Spiritual

The Weird Thing About Reading the Bible Is

by admin

I have been a Christian since I was 16 years old. I don’t mean I have been going to church since I was 16. I mean I have been attempting to submit my entire life to Jesus Christ since I was 16. It is not easy. The largest roadblock to this submission has been myself. And the largest thing about myself that has gotten in the way is my aversion to routine.

(What does this have to do with Fathering? I am convinced that as I seek to become more like Jesus, I become a better father, a better husband, and even a better version of me. If you disagree with this statement, I challenge you right here, right now in the comments for just one quality of behaviour of Jesus that I might emulate that would not make me a better father, husband or person. Just one. Go ahead. I await your comments.)

But here’s the funny thing about it. Very early on I noticed something about reading the Bible. Reading the Bible is something that pretty much every church tells you is key to figuring out how to follow Jesus personally. In fact, if a church tells you that it is not key, then I’d argue you aren’t going to a Christian church. But being the contrarian that I am I rarely accept what I am told “because”. There has to be a reason. Read the rest of this entry »


Wanna Be A Better Dad and/or Person? Two Tips

by admin

In my journey towards being a better Dad and a better person, one battle I have fought is figuring out how to squeeze in time for personal development.  When I look hard at how I spend my day, I recognize that huge swaths of it are wasted, from a lack of self-discipline.  But then the question is, how do I become more self-disciplined, so I can achieve those two goals?

PS.  If you’re new here and you like what you read, you can subscribe to the blog with an RSS reader, or for even more fun, go like our Facebook page!  I drop little tidbits and tips on there more regularly than even here (but I save my long form goodness for this page!)

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The Only Answer To Accusations of Hatred and Fear

by admin

I’ve written several blogs in the last few months, but they sit in my drafts, not quite making me happy enough to post.  Like that’s their job.

Onwards.  Today I have been thinking about love.  For years, I have struggled with too much emotional investment in political discussion.  I’ve allowed myself to get very upset when people have voiced opinions that I don’t just agree with, but are on their face nonsensical.  Full disclosure: I consider myself a rationalist, but I concede that I may not be right about everything.  There is a difference between disagreeing and being wrong.  Most times, disagreement is fine.  But when someone holds an opinion based on how they feel, and not on reason, I have a huge problem with that.

Anyways.

That wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.  What I wanted to talk about is that despite that emotional investment, the world still seems bent on sliding into irrationality and dysfunction.  Once again, the tides of public discourse seem to be turning judgmental and stereotypical.  The Twitter-like process of reducing everything to soundbites and 140 characters means little is given deep consideration by anyone.  Rarely do people think through the consequences of their thoughts, feelings, and actions anymore.  The results are predictable.  And the worse for us all.

My instinct is to ask the question, how to fight this rising tide of ignorance and, well, hatred?  And the answer was in Scripture all along.  Love.

There is no argument that will convince the BC Law Association that Christians are just as capable as anyone else in society in representing the legal profession, in fairly and competently working for their clients, as well as any atheist or any Muslim or any Buddhist.  There is no argument that will convince voters that a Christian candidate for political office will give as much consideration to constituents of other faiths as they would their own.  There is no argument that will convince the media that people who believe the Bible are not secretly waiting for their chance to seize the reins of power and herd everyone else of unlike mind into concentration camps.  The very irrational belief Christians are accused of having is held by those who hate them as well – regardless of proof to the contrary, people will fear what they do not know and hate what they fear.

There is only one answer that will be heard: love.  If we want to represent Christ fairly, we must simply love.  We must do good.  Not just when it’s convenient.  And not just to each other – which is something Christians all too easily slip into.  We must love our neighbours – and unless we live in communes, our neighbours are of every creed, race, gender, orientation, colour, and TV show preference.  We must love them so ridiculously, so disarmingly, that they look at us funny.  We must put that question mark in their mind: why are they being so nice to me?  We must keep it up, keep on, stay focused, until finally they give up and scream at us: “WHY ARE YOU SO KIND?”

And then… only then will they hear the truth about why.

1 Peter 3:15


On Marrying Young

by admin

A friend of mine, a young lady who is just entering into marriage, shared with her friends an article containing 5 reasons why one guy got married before age 23.    The piece is pretty love-oriented, and it’s not wrong, but I don’t know if it deals fully with all the reasons why people put off marriage today.  I do think it nails the biggest one: fear.  Fear of missing out on “single life”.  Fear of making the wrong decision.  So many fears.Scared Kirk

Full disclosure: my parents married young – they were 19 when they married.  They are still married.  My aunts and uncles all married young – I think the oldest to get married was my Dad’s twin brother who won a bet by making it to 30.  The rest all married in their late teens or young twenties.  All are still married.  Of my cousins close in age to me, half married in their early twenties.  No divorces.  So my experience is that there is no relationship between marrying early and marital happiness, or likelihood of divorce.  I think it has much more to do with expectations.

Scared PsychoBut I want to focus on fear in this post.  Do you worry that you might choose wrong if you are young?  That you might not know yourself or what you want?  That you haven’t “lived” yet?  That you are young and broke, won’t have the money for college, won’t be able to provide?

I’ll start with a caveat.  I am a Bible-believing Christian, and I do take seriously the fact that God is clear in His word that a man should be prepared to provide for his family (1 Timothy 5:8).  That said, I am equally convinced that nowhere does the Bible say that everyone needs to start marriage debt free, owning a nice house and car, and with a substantial RRSP in place.  These are ridiculous expectations that people use to disguise their fear as wisdom, and keep themselves from blessing (Proverbs 18:22).

I plan to raise my sons to prepare for marriage young.  Not because I am old fashioned, but for other reasons.  But the biggest one is for them not to fear.  My experience has been that there should be no fear to marrying young.  Caution, yes, but not fear.  Let me tell you my experience. Read the rest of this entry »


Family Discipleship Plan

by admin

BibleI have not been satisfied with any devotional ever, and my kids hate sitting still for Bible stories. But I am convicted that I need to take my job as the leader of this household seriously and set the example and pattern for growing in the Lord.

To that end, I am starting today. I am starting a morning Bible time with my older boys, and plan to get the younger ones involved as they learn to read.

I have given each of them a small notebook. In this notebook, I am asking them to, before they eat, before they shower, before they play a game in the morning, take their Bible, pick a chapter, read it and then answer these three questions:

1. What does it say?
2. What does it mean?
3. What is God trying to teach me through this passage?

Then, after breakfast, I am going to get them to share their #3 with me and their brothers, so we can learn from each other.

That’s the plan. My hope and prayer is that we can develop a family pattern in the month of August before school starts, so that it is fixed and routine by then.


Defining Manliness: Living Under Authority

by admin

When he (Jesus) had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

(Matthew 8:5-13 ESV)

I just got home from one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Our family vacation this year was one of great reflection and also seeing life from a profoundly different perspective.  I am still digesting everything we did and learned.  I know the kids had a good time but I don’t think they realize what a watershed this trip was.

While I was travelling I was thinking a lot about the hand that God has dealt us.  In some ways it is nontraditional.  In some ways it is very traditional.  At least, it could be.  And that is what I am unpacking.

Being the father of 6 boys, I have been wrestling for year with how to teach them what it means to be a man – but not just a man, a mature man, a man who is everything that God wants Him to be.  In many ways I have let them down in modelling this for them, but I am trying very hard to change.

The picture of manliness offered by the world is a picture of independence.  It is a picture of freedom, to do what you want, when you want.  It is a picture that really, at its core holds up selfishness and self-centeredness as its idol, supreme goal, and ultimate end.  I have found that a lot of people speaking truth about manliness and masculinity still fall into this trap, though there are a few that realize there is something more.  This something more I think is obvious when you are a follower of God but I think it is still clear from basic human nature that manliness – true masculinity involves voluntary submission, and living under another authority.

The story I relate above is a story of faith.  It recounts the centurion, a commander in an centurionarmy, caring for one of those under his authority.  The picture of the Roman Centurion, a legionnaire, has been a picture of masculinity for millenia now.  It is recognized and not debated.  Yet, this Centurion in the story is not just a tough man.  Not just a man capable of sending men to their deaths for a cause, for controlling and orchestrating death, for guarding and protecting.  He is also a man who cares, who sees value in the people in his care.  He has a sick servant, and he is willing to take time out of his day to personally seek out the only one who could possibly help – a strange holy man who seems to have a reputation for bringing about healing where no healing should come.  A man who claims to be sent from God.  The Son of God Himself.

The encounter the Centurion has with Jesus has most often been used with its most obvious intent – to encourage us to have faith like the Centurion – a faith Jesus had not witnessed even amongst the supposed people of God.  But the message for me, and for men seeking to understand manhood I think is clear.  This manly man, this Centurion, was a man under authority.  He didn’t resent it.  He didn’t rebell against it.  He didn’t seek a workaround.  It was a fact of his masculine being that he was a man living under authority.  Read the rest of this entry »


Take the Easy Road?

by admin

I struggled with whether or not to write this because the truth is I have only been thinking about the subject lately because I have friends who are faced with major decisions right now.  And the advice almost everyone is giving them is the subject of this blog.  There are a lot of things about my faith, my relationship with God, and the direction my life has taken that I don’t understand, but somehow the truth of Matthew 7:13 has never been in doubt in my mind.  I am just struggling with how to express it to them, without sounding self-serving.

We all want the easy road.  We all want life to be simple and smooth.  We all crave simplicity and peace.  We all want comfort.  These are universal.  These are what got this world into the morass of sin and evil.  They just are.

But it is especially hard to read Matthew 7:13 when you have been through months, even years of heavy loads, squeaking by, and fighting tooth and nail just to survive.  You just want to take the easy road, just for a bit, just for a change.  Just for a break. Read the rest of this entry »


Loving Your Blessings, Ignoring the Blesser

by admin

“Do you love this God who is everything, or do you just love everything He gives you?” – Francis Chan, Crazy Love (2008)

As I was reading the above lines, I was struck by the two levels this idea speaks to.  To the Christian, we easily take for granted the relationship God wants with us.  Like children, we often sink into a place where we love being blessed by God, we love the miracles of God, but we grow cold to God Himself.  Children love getting stuff, love food, love their rooms, love their games. But when the gravy train ends, how easily do they turn on us, saying things like “I hate you!”Tech Toys

But what struck me the most is this is really the human condition.  God rains down gifts and blessing on those who are far from Him and those who love Him alike.  And those who are far from Him think, “I don’t need God – look at all I have!”  Those same people who see no need for God because of their wealth look at the poor of this world, the homeless, the people living in squalor in the 3rd World.  They look at these people who appear abandoned by God and they say, “There is no God, because if God is love He would never let people live that way.”  Somehow in their minds they manage to ignore the God who gives to them in abundance and then blame that same God for withholding blessing from others.

Aside from the unreasonableness of such ideas, I have a response to both.  If you don’t need God because of your blessings, then don’t be mad at God for taking them away.  You never gave thanks in the first place to the one who gave them to you.  And they will be taken away one day.  Nothing lasts beyond this life but your soul.

As for the poor of this world, God never made them poor.  Evil men and women made them poor.  The decisions human beings account for something like 90% of the poor in the world.  Exploitation is the biggest threat to humankind, not earthquakes, not tsunamis, not “Acts of God”.  A few misguided people point to natural disasters as God’s wrath poured out.  I don’t see them that way.  I see them as opportunities God gives us to love Him by loving each other.  These are our chances.  These are our turns to be God’s hands and feet, loving people and meeting their needs, serving selflessly.  Being like Jesus – there is no other time in life that it is so obvious what people’s needs are, how can we pass them up?

But to the question. Poor girl

Could God rescue all the poor of this world?

Yes.

Why doesn’t He?

He is.

What do you mean?

He sent YOU.

I say this with an absolutely straight face to every person I have know that takes issue with God’s heartlessness for allowing suffering.  He has given YOU eyes to see the poor of this world, that is why YOU are mad at Him.  The problem isn’t God.  It is YOU for not recognizing what God is asking of you.

If every atheist who complains that God doesn’t exist because He ignores the poor actually answered the call of God to the poor, we wouldn’t have them.  Atheists or poor.  The problem isn’t with God.  He has given us everything we need for heaven on earth.  The problem is us, selfishly holding back from truly answering His call to the least of these.

I’ll close with one more quote from Francis Chan’s book.

“Imagine how awful it would feel to have your child say to you, ‘I don’t really want you or your love, but I would like my allowance please.'”

90% of humanity says that to God every day.  We all want His blessings and begrudge Him for not giving them.  But we don’t want to know Him.  Because if we did, we might actually begin to care for someone more than ourselves.  Better to stay bitter and ungrateful, keeping the fiction alive that we know better than God the way to our own happiness.


Woman at the Well, Part 4: Changing the Subject, Avoiding the Issue

by admin

SilhouetteWe are finally returning to a series I started a fair time ago.  The story of the Woman at the Well has always fascinated me for the many layers that are there, embedded in a simply recounting of Jesus meeting a woman while on a hot, dusty trek from Jerusalem up into Galilee, where He spent the bulk of His ministry.  The encounter is at once intensely countercultural, incredibly affirming, shockingly political, and startlingly irreligious.  In this story Jesus tears down walls of race, class, gender, religion, and even shame, hopelessness, isolation and despair.

Check out Parts 1, 2, and 3.  Now, we turn to a fascinating interchange that takes place as Jesus forces the woman to confront who she is and where she has found herself.

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
(John 4:19-20 ESV) Read the rest of this entry »


The iPhone Mom and Over-Reaction – Godly Grief vs. Worldly Grief

by admin

A few days ago a Facebook note was being shared around the people I am friends with.  It was entitled, “Dear Mom on the iPhone” and it originated, as far as I can tell, with this blog post by a Mom blogging at 4 Little Fergusons.  I was impressed with the thoughtful and timely comment, as there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see people around town with their kids, but their heads are down, not watching anything but the latest text or Facebook post, or pinterest picture scroll across their smartphone’s screen.  I considered it a very timely message as I myself am often that Dad, even though the letter was written to Moms.On the iPhone

Turns out many people actually found the letter offensive.  Many moms read it and took away from it guilt.  One friend I know read it and then swore not to use her iPhone all day Saturday.  I considered that to be a good thing, and I will explain in a moment what I am talking about it.  But many other moms found their guilt twist into anger.  How dare that woman write such a judgemental article!  How dare she judge me!  She doesn’t know what I go through every day!  Maybe I was using my phone to pay bills, or write a grocery list, or check on a doctor’s appointment location!  How can she sit at her desk and write such hateful things!  I am a good mom!

One of those moms decided to write a defense of iPhone moms.  I read that piece over and was struck by this perspective that judgement was being brought on all iPhone moms everywhere.  One response to her on Facebook went even so far as to suggest that the original piece was meant to encourage people to judge moms on iPhones.  I re-read the original and I don’t see that at all.  I see a woman, a mom, providing a timely reminder to other moms and dads of the perils of allowing ourselves to be distracted by the culture of instant gratification and constant entertainment to the point where we miss our childhood. I didn’t and still don’t see any calls or demands for parents to be 100% focused (dare I say obsessed) with their children constantly.  Only a call for balance.

Because of who I am, I read this whole debate in light of God’s wisdom.  The verse that came flying out at me in reading this argument was this: Read the rest of this entry »


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