Stop Mowing Your Lawn

tom landry quote

lawnmower

“I wish I had fished more, and taken care of my lawn less.” This was the comment from my friend Jim as we were sitting on the shore of a lake in Wyoming fishing for trout. I couldn’t have agreed with Jim more. I would love to fish more and mow grass less. But, Jim had a different perspective than me, and I suspect different reasons for saying what he did. Jim was in his 80’s. His body didn’t really cooperate with his mind like he wanted it to. Jim had parkinson’s disease and in a few years would be in a nursing home.

Jim went on to tell me about how he had the best lawn on the block, how he spent hours maintaining it. But, apparently not enough time fishing. I don’t think it was necessarily fishing that he wished he had done more. I think that with the benefit of his entire life behind him, he wished he had spent less time on things that don’t matter so much in the scope of life. So what if his lawn wasn’t the perfect shade of green, had some dandelions, or had some bare spots? I know now that towards the end of his life, he wished he had spent more time with friends and family fishing. Or talking, or going for walks with them, or just sitting with them.

A perfect lawn here is a metaphor for all of the inconsequential stuff that we add to our life. We all have our “lawn”. Whether that’s an immaculately clean house, the best kids in every activity, or the best facebook profile. We’ve all got something that at the end of life won’t mean a thing. But, we’ll have our “fishing” that we’ll have wished we had done instead. We’ll have regretted not being goofy with our kids, just stopping and actually listening to our spouse, or going for coffee with that life giving friend.

There is hope, we can live better. So, my challenge this week for me and for you is to listen to Jim and stop trying to have the perfect “lawn” for just a brief time. Take that time and go “fishing” with someone.

Let me know in the comments: What’s your “fishing” going to be this week?

 

Harassed Eagles Can’t Soar

EagleCrow (2)

On a walk the other day, I saw a beautiful Bald Eagle trying to soar. But there was another smaller bird that kept dive-bombing and harassing the eagle. The eagle could hardly keep altitude… had to keep slowing down, dodging the other bird. It was painful to watch. The large, majestic, powerful eagle not able to shake the smaller bird… and it continued until couldn’t see them anymore. I wondered what had happened. Did the eagle deserve it or was the smaller bird just trying to keep the eagle moving on? I decided to see if I could learn anything about this phenomena and found a U.S. Forest Service article by Rob MacDonald, a Wildlife Biologist with the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. He said that “It is common to see birds chasing or harassing a hawk, eagle, or jaeger. This is called “mobbing.” Mobbing is a way for birds to scare away a potential predator from their nesting area, and in the end, help preserve their survival… This mobbing may be done simply to confuse the bird of prey in the hope of getting it to move away.” Interesting…

As I continued to walk, I started thinking about our children, our friends and our spouses and how sometimes they may be feeling continually harassed. What an impact that has on their ability to soar! Maybe it’s a bully, a teacher, a friend, employer… and sometimes even their own thinking keeping up the badgering. But let’s be honest… sometimes it us as a parent or as a spouse… not letting up enough for them to catch some air. Have you ever read the definition of harassment?

ha·rass·ment- aggressive pressure or intimidation… to worry and impede by repeated raids

These definitions brought on a whole new level of self-reflection. Ponder these questions…

  1. In an effort to be a “good” parent… could my actions be perceived as harassing?
  2. Is my child or spouse not able to soar because of harassment from the outside or from me?
  3. Am I “mobbing” as a self-preservation tactic… maybe because I don’t know what else to do?

So what to do? First of all, as a parent, it’s important to be consistent, persistent and diligent in making sure that our children soar as adults. But it’s important to have sensitivity and ask the question… Has what I’m doing moved into harassment?

Secondly, give others grace and see what may be causing their actions. Respond to them appropriately.

Thirdly, give yourself grace. There are times and seasons in your life that you can’t soar because you feel harassed. Ask for forgiveness… receive it from God, and move on!

God’s word is so powerful and encouraging. Read and soak this in:

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Man, Religion and Hope in Orlando

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“We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

Barack Obama, February 2008

 

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.’”

Jeremiah 17:5

 

Like many of you I am saddened and frustrated by the events from the early morning of this past Sunday, June 12. I am grieved to live in a world where hate is so pervasive, and I am bothered that in times of crisis there are those who turn to men and the institutions of men for guidance.

To be fair the words above of then-candidate Obama could have been spoken by any political leader of the modern era, Republican or Democrat. Nevertheless they encapsulate practically everything that is wrong with our society today. As Rick Warren stated at the beginning of Purpose Driven Life, “It’s not about you.” If we are the ones we have been waiting for then we are surely lost forever.

“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” – Psalm 146:3

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.” – Psalm 118:8

“Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” – Isaiah 2:22

This is not to say that we should trust no man, or that to trust someone is foolish. The question is where do you ultimately place your faith? If your hope is in mankind you will be disappointed – quickly and often. If you are waiting for dear leader to rescue you from turmoil and strife you will be long waiting. I firmly believe that the sort of fundamentalist hatred that killed those beautiful children of God will never be solved by any law or series of laws.

Civil rights did not begin in 1964, they began when the hearts of Americans changed over time and began to accept black people as equals. And that work is not complete.

Equally so hatred will not end because of any legislation. It will end when we all learn to love one another.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

So now comes the hard part: what can you do? Have you prayed for those who would terrorize us? Have you asked for God to show them mercy and truth? The words of Jesus cannot be improved:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” – Mathew 5:43-47

He was given the opportunity to model this behavior for us, when on the cross He said of His executioners, “Father, forgive them.”

When I lived in Texas the LCMS church we attended had a wonderful Sr. Pastor, and he shared a story with me once. Shortly after 9-11 a child asked him why we don’t pray for our enemies the way Jesus asked. He had no good answer. So in the weekly prayers we would say a quick prayer for Osama Bin Laden, something to the effect of hoping he would seek redemption and learn the truth. It lasted about a week. Our Pastor immediately fell under so much pressure from the congregation that he relented and dropped that prayer. I don’t blame Pastor Steve. At least he had the courage to try.

I blame myself. Not once have I earnestly prayed that God would show the truth to those who would seek to terrorize us. Not once have I asked for God to forgive them for their atrocities, and to purify their heart. Has God been asked to surround would-be terrorists with compassionate people who can show them love and possibly alter their lives before they lash out? Not by me He hasn’t.

Instead I want my pound of flesh. I want swift vengeance. I want some sort of military action with enormous explosions and devastating consequences. Smart bombs, drone strikes, marines and Special Forces. I want action and I demand justice of a purely earthly nature. And I want all of this knowing full well that it will fix nothing. Who is the fool?

So today I don’t ask our leaders to fix this problem. They can’t. Despite their promises they are as impotent and foolish as I am. Instead, today I am going to pray for my enemies. There is tremendous power in prayer. More power than anything I can imagine. I believe that. Now I am going to act it out. Won’t you join me?

Want to Help the Whetstone? Here’s How.

Hi Friends!

It is with much prayer, discussion with others, and thought that I’ve decided to ask you for your help. I need your help to improve the Whetstone and increase it’s reach.  I’ve decided to start a Go Fund Me campaign to assist in the finances of the Whetstone.

This is particularly scary for me. It’s scary because up until this point I didn’t really have a measure of “Does what I’m doing actually matter?” That question pops up constantly because whatever we do, we want to know that it’s not for nothing. I am insecure and without this measure I can tell myself that the Whetstone matters and not have any “proof” that it doesn’t. So here comes the scary part. If I do this campaign and it fails, I’ll be able to answer that question. The thing is that whether or not this campaign succeeds, the results don’t really answer the question.

How else can you help?

  • Prayer, pray that God will use the Whetstone and staff to point others to Him
  • Share: Share the Whetstone and Whetstone articles on your favorite social media and email.

So find out how you can help the Whetstone financially here: Go Fund The Whetstone. The goal amount represents about a 1 year budget.

Want more details? Keep reading.

Hi Friend!

I’m Matt Rise. I started the Whetstone a year and half ago out of a desire to see men find their significance in God and then live that out in their roles as husbands, fathers, employees, employers, and friends.  The Whetstone is based on Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I’ve seen the power of faith and of faithful, godly men in my life. I’ve seen the changes that has made in the lives of my friends too. I want to help other men find that too.

Why am I raising money?

For the last 18 months I have been running the Whetstone off of my own finances. It has grown to the point now that it’s not sustainable for me to financially support it.  I want to increase the impact of the Whetstone, but currently I can’t do what’s necessary on my own. I need your help.

How the money will be used?

Every penny will go to improving the Whetstone in appearance, efficiency, and expanding it’s reach.

Here’s where the money will go:
– Website redesign
– Web Hosting and domain fees
– Website features that will improve the efficiency and efficacy.
– Website help
– Bookkeeping Software
– Bookkeeping and accounting help

What’s Next for the Whetstone?
I’m working on several projects for the Whetstone. I’m looking at starting a podcast to give more depth to the blog posts, reader access to more resources (books, courses), developing several private facebook groups relating to; work, calling, accountability, and in-person events (Whetstone Night at the Movies, Father/Son events, Father/Daughter events, marriage events, and outdoor/mountain events).

Want to help visit: www.gofundme.com/thewhetstone or click the gofundme button.

 

Stay Sharp

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June 2106 Whetstone Newsletter

fight

This month’s newsletter is about fighting. Fighting for our families and fighting against those things that are out to trip us up (the un-holy trinity of world, devil, ourselves).  The good news is that we don’t have to fight alone. We can fight together and most importantly we have Jesus, who has already won the battle.

Read

To the Women Who Wish Their Husbands Were Spiritual LeadersMelissa Edgington

“You are an important part of your husband’s spiritual growth, whether you know it or not. But, prodding and pulling are not going to work. Pray for him. Love him. And, trust God to do the work that only He can do.”

One for our female readers out there. This was written by a woman so it’s ok for her to tell you to stop nagging. 😉

3 Truths to Speak To Your TemptationTim Challies

“The temptation to sin is inevitable when you are a sinful person living in a sinful world. But the actual committing of sin is by no means inevitable when you are made a saint through Christ Jesus. Learn to speak truth, his truth, to every temptation.”

Truth 1: “That is not who I am.” Truth 2: “You have no power over me.” Truth 3: “You over-promise and under-deliver.”

Why Referring to “Screen Time” May Not Be Helpful to You or Your KidsJohn Dyer

“The common response has been to regulate the amount of “screen time” or to commit to going “screen free” for periods of time. While this response can be helpful to a degree (and as a parent, it’s super easy to implement), I think it can also hide a chance for more careful and thoughtful reflection.”

His premise really applies to any aspect of parenting.  We’re not just trying to get a child to behave correctly, but teach them the why so that they can apply it to future situations in their life. More of an inward rather than outward focus.

Listen

Exposing Our Idols – Part 1Ransomed Heart Podcast

“What do you give your soul to in hopes of some return of life, peace, or comfort? John and Craig begin a new series on the dangers of idolatry.”

Addictions (idols), we all have them. Some are obvious (drugs). Others are not and even socially celebrated (workaholism, busyness). Give part 1 a listen and watch for part 2 soon. Did you miss Gavin’s post 2 weeks ago on addiction? Check it out here.

Stay Sharp,

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The Grace Is Always Greener

cow

It’s that time of year again when neighborhoods are filled with the sounds of lawn mowers sputtering to life after months of dormancy. It was after one such episode of “machine against the green” in my own yard that my neighbor Phil stopped by for a chat while I was cleaning up the mower.
I don’t remember what else we talked about (selective memory to go along with my male pattern hearing), but his comment about how nice and green my yard looked stuck with me. You see I was just grumbling to myself about the large bare spots in my front yard that are the remnants of some mildew or fungus that settled into my lawn last year. The “grass is always greener” saying came to mind and I began to mull on that, apparently ignoring what else Phil had to say….
Anyway, here’s a list of variations on the saying that came to mind:

The grass is always greener…..

…..on the other side of the fence / hill.

Or …..where you water it / where you fertilize it / where your kids/dogs don’t trample it.

Or …..where it’s been painted / where there’s artificial turf.

Or even …..wait a minute! It’s actually not all that green now that I’m over here!

But of course it’s really not about the grass. I don’t think many of us suffer from lawn envy, but we all suffer at one time or another from wanting what we don’t have (money, stuff, jobs, kids, whatever – fill in the blank).

Enter the 10 commandments:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17, NIV)

Or in Paul’s letter to the Philippians

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV)

So what’s the lesson here? I think the commandment is simply that. Kind of a parental “because I said so and I know what’s best for you”. Obey me in these things and it will be good for you. An external imperative. Good advice, but hard to follow. Pure law.

But in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I see these words as more of an invitation. “Come and see what the Lord has done for me”! Or maybe more accurately “in me”. An internal transformation. A joyful response to God’s grace. His words don’t boast of his own self-control or self-righteousness, but rather in the transformative power of Jesus Christ. This is God working in and through Paul. Pure Grace.

In other words, Paul is content whether he is well fed or hungry; whether with a high paying job or living pay check to pay check; whether the grass is green or brown. And I think it’s because the source of his contentment is not based on his circumstances (remember he wrote these words while in prison), but rather in God himself. The joy and peace that comes from knowing and trusting God is where true and lasting contentment is found.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on you own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

So instead of asking if the “grass is really greener”, maybe we should rest in the truth of God’s goodness and trust in where He’s leading us, regardless of the grass color. Because God’s grace is always the perfect shade of green.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

How about you? Where is God’s grace leading you today?