Maggots……a gift from God?

I am a builder. I like to create, establish, and birth new things. Whether it is a ministry, program, book, organization, or relationship; I like starting new things. I am not a very good maintainer. If I am responsible for an organization or relationship for the long haul, I have to recreate it from time to time as my form of maintaining or managing it well.

 

One time an older man in my life said to me, “Be careful what you birth. Whatever you birth, you are responsible to care for the rest of its life”. Wow! That comment stopped me in my tracks and took the wind out of my sails. Was that true? If so, I was not so sure that I ever wanted to birth another thing the rest of my life.

 

Is the price of birthing something maintaining it as long as it lives? It is if we are discussing children, of course. But, what about organizations or churches, are they supposed to live forever? Whether you agree with the man’s comment or not, it was a word of the Lord for me and a much needed wake up call. I had not considered the long-term care that was going to be necessary for the things I birthed.

 

Recently, another man provided well-needed balance to this conversation. It was T. D. Jakes, as he was being interviewed by Bill Hybels, during The 2016 Global Leadership Summit. T. D. explained it this way; while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God fed them fresh manna every day. If the people gathered the manna and tried to keep it over night, maggots would spoil the manna. God allows things to spoil, and sometimes provides maggots, so we don’t try to hold onto everything that belongs to yesterday. He went on to say that not every relationship, assignment or program deserves the energy, time or resources that God has given you for today.Unknown

 

Some things you birth will live for a season and then pass away, because their usefulness has passed. That is ok. But, it is not ok to create and build new things without any consideration for their care. There has to be balance.

 

What if the maggot devours things that allow us the freedom to fully embrace today? Just a thought. For more on this subject, http://www.newcovenantchurch.com/resources/media/sermons.html

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Battles & Burdens

Growing up, I was always looking for ways to make money. My first job was as a paperboy. I delivered papers three times a week. But, I always had something going on the side as well. I also picked up soda bottles and redeemed them; five cents for the small bottles, and 10 cents for large bottles. I loved making and saving money.

 

When I became older, that drive or desire to make and save money didn’t change, just the ways I chose to make extra money. Instead of picking up bottles, I became interested in flipping houses and owning rental property. I invested a ton of time and money in real estate. And things went really well until 2008 when I learned for the first time in my life, what a downturn in the economy looked like. I had some investments that didn’t make it. It was painful watching something I had once loved become something I loathed.

 

Something else happened the winter of 2008. A group of people formed Haywood County’s first homeless shelter. I was elected to the board and served on that board for six years. Then the homeless shelter merged with two other organizations to form, The Haywood Pathways Center (a homeless shelter, half-way house, and soup kitchen). I have served on that board since its inception, and still do so today.

 

The Haywood Pathways Center houses up to 100 people who are working on turning their lives around. Currently it is an adults only center since we may need to serve those who have been past sexual offenders, and our two dormitories are an open floor plan. The next phase of our ministry is to focus on families in crisis, by providing off campus temporary housing for moms and their children. This may involve buying, flipping, and managing families in individual units.

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Funny isn’t it? I got into real estate to make money for my family. I learned a lot about the market, renters, contractors, bankers and their policies and procedures. And as I personally experienced the ups and downs of the real estate market, God began turning my heart towards those that have no place to live. God is now redeeming all of the time I invested in real estate, and I am now using every bit of it for the benefit of others.

 

Some of our greatest failures might be God given burdens misapplied! God has graced my investment as I have focused on helping others.

 

If God has given you a passion, but it doesn’t seem to be working for you, you might want to consider using it to serve someone else. You may find, like I did, that it was always His original intention. For more on this subject http://www.newcovenantchurch.com/resources/media/sermons/the-gift-of-godly-leadership.html

 

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Discovering the Mind of a Woman

When my wife and I had been married about seven years, we went through a very difficult time. We were both working hard to make ends meet and take care of two toddlers. Our marriage became very strained. Honestly, we were in trouble but didn’t even know it. Then a friend handed me a book on marriage. The title was “Discovering the Mind of a Woman” by Ken Nair. The author said, “you cannot understand all woman, but you should understand yours!”

 

I read the book so long ago I can’t fully recommend it, but I do remember two things. The first was that we should listen to our wives, they usually only want our best. Most women aren’t getting up in the morning thinking; how can I ruin my husband’s life, or how can I make him miserable today? Yes, there are some, but most don’t.shutterstock_16524841

 

What my wife wants is a husband she is proud of. She wants me to be the best in every area of my life because it increases the quality of her life and she loves me. But, who do you think I regularly don’t listen to when she has something to tell me? My wife! All too often I discount what she has to say, because I am overly familiar with her voice since I hear it every day. But time and time again, I have found she is my best counselor.

 

The second thing I remember from the book was that a woman wants to be pursued, discovered, and cherished. I remember asking my wife if she felt I was pursuing her or if she believed I cared about the matters of her heart. She bluntly told me, “no” and that she had lost all hope that I ever would. She had resigned herself to thinking we would end up roommates at best in our marriage. I promised her that day that I would change and not take her for granted. She said, “I will believe it when I see it.”

 

Twenty years later we are happily married. Those toddlers are grown and gone and we love each other more than ever. My wife is pursuing her dream of being an artist. She is blossoming into who she always knew she was, and I am chasing after her, trying to keep up with this new and beautiful version of her. I am grateful that God saved our marriage. I am grateful that today I still have so much more to discover…and to enjoy about the woman I chose to love. For more, click on http://www.newcovenantchurch.com/resources/media/sermons/limiting-the-limitless-god.html

 

 

 

 

 

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Raising Men

My wife and I have two sons. We made the decision early on to raise men, not boys. That can be difficult in a society that panders to children. I am continually amazed at the decisions and the adjustments parents make based on the whims of their child. There was a day, in our society fifty years ago, when a child wasn’t to speak until spoken to. That, in my opinion, swung too far to one end of the spectrum. Today, most children can interrupt any conversation, at any time. That, in my opinion, swings too far in the other direction.

 

Raising men means that we accept where our children are in their development but parent them towards who they will become. We treat them one developmental stage ahead of where they are. That can be hard, especially for a mother, to train a child to be independent, instead of enjoying their dependence upon her.Raising Men

 

My wife insisted our sons clean their own room at a very young age. The boys started cutting the grass when they were six. Both did their own laundry by middle school. We taught them how to treat women, by opening doors and treating them with respect. They could feed themselves for as long as I can remember.

 

Besides giving them responsibility, we let our kids make some adult decisions for their own life (not for our family, see the first paragraph). This allowed us to use their real life successes and failures as coaching opportunities while they were still in our house. This limited the negative impact when they made a poor decision and allowed us to truly dissect the learning opportunity when their decision was a good one.

 

Now let me clearly say that my wife and I are not perfect parents. Rarely do I give parenting advice because I made a ton of mistakes along the way. But, those mistakes don’t discount the truths we did discover while raising our sons. Here are two truths we discovered about raising men:

 

  1. If you treat a boy like a boy, he may grow up to be a boy. I know some 30 year olds boys and no one thinks their boyish behavior is cute anymore, especially their wives. Boys desire to know (especially from their father) that they have what it takes to be a man. So, whenever you can, let them make manly decisions for their life and applaud their successes.

 

  1. Understand the difference between authority and influence in your children’s lives. When they are young, you have authority over them. You tell them when to go to bed and decide what they will eat. But, as they mature into teenagers, the “season” of authority begins to wane and the “season” of influence begins. Many parents miss this change and continue to operate from authority. If we miss this change, many times they move out of our house and reject any influence we have over their lives.

 

Today, my adult sons will call me and say, “Dad, I am making this decision, but I want to get your advice before I make it.” That means the world to me. They own their decisions but somehow, through all the mistakes I did make; I still have some influence in their lives.

 

Parenting is hard; the most difficult thing I have ever done. I do not envy todays parents and the hard decisions they have to make everyday. But as a father who has been down that road, I implore you to consciously raise men, not boys. You will not regret it. For more on this subject go to

http://www.newcovenantchurch.com/resources/media/sermons.html

 

 

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