How to Dad: The Dance Recital

Quaker is pulling on the heart strings of dads everywhere, especially those who have daughters.  Enjoy your Monday!

TheRock Roundup: Stop Being Plumb Crazy

Each Monday following TheRock (TrueNorth’s monthly event on the first Thursday of every month), we’ll post a summary of the message and highlights.  We’ll do our best with these posts, but they won’t be near as good as the real thing. So join us next time!

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 16.32.06

We had a great message from Nathan White last week on Psalm 46:10.  If you haven’t used a plumb line before, they’re used to determine a perfect vertical line (pictured above).  It can’t be used if it’s not still.  God instructs us in Psalm 46 to be still for the same reason.  We can’t be used when we’re trying to move in a dozen different directions.

Nathan ran his own business with more than a dozen employees and it was moving at a rapid pace.  Accomplishing the daily agenda to ensure the business was successful kept his mind in constant motion.  They had a job at a local air force base, which required you to have a badge to enter each day.  When he went to the security office to renew his badge one morning, God intervened.

He was arrested and spent nine days in jail.  The kicker…he didn’t know why.  His own attorney told him he could get him out had he murdered someone but couldn’t get him out this time.  While in jail, he asked for something to read because he was going crazy sharing an above-capacity cell with other guys.  He received a Bible.

It turns out he had three warrants out for his arrest in Texas because he was the victim of an insurance scam.  He was released but can you imagine nine days in a crowded jail cell with criminals?  That is the extent to which God needed him to be still.  I think one hour would be plenty for myself and would give God a quick, “Okay dude, I got it.  I’m ready to go now.”  No sir.  Nine days.

Are you comfortable being totally still?  I’m certainly not.  I’m always on the move.  Even in the car during an hour and a half drive, I’m constantly thinking about what work issue needs to be addressed or what project needs more attention.  If it’s not work, I find myself repeatedly scrolling Twitter to see what recent current event is going down.  It drains me mentally.

Read 2 Kings 4:1-7 and apply it to this analogy:  Are you a reservoir or a river?  A reservoir can pour out everything in it, but the supply will eventually run out.  A river is constantly flowing with supply from an ever-giving source.  Don’t fill yourself with the world and things of it or your productivity will be capped.

Nate was the plumb line and the world had him constantly swinging.  In reality, he was causing himself to swing.  He filled himself with busyness, among other things.  Our attention is pulled all over the place when God should be the focal point.

Takeaway Questions

What do you have that you need to surrender to Him?

What blessings are you missing out on because you’re too full?

What are you waiting for?

Are you too full of anger to receive love?  Too full of mistrust to receive grace?  Too full of pride to receive mercy?  Too full of busyness to receive peace?

Here’s an exercise for you to do this week.  Go to a place where you can have complete silence without distractions. Take 30 minutes and just sit there.  Don’t force anything.  Just be still and experience Jesus for that moment.

The Best Christian Response to Abortion & the Planned Parenthood Controversy

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James: 1:19

 

I’ve watched all five of the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress.  They’re painful to watch and it stirs up a level of anger in me that (in full transparency) makes me want to introduce my fist to some of the people in the videos.  That’s my initial thought in reaction to watching them, but as we know, our initial thoughts are usually worldly rather than Godly.

I was working at my local office (okay…a local coffee shop) recently and an earthquake initiated a conversation between the man sitting next to me and myself.  There’s nothing like a little 4.5er to get two strangers talkin about ministry!

His name was Terry and he runs a local non-profit organization called Crossroads Clinic.  They run two clinics in Oklahoma (Guthrie & OKC) where they offer free pregnancy tests for verification, free ultrasounds and free STD testing (they do not perform or advise on abortions).  Their primary focus:  women with unwanted pregnancies.

What I loved hearing about the clinics is they don’t try to sell or push women to avoid abortions.  Yes, they absolutely want women to choose a different path, but they leave the decision up to them.  They love on these women and share all their options with them, such as adoption.  Most of the time, when the women agree to see the ultrasound, they decide against abortion.

Back to my anger.  It’s justifiable to an extent.  My anger isn’t with someone because they had an abortion or are considering it.  I know women who have had them and I don’t think any less of them because of it.  This post isn’t about the politics behind abortion.  It’s about how a Christian should react to what’s going on.

Terry is doing something.  He’s truly making a difference for the kingdom of God with his actions.  Not everyone has to do something about every moral issue, but if something is rocking you emotionally, like these videos have for me, perhaps you need to do more than post your thoughts on Facebook (or a blog!).

Not everyone can start a clinic, but you can give financially to that clinic, donate your time or consider adoption.  What good is sharing the option of adoption with these women if there aren’t enough people to adopt?

Big shout out to Terry and others at Crossroads Clinic for serving God and serving people.

 

Cliff Notes: Uphill Battle

Cliff Notes is a series of post based on finding biblical truth in books.  

Sebastian Junger went to the front lines with our troops to portray as best he could what it’s like on the front lines.  This book primarily takes place in the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan.  It’s not Christian-based but it’s a fantastic read and you can still apply many parts of it to the spiritual battles we face.

There are different kinds of strength, and containing fear may be the most profound, the one without which armies couldn’t function and wars couldn’t be fought. There are big, tough guys in the Army who are cowards and small, feral-looking dudes, like Monroe, who will methodically take apart a SAW while rounds are slapping the rocks all around them.  The more literal forms of strength, like carrying 160 pounds up a mountain, depend more obviously on the size of your muscles, but muscles only do what you tell them, so it still keeps coming back to the human spirit.

Paul tells us in Timothy 4 that physical training is good, but it will only get us so far.  We need to train ourselves for godliness.  Junger put it well, “…muscles only do what you tell them, so it still keeps coming back to the human spirit.”  You can look like a freak of nature with your shirt off, but if you haven’t trained your heart and mind spiritually, that physical strength won’t fill the void.

Wars are fought with very heavy machinery that works best on top of the biggest hill in the area and used against men who are lower down.  That, in a nutshell, is military tactics, and it means that an enormous amount of war-fighting simply consists of carrying heavy loads uphill.

I’ve been at points when I see guys who are on absolute fire for Christ and I can tell just by being around them they are a strong spiritual warrior.  We see guys like that and think, “Dang I want to have that same fire. That strength.”  Well, you can, but you have to be willing to carry those heavy loads up the hill to put yourself in position fight battles with that kind of strength.

What does the uphill trek look like for you?  For many, it’s time to allow God to break you down so he can be the sole focus of your life.  That might mean dropping a hobby to free up time for spiritual training.  It also might be recognizing sin in your life and repenting.  That uphill climb is different for all of us and for some, it’s going to look much steeper and the load is going to be heavier.

However steep the climb and however heavy the load, I can tell you this:

It’s worth it

 

 

TheRock Roundup: Two Habits for an Amazing Marriage

Each Monday following TheRock (TrueNorth’s monthly event on the first Thursday of every month), we’ll post a summary of the message and highlights.  We’ll do our best with these posts, but they won’t be near as good as the real thing. So join us next time!

Shawn Maguire delivered big at TheRock last week by sharing with us two habits we can practice as husbands to set the stage for an awesome marriage.  Shawn is a Christian counselor, having two master’s degrees from Oral Roberts:  one in Marriage and Family Therapy and the second in Christian Counseling.  One might say he is slightly qualified to bring this message!  Oh, and check out more about Shawn and his services on his website.

1.  Habit of Repentance

Those of you with siblings will understand this analogy well, whichever side you were on.  Remember that sibling fight during which your parents intervened and forced you to apologize to each other?  From that point on, were you determined to treat your brother or sister differently?  Of course not, because you had no ownership over that apology.  You were following an order from your superior to avoid further punishment.

Sadly, that is what many who don’t know Christ think being a Christian is about.  Apologies mean nothing without true repentance.  The Greek work metanoia refers to a change of mind that leads to a change of action.  We have to get to a point in our marriages where we aren’t looking to apologize for to our wives just to avoid further repercussions.  We have to be able to recognize there are areas in our lives that require change.

In Acts 26, we’re instructed to demonstrate our repentance by our deeds (change of actions).

Look at the cartoon that headlined this post as an illustration of how many of us act in our marriages.  We check ourselves out and see who we intend to be, but not who we really are.  Why would we truly apologize and repent and if that’s who we think we are?

2.  Habit of Focusing on How God can Change You & Not Your Spouse

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  (Matthew 7:3)  For those of you who like to find loopholes, this applies to you and your wife even though it says “brother’s”.

We saw man fail at this after the first sin in all humanity.  Eve ate the fruit and when god confronted Adam, he puts the blame on Even.  “God, it was that woman you put me with.  She gave it to me.  IT’S HER FAULT.”  That’s from Genesis with added commentary.

Whose responsibility was it to make sure neither of them ate from the tree?  Hint:  not Eve’s.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for herEphesians 5:25

That verse is much more loaded than guys want to dig into.  It’s like you want a pool in your backyard but don’t want to dig into the ground because you might hit a pipeline and cause a gas leak.  Ephesians 5:25 is far more challenging than what most Christian men are up for.

Jesus didn’t come into this world to tell us about how everything was our fault.  While it’s true that everything is our fault, he came to make that fact irrelevant (should we choose to follow Him).

Men, step up and take ownership of your marriage.  When you make the first habit part of your life, the second will come a little easier.  Your wife is going to notice these changes and I’m willing to bet you’re going to like the results (not those results…okay yeah probably those results, too).

Thanks to Shawn for the awesome message.  If you thought the content of this post was any good at all, you’re missing out on much, much more.  Join us at TheRock in August!

How My 8-Month-Old Son Has Made Me a Better Man of God

2

I sat in the rocker in my 8-month old’s room after his bedtime bottle supporting him as he tried to stand facing me on my lap.  I prepared my mind for the prolonged burp-waiting period. For some reason he finds it necessary to take the longest to burp after his last feeding, as if he’s not quite ready for bed.  I like to think of it as him wanting to spend a little more time with his dad.

This particular night God spoke to me through the pure joy on Ax’s face that existed solely because he was staring at the face of his father.

1

“I love this kid more than I can imagine.  I’d do anything for him.  I’m obsessed.  And somehow, God loves me far more than I can even imagine loving this boy.”

It was a convicting moment for me because I realized any time I walk in the room and he sees me, his face lights up.  If I’m loving God like a child (Matthew 18:3), my face should light up every time I see Him working in my life.  I’d be heartbroken if Axle ignored me or acted as if I was a random stranger every time he saw me.

Fewer things bring me more joy right now than getting that kid to laugh.  I’ll throw him in the air (when Momma isn’t looking) and get those deep laughs that originate in his belly.  He has zero awareness of the consequences if I drop him but has complete faith that I won’t. To him, being dropped isn’t even a thought.  He’s all in for the excitement of the ride his dad is taking him on.  Am I all in on the ride God has me on without being distracted by the risks?

3

Monday nights are Guys Nights at the Amilian house because Momma is off teaching Zumba at a local gym.  He might be content by himself in his Pack ‘n Play for a short period, but he soon realizes Dad isn’t around and he’s crying out for him.  As adults, we can slip into the mindset that we take care of ourselves and control our paths in life.  We’re not as quick to realize we’ve strayed away from God and don’t call out to Him nearly as much as we should.  There are times when I think, “Dang I haven’t had any time with God in quite a while.  I miss Him!”

I’m writing this from a hotel room in Amarillo.  I miss that boy right now and I delight in the pics and videos Lindsay sends of him throughout the week.  If I think about him as much as I do, God is thinking about me much more.  One day Axle is going to realize he wants to make his dad proud, and I know he’ll be able to.  It’s time we put effort into making God proud.  He expects much out of us so that’s not a task we can take lightly.

Of all the great and awful things I heard about having kids (and I heard plenty), I never once heard about how much I’d learn about God’s love for me.  I’m not even eight months in and have already learned more than I grasp.  I always knew parenthood would be an adventure, but I wasn’t aware how much better of a Christian man being a father is going to make me.  My hype about Dad Life has gone to a new level.

Honor your Heavenly Father this Father’s Day by loving him like a child.

*Note: I love him too much not to flood this post of pictures of him!

 

Imperfect Execution

Do you feel your efforts to advance the kingdom of God fall short?  Have you taken on an assignment, project or ministry but messed things up in the process?  Odds are, you probably screwed up or things didn’t go near as smoothly as you planned. It might have seemed like a complete failure.

imperfection

But we serve a God whose power goes far beyond our abilities.

In a sermon by Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in the Dallas area, titled “Together for the Gospel“, he touches on how God honors our “Imperfect Execution”.  Here’s one example from his message:  “You’re going to pray with your wife, it’s going to feel awkward and God is going to honor it”.  I’m repeatedly guilty of choosing not to pray with Lindsay because I don’t want to face the awkwardness (which is Satan at work).

I’m now becoming obsessed with the concept of “Imperfect Execution”.  TrueNorth hasn’t done things perfectly from a ministry standpoint, but we’re prayerful and seek the Lord in what we do.  Because of that, God has produced more fruit through the ministry than what our combined capabilities deserve.

How freeing is it to know you don’t have to worry about the results of your works?  That’s extremely counter-cultural!  Heck, I’m in sales and I can work, work and work but if there’s no purchase orders, then none of that work matters.  When working for Jesus, we can drop the stress of producing results because The Word promises us a harvest!

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.   – Galations 6:7-10

One of my brothers (in Christ, not blood) works full time for Hockey Ministries International.  He’s been working their camps every summer for 15 years.  This year (this week actually), he said he had the worst day at camp he’s ever had.  The result?  Multiple kids responded to the invitation to accept Christ that night!  God honored his worst day!  You should have goosebumps right now and be all like…

happy animated GIF

In our world, talent + effort + luck = results.

In Christ, heart + effort = ∞.

It’s going to seem like your works mean very little in a big world, but remember, you are serving the God who created it.  Don’t be concerned with the size of the world.  Be faithful in the size of our God.

Wake Up from Your Slumber

My wife and I were relaxing on our back patio the other evening when “Slumber” by Needtobreathe had its turn on the music playlist we had running.  I’ve always loved that song but it really hit me as to how much the message of that song aligns with why TrueNorth Ministries exists (yes, “Brother” by Needtobreathe is quite fitting as well).

“Awaken” is one of the key words TrueNorth focuses on for men.  The song in general speaks to this as the chorus states:

Wake on up from your slumber

It’s easy to get comfortable in your daily routine.  Actually, it’s not just easy, but it’s typically a natural default for us.  We just end up going through the motions when God wants you to get out from under your covers, see what He has for you outside your window and go after it.

If you’ve been to a TrueNorth BaseCamp, you understand identifying how you’ve been wounded and allowing God to heal you are vital in the process of Him restoring your heart.

Hearts are stronger after broken

Every Christian knows this to be true.  I can tell you that my wife and I each had a turn breaking the other’s heart (yes a guy is allowed to say that) before we got engaged.  In both instances, we each had to dig deep to forgive the other and then allow God to heal us through that.  In doing so, our love for each other took off to a level we thought would take years of marriage to get to.

Replace your feeble with a fable

My favorite line in the song.  In other words, turn your struggles into your story.  Turn your mess into your message.  A core value of TrueNorth is that we authentically reflect Christ by being transparent in sharing our stories.  If you’ve been to one of our events, you’ve experienced this.  If you haven’t been to one of our events, perhaps it’s time.  Check them out here 

Authentic Devotion

cbingham-bridge

I’ve gone through my fair share (and more) of spiritual dry spells and the reoccurring question is “What am I doing?”, meaning I feel like my wheels are turning but I’m not going anywhere.  Satan loves to use a man’s need for a quick solution to fix the problem as a weapon against us.  We’ll wake up one day and say “Okay I’m going to read my Bible every morning.  I’m going to quit my job and go into ministry.”  While you should definitely be in the Word daily and perhaps go into ministry if you’re called, those aren’t solely the answers to the problem.  At one point in my life, I almost bolted from my industrial sales job to work for my church, but fortunately that door closed.  In retrospect, church ministry was not my calling and would have been an awry move.

It’s not that Satan’s coming at us with it like an Apache Helicopter and if we don’t act hastily, we’re done.  It’s more like he blew up a bridge that was in our direct path to the spiritual goal we’re pursuing.  Sometimes, we say “Ah screw it” because things got tough after facing resistance rather than pushing through.

Let me present a solution that serves as an antidote and cure to these spiritual funks:  Authentic Devotion.  I don’t intend to tell you that your morning quiet time with God is useless, but if if you’re not getting honest with yourself and with God during this time, then what’s the point?  That’s when you’re going to see change.  That’s when you’re going to say, “Man, I’m jacked up.  But I have Jesus.  Bring it, Satan.”

Check out this sermon jam from Ben Stuart on Authentic Devotion

 

 

 

Curry Gives Credit to the Real MVP

curry

All of us around OKC love us some Kevin Durant, but with the injury he had no shot at the MVP this year.  I was pumped to see my guy (no, I have no justifiable reason to call him that other than I was a fan of him in college), Steph Curry, come away with the award this year.

He has the attention of basketball fans everywhere and what does he do?  He writes a blog about how God gave him this stage and uses it as a platform to share his faith.  Curry wrote a short blog on his experiences of God working as he progressed in his basketball career.  You can (and should) read the full post here on CharismaNews.

“The Holy Spirit is moving through our locker room in a way I’ve never experienced before.”

Do you desire to the see the Holy Spirit move in your life?  Start using the platform you have right now rather than waiting for the one you want to have in the future.