Are You An Orphan?

Posted on March 14, 2014 
Filed Under Focus on the Family Broadcast, Orphan Care, Personal, Social Concern, Spiritual Life | Leave a Comment

I’ve learned a lot about life since April 2004 when we brought our adopted son home. What a journey! And while there are some difficulties, there are so many wonderful, rich aspects to this road.

One thing I’m learning time and again is that my Heavenly Father adopted me. As the old song says, “I once was lost, but now am free.” Once lost as an enemy of God, stuck in my sin, wandering without any eternal family, I’ve now been adopted into His divine family. That’s Good News!

When we grasp our own status as adopted children of God, the world’s orphans take on new relevance. C.J. Mahaney wrote in the foreword to Russell Moore’s book, Adopted for Life:

 I was adopted when I was eighteen years old. I wasn’t an orphan, the way most people think of that term. I wasn’t an abandoned child. But I was in a condition far more serious: I was a stranger to the family of God, a slave to sin, and an object of the justified wrath of God.

Paul addressed this matter of being spiritual orphans in the book of Romans, chapter 8:

For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.

There’s a movement, a growing understanding of orphan care, foster care, and adoption. Russell Moore says Not every believer is called to adopt, but every believer is called to embrace adoption.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ means our families and churches ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans close to home and around the world. As we become more attuned to the Gospel, we’ll have more of a burden for orphans. As we become more adoption- friendly, we’ll be better able to understand the Gospel.

Focus on the Family has a vibrant outreach to families who want to know more or need some help. Here’s one article I’d encourage you to check it out. And here’s a radio interview about the plight of orphans and what you can do to start reaching out to provide them comfort, or even a “forever family.”

Bad News, Good News

Posted on February 11, 2014 
Filed Under Focus on the Family Broadcast, Humor, Life, Spiritual Life | Leave a Comment

It’s been a heavy year already for many of the people my wife and I know personally. Unscheduled hospital visits with emergency surgeries and bleak appraisals. The death of a child. Out-of-control teens engaged in excessive – destructive – behaviors.  Loss of jobs. Loss of health care. While we have been “spared” such dire circumstances, we’ve still had some tears and challenges.

Then there are things in this world that make one stop and pause…senseless violence, bad politics, a pop culture that seems more and more crude and uncaring every day.

It would be easy to get depressed, to feel out of control.

Through it all, one message stands out. It is a gentle message. It won’t be popular. It is a difficult one to really, truly, deeply take to heart.

“Cling to Jesus.”

He knows. Jesus feels the pain of this world. He aches for restoration of heart, mind and soul. He died for wrong to be made right. To show Love, Grace, Truth.

Proclaiming such message about God’s sovereignty amidst a troubled world – and with great winsomeness – is a comedian named Ken Davis. His message on Focus on the Family is all about Good News.

Ken delivers his stories with great and much laughter. He is a favorite, someone I’ve followed for many years. He ALWAYS makes me smile, helps me realize a new perspective. He gives hope. If you are feeling down, if you are unsure about life, give him a listen here.

 

Love, For The Long Haul

Posted on January 28, 2014 
Filed Under Focus on the Family Broadcast, Marriage | Leave a Comment

Love for the ages. It is what I saw last week when I had the privilege of visiting a couple, relatives of my Dad’s, who have been married 65 years. “Isn’t it wonderful we still have each other?” That’s how the wife reacted when I commented on their longevity and well-being. It made me smile and also caused me to be thankful for my dear wife of almost 30 years.

Recently we featured a radio broadcast with Mike and Renee Bondi. Like my relatives, they are inspirational. You can see Jesus in their lives, in the way Mike has loved and served his wife (she is in a wheelchair) and also in her deep love and respect for her man. It was a terrific interview, and prompted a lot of thankfulness in my heart. Some great lessons can be learned by listening to someone who has gone the distance and remains in love.

How about you? Are you grateful for your spouse? And, who do you know who inspires you to love…for the ages?

Netfix Newbie

Posted on January 11, 2014 
Filed Under Media, Personal | Leave a Comment

Shhh. Don’t tell my kids but I now use Netflix. And I am liking it, for the most part.

Yes, for many people watching on-demand video is nothing new. As has been noted here and elsewhere, however, we don’t have a lot of spare time and just don’t watch many movies. We do watch an average of two to three family flicks a month. And occasionally my wife and I have a date night in front of the TV. But we’re not heavy consumers of film, despite my love for the medium.

It has been a decade or two since I watched any television show with regularity. Really, I have never seen a full episode of “Lost,” or “24,” or “The Office,” or any other popular show. I’m a busy guy.

Where I DO want – need is a better word – to have screen time on a consistent basis is when I work out in the mornings. On an elliptical it is difficult to keep a steady pace up for 30 minutes without something relatively engaging to watch. My mind needs to be occupied while my body is hitting that optimal heart rate. For many years I’ve relied on the good ol’ local library for DVDs, but that does require time and effort, and it is also a hit-or-miss proposition…inventory is limited to whatever has been sitting on the shelf or has been recently returned.

So, the revelation…I’ve recently been watching some films and TV series on an iPad as I work out. The offerings aren’t as extensive as I’d like, but many movies of interest can be found on Netflix. That is a pretty good source for my exercise time, reduces my visits to the library (sorry PPLD) and affords a better variety of viewing. Not perfect, but I can see the day when we’ll use it more and more.

I am open to suggestions from Netflix junkies…what do I need to know to really take advantage of the service – or perhaps of Hulu?

And I guess next up is an Apple TV, Roku or similar device?

Sexual Purity…Is Possible

Posted on January 8, 2014 
Filed Under Marriage, Spiritual Life | Leave a Comment

Honest. Brutally honest. And unafraid to hit the tough issues of life…including porn, sex and finding freedom. That’s best-selling author Fred Stoeker, and he is on our guest for a frank discussion about overcoming sexual purity struggles. He encourages men to be a hero to their spouse – by maintaining purity.

Two-day interview is here.

Alone In Woods

Family Conflict, Family Peace

Posted on January 6, 2014 
Filed Under Focus on the Family Broadcast, Parenting | Leave a Comment

He is rather soft-spoken, chooses his words carefully and offers some terrific wisdom on relationships. Attorney and mediator Ken Sande joins us to help families learn how to peacefully live with one another through the everyday disagreements of life.

Listen here.

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Weekend Magazine January 4-5

Posted on January 4, 2014 
Filed Under Focus on the Family, Humor, Life, Marriage, Parenting, Spiritual Life | Leave a Comment

Better ways to manage conflict in your home. Why Christian families should stop trying to be perfect. And challenging married women to embrace submission.

Guests on this edition of Weekend Magazine include Ken Sande, Priscilla Shirer and Lysa TerKeurst.

Lysa Terkeurst
Ken knows all about restoring peace in relationships. Lysa shares personally about why perfection is both unattainable and also undesirable. Priscilla has a humorous but insightful take on that dreaded notion of marital submission.
I hope you’ll listen!

 

College: Brains and Sex

Posted on November 13, 2013 
Filed Under Focus on the Family Broadcast | Leave a Comment

I have a high school senior looking at colleges. Next year she’ll head off to the big wide world, but will she be prepared for the over-sexualized culture on many campuses? There is so much bad info. There is so much dangerous activity young adults are engaging in without any knowledge of consequences.

There’s new research showing the effect of hormones on the brain. Along with those findings, we’ll talk about the widespread “hook-up” culture found at many campuses.

Listen to the Focus on the Family radio program here: http://bit.ly/17QcHER

Five Tips To Help Your Marriage Survive A New Baby

Posted on June 8, 2013 
Filed Under Fathering, Humor, Marriage, Parenting, Personal, Photo | Leave a Comment

Big Face & Bow - Allie Smiling, SmallA co-worker with a six-month old is pretty bleary-eyed these days. His child just doesn’t sleep well. How I remember those long nights of interrupted sleep, on and off, sometimes waiting for the alarm clock just to be spared the pain of another cry from the baby! While he has other children, Leland’s dilemma brought to mind these tips I offered to new fathers, in particular, in my book, First Time Dad:

1.   Stay connected with your wife. Make room in your schedule for daily talk times and weekly dates. Do things together as a family. Hang out at the park with parents who also have younger kids. Develop routines like Thursday night pizza, or Sunday afternoons. Take family hikes or bike rides.

2.   Remember your wife is not your enemy. She is the love of your life, and you need to treat her as the shining jewel that she is for you. So don’t get angry with her. Don’t blow up when she is exhausted and needs you to really help out. Extend lots of grace. Follow the Scriptural admonition to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV

3.   Remember this child is not your enemy. You love this little baby, really, you do! So don’t for a minute think that she is an enemy to your marriage. Yes, she will demand a lot of you and she will extract a lot of your wife’s energies and attentions. But she’s your child, and you have a tremendous responsibility to raise her well. It’s your job to allow her needs to dictate a lot of your life’s choices and activities – for now. And that’ll impact your marriage.

4.   Share the load. Now is the time to show your wife you love her by sacrificing your pride – or your stubbornness – and really stepping up the contribution you make to her life. Clean the kitchen, or her car. Empty the trash. Change that baby’s diaper. Make dinner. Those domestic duties that you’ve let her handle need to be shared, as she is pretty tired from being a Mom. That means you have to come alongside her and help. Look around, find practical things that need to be done, and get to work. Trust me, your wife will notice, even if she doesn’t say anything right now.

5.   Get some sleep. Suggestion: Take turns wearing earplugs. Seriously. Buy some Mack’s Silicone Earplugs and learn to love ‘em! I didn’t want to consider these things, but Dena started using them and it became apparent that she was sleeping well – while I didn’t, because our son kept waking me up during the night. So when you are desperate for sleep, wear earplugs. Alternate turns, so at least one of you gets a good night of rest, every night.

That last item is a tip I’m still using from time to time even though our children are older.

How about you: Any tips you’d add to this list? What advice do you have for a new dad…or even an experienced father who isn’t getting enough sleep?

 

Character, Compassion

Posted on June 3, 2013 
Filed Under Fathering, Orphan Care, Parenting, Social Concern | Leave a Comment

My wife asked our youngest daughter the other day, “What do you think character means?” Tauvi replied, “Its who you are when no one is looking.”

I think my daughter got it right. If my kids will make good choices and behave well when no one is looking, they’ll show some character.

Abraham Lincoln once famously said,

“Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree.”

Our character is not just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching. Good character is doing the right thing because it is right to do what is right.

Dictionary definitions of character usually reflect an understanding of an individual’s inner qualities, intangibles that are sometimes rarely revealed. These often include things like honesty, loyalty, courage, integrity, compassion, commitment and devotion

At times, a person’s character is on display. Circumstances reveal those previously hidden attributes. Usually, difficult situations cause our true character to become very apparent to those around us. Almost always, we attach a positive value to our definition of character. If a person lacks these positive values, we suggest they “lack character.”If asked, most folks would agree that good character involves positive traits like integrity, honesty, loyalty, and dependability. These qualities transcend time, nationality, race, and gender.

Here’s how the United States Air Force Academy defines character:

…the sum of those qualities of moral excellence that stimulate a person to do the right thing, which is manifested through right and proper actions despite internal or external pressures to the contrary.

Some have suggested that character is the foundation for all true success. I’d agree. A person may have money, position, or power, but unless he has “good” character he or she is not considered to be truly successful.

Where is character acquired, or learned? The primary place is in the context of family. School, Scouts and sports can help develop a child’s inner qualities, but it is in the family such attributes are cultivated, refined and ultimately brought out. It’s YOUR job as a parent to help develop character in your child.

There are many aspects to character. Conviction to do the right thing. Even when nobody is looking! And how about curiosity…something that leads to discovery and adventure? Let me suggest one other character quality you’ll likely want your child to have as he or she grows up: compassion.  A desire to help others in need, doing right for those less fortunate.

What does it mean to be compassionate? In my mind, it means to care for those who are hurting, powerless and in need of assistance. That’s something I want to see in each of my kids. As they demonstrate true “other-centered” hearts, they reflect the heart of God and reveal an inner quality that is desperately needed in this world.

How do my wife and I try to cultivate compassion in our kids? Well, we’ve attempted to model it. Let me share a quick story about how that worked on a cross-cultural trip we took as a family.

The flights to South America were the realization of my wife’s long-time dream of a family service project. We traveled with two other families, and our entourage included six adults and thirteen children. We centered our activity on an orphanage in Ayacucho, Peru, where we spent most of our time loving on some precious children who had experienced a lot of difficulty in their short lives. These kids had no family, but they were a family, living together and developing bonds through their common pain. Their struggles and challenges in life had been overwhelming, in many ways. But as a small group of survivors they had a lot of shared experiences and had become close.

It was really gratifying to see my children interacting with the orphans. Upon our arrival, they instantly – and intuitively – knew that physical touch was important to the young residents of Casa Luz. They scooped up the littlest ones, hugging and holding them. When the older children came in from school, our kids engaged them in conversation – through some mangled Spanish and English translating – and some football (soccer) on the patio.

Despite the language and cultural differences, those of us from the States enjoyed watching our children reaching out to the kids who were disadvantaged in so many ways. There were bonds formed between them that remained in place long after we left Peru. I was pleased that all the kids in our entourage showed compassion. They looked out for and into the lives of the children we visited. They didn’t consider themselves better than the orphans – in fact, they realized how privileged we are in America and how little those Casa Luz kids really had. This wasn’t pity –this was compassion at work. And it came from their heart. That kind of attitude and openness to others is what I want for my children. I desire that they let go of inhibitions that might keep them “safe” from uncomfortable situations and to actively express love and care to others. Even when they are thousands of miles away from home and nobody is looking.

 

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