15 things my Parents did right.

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  1. They let us choose our destiny

  2. They taught us about the Lord early

  3. They didn't harness our wild side

  4. The created positive lasting memories

  5. They made small occasions special

  6. They embraced our friends like family

  7. They took us on adventurous vacations

  8. They encouraged me to go to church camps

  9. They made our faith priority

  10. They never raised their voices at each other

  11. They sacrificed greatly for us

  12. They were our youth leaders

  13. They never got old-fashioned

  14. They apologized when they did wrong

  15. They made lasting memories

A Wife's Perspective

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It’s no secret, my wife, Jess,  is amazing.  Many have asked us how Jess feels about the ministry that I feel called to and I always love hearing the words that come out of her mouth.   Jess recently wrote an email in response to that question for a woman’s Bible study in Tennessee.  Her response blessed me and made me realize that my wife truly is a one in six billion. 

Jessica’s Challenging Note:

 

Being married to an “unusual soldier” is quite the adventure. Caleb is a man called to dark, dangerous, despised places that most people would like to avoid. Sometimes there are elements of danger or uncertainty to the “missions” he goes out on. Long ago (about 11 years) in college I knew that there was a different beat to his heart and some of that scared me…even to the point of tears. At that point when we were dating I had to completely surrender my fear and Caleb to the Lord. I mean the kind of surrender that you can’t change your mind and take back.

For the first 5 years that we were married he was a youth pastor and there was very little risk involved in the things that we were doing at that point. However when the time came to step out in faith an do things that we knew he was called to do we were prepared to trust the Lord. We have emptied our bank account on several occasions to follow what we felt was God’s leading. Caleb has traveled to countries with no agenda to see if the Lord has something for him to start or be a part of over there. Always God has brought the right translators across his path and people with similar heartbeats to share Christ with unreached people in their own countries. The Lord has never disappointed when we felt he was the one directing our paths. We have seen the Lord bring in more than a year’s salary’s worth of money to take the Gospel into unreached areas of Kenya Africa. I could give you story upon story of things that the Lord has done and ways that he has taken care of us…it is nothing short of amazing to remember how he has worked.

You may be wondering how I feel when Caleb is gone from us overseas…(usually 10 days to three weeks) Well, I can honestly say that the Lord has placed a peace in my heart beyond human understanding about what is going on with Caleb. I know without a shadow of a doubt that he is doing what he’s supposed to be doing. I think that other people worry more about him than I do when he’s gone. Often he doesn’t get to call for days in a row and I just have to trust that the Lord is his keeper and leave Caleb’s safety in his hands. There is a peace in placing our situations in God’s hands instead of holding tightly to our own control.

What I would really love to see is for each of you to begin to have your own stories of what the Lord has done in and through you. It is neat to hear others accounts and know that God can do great things, but there is nothing quite like sharing a story that has happened to you. My challenge to you would be to ask God if there is something he would like you to do, someone he would like you to reach out to, something you should give away, or something you should be a part of and then DO IT. Talk to Diane or your parents and see if they think God would be glorified through it. Then have the courage to do it and just see what God has in store for you. Many times we don’t see God work because we aren’t willing to look silly or do something that isn’t comfortable for us to do. He gets the Glory when we are weak but surrendered and He is the strong one.

God Bless,
Jess

15 Traits of a Braveheart Leader

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“This Wallace doesn’t even have a knighthood but he fights with passion and he inspires” – Robert the Bruce

Braveheart is a movie that makes it to the top ten list of most men.  Thge movie is over twenty years old yet and it still surfaces in conversations all over America.  There was undeniably something about the DNA of this movie that stirs the souls of men and even a handfull of  women like none other.  

Like most of us, the main character in, William Wallace,  was a commoner seeking a quiet life of peace and comfort.  However, Wallace’s life got interrupted by a tragedy that transformed him from a commoner to a conqueror.   Therefore, we find ourselves lost in the plot, curious about what we ourselves are capable of and what mission we might be called to.   Maybe, just maybe, that is exactly what God wants to bring to light as you read this blog post.

Below is  list of quotes that William Wallace said and a cod that he seemed to live by.  said in the movie an So what was the code that the commoner William Wallace lived by to ignite such a revolution ?   Here are 14 of them.

1. A Braveheart leader turns their wounds into weapons
"We married in secret, because I would not share her with an English Lord.  They killed her to get to me.”

Wallace’s cause found him through a tragedy.  He wanted to settle down and live at peace with his wife – until she was taken away from him.  After her death, he felt the pain of so many others throughout his nation.  He could have let the pain of her death crush him into  a lifelong depression,  but he didn’t.  He turned his deepest pain into his purpose for living. It is no surprise that many of the most impactful ministries and charities today were birthed out someones crises experience.
Is there any pain in the world  that God is asking you to alleviate as your mission?

2.  A Braveheart leader is laser focused
“You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position, I think your position exist to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure they have it.”

There were probably many injustices that Wallace could have fought for.  He could have fought solely against prima nocte (the right for an English Lord to take a man’s wife for himself on her wedding night)  which would have been a just cause.  But he chose to go after the root.  In one word Wallace chose to fight for: freedom.  Wallace’s mission was crystal clear and nothing could sidetrack him.
In one word, what is the task, mission, or injustice  that you feel God  wants you to act on?

3. A Braveheart leader leads from the frontlines
"Aye.  Fight and you may die.  Run and you will live at least a while.  And dying in your beds many years from now would you be willing to tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!"

While the generals from the English army called the shots from behind their men.  Wallace battled from the front of the pack.  He was not a man of mere words, but a man of frontline action. His calloused hands, bloodied face, and scars were all a major reason so many men wanted to follow him.  When men saw Wallace attempt things things  that no commoner had attempted before they were awakened to greatness and quickly rallied behind him.
Is your life a daring example of your cause that you are calling people to?

4. A Braveheart leader has contagious courage
“People don’t follow titles, people follow courage”

Wallace did not wave banners to get men to join his cause.  He did not have applications.  Infact, he told some to go home.  But his personal courage and willingness to act on it became contagious. However, it was not just his courage that made people want to join him.  It was also the content of his character.  A reckless man with courage will have a few followers but a courageous man with character will have an army.  It did not take long for Wallace to have an army.
 Is your courage for your mission backed by godly character?

5. A Braveheart leader takes initiative
“I am going to pick a fight.”

Wallace was not reactive – he was proactive.  He had a forward advancing mentality.  He rarely defended himself because he was usually the one with the plan moving forward. His advancements were always strategic and planned. If you are going to make a difference in the world you will have to be a person of initiative.  Passivity will get you no where.
When will you seize initiative and begin to advance you God-given mission? 

6. A Braveheart leader speaks with words that transform the heart
“First learn to use this (head) then I’ll teach you how to use this (sword)”

Wallace was a warrior poet.  Sure everyone wants a Claymore sword after watching Braveheart, but it was the poetry in which he spoke that made him a revolutionary. He never wasted a sentence.  He had developed a way of perceiving and discerning what needed to be said.  He didn’t use meaningless chatter or lofty paragraphs. He used the right words – clear, concise, and passionate – at the right time.  His words pierced the hearts of commoners, nobles, and the Longshanks alike. His 100 second speech at Sterling transformed an army of highlanders and the last word he spoke at his execution is why you left the theatre inspired.
Are you wise and discerning in the way that you speak to those who embrace and oppose your mission?

7. A Braveheart leader is inventive
“Its our wits that make us men”

At a young age Wallace was taught that wits – mental sharpness, keen intelligence, and inventiveness – were more important than the sword.  Mindless rage warfare would only take him so far with the odds stacked against him.  So he continually observed his surroundings and came up with ground breaking strategies. He came up with creative tactics that no one had ever thought about before, which constantly threw his enemies off guard.   His success in battle was primarily due to his ability to invent, not due to the strength of their numbers, skill, or weapons
What creative ideas do you have in place for your mission? 

8. A Braveheart leader surrounds himself with like-minded comrades
“Your a madman”…”I’ve come to the right place then.”

Wallace led hundreds of men, but he seemed to draw much of his strength from his madmen friends the Irishmen and  his childhood friend.  These three men stood together in the midst of ridicule from their enemies and fellow commoners alike.  Their bond was deep, their conversations were transparent, and they had each others back.
Who has your back in the mission you are embarking on?

9. A Braveheart leader is optimistic in the face of the impossible.
“Why…why is that impossible?”

Nearly every word spoken from Wallace was full of optimism and hope for his nation. When the nobles argued about making negotiations with the English, Wallace silently walked away.  When declaring that he would invade England, he was ridiculed by the very men that had just knighted him.  His belief in the impossible, stirred so deeply in Robert the Bruce that Robert told his dying father that he wanted to believe like Wallace believed.  What some saw as impossible barriers Wallace saw as hurdles to climb over.
What are the impossible barriers that you will face as you embrace your mission?

 10. A Braveheart leader empowers others
“You are the rightful leader and there is strength in you. I see it”

Perhaps one of the key traits of Wallace becoming a revolutionary was his ability to see the God-given potential in others.   He didn’t belittle his followers, he elevated them. He declared that his fighting men were free men at the battle of Sterling.  He also took the liberty to tell the future King of Scotland that there was strength in him to lead his people to freedom, and he held nothing back to tell the future queen of England that she must open her eyes when she becomes queen.  All of these people rose to his expectations.
 Do you empower and release people who rally around your cause or stifle them?

11. A Braveheart leader gets strength from God
“I am so afraid. Give me the strength to die well” (Prayer)

Wallace did not rely on his own strength.  He knelt in humility to God before battle and death.  He recognized the true giver of strength and courage and he humbly spoke to God.  The strength, strategies, and resources of men can only go so far without God, but the man who fears God and follows his leading walks in wisdom.
Is God your source of strength and direction for your mission?

12. A Braveheart leader is willing to die for what he believes in
“Every man dies, but not every man really lives”

Many will give their lives to a mission in life but few would give up their lives for it.  The mission Wallace had set out on was so connected to his heart that he was ready and willing to give his life for it.  His freedom fighting mission was the one thing that took him from existing to living.  When he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifices to see freedom became a reality. 
What sacrifices would you be willing to make to advance your mission?

13. A Braveheart leader does not waver
“If I swear to him, then all I am is dead already.”

Wallace would not bend to his enemies pleas or even drink a medicine to numb his pain at his execution.  He would do nothing that would make them think that they had the upper hand. Even during his torturous death when the enemy thinks he is going to recant,  Wallace yells that famous word: FREEDOM!  He went to the end.  He finished strong and never wavered.
What temptations do you foresee that could squelch your mission ?

14. A Braveheart leader leaves a legacy
“You have bled with Wallace.  Now bleed with me!”

Throughout the movie Wallace carries a cloth that continually reminds him why he is living out his mission. It was his love for his wife and the suffering of people of Scotland that had initially moved him to action.  After his death the cloth dropped out of his hand and it was later found in the armor of Scotland’s new King, Robert the Bruce.  Wallace’s passion for freedom was carried forward until  Scotland ultimately won its freedom. 
How will your mission continue to advance beyond your lifetime?

15. A Braveheart leader ……………….? 
In your opinion, what would you say is the 15th trait of a Braveheart Leader?  Feel free to leave your answer in the comments below.

If you want to be happy for a lifetime...

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I love this remixed Chinese Proverb I heard at a Conference.

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a week, go on a vacation.
If you want happiness for a month, get married.
If you want happiness for a year, win the lottery.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, [love God and] help others.

When it is all said and done.  There are only three things that really matter and most likely people will be contemplating one (or all) of these three things about you …when your funeral rolls around.

1. Did you have a growing relationship with Jesus?
2.  Did you live out your life with love, integrity, and character?
3.  Did you help the lives that were around you?

It’s amazing how those three things are not only what people talk about at funerals, but they are also what brings a person to the truest sense of happiness.
Your fortune won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
Your knowledge won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
Your fame won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
Your position won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
Your achievements won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.

May we endeavour to bring people to the truest sense of fulfillment and happiness.

Three Ducks

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Question: Three ducks were sitting on the edge of a fast flowing river.  One of the ducks decides to swim to the other side. How many ducks are left?

Hmm, the quick answer is two, but it sounds like a trick question doesn’t it.

Answer: Three. Just because you (or a duck) decide to do something doesn’t mean that you will actually do it.

But what if one of those ducks actually goes for it. What if one of them dares to take on a fast flowing river to get to the other side…then how many do you have left?

Okay, now the answer must be two, but realistically I still think that is the wrong answer.

Answer: Zero.  When you (or a duck) courageously decide to take a risk for a worthy cause it will often embolden those around you to do the same.

Billy Graham said it this way, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

One of the biggest regrets a person of faith has on their death bed is that they didn’t take more risks.  This is a  reminder that the greatest moments in your life will not take place when you make a decision, but when you act on one.  And you never know who might be inspired to follow you.  Courage inspires courage.

10 ways Fathers distance themselves from their Kids

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Our men's group at church is going through the book Resolution. Last night we talked about 10 things that distance ourselves from our kids and three things that draw us closer to them.  I found these two lists to be a great evaluation tool for me as a dad.
Below is a checklist to evaluate how you are doing raising your kids.  Are you parenting in a way that is drawing your kids closer to you or are you creating distance?

Ten ways fathers distance themselves from their kids

  1. Absence

  2. Anger

  3. Unjust Discipline

  4. Harsh Criticism (Name Calling)

  5. Lack of Compassion

  6. Showing Favoritism

  7. Hypocrisy

  8. Hurting their mother

  9. Misunderstanding

  10. Unrealistic Expectations

Three ways fathers build a close relationship with their kids

  1. Attention

  2. Affirmation

  3. Affection

So what if you read this list and realize that you missed the mark in a few areas.  Maybe your kids are fully grown now and you think that it's too late to restore your relationship.  The sad truth is that there are many children in this world who don't shed a tear at their father's funeral because of the pain they felt from him.   It’s never too late to make things right. One of the best ways to heal the wound in your relationship with your kids is to man up and humbly tell your kids where you went wrong and that you are sorry.  It doesn’t take rocket science to figure that out, but it will force you to swallow some pride. Have your kids ever heard those words out of your mouth?  I've had to say sorry to my kids a few times, and its never easy, but in the end it brings healing, freedom, and it puts the regrets behind you.

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. ~ Colossians 3:21

Leaning on a Shovel

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I live in farm culture.  A place where there is a strong ‘gitter done’ mentality.  If you’re not sweating then your not working.  Infact, the idea of taking a rest, a hiatus, or especially a sabbatical is a foreign concept. Nobody wants to be that guy that was caught leaning on his shovel.  There is some truth in that mentality. It is healthy to steer clear from laziness and to have a strong work ethic, but if a person never takes a break then eventually they themselves will be the one who breaks.

In college a couple of my roommates called me “Busy Biz” because I was always on the go, hoping to accomplish something for Jesus.   Ministry became my obsession.  I was always dreaming and even daring to push the boundaries, but after 14 years ministry began to lose it’s joy.  I had a resume full of places I had gone and people I had ministered to, but it started to feel like a duty rather than a joy.  The thrill of following Christ had faded.   My emotions had gone raw.  My wife took notice of my ministry fatigue and she began to encourage me to take a short break from ministry (a sabbatical).  I initially laughed at the thought of taking an extended break, but she was persistent, and she won the tug-a-war match.

I spent 40 days disengaged from ministry.  I still came up with a plan of things to do like: study my Bible, get healthy, cherish my family, house work, etc. But anything ministry related was out.  No sermons.  No planning.  No dreaming.  It was super hard at first because I felt like I was leaning on my shovel.  But looking back it was one of the best things I have ever done.  It gave me a fresh perspective and rekindled my heart for God an ministry.  Its not the easiest thing for us driven types to do, but now something I plan to do every 7 years (Deuteronomy 31:10).

Why? Because in the long run it makes me stronger and my ministry healthier.

Are you one of those types who keeps pushing hard?  Has it brought you to a place where you are starting to feel your passion fizzle?  If that’s you then maybe its time to take a break and lean into God.

The World's Most Dangerous Place

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A while back, I did an interview with Moody Radio’s program, “Choose this Day”. When the host asked me to tell the listeners about the most dangerous places that I have found myself in, my mind raced to a place that I had not shared about in previous interviews.  I told her that the most dangerous place I had been was the couch in my own living room.  It may sound comical, but it’s true.

Inherently, my couch isn't a dangerous place…for me.  But it is extremely dangerous for the millions of people in the world who are waiting for someone like you and me to fight for them. My couch is dangerous for me, because it tempts me to disengage from the mission that God has given me. My desire for comfort can easily outweigh the cause that God has set for me.

It’s estimated…

  • 27 million people are in slavery right now

  • 4,000 children die from dysentery every day due to unclean water and poor sanitation

  • 100 million people worldwide are homeless and one-third of those people have been uprooted from their home due to a tragedy.

  • 17,000 people have been illegally trafficked into the United States

  • 3 billion people survive on $2/day

  • one-third of the world has never heard about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus

Don’t get me wrong. There is a time to rest, but sleeping our entire life away is dangerous. May we move past being people that react to becoming people that act.

A Warrior’s Prayer

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Lord,

This is my request.  My petition. My desire.  
Give me…

  • a heart to know you like David

  • selfless humility like John the Baptist

  • ears that hear your voice like Samuel

  • unwavering morality like Joseph

  • inspired creativity like Bezalel

  • awe-filled worship like Mary

  • prayers that mean something like Hannah

  • convictions worth dying for like Daniel

  • whatever-it-takes compassion like Esther

  • diehard comrades like Jonathan

  • extreme faith like Abraham

  • courage to go against the odds like Caleb

  • disciple-making vision like Barnabas

  • words that change lives like Peter

  • unfathomable wonders like Elijah

  • fierce determination like Deborah

  • trailblazing zeal like Paul

  • innovative strategies like Joshua

  • resilient stamina like Noah

  • enduring trust like Job

Lord I pray, that you would be gloried with my life and that I would not detour from the legacy that you have set for me.


Is there a person in the Bible that has an attribute that inspires you? Let us know who it is in the comment section.

Braveheart Speeches in the Bible

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A Braveheart speech is given by someone who has found a cause worth dying for.  A cause to make the world a better place. It's poetic and passionate.  It's spoken with unwavering conviction, especially as its looks death in the eye.  It is not spoken by a phony, because those that utter the words speak from the frontlines.  The messenger's authenticity is not questioned, because their scars speak for themselves.

The Bible is full of Braveheart speeches.  Here are a few Braveheart speeches from the Old Testament.  May these speeches continue to echo and inspire us to live boldly for Christ:

God to Joshua before going into Canaan’s Land
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:7-9

Caleb to the cowardly Israelites
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it….the land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”  Numbers 13:30- 14:9

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego before going into the furnace
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver usc from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

Esther to Mordechai before risking her life
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16

Gideon to his army of 300
“Watch me…Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’ ”  Judges 7:17

Deborah to a Fearful Leader
“The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you [Barak]: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands….certainly I will go with you [Barak], but because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman. ….Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?”  Judges 4:6-14

David to Goliath
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LordAlmighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47

Jonathan speaking to his Armor Bearer
“Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost…Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!…We will cross over and let them see us.  If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the LORD’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”  1 Samuel 14: 1-12

Joab to his brother Abishai
“If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you.  Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him.” 1 Chronicles 19:13

I know that there are more.  If you got a favorite one I missed leave it in the comment section.