It can be in a sense. I won’t argue too long on that one. However, without the absolute greatest commodity we cannot enjoy our families. The greatest commodity in life is time. Time measures our life and we are all going to run out of it.
The older I get the more I realize the value of time. At the same time more and more things are stealing our time. Every relationship, job and element of life puts us on the clock. One thing we all need is time just to function. I no longer count the expense of things in dollars and cents. It’s minutes and hours that cost. At the same time it’s slipping away.
My greatest commodity, time, was stolen from me this very morning. Every senseless email, irrelevant text, and totally unimportant interruptions usually associated with my cell phone steals time. In this information age we think we are getting smarter by having so much information at our fingertips. We actually might be getting dumber since we can’t figure out how to control the thefts and don’t know how to use the information we get. The Bible calls that one wisdom. Smarter doesn’t mean wiser.
We forgot the law that says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every second spent in vain and indeed useless response to a not so important beep, tone and blip, we are taking time away from something. Workplaces are clamping down on personal cell phone use. However, we are not clamping down on the usage in our personal life and it is taking time away from what is really important. our relationships especially family time is the debit column and we wonder why so many relationships go bankrupt.
Recently I was told that a family does not come to church because Sunday is no longer the Lord’s day. It’s Family day. I met up with them and asked when did God change his day to our day. They replied like so many in my office. “I don’t have enough time during the week so I feel God wants me to be with my family.” When I asked why didn’t he have enough time during the week I got no response. Equal and opposite reaction is not an illusion.
Why does it seem that God is so far away? It’s not God that is so far away. It’s man who is distracted. Remember the equal and opposite reaction thing. Right now as I write this article something is not getting my attention. Now, take that and apply it down to every email trying to see us things we don’t need, text messages that relate totally useless information, and let’s add the Snapchats, Tweets, Facebook posts and so on. They all say they are free services. Not true. They all have a cost and the clock is ticking.
The number one New Year’s resolution this year was less time on social media. I wonder how everyone is doing with that one? It’s time to come to a close, let me leave you with this…hold on I just got a text…