Share this resource with your pastor or youth minister, just in time for the Father’s Day Sermon! Just Wow! https://www.podcastseminary.com/fathers-day-sermon-prep/
Special Father’s Day Devotion
You’re a great dad– or at least trying.
Now it’s time to begin thinking about upping your game, by setting your sights on the real prize: Winning Your Children’s “World’s Greatest Dad” Award OR AT LEAST the title of “Hero.”
But what does it take to become our kids’ champion?
It’s probably not what you think. Oh sure, “things” are nice.
Kids always enjoy stuff, after all. … Another pair of Vans shoes. A new A&F t-shirt. The latest and greatest mobile phone.
But then what? What do we do after our kid’s survival (aka “hygiene”) needs are secured? Easy.
Kids are Relatively Easy to Please
Most kids are surprisingly easy to please– much easier than other people in our lives (you know who I’m talking about!). Kids, first and foremost, want YOU; not stuff you give them. Now, that doesn’t mean that our kids don’t have moments of weakness. They are, of course, susceptible to the occasional materialistic binge. That’s understood. But, when it all comes down to it, our kids want to believe– and to know with certainty– that we love them unconditionally.
And to them, unconditional love means having your time. Relax– not “all” of it. Nobody said that. But SOME of it. That’s reasonable, yes? As someone rightly said, “Love” is spelled “T-I-M-E.” So giving OURSELVES to our kids is the quickest way to be coronated as the Official “King” of Your Castle. And failing to give time to our kids is a great way to slowly fall from the pedestal of paternal glory into irrelevant ignobility. (Don’t know what ignobility is? Well, it ain’t good).
Read: “Distraction Free” Time
So kids want some of our time. And they want it undistracted from whatever it is that distracts us.
You know, like… your preoccupation with work. Or griping about cutthroat fast food drive-through workers and slow baristas. Or that phone of yours.
Now, I’m “as OR more” hyper-connected to technology as anybody. But there are boundaries. Like going to dinner tonight without my phone, so I could focus on my family. The fact is, we need these types of boundaries. We have to remember that Technology is a “Little G-god” that can command all of our thinking and time. Not because we’re bad people, but because we need a distraction from the crushing weight of, you know, running the world– or whatever we do.
The key to giving our kids “time” isn’t taking them to Dairy Queen and buying them a giant Dilly Bar to occupy their mouths, so we don’t have to talk to them about their day. Sorry– just trying to keep it real.
So, to summarize, kids (wives, anyone?) want “focused-only-on-them” time; distraction free. If you can do that, you’re half-way to Goal Line Glory, where you can spike the Father’s Day football for winning the day.
But then what? Or, better, HOW exactly should we spend this distraction-free time with our kids?
Ahh. Good question.
That’s a question I was discussing with a trusted friend just today. A friend who, by the way, has had an ongoing and significant influence on the way I am building this ministry.
The Sure-Fire Way to Clinch Your Kid’s “Hero” Title
First, as I said, let’s assume that basic survival/called “hygiene needs” are already met. Now, if not, then let’s make that happen. Without essentials being met, kids become insecure. That that insecurity leads to fear. Unresolved fear leads to bitterness and the embrace of someone or something who promises to provide the security that we can’t or won’t. Don’t let that happen.
But on to the central issue here: Becoming Our Kid’s or Kids’ (for all you English majors out there) Hero.
I believe that there are 3 things better than mere material things (“stuff”) that will utterly excite and fascinate the imagination of your kids and draw them infinitely closer to you. Here they are:
1. Provide Memorable Experiences
Experiences can produce memories, but for life-changing experiences and riveting and unforgettable experiences, you’ll need to do more than just “show up.” I suggest planning for memory-making… Otherwise the experience alone (and whatever happens to happen, planned or not) can dictate the content of the memory.
So my advice is to begin by creating a meaningful experience. And what, exactly, constitutes this type of experience?
First, create an experience that is novel-different/utterly unique OR at least a different version of something familiar.
Second, make that novel experience multi-sensory. Making experiences multi-sensory means deliberately thinking about how you can include the five senses.
Sense 1: Engage their Hearing or sound. Try playing fave songs-radio or relying on the diverse sounds from the place or event or experience.
Sense 2: Engage their Sight or vision. Think about visually -stimulating visuals, views, or perspectives. Example: instead of just going to dinner, wait on a seat with a view of the vineyard (disclaimer: stock art, not my bottle of wine) or on the top floor, in the kitchen itself like at Buca de Peppo, or in the private dining room like the Pope Room, or wherever.
Sense 3: Engage their Sense of Taste. Enhance the memory with a drink, food, or meal. For example, a trip down to Balboa Island in Newport Beach isn’t complete without the added memory of a frozen banana. There’s about a million ways to enhance the experience in nearly any situation.
Sense 4: Engage their Sense of Smell. Smell is perhaps the strongest sense and provides powerful memories. It can be highlighted or remembered. Imagine retelling the story where you say, “Kids, do you remember the overpowering salty smell of the foaming waves on our trip to La Jolla Beach on the afternoon we searched for new sea shells to decorate your bathroom?
Sense 5: Engage their Sense of Touch. To touch is to experience and to know. There is something about the tactile nature of things and the impression they make on us.
Sixth Sense: Then seal the deal and make it memorable with cheap or expensive, but most importantly “meaningful” keepsakes, tokens, whatnots, photos, or photo albums (like chatbooks), or by adding meaningful discussions, prayers of remembrance, and so on.
You’ll find that a little planning can make it really unforgettable… Then your kids have tons of memories, all good, all shiny and polished, and experiences with you that can’t be forgotten… And those reduce the impact of material things– which (often though maybe not always) will be viewed as little more than useless trinkets when compared to these amazing experiences you provide your kids.
2. Spiritual Wisdom and Godly Advice
Add to those things providing your kids with “spiritual wisdom” or godly life advice. Kids want AND need your wisdom. You have experienced more life than they have. You, of all people, can give your kids loving direction. That doesn’t mean overdoing it. Kids have a certain tolerance level for sage advice, even ours. So it’s important to give life advice and wisdom to our kids, along with an open door and our encouragement to discuss “things that matter” to them at any time. One thing I’ve said over the years, particularly the last 11 years since my mom passed away, is that I wish I’d gotten more advice. It’s not so much that I didn’t figure some things out along the way, but experience is a cruel teacher. Life’s touch is not as soft as a loving mom’s or dad’s advice. For that reason, I give my own sons advice. And mostly I think they appreciate it and take it for what it is. Our kids need that, whether or not we think they need (or want) it. And they often do!
3. Inject Experiences With Adventure and Play
Finally, deliberately work to make events with your kids to be fun and ‘times of play,’ mingled with adventure. If you do this, you’ll always win with your kids.
Make It Happen
We all want to be great dads. We want to win the day. That is a title that is earned. And we can rightly take the Throne of our Family Fiefdom if we’ll give our kids and families these important things: memorable experiences, wisdom, and adventure.
Give these, all wrapped up in T.I.M.E., and you’ll quickly become their hero. That’s something all the material things in the world can’t compete against.
Make Plans Now to Make This Father’s Day a special time with your amazing kids– and they’ll celebrate you as their amazing dad!
Happy Father’s Day, Dads!
Me with my Sons on a Special Recent Trip
Secret Sin: How to Understand and Avoid It
One of the most tricky and insidious forms of disobedience is Secret Sin. Secret sin “happens” because of all kinds of reasons, but they seem to be rooted in either raging against living in a fish bowl of maintaining a life of perfection OR the simple desire for living with unaccountable personal autonomy (to do whatever we want) without suffering the ramifications of our decisions.
Most of the time secret sin tempts us because we feel as if we’re living in a fishbowl– a life where we live with ‘glass houses’ and everybody knows our business and scrutinizes our lives to the nth degree. That can be too much to take, especially when we live for people’s approval instead of seeking the authenticity of living for the Lord and Him alone.
Let’s face it, certain types of behaviors are not tolerated in society– nor by conscience. So people learn to cover their tracks by being crafty. This leads to the issue of secret sin.
Secret Sin Can Contaminate Us in Part and as a Whole
Though sin cannot be completely contained—since it, in truth, corrupts our entire beings—at the same time, humans have the ability to partition our hearts. When we want to hide our sin from being exposed, we partition our lives—like a house, where certain interior rooms have no doors and complete access is given, but other rooms have locked doors where those rooms’ contents are hidden. Humans are like that—we sometimes lock certain areas of our hearts from God and others, and allow ourselves unfettered freedom in those areas—areas that Satan exploits by concentrating certain areas of our lives with targeted contamination.
Secret Sin Causes us to Compartmentalize Bad Behavior
Sin creates psychological disorder. It affects us at a very deep and profound level. It disfigures our souls. It corrupts our minds. But we have the ability to be or pretend to be good and upright in certain areas of our character. So certain parts of us seem upright, while allowing other areas of our character to be corrupted.
There are times that certain areas of our lives seem untouched by sin, and that it destroys other areas of our personality entirely. We’ve seen this all our lives. Think of the many news stories where someone is the greatest neighbor in the world— but is found out to be a sadist and sociopath.
Secret Sin Makes Integrity Impossible
There’s the sad story of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a man who had dozens of bodies buried in the crawl space under his home. This same man has photos with him and the wife of President Jimmy Carter together. He was able to keep it together and seem like a pleasant person while “part” of his life was cordoned off, while the other part contained this monster.
He regressed into a wonderfully kind person who dressed up like a clown and, by all accounts, entertained children at birthday parties and, as far as we know, never harmed a child. But that same man was demonized toward young men. He victimized 33 people in all, while being known as a public do-gooder.
That’s an extreme example, but it’s a common thing for people to have areas of secret sin, where our lives are allowed to be out of control—areas that Satan uses to corrupt us.
So as people, we sin—and can become enslaved to sin. But the problem is that sin never does, nor can it, satisfy. Because only God can fill the deepest needs of human beings.
Sin Predictably Fails to Bring Lasting Satisfaction
At last, sin fails to bring lasting satisfaction. Sin has lots of effects. It harms us and besets us. We should do everything we can to avoid it.
Watch the Video Version of this Post
What Does the Bible Say About Youth Ministry?
1) The Industrial Revolution and Challenging Economic Times for Families Led Children Into the Work Force Where they Faced Adult Situations and Adult Temptations.
2) More Educational Opportunities For Young People Delayed Their Move Into Full Adult Society and Its Responsibilities.
3) Delayed Adulthood (for those not going into the work force and spending more time in school) Resulted in Young People Having More Identity Crises and Moral Challenges.
Enter Youth Ministry
Understanding the Importance of Communication Savvy
Perhaps the two most important aspects of most information-laden professions and leadership in general are (1) becoming a strong writer and (2) becoming a strong speaker. This is because of the importance and priority of communication and its central role in leadership and life.
Today I want to share what a power communicator must have. There was a resource offered a number of years ago that referenced this concept, but I’d like to unpack these ideas a little more here.
Those of us who put food on the table through our teaching/preaching/speaking think a lot about communication. And as an educator, I spend time considering how to help undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral pastoral and ministry students become the best communicators they can possibly be. I want to bring balance to the issue by highlighting three enormously important issues for communicators and those who train them.
Three Components of Power Communicators
To become a power communicator capable of shaking the earth, three power principles must be mastered:
There are those who sometimes teach or speak who are entertaining to hear, but who fail to deliver the goods. When life (or people, time, resources, business, money, influence, whatever your thing) is on the line, the one thing you must do is put the cookies on the bottom shelf. Meaning, you MUST bring home the bacon; you MUST ring the bell; you must shuck the corn. Whatever analogy you want to employ, it’s crucial that if you’re going to speak, you have something to say. Some people don’t. Others think they do, but can’t produce. Content is an enormous priority for the speaker– in many ways THE priority. Don’t neglect the content. Don’t abuse the message. It’s the only reason you’re really speaking in the first place.
In addition to WHAT one says, however, is HOW one says it. A really common and unfortunate mistake that many ineffective communicators make is to assume that CONTENT (substance) is all that really matters in speaking. This could be a painful statement, but the people who make that false assumption are generally poor communicators. Any strong communicator knows that connecting with an audience is by no means restricted to the substance of the talk.
So, in addition to substance is SOUL. “Soul” has to do with the communicator’s inner man. His or her inner self. The best communicators are able to transcend the limits of language and place their very hearts on display. They reveal primal emotions, potent convictions, and powerful attitudes. They can release the best of their personhood and vitality in the moment of truth. They have such a command of their ‘selfhood’ and security in their identity that they are able to project whatever their subject calls for: authority, passion, motivation, intimacy, compassion, angst, inspiration, humor, gratitude– whatever it may be, to their listeners– making them feel and think and want to do the same thing. Without soul, we’re only talking heads. Without soul, we have no heart. Without soul, we’re old news– we’re just another tired talker, but not a power communicator. Release the fullness of your best self when you step onto the platform or when you stand in that sacred desk.
Substance is a must. Soul is indispensable. But your speech must also sizzle. After you’ve done the hard work of study, reflection, hermeneutics, exegesis, research, thought, meditation and speaking prep, if you are incapable of bringing the heat, you will likely lose many of your listeners. So it’s not only what you say, but how you say it. It’s not just being an effective speaker and having a handle on grammar and syntax. It’s also making sure that you have a powerful command on vocabulary that you can draw from at a moment’s notice in order to paint a masterpiece to your audience or the congregation.
Can you make it “SING?” Can you allow the Spirit of God to breathe life into that dry manuscript and make the bones live? When you speak, does it pop? Does it happen? Does it thrill and excite and stimulate the learner. Does it force the listener to think, feel, and act? The best speakers have a near hypnotic command of their audience in such a way that the person loses all track of time and, as you speak, their hearts burn within them. Though, in Christian speaking, the power of God sometimes falls on a situation, to be sure– but do not confuse that supernatural act with the need for personal effort in selling what you say with a little sizzle.