The Whetstone Newsletter – Parenting Pharisee

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Being a Parenting Pharisee
Too often I’m waaay more concerned about the outward appearance of my children, than what is going on on their hearts. I’m more concerned about the impression my kids give others about me than what is really important, the growth in their hearts.  I make sure they’re dressed appropriately for the occasion and that I’ve coached them on the their behavior. Hoping that they ultimately won’t embarrass me.

A few years ago our son Sam was in Cub Scouts and their pack was to meet with the town mayor and city council. I had Sam dressed in his uniform, with shirt tucked in, coached him about his behavior, and instructed him on appropriate things to say and ask. What I didn’t take into account was his current obsession with what he wanted to be when he grew up. At the end of the session the mayor asked the group what they wanted to be when they grew up. Sam’s hand shot straight up and was waving frantically. Immediately I saw what was going to happen. I wasn’t worried about how he would appear with his answer, but with how I as his dad would look. I started sweating and hoping that they mayor wouldn’t call on him. In fact, I was praying he wouldn’t get called on. But, the mayor called on him. “Young man, what would you like to be when you grow up?” Sam stood up proudly and announced, to a room full of scout leaders, parents, and city officials, “I want to be an assassin for the government.” I tried to hide, but immediately everyone who knew me as Sam’s dad, looked my way. Fortunately, most everyone laughed and the mayor in a graceful way replied that we need courageous young men in the military.

I share that story not because I thought that I had failed in parenting Sam, but because I was a parenting pharisee.

Pharisees in the bible were concerned about the outward appearance, keeping up rituals, doing the right things at the right time.

Pharisees in the bible were concerned about the outward appearance, keeping up rituals, doing the right things at the right time. They were so concerned about appearance they had forgotten (or chose to ignore) that God is more concerned with the heart. The inside stuff, the reason why you do what you do, not necessarily what you do. Jesus even told them that they were beautiful caskets full of rotting flesh. Ouch. If I’m honest with myself, I’m right there with them too. I’m often more concerned about the appearance of the product (my children) than I am with the process of heart change.

Parenting isn’t about a product, its about the process.
You could do everything perfectly (which you can’t) in parenting and still end up with a “bad” product. Your child still makes their own choices regardless of how you brought them up. They can still choose to do drugs, enter bad relationships, make mistakes. It’s in our nature. Keeping a “10,000 foot view” of the parenting years is tough. Going from wall to wall diapers to walking, to talking, to school, to their friends, to homework and after school activities it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. It’s easy to parent in the moment. It’s easy to parent for immediate results and not lifetime character. It’s easy to parent for outward appearance and compliance. [pullquote]Andy Stanley once said, “Parent to preserve your relationship not to preserve your reputation.”[/pullquote]

I haven’t been a parent long, just over 11 years, but its becoming more apparent to me that parenting is as much about me as it is about my children. The process of parenting has changed who I am. Parenting has helped me see my growth in the long term too. I have learned more about the character of God through parenting. I have learned more about how selfish I am. I have learned that I can’t take responsibility for the failures of my children, no more than I can take responsibility for the good that they do. Their “goodness” and “badness” is theirs. And God has dealt with it.  If we continue to judge our parenting by the perceived quality of the end product we will quickly become consumed by failure.  So don’t dwell on the “goodness” or “badness” you think you might see in  your kids, that’s all been put into perspective by God anyway, concentrate on the process. Keep your head above the trees and look long term as you parent.
Put an edge to your life.


The Whetstone Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 6 – Get Some Rest

Rest is an act of bravery.

Welcome back!

First thank you for subscribing. Second, thank you for all of the encouragement; from emails, to texts, and the kind words spoken in church, in my neighborhood and on line.  Those mean a lot to me.

This is going to be a light week. It’s been busy. Many of you are on or have been on spring break. My kids start next week. Spring sports for my kids have started back up and with a few other projects life has been getting hectic.  So, for me, it’s a good week to focus on rest. Specifically Sabbath-rest.

Sabbath Rest
Sabbath rest may be a familiar term to some and from others a “What?”.  Sabbath is one of those words in our culture that can bring up a lot of different responses; from “That’s weird”, “Are you in a cult?”, “Sabbath is on Saturday!”, “Sabbath is on Sunday!”, “We can’t hang out with anybody but our family on the Sabbath”.  One thing I do know, is that I need a Sabbath. Whether that’s a few hours or a whole day, by myself, with my family, or with friends. I need what the Sabbath was intended for, a rest from my labors. Not just employment work, but the “work” that I put on myself. That’s “work” like, the “work” of worrying, the “work” of anxiety, the “work” of being on-time, prepared, and ready to go for the next calendar appointment, the “work” of the to-do list. I need to rest with my family, with friends, and at times by myself.

The article that prompted my thinking this week was 7 Principles of Sabbath Rest by Gavin Ortlund.

Gavin’s 7 Principles are:

1) Rest before you get tired

2) Have a rhythm to your rest

3) When you are resting, rest

4) Rest from social media and other electronics as well

5) Find a hobby

6) Find ways to rest with your family

7) Where you struggle with Sabbath, remember the gospel

Dissecting each one of Gavin’s principles could fill a book, so lets take a look at the first three.  I really just want to combine those together. Getting into a rhythm of rest helps you to rest before you get tired and over time will help you actually rest when you do.

Jesus Rested
One of my favorite authors, Stephen W. Smith wrote in his book, The Jesus Life, “Here we see again the rhythm of Jesus’ life: Pour your all into your work; then seek rest, quiet, and solitude. Jesus knew that something would happen in His soul by disengaging from people and engaging with God—alone.”
If Jesus…..Jesus! found it necessary to rest, how much more do we need it! Our world is filled with distractions, noise, and molded black pieces of plastic (ok, your’s is silver with an half eaten apple on it) screaming for our attention. We are not made to be “on” 24/7/365.

Where to Start
Start with five minutes. Turn off your radio and phone for five minutes on your drive to work. Or,find a quiet spot (men we’re good at this, the bathroom?) in the house and sit for five minutes with no noise, no technology. There’s no agenda to this, no prayer to think about, no verse to meditate on, just breathe and relax. We are “on” so much we need to start simply and get used to quiet. The more we get comfortable to quiet, then we can listen. Listening for that still small voice that God promises. It won’t compete against the loudness of our lives.

Discuss this on Facebook.

Until next week.

Put and edge to your life.


The Whetstone Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 5 – Kind Husbands, Inner Attorney and Mentoring

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Thanks for taking a look at this week’s newsletter!  This week we learn from Boaz what is a kind husband?, what your inner attorney thinks of you, and old dudes helping out the young dudes.



What is a Kind Husband? by Douglas Wilson

We find many husbands in the Bible, but not many stand out as ideal. One of the men who does stand out is Boaz. Throughout the book of Ruth, he stands out as a model of what a husband as a husband should be.

If you’re not familiar with the story of Ruth and Boaz from the Book of Ruth in the bible, stop by here  to read it. Usually when I’ve read or heard about the book of Ruth, it’s always been about the relationship of Ruth to Naomi (her mother-in-law).  Ruth sticks by Naomi even though everyone else has left them. But also within the book of Ruth is the story of the relationship between she and her future husband Boaz. (Side note my wife and I always thought Ruth and Boaz would be great names for a pair of English Bulldogs). Before now, I hadn’t really thought about their relationship as a model for marriage.

So what does Boaz teach us about being a husband? From the article: First a husband is incomplete. He is completed by his wife. It is not good that man should be alone (Genesis 2:18). Second a kind husband is a lover. “He is ardent, devoted, strong, and sexually confident.” Third, a husband is a provider. Fourth, he is a nurturer. And last a kinsman-redeemer. “In a very real sense, he models for her the idea of savior and redeemer (Ephesians 5:25–26). “ And only with the grace of God can we be sufficient for these.



No article this week on parenting, but an actual essay of sorts from me. As I was researching parenting this week it seemed that most everything was negative. “Be a better dad”, “Do More as a Dad”, “3 Reasons You’re Failing at Fathering”. These messages, a lot of the time, actually come from ourselves.  And, honestly its the reason I dread Father’s Day. Father’s Day always reminds me of the ways I have failed my wife and kids. So we get plenty of the negative. This week, I want to encourage you.

You are not a failure. Yes, at times we fail in parenting, but we are not identified by it. The reason is that God has redeemed us. God is the perfect Father that our children need. Yes they need us, but they need us to point them to Him. In Him they will find the perfect Father.  The challenge then is to live in the tension. The tension of knowing we’re not perfect and being ok with that. God knows, way more than we do, of how imperfect we are and yet still loves us.

When you’ve got 5 minutes watch this video. Stephen Altrogge does a great job of conveying the tension we live in and the encouragement found in it. Seriously, if you don’t open any other links this week, open this one.



Older Men, Younger Men Need You by Paul Maxwell

No matter what the young, stubborn punk in your life says, we want to mature; we want the skilled, heavy, healing hand of corrective (not punitive) discipline; we want to be told we’re wrong; we want to grow. Every young man wants to be a man who can receive the love of Christ, and out of that, become a skilled lover of God, a helpful lover of friends, and a serving lover of a woman.

We want to be like you, as you are like Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

This has been a topic that has been on my mind lately. It’s come up repeatedly in conversation and other situations. We younger guys need mentors. You older guys need to divest yourselves of that hard won wisdom. I was recently privy to hear a group of older men discussing their relationships with their children. They had wisdom that their kids needed, but for whatever reasons wouldn’t listen. At the same time I thought of myself and my friends, most of whom didn’t have older guys to go to. No older men in their lives to go to when times got rough, no one to say, “Hey, I’ve been through that.”, no one to challenge them in a grace filled way.

I can speak from experience from having a mentor outside of my family. I’ve been meeting with this distinguished gentlemen for around two years now. The gift of having someone who has been there, done that, and is a bit outside of my circle (who then has perspective) has been invaluable. So my challenge to you older men (and we’re all older than someone else), is to be watchful for that younger guy in your life who could use your ear to vent to, your experienced eye to see through a difficult situation, and your wisdom filled words to speak truth.

Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers. Proverbs 24:6


Put an edge to your life!






The Whetstone Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 4

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In this week’s newsletter we find out about the enemies of marriage (hint:it’s not the government or your neighbors), what you can do to stay on top of the social media trends your kids are following, and what the Vikings can teach us about manhood.



This week’s marriage article comes from Tim Challies and is titled “6 Deadly Enemies of Marriage

Tim’s 6 deadly enemies of marriage are:

  1. Neglect of Foundation – neglecting God
  2. Neglect of Prayer – not praying with your wife
  3. Neglect of Fellowship – a lack of local church fellowship
  4. Neglect of Communication
  5. Neglect of Shared Interests
  6. Neglect of Sex

There’s no doubt that the marriage relationship is something to be pro-actively guarded. Because, there isn’t a one of those “neglects” that any marriage isn’t susceptible to. The toughest one for me is the neglect of communication. Day to day life is packed with work, kids, chores, and a myriad of outside influences. If I let the to-do list or calendar have it’s way, I have a tendency to to only communicate what is necessary with my wife to get efficiently through the day.. That can lead to my not being receptive to when Jen needs to talk, or not letting her know I’m thinking of her (I’m mean how easy is it to just send a text), or just plain putting things ahead of our relationship. The challenge then is to see the “big picture” of our relationship, instead of letting the list and calendar get priority.

How do you prioritize communication with your wife?


 The best way to stay current on social media and youth trends. by Joanna Julien

“Every law enforcement official and cyber safety expert advises parents to get educated and stay informed about the social media trends in youth culture, which is incredibly challenging to do because the cyber social landscape our children navigate is so dynamic.

As a parent in today techno-centric society, we must stay on top of the technology trends that are available to our children.  This article from the examiner outlines some tips and guidelines for staying on top of the ever changing landscape of technology.  As great as some of these apps and social media platforms can be for staying in touch they have an equal and sometimes greater potential for abuse.

Three tips from the article:

  1. Be involved in how your child uses technology.
  2. Establish a family approved app listing.
  3. Stay informed on social media trends.

The apps and platforms that our kids will use will be ever changing. I recently listened to a podcast on Snapchat Marketing, where they remarked on the statistics of social media platforms. The trends show that as soon as adults become involved in a platform the youth moved on to something else. Kids didn’t want to be using the same thing or be in the same environment as the adults.   So the takeaway for me was that while apps and technology are concerning, parenting through these is no different than sex, alcohol, friends, school, etc. You need to have a relationship with your kids, you need to be involved, you can’t sit idly by.  My daughter has recently started on snapchat and as a result I have too. We’ve been busily sending each other “snaps” back and forth.  We’ve snapped back and forth so much, Ella told me, that the app made me her best friend.  Not bad when dad is the best friend of his 11 year old daughter on snapchat. I think I’m going to get that framed and remind her of it in a few years.

What are you doing to stay on top of the technology trends that affect your kids? How have you used technology as an asset in your relationship with your kids?



8 Lessons in Manhood from the Vikings (language warning)

 This is an interesting article from Chad Howes. I don’t see it as necessarily lessons from Vikings, but a critique on the wimpiness of the modern Western male.  It does, however, make for an interesting read.

 Since I’m a Norwegian descendant and have watched an episode or two of The History Channel’s, Vikings, I’m an obvious expert on Viking culture and life. So, I thank God that we don’t have live under the same conditions and circumstances they did. But, two of Chad’s points I can relate to are 1) “Accept death with open arms” and 2) “Your fate is sealed.” I can’t verify how historically accurate these were for the Vikings, but as a Christ follower these are two points that should influence how I live.  “If death isn’t feared but instead welcomed there’s no limit to what you can accomplish and what you’ll aim to accomplish.”  Since Christ has died for me, my death isn’t an end, but a beginning. And, since it’s only the beginning, I don’t have to fear it and I can live out of the freedom that comes from that. What could you do if you didn’t have fear? In the, “Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker, he states “Everything we fear in life is a denial of death. If you can make peace that you will die one day, what other fear is there?” What if you believed that the “worst” outcome is that you end up in heaven? Talk about true freedom. Now on to a little stickier of a point, but bear with me. “Your fate is sealed”  I believe that that my eternity is sealed by Christ. This really ties directly to the first point, in that if we know and believe that we will spend eternity with God, and since “we don’t have control over how we die, so why run from it? Why worry about it or fear it?” So, go and do! Take risks! Don’t sit and be comfortable! Live!   God didn’t call us to rust out sitting on our butts in this life. Why else would he give us an eternity of peace if not to make a ruckus down here doing what he called us to do?


Put an edge to your life.







The Whetstone Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 3



Gentlemen!  Welcome to the third issue of The Whetstone Newsletter. I am truly honored by you.
I am changing up the format a bit. Instead of each issue focusing on just one topic, I’d like to have three articles on different topics each week. One article on marriage, one on parenting, and one sort of wild card topic. I realize that not everyone is married, has kids, or will find a single topic newsletter applicable. The new format will allow you to hopefully find each newsletter with something valuable to your situation.


Sharpen: Marriage


Here are Mark’s four pieces of advice:
1) Try to be the biggest servant in the house
2) Make God your source of satisfaction, not your spouse.
3) Keep short accounts
4) Above all seek the glory of God.


The big take-a-way for me from the article was “Try to be the biggest servant in the house.”  At times in marriage I’m tempted to turn it in to a percentage formula. If my wife does 50% of the work, I’ll do 50%. She takes care of the inside of the house, the outside is my responsibility. When in reality it should be 100% to 100%. Each spouse trying to outdo each other in service.  What is one area that you could regularly serve your wife in, that you don’t now?


Sharpen: Parenting

Family Matters by Andy Stanley
“Your greatest contribution to society may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”  – Andy Stanley


This week’s parenting article is actually an episode from Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast titled Family Matters.  He outlines four points for keeping our work in perspective with our families. The episode is full of wisdom.  If you have 25 minutes it’s worth a listen.


Andy’s four points are:
1. Don’t give up something unique to you for something someone else will do.
2. Discipline (your kids) with the goal of preserving your relationship, not your reputation.
3. Prioritize your marriage on your calendar.
4. Learn to say no for now, but not forever.


The point that really struck me was, “Don’t give up something unique to you for something someone else will do.” As much as I’d like to think that I’m not replaceable at work, three layoffs in the last few years have brought me back to reality. But, there’s one thing that is totally unique to me. I’m the only Dad my children, Ella and Sam, will have. Someone else will lead your company someday, someone else will sit in  your chair, someone else will lead your team.  Don’t trade your temporary role as manager, employee, owner for your only unique role in life as a father.


Sharpen: Calling

To round out the week and to make it a full blown multimedia experience we have a 4 minute video from Gary Barkalow on “What is calling?” A few weeks ago during my church’s men’s retreat, we had a discussion on personal calling. We struggled around our table to define what exactly was a “calling” and if it was necessary to know what it is. Gary, who wrote the book, It’s Your Callgives a great definition in the video. He sums it up at the end of the video as “Your calling is to offer the effect God has created you to have, which you most desire to have and which brings you the greatest joy, wherever He assigns you.”

On Fatherhood Vol. 1 No. 2

Welcome back!!  Thank you for subscribing. I truly appreciate your time.  Do have any questions, comments, or suggestions for me? Just email me in the About page and I promise I will answer you back!

This week we are focusing on being a father. Like the quote below, we realize that we fail and fail miserably at fatherhood.  But, we need to realize our faults and failures and learn from them. Ask God for guidance and wisdom, which he promises us. Get back up and keep at it. Without further ado, the three articles  for the week along with a podcast and a freebie!





Dads, Write in Your Bible by Jonathan Parnell

The initiative here is to write — and to write to your children. – Jonathan Parnell

Part of being a Dad, is leaving a legacy. And as a Christ follower, the most important legacy you can leave is evidence of your faith. The way you live, the things you say, and what you leave behind when you’re gone make up your legacy. So the challenge here, from me, is to ask yourself, “When I look at my life, what will my legacy say about me.” With that being said, what does your personal bible say about you? That is a challenge for me too. The article by Jonathan gives us some great advice on leaving a biblical legacy for your children. I have The Legacy Study Bible (available here on Amazon, I get no money from this link). It has wide margins for writing in and the quality will make a great gift to your children.


7 Things a Good Dad Says by Tim Challies

 I have found myself thinking back to the many models of fatherhood I have seen and admired through the years. What made these fathers admirable? What set them apart? What was it that they said to their children? From these models I have drawn seven things a good father says.  Tim Challies
 Tim gives us 7 statements a good dad says to his kids.
1-I love you.
2-Let me kiss it better.
3-Come with me.
4- Please forgive me.
5- You’re forgiven.
6- Let’s pray.
7-You can’t do it.


Two of those really struck me: Please forgive me and You can’t do it.  Please forgive me. That’s a tough one. You’re admitting you’re not perfect, you have hurt your child, and you are at their mercy for forgiveness. They may not see that way now, but later after they are grown, this one will bear fruit. I can still remember the humility from my Dad when he asked for forgiveness. Next is “You can’t do it”. Our society has placed self esteem on such a high pedestal that now everyone can be everything. But, as Tim states, the most important area where none of us can do it on our own is to will ourselves to heart change. Only the gospel and our Savior can.


What Little Girls Wish Daddies Knew by Tara Hedman

It’s pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she’ll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now matters for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.
– Tara Hedman
Being dad to girls is a whole different ball game than being a dad to boys (believe me, I have both). In some ways it’s easier, and in others infinitely harder. Especially as they get older, it becomes even more difficult. Hormones, body changes, emotions; makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it.   I, like a lot of guys, tend to bury my head and ignore stuff when it gets uncomfortable.  As the Navy Seal mantra goes, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable”.  Tara, challenges us in her article to “never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.” Your daughter needs you, now more than ever, to counter the messages she’s getting from her friends, peers, and society.  What items in Tara’s list seem the most uncomfortable to you? How can you overcome that?



The Freebie!’s free audiobook of February is Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul

On Busyness

Hi Gentlemen!
Welcome to the first issue of The Whetstone Newsletter! So here goes:
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Busyness isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s dangerous. There are few things as damaging—and potentially soul-destroying, as busyness. As Blaise Pascal once noted, busyness sends more people to hell than unbelief.  -JD Greear

I’ve heard it argued that busyness wasn’t the problem, hurry is. Jesus was busy, busy with the important stuff, but he was never hurried. He always made space for those who needed Him and what was essential for His mission. And I think in the sense of the article you could probably interchange the two terms and come away with the same principles.  JD’s four strategies to win the busyness battle are:
  1. Sleep
  2. Refuse to worry about tomorrow
  3. Create some margin
  4. Observe the sabbaths
Which of JD”s four points could you focus on? Or need to?

Faithful with Fifteen Minutes by Rondi Lauterbach

We often waste the precious time that we have lamenting that we don’t have more. Jesus knew firsthand about limitations, since he took on our limits in the incarnation. – Rondi Lauterbach

The article brings up the point of no matter how busy you are, you can probably scrape out 15 minutes to invest in bible study. Fifteen minutes per day ends up being over 90 hours per year. This makes me wonder how much time I waste annually? Not that you have to be productive every minute of every day (there is a place for silence, solitude, and just being). But I know I waste a lot of time doing stuff that doesn’t deserve my time. How about you? When have you last audited your time?

Podcast Episode of the Week
Meeting Your Family’s Needs – Family Life Today
Starting at 1:10 to 13:00 is a powerful example of a dad being involved in his kids’ lives (he put his 12 year old daughter in jail). Men, we have to be involved with our kids, the consequences are too great.


Put an edge to your life!

Matt Rise

Example Blog Post


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