Taking the charge

In the United States…it March Maddness!  It the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament.  64 teams start.  3 weeks later we have a single champion.  I’ve been watching some of the games.  I watched a player take a charge the other night.

If you are not familiar with the term “taking a charge”…it is when an offensive player runs over a defender who has established his position on the court.  A defensive player establishes his position by having his feet set and is not moving prior to the impact.

Yes…I said impact.  The defensive player has to stand still and allow themselves to get run over by another player who is moving at full speed.  Let’s be honest…that is not normal.  Flinching is normal.  Moving out of the way is normal.  It is most likely why fans cheer excitedly when someone takes a charge because they know how courageous it is to stand still and firm.

Are we standing firm when God calls us to stand firm?  In our marriages?  In our role as parents?

It isn’t always easy.  Life will run us over at times.  Other people aren’t going to live like God calls us to live.  It will be difficult.  It might be hurtful.  It has a purpose.  And God has a game plan that will lead us to victory.

“Be on guard.  Stand firm in the faith.  Be courageous.  Be strong” – 1 Corinthians 16:13

A phone call from my father…

I want to share an observation from my birthday last week…and then maybe challenge you to take action.  It’s been a year and a half since my father passed.  It has been an interesting journey filled with sorrow, regret, happiness, tears and even a little laughter.  I continue to learn from and be influenced by my father.

It was no surprise that every year on my birthday he would call to wish me a happy day.  He’d tell me how proud he was of me and how much he loved me.  In the moment…I didn’t realize how important those calls were to me.  I’ve had two birthdays without those calls.  I miss them….and I miss him.

It makes me wonder….am I consistently doing the same type of thing for those that are most important in my life?  Does my wife and our kids know that I love them through my actions?  How about my mom and my brothers?  My mother-in-law?  My wife’s family?  My friends?

It isn’t the large displays either.  It doesn’t have to be.

It is the little things (i.e. notes, texts, phone calls) with purpose and intention that ultimately mean the most.  It is the consistency.  It doesn’t take much to make a big impact in someone’s life.

Even though you may never see the return on your investment….trust me….it will be there.

Even though I miss the man…..I will always have what he invested in me.  Thanks Dad.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need” – Proverbs 17.:17

Simple Ways To Better Yourself

Do you ever find it difficult to simply start something and stick with it?

Diet.  Exercise.  Reading the Bible.  We’ve all got things that we can add to this list.  I wanted to share some thoughts about tackling this problem while improving our relationship with our wives.

Accept You Are Limited By design

You can’t do it all! God made you with limitations on purpose. The sooner you realize this the more freedom you will have and the less stress too. One of Satan’s greatest weapons against us is making us feel like failures. You get frustrated because you can’t get up 2 hours early and go for a jog, lift weights, make a healthy breakfast, then sit down in a quiet place read the Bible, journal, and pray until you hear a word from the Lord. It just isn’t possible to make that kind of change all at once.

Make Small Adjustments

Realizing you were born to be limited isn’t an excuse to not make any changes at all!

It’s the one degree course correction that has great impact over long distance. Did you know if the space shuttle was only one degree off course it would miss the moon by about 13,356,000 miles. One degree can make a huge impact on your life over time.

What small one degree course corrections can you make today?

Here are some examples.

On average a person spends about 60 minutes waiting in lines, traffic, etc… If you remembered to pray for 5 minutes every day while you were waiting in line at the store or while pumping your gas. You would spend about 30 hours a year in prayer.

The average time spent on smart phones on activities other than talking to someone is about 1:07 a day. If you were to trade that last 7 minutes of social media for time with your wife  you would decrease your smart phone intake by 42 hours a year and increase your face time with your wife by 42 hours a year. Amazing!

Where Your Heart Is There Also Will Be Your Priorities

God has made it very clear to me that my priorities dictate where my time and money go. That being said, if our wives and marriages were a priority then I would spend as much time, money and energy as possible on her and for her and with her. The same goes with my health. Or career. Or hobbies. Or sin.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:21

The Majors

Let’s go back to my mid-20s…..

I’d go to church on those days when I assumed good husbands go to church with their wives:

Easter.  Mother’s Day.  Christmas Eve.  Valentine’s Day (only when it fell on Sunday)

One year my youngest son said….”Dad if you go to church with us this morning…when will you cut the grass?”  See…that is what I did while they were at church every Sunday.

I regret the example that I set for my children and the lack of leadership I showed in my marriage.  I’ve learned through our the last 10 years the importance of having a relationship with Christ.  I go to church.  I worship.  I volunteer.  I give.  I listen…and occasionally agree with the preacher out loud.  It has been an amazing change in my life.

It got me thinking about our role as a husband.

Are we taking the same approach in our relationship with our wives?  Do we only show up on the majors (i.e. birthday, Mother’s day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day)?   Do we only show up when there is something that we want (i.e. guys night out, sex, laundry done, game time, sex)?

We know the importance of having a purposeful and consistent relationship with Christ.

Are we applying the same approach and understanding to our marriages?

Just a little food for thought today.

Sanding

Have you ever used sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges on a project?  It comes in different “grits” depending on how coarse or fine you need it to be.  If you’re removing a lot – go coarse, but then be prepared to use the fine grit to make it smooth.   It is designed to gradually and purposely smooth over a rough surface or to remove something that is deeper than the surface.  It takes times and patience to produce the desired results.

God uses a similar process in our lives to do the very same thing.  I’ve had experience with this process.  I’ve been “smoothed” myself and I’ve been a witness to others going through the process.  I have lived long enough to know that God always has purpose in the pain and function behind the frustration caused by these sand paper seasons.  A few observations:

  1. I might be the problem.

I need to allow this sandy season to smooth out my rough edges in my character and to deal with the imperfections that are surfacing in my frailty.  James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  I have known this verse for a long time, and I love what it says about trials producing perseverance. As I continue to read the first chapter of James, I think the fourth verse speaks more directly to sand paper seasons. It says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  It is a process.  Don’t lose hope!

  1. We cannot retreat.

When we go through these tough seasons in life and most situations do not go as planned or just rub us the wrong way, we cannot retreat. We must stand firm in our faith and let these trials shape us to be more like Jesus. Sometimes, I simply don’t know if I have the mental or physical stamina to get everything accomplished that I need to as a Christ-follower, husband, father son, uncle, friend and employee. Many times, I end up shutting down and retreating to something mindless like television. In my wiser moments, I call out to the Lord and meditate on His Truth. He is my Sustainer. He is the only One who can help me allow perseverance to “finish its work.”

  1.  We must keep our perspective.

Through prayer and reflection, He shows me snapshots of how past sand paper seasons have harvested fruit in my life; fruit that can only grow through a sandy season. I see how surviving my own general stupidity and loss has shaped me into a stronger man.  God has opened my heart and opened my eyes to the many people who struggle in areas that I have survived.  I am astounded at the amount of patience and forgiveness that God has for me as I face challenges in my marriage, my family and my work.

I’ve see an overworked, overtired dad feeling like he isn’t good enough to love and lead his marriage and his family.  I see the fear in his eyes and the look of failure on his face. I know that look because many days, I am that man. Even on the most frustrating of days, I am reminded, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), including sand paper seasons that shape us, our marriages and families.

  1.  Know you aren’t alone.

If you are going through a rough patch right now, take heart in knowing that you are not alone. God is with you and is using this to “refinish” you to be more like Jesus and closer to His heart. It is my prayer for you and for me that we will persevere through our sand paper season and arise “mature and complete”.

Love the One Your With

Yes….its another article discussing the impact of smartphones on our most important relationships.  I’ll keep posting them.

Why do we invest so much time in the lives of those people on social media while ignoring the people sitting or lying right next to you?  Can we really complain that our teenagers are always on their phones when we are always on our phones?  Would your manager tolerate you reading your phone while they were talking to you?   How about an employee?  Hect…would you tolerate your son or daughter being on their phone when you were talking to them?

Smartphones can be useful and productive in our marriages…however there is a very fine line.  I am not lecturing.  I am not saying that I am perfect.  I am guilty of the same things at time.  I am simply saying that I want us to challenge ourselves to invest our time in what’s important.   No excuses.

“Life is too short.  Let’s not invest what little time we have in meaningless endeavors.”

Are you Married to Your Smartphone?

Technology is evolving so quickly that many of us are barely aware of how our changing behavior threatens our most important relationships.

By Dave Boehi

You’re driving down a city street and find yourself stuck behind someone going 15 mph below the speed limit. What’s your first thought? That guy needs to get off his phone!

You’re sitting in the stands at a high school football game. You notice that many of the students are not only ignoring the game but are also disregarding the friends seated beside them—because they are busy texting other friends.  

You drive past a young boy playing basketball by himself in his driveway … while his father stands nearby, totally absorbed in his smartphone.

Sound familiar? In the last decade, the smartphone has conquered the world. I could make a list of 50 ways that smartphones have improved our lives. But if you’re like me and can remember what life was like before we all got these devices, you may wonder if all the changes are really for the good. 

Remember those days when you could go to a movie—or to church—and not worry about being distracted by ringing phones or by the white glow of someone texting a friend or checking Facebook? Remember when people didn’t text while driving?

And here’s one more scene we all see regularly:

You walk into a restaurant and you notice a couple seated near you. You observe that they really are not together because one or both of them are hunched over a smartphone. And you think, How sad that they aren’t talking to each other. It’s a picture of 21st-century isolation.

Plugged in 24/7

Adjusting to new forms of technology is nothing new. Just think how telephones and automobiles changed our culture. Or air-conditioning. Radio, television, computers, and many other new inventions sparked significant changes in our culture and in the way we related to our family and friends.

But the pace of change since 1995 has been breathtaking. We’ve seen the emergence of the internet and of mobile phones, and then the convergence of the two in 2006 with smartphones. We can now be plugged in wherever we are, 24/7.

The technology is evolving so quickly that most of us are barely aware of how our behavior is changing and our relationships are affected. As one reader wrote after I wrote about this issue a few years ago, “These mobile devices can take over your life.” Another said, “I understand technology has its advantages, but we are being ruled by the technology rather than using it as a tool.”

A number of readers were dismayed at how addiction to the new technology was affecting their marriages.  For example: 

  • “I’m usually the spouse waiting for my husband to get off the cell, iPad, Instagram, text messaging, Facebook, or some other game that has him hooked. I’m tired of having my conversations through text messages and would enjoy an old-fashioned conversation face-to-face. But the truth is we barely have anything to say to each other anymore.”
  • “My husband and I have struggled for the last 25 years of our marriage with conversation, but what has happened now is Facebook has taken over. If dinner isn’t ready when he comes home, he’s on Facebook until it is. Every morning he gets up and hits Facebook to see who’s been on. Sadly he does not see it as an issue. And I fear I am not alone in this.”
  • “I am one of those people at the restaurant with her spouse, waiting and feeling lonely. My husband is always looking at his phone, checking his email or his bank account, his Facebook, and his texts. I just sit waiting and thinking to myself, Why am I not good enough for him? Why does he have to be entertained by everyone and everything else? It deeply depresses me and he just cannot understand my point of view.”

Replacing conversation with connectivity

Some people gravitate toward texting or Twitter for communication just as they did years ago toward e-mail—it’s simpler, faster, easier. What they don’t realize is how much is lost in those mediums—emotion, facial expressions, tone of voice, and much more. It can be dangerous to replace conversation with connectivity.

One woman wrote about problems in her marriage: “… many arguments occur because of something that was texted and was misunderstood by one of us. Today my husband texted me after refusing to have a conversation last night. I thought the tone of his text was ugly and didn’t respond. Later he texted me asking why I didn’t respond and I said I would rather talk than text because texting can be misunderstood. His response was ‘I enjoy texting. Speak message. Little emotion. Can get right to point.’” 

What a classic quote, and so typically male: “I enjoy texting. Speak message. Little emotion. Can get right to point.” The problem is that real relationships require real conversation and real emotion. Digital connectivity is missing one crucial element: true connection.

“When we text, e-mail, Facebook, and the like, we lose a vital piece of relationships: the emotional connection,” wrote another reader. “Without the sound of our voices, the body language, the touch, we as humans lose what God intended to be a vital part of how we are supposed to relate and a vital part of how we are supposed to receive love and be in communion with others.”

Household rules

It’s not that the technology is inherently bad; far from it—it helps us connect with people in many positive ways. The problem is that so many people are unable to control it. It’s as if they are married to their smartphones.

I received some great tips from readers about the boundaries they were implementing to promote face-to-face communication in their marriages. Here are some highlights:

  1. No devices at the dinner table.This was mentioned many times in e-mails. Dinner time should be reserved for face-to-face conversation. There will be plenty of time after dinner to reply to phone calls and text messages. 

One family calls this rule “TTT—Timeout from Technology at the Table.”

  1. No technology on dates. “My husband and I have made a deal for date nights,” wrote one wife. “He is way too plugged in to TV and his phone. Therefore, when we are out at restaurants, we are not allowed to use our phones unless it is a call from the babysitter. Also we do not go to restaurants that have televisions because he will be too distracted, and I will be mad that he is not totally engaged. We all need to find time daily to disconnect from all the information and reconnect with our families with good ‘old-fashioned’ conversation.”

Another reader said she and her husband leave their phones in the car before they enter a restaurant.

  1. When you have something important to talk about, do it in person. No texting or talking on the phone. One reader said, “There is a huge gap in a ‘conversation’ when texting because you don’t fully understand what that person really means unless you hear the tone in their voice or see their face, and a lot can be taken the wrong way, creating bad feelings, etc.”

Love the one you’re with

All these boundaries establish a strong value for your marriage and family: When you’re with someone, make that relationship your priority. Establishing this value will require some retraining if anyone in your family is addicted to their devices. But keeping them in their rightful place will, in the words of one reader, “open up the door to more intimate communication.”

I also liked the comment from a reader who pointed out, “Anything that becomes a necessity has the ability to become an idol.” In other words, you can become so attached to your smartphone that it basically becomes the most important thing in your life, something you worship.

“Life is too short,” this reader said.  “Let’s not invest what little time we have in meaningless endeavors.”

Getting Your Love On

Don’t you find it interesting…that God knew that we were nor capable of living a pure and sinless life?    Despite that knowledge God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to show us the way.  Consider the love that Jesus showed us, so much so that He gave His life that we could be forgiven for our sins and have everlasting life.  It is a love that knows no conditions or requirements.  It isn’t given based on achievement or status.  It is simply given.  It is a perfect love.

What are we showing to those that God has blessed our lives with?

 Considering purposefully acting in God’s love.  Reach out with intention to those people.  Think of ways you can share His love with them.  Love them through your words and actions.  Bless them as they go about their day.  Be humble.  Expect nothing in return.  You may slowly meet their deepest needs.  You’ll create a safe place for them while God heals their hidden hurts.  All the while…you’ll strengthen your relationship with them and with God in a very personal and life-changing way. 

 What God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. — John 3:16