The Truth About Greeting Cards and the Typical Man

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Let’s just start out by asking the obvious question…

Why are they called “Greeting Cards”?

I’ve never received a card from someone just to say “hi!”

They should be called what they actually are, “I’m not creative enough or heartfelt enough to personally write you something, so I picked out this semi-poetic card to say how I feel…cards”

While shopping for a card for my 15th anniversary recently, I noticed that all of the cards written for husbands to give to their wives sounded a lot like apologies.  It would seem that they market to the fact that most husbands know that they’re jerks throughout the year.  And we obviously agree, and take the one day to have someone else issue an apology on our behalf.

They say things like, “I know I don’t always say it…I know I don’t always show it…I know things are difficult at times…but Happy Anniversary!”

I believe that cards like this are the PR agents for the working man.  $3.99 to say all of things we probably should say on a daily basis.

And let’s be honest, most cards like this are probably written by women, because if men had the notion to say these things, we wouldn’t have to be issuing an apology in the form of a card with a picture of a flower on it.

Btw, I’m pretty sure the picture of the flower is a subliminal reminder to buy our wives flowers for our Anniversary.

Oh, and just for clarity, how long do I have to keep a card someone gave me, before I can properly file it in the trash?  Is promptly after reading too soon?  Seriously, how can the sender be offended?  They didn’t design the cover, take the picture, or write the content.  They just signed their name to it.  In high school school, I got detention and a failing grade for doing the same thing, so I’m confused.

And finally, if you’re anything like me and grew up with cards being the wrapping paper to a more monetary gift, you still get disappointed when you open the card and nothing falls out.  It’s like a proverbial slap in the face by Hallmark.

So, I propose a new name for the “Greeting Card”.  How about we call it “Cliffs Notes for Saying I’m Sorry”?  I mean, let’s be honest, if it weren’t for Cliff writing our papers, most of us would never have graduated.

“I’m sorry I didn’t have time or money to buy you anything!”

“I’m sorry I’m too lazy to tell you, in my own words, how I really feel!”

“I’m sorry, I forgot that Christmas was on December 25th each year, and so I didn’t have the time to put a ton of thought into your gift!”

Oh, and one last thing.  If you’re offended by this at all.  You can expect my card in the mail. 8^)

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SuperMom!

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This past weekend my wife was out of town, which meant that I was on tap to be Mr. Mom for a couple of days.  I saw the movie.  If Michael Keaton could do it, I was sure it would be no problem for me.

Two days.  That’s all.  Piece of cake!

But, wait…

Two days of being awakened by little hands tugging.  Little eyes staring.  Little voice whining.  All before the sun was up.  Zero dark thirty.  I am not a morning person, let alone a get up before the sun person.  The first morning, I thought it was the apocalypse.

Two days of food on the floor, on the clothes, and in hair.  Add to this, every time I go to wipe off my youngest daughter’s hands, she sticks her foot in the air and insists that I clean it off as well.  I believe monkeys may have better table etiquette.

Two days of diapers and “Daddy, I have to go potty.”

Two days of “Daddy, can we watch TV?” and “Daddy, she hit me!” and “Daddy, will you play a game?” and “Daddy, will you read me a story?” and “Daddy, I’m hungry!”  All this takes place in the course of one hour and cycles again every couple of hours.

The little one is more of a dictator.
“Daddy, milk!”
“Daddy, waffle!”
“Daddy, book!”
“Daddy, biaper!” (translation: diaper)
“Daddy, done!”
“Daddy, get down!” (translation: I don’t want to sit here anymore)
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”

Two days of baths.  And because I’m an amateur at washing little girl’s hair, two days of screaming and squealing in agony.

Two days of dressing little girls in pretty clothes and hair bows.  I don’t know nothin’ bout that junk.

Two days of kissing boo-boos and sweet girls wanting to sit in my lap.  Then, promptly fighting and whining about the invasion of personal space (and no, not by me).

That’s it!  Two days.  Two days that felt an eternity longer than two days.

ANYWAY, I don’t say all of this to complain.  I love my girls!  But, after two days, I’m exhausted.  I feel like I need a vacation.

I truly don’t understand how my wife does all of this, day-in and day-out, with such poise and grace.  I’m not even sure that I realized all that she does on a daily basis.  Yet, she never complains.  She never bemoans the fact that she rarely gets time to herself.

MY WIFE IS A SUPERHERO! And unfortunately, I often take for granted all that she does each day.  She is absolutely MY HERO and she deserves more!  She deserves more time for herself.  She deserves more attention from me.  She deserves more help with the girls on a regular basis.  She deserves a break, a vacation, a spa day…something!  Honestly, she deserves a parade!

So, for all of you moms out there and especially all of you single mothers – You deserve more!  You give your lives for your children each day and never ask for anything in return.  You are the true superheroes!  And you have the utmost respect of this dad!

 

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Doubting Tommy

PowerPoint-Template-Doubting-Thomas-Touch_slide2_390x294I have a confession to make.  There are times when I struggle with doubt.  I know, I know, a pastor shouldn’t say such things.  But, it’s true.  There are times and seasons in my life that I have to deal with doubt.  Doubt about God’s love for me, His goodness, His involvement in my life…and even His existence.

Stay with me for a moment here, because I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

The truth is that many of you hide it very well.  I meet people that just seem to float through the world on Downy soft clouds and every sound that comes from their mouths is the like the gentle strum of an angel’s harp.  They seem to have an unwavering commitment to purity and virtue.  The problem is, I still struggle with sin and rebellion.  I fight it everyday.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only person of faith who really struggles with sin. But I’m really betting that, like me, there are many others who feel compelled to hide their daily battles, for fear of getting taken down by the friendly fire of the self-righteous.  Let’s be honest, none of us are perfect, but we often feel the need to hide our imperfections.

My imperfection, drowning in a sea of self-righteousness, fuels doubt.

Being a pastor doesn’t help in my struggle with doubt either.  On a regular basis, I deal with arrogant, mean, vindictive and very critical church folks.  Like most people, I really do want others to like me.  However, as soon as I took on the role of teacher and leader, I seemed to have placed a target on my heart for people of impeccable aim.  This causes me to wrestle with my calling, each week questioning whether God can truly use me…for more than merely target practice, that is.

The wounds I suffer at the hands of religious people, fuels doubt.

And then there’s tragedy.  This world truly is a messed up place.  Mindless violence, blind hatred (some of which is perpetrated by “Christians”), disease, famine, etc., all really takes its toll on me sometimes.  I often pray, “God, where are you?”

The ticking time bomb that is this world and its self-destructive nature, fuels doubt.

Now, before you begin spouting off Scripture at me, let me remind you that I am theologically educated.  I know that the Bible teaches that the world is broken.  I know that Jesus said it was not going to be easy and we would encounter trouble.  I know that sanctification is a process, which will continue my entire life.

Still, I have times of intense doubt.  And I also know I’m not alone.  In fact, I know that I’m in good company.

The prophet, Jeremiah, expressed doubt.  Weary from the struggles of being a spokesman for God, he confesses, “Why then does my suffering continue?  Why is my wound so incurable?  Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.” (Jeremiah 15:18)

Yeah, I’ve been there.

John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said that there was no human greater.  The one who stood in confidence and proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, finds himself later in a prison cell, awaiting his execution.  He then writes to Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Luke 7:20)

Yeah, I’ve felt that.

Oh, and the Apostle Thomas.  The one we affectionately refer to as “doubting Thomas”.  He walked with Jesus for 3 years, trusting Him with his life.  After Jesus is crucified and people begin speaking of His resurrection, Thomas said He would not believe it until He could touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side.  Because of this, we sit on our lofty perch and cast judgement on Thomas, forever placing on him the moniker, “doubter”.  When the truth is, he may have been the only honest one of the bunch.  Sure, he doubted that a man he saw brutally killed was now alive and walking the streets.  Wouldn’t you?  Wouldn’t anyone?

I would.  I do sometimes.

As the story goes, each of these men of God, had times when they severely struggled with doubt.  Yet, God used them.  He didn’t simply dismiss them and cast them aside for their doubt as we’re so prone to do.  No.  They became part of the great story of God’s love for us…a part of the redemptive plan of God.

So, yes.  There are times when I struggle and I doubt.  There are times that I want to give up and quit.  But, I find comfort in the fact that I’m not alone.  I find comfort in the fact that God can still use me.  To be clear, my doubt does not define me and I do not seek to cultivate it in anyway.  Rather, I allow it to sharpen my faith.  If anything, it causes me to press in deeper to God.  To turn to Him for answers.  Honestly, it demands that I drop the pretense and really get honest before Him.

Yes, I’m a doubter, like Thomas…like many of you.  And yet,  I’m so grateful that God continues pursue me in my doubts and loves me in spite of them.  I’m so grateful that there is grace for people like me.  And guess what?  You can be confident of the same.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11-13

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Once Upon a Time

poetry*Once upon a time, I wrote poetry.  I was recently looking through some old stuff and found a poem that I wrote in college that actually won a writing contest.  Overcome by nostalgia, I thought I would share the lone pinnacle moment of a writing career that never took flight.  Haha!  Enjoy!

Let me not confess my dreams to you
But whisper a heart filled story in your ear
Of a love between a hungry soul
And a beauty held so dear

I tell this tale not of myself
My eyes have not seen love so true
But of a dream I long to live
Of being loved by you

Where forever holds no boundaries
And trust has held no time at hand
Where God is in complete control
And hearts will make their stand

A love that holds by any means
Is very rare to find
Many hearts have passed it by
And many eyes are blind

And so I fix my eyes to Him
My hands stretched high above
He reaches out to touch my heart
And give me all His love

My broken heart is made complete
To make my final stand
If you could only see such love
And calm my trembling hand

I leave a song that’s incomplete
A tale without a kiss
The story has just begun you see
But let me ask you this…

How many times have you seen forever?

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God @ Work – Part 2

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“…obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.”
~ Colossians 3:22

Seriously?  But Paul, you’ve never met my boss.  If you worked where I worked, you would not be writing such ridiculous statements.

This is our reaction, whenever many of us hear the words “obey” and/or “submit”. Especially when it comes to other people.  People who, we feel we are superior to in every way.  After all, our intellect, ability, wisdom, etc., is unrivaled in the world…right? At least that’s the way we act much of the time.  We’re a lot like children in this.

However, it’s a clear command in Scripture, that when we know and follow Jesus, we are to operate in absolute godly character in the workplace.  We represent Him even at work.

Part of this ethic that we are called to is that we are to respect those in authority over us and…brace for it…do as we are told.

This statement rubs many of us the wrong way.  I mean, let’s be honest, in our country we struggle to submit to those in authority, whether that be parents, teachers, and even bosses.

A great example is how we respond when we get pulled over for a traffic violation. Forget that we actually broke the law and were speeding, texting, riding without a seatbelt, etc. We are angry that the officer pulled us over.  We grumble and complain.  We mutter under our breath that there are more dangerous criminals out there, or something about them just needing to meet a quota.  Keep in mind they are doing their job, yet we despise their authority over us.

Let’s be honest, who among us doesn’t think we know more than our boss at times?  We think we could do their job better, and that we could make better decisions than they can. So, in many cases, there is this resentment when it comes to their authority over us.  We simply hate being told what to do.

However, God is saying that if we are to honor Him in this area of our lives, then we must RESPECT THOSE IN AUTHORITY OVER US.

We are to work hard and be people of integrity, even when no one is watching us.

The question is, is there consistency to your character in the workplace?

It is estimated that U.S. companies lose over $400 billion per year in lost productivity due to “time theft” or loafing.

Things like chronic tardiness, personal phone calls, internet usage (especially things like Facebook and Twitter)…and the list goes on.

The truth is, that people of integrity are people of influence.  God can use us in the workplace, and desires to do so, but we must represent Him well.  He has called us to maintain godly character at work.

So, ask yourself, “am I allowing God to work in my life @ work?”

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God @ Work – Part 1

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Many of us think of work as a necessary evil.

I once dated a girl, whose first job was to castrate pigs (after all, I did grow up in Georgia) Now, many of us would view that as the definition of evil, though I’m not sure how necessary it is.

Anyway,  when we think about work, we mistakenly see it as a product of the fallen world in which we live.  As a result, we rarely put God and work together.

God and church.  Of course.
God and marriage.  We get it.
God and parenting.  Please.
God and finances.  Especially when we need more cash.

But, God at work…it rarely crosses our mind.

Do you realize that approximately 1/3 of our lives are spent working?  Because such a large portion of our lives are spent in this area, we have to understand that God has something to say on the subject.  As a matter of fact, when you open the Bible to the book of Genesis, you’ll find that one of the 1st responsibilities that God assigns to man, is to work.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
~ Genesis 2:15

As God created man in His image, part of that creation was to assign man the responsibility to cultivate and to work.  In other words, WORK IS A PART OF THE IMAGE OF GOD IN US.

So, if that’s the case, why is it that we have such a hard time getting excited about work? Why do we constantly struggle to find meaning and purpose in what we do?

The short answer:  We separate our work from our spiritual life.  We pack up our lunch, kiss God on the cheek, and leave Him at home each day.

Colossians 3:23 instructs us to “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Not just when you get your dream job.  Not just when you find something you love doing. Not just when you get paid enough.  It says, WHATEVER YOU DO.  Wherever God has you in this moment.  Whatever your status or pay.  You are to give 100% and put your heart into it, as if you were working to please Him and no one else.

We have to realize that OUR WORK ETHIC DISPLAYS OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS GOD’S AUTHORITY OVER OUR LIVES

We have to understand that God is measuring faithfulness at every level and in every area of our lives.  Not just at church.  Not just in our families.  Not just in our finances.  He expects us to be faithful with what He has given us.

The significance of our work isn’t found in our tasks and assignments, our position or status, or even our paycheck.  The significance of our work is found in the willingness to put our whole heart into what God has entrusted to us.

In short, as followers of Jesus we have to begin to view our OUR WORK AS WORSHIP.  It’s an offering before God.

So the question begs to be asked:  What kind of offering are bringing before Him each day?  What are you doing with what God has given you?  Are you bringing glory and honor to God in your work?

If not, then what would it look like if you showed up at work tomorrow and put your whole heart into it, as if you were working for Him and no one else?

 

 

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The School of Daddy – Part 3

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And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
~ Deuteronomy 6:5-7

God’s word teaches us that the best thing that we can do for our children is to passionately pursue Him with our lives.  As parents, God’s plan for us is what it has been since the very beginning – to fully submit ourselves to Him and His plan and purpose for us.  That’s it!

When I was a child, my dad was my absolute hero.  I wanted to be just like him. Everything he said and everything he did, I copied.  I mimicked his facial expressions.  I repeated the words I heard him say.  I even imitated his habits, like the nervous leg shake at the dinner table.

Parents, you have to know that your children are watching you.  They are gathering data on how to live their lives.  Who they want to be.  How to treat others.  Like Mini Me, they follow us around offering their best imitation of us.  They are sponges, sopping up everything we are laying down.

This should absolutely terrify us in some regards, or at the very least, cause us to pause and consider our words and behavior.

We literally model life for them.

However, we can’t give our children what we, ourselves, don’t have.  Do you want your children to be godly?  Show them what an authentic relationship with God looks like.  Do you want them to be honorable?  Be honorable.  Do you want them to be motivated by love and grace?  Teach them about the love and grace of Jesus.  Model it for them.

This is what God is trying to teach us.  That our children need to see us pursuing Him wholeheartedly.  They need us to teach them about the character and nature of God…and it starts with them seeing it in our lives.

In our home, we make the effort.  We try to teach our daughters the importance of prayer.  We teach them the Word of God.  We do our best to model love, grace and mercy.  We strive to teach them the value of integrity.  We want to show them the blessing of generosity.

I’m not going to pretend it’s easy.  It’s not.  It’s hard work.  But the truth is, I desire desperately to leave a legacy for my children beyond what this world has to offer.  And like any worldly legacy or inheritance, it takes hard work, investment, and time.

But, my girls are worth it.  Man, are they worth it!  And so are your children.

What kind of legacy are you leaving?

 

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