Dynamic Marriage Starts Again TODAY!

Tonight, Leanne and I start the next class of Dynamic Marriage at our church (Christ’s Church of the Valley).  This will be the second time we get to facilitate this nine week class for couples who want to make their marriages better.

Dynamic Marriage is a nine-week class that walks couples through an intentional program designed to deepen communication, to educate about each other’s needs and how to meet them, and to take marriages from surviving to thriving.  The curriculum produced by Marriage Dynamics Institute is based on His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley Jr.

Here’s what some of the couples from our first class have to say about the class:

DYNAMIC MARRAIGE from CHRIST’S CHURCH OF THE VALLEY on Vimeo.

Spots for our new class are filled up, but we will be offering it again. If you can’t wait and are looking for a Dynamic Marriage class in your area, check out Marriage Dynamics Institute.

You have to be intentional to have a dynamic marriage.

In Response to Parkland

Disturb us enough to take action and demand action.
Comfort us to be able to move forward despite hardship.
Inspire us to seek unity in times that divide us.
Show us how to lend a helping hand to those who need a lift.
Strengthen us. We need it.

– My Facebook status update at 4:33AM on February 15, 2018

It’s been nearly two weeks since the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were gunned down by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

Since then, I’ve watched as my Facebook feed along with the news headlines have been jammed with viewpoints on either side of the gun control debate.  People want tougher gun laws.  Others want to put guns in the hands of educators to defend against possible shooters.  Some people are blaming politicians who take money from the NRA who seem resistant to toughen up on gun laws.  Others are pointing fingers at the FBI who failed to respond to tips that Nikolas Cruz may be dangerous.  And some would agree there’s plenty of blame to go around.

I certainly don’t have all the answers.  A week and a half later, my Facebook status is still my prayer and my struggle.

For the record, I don’t own any guns (unless you count my caulk gun, my staple gun, my wife’s hot glue gun, and a few squirt guns).  I’ve only shot a real gun twice (I went clay pigeon shooting on a men’s retreat at my old church, and I shot a pistol once behind my in-laws hunting cabin).  You may not like me for this, but I also once shot a chipmunk with a BB gun.  Afterwards, I felt completely awful.  I wasn’t hunting for food.  I was shooting for entertainment.  20+ years later, I still regret this pointless event.

I don’t understand the need for civilians to have large capacity automatic weapons.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  (Now, I probably angered my gun collecting friends.)  So, I’m okay with tougher gun laws limiting the types of weapons that can be purchased/owned and requiring background checks and waiting periods.

But I honestly don’t think tougher gun laws are the one and only answer.  (And now, my friends who are leaning hard on tougher gun laws are probably upset with me.)

I also read about people who believe tighter security in schools is necessary to prevent or limit the damage from school shooters.  Tighter security may unfortunately be required in this day and age, but I would never suggest putting guns in the hands of our teachers.  Who says teachers won’t flip out and use their gun or that students might overpower a gun-toting teacher?

(I hate the fact that our kids and teachers have to be afraid and prepared for this kind of violence in their schools which should be the safest places in the world.  My wife is teaching in a public school, and it’s not exactly “fun” for her to go through the training now required of teachers so they are prepared to face school shooters.)

As I research the shooters who have committed these school shootings over the past 20+ years, I read stories of individuals who were lonely, outcast, bullied, misunderstood, and ill.  Many shooters suffer from depression, anger, and rage.  And some of the shooters were missing a key parent relationship.  In many of the stories, the shooters expressed a desire to be heard.

“When does it turn to where the student gets to a point where they are actually going to commit violence?” Gomez said. “It’s almost like a seed that gets planted into the individual, and unless somebody is there to intervene, to conduct some type of informal intervention over the course of that person’s life, whether it’s a parent or teacher or coach, that kid continues to move towards what could ultimately be an act of violence.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/dissecting-distinctive-profile-school-shooters-trail/story?id=53197511

People aren’t listening until it’s too late.

People aren’t intervening.

If we really want to make a difference, we must learn to listen to those who are different, to those on the fringes, to those who are hurting, to those who are broken.  We must learn to speak up, and we must learn to intervene when necessary.

Each of us bears a responsibility to listen, to speak up, and to intervene.

But this responsibility is especially greatest at home.

Too many homes are broken.  One or both parents are absent – physically and/or emotionally.  Too many parents are trying to be their kids best friend instead of their parent.  And too many parents think their kids are perfect.  We feed into the entitlement culture by giving our kids access to way more things than they should ever see or do, by failing to say “No!”, and by making sure they keep up with the “Joneses”.

If we want to change the world, we have to start at home.

Commit to work on your marriage and to make your marriage work.

Commit to be present for your children.

Commit to having those tough conversations with your family.

Commit to saying “No” when necessary.

Commit to knowing your family values and commit to holding yourself and your family members to these values.

Commit to listen.

Commit to speak up – firmly and lovingly.

Commit to intervene – even when it’s not easy.

Commit to get help when you can’t do it on your own.

Commit to get back up and do the right thing after you mess up.

Do we need to hold politicians accountable?  Yes.

Do we need to hold gun owners responsible?  Yes.

Do we need to hold teachers and educators accountable?  Yes.

Do we need to hold councilors, therapists, and doctors accountable?  Sure.

But it starts at home.  We must hold ourselves accountable to laying the foundation for our kids.

I don’t enter this conversation lightly.  In fact, I often stay away from controversial topics like this.  You may not agree with me on everything in this post.  I hope we can have a productive and civil dialogue instead of the “conversation” I see right now in the news and on social media.

Also, I don’t proclaim to know all the answers or to understand each and every situation.  I’m sure there are competent parents out there who are doing everything they possibly can to raise their kids best, and sometimes these very same parents’ lives are shattered when their kids commit unthinkable acts of violence.

I’m sorry if this is your case.

I don’t want to judge, but I’m pretty sure we can all do more.

We have to do more for our families, for our communities, and for this world.

And one more thing, our thoughts, our prayers, and our actions matter.  Don’t stop thinking about how we can make the world a better place.  Don’t stop praying for wisdom, for peace, for change.  And don’t stop taking intentional actions.

 

The Book of Mistakes by @SkipPrichard: Book Review

“Those who aren’t making mistakes, aren’t making anything.”

We all make mistakes.

We say stupid things.  We do things we shouldn’t do.  And we even think things that aren’t right.

We can learn from our mistakes, or we can wallow in them.

Unless I am mistaken (I couldn’t help it), The Book of Mistakes – 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future by Skip Prichard releases tomorrow.

I had the privilege of reading the book ahead of release as part of the launch team for the book.  I really liked the way Prichard weaves important life lessons we all need into the story of David, a young man struggling with contentment and passion for life.

This is a book that needs to be shared. In its pages, you’ll find common sense truths we all must learn and hear over and over again.

In The Book of Mistakes, you will be shown how to live a life that matters – a life that learns from mistakes, a life filled with hope, and a life that impacts others for generations.

If you like books by Andy Andrews or Jon Gordon, you’ll like the way Prichard uses a parable to teach important truths.

Congrats, Skip Prichard, on your new book!

“Live a life that matters, a life of light and of love and of hope.  Your choices can either become the wings of your success or the bars that imprison you in a life of mediocrity.”

Skip Prichard (The Book of Mistakes)

What’s a recent mistake you made?  What did you learn from your mistake?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Note:  I did receive an advance copy of The Book of Mistakes in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to endorse or recommend this book.  If you are looking for a fun and educational read, I recommend this book.  Also, there are affiliate links in this post.  When you make a purchase as a result of these links, I receive a small affiliate commission.  Thank you!)

 

You Need Some Peer Pressure

People just don’t realize how much peer pressure, the desire for peer acclamation, influences them.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

We’ve all had conversations with our mothers that go something like this:

Me:  “Mom, I shaved my head.”

Mom:  “Why did you do that?”

Me:  “They made me do it!”

This is peer pressure, and it’s not always the best thing in the world.  In fact, I’m sure peer pressure has led us all to do some pretty stupid things – like the time I smoked my first cigarette – or like the time I gave the substitute teacher a hard time in junior high school – or like the time I ordered a bunch of food at the McDonald’s drive through and then drove away.  All these events were influenced by peers, and they aren’t the kinds of things that make me proud.

But what if peer pressure was actually a good thing?

What if our peers could actually get us to do things that we really should do?

One of the reasons I seek out accountability in my life (like from our GSAB – Guatemala Strategic Advisory Board) is because I know these people will actually have a positive impact on my life.  They will make me do it – the things I need to do.

Without accountability I may be able to accomplish a few things, but I know I’ll accomplish more of the things I should be accomplishing when I surround myself with people who will spur me on.

The best kind of accountability on a team is peer-to-peer. Peer pressure is more efficient and effective than going to the leader, anonymously complaining, and having them stop what they are doing to intervene.

Patrick Lencioni

“It is not good for man to be alone.  I will make a partner suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 my paraphrase)  From the very beginning of time, God placed people together to encourage and uplift each other.  Adam was not complete without his accountability partner, Eve.

“A chord of three strands is not easily broken.”  In Ecclesiastes (4:12 my paraphrase), Solomon recognizes the power of doing things with others.

“Don’t give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.  But spur each other on all the more as you see the day approaching.”  In Hebrews (10:24-25 my paraphrase), we’re reminded again of the power of community, the power of accountability that comes from hanging out with other people.

You and I need this kind of peer pressure in our lives.

Peer pressure is not always negative. Sometimes, it inculcates new hobbies, habits, attitudes health conscience or a strong urge to succeed amongst people and where this happens, it is positive.

Adeyemi Raphael Oluwamayowa

We need people who will spur us on.  We need people in our lives who will make us stronger.  We need people who will partner with us and make us better.

I hope you have this kind of peer pressure in your life.  If not, what are you doing about it?

How has peer pressure influenced you positively or negatively?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Do Something that Scares You!

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday night, I did something that absolutely scared me.

Leanne and I kicked off our Guatemala Strategic Advisory Board (GSAB).  We prayerfully gathered a group of individuals and couples we believed could provide wisdom, accountability, and prayer support for us as we consider what our future ministry to Guatemala might look like in the days, months, and years ahead.

I honestly didn’t think I would be terrified when I started.  In fact, I figured everything would simply fall into place as a result of taking the next step.  I knew Leanne and I needed some help discerning our next steps, but I figured our passions would naturally mesh with our stories from the past to pave an easy path towards the future.

I have a passion for building homes for widows and orphans, and Leanne has a passion for children and families.  Surely, we could easily blend these passions into something that made sense to us, to our advisory board, and to others.

I think we’ll get there, but I think it’s going to take more time, more work, and more prayer.

When Leanne asked me last night what I thought of the evening with our GSAB, I responded with mixed thoughts and emotions.  First, I was excited to see how God had led us to some amazing people with an amazing mix of experiences and skills.  We have teachers, engineers, mechanics, homemakers, event planners, builders, business owners, tax collectors, marketers, and project managers on our team.  We even have someone on the board who has served on two mission boards.  I truly believe we have people on the GSAB who are so wise.  I felt humbled to be surrounded by them.

My second response to Leanne was one of fear – not a bad fear – an appropriate fear of what we are entering.

When I initially read Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote above, I think of trying something new every day.  As I ponder her words more, I realize there are times when we have to enter into the unknown in order to truly discover our selves, our mission, and our place in the world.  The unknown can be scary.  It’s not what we know.  It’s not where we are comfortable.

Maybe we weren’t meant for comfort.

Where does it say in the Bible, “thou shall be comfortable”?  I don’t think it does.  (Contentment and comfort aren’t the same in my book.)

I guess some of my fear with the GSAB relates to coming to terms with the hard physical work, the hard mental work, the hard emotional work, and the hard spiritual work ahead of us.

What will be the outcome of our GSAB and our desire to serve in Guatemala?

I honestly don’t know.

I don’t know how much it will cost?  I don’t know how much it will hurt?  I don’t know much, but I know the journey will be worth it in the end.

I don’t want to live my life to be comfortable.  I want to live a life that matters, and I ultimately want to live a life that points others to Christ and draws them to Him.

“Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.”
Harvey MacKay

What scares you?  What are you doing that makes you scared?  Are you looking for easy?  Or are you looking for worth it?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

In Pursuit of a Longer Attention Span – Full Focus Planner

“The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.”  May 14, 2015 Time article (You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish) by Kevin McSpadden

Did I lose you already?

Seriously, according to this study nearly three years ago, we suck at staying focused for very long.

I wonder what would happen if they did this study again today.  My guess is that the average attention span would now be even shorter than 8 seconds.

Did someone say “Squirrel”?

This year, a group of entrepreneurs I hang with every other week has committed to becoming more focused in our entrepreneurial pursuits.  Each of us has ordered Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner, and we are using it (along with the accountability in our group) to push forward with focus on the things we set out to accomplish in 2018.

I’ve always been a list driven person.  And people generally know me as a disciplined person, so I was a little skeptical about the need for someone else’s system to keep me on track.  I’ve been using Full Focus Planner for three weeks so far, and it’s been amazing to see my effectiveness increase.

In three weeks, I’ve made significant strides in my business pursuits, my entrepreneurial pursuits, and my personal pursuits.  I’ve made significant steps forward in developing a mentor program at work.  I’ve taken a big leap forward related to my book, Rooftop Reflections, and our family’s passion for Guatemala.  I’ve kicked off a “Year of Discipleship” with my son.  I’ve lost eleven pounds so far in 2018.  And I’ve already read six books in 2018 (way ahead of my 2017 total).  And these things just scratch the surface on what I’ve been able to accomplish so far in 2018.

In the midst of being focused, I’ve let a few things go.  Some of these things are temporarily on the back burner, and some things may be permanently removed from my normal activity.  You may have noticed, I’ve been absent from the blog world.  I’m hoping this is temporary as I love the community here, but my time away was important in getting me focused on the things I really want to accomplish this year, this quarter, this week, and even this day.  Generally, I’ve been getting to bed earlier this year.  This has provided more opportunity for reading and for the rest I need to really be effective.

Are you still with me?

John Lee Dumas defines focus as “Focusing on One Course Until Success.”  I get what he’s saying, but the reality is we have multiple things going on in our lives at the same time.  The Full Focus Planner has helped me narrow my focus to a few things, and it’s helped me successfully progress towards success in multiple areas of my life.

Overall, I believe the Full Focus Planner has actually helped to increase my attention span.

As a result of an increasing attention span, I have more focus on getting things accomplished, I have more focus on cultivating relationships that really matter, and I have “jumped the goldfish”.

(To get 15% of your own Full Focus Planner, click here.)

How’s your span of attention?  What has helped you stay focused?  How would your life be different if you had more focus?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

7 Pitfalls Men Face

Good things do not come easy. The road is lined with pitfalls.

Desi Arnaz

Tonight, the current semester of the Stretched Men Group men’s mastermind group ends. This semester, we have been working through Mark Batterson’s book, Play the Man. The book has provided excellent perspective on seven virtues men should have to become the man God created us to be.

I’ve been encouraged to watch participants take significant steps forward in their journeys of becoming the men they were meant to be. And it’s been helpful to have Batterson’s perspective as we’ve navigated these waters together.

Signups are underway for the next semester of the Stretched Men Group which is scheduled to start in February.

During the upcoming semester, I will be taking the teaching time to walk through 7 Pitfalls Men Face. Here they are (and yes they all start with the letter ‘P’):

7 Pitfalls Men Face

  1. Power
  2. Prestige
  3. Porn
  4. Popularity
  5. Passion (Interests/Hobbies)
  6. Parts (Material things)
  7. Perspective

During the first 10-15 minutes of each session, we will talk about these pitfalls and about the things we need to overcome these traps. I’m excited to prepare for our time together, and I’m excited to help men STRETCH.

If you are a man, you struggle with one or more of these common pitfalls. If you want to take the next step in overcoming these traps, I’d encourage you to check out the Stretched Men Group.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

What other pitfalls do men face? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You Need A Strategic Advisory Board

Companies have boards. The board members serve as advisories for the company. They hold the company leaders accountable, and they look out for the best interest of the stock holders. They give advise to the leaders of the company, and they encourage the leaders to lead well.

Have you ever thought about the possibility of having your own board of directors?

Seriously, I believe board of directors aren’t just for companies. They for organizations and individuals who want wisdom, accountability, and encouragement.

This week, Leanne and I began the process of creating a Strategic Advisory Board for us. That’s right. We are in the process of rounding up individuals and couples who will give us wisdom, accountability, and encouragement.

What’s the purpose of our board?

In my recently released book, Rooftop Reflections, I share my vision for building one hundred houses in Guatemala before I die. As Leanne and I have discussed this goal, we’ve come to realize a few things:

  1. Building one hundred houses is my dream. Leanne’s not against this, but she has other passions that need to be merged into my dream to help us be on the same page. Leanne has a passion for the children in Guatemala. We believe we can build homes for families and minister directly to children in Guatemala.
  2. Building one hundred houses in Guatemala is not a minor undertaking. It takes money, planning, support, and a lot of prayer.
  3. In order to effectively serve in Guatemala over the long-term, we need to set systems in place. We need to solidify the “organization” associated with these plans. This will further legitimize and confirm our thoughts moving forward.
  4. We need help! We don’t know everything we need to know about building a sustainable ministry in Guatemala. But we know God has placed incredible people around us who can help.

Over the next few weeks, we will be speaking with key people and building our Strategic Advisory Board. They will help us clarify our vision, build the structure we need to have for long-term success and legitimacy, hold us accountable to move forward (and to follow God’s direction). In addition, our board of advisors will pray for us and for God’s wisdom.

I don’t know what you are doing, but you need a Strategic Advisory Board, too.

You need people who will support you and lift you up. You need people in your life who will redirect you when necessary and confirm your direction. You need people who have your back when it seems like the rest of the world is either against you or completely absent.

Who’’s on your board? Who do you go for when you need advice? What’s stopping you from creating your own Strategic Advisory Board? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Time To Be A Real Man

Let men see, let them know, a real man, who lives as he was meant to live.

Marcus Aurelius

In the story of Pinocchio, a wooden puppet comes to life and gets to play with the girls and boys.  Despite his ability to talk, to move, to jump and play, Pinocchio is plagued by one desire.  He wants to become a real boy.

In today’s world, it’s not that much different, there are a lot of men out there who are confused.  They want to be real men, but they simply don’t know how.

Society is sending them conflicting messages.  In the pursuit of keeping up with the Jones’, men are distracted from their true calling.

Deep down inside, men want to be the best husbands they can be for their wives.  They want to be the best fathers they can be for their children.  They want to be the heroes this world needs them to be.  Men want to be real men.

Does this sound like you?

Marcus Aurelius seemed to know that men have a deep desire to live as they are meant to live.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if every man got this?  Wouldn’t it be incredible if every man unchained themselves from the expectations that feel others are putting on them.

Imagine a world where men lived the way they were meant to live!

I want to help you become a real man.  I want to help you figure out the next steps you need to take on your journey to becoming a real man.

Over the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of leading men on this journey through the Stretched Men Group.  This mastermind group for men is all about helping men stretch into the men they were meant to be.

The group meets every other week for a three-month semester.  Each meeting lasts about an hour-long (sometimes a little longer).  Zoom (video meeting software) is used for these meetings.  The guys in the group are committed to learning and taking action to become real men.  When we meet, I typically teach for 10-15 minutes on a relevant topic to becoming a real man.  Then we take the rest of the time to wrestle through one of your issues as a group (we call this the Hot Seat).

Guys who have participated in the group so far have made significant changes in their jobs, in their marriages, in their relationships with their kids, and in their faith.

Spots are now open for the next semester of the Stretched Men Group, and I’d love to have you in the group.

To find out more, simply fill out the form below (or go to www.stretchedmengroup.com).  Once you fill out the form, I will reach out to you to schedule a FREE 30 minute call where I can answer any additional questions you have about the group.

Use the start of 2018 to do something for you that will have a ripple effect on your world now and for generations to come.

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17

1 5 6 7 8 9 218