“How is being grounded going to get me to school on time?”

Lately I have been picking up my daughter up from school because the transmission in her car is being fixed. It’s been a great bonding experience for us. More for me, the dad who is not quite ready for his senior to graduate. I’m fairly certain she could do without it. She loves me but independence is a beautiful thing.

I’m here on this beautiful day waiting for her to come to the car, I have my iPad and iPhone and am getting work done. Lately my office is wherever I am. I love technology.

My windows are down, a cool breeze is blowing and the sounds of school letting out fill my car. A girl walks by talking on the phone and says, “how is being grounded going to get me to school on time?

It made me laugh out loud as I remember many conversations as a young man having the same kind of discussions trying to make the argument that discipline wouldn’t fix the problem. Not realizing that my behavior was proof that I did not understand the consequences of my actions.

As a parent I can tell you what was being said on the other end of the phone. “babe, your missing the whole point. Maybe if we take some privileges away it will help you understand that before you get privileges you must fulfill responsibilities. That’s what successful people do. Do what you need to do so you can do what you want to do. If you continue to be tardy it’s going to effect your grades, actions have consequences”. If your the parent of a teenager I’m sure that conversation or some version of it has happened in your home more than once.

As parents it’s our role to give guidelines, set parameters, teach, train, encourage, and if necessary punish.

I have a fantastic teenager, she has truly been a joy, but she is still a teenager and going through adolescents is a challenge for parents and children. There are ways to do it successfully, here are some…

1. Have a parenting mentor.

I have a friend who has successfully raised 3 teenagers into adulthood they love God, the church, people, and life. So when I am trying to navigate through things that are important and don’t want to get it wrong I run it by him see what he thinks and talk it through.

2. Put yourself in your kids shoes.

Remember what it was like to be an adolescent. Read some books, take a class. Think back and how you felt. One of the best things I did before Taylor became a teenager was to take a course on adolescent psychology. It prepared me for what she would go through and how to prepare myself and Janae for what we would face.

3. Proactively prepare your child for it.

There are some good books written on a preteens level that prepare them for what’s coming.

4. Treat it positively.

Don’t scare your child and don’t be afraid yourself. It is truly a fun time, and a great experience!

5. Don’t listen to people that are negative about it.

People always want others to have the same negative experiences they’ve had. Don’t buy into that.

6. Love your kids.

Use the bible model. Teach, train, admonish, and coach your kids towards successful living. Let the last resort be punishment and let the punishment fit the violation, the effect relate to the cause. Most importantly show them affection and speak kind words. Parenting the right way takes more time, is inconvenient, and requires more patience but it’s worth it.

What are strategies you use in raising your teens? I would love to hear.

If You’re Smart You’ll Take it to Heart

Proverbs 2:1 (msg) Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life.

I find it interesting that the writer here starts by calling the listener or reader “good friend.” For, in fact anyone who is giving you good advice, or wisdom is a good friend.

A good friend to you will advise you of truth no matter how hard it may be to hear it or act on it. It’s a good friend indeed who will give you wisdom. We find out later that this good friend is wisdom itself.

Take it to heart he says. As a pastor, a leader, a life coach to many. I completely understand why he would write this. You may think it’s understood but you would be incorrect to think that. It’s amazing to me how many people ask for counsel, and guidance, coaching, or leadership, whatever you want to call it, and listen to you but don’t take you’re wisdom to heart.

They listen, but don’t embrace it. There are many motivations not to. Fear, arrogance, pride, being unteachable, selfish desires, passivity, unwillingness to confront and so much more.

Bottom line however is if you need wisdom and it’s been made available to you, embrace it, change accordingly, move on and make progress.

John Maxwell says “the definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect different results.”

So my advice to you is listen to the wisdom God has placed around you and let it work in you. Wisdom and the people who dispense it are your friends.

Any Counselors, Pastors, Teachers, and Leaders who can identify say amen!

Father (& mother) know best

Proverbs 1:8-9 (msg). Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers.

My Pastor, Kirk Pankratz was teaching on parenting last night, and he recalled like many of us do that when he was 14-16 he felt like his parents didn’t know anything but when he arrived at 21-22 he realized they were much smarter than he thought. We can all laugh at that because we’ve all been there.

Adolescence does that to us. As we develop independence we assume we know more than we do and that our parents know less, but when we are old enough to take on the responsibility of independence, we realize how little we know and how much they know.

Solomon is teaching us here that experience and wisdom from our parents is very valuable. He says wear it like jewelry.

Basically he is telling us to embrace and not reject what either of our parents told us as children. Be proud to follow their wisdom, consider it like treasure. I have found this to be true in my own life.

What if my parents weren’t the smartest people? Nobody’s perfect, but their experience has taught them something, and if you pay close attention you will glean some very important things from them.

There is wisdom In listening to those who’ve already gone down the road you’re trying to travel.

What important lessons have you learned from your parents? Please share.

Rut Buster

Have you ever been stuck in a rut?  I mean really stuck!  It’s no fun, it feels like all the momentum has left your life.  I had a friend that use to say, “a rut is nothing but a grave with the ends knocked out.”  That sounds horrible.  Sadly its true.  When we find our lives stuck in a rut, we become discouraged, easily defeated, bored, discontented, and really for all intents and purpose we are the walking dead.

I’m sure there are many reasons we find ourselves in a rut.  I say “find ourselves” because its seems to happen that way.  You wake up one day, and realize my life is without meaning.  I’m merely going through the motions.  I”M STUCK!  This is no small problem, because the fruit of this can cause major marriage problems, huge leadership gaps, and personal insecurity that can run your life off the rails. Lets not let that happen.  Not with us, or any of the people around us.  Lets bust the ruts.  Here are some ways to be a Rut Buster.

1.  Change your perspective

Begin to look at things from a positive place.  Be a Glass half full person.  Be purposeful in our gratitude.

2.  Live each day on purpose.

When you get up, ask yourself, what adventure awaits me today? Look at all aspects or your life as an adventure.

3.  Shake it up!

Do something different.  Drive to work a different way, Get up earlier or later.  Change your routine.  Do something different.

4.  Teach or train someone else to do what you do.

When you teach someone else about what you do, you find the purpose in it again.  You remember why it excites you, which evokes passion.

5.  Last, make your life about helping others.

The greatest rut buster out there, is to quit living in your rut and bust somebody elses rut wide open.

I beleive we get in ruts, becuase we have become so focused on ourselves that our world just becomes smaller and smaller until it is nothing more than a grave with the ends knocked out.

So come on, Bust the Rut!  Get to living!

Who’s Shoulders are You Standing on?

I heard a message recently that stirred my heart. it was by Paul Scanlon from abundant life church in Bradford, England. He is one of my favorite communicators, he always has a different perspective, sees things a bit different than normal. His messages are well thought out.

He said this in the message Who will Love the Legacy? “you are not an original.”. yes as we grow and develop we will do things and see things differently than those who have come before, but if we are wise we will not be arrogant in our efforts, realizing we are standing on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before us, we are not an original.

So being the grandson of a pastor/evangelist, and the son of a pastor, and the spiritual son and associate pastor to a great pastor, I have big shoes to fill and Great shoulders to stand on. My next three blogs will be dedicated to the major principles each of these men have taught me.

I hope it helps you.

On our way…

Team is in good spirits, and we’re about to board the flight to Taiwan. This is the longest leg of the travel time and its about 14 hrs. Our actual total travel time in the air is about 30 hrs. We leave usa Sunday night, actually monday morning 2 a.m. and we arrive in Phnom Penh Tuesday morning their time.

So now its just sit back relax, and enjoy the ride. I’m really excited about this team and the opportunities we have on this trip. We have excellent plans, we have a trained team with great attitudes and a mind to work. I think the results will be lives changed. So pray for us as we bring help and hope to those who so desperately need it.


Something to Say about the end of a Perfect Season

Let me start by saying I’m no football commentator, however I am a fan. I love football on every level. I think the game is terrific and has many great traditions. I’m having a ball watching this year. They seem to be playing more competitively then i can remember in a while. I really loved the attempt at a perfect season by the Indianapolis colts.

How unfortunate to lose at this point, especially when it didn’t have to happen. Far be it from me to be an arm chair Coach, however i feel the move to take out the best players on the field to assure their health at this point in the season was ridiculous and incredibly near sighted.

I love the quote i have heard from so many coaches, I don’t know who originated it, but it says, “we play to win, we don’t play not to lose.” What a huge statement. Playing it safe, playing to maintain, playing not to lose, always seems to land teams in the loss column.

I realize it seems a lot of players are hurt this Season, not sure why, maybe because the guys are bigger, faster, stronger. Maybe because they seem to be more strategic, don’t know, but it is a factor. To a degree it has always been, this is football, its a tough sport. I can understand the coach wanting to make sure he has his best players on the field in the biggest games. Now, however, he has to deal with the momentum shift and moral of his teams, because of the disappointment of losing the perfect season. I’m certain he thought they would win, but is it a chance you take? Not me.

Because at this time of the year, going into the playoffs everyone is playing their best and hardest and nothing can be taken for granted. Now, there is nothing guaranteeing that if you leave manning and the others in the game they will win, but there is definitely a much better chance.

Its just unfortunate that such a great quarterback, who has a team, that I believe will go to the super-bowl, and win, will not also be able to say, “we had a perfect season.”

I want to encourage you, don’t live life not to lose, but live life to win. Live on the offensive. Not maintaining but pressing forward, going for it, taking chances, not playing it safe. Add a little faith to your life, and believe it will come out right. If it doesn’t then you don’t walk away having any “woulda, shoulda, coulda,” but you know you did everything you could, and that is almost as good a feeling as a win.

Nobody’s perfect, but a perfect season is not out of the question, and that’s what I have to say, about that.


Finish Strong!

Here in one passage of scripture we find two perfect examples. One of what it means to finish Strong, and the other to finish weak.

2 Timothy 4:6-8
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Finishing strong or well, has a different meaning than just finishing.

(MSG) 6-8You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming.

10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica

Thoughts on finishing Strong.

The average person feels like its good enough to just finish. Merely finishing is just surviving.

Finishing strong is winning, its ending with purpose, completing with excellence.

Finishing strong is less about externals or things people can see. Finishing strong is measured by our internal capacity and How successfully we will start the next thing.

The average person goes through life with it all running together. Never stopping to evaluate, never thinking it through. Whatever happens, happens.

A person of purpose or significance takes natural starts and stops to evaluate. To measure where we are, and envision where we go from here. Gods plan and purpose for us are so important that we must be strong Finishers as well as Strong Starters.

So as we draw near to the end of this year, we look at what we’ve done and plan for what we will do.

***Lets look at the two men in this scripture, one of which was the ultimate in strong Finishers, the other was the ultimate in failing to finish. These two men were friends who parted company over this very thing.

***Lets look at the weak finisher first. Lets see what keeps him from Finishing strong.

Demas: In other epistles Demas is referred to with honor and like one of the team, but at this moment a crisis moment, Paul facing his death and the Gospel being preached to the highest levels in Rome. Could be considered the greatest moment in the churches history at that time, and this is how we will all remember Demas.

For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica.

1. Weak finishers forsake their intended purpose. They lose sight of their Goal.
• Demas at a pivotal point, a crisis moment, just lost sight of what was important, and quit.

2. Weak finishers confuse their devotion. They love the wrong things.
• Demas loved “this present world” This implies, he chose temporal things over eternal. He made his world more important than the kingdom. He was tired of waiting for the future and wanted his now! He became impatient and driven by his own desire instead of a greater purpose

3. Weak finishers are distracted and go off course.
• Thessalonica was a metropolis, a big city, a place with numbers of options and things to take our mind off priorities. Lots of distractions. Anything that pulls us off course from our kingdom purpose is a distraction. Our world is filled with them. We can not let distractions take us off course. It’s tiring to hear Christians say, “how did I get here” I want to be spiritually hungry and I want to fulfill my purpose in life, but somehow I’m off course. It’s simple, they’re distracted.

Paul: The other friend in this story is Paul. He is the ultimate example for finishing strong. We can finish with Great confidence, we can end one season and go into the next with Strength and power. No matter what we have gone through or what our circumstances have brought us, we can finish strong and begin again with power.

Paul Said, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness with the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day and not to me only but also all who have loved his appearing.

1. Strong finishers surrender to a great cause, and are fully given to the cause. (poured out)
• They hold nothing back, they have an all or nothing mentality. They look at their life like an offering. They are giving their life for a cause. Rom. 12:2 …living sacrifice.

2. Strong finishers are willing to fight to finish well.
• They realize this is a battle its not easy, and they are willing to face the challenges and fight for it. They look at obstacles as opportunities, not places to stop.
• Paul fought for the Gospel he was attacked on many levels and he fought through it.

3. Strong finishers are focused on finishing
• Not looking for rest stops
• Not looking to slow down and let the race pass them by
• Not looking to get most of the way there.
• They are focused on the finish line

4. Strong finishers always believe in the outcome and don’t allow for quitting, ever!
• They don’t have a back door mentality
• They believe In the goal, in the purpose, in the cause more than anything. They will not quit until they finish and they will finish well.

Reaching to Serve

I am so proud of how all of our campuses are serving in our communities. We are by far not the only people doing this, it’s exciting to me to see how many churches have awakened to the fact that our role is to do more than preach with our mouths, but help people in need. People with spiritual, physical, relational, financial, and emotional needs.

I have Pastor Friends here in the city and throughout the states and around the world who are truly making a difference and caring for people. Love is active, so we stay busy helping others. Here are some of the things we have done lately.

Our MWC campus just held a banquet for Military men and women. To appreciate them and let them know how much they truly mean to us. MWC houses Tinker air force base, and the area is populated with the military. It was just a way of saying thanks and it really made an impact.

MWC has also been tailgating at choctaw high school Home football games, giving away free burgers and hot dogs and just being available to the students and families. They have also been diligent in building an ongoing relationship with teachers, administration and students by going to the school and helping out.

Edmond Campus, held a benefit dinner not long ago, partnering with a local high school for a young man who had been injured in an accident and had been paralyzed. They raised money to help him pay for medical equipment and medical Care.

Edmond campus men have been visiting the elderly in one of the local nursing homes. They have provided snacks for college students on finals week, and put together goodie bags for a local football team for an away game.

OKC Campus at the start of school handed out free snacks and connected with college students. OKC is going into local public elementary schools, and doing an assembly on the value of reading. In one day we will be in front of several hundred students, and helping promote reading and reinforcing what their teachers are teaching. We will do this on the 18th of this month and again in the spring.

Stillwater blessed 10 families for thanksgiving, fed lunch to all the teachers at the middle school, and some of the administrative staff at OSU, as well as cleaned the Payne County Youth Shelter.

Norman has been tailgating at the OU football games. They have given out thousands of free food items (hot dogs, and breakfast burritos) and connected with lots of people. They have really helped some people while being a part of the fun in the community. They Even ended up on the fox sports show. How fun.

Cordell Campus took on a project to help renovate, clean, and do minor projects on a home for a single mom.

These are just some of the things we are doing. We have individuals in our church, who have outreaches to get blankets for the homeless, others who are getting socks for the homeless, and still others who are regularly feeding the homeless. We have men who are mentoring inner city youth and women who teaching and training young at risk women life skills and parenting.

So many other things are going on and we’re just getting ramped up. One of the things I like the most are the ministries all of our campuses come together for. Like our foster kids ministry. We provide a free camp in the summer for 80-100 foster kids, and we do something we call the “Tree of Hope” Its a way for people on every campus to get involved with giving a christmas to hundreds of kids. We have people take kids wish list off the tree and buy gifts for them, wrap them and bring them back for a big party we do after our Christmas production. This helps our foster kids and our RTG (rescue the girls) families.

The greatest part of all of this is that it’s God’s heart for His church to help those who are need, and as we are helping we can share the love, compassion, grace, and Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love Jesus and all that He stands for, and am privileged to work in His Kingdom. It’s an honor to serve people and it’s life changing for us as well.

By the way on all of the projects we do, we are partnering with local merchants, business people, city officials, and leaders. Partnership is the key.

We can all do something. Please comment and tell me some of the things you are doing with your church or on your own to help people.