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God Wants Our Circumstances To Change Us

The Parenting Secret Every Dad Needs to Know

All children are born with a powerful desire to please their fathers… they want to make him happy. But this natural-born desire can be lost if fathers are not careful with how they lead their children.

This is why God gives the admonition in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger…”

The reason we need the caution is clear. Dads are naturally in positions of authority. They are physically bigger and stronger than their children. They have superior intellect over their children. They are the pack-leaders of the home.

While these are not bad in themselves, the slightest lapse can result in a misuse, or even abuse of their position.

Provocation takes many forms: saying one thing and doing another, always criticizing and never praising, being inconsistent or unfair, having unrealistic expectations, not admitting mistakes, ridiculing, being sarcastic or cutting with words, being rigid or harsh.

If it happens consistently, children will begin to resent their father’s leadership and resentment always leads to rebellion. Provoking to anger numbs a child’s natural affection for their father. A father loses his children’s “want to” motivation. His son or daughter’s natural inclination to please their dad crumbles and the most powerful motive for obedience, the desire to please, is gone.

We’ve all been in relationships with a coach or a teacher or a supervisor where we actually wanted to make them happy. One fact is clear, “Want to” is always a better motivator than “have to.” “Have to” motivation is shallow and vulnerable. “Want to” motivation is deep and strong.

Because of this, fathers should do everything within their power to lead their children in a way that keeps them in a “want to” relationship and away from a “have to” relationship. There may be a point where it’s appropriate to pull out the dad card and say, “Because I’m your father,” but that shouldn’t be our default setting.

So fathers, God has placed you in a vitally important position. Your children desperately want to make you happy and proud, be careful not to lead them in a way that would jeopardize that motivation.

How have you seen this in your own family, either as a parent or a child?

Six Signs your Dating Relationship is Unhealthy

Who we date is extremely important. Few relationships have the same power to influence a person, shaping who they are and who they will become. There are always immediate and long-term consequences to who we date, so healthy dating relationships are vital.

Here are six signs your dating relationship might be unhealthy:

1. Other people say it is.

The saying “love is blind” is unfortunately true when it comes to people not being able to see that their own relationship is unhealthy. If people around you (friends, family, ministry leaders) are expressing concern… listen. And don’t think silence means everything is okay. If you’re not hearing anything, you need to ask. But, don’t just ask anyone. Ask people who have spiritual wisdom and a proven history of health in their own relationships.

2. You Disappeared.

People in unhealthy dating relationships often drop off the face of the planet. Their friends and family see so little of them, they consider making a missing persons report. If you find that you’re no longer associating with the same people you used to before the relationship, that should be of concern. Healthy couples have high levels of interaction with family and friends.

3. You’re Stuck (to each other.)

One of the best compliments I received while dating my wife is that we didn’t always have to be together. It’s not that we ignored each other, we just didn’t have to be attached at the hip. We had balance. We both had other friends (male and female) and spent time with them. If you have trouble spending time with people other than your boyfriend/girlfriend, your relationship has health issues.

4. Drama.

While every relationship (even healthy ones) will have occasional disagreements, some couples have an endless supply. It seems like they’re stuck in a perpetual cycle of strife. An argument or a fight is always simmering. Healthy relationships should have significant periods of peace and calm between occasional quarrels, not the other way around.

5. You’re Pretending.

The purpose of marriage is to bring two people into a permanent commitment to one another. Pretenders want the benefits or marriage without the commitment and that’s never healthy. It’s a shaky foundation for any relationship, even if it does eventually result in marriage. If the only thing that would change if you got married is a license, a ring and maybe a joint bank account, you have health issues. (Hebrews 13:4)

6. Spiritual Incompatibility.

I was surprised to hear a young Christian woman recently describe her boyfriend as being “a nice guy, just not a Christian.” In terms of a dating relationship, that’s like saying “I’m a vegetarian, but I love a good steak.” There is a serious incompatibility issue when a follower of Jesus enters into a close-intimate relationship with someone who is not a follower of Jesus. They just don’t go together. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

If any of these describe your own relationship, take whatever steps are necessary to correct them. Unhealthy dating issues never go away when people get more serious in the relationship, the “unhealth” just gets more serious.

How have you seen these affect relationships? What other things have you seen that might be a sign that someone’s dating relationship is unhealthy?

Advice for Graduates: Things you might not learn at college.

Graduation announcements have been streaming into my mailbox. Over the next several days, I will attend parties for many of these young men and women transitioning to the next stage of life. Here are a few things I would share with them (and the millions of other soon to be collegians), about what you might not learn at college.

Many of your peers are lost and confused.
These same lost and confused people will engage in behaviors for no good reason other than the fact that someone else is doing it. It is the “lost leading the lost” and it is never a good idea to follow people who don’t know where they’re going. Have a purpose and a reason (good ones) for the things you do.

You don’t have to figure it all out.
A lot of people head into their college years with a well-thought out plan about what they want to do with their life, others have no idea. Either way, remember that life and wisdom and maturity have a funny way of shaking things up and directing us into places we never imagined we would go. Even those with a plan often times end up changing it. Be okay with figuring it out as you go. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Wisdom is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is good, but wisdom is better. The world is full of really smart people who do really dumb things and those dumb things have a way of negating all of their intellectual potential. Spend your college years working on your character as much as you do your studies and you will be wise instead of just intelligent. (Proverbs 4:6-7).

Decisions have consequences.
Many college students say, “This is college, This is the time of life you’re supposed to be wild.” That’s garbage. I’m all for having fun (and highly recommend it), but there is no such thing as a choice that doesn’t have consequences (emotional, physical, spiritual, legal, mental, etc.) College is not some kind of magical “no consequence” zone that erases all the stupid things people do when they graduate.

Seize the moment.
After college, most graduates start a job, get a mortgage/lease, get married, have kids, etc. The reality is, these well-worthy responsibilities severely limit your ability to “go.” So seize the moment. Do something epic. Go big. My specific advice… spend a summer, a semester or an entire year serving Christ somewhere. You will not regret it. (There are lots of great organizations that do this, here is one example: http://www.adventures.org/trips/?prg=passport.)

What additional advice would you offer college students?

The Next Adventure

The time has arrived. After years of consideration, it’s finally time to venture into the land of the blogosphere.

I can’t recall a time that I witnessed the launch of a blog, so I’m uncertain as to any protocol for how to smash a champagne bottle on the bow of a blog.  So the best I can think of, is to offer a few brief thoughts on why I’m venturing into this new land and what I hope it will become.

I know it sounds cliché, but I truly believe that life is a journey, and we are all on it. We are all moving and progressing… none of us is where we started. Our past is behind us, our future is ahead of us. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul knew when he wrote:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)

None of us have arrived, but we are moving forward to what lies ahead. Not for the sake of the journey itself, but because of Christ who has made me his own.

So this blog is simply some thoughts along the way. As I journey, my blog will cover a variety of topics including theology, the church, leadership,  marriage, parenting and whatever else seems to strike me as something worth discussing out loud.

I look forward to having you join me!

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