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Monthly Archives: December 2009

#3. Leading a Family Well is Tough

My wife will say that being a mother is the most rewarding job that exists….. and one of the hardest.  It can be a thankless job requiring thousands of hours of sacrifice. Margie (my wife), after the miracle of birth, has assumed the roles of, counselor, decorator, doctor, mediator, confidant, cook, lover, taxi driver, coach, cheerleader,  housekeeper, decorator, comforter, sage, seamstress, financial planner…..etc.

HOWEVER… She will also say that the mantle of responsibility that God places on a man is greater still. (Ephesians 5)

10 Obstacles that a man faces when he tries to lead his family…

  1. He is a “Punchline” in our culture. Name the last TV commercial, sitcom, or movie  you saw where the man was not weak, beholden to his lusts or simply an idiot. His wife, of course, is the smart, savvy one and his kids barely tolerate his ramblings. The Christian man gets it even worse: always the “doormat”, the creepy neighbor, the “judgmental finger pointer” or the pedophile. Very predictable…. and very tired. But it has taken its toll on Christian men.
  2. His own insecurities.  A man has a unique set of insecurities that follow him out of young adulthood into marriage. Some related to immaturity, some related to pain that has not been dealt with,  and some are just that fact that he sometime believes what the world tells him.
  3. His Lack of role model. Most men never had a father who lead his family well. The Men of the Greatest Generation saved the world from oppression, came home and built a powerful economy but kept their families, and especially their sons,  at “arms length”. The 60’s did not help either, and along came the 70’s freedom, the 80’s self-absorption. The typical man has been searching for “who he is” or who he wanted to be for the last 70 years.  All the while churning out men with no clue how to love, respect, nurture their wives or raise their children.
  4. He and his wife have trouble communicating. By the way…there is not a right way or wrong way to communicate. (obviously other than in an abusive or demeaning fashion) A man DOES communicate…but he does so like a man would!  I am all for a man learning how to verbally explain himself in a way that his wife can “hear” him. But a man should not be disqualified or worse, vilified, when he communicates like a man. The typical man shares his life in “bottom line” bits of information. That will be his “default” position until Jesus comes. His wife typically is much more verbal and expressive…obviously, unless a couple handles this well they will struggle mightily in marriage.
  5. His wife has a mind of her own! Turns out our wives have their own thoughts, dreams, goals, ambitions etc…  Many women never saw their mother’s be cherished and cared for appropriately by their fathers (if their father was even around). Consequently turning over the reigns of her life to her untested husband is difficult to do. She will fight him all the way until she sees him place her above every other woman, defend her publicly and privately, take a bullet for her, have eyes for her only, trust her with his secrets…..(i.e. place her on her rightful pedestal).
  6. He is unsure what he wants his family to “look like“. Many men do not plan past the end of the week, much less what they want their family to become.
  7. His wife knows his inconsistencies and failures. It is easy to lead folks that really don’t know you. That is why everyone loves the guest preacher and critiques their pastor.  The financial planner is trusted and successful until you examine his personal books to see that his advice does not always match his actions. It is hard to be lead by someone who does not always do what he says. And yet if anyone is examined closely enough, their actions will not match 100% of what they say. Men must lead in the midst of their inconsistencies.
  8. The Enemy has plans to destroy him. (John 10:10) Pretty simply. Every time a man walks out of his house he has a target on his back. More about this at #1.
  9. He is busy trying to support his family. Life can really get in the way of leading a family well. Our career, money, mortgage, recreation, kids, pressure, emergencies, distractions…
  10. He lacks discipline. Many men have not yet learned to lead themselves and consequently have a hard time leading anyone else.

A FEW THOUGHTS THAT MAY HELP…

  1. LEAD AUTHENTICALLY.  We have three children and my biggest fear is that they will get so used to being around church that they will lose their appetite for it. We “leak” on our kids. What is important to us will become important to them. Attend church begrudgingly or out of some misplaced sense of obligation and your kids will run from it the first chance they get. (ya can’t hide boredom). But show some passion for the things of God and they will be drawn to Him. (2 Cor. 11:3)
  2. Don’t “PROTECT THE PICTURE. In other words, don’t be something on Sunday’s that we are not on Saturday nights. It fosters hypocrisy! Most people put a nice picture of their family in their homes. These picture are sometime a great representation of a peaceful home and sometimes what is represented on the wall could not be further from what is actually going on in the home.  I have watched people walk away from the faith because they boiled it down to a game of not getting caught. It destroys the soul and most people just get tired of the game. The key is to just love Jesus….period. (Jer 5:1, Phil. 4:8, Titus 2:5)
  3. GROW UP – I was 34 years with three children before I embraced being an adult. (long story) I realized that I have others (wife and kids) who are inextricably hitched to me that I must bring along. Embrace them, feed them, love them,  don’t run (physically, emotionally or spiritually) from them. (1 Cor 13:11)

from The Bible Study Series, “Things They Did Not Tell Me About My Faith” – Hixon Frank 2007

 
 

#4 “Pretty” Sin is Still Sin

West Texas, like a lot of places,  is full of quaint small towns that have become little time warps. From the “Enjoy Coke” signs on the lone cafe’ in town to the small church set way off the main road, entering these towns is like stepping back in time 40-50 years! Margie and I have spent a lot of time in towns like this primarily looking for antiques.  I remember on one short stop in Memphis, Texas I found a great old General Electric Radio. (love old electronics). It was decades old and was fairly priced.

As I considered the radio, I noticed a display in the next booth. It was a series of well dressed,  piles of ….er……well….. “poop”.  All were dressed as different historical figures. First was an Abe Lincoln “poop” – complete with beard and top hat. Next was the George Washington “poop” – (I think they came as a pair). Marilyn Monroe “poop”,  Laurel and Hardy “poop” and, if I remember correctly, there was a Princess Di “poop” (next to a miniature black Mercedes-Benz with severe damage, not funny.)

The point: Even dressed as famous people the little brown piles were still POOP! Well-dressed, stinky, nasty, dirty…. POOP!

Some Things to Consider….

  • GOSSIP dressed up as prayer requests and shared with concern…is still GOSSIP (2 Cor. 12:20)
  • WORRY that looks like Godly piety… is still WORRY (Luke 12:22)
  • LUST kept secret….. is still LUST (Matt 5:28, Col.3:5)
  • ARROGANCE wrapped in “leadership principles” …is still ARROGANCE (Mark 7:22)
  • SELFISH AMBITION hidden in selfish networking… is still SELFISH AMBITION (Gal. 5:20)
  • SLANDERING an “acceptable enemy”… is still SLANDER (Rom. 1:30)
  • BITTERNESS…..well…. you get the idea

We all have a way of trying to make our sin look better than it really is…we dress it up in spiritual language, compensate ourselves that our motives are pure or hide behind “plausible deniability” but the reality remains…….. OUR SIN IS STILL SIN.  Nasty, dirty, stinky….. SIN!  (Romans 6:6)

Sin must be dealt with honestly before the Lord.

There is no freedom in simply disguising our sin.

We will find neither joy nor strength in our faith if we refuse to deal with the “sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1)

excerpt from The Bible Study Series, “Things They Did Not Tell Me About My Faith” – Hixon Frank 2007

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 17, 2009 in Discipleship

 

#5 It’s Not “Us against Them”

I gave my life to Jesus almost 30 years ago in a conservative Southern Baptist church. It was “old school” in that the services were kind of formal, folks dressed up, and the music was very traditional. The church also strongly taught doctrine and I became (like many new believers) very rigid in my beliefs. Anyone who practiced their faith in Jesus outside of our interpretation of scripture was almost considered “lesser than”.

Those were the days when the SBC was really struggling to figure out who it wanted to be. It was “conservatives verses moderates” with a lot of animosity on both sides. Name calling and public feuding seemed to be commonplace with both sides claiming the moral high ground. (eyes rolling and heads shaking, the lost world looked on)  Regardless of where you stood on the issues the conduct of both sides  was a “black eye” to the cause of Christ. (opinion)

What developed out of that in many ways was an “us against them” mentality…

  • “Us” against the moderates
  • “Us” against the immoral
  • “Us” against the drinkers
  • “Us” against the  lost
  • “Us” against sister churches
  • “Us” against Hollywood
  • “Us” against anyone who does not act, think, dress, smell like…….well…….US!

Two Key verses give some good insight into what Jesus thought about about believers and those who did not yet know Him.

For Believers:

John 13:35  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

For those who did not know Him:

MARK  6:34  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

A friend of mine wears a t-shirt that boldly states:  “Jesus Loves Strippers!” We could argue the appropriateness of the shirt or whether or not she should wear it at all,  but here’s the thing…. after my initial wincing at it, I think she has a good point! Jesus does indeed love strippers….. He also loves homosexuals, cheaters, thieves, gossips, Republicans, Democrats, Baptists etc….. (John 3:15-18)

A Few Quick thoughts:

  1. Jesus was liberal in His Love for the lost (thieves,  immoral, unloved,  etc)  (Luke 5:30)
  2. Jesus was fierce in his condemnation of the religious hypocrites. (Gospels, all)
  3. Jesus said that people will know we are His disciples if we “love one another”. (John 13:35)
  4. People are not the enemy…they are the objective!  If a man who does not know Jesus, behaves accordingly…how can we condemn him?
  5. Shouldn’t  our attitude be that of a beggar who has found food and want to show other beggars where to eat?

As a Christian my job is NOT to find a way to make a “bad person” good … it is to show THE  WAY that a dead person can be alive.

excerpts from the The Bible Study Series, “Things They Did Not Tell Me About My Faith” – Hixon Frank 2007

 

#6. I Don’t Get To Hold A Grudge!

Forgiveness is, of course, one of the distinguishing characteristics of Christianity.

Summary:  God initiates contact with humans (Gal. 1:4; 2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 9:23-26) and forgives sins through the death of Jesus (Rom. 3:21-26; 4:25; Mark 10:45; Gal. 1:4; Acts 13:38). God’s forgiveness is variously described as justification, salvation, and reconciliation.

In the NT several points are made clear. One is that the forgiven sinner must forgive others. This is manifest in Lk. 6:37, cited above, in the Lord’s Prayer, and in other places. A readiness to forgive others is part of the indication that we have truly repented. Moreover, it is to be whole-hearted. It springs from Christ’s forgiveness of us, and it is to be like Christ’s forgiveness: ‘as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive’ (Col. 3:13). Several times Christ insists on the same thing, as in his parable of the unmerciful servant (Mt. 18:23-35). New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition:II.

But here is the deal… It is a whole lot easier to receive forgiveness FROM others than to extend it TO others. Why?  We are “hard wired” to have this mindset: “mercy for me and justice for you”. We have a tendency to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt even when we shouldn’t.

When I forgive others (for both big and small)  I still remember the offense…and it creeps back into my mind…then gets back into my heart….then I relive the offense and I am right back holding them culpable for their “crime”. I say to myself that I should “forgive and forget” (which is not biblical by the way) but the struggle seems to keep coming back. Then I have a full-blown GRUDGE on my hands. (FYI: I get that others have had to forgive me a lot more than I have had to forgive them)

Paul Burlison says it this way, “Human forgiveness is always followed by a comma and not a period”.  In other words I can forgive someone today and have to consciously “re-forgive” them tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and the……… each time I do I get a little bit closer to completely forgiving them.

Forgiveness is both a DECISION and a PROCESS. I decide to forgive and the process begins.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Three Quick ideas
  1. Deal with your grudge Honestly – don’t deny it because “Christians don’t hold grudges”. If ya have one deal with it!
  2. Deal with your grudge Completely – keep extending forgiveness until you are totally over it. (you will know you are almost past it when you can pray honestly for God to bless your offender)
  3. Deal with your grudge Often. Grudges can fester if they are not brought up (in a healthy way) and exposed in the Light of God’s forgiveness.
from The Bible Study Series, “Things They Did Not Tell Me About My Faith” – Hixon Frank 2007

 

#7. Marriage Takes a Whole Lot More Than Love (10 Skills My Wife Needs Me To Have)

I have believed for a long time that after about two years our wives become who we create them to be. They either “blossom” under the safety that we provide (emotional, physical, spiritual) or they get “crushed or stunted” under our thumbs. Most women allow their husbands, initially anyway, to have that kind of sway in their lives.

Some Skills to develop…

  1. Skill to Provide for her. Yep, that is right! Get a job, keep it and do well at it. Provide for your woman! (1 Tim 5:8)
  2. Skill to Study her. Know her dreams, fears, likes and dislikes, their tendencies and what pushes their buttons. Know what makes her happy or causes her stress. Know what hurts her feelings and why. (1 Tim 3:12, Implied) For most men it will take a lot of effort but start with this: understand that men and women have the same emotions….they just come out differently. Think about it!
  3. Skill to Accept her for who she is. Along with all of the gifts, abilities and talent that you married her for, she also has the shortcomings, blind spots and issues she came with. You get the good and the bad (the richer and poorer, the sickness and health..etc) By the way….she got both good and bad with you!
  4. Skill to Give her a Safe Place to Be Herself. Let her be a girl… a big reason you married her…I’m guessing. You have guy friends you can tell “pull my finger jokes” to!
  5. Skill to Listen to What She Says. She probably has some insight that you may lack. Listen to her counsel.
  6. Skill to Never Compare Her Unfavorably to Any Other Woman…ever! (Prov 19:4)
  7. Skill to Never Agree with your Buddies Who Put Her Down…. I can’t believe it but I actually have several men in mind as I write this one!
  8. Skill to “Back her up” in front of the kids, your family, etc….. you are always on your wife’s side. (Ps 128:3)
  9. Skill to Pursue her. Don’t stop just cause you married her. Keep winning her. I guarantee there is another man she knows who would love to be in your shoes and he is probably working on that right now. It is the world we live in.  (Song of Solomon)
  10. Skill to Lead Her …………. by example. Gone are the days that a man will lead his wife by fiat! (if they ever really existed in the first place) (Ephesians 5)

A good friend of mine is fond of saying that “being in love lasts about 18 months”.

He is absolutely right!

After that you better have some skill!


from The Bible Study Series, “Things They Did Not Tell Me About My Faith” – Hixon Frank 2007


 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2009 in Family, Leadership

 

“Going Fishing” by Charles Swindoll

Acts 7; 17

Billy Wilder, the great movie producer, openly admitted: “I have a vast and terrible desire never to bore an audience.” With tacit agreement Jack Parr once declared: “The greatest sin is to be dull.”

Those two statements ought to haunt anyone who regularly practices the fine art of communication.

Communication is a competitive field. Like it or not, the teacher, writer, speaker, or preacher contends with ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Rush Limbaugh, magazines, paperbacks, CDs, the theater, the cinema, the thrilling excitement of sporting events, and a zillion other attractions. Pity the missionary whose mimeographed letter arrives in the same mail with Sports Illustrated or Newsweek. God help the Sunday evening services across America that do battle with 60 Minutes and Masterpiece Theater.

Today’s communicator faces a stiffer challenge than ever before. This means that we who communicate Christ must work especially hard at winning and then maintaining a hearing. This doesn’t mean we need to put on a better show or shout louder or attack our competition. What it does mean is that we must meet at least three demands.

We must be prepared. Basically, it necessitates doing our homework. But it also means we must determine what ought to remain behind the counter, held in reserve, and what ought to be placed on display. It’s the art of verbal economy.

We must be interesting. We must paint verbal pictures for the uninitiated, preoccupied mind to see. To do this we need energy, subtlety, relevance, and changes of pace.

We must be practical. Communicating the Scriptures is more than dumping out a truckload of biblical facts; it means using those facts to meet practical, everyday needs.

Communicating is like fishing. We need to provide the right lures and bait to attract our listeners.

Check out Paul’s address on Mars Hill (Acts 17) or Stephen’s defense before the Council (Acts 7) or Jesus’ great sermon on the mountain (Matt. 5-7) or His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3). Not a rusty hook in the bunch!

Funny thing about fish: They keep their eyes open even when they’re bored and sound asleep. Myopic communicators tend to forget that.

 
 

#8…Most of your wounds will be from “FRIENDLY FIRE”

#8 Most of your wounds will be from “FRIENDLY FIRE”…..man! I wish someone had mentioned that early on in my walk with the Lord! It would have saved me some bitterness and frustration. 🙂

FRIENDLY FIRE is a term used to describe shots fired at you in battle… by your own men.

James 3:9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness

We all have a tendency to extend grace to ourselves and judgement to others. Examine your own life….when you cut someone off in traffic it is because: “you are in a hurry, you are late, you are justified, your priorities are superior to those on the road around you” etc…perfectlly reasonable explanations! BUT when someone cuts YOU off in traffic they are …. “a jerk, reckless, irresponsible idiots, boneheads of the highest order,  etc…”   Right?

This tendency can be especially tragic when people mix the genuine call to a high moral standard (Biblical Christianity) with our propensity to judge others. The result for some is the absolute abuse of people who stand to lead, volunteer, or serve the body of Christ.

Anyone who has ever shared the gospel, preached a message or taught a small group has their stories……here is one of mine:

The First Time I ever preached at the Met (Metropolitan Baptist Church in Houston) was in the summer of 1994. I was the youth minister for the rapidly growing church and  found myself in front of about 1200 people one Sunday morning. The week before, I prepared like crazy, got very little sleep, and lost most of my appetite. To say I was “worked up” would have been an understatement. With my wife in the audience (thank God for a friendly face) I proceeded to preach a decent little sermon: 4 points, some good illustrations and even a video clip.  Several people gave their lives to Jesus that morning and I left the platform reasonably satisfied that I had honored the Lord with the message.

Apparently not everyone was all that happy with the message (on forgiveness by the way) as I received a phone call the next morning from a gentleman (I use the term loosely) who proceeded to critique just about every part of my sermon and even the fact that I was wearing a fancy suit (my only one….funerals, wedding, preaching suit. the guy did NOT like three buttons I guess).  I remember sitting in my office stunned and bewildered that someone took such offense at a sermon. (A Biblical one at that!)

…these days I can smile about it but do remember the pain and angst it caused.

Ya see…

In some cases Critique, criticism and judgement can, over time, turn a once bold “man of God” to a “quivering pile of goo”! We have all seen the Pastor who is beholden to those who critique him. He changes his preparation and thought process to accomodate his critics. He has given them power over him and tragically allowed them to take God’s place…….. sad…… but common, very common. I know dozens of men who have left ministry for good because they could not get over the fact that folks who profess a love for Jesus may very well profess a dislike for others who serve Him.

Is it wrong?….yes!

Is it part of the deal?….has been for years!

John 13:35  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Quick note: The shots rarely come from the core folks in a church. The core is too busy serving and working to reach people. The shots come from those in the stands …. the Monday morning QB’s and onlookers who treat the church like their favorite team…. taking taking credit for the win and casting blame in a loss.

IGNORE THEM!!!!

Just knowing where the shots are coming from is half the battle. I’m just saying.

from The Bible Study Series, “Things They Did Not Tell Me About My Faith” – Hixon Frank 2007