What Is Important To You?

And the next question, “Does your life reflect that?”

Have you ever done a time audit? I have. It’s like looking at a bank statement for your time. A time audit is when you record every activity you do during the day and how long you spend doing it. Sleep 8 hours. Eat 10 minutes. Facebook 2.5 hours. Etc. A time audit gives you a picture of how you spend your days. Because as Annie eric-rothermel-23788Dillard said, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” After completing a week long time audit I saw a disconnect between what I believed was important and what I actually spent time on.

 Show me your calendar and I’ll tell you what you really believe is important.

Some examples of this disconnect might be:

  • I believe a relationship with God is important, but spend 10 minutes in prayer and Bible reading and only goes to church when it’s convenient.
  • I believe my family is important, but I spend my time with them on my phone
  • I believe my friends are important, but I never call or meet them.
  • I believe my health is important, but I fill my life with stress and busyness giving myself no space for a healthy lifestyle.

I don’t write this to impart guilt. Well, ok maybe I do. Because I have been guilty of all of the above at some time or another too. Without some guilt, we don’t change. And, to be true to how God has made use, our lives need to reflect what He has told us important. There are only two things that God holds as important: To love Him. And to love others. In short, relationships; with Him and with others. We can’t play lip service to that. We can’t say, “I believe relationships are important and have precedence in my life.” while acting a different way.

So, honest question: How do we help each other keep the important stuff a true priority in our lives?

Stay sharp,

Matt

Human Beings

HumanBeings Have you ever really thought about the name given to our species? Human beings? It’s quite a bit different than how it seems we are living life here on earth. If we’re honest… we probably should be called Human Doers!

Here’s a tough question for you to ponder as you read this post… when was the last time you let yourself just “be”? You know… not having to accomplish anything, nothing new to learn, no agenda, no expectations, not having to measure time as worthwhile in the world’s eyes… just watching, listening, and moving as the circumstances lead. I don’t know about you, but sometimes thinking about just “being” gives me cold sweats! But sadly, we’ve been taught… and we teach those around us… that just “being” isn’t the way to live.

But that’s what people need. We need it in our relationship with God, with our spouses, and especially with our kids. Even outside of our immediate families, people need to be heard and given uninterrupted, focused attention… to truly feel care. Being fully present with no agenda except to “be” is an amazing gift that we can give to everyone around us. What a difference it makes and how little it really costs.

I’d like you to think about a time when you experienced or gave that gift of uninterrupted, fully present time. What happened? Every time that I’ve experienced or shared that gift, everything changed. There was more hope, more joy, more peace, more contentment… a true sense of not being alone no matter what the circumstance.

I would encourage you this week to just “be” with someone you care about. What a blessing that will be to both of you!

Something else I’d like you to consider. We’ve been given a great example and model in Jesus. He came to earth… gave up all it meant to be the Creator and the Lord of lords just to “be” with us… so we could have life. While He walked on this earth, we saw him spending time with the Father, taking time with the children, listening and responding to the cries for help, and being patient with people who just didn’t get it. Thank goodness He did that for us! It’s in His strength. It’s in the knowledge that He is the one that gives us strength and insight that we can just “be” for others. Try it this week and then please share your story. It will make a difference!

Some scriptures to ponder…

Psalm 46:10 (ESV) Be still, and know that I am God.

Psalm 37:7 (ESV) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;    

James 1:19 (ESV) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

-Gerry

May 2017 Newsletter Friendship

Plutarch Quote

Plutarch Quote

I have a confession to make, I am a horrible friend. Some of you know that first hand. I don’t call often, and who writes anymore, and since I hate social media I don’t connect well there either. But, I have a feeling that I’m not the only bad friend out there. If what I see is true in the men around me, a lot of us don’t do friendships well. To be clear, I’m talking about male friendships that go beyond, “Did you see the game?”, “What’d you do to your yard to make it green?”, or “We need some rain.” I’m talking about friendships that are deep enough that the one knows when something is going on with the other without being told. Where help is given without being asked to help. I’ll say it; Where there’s LOVE. Brotherly love. So this month’s newsletter is focused on manly friendship.

Read

The History of Male Friendships | The Art of Manliness

It has been said that female friendships can be pictured as two women facing one another, while male friendships can be symbolized as two men standing side by size, looking outwards. So here’s to having a buddy, a brother to take on the world with. Long live man friendship.

Male friendships today do not look like they used to. There are several reasons in the article for the difference; the modern shift in the idea of homosexuality from an act to an identity, workplace competition, and increased mobility have driven us apart.

Breaking the Male Code: A Guy’s Guide to Friendship The Good Men Project

Your commitment to a friend is better demonstrated by staying in regular contact. Face-to-face meetings are best, but scheduled phone calls will work if you’re living far apart.

Facebook isn’t going to cut it. Texting is little better. Twitter, nope, not going to do it either. Face to face time is the best way to connect with anyone, especially if you consider them a friend. Yup, it takes time. But, time well spent. Time will pay infinite dividends in the future for both.

10 Reasons Guys Need Male Friends in the ChurchChuck Lawless

We can model godly friendships for teen males. Young men (and older men, for that matter) can quickly move conversations and actions in ungodly directions. They need to see that it’s possible to enjoy time with other guys without compromising God’s standards.

Where will our sons find examples of how men should be? On TV? Ha. The internet? Good Lord, NO! They need to watch you. When they watch you, Dad, they will also see your friends. You having good friends will help your son navigate life that much better.

Watch

Francis Chan: Guys don’t need friends as much as you think

You know what I think about Jesus and his focus like the greatest command is loving the Lord your God and so that relationship with him has to be first. Because we have we have to be careful, that while I agree men primarily under emphasize relationship and friendship we can also overemphasize it and expect so much from each other that’s things that only God can give us.

So, every relationship begins with sinners. Broken people. We bring our sinfulness into every relationship. So, we need God in the midst of that relationship. We will need grace, forgiveness, and mercy.  The cord of three strands verse isn’t just for marriage, it’s for friendships too.

Listen

Middle-Aged Men Need More Friends – On Point

“As mapped out in my article, disconnecting from friends is incredibly bad for your long-term health. Shockingly bad. Like ‘this reporter sounds like he’s laying it on thick’ bad. I was not. Study after study after study all tell you the same thing.”

Get good friends or die early. As simple as that. Read the article HERE.

 

Here are my takeaways from researching male friendships:

  • It is God-honoring to have and nurture intimate relationships with other men. (If you read a sexual connotation into that you have been brainwashed by our society. Intimacy does not equal sex)
  • It will help you live longer
  • It will make you a better husband and father
  • It will have a positive impact on your sons when they get older
  • Most men are to “busy” to nurture friendships. By the way, “You’re Not Too Busy.”

Do you need to connect with a friend? Reconnect? Sign up for the Whetstone Backpacking Trip. For a limited time, sign up with a buddy and you each get $25 off your registration. Get signed up HERE. Choose the “Buddy” option.

Stay Sharp,

Matt

What is Truth?

An image of a religion concept - Questioning the truth ** Note: Shallow depth of field

That question still haunts us today as much as it did when Pilate asked it of Jesus some 2000 years ago.  Pilate, of course, was responding to a statement Jesus made while being interrogated before his crucifixion:

“You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

I imagine Pilate’s question as more of a dismissive retort than one honestly looking for an answer.  No different than today in our modern (or postmodern, or post-postmodern?) society.  In a world of “I’m ok, you’re ok” and moral relativism, we seem to have collectively given up on trying to answer – or ask – this question of “What is truth?”

But I believe it’s a tremendously important question.  Don’t we all want to be on the side of truth?

Truth, by definition, is the quality or state of being true.

Seems simple enough, especially when the truth you’re referring to doesn’t carry significant implications: “Yes, it’s true that I like BBQ ribs (mmm, ribs…)”, or “Yes, it’s true that 2+2=4”.  Or there are truths that can have significant and immediate consequences if ignored: ”No, gravity does not apply to MEeeeeeeee…__!”  Truth objections of this sort tend to be short lived and self-limiting.  These are examples of what I would call “small t” truths.

But what about “capital T” Truth?  By that I mean universal, foundational Truth that transcends time, location, culture, and people.  Truth that does not change, regardless of circumstances.  To be sure, physical laws such as gravity could be classified this way, but I’m interested in Truth that relates to human thoughts and behavior.  Truth that pertains to who we are as human beings.  Truth that carries significantly more weight and importance than our likes and dislikes, answers to math problems, or even effects of physical laws.  Truth that is Truth whether we like it (or believe it) or not.

Does such Truth exist?

Well, let’s look at who we are as human beings.  As I see it, there are only two possible scenarios.

Either:

–          1) We humans were created by an all powerful, all knowing, sovereign God.

or

–          2) We’re simply the result of a series of cosmic organic accidents.

And if we’re cosmic accidents, then I would submit there is no universal “capital T” Truth.  Whatever truths that appear to exist are simply opinions/desires or perhaps societal patterns that have proven to be beneficial over time.  We’re only subject to our own will and to people or groups of people that are strong or persuasive enough to impose their will upon us.  In this scenario truth is simply what works or what you can get away with.  Really no truth at all.

But what if we humans are the product of a divine creator?  If we have been created by an all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign God, then we are subject to our creator and to what that creator has established as truth.  God as the creator is, by default, the standard of truth.

And this is exactly what the Bible claims.  Consider the Gospel of John, which contains several truth claims made by, or about Jesus.  And remember that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).  He is God the Son; God in human form.

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the only and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

“I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

This last statement is the key that unlocks our question.  It changes the question from “what is truth?” to “who is truth?” and then answers it with everyone’s favorite Sunday school answer.  Jesus.  Jesus is the truth, with a capital T.

Look, left to our own devices we’ll always miss the mark when it comes to truth.  As sinful, imperfect people (and that’s all of us by the way – no exceptions), we’ll always bend, change, manipulate, and re-interpret the truth based on our circumstances, desires, and skewed perspectives.  So instead of trying to pursue truth as an intellectual concept or even a list of rules, let’s look to the one that is the essence of truth and pursue Him.  Pursue Jesus.

And how exactly do we pursue Jesus (and by extension the truth)?  Start with the Bible.  Remember that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, and Jesus is the Word (the Bible) made flesh.  The Gospels are a good place to start, especially the Gospel of John with his focus on what Jesus said and who Jesus was while he was here on earth.

And as we come to know Him and trust Him and put our faith in Him, see that through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus did more than just show us the truth.  He becomes the Truth (righteousness) for us.  The great exchange – my sin for his righteousness!  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

May God bless you as you seek Him and His Truth.

Peace! Ken

True story of addiction

champagne-1118232_1920Last November a very close friend of mine died. Brad and I were part of about a dozen very close friends in high school who played football together and went to parties together. We were “The Fellas.”

 

Brad left behind two young children and a professional banking career that would put him in the upper-middle class in any American suburb. He loved to golf and he loved college football.

But somewhere along the way he became addicted to alcohol. It cost him his marriage. It cost him his job. Ultimately it cost him his children, the only hope he had left. After that he was beyond help and his march towards death began.

I was honored to be asked to read from Romans 8 at his funeral. While it is true that nothing can separate us from God’s love it is certainly possible for us to be separated from the love of one another. Far too easy in fact.

As I gathered with my friends in Texas to mourn we consoled each other and tried to make sense of the events. Weeks later when the pain started to soften one of our group sent the following letter to us all. It was brave and loving and truthful. I asked him if I could share and he agreed because our story is not unique and sadly it will probably happen again somewhere.

In a world full of machismo and attitude I hope we can humble ourselves to serve one another and show some genuine caring before it’s too late.

 

All is not Well…

Losing Brad has affected me deeply since his funeral. I am so upset by Brad’s choices that led to the end of his life. I get angry just thinking about it. His funeral was so sad to me to watch his kids and know that Brad could have been a phenomenal dad to them.

When was the right time for Brad to “get help”? On May 15th I sat in the hospital room with him and watched Chad plead with him to stop drinking. He was committing suicide before our eyes. Brad’s hands shook and his body trembled. He had been bleeding and the doctor told him his body could not handle any more alcohol.

It just seems like Brad chose death years ago. Like when he would drink before coming home after work or wait until the family went to bed so he could drink till he passed out. I am sure he thought he is an adult, it is his choice, and he isn’t hurting anyone. Brad did have a choice back then but lost the power to choose this past year. In the end, it was impossible to get him to help himself (so many tried).  He saw no value in changing or even value in himself. Brad viewed his life as unimportant to the point of choosing death.

Death did not quietly or swiftly take Brad away. Death deliberately and violently dismantled Brad. Death ripped us off. No more lunches, emails, golf rounds, Aggie games, watching kids’ sporting events with Brad. We all lost.

We have lost a friend to ALCOHOL. That makes me mad. If he died of cancer or heart disease I’d feel so different. ALCOHOL destroyed Brad. You saw his body in the casket…he looked terrible! He looked twice his age. He wasn’t the Brad so many loved- fun loving, inquisitive, competitor.

Normal life is scary, boring, unfulfilling, exasperating, and lonely sometimes. But HOPE, often found in our faith, family, and friends carries us through these things. This confidence in the unseen or incomplete around us is what makes life meaningful. It proves over and over that problems grow character, and finally that something good can come out of something bad.

What good could come out of Brad’s death?

  • One big thing–None of us again die of alcohol related causes. Our funerals need to be a multigenerational celebrations of a full life not destroyed ones.
  • We commit to live life sober and alive, for others not ourselves.
  • WE LIVE!  These should be the best years of our lives.

I will fight for life within our group. We are the Fellas. We are stronger together than apart. I was reminded of how important that is this month. We are life-long friends. I am grateful for you. So even when it’s awkward and painful to say… I will fight for each of you if necessary the same way I fought for Brad. Why, because I love you and would hope that if I was in the same dark spot like Brad, one of you or maybe all of you would help me to choose life. That’s what friendship is to me at least.

Is it well with your soul?

The big question for us all… “Is it well with my soul?”

In the chaos of life, don’t you sometimes wonder about that? In our move to Texas and through all of the things that have happened since, there have been times that were unsettling at best and at worst, making me question whether it was well with my soul. I’m sure you’ve been there too. There’s a lot in life that attempts to rob us of joy destroy our peace and make us question our self-worth and purpose in life.

Raising kids, taking care of elderly parents, corporate climbing, being a good dad and husband, being a Jesus follower, also all bring their own sets of “growth opportunities!”  It seems especially challenging when you’ve done everything you thought was right and it still doesn’t turn out the way you had anticipated. Questions like… Am I the right guy for this?… Who am I to think that I deserve or can do this?… How could God forgive someone as broken as me?… I’m not good enough to be what God has called me to be as a parent, spouse, disciple, etc.… I fail so much, should I just give up trying so hard? Does any of this resonate with you?

Did you know that sometimes… no, I would even say most of the time, those closest to you can answer the big question better than anyone else? When it is well, our reaction to life is different and they see that. Failures don’t rob us of our self-worth. Challenges don’t derail our journey. Joy isn’t dependent on circumstances. There truly is a different peace. The one spoke of in Philippians 4:7.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NIV) 

You see, true peace, true contentment and soul wellness only comes through Jesus Christ… and it’s something that is beyond our comprehension. It’s something that isn’t shaken by circumstances, failures, or even death itself. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, told his disciples that he was going to die… devastating news, but then he said…

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV) 

Those words are for you and me. Even in the midst of the darkest times, you can have hope and His peace.

So, I bet you may be thinking, how can I fix it? As guys, we like action items! Going back to the Philippians passage helps us understand some practices that will help. Here they are…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)

So, did you catch it? Be in prayer, give thanks for all things, and control what you think about! So guys, here’s our challenge this week. Experiment doing more of just one of the three. Maybe pray one more time each day…or look back on the day and thank God for the things you see… or be mindful of what you read, listen to or watch and don’t let anything that is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable sneak in.

As you start practicing these more and more, you will understand in a much deeper way that “it is truly well with your soul.” Not because you worked at it enough or got it totally figured out. But for one reason and one reason only… it’s in Christ Jesus that you truly have that peace. As His dearly beloved child… a member of the Kingdom of God, you can be assured of that. Even when you fail, don’t feel like it, or question everything… it’s in Christ alone that your worth is beyond measure. It’s in Christ’s strength that you can be what He wants you to be. It’s in Christ’s forgiveness that you can keep going in the midst of sin and failures. It’s in Jesus that it is well with your soul! And those around you will see it!

My prayer for us all…

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NIV) 

Brothers… It is well… because of Jesus!

through it all

This song has really resonated with me lately… Kristene DiMarco, It is Well. I hope it encourages you!

-Gerry

 

April 2017 Newsletter – Youth Sports

pablo

This month’s topic is youth sports. And really it can be about any youth activity; music, education, art. The structured activities that our kids participate in are an important part of their lives. They lessons they learn and the experiences they have they’ll take with them for life. The negatives are there too. Is it for them or for us? Is it for the coaches? What about the $7 Billion a Year industry that is youth sports? Do the activities of a 10-year-old trump the needs and schedule of an entire family? Have we made ourselves defacto chauffers, agents, and personal assistants to 11-year-olds?  What do year round sports or activities do to kids? There’s a reason, given in the video below, 70% of kids quit sports by 13 years of age.

 Read

An Open Letter to My Dad, who Makes Me Want to Quit Sports – John O’Sullivan

I used to love when you watched my play when I was younger, but now, I wish you weren’t there. I think I am starting to hate playing soccer.

This can be a tough, but necessary one to read. Our kids pick up on how we act and what we say. When we tell them to respect others and then we bad mouth the coach, refs, and other players, that sends them mixed messages.

Are parents ruining youth sports? Fewer kids play amid pressure.Mike Rosenwald

The number of children playing team sports is falling, with experts blaming a parent-driven focus on elite travel clubs, specialization in one sport and pursuit of scholarships for hurting the country’s youth sports leagues.

What is your goal for your kids when they play sports? Likely the goals are intrinsic, such as hard work, being a team player, and learning. The percentage of kids who get scholarships to play in college is low (about 2%). Single sport specialization hurts them physically and mentally. So, why, if our goals for them are to learn hard work and sportsmanship are we putting so much pressure on them?

Benefits Of Sports To A Child’s Mind And Heart All Part Of The Game – Patti Neighmond

If kids can learn to fight their fear and work through it, he says, that steadiness comes in handy later in life — when the stakes are much higher.

I played football, baseball, and wrestled throughout junior high and high school. I learned a lot of lessons during those years. How to push myself, how to work with others, and how to putting winning and losing in perspective were just a few of the lessons learned. All of us have a tendency to seek comfort. Sports will help our kids do things that are uncomfortable but produce lasting benefits.

Listen

Building Men Through BaseballFamily Life Today

Can sports be a healthy part of a young man’s development? Sure! But only to an extent. Randy Stinson tells how his sports-loving family opted out of baseball for 18 months in order to stretch themselves in other ways: through mission trips and other gospel outreaches. Randy explains why it’s important to him to give his kids a big vision of the world.

Watch

Changing the Game in Youth Sports – John O’Sullivan

TED talk by a former college soccer player and current coach. Youth sports is about….the children. It’s not about the parents and the coach. There are tons of great stuff for kids to gain by playing sports. Those benefits get ruined when we don’t put the players first. Give this video a watch and find out the 5 words you should say to your kid after a game.

 

Here are some takeaways I gained from researching this:

  • Beware of idolatry and making idols out of your kids and the sport
  • Kids need breaks; year round single sport participation is detrimental to them
  • Kids need activity and the good stuff sports provide
  • We parents need to keep sports and our relationship with our kids in perspective
  • Sports are a huge opportunity for relationship building with our kids

As Michael said in the quote above, “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”  They’re just playing a game after all.

Stay Sharp,

Matt

Peace

peace_3

Peace

What enters your mind when you think of peace?

Maybe a picture comes to mind of tranquil surroundings.  Like resting in a hammock on a beach with the rhythmic sound of crashing waves in the background.  Or paddling a canoe on a glassy lake with the sound of water rippling against the hull.  Or fly fishing in a remote stream with the hypnotic sounds of water coursing over and around the rocks.

Or maybe you think of a Peace Treaty.  A cessation of hostilities between two warring parties.  Where damages are surveyed; strengths and weaknesses assessed; risks and rewards calculated; concessions made, and a peace treaty negotiated.

Or maybe you think of a greeting or salutation.  A “V” shaped hand signal you might flash to a friend or acquaintance.  “All is well between us”; or maybe “I hope things go well for you”.

Three different concepts of peace, but they all require a common component.  Circumstances.  And arguably good or favorable circumstances.

In the case of the hammock on the beach, that peace might be interrupted by a sudden downpour, or someone with a boom box.  The peace in the canoe swamped out by a passing ski boat, and the fly fishing tranquility dunked with a slip on the rocks.  These circumstances are perhaps especially applicable in the case of a Peace Treaty.  Only after certain conditions are met will the warring parties agree to cease war – and even then, with a wary, watchful eye.

But what about the kind of peace that doesn’t make any sense.  The peace that defies logic.  The peace that doesn’t depend on circumstances.  We read about it in Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

We might speculate that Paul was having a particularly good day and was just seeing the world through rose colored glasses.  But then we remember Paul wrote these words while in prison for preaching the gospel.  Hmmm.  Not the sort of circumstance one would typically associate with a good day.  Or with rejoicing, thanksgiving, and peace.  And this prison sentence wasn’t an isolated incident.  Difficult circumstances were the norm for Paul.  Consider his “boasting” in second Corinthians:

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)

An amazing list of challenges Paul faced while preaching the gospel, and yet I don’t get the sense he was looking for sympathy.  In fact, it seems these obstacles weren’t things he lamented, but rather they seemed to elicit wonder and joy at how God worked through these difficulties:

“That is why, for Chris’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Through Paul’s many trials and tribulations, he learned to depend on and trust in that peace that transcends all understanding.  It obviously didn’t mean that his circumstances improved because of that peace – far from it – but rather that he trusted God would use him and bless his work in spite of his circumstances.  His joy and peace seemed to deepen and improve as his circumstances worsened, until he was ultimately martyred.  Most historians agree he was beheaded at the order of the Roman authorities.  No, Paul wasn’t seeing the world through rose colored glasses.

More like eternity glasses.

“Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.  I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:19-21)

Challenging words from a man with his priorities in order.

And a reminder that our circumstances need not dictate our joy, peace, and contentment.  A reminder that we are dearly loved children of the most high God, regardless of our circumstances.  That in all things (any and all circumstances) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

May we seek to live our lives according to God’s good and perfect will, encouraging and exhorting one another in the faith and through the trials and tribulations of life.

Peace!

Ken

Top Podcasts for Men

Hello Gentlemen!

It’s not often we do “Top – Whatever” lists for the Whetstone. With spring break for a lot of us right now, I thought I’d share with you my favorite podcasts. Check them out and download a few episodes for your commute. They are in no particular order.

pablo

Family Life Today

  • Daily
  • iTunes
  • Christian
  • Family, Marriage, Parenting

Ransomed Heart Podcast

  • Weekly
  • iTunes
  • Other podcast apps
  • Christian
  • Men’s issues

Wolf & Iron

Parenting Great Kids with Dr. Meg Meeker

  • Bi-Monthly
  • Christian
  • iTunes
  • Parenting

Become Good Soil

  • Monthly/Sporadic
  • Christian
  • iTunes
  • Men’s Issues

Jocko Podcast

  • Podcast by former Navy Seal on leadership
  • Secular
  • Weekly

Order of Man

There you go! This should fill up your podcast app with some good stuff.

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Stay Sharp!

Matt

Perfection and Grace

perfection-or-successSo… I’ve got to rant a little. There is no such thing as perfection in this life! One can always get a little more done, the service can always be better, and you can always find a flaw or imperfection in all things… so why should I rate anyone or anything a perfect 10?

Recently, we were asked to fill out one of those customer satisfaction surveys and it was made very clear that anything below 10s would cause trouble. Really? I have a hard time giving anything or anyone… especially myself… straight 9s, much less 10s! As I thought about it, though, the word “grace” came to mind. I came to the conclusion that they were doing well, they had been perfect… well as least as perfect as we humans can be and they deserved to be rated high! By the way, part of that reflection included doing some soul searching myself on how imperfect I really am and thinking who am I, an imperfect person, to expect true perfection out of someone else? So… it made me think even more about my relationship with my family and friends.

I realized that at times I’ve been pretty hard on people… expecting true perfection when it just wasn’t possible and then getting frustrated, disappointed and impatient. How about you? Have you found yourself expecting perfection out of your spouse and kids… and finding yourself disappointed? Maybe you’ve done it to yourself. I know I have. Beating myself up for not being a better dad, husband, employee or pastor.  That word “grace” keeps surfacing…

Jesus showed the perfect way of grace. He came to us while we were still sinners… undeserving, broken, rebellious, apathetic, pathetic humans with no chance of ever being able to measure up to God’s standard of perfection. Jesus came anyway. Jesus gave His life anyway. Jesus showed grace… free and unmerited favor. Isn’t that what we’ve been asked to do so others can know Him? Imperfect people giving other imperfect people grace…

But Gerry… isn’t that what’s gotten us in trouble? People getting trophies for just showing up? Hear me out on this… I’m not proposing that we look the other way when people don’t try, don’t care, don’t at least attempt to do well. But wait a second… that doesn’t even sound right. God showed us grace when we were trying to get away from Him… trying to do everything opposite of His perfect will. So what do we do? Maybe show a little more grace to our families, to ourselves when it isn’t all perfect.

I guess this is a really gray area. I don’t know all the answers but what I do know is “grace” is something beautiful. Grace, when applied well, heals, encourages, lifts a burden and is… well… just beautiful. So, what I do know is that this imperfect person is going to try to err on the side of grace more than I’ve ever done before.

By the way… I gave them all 10s.

-Gerry