Archives For Family

Image of the Griswolds not getting spiritually recharged on vacation.It’s been a long time, but I don’t recall thinking the movie Vacation was that funny. Maybe it’s because it hit too close to home – – – planning for a vacation that ended up being a spiritual drain.

How about you? Ever have a vacation where you came back feeling more stressed than when you left?  Isn’t it amazing how that can happen?  You plan rest for months, look forward to a break. And, then you come back having bickered as a family and feeling spiritually depleted.

The solution to that is to be proactive – – plan ahead.  Outline a simple, doable spiritual plan for you and your family.  Your children may roll their eyes but this will be worth it.  Make it your goal to come back from vacation spiritually recharged.

Even in 10-15 minutes a day you could do a few simple things.

Suggestions for Spiritual Renewal on Vacation

Have your whole family read the daily chapter of Proverbs one or more days.  If the date is July 18, then read Proverbs chapter 4.  Have everyone mark at least one verse that stands out and talk about those verses right before you put on the water skis.

You can do the same thing with Psalms.  Start with the date of the month, say Psalm 18, and then add 30 to go through the end of the book.  If it is the 18th, you will read Psalms 18, 48, 78, 108, and 138.  Even one chapter is great.

Or read the book of Philippians or James in the New Testament.  Read just one chapter a day and mark something that stands out to you.

An image of a helicopter in Stillman Valley.Journal a few prayers.

Memorize a Psalm in order to be moved.

Download a few sermons to listen to on your Ipod . . . I can’t resist.

And, attend church if at all possible on Sunday mornings.  Reading a chapter of the Bible over Pop Tarts is not the same as worshiping with God’s people and hearing the Word preached!

If for some reason, your dream vacation this summer is to drive down to Ogle County – – -maybe sightseeing around the nuclear plant, or going to the museum in Byron, then we would love for you to visit The Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley.  This summer, we are meeting at 9:00 on Sunday mornings.

As promised, I provided manly Father’s Day presents for children who did the homework. Our text for today was Ephesians 5:22-6:3 and the central point was that the relationship between husband and wife explain and help us understand the relationship between Christ and the Church, and likewise, the relationship between Christ and the church helps us understand marriage.

Our children shared things they are thankful for about their dads – – how their fathers protect, provide, love, laugh with, and care for them.

From my end, I was reminded once again why I am one of the most blessed pastors on earth. I so enjoyed meeting with children before the service so that we could see what we were giving their dads. And if you look at the pictures, you will see that I even provided gift bags.


If you attend The Red Brick Church picking out presents for Father’s Day just got a whole lot easier. Complete the homework and come by my study early on Sunday. I am even supplying gift bags and tissue paper.

But I recognize that not everyone can attend our church. So I’m here to help you pick out the right kind of gift for your father.

I should say by way of explanation, that for years my wife complained that she finds it difficult to buy presents for me. Inasmuch, as there is no one easier than I am to pick out present for, I found this puzzling. And I have told her as much. Still she remained baffled. Now I realize that I should have taught her how to buy presents.

Here’s the principle. It’s all about verbs. If you identify manly verbs ,then you will easily pick out the presents. Of course, you want examples, so I am supplying the below table (table 1) to spark your thinking.

Manly Verb

Possible Gifts

Poor Choices

Kill Roundup, Raid, Shotgun shells, snap traps Live traps
Eat Chocolate, Bacon, Ice Cream, Carmel Popcorn, Oreos Celery, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
Tape Duct tape, guerilla tape Scotch tape
Grease WD-40, grease, gun grease, heavy weight motor oil Vaseline, vegetable oil
Hammer Hammer, vice grips, screw drivers Knitting needles
Saw Saw, hatchet, ax, chainsaw, power saw Butter knife
Start stuff Ether, Starter fluid, jumper cables Books on dieting
Light Matches, lighter, accelerant, gas, A book on safety

Recognizing that this still may not be enough to help you understand the male mind, I am including a Red Green video below which embodies the sort of ingenuity and resourcefulness which not only won the American West, but continues to help men with remodeling projects, plumbing problems, and various other challenges in life.


Part of our church’s vision for youth is that we would see interaction between different age groups, that is that we would be “intergenerational.” We don’t want to compartmentalize and isolate teens, but rather see them build relationships with our entire church family.

This year it has been a special joy to see our teens lead the drama (and we consider Eric a teen too) for our VBS. The gift they are giving the children of our church is tremendous. Our children are seeing the older church teach them by modeling the joy of Christ and of the gospel.

This doesn’t mean that we never have youth events. We do. There is a place for teens to hang out with teens. But we get really stoked when our teens model Christ for our children (or for any other age group for that matter).


Notice in the below picture that my wife (lower right) is a pastor’s wife in action!

Do your homework — come by my office before church – – and I’ll supply you with a Father’s Day present–sure to please the man in your home. But you must complete the homework and leave a comment on the assignment post from earlier this week. Share something you’re thankful for about your father so I know how many presents to supply.

My wife has occasionally lamented that it’s hard for her to pick out presents for me. She has a point. I like to get books and since I already own most of what it is in print, it is hard for her to know what to buy. I tend to have very eclectic tastes.

I once suggested that Jamie buy me a tool (I owned zero tools at the time). So she bought me a hacksaw, which she later used to “hack” the bottom off a closet door, but then that’s a different story. She thought a hacksaw looked like a tool I should own.

I also like camera gear, but good gear is a little pricey and, again, she doesn’t know what is on my wish list. If she gets me a full frame camera, I will be very happy. But ONLY if she robs a bank (in a Christian sort of way) in order to pay for it.

All of which is to say, I assume that my wife and kids are not the only ones who struggle in picking out Father’s Day presents. But, hey, I’m here to help! I understand the male mind. If you visit our church on Sunday, and come by my study from 8:30-8:45 AM (but don’t be late) and if you do your homework – – – including leaving a blog comment, then I will supply you with a Father’s Day gift that guys are sure to like. (I impose a limit of 1-2 per family).

But the important thing – – -and a great way to prepare for Father’s Day together – – is to prayerfully read God’s Word together as a family.

Would you share something about your father for which you are thankful? This is for our church family in a special way.

  1. Read Ephesians 5:22-6:4 Aloud
  2. Prayerfully Thank God for your home – Maybe each person in the family thank God for one aspect of your home.
  3. Couples share with your children the story of how you met. Even if you know the story very well, they need to hear it again. Can you think of some new part of the story?
  4. Tell us something you are thankful for about your father – – In order to complete this question, you have to respond on my blog! You don’t have to put your full name. First names or initials are fine.  But on Father’s Day Ben will take care of Father’s who children did a good job being thankful!

Often the most hurting people I pastor are those who have family members who have turned their back on Christ. Below, Jon Bloom reminds us that Jesus knew this pain directly.

Jon Bloom:

Do you, like me, have family members who do not believe in Jesus? If so, we are in good company. So did Jesus. And I think this is meant to give us hope.

According to the Apostle John, “not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5). That’s incredible. Those who had lived with Jesus for 30 years really did not know him. Not one of Jesus’ brothers is mentioned as a disciple during his pre-crucifixion ministry. But after his resurrection and ascension, there they are in the upper room worshiping him as God (Acts 1:14).

Why didn’t they believe? And what made them change?

The Bible doesn’t answer the first question. But I’ll bet it was difficult to have Jesus for a brother.

First, Jesus would have been without peer in intellect and wisdom. He was astounding temple rabbis by age 12 (Luke 2:42, 47). A sinful, fallen, gifted sibling can be a hard act to follow. Imagine a perfect, gifted sibling.

Second, Jesus’ consistent and extraordinary moral character must have made him odd and unnerving to be around. His siblings would have grown increasingly self-conscious around him, aware of their own sinful, self-obsessed motives and behavior, while noting that Jesus didn’t seem to exhibit any himself. For sinners, that could be hard to live with. . .

Read the rest here.

Mark Cuban:

Remember the housing meltdown ? Tough to forget isn’t it. The formula for the housing boom and bust was simple. A lot of easy money being lent to buyers who couldn’t afford the money they were borrowing. That money was then spent on homes with the expectation that the price of the home would go up and it could easily be flipped or refinanced at a profit.  Who cares if you couldn’t afford the loan. As long as prices kept on going up, everyone was happy. And prices kept on going up. And as long as pricing kept on going up real estate agents kept on selling homes and finding money for buyers.

Until the easy money stopped.  When easy money stopped, buyers couldn’t sell. They couldn’t refinance.  First sales slowed, then prices started falling and then the housing bubble burst. Housing prices crashed. We know the rest of the story. We are still mired in the consequences.

Can someone please explain to me how what is happening in higher education is any different ? . . .

Read the rest here.


Joe Carter:

The Story: “It used to be called illegitimacy,” says the New York Times. “Now it is the new normal.” Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America: More than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

The Background: In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a top Labor Department official and later a U.S. senator from New York, warned of a “tangle of pathology” that was resulting from the number of black children—25 percent—that were being born out of wedlock. Today, 73 percent of black children, 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites, are born outside marriage.

Read the rest here.