What’s In The Bible (A New Video Series by Phil Vischer)

I was in our local LifeWay store the other day and had a chance to pick up a copy of the first CD of “What’s In the Bible: With Buck Denver,” By Veggie Tales Creator Phil Vischer.  Rebekah (My 4 year old) and I have enjoyed watching it together a few times.  I had her watch it once with me and then left it laying around and she has asked to watch it on her own a few times.   I was amazed at how much content was involved in each segment. I give it high marks for both content and entertainment.

The two video’s below are an introduction by creator Phil Vischer and the Theme Song.  You can also find out more information by surfing over to http://www.whatsinthebible.com.

What a Father says to His Daughter on Valentines Day

I have a pretty amazing little girl.  She turns five soon.  I am anxious, yet hopeful as she grows older and approaches womanhood.  I have a huge responsibility in demonstrating the way real men are to treat women.

valentines day

I take her out for pancakes once a week.  She looks forward to it every week.  Sometimes she goes to sporting events with me, just the two of us.  We call these daddy-daughter dates. Every day she asks if its her day to have breakfast with daddy.  She loves me in a crazy four-year-old way and I love her like any father should.

So here is what I’m saying to my little girl this valentines day and will probably say almost every day of her life.

1. I love you.

Love is not an emotion, it is an act of the will.  I chose to love you and I will never stop.  I love you enough to tell you the truth, to act against your will sometimes, and to do what is best for you even when you disagree.  I love you when you cry over broken toys, scraped knees, and hurt feelings.  I love you when the world is pressing in and you need a place of refuge and strength.  I love you when you have disobeyed the rules I gave you that were to protect you from harm.  I love you when you dance and sing like they do on TV.  I love you when you dress up like a princes and we dance.   I even love you when you are mad because you didn’t get your way, when you are angry with the kid who stole your toy, and when you don’t want to share. I hope you know by now that I love you and that will not change.

2. You are Beautiful

You are beautiful.  You are beautiful not only in princess gowns, play make-up, and jewelry… your  beauty is beyond skin deep.  I am inspired by your beauty when you are kind to your brother.  Your beauty shines when you help your mom.  Your beauty is evident when you bring your bibles in for me to read.  You are beautiful when you challenge me to dance.  You are beautiful.

3. I am Proud of You

I am Proud of you for so many things.  I am proud of you for letting people know when they have hugged you for too long.  I am proud of you when you take the initiative to help others in need.  I am proud of you when you think of me or someone else and you draw them a thank you card.  I am proud of you for picking up your toys with a good attitude.  I am proud of you for wanting to teach your brother what few lessons you have already learned in life.  I am proud of you when you trust me simply because I’m your dad.  I am proud of you when you ask questions (and you ask great questions).  I am proud of you.

To Dads:

We are often good about telling our daughters about when they misbehave or things they could do better.  Somehow it is easier to notice what we don’t like or don’t value than it is to affirm the good that our children do.  It is important that we cheer them on and provide a positive aim as well. Valentines day (or any day for that matter) is a great opportunity to let your daughter know that you love her and affirm the good things you see in her character.  These 3 words of affirmation are something that all daughters need to hear from their daddy no matter what their age.

Book Review: “Living Life in the Zone” by Kyle Rote, Jr. & Dr. Joe Pettigrew

Living Life in the Zone: A 40-Day Spiritual Game Plan for Men by Kyle Rote, Jr. and Dr. Joe Pettigrew is a great book  for men who are looking to jump-start their devotional life.   Through out this book the authors challenge the reader to be a real man of Christian Character. The authors share keen insights and interviews from legendary sports figures from around the world of sports.The book is intended to be read in 40 days.  Each section is comprised of seven days worth of material that follows a common theme for the week.  Sections are geared around the various relationships in a man’s life such as his wife, children, friends, and work. ( The last section is noticeably shorter at 5 days.)

The author’s have taken careful pains to maintain a rigorous order of steps for each day’s reading.  Making each devotional similar in style, but unique in substance.    Overall the book is very readable, very organized, and authentically sports oriented.

I especially enjoyed reading this book as a devotional in the morning.  It took only a few minutes to read and provided real insights with great questions.  I can see it being used as a stand-alone devotional or used by a group of men for accountability purposes.  My over all impression was that it was a great book.  The only reservation that I have is that the scripture section at times can seem a bit light due to the topical nature of the book.

This is a very practical and readable devotional book for men.   Living Life in the Zone is an excellent resource. The retail price is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available at places like Amazon.com for $10.19. I gave it four stars.

Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a free review copy from the Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program  (http://brb.thomasnelson.com/ ).  There was no requirement to give it a positive review, just for the reviewer to call it like they see it.

3 Annoying Things I’m Glad My Parents Did When I Was a Teenager.

So its been a while since I’ve been a teenager.  I was a teenager in the boring decade of the 90’s.  Long before Text Messaging, Facebook, YouTube, Ipods and  really cool video games (I grew up with Mario brothers and Contra on the original Nintendo) .  While lots of things have changed around the teenage world since then, there are somethings that just won’t change.  One of those things is how important it is for parents to be involved in the lives of their teenagers.

Here is a look back at 3 things that were really annoying to me as a teenager that I now look back and am thankful for.  I guess at the time my parents were more concerned with being a good mom and dad, than in winning my one vote popularity contest.  I thought they were clueless… It turns out they had way more common sense than I thought.

1. They Insisted on Regular Weekly Family Time.

As a teenager I often had “more important” places to be or things to do.  It usually involved hanging out with my friends or talking on the phone to the girl I really liked (again, this was before texting and facebook).  My parents didn’t mind these activities, but they set some pretty stiff boundaries around our family time that often conflicted with my desires.  I can still remember to this day my dad telling me I had 5 minutes to get off the phone or I had to be back by 7 because of family time.  Our family time most often existed of sharing prayer concerns, reading scripture, and praying… At the time I thought it was boring.  I now look back at this time as the center (the one place we could all come back to) that kept our family together during some rough times.

2. They Set a Reasonable Hour for Curfew.

My parents would ask about what I was up to.  At the time I just thought they were being a little overbearing and didn’t really have a life of their own so they had to make mine difficult.   I now realize they just really cared and wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing something stupid. I would tell them about the activity… A movie, ball game, etc. and they would tell me a reasonable time to be home.  Sometimes my curfew was midnight, sometimes it was 7PM.  It mattered to them where I was and what I was doing.  I could call and renegotiate if plans changed and you got invited to someones house or wanted to stop by McDonalds with your friends  (back then you had to use a pay phone or someone’s home phone).

I remember one night I stayed out hours after curfew because I was explaining to a friend about how to become a Christian.  I thought for sure my dad would be overjoyed and understand the “rule breaking.”  But when I got home.  He was awake and waiting on me.  I shared with him what happened and he was genuinely happy.  Then he told me I was grounded because I could have called.  At the time I thought he was a jerk.  Now I realize that he expected me to be responsible.  He expected more out of me than I was expecting out of myself.

3. They Stated the Obvious.

When I was 18 years old and about to head off for college I made my parents sweat by dating a girl that already had a daughter.  My mom sat me down and shared the obvious.  Jon, “She has a kid.” (I told her that was a little obvious).  Then she said, “God may call you to marry someone who already has children one day, but do you really think you are ready to be a father?”  She was looking beyond my interest to the interest of the young woman and said, “She is no longer looking out for just herself.  She is looking for someone to be a father to her daughter and fill a role her life.  You were just telling me about going to college in another state.  You are going down two different paths.  You won’t be able to go to college and stay connected with this family.  You don’t need to lead her on.”

I guess I knew all that, but it took my mom stating the obvious as she had done so many times before.  And it wasn’t just over making bad decisions like investing 2 weeks of my life in a relationship that wasn’t meant to be.  I remember my parents telling me I did the right thing and affirming me over and over through my teen years.  Their stating of the obvious facts in an authentically loving way made all the difference in the world.  Sometimes I didn’t want to hear what they had to say, but part of me knew they were wiser than I gave them credit for.

I am thankful to God for good parents who stood on some unpopular issues when I was a teenager.  My response wasn’t always joyful, but I knew deep down that my parents cared about me.  I look back now at the boundaries that my parents set up around me.  I pressed against them quite a few times, but mostly to know that they were there.  During the times when life was chaotic and stressful in our family the boundaries were one way that I knew I was loved.

Resolutions for a New Year

I have 3 main resolutions for this next year.  I actually have a LIFE plan with a lot more detail, but that’s for another blog post.  After having a brief conversation today with a stranger who is dreaming about one thing and doing another I decided that I should set in stone some serious goals for the next year.  Here are mine… What are yours?

1. Relate better as Husband and Father

Not that I think I’m doing a terrible job, but I’ve seen too many husbands and fathers drift from their duties over time.  It is really easy to imagine a loving relationship with my wife 5, 10, and 20 years from now, but the truth is that dreams don’t always create reality.  Having a good relationship with my wife and children will take time, intention, and discipline.  I have a strategy in my Life Plan, but its a little personal to share here.

2. Get into God’s word more (both personally and as a family)

Our pastor keeps a blog and comments on a chapter of scripture each day.  I usually keep up with that and read a few other passages each day.  I am also looking at creative ways to be in God’s word more as a family.  My wife and I used to read a chapter of scripture each day together.  When our daughter came along it was a little more difficult to keep her involved and so we shortened it to a few versus during family devotion time.  Now that she is almost 4 we are going to pick up something similar using a new tool for devotions.  My daughter is also old enough to start each day spending some time in God’s word.  Though she isn’t able to read yet I was thinking of moving her nightly Bible reading with me to the morning time (we have been working our way through a picture bible of the New Testament).

3. Live Healthier

This involves changing eating habits and making physical exercise a priority.  It also involves creating a better schedule and sticking too it.  I’ve learned that with planning and intention I can do more in my life with the time I have (this also involves planning for interruption).  We’ll see how it goes.  In my LIFE plan I check up weekly to see how I am living.  I’ll share more about that later… but how about you?  What resolutions do you have for this next year?

My Top 5 blog Posts of 2009

I’ve been blogging right at a year now.  I really didn’t get serious about it until later this year some time around September.  My original purpose was to open the door to share the gospel and encourage others in their relationship with Jesus Christ.  So far I have been blessed beyond imagination to start conversations and interact with people I haven’t seen in years or have never met face to face.  I have lots of plans about blogging in the new year, but before we go there, I thought I would do a little research and share some of the most popular posts of this past year.

1. 3 things I’d tell my teenage daughter after watching “New Moon”

2. A Few thoughts on Fatherhood

3. My Story (An introduction) … You can catch the rest of the series by following the links

4. Why Santa Clause Doesn’t come to Pensacola

5. 3 keys to a good Disciple Now Weekend … You can catch the rest of this series by following the links

My goal for 2010 is to refine my blogging to three main areas.  Based on the response to these blog posts and others I hope to focus on Family, Ministry, and Book Reviews.  While none of my book reviews independently made the top 5, I had several that were close and book reviews do make up a great deal of my traffic.  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try some new things in 2010 like contests and giveaways.  I look forward to the new year and all that it has in store.

3 Christmas Meditations on Being a Parent (Part 3)

3. Mary and Joseph knew that their son would be hated and rejected (Matthew 2:1-18).

Among other things the passage referenced above mentions the wholesale slaughter of all the children born in Bethlehem under the age of 2.  In the wake of this magnificent birth, angels singing on a hillside, and  a visit from the magi comes a horrific massacre.  It is only through a dream that Joseph knows to flee with his family and misses the impending destruction.

I am sure that the reality of caring for a wanted child set in as they traveled to Egypt.  Everyday they awaited the news that Herod had died and it would be safe to return to their beloved homeland.  Even when that news came, they made their way to Galilee to avoid Herod’s vicious son.

Now there may not be a king or president intent on killing my children, but I have no doubt that there are sinister forces in this world that would seek to destroy the lives of my children.  The forces of darkness were not silent at the birth of Christ and they are not silent today.  There are too many who die needlessly.  There are too many who are abused or injured.  In my line of work we used to see and counsel the statistic that one out of four girls are raped or molested by the time they are the age 18.  Sadly that number has increased to one out of three.

All around the world children are starving while we gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.  Darkness covers our globe and we pretend in merriment that our houses provide protection.  We pretend that we even have the power to protect our kids. 

What if we saw the darkness and instead of running from it, we asked God to send us into the midst of it?  What if we were willing to get our hands dirty and aim our children strategically into the darkness so that by the time our grandchildren arrive, the world is a little less dark and the brilliant light of Christ can be seen more clearly.

The truth is that Jesus came into the world to destroy the darkness.  That same darkness destroyed the lives of many children in the town of Bethlehem.  But it could not keep them.  He would one day go to the cross and bear our sins, die a horrible death, and be resurrected 3 days later.  He promised to return.  His resurrection gives us hope that we will one day be raised too.  The darkness can not win.

3 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Daughter After Watching New Moon

Ok before I start its only fair to say that my daughter isn’t a teenager (she’s almost 4) and I’m really not a fan of Twilight.  But because I was forced to see the movie and I work with teenagers (and I can imagine my daughter being a teenager one day), I went to the movies with the eyes of a father.

Here are three things I’d tell my daughter after we watched New Moon together…

1. You are intensely loved by me and worthy of being pursued one day by the right young man.

My hearts desire is that you follow that path that God has for you.  If that includes marriage, then my hope is in giving you away to the right man.  Until then I will do everything I can for you as a father.  I will chase away the creeps, ask you great questions, and perform background checks on any guy that comes through the front door (ok maybe not the last one…but maybe).  I also promise that if you bring home the right guy you won’t find me cleaning my gun or talking about how people get lost in the Everglades and never come out.  In fact it will be a joy for me to give you away one day.  If you bring home the right guy, I’ll pay for the wedding and rejoice on the day that my princess becomes someone elses queen.

2. Some things appear more urgent than they are.

In the movies Edward says all kinds of nice things to Bella (once you take away the creepy 100 year age difference… please never date a man 100 years older than you… thats a whole new level of creepy).  Everyone enjoy hearing nice things like, “you make life worth living.”  Sometimes words spoken softly and sweetly can be mistaken for love.  Real love is a commitment and it takes time to show up.  Guard your self from giving your heart away to anyone who talks a good game.  This kind of talk can make you think that things are more intimate than they are.

Too many young men are careless with their words.  Many young boys are living life in transition and are mistaken in their feelings or they carry sinister motives and are trying to manipulate you. A young man worth your time will guard his words and will not lead you on.  The woman pursued by solomon in Song of Songs offers some wise advice here.  She says, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Songs 2:7).  Real love is patient and is evident in a young man’s actions long before it appears in his words.

3. Don’t make strong commitments while your life is in transition.

You have grown up so much from the first time I held you in my arms.  You have learned so much.  Every day of your life I have been amazed by you and I am proud of who you are becoming.  I know one day that if it is God’s will that I will give you away at your wedding.

Right now you are going through a time of transition.  You are no longer a child, but you aren’t quite an adult yet either.  You are changing.  Your body is changing and your thoughts, attitudes, and desires are all changing. It is okay to change.  One of the problems with this time in your life though is that sometimes you may not know what you want.  Or you may want two things.  Like Bella in the movie you may have two guys who like you and you may like them both.

A mature woman will act decisively. Even as you become an adult, when you are uncertain I beg you not to commit yourself to anything until you have figured what you want.  This is the reason for the really unpopular rule about how old you need to be before you can date.  I’ll be honest.  My aim is to give you away on your wedding day both physically and emotionally pure.  I know that purity in your marriage will light an intense fire of intimacy and trust with your husband.

I love you and I truly want the best for you.  That day they handed you to me in the hospital was one of the best days of my life.  Everyday with you had been a joyful adventure. I will always be your father and I will always love you.

  • Tell Me the Story!
  • A Few Thoughts on Fatherhood
  • 3 Annoying things I’m Glad My Parents Did When I was a Teenager
  • Avatar: 3 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Son After Watching Avatar
  • What a Father Says to His Daughter on Valentines Day
  • 3 Christmas Meditations on Being a Parent (Part 2)

    2. Mary and Joseph Knew they would have to let go.

    I wonder if knowing the destiny of Jesus (at least vaugly) effected the way that Mary and Joseph went about parenting? In a very real way they were forced to come to terms with letting him go.  Letting go can be one of the hardest parts about parenting.

    I see parents who are clinging to their children and holding on too tight.  Sometimes this comes from a natural desire to protect their children from harm (there are other reasons).  No one wants to see their children hurt and or know that their child could be in danger.  Yet, some parents take this to an extreme by hampering their children from being able to  spread their own wings.  Sometimes we grow so accustomed to making decisions for our children, that we forget the goal of parenting is to train our children to make their own decisions.

    Just like an archer has to let go of the arrow before it sails into the air and finds its mark, Parents are called on to release their children.  I think this happened in a very real way for Mary and Joseph.  They knew their was something special about Jesus from the start.  How do you raise the savior?

    How would we parent differently if we knew the destiny of our children?  What if God called them to the heart of darkness a world away?  Would we be prepared to send them? Guide them? even direct them? My prayer is that he does call them there and that we are willing to let go and even send them.

    To be honest each day I function on the edge of insanity.  Every time the road is wet and my wife and kids are in a car somewhere without me, I keep the phone close, praying that they are ok.  I could easily become compulsive about the safety of my children.  “No” could easily become the most dominant word in my vocabulary for no other reason than that “No” is safe.  But the joy of parenting isn’t found purely in seeking safety but in the risk of providing direction and  letting go.

    3 Christmas Meditations on Being a Parent.

    One of the biggest concerns of parenting is keeping you children safe.  When you become a parent the world changes.  People you don’t know become STRANGERS (with a dark and sinister motives), electric sockets become LIVE WIRES (that threaten to electrocute your kid) and the stove becomes an INFERNO of DEATH (that threatens to burn or scald your child should they even look sideways at it). Ok… Ok… Maybe I have an overactive imagination, but you get the point.  Part of parenting is keeping kids safe.  It starts with the prenatal vitamins and goes from there.

    This is all fresh for me because my wife and I just had the opportunity of welcoming our son (second child)  into the world a few short days ago.  It has been an emotional journey to say the least. Everything about the birth and delivery process was about as routine and casual as having a baby can get.  But as I read the Christmas story over the last few days a few things stuck out to me like never before.

    1. Taking on the Risk of Giving (Luke 2:1-7)

    For all practical purposes Jesus was born in a homeless shelter.  There was no room for them in the Inn at Bethlehem.  Mary and Joseph were travelers and though it was the place of Joseph’s lineage they were most likely strangers in town.

    Mary and Joseph followed God even in the midst of what must have been a scary and troubling situation.  I am inspired by their courage to trust God through temporary circumstances in order to welcome Jesus into this world.  It was risky.  But I guess that is the point I am trying to make.  Jesus didn’t come to be safe, but to save.  Jesus wasn’t Mary and Josephs kid to hold on to, but to give away to the world.

    It would be easy to look at my children born under different circumstances thousands of years and miles later and think it is all different for me.  Certainly my children won’t die on a cross for the sins of the world.  But maybe the were intended for more than me.  Psalm 127 compares children to arrows.  Arrows were not intended to remain in the quiver, but to be launched at the Enemy. Maybe children aren’t the kind of blessing you keep, but they are the kind of blessing you give and that involves risk.