Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mustache March Update

A few of you know that I'm participating in Mustache March. Here are picture updates:

This is the preferred look from the ladies in the house. Smooth to the touch with no stay whiskers. Claire will actually give an inspection to see if I missed any spots.

Michelle says it's going to be a long month. Claire keeps telling me that I forgot to save under my nose. Madalynn doesn't seem to care.

My attempts to inform the girls that this is what testosterone is like are being ignored. Michelle is happier that I trimmed the stache but still doesn't like it. Claire has made it quite clear that I need to shave. Madalynn curiously touched my upper lip but refused to do so again.

One step at a time,

Monday, March 15, 2010

So How Much Can I Learn in One Day?

This past Sunday Michelle and I took the girls to visit another church in our quest to find a fellowship home. The day turned out to be one that taught me a few things reminded me of a few things that I already knew. To give a bit of background on how the day started my intentions was that we would take the rainy day off and rest. I was recovering from having a cold that Claire gave me. On top of being the third trimester, Michelle is battling the cold that I just gave her. Needless to say, I felt justified as the spiritual leader in the house to raise the white flag even before I got out of bed. That was until Claire climbed in bed and asked if today was “church day” and when were we leaving. Michelle (who was already out of bed) said to me, “That’s the second time she has asked, so what are we going to do”?

In my astute wisdom I said, “Are you serious?” After contemplating the fact that Claire is basically saying, “Stop making excuses, get out of bed and lets go to church Daddy. How am I going to grow up to be a Godly woman if you can’t even summon enough energy to take me to church?” Knowing full well that we would be late, we all hurried and got out the door as quick as we could. I don’t know why, but I was surprised to find ourselves pulling out of the driveway in record time. I was even more surprised that with D.C. traffic we made it to church with plenty of time to spare.

By the time that we made it inside I knew that we were going to have a good visit. Just by looking at the program it is evident that they have a definite focus on children, one of our main concerns in a church. After sitting down Claire noticed a group of kids on stage ready to sing and says, “Daddy, I want to go on stage too!” Now this is coming from the shy girl that in previous performances at school that never sang or did hand motions. At this point nothing surprises anymore.

Michelle left to drop Madalynn off in the nursery after the praise and worship. I was astonished to hear that (remember I’m not surprised anymore) there were ample amount of people to help fill out the necessary paperwork, give Michelle a security tag and start prepping Madalynn for the separation from Mommy. Then I was even more astonished that Madalynn didn’t get shed a single tear. Both Michelle and Madalynn were happy with the nursery experience.

Due to Claire wanting something to drink in the midst of the message, I wasn’t able to hear all of it but what I liked what I heard. It was centered on Romans 3:10-23. Essentially we need to have the right mindset of sin. We are sinners not mistakers. I am a sinner that will find excuses to not obey. Essentially my plan for a lazy Sunday morning was a result of the sin in my life and if I let it would prevent me from finding the church body that God was called my family to join. At the core of my excuse is sin…it’s not a mistake. The pastor used the following statements from Andy Stanley, “If everything I do wrong can be dumbed down to where it's just a mistake, then that makes me a mistaker—which means I don't have sin in my life. If I don't have sin, I'm not a sinner, and if I'm not a sinner, I don't have any need for a Savior. If you're just a mistaker, then all you have to do is do better; if I'm a sinner, then simply trying harder isn't going to get it done”. It isn’t something that I can “do” myself; even at my best I still need a Savior. Claire and I met Michelle after the sermon and quickly decided that we will attend this church again next week.

So here are my lessons learned:
Lesson #1: Although it is my responsibility to be the spiritual leader in the family, I can learn an awful lot from my kids. Obviously Claire has taken in a lot of things that Michelle and I have tried to teach her so she knows that going to church is important. Don’t ruin everything that she already knows by inserting a mindset that church is something that can be skipped.

Lesson #2: At the core, my laziness is a sin. It’s this sin that keeps me from doing the small things that I recently mentioned. It’s this sin would have prevented me from fellowshipping with my family and a new church. It’s this sin that leads me to think that I know what’s best for the family on a rainy Sunday morning. I grateful that Claire reminds me what we are called to do and that I took the spiritual leadership seat behind my 4 year olds direction.

One step at a time,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Your Crucial Choices have Already Been Determined

Since my last post I’ve been thinking just why we keep doing the things that we don’t want to do even though we know we shouldn’t. Sometime this week I was reminded of a quote from one of our former Presidents, Ronald Reagan. The quote is actually taken out of a speech he gave at The Citadel’s 1993 Graduation Ceremony ( Setting all political agendas aside it is a great speech. Here is the quote:

“For you see, the character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined. It has been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments. It has been determined by all the little choices of years past—by all those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation—whispering the lie that it really doesn't matter. It has been determined by all the day-to-day decisions made when life seemed easy and crises seemed far away—the decisions that, piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness, habits of self-sacrifice or of self-indulgence, habits of duty and honor and integrity—or dishonor and shame. Because when life does get tough, and the crisis is undeniably at hand—when we must, in an instant look inward for strength of character to see us through—we will find nothing inside ourselves that we have not already put there.”
Why do we keep doing the things I don’t want to do? Well we’ve taught ourselves to do them with all of the small choices we’ve made. We’ve developed a life full of laziness and zero self-discipline. When times get hard and the pressure is bearing down, we simply lack the history of making the right choices. In my mind, it absurd to actually think you can go against your nature and make the right choice at the moments of your choosing. I tend to think that these moments are where I am called to glorify God. Yet that goes against what we’ve been commanded to do. 1 Cor 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. It’s not just the big things such as what should my next job be, what school should the kids attend, what church should we join, etc. We must consider all aspects of our lives as areas to obey and glorify God.

Once we get to the point where we understand that the smaller choices are just as important as the bigger ones we will have set ourselves up for future success. The habit of obeying God in all aspects of our lives will enable us to obey God is the times of true temptation and pressure. It’s honoring God in the small things that builds the habit of maintaining the right focus and self discipline that proves invaluable in honoring God in the big things.

One step at a time,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Delayed obedience is still disobedience

A few years ago I learned that very insightful point about Christianity. Of course the fact that I’m stubborn and slow to learn things myself it has taken quite a long time for it to sink in and to be honest it’s something that I still struggle with everyday. I was reminded of this point when reading Psalm 119:32, “If you will help me, I will run to follow your commands” (NLT). Notice the verse did not say we are to walk, crawl, get around to or when you have the energy follow God. We are to run. One dictionary gives the following definition of running: fast movement: rapid movement on foot, with long strides and both feet momentarily off the ground. So even though know this verse to be true why I can’t bring myself to the point where both feet are off the ground at the same time still haunts me. I know what I should do but I simply don’t do it…see Romans 7:15 for a better explanation. The only way I can make sense of this struggle is to relate it to my running habits. A personal relationship with Christ and running are both areas that must rely on consistency.

Call me insane but running is actually quite calming and invigorating once you get past the point of thinking you will die! If you have ever started running either for the first time or coming back from a hiatus you can relate that those first few outing really seem impossible as the aches and pains in your legs and the shortness of breath lets you know just how out of shape you are. However, once you get to the point where you’ve reached a few milestones you actually realize that you are running with relative ease. Things get easier as the “dreadmill” is no longer something to dread, the miles on your running program are no longer to be feared.

The same can be true with your walk with Christ; it takes courage and faith to start trusting God. If you are a new Christian or one that is trying to come back from your spiritual hiatus it is hard. You might even feel like you are going to die after five days. Once again realizing just how far sin puts you away from Christ brings about an eye opening moments. Facing the honest truth of However, with consistency it will get easier, you will stop dreading the quiet times and the realization of just how out of shape you are with Christ.

So how does this relate to the title of this post? We have been called to obey God, Deuteronomy 13:4 “It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him”. We are not given to option of choosing when to obey. We are not given the option obeying when it doesn’t hurt. We are called to obey, right now. If you need some additional rational thinking, it doesn’t get any easier if you wait to start running. The same with obedience, the longer it takes for you to start the more it hurts and the harder it is to keep going. Want good news? 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”, obedience to God will be rewarded. God is faithful in all he does.

I’m also reminded of friend who was involved in a very intense and rigorous try-out for the Summerall Guards ( While running in this initiation he often found himself praying, “Lord, if you keep picking my feet up off the ground, I will keep bringing them back down”. I need to remember this prayer and that God isn’t going to call me to run a marathon unless, he has trained me for it so go ahead and start running to follow his commands…I have nothing to fear.

One step at a time,