Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MY MOM'S STORY: How to Love a Husband Who Doesn't Love Jesus



I have frequently written about the Christian perspective on marriage.  A successful marriage requires love, respect, trust, and mutual submission.  A husband must be willing to listen to his wife and take her suggestions even when he disagrees.  A wife must be willing to trust her husband's lead even when she might not agree with his direction.

What do you do when your husband doesn't love Jesus?
How do you submit when you don't share a belief system?

That was my mother's struggle.  For over 10 years, she was married to my father.  In many regards he was a great man, but he had many areas of weakness.

Here is her story of how she attempted to be Proverbs 31 woman and an Ephesians 5 wife while married to a non-Christian:

My Mother's Testimony

I met my husband, Dean, while I was in high school.  He was a customer at the drug store I worked at. I liked his smile.  We dated for half my senior year of high school, and then got engaged when I was going away to college, planning to wait until I graduated to get married.  We moved the date up a few times until we finally settled on spring break of my freshman year at school.  I commuted to school while we lived in Colorado.  I wasn’t a big partier, but I could keep  up with Dean, even though I wasn’t legally old enough to drink.  We moved about every two years, and it wasn’t until we moved to Hong Kong and then Singapore that I realized there was a problem in our marriage.  I used to blame the staying out drinking on his friends until I realized the problem followed us around the world.  By the time I realized there was a problem we were living in Singapore; and it’s hard to leave your husband when you live in a foreign country.  Not only  did he have a drinking problem, but we were both trying to be the head of the house.

One of the other company wives told me about Jesus, and I accepted Him as my savior.  The first thing God worked on in my life was my marriage.  I started to read about what a Christian wife looked like.  I stopped competing to be the head of the house and learned to submit to Dean.

There were challenges.  It was important to me that my children know God, so they were in Sunday School since they were babies, and active in the youth group when they were old enough.  Dean never joined us in church, not even when my daughter or I were baptized.  Dean’s drinking did not change.  My way of coping with this was to pour myself into ministry at the church.  At one time, I was co-leader of the children’s ministry.  I wanted my children to have positive family memories, but Dean was not interested in taking family vacations; He would take his vacations one day at a time on the golf course.  I would feel bad that my kids did not have a more involved father, but I realized that God is sovereign and had them in the family they were supposed to be in, and I did what I could to create family memories. I don’t know if I was right or wrong to do the family vacations – they could have contributed to the choices that Dean made.  Sometimes it was hard to make the Biblical decision when the other option seemed to be the better one.  One time the church was doing a building campaign, and I knew that if I gave to the campaign Dean would never know, but he had not wanted me giving money to the church.  Even as I asked the lead pastor if it was wrong, I knew the answer.

My guiding verses were Ephesians 5:22-23
 “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body”  
At times, this was a challenge.  As I drew closer to God, it put a larger gulf between us.  How was I to submit to a husband who wasn’t loving me as Christ loved the church?  The verse did not have a condition that I submit to Dean if he loved me as Christ loved the church.  My other guiding verse was 1 Corinthians 7 :13-16, 
And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not [send her husband away….For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?”  
I could not talk my husband into believing in Jesus as his savior, but I could do my best to live my life so that Dean could see Christ in me.

At one point I worked for the church on a temporary basis, but I sensed that it was taking away from time with Dean because when I wasn’t working, I was doing my ministry things, leaving no time for us.  I quit working and went to find him at one of his “watering holes.”  What I found was not what I suspected; He was there with a girl that worked for him and apparently this had been going on since the kids and I were out of town the previous summer.  I told him to choose between the two of us and, if it was her, the kids and I were gone for Thanksgiving and he could entertain his family.  I’m not sure if he ever decided, but the other woman figured out who he was choosing.  Still, I didn’t trust him, and was fearful of what he was doing when I wasn’t there.  I read an article from Precept Ministries that spoke to me in a big way.  I didn’t trust Dean, but I did trust God, and He would let me know what I needed to know when I needed to know it.  I stopped living in fear and trusted God.  God did eventually let me know what I needed to know.  Dean had gotten involved with another woman and put me in a place where I saw this happening.  This time, I did not trust God so fully – I would put the kids to bed and drive around to find him.  I never once found them via my own efforts, but did learn enough about what was happening by God’s leading.  I know God hates divorce (Malachi 2) and I did not want my kids being raised in a divorced home, so I held it together as long as I could. 

At one point I went to a group to learn about living in an alcoholic family.  In the group, they said it’s like the elephant in the room.  Everyone knows the problem is there, but no one talks about it.  I didn’t want to talk about it with my kids because I didn’t want to say anything negative about their dad and cause them to disrespect him.  If they disrespected him, it would be because of what he did, not what I said.  Once I learned that not discussing it could be detrimental to them, I talked to the kids about it a little.  Eventually, I told them I was going to ask Daddy to move out to see if that would help him stop drinking.  Again, I did not want to say anything about another woman and be the cause of them losing respect for Daddy.  I did tell them divorce was a possible outcome and asked what they thought.  My son, Sean, said the Bible says divorce is wrong, so you can’t get a divorce.  I said the Bible does allow divorce if there is another woman involved.  He asked if there was.  I told them Daddy had a woman who was a friend.  He said they are just friends but I told him it was not okay to be friends with another woman and that is all that should matter.  If I had a problem it was not okay.  They wanted to know who she was but I wouldn’t tell them.    Eventually it got to the point that I did move him out and we got a divorce.  While we were in the midst of the early separation it was very difficult to not be angry and bitter and turn my kids against their Daddy.  I knew they were to respect their father, so I had to follow Scripture and continue to live as Christ wanted me to live.  I did have a few lapses where I would plot to blow up “her” car, or we’d walk by her car and threaten to key it.  All the while, I was also encouraging my kids to accept the other woman – so I was a bit of a split personality.

I don’t know how I got through that first year or two and maintained not getting angry and bitter  - I think I focused all of my anger on the other woman.  I’m sure some wondered if I knew Dean was guilty also.  I couldn’t put the anger and bitterness on him, or it would cause my kids to disrespect their dad.  Dean married the “woman he wasn’t having an affair with”  He never did admit the affair or apologize, but I forgave him and we remained friends. Eventually, Dean and the other woman divorced, and he and I became friends who hung out again.  I’m pretty sure I was “the other woman” in his marriage to her because he never stopped loving me.  Dean became very sick from all the years of drinking.  One night he told  his niece who was taking care of him, “I need salvation”.  I don’t remember how he worded it, but basically all the years living out 1 Corinthians 13 paid off – I was with him when he prayed to receive Christ.


Can we win our unbelieving husbands to Christ by submitting to Him and showing him who Christ is by our life and not by preaching to him?  Yes, we can.  Shortly before Dean died I told him I’d see him in the Northwest corner of Heaven.
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

How to Record a Do-It-Yourself Live Worship Album


BACKGROUND

In April of 2013, the pastoral staff of my church was attending the Gospel Coalition Conference in Orlando, Florida.  For four days, we stayed in the same hotel room, just talking about ministry, and brainstorming big, bold ideas for the future.

In the middle of discussions, the idea came up to record a live worship album.  While the worship director and myself have been involved in countless past recording projects, we'd never done anything like this before.  It would be an incredible challenge, but we were up for it.

The process took far longer than we expected, and it became far more difficult than we expected.  As soon as we started this project, I started researching everything I could find on how to record a live album.  While I found a few helpful tips, I didn't find anything which was a true guide for a project like this.

This post exists to hopefully help a church somewhere record their own live worship album. This blog does assume that you have a solid knowledge of sound equipment, and the mixing process does require that you have someone that knows how to mix.  There's no quick and simple tips on how to do either one of those tasks.

As you read my suggestions, always remember that I'm assuming you're a normal size church with normal resources.  Therefore, I'm guessing that you're not using professional musicians, and you don't have expensive isolation booths, and other fancy equipment.  Therefore, this tutorial is to help you record a "Live" album.  "Live" is in quotes, because you will be overdubbing much of the album after it's recorded.

I want to keep this as simple as possible, so each section will feature lots of bullet points, and to-the-point suggestions.

PRE-PRODUCTION

The most important element during pre-production is selecting which songs you want to record, and then you must file all the proper paper-work to legally record and sell each song.  

SONG SELECTION TIPS:
  • The length of time between when you start a project like this, and when you finally release the album, is rather lengthy.  So, if you choose a song that was huge with your church 12 months ago, it will feel very old and dated by the time the album is released.
  • If you're not recording original songs, pick either long-time church favorites, or something fresh and exciting.
  • If you're reading this, I'm assuming your band isn't composed of a bunch of professionals.  Remember that when selecting songs. Just because the song sounds good live doesn't mean it will sound good on a recording.  The room is very forgiving.  Recordings have no mercy.  Pick songs everyone can play absolutely perfectly.
  • Keep in mind that recording 10 tracks requires doing twice as much post-production and mixing as recording 5 tracks.  Start with an achievable goal.

LEGAL STUFF:
  • If you're recording songs you didn't write or that aren't in public domain, you have to file a bunch of paperwork to get permission to record the songs.  
  • To cut to the chase, you will have to pay the song writer roughly 10 cents per copy of each song that you sell.  
  • There's no one place you go to file paperwork, and there's no set length of time that it takes.  For the Hillsong songs we recorded, we received permission within about a week.  Some of the other people took over a month to approve the recording.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:  
Find the liner notes of an album containing the song you want to cover.  In the liner notes, it will list who published the song.  Go to their website and, if you search around, you will find a section on COPYRIGHT and LICENSING.  It will be different for everyone, but they should have instructions on how to apply for permission.  But, it really is very different for each publisher.

EQUIPMENT

In order to record this album, we rented a bunch of equipment.

My church is Hutto, TX, which is about 30 minutes from Austin, TX.  Austin has a vibrant music scene, therefore, there are many places to rent music equipment.  I'm not sure if this is true of all major cities or not.  We rented from a place called Rock N Roll Rentals.

WHAT DID WE RENT:











  • Beta 52
If you don't have a lot of quality mics, you may need to rent higher quality mics.  

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT:

  • Unplug your snake from your board (or whatever it is plugged into)
  • Plug your snake into the 24-channel splitter
  • The splitter will have two output cables for each input
  • Plug one set of outputs back into your soundboard
  • Plug the 2nd set of outputs into the OctoPre MKII (each OctoPre has 8 channels, and you will have three of them)
  • OctoPre is used to get each signal up to proper recording levels
  • Plug the 24-channel TRS snake into the output of the OctoPre's 
  • Plug the other side of TRS snake into the Joenco Black Box Recorder
You will also need to purchase an external hard drive.  The Black Box records onto an external hard drive.  The Black Box will tell you which hard drive to purchase.  I just picked up a 2 gig Western Digital external hard drive.  You want as fast of a hard drive as you can purchase.

PRE-RECORDING

Before the day of your recording, spend an entire day practicing with the band.  Record a perfect version of every single song to click.  When it comes to post-production, you need as much to work with as you can get. If you have a perfect version of each song, all you're missing is live crowd noise. If you record to click, you can literally take the crowd noise from the live event, and slap it onto the perfect recording from earlier in the week.

We skipped this step, and suffered for it.  We had to scrap a couple of songs immediately because of mistakes we couldn't fix.


LIVE RECORDING

PLAY TO CLICK! PLAY TO CLICK!  PLAY TO CLICK!

CROWD MICS:
  • A key element to a live album is crowd noise.  With a worship album it's even more important, because you want crowd singing.  This requires that you place as many mics in the room as possible. 
  • The problem with room mics is that they will pick up far more stage volume than crowd singing.  Therefore, you want to be creative to find ways to block as much direct sound from the speakers.
  • The closer the room mics are to the audience, the better.
  • We had four crowd mics.  I would have preferred to have several more.

FILM THE EVENT:
  • This is the 21st century. The cheapest and easiest way to promote an album is online, using social media.  When we posted a video from our live album, roughly 25% of our church shared the video on their Facebook page, and we had twice the number of plays as we have people in our church within two days.  To make this happen, we had to film the event.
  • Ideally, you need three cameras with at least two cameras manned.  
  • CAMERA #1 - Wide shot of the crowd and the stage. If one camera is unmanned, this camera can be unmanned.
  • CAMERA #2 - Camera aimed at the lead singer.  Ideally, this camera is manned so you can zoom in and out to show the other singers but, if necessary, it can go unmanned if you re-aim the camera each time a song has a different lead singer.  
  • CAMERA #3 - This camera is manned and up close to the stage. This camera aims at whichever instrument is most important at any given moment.  Ideally, this camera person would be at band practice, so they can know the songs in advance. 



OVER-DUBS

No matter how good of a performance you pull off the night of the live recording, you're still most likely going to want to overdub parts of the album.
  • Vocals mics will pick up large amounts of stage noise. This means that vocals will be difficult to put in the mix and impossible to auto-tune.  
  • Acoustic guitars sound much better mic'd rather than plugged in direct.
  • You'll likely want to record some extra instruments to fill out the sound. 
The harsh reality though is, if you don't have a professional musicians, you're likely going to have to re-record parts because there will be lots of mistakes. 

TIPS FOR OVERDUBS:
  • Whenever possible, overdub parts in the room where you originally recorded. Overdubbing vocals in the original room will give you some natural reverb which matches the room.  Recording the parts in isolation booths will give the album a studio vibe.
  • This isn't an opportunity to rearrange the song.  This is an opportunity to record what you attempted before, or a cleaner version of what you did before.  If you get too fancy with overdubs, it stops sounding live.
  • Get together a group of at least 10 people to act as a choir for the entire album.  Ideally, you'll have a good mix of guys and girls.  Have them clap at the beginning and end of songs. Likewise, have them make crowd improv noises from time to time.  They will supplement your crowd mics during parts of the songs when the band is very loud.

POST-PRODUCTION

  • We recorded overdubs, mixed, and mastered using Logic Pro. 
  • If you don't know how to mix and master, you can hire someone to do it for you. If you take it to a professional, this will get very pricey. If you can find a young do-it-yourself musician, they will be much cheaper.
  • We have several members of our church who can mix. One of them is great at it. You likely have some people in your church who can help.
  • If you mix it yourself, each song you add is more time that the mixing process will take. My theory going into the album was that once we mixed one song, we could create a preset we would apply to the other songs.  While we did do that, it didn't reduce the amount of time it took to mix by much.  

RELEASE

  • We released our album using TuneCore.com.  They can walk you through the process of getting your songs on iTunes, and you can print physical CDs from their website.  It's all very simple. There are costs associated with their services but, compared to equipment rentals, it's still cost effective.
  • We released the album on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and we printed physical copies.
  • iTunes and Amazon take roughly 30 cents for each song sold.  If the song is a cover song, an additional 10 cents will be paid as royalties to the songwriter.  That's 40% of your gross right off the top.  
  • Spotify pays extraordinarily little.  This is more of a promotional path than a revenue stream.
  • Physical copies will most likely run around $3 per CD.  This number varies based on the type of case you get and the number of CDs you print.  But the cost of printing doesn't change based on the number of songs you put on the album.  Therefore, the more songs you put on the album and the more you charge for the CDs, the more cost effective the album is.
  • Some people prefer iTunes, and some people prefer physical copies. You will significantly increase sales by offering both.

ADDITIONAL RECORDINGS

Late in the recording process, we decided to record two new original songs. We recorded them "Studio live" semi-acoustic.  By studio, I mean our stage in our sanctuary, without a congregation.  By semi-acoustic, I mean it was full band, but the drummer was using brushes, and all lead work was done with more organic instruments.

Once again, we filmed the sessions to create a music video.  We had two cameras going during the recording but, since we recorded to click, we were able to use footage from different takes during the video editing process.

For these recordings, we didn't re-record ANYTHING, but we did add a bass guitar and xylophone.

We recored the two additional songs using a Presonus StudioLive 24 channel board.




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Friday, October 17, 2014

MARK DRISCOLL HAS RESIGNED | It's a Time for Prayer Not Speculation



After nearly two years straight of back to back, continually escalating controversies, Mark Driscoll has resigned.  It doesn't really matter what my take, or your take on any specific controversy.  What matters are the end results.

  • ACTS 29, the church planting organization he started, kicked Mars Hill out of their association.
  • Multiple Christian retailers stopped selling his books.
  • His church's attendance and giving have fallen through the floor.  They've even had to shut down several locations.
  • Finally, he has chosen to turn in his resignation.
And once again, a mega-church pastor has fallen from glory while the nation watches.  


Whether you loved or hated Driscoll, there's really no satisfaction in his resignation.  If you're a fan of Driscoll, you'll be disappointed that he's leaving his ministry, and disappointed that many of the charges against him were verified.  If you were a critic of Driscoll, his resignation demonstrates a growing humility and brokenness. His actions here deconstruct many of the narratives people have about him.  


Now isn't the time for criticism.
Now isn't the time for praise.
Now isn't the time for defense.
Now isn't the time for speculation.

Now is the time for prayer!

Pray for Our Response

Christians have a long history of shooting their own.  We love to speculate and assume.  While we would all agree that gossip is wrong when it deals with people we know in person, for some reason we give our gossip a pass as long as we're writing a blog post or status update about someone we don't know. Almost none of us know Mark Driscoll (though I did talk for him for 30 seconds once at a conference; he told me I married a keeper).  Almost none of us are at Mars Hill Church.  We don't know what's going on at his church, in his head, or in his heart.

So, what value do our speculations add to the universe?

Up to this point, I haven't seen any new smear or defense pieces pop up online (the general consensus seems to be surprise).  I think there's value in praying that things stay that way.

Pray for Mars Hill Church

At the heart of this story is a local church.  Mark Driscoll has never been Mars Hill Church.  Mars Hill Church has always been the people of Mars Hill Church.  As of today, these people are seriously hurting.  They have lost people, money, and now their founding pastor.  

Regardless of whether or not you like Driscoll's theology, teaching, or personality, 1000s of people in Seattle alone have been positively impacted by Mars Hill Church.

Those people need our prayers during this painful time of transition.

Pray for Mark Driscoll

Driscoll is a clearly a gifted communicator with a charismatic personality, whose talent at times has transcended his maturity.  I've read most of his books, and listened to a great many of his sermons.  I can understand why many are turned off by his style, but I'm not one of those people.  He has tremendous potential to connect with normal people (specifically young males), and still talk about theology.  

I can only imagine the type of influence a more mature Driscoll could have.


Much like the way we forgot that Mars Hill is an actual church, we forget that Mark Driscoll is an actual human.  He has a wife.  He has several kids.  He lives in a suburban house. And, until a couple of days ago, he was a pastor, and his resignation is being analyzed on a national scale.  He's attempting to lead his family while countless people who don't know him (like myself) are talking about him.

  • Mark Driscoll needs our prayers.
  • Grace Driscoll needs our prayers.
  • Their kids need our prayers.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The SHOCKING Truth About Love! ...it means more than you think it means!



Remember in the movie "The Princess Bride" how Wallace Shawn's character kept saying, "Inconceivable!!!"  After several rounds of the man in the black mask surviving these challenges where it is "inconceivable" that any man would survive, one of his henchmen (played by Mandy Pantinkin) turns to him and says, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

If there's a word in our culture where we are universally confused, it has to be LOVE!

The Spanish language has 100,000 words.  German has a vocabulary of 185,000 words.  That may seem like a lot of words until you realize that the English language has somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 words. The English language is one of the most robust languages that has ever existed.

The word "chatty" has 40 synonyms!



But, for some reason, when it comes to possibly the most important concept in the English language, we use a single word as a junk drawer for a series of complex emotions: LOVE

Just look at this quick sampling of ways we use the word LOVE


Love Shoes – To really really like an object
Love Dogs - To have fondness for a creature
Love Friends – To find companionship in other people
Love Family – To have a deep, unconditional concern for relatives
Love Boyfriend – To have romantic feelings without commitment
Love Mankind Universal concern for your species
Love Wife – To have romantic feelings and commitment
Make Love – Euphemism for Sex
To be in Love – Romantic Feelings
Love is a Verb – A choice to care for someone which is accompanied by actions
God Loves Us – An unconditional, selfless concern for mankind
I Love God – A selfless affection for who God is and what He has done

I wonder how many relationships and marriages have run into problems simply because of a vocabulary problem.  When one word covers so much ground, it's guaranteed to lead to confusion and trouble.

Whether you're trying to understand your relationship with another person or you're trying to understand the tension in a relationship, you need to understand what you mean when you say, "Love."

One of the things which has most helped me understand what I mean by LOVE and how to better evaluate how I'm doing at loving my wife and family is to look at the different words for, "Love," in Greek.

The Greek language has four different words for LOVE:
  • Storge
  • Philia
  • Eros
  • Agape
Different relationships require different types of love.  A life-long romantic relationship called marriage requires all four types of love.  These four words we call LOVE can give you a grid by which to understand why certain relationships in your life succeed and others fail.

So, what do each of these words mean?


STORGE - Fondness for the Familiar / Nurturing

Storge, "στοργή" or "Affection" is fondness through familiarity, especially between family members.  It has an implied sense of carrying a nurturing nature.  
  •       Nurturing
  •       Mother to a child

This love refers to a desire to see to the well-being for a person or an object.  Storge is so essential to the love a parent has for their kids that any hint that a parent lacks this love will draw extreme criticism.  When we learn of a parent abusing their child, we're appalled, because abuse is so antithetical to the storge love we assume parents have for their kids.

RELATIONSHIPS WITHOUT STORGE

Consider the many people in your life that you may say you "love."  What does that "love" mean without storge?
  • FRIENDSHIP - You may enjoy each other's company, but if there is no "storge," these aren't lifelong friends who truly care for you.
  • PARENTS - A parent without storge love for their children is more of a sperm or egg donor than a parent.  They're the biological parents, but they haven't earned the title. 
  • HERE'S THE TRICKY PART FOR PARENTS - Often times, we will feel a storge love for our children, but we don't know how to communicate. Our children may not FEEL our storge love because our actions communicate something different to them.
  • MARRIAGE - A marriage without storge is a marriage with two people who have stopped caring about one another. Even if you still have the other loves, without storge, your marriage is in serious danger.  Much like with children, your actions communicate much louder than your words.  If you don't communicate storge with your actions, your spouse won't feel loved.

PHILIA - Friendship

This Greek word eventually translated into Latin, and it made it's way into a number of familiar words.
  • Philadelphia - The City of Brotherly Love
  • Philosophy - Love of Wisdom
  • Pedophile - Lover of Children

Philia love is a bond existing between people who share interests or activities. Phileo is a love between family and friends.  When you say you love your friends, that is PHILIA love.

RELATIONSHIPS WITHOUT PHILIA
  • FRIENDS - Friendships without PHILIA aren't lifelong friendships.  These are your buddies and acquaintances.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you need to know which friends are true friends, and which friends are buddies.
  • PARENTS - Philia love is not the most important love for a parent to have for their child. As much as society loves to romanticize the idea of moms and dads as their kids' best friends, in reality, parents need to be parents first, and friends second, or third.  With that said, your relationship with your children will be much stronger, and more fun, if you have a healthy dose of PHILIA.
  • MARRIAGE - When you remove FRIENDSHIP from your relationship with your spouse, your marriage stops being a marriage, and becomes more like a job where you're required to do married people things.  

EROS - Passion / Romance


Eros (ρως) is love in the sense of 'being in love."  Eros longs to emotionally connect with another person, and it is directed towards a specific person.  This is probably the form of love which is easiest to understand.
  • I love him!
  • We're falling in love!
While EROS is probably the most familiar and commonly agreed upon definition of love, it's also the most dangerous.  EROS is the closest love to being purely emotion.  When someone says they've fallen out of love, they're referring to EROS. Likewise, feelings of EROS keep people in relationships which should have ended long ago.  In particular, sex (as a physical act of EROS) is intended to glue two people together in the context of marriage.  In dating relationships, sex can prolong bad relationships by pouring fuel on the EROS without any substance behind it.

Often times, PHILIA love is a precursor to EROS.  When two people of opposite sexes have a strong PHILIA love, it's extremely common for one or both people to develop EROS.  This is why I almost always encourage people who are married to set extremely conservative boundaries in regards to the opposite sex.  It's so easy for PHILIA to morph into EROS if you're not being careful.

RELATIONSHIPS WITHOUT EROS

  • MARRIAGE - Marriage without EROS is a passionless marriage.  While this may seem the most fickle of the loves, in practice, you can fuel the EROS by offering STORGE and PHILIA. If you're distant, avoiding having fun, and not acting nurturing, why would you be surprised that the EROS is fading?


AGAPE - Unconditional Love

Agape love is the love which commits for life.  Agape love transcends circumstances and time. Agape love is a bond which holds friendships, families, and marriages together.  

While we love to receive AGAPE love, it is the most difficult love to offer others.  AGAPE love requires that I offer forgiveness and grace.  AGAPE love exists even when love isn't reciprocated. 

AGAPE love is the ingredient missing from far too many marriages. Ironically, virtually every marriage ceremony has a reading of the passage in the Bible which most accurately describes AGAPE love:


1 Corinthians 13
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails.

AGAPE love is the reason there is a huge disconnect between teenagers and adults regarding love. Most adults scoff off the words of teenagers when they proclaim they're in love.  The teenagers are annoyed because their feelings of PHILIA and EROS are being discounted by adults.  The adults are insulted that the teenager is using the same word to describe a two month relationship as they use to describe their 20 year marriage based in AGAPE love.

AGAPE IN RELATIONSIHPS

  • FRIENDS - A friendship with AGAPE love is a life long friendship.  These are the friends that you would do anything for. These are the friends that you will continue to fight for, even if they turned far away.
  • CHILDREN - AGAPE love is what keeps a parent fighting for their child during the teenage years.  AGAPE love means that parents love their children in times of rebellion, and times of celebration.
  • MARRIAGE - AGAPE love is the glue which holds marriages together, regardless of circumstances and changes.  AGAPE love is what everyone wants to receive out of marriage, and what almost everyone pledges to give during their marriage.  
A marriage without AGAPE love is in serious danger of ending in divorce.

LOVE PATTERNS

When you understand these four forms of love, you start to better understand the nature of the most important relationships in your life.  


PHILIA + AGAPE
Life-Long Friends

STORGE + AGAPE
Family Relationships

PHILIA + EROS
Romantic Dating Relationships

EROS + STORGE
Co-Dependent Relationships


FINAL THOUGHTS

As you look at the most important relationships in your life, you can usually evaluate their health based off of whether they have appropriate levels of the different types of love.

  • Is your marriage lacking one of the four types of love?
  • Do you have a friendship that isn't a deep as it pretends to be because it's lacking AGAPE or STORGE?
  • Is your relationship with a child strained over a perceived lack of STORGE or AGAPE?

How are you doing at loving with all four loves?


Where do you see that people are most confused when it comes to love?






[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/chatty




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Are You Missing One of the Five OBVIOUS Ways to Help Your Children Grow Spiritually?



One of the greatest joys in life is raising the next generation.
One of the greatest responsibilities in life is raising the next generation.

While you need a license to drive a car, there are absolutely no legal requirements to get to raise a human being as your own.  You don't need any training.  A couple of days after you give birth, they kick you out of the hospital and send you home.  Then, for the next 18 years you're responsible to raise a human being to adulthood.

It's hard enough to keep them safe from themselves...
It's hard enough to raise respectful, well behaved teenagers...

What does it take raise a great adult who loves Jesus?

Ephesians 6
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Here are five TOTALLY OBVIOUS suggestions for how to establish yourself as a spiritual leader and role model to your children.  While they may be TOTALLY OBVIOUS, that doesn't mean you're doing them. or doing them right.

#1 | Join a Great Church That Your Kids Love


You aren't meant to live life alone, and you weren't meant to raise your kids alone.  God gave us a wonderful second family known as the Church.  If you're not plugged into a great church that values families, your children are missing out on this amazing gift that God intended for all of His children.

When I say you need to be plugged into a great church, I don't simply mean attending a service or two each week. Church was never intended to merely be something you attend.  God intended something so much more.  Plugging into a church means you don't merely go to your church; it means that you are the Church.

You serve.
You give.
You care.
You love.
You live life within a community of believers.

For a church to be a great church for your family, there needs to be a place for your kids to plug in as well.  If your kid or teenager hates going to church, you may need to switch churches.  You may love the preaching, programs, and music but, if your kids don't want to go to church, it's not worth it.

Find a church where your entire family can plug in.  As the parent and more mature believer, you should be able to be more flexible as to the settings in which you can worship and grow.

Here is a great book on the power of church and family joining forces:


#2 | Pray For Your Kids Daily | Pray With Your Kids Daily

As simple of an idea as it is to pray for and with your kids daily, if you're struggling with your daily devotionals, you can easily slip out of this practice.

Praying for your kids daily is a way to focus your parenting on God, and invite Him into your family. Praying with your kids daily teaches your children that your family trusts God on a daily basis.

While almost any prayer is better than no prayer with your kids, I would encourage you to have a time of prayer which isn't surrounding a meal.  I've known people who were very diligent about praying before meals, but the prayers had no substance. Find a daily time when you can model holistic prayers that do more than make requests and offer thanks.

Try using the acronym ACTS:

ADORATION          Praise God for who He is and what He has done
CONFESSION         Confess your sins and short-comings
THANKSGIVING   Thank God for His many blessings
SUPPLICATION     Make your requests to God

#3 | Schedule Family Devotionals

If you want to lead your children spiritually, you need to consistently spend time with them in God's Word.  During the school year, they spend eight hours per day at school.  Depending on your household, they may spend hours per day on their phone, computer, watching TV, or playing video games.  They spend hours every day being influenced by countless factors.

Given the extreme amount of external influence on your children, it only seems obvious that your children need regular time with you diving into the Word.

As a youth pastor, I love it when students ask me honest questions about their faith. At the same time, I'm even more excited when I hear stories of students having spiritual and theological conversations with their parents.  As much as I love being an influence in teenagers lives, I would gladly take 2nd seat to a parent.

Even as a youth pastor, I have to acknowledge that my influence pales in comparison to that of a student's parents.  You are the greatest influence on your child's life.  Leverage that influence to lead your children to love Jesus.

#4 | Prioritize Spiritual Growth and Family Over Everything

Actions speak louder than words. It doesn't matter how often you tell your kids that God is your highest priority- your actions will speak to your actual priorities.

What are the things in your family's life which take top priority?

  • Sports
  • Boy Scouts
  • Grades
  • Band
  • Hunting
  • Your social life

I've known far too many families whose kids miss church, small groups, or other activities because the family has an excessively busy sports schedule.  I'll pick on club sports a bit more than other things because, from my experience, it's the worst offender.  Countless leagues have Sunday morning games.  One volleyball league has the audacity to have a statewide tournament Easter weekend every single year. Maybe it's my own sinful nature but, if you miss Easter Sunday at your home church because you're attending a Volleyball tournament for your kids, you have taught your kids a terrible lesson.  Don't let sports win.

When you establish spiritual growth as your family's priority, you teach your kids what really matters.  When you marginalize spiritual growth by always viewing church as the thing which gets sidelined, you send your kids a very confusing message.

Teach your kids what matters most by arranging your schedule around their spiritual development.  Be willing to tell your child's coach, "No," when they make unreasonable demands.

Honestly, I get really skeptical of people who attempt to claim their children or family is too busy to get fully plugged in to church. One of my students a few years back had one of the craziest schedules I had ever seen.

  • He was in marching band. 
  • He led worship for two different churches' youth bands.
  • He had a job where he worked around 20 hours per week.
  • He was in the top 5% of his class.
  • He had a girlfriend (whom he later married).
  • He had an active social life.
  • He was in a band.
  • He spent countless hours writing and recording songs.
  • He was in a small group and never missed an event.
  • He helped in any way I asked.
That was someone that knew how to make the most of their time.  Certainly he's an extreme case, but he also demonstrates how you really can do a ton of stuff at school, and still be plugged into church.


Your children need to be a part of communities and activities which foster spiritual growth but, equally as important, they need to see you prioritize spiritual matters.

#5 | Model a Godly Life

Without question, the most important thing you can do as a parent is model a godly life.  Live a life filled with so much joy, love, and generosity that they would be insane to not want what you have.

While this is incredibly obvious, it's also incredibly difficult.  Your kids see you in your highs, and lowest lows.  You can fool the people at church, but you won't fool them.  But, really, even our failures give us an opportunity to love differently.  Of course, you're going to make mistakes. You're even going to sin in the direction of your kids.  Even in those moments, you can model godly living by showing them what repentance and an authentic apology looks like.

  • Do you model daily devotions?
  • Do you model godly character?
  • Do you model grace, love, and mercy?
  • Do you model generosity?
  • Do you model forgiveness?
  • Do you model what Biblical manhood looks like?
  • Do you model what Biblical womanhood looks like?

Be the person you want them to be!
Live the life you want them to live!

Be their spiritual role model!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three TERRIBLE Pieces of Advice People Keep Sharing! ...and better advice you should actually listen to



Most cliche advice falls into one of three categories:
  1. It's a cliche because it's true!  i.e. "Always consider the source!"
  2. It's a cliche because it tells us what we want to hear! i.e. "Follow your dreams!"
  3. It's a cliche because it's catchy!  i.e. "Where there's a will, there's a way!"


The problem is that far too few people stop and consider the advice they're offering or receiving.  One of the reasons we offer bad cliche advice is that we know how we've applied certain advice, and things worked out well for us.  However, what we don't know is how other people are going to personalize or apply that same advice.  While certain words may have encouraged wise action on your part, it may lead others to utter foolishness.

Here are three cliches which are TERRIBLE advice to give someone.  They tell us what we want to hear, but not what we need to hear.   Unfortunately my alternative suggestions aren't as catchy.

#1 | Trust Your Heart!

The heart is a very confusing thing. You can't easily define it.  We all tend to have many emotions pushing us in many directions.  So, which impulse is your heart?

I know how inspirational it can be in a movie for someone to "have lots of heart," and then, "follow their heart," to great success.  But, in the real world, "Following your heart" is really just mumbo jumbo for trusting your fleeting emotions.

Just stop and think about it:
  • We all know highly passionate and highly emotional people who are prone towards impulsive decisions...they really shouldn't follow their heart!
  • We all know someone who is extremely greedy and immoral...they really shouldn't follow their heart!
  • All of us can become blinded by possibilities, or paralyzed by uncertainty...in those moments, we really shouldn't follow our hearts!
On a spiritual note, trusting your heart is a really really bad idea, according to the Bible.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?- Jeremiah 17:9
Throughout scripture, it's made clear that every single one of us are sinners.  There's a toxin in our system called sin, and it continually leads us astray. Blindly choosing to follow our hearts is fairly close to choosing to follow your sin nature.


BETTER ADVICE | Trust the advice of people that know you and care about you!
No one should live life alone.  We need community, and we need the advice of people who can see our blind spots.  When it comes to making HUGE life decisions, we often have huge blind spots. Run your options by someone you can trust, and let them filter through what your "heart" is leading you to do.  

#2 | Do What You Love, and the Money Will Follow

Often times people will advise high school graduates to pursue a career doing something they would enjoy doing even if they weren't paid.  Maybe this would be good advice to give a responsible 30 year old, but it's terrible advice for a teenager.

When I was 18, I liked playing video games, making music, creating movies, and writing.  Nearly fifteen years later, I've made zero dollars playing video games, a few hundred dollars making music, a few hundred dollars on video work, and pretty close to no money writing.  All in all, I've made about one month's mortgage payment doing what I loved when I was 18.

Also when I was 18, I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to be a teacher or public speaker. My sister was student teaching in her final semesters in college, and I just could not fathom why anyone would want to do that.  Eight years later, I was in my final semester in college, student teaching.  Six months after that, I was sending out resumes to schools in an effort to get a job as a teacher.

The moral of this story: I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WOULD ENJOY DOING AS AN ADULT WHEN I WAS 18!  Very few eighteen year olds have enough life experience to be able to reliably predict what they will love doing ten years in the future, and all the things which they do love doing are not reliable career paths.


BETTER ADVICE
Pursue a career path in a direction you are interested, where you can actually get a job! 
Just because you love something, doesn't mean there is money to be made there.  Many of the areas where people have lots of passion are extraordinarily difficult to make money at.  I'm not suggesting you shouldn't do things you love, but not all of our passions provide a living.  

#3 | Follow Your Dreams

I'm all for working in the direction of your dreams, but dreams are called dreams for a reason.  Unless you have very small dreams for your life, your dreams are very unlikely to come true.  I'm not being a downer.  I'm not trying to be super negative.  But, by definition, dreams are extremely difficult to achieve.

I grew up attending a large high school and, by the time I graduated, my church had grown to be a mega-church.  I've been plugged in at various churches throughout my life, and I attended a small Bible college.  All this to say, I know a good number of people.  Of all the people I've known, one went on to play Major League Baseball (Kelly Johnson), and another person went on to have national success in a band (he was an original member of the band Love and Theft).  I'm not aware of anyone who has had any significant success in Hollywood.
  • If you love sports....PLAY SPORTS!
  • If you love music...MAKE MUSIC!
  • If you love making movies...MAKE MOVIES!
There is value in exploring your dreams.  I played in many bands in my early 20's.  I've spent countless hours writing and brainstorming plots for movies.  But, as life progressed, and my dreams never found traction, those areas became my hobbies.

I still make music
I still make movies.
I still write (I'm writing right now).

But, I also have a job that pays the bills and feeds my family.


BETTER ADVICE
Explore your dreams, but don't follow your dreams unless responsible people you respect advice you to
My friend who was in Love and Theft is one of the most talented singer/musicians I have known in my entire life.  Back when he first announced he was moving to Nashville to pursue his dreams, I thought to myself, "That's good idea."  It wasn't just that he had a passion for music, it's that everyone acknowledged that he had the potential to succeed.  If you're throwing responsibility out the window to chase a dream, you better be doing so because someone not emotionally invested in the decision also thinks you can make it.  I'm all for risks, but I'm not for self-delusion.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Whenever we seek advice, it is vital that you ask people who love you enough to tell you something you don't want to hear.  Far too often our society encourages giving people false hope by promising success for everyone.  Unfortunately we don't all have the same talent or work ethic.  We can't all achieve dream level success.  That isn't to say that we need to settle for a mundane life, but it does mean that we probably shouldn't define success based off of shallow standards like popularity, fame, and fortune.



What do you think is the worst advice people keep sharing?  
Comment below and let me know!


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