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Looks Can Be Deceiving

“She looks just like you!”

I said that to someone I had recently started working with, about her daughter. Then she told me their daughter was adopted.

An Adoption

My sister was adopted. It was public and well known. Most adoptions are not that way, but this was different.

  1. They adopted when I was 10, my brothers were 13 and 12.
  2. When you show up for church one Sunday with a baby, it gets noticed.
  3. Everyone knew my parents didn’t have a baby girl.
  4. And she didn’t resemble either parent.
  5. She was from Viet Nam.  

The Resemblance

No, she obviously didn’t favor either parent. But when she learned to talk, she talked like us. Her mannerisms reflected those of our family. She ate what we ate, did what we did, and went where we went. She was ours and we were hers. We belonged to each another. We were the same, we were family.

How That Happened?

Here are some things that made her one of us:

  1. She had our name.
  2. She had our values.
  3. She was believed as we believed. 
  4. She was loved equally and in the same way as her brothers.
  5. She was a Fyffe, through and through.

A Spiritual Adoption 

Paul wrote in Ephesians that God adopted us into his family, 1:5. That we are the Father’s workmanship, the result of his divine will, 2:10. That we were given his name, 3:14. And that we grow to become like him, 5:1-2.

We were created in the image of God, but that wasn’t about appearance. My sister didn’t look like my parents, but they were her parents, she was our sister, and we were one.

Our spiritual identity comes from God. We wear his name, reflect his values, and share his purpose. We became one with him.

  1. Identity
  2. Name
  3. Character
  4. Purpose
  5. Family

It all came from him, it all points to him.

To Close

We look different, but we were adopted and fitted into God’s family. It’s not about who you look like, but who you belong to.

I said to my friend, “She looks just like you!” Spiritually, we all look like the Father.  

familyworship-750x500

Shalom

Homemade Cards Are Best

It’s Father’s Day!

Homemade-Fathers-Day-Card-Ideas-6
Not a card I ever made for my Dad, but close, really very close.

Some Facts:

  • Sonora Dodd, daughter of a Civil War vet, pushed for a day for Fathers.
  • President Johnson proclaimed the 3rd Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
  • President Nixon made it a Federal holiday.
  • There are 70.1 million Fathers in the US.
  • Father’s Day spending will reach 12.7 billion.
  • Mother’s Day spending reached 21 billion.

Inspired by Fathers

I’m encouraged, and even inspired, when I see men working at being good Fathers. It’s not easy to be a good one. It takes no effort at all to be a bad one.  

Good Fathers are invested in their kids. They aren’t MIA but PAI. (Present and Involved) Good Dads aren’t frustrated when they, “Have to make time,” for their children. They aren’t bothered by their constant need for his help, understanding, and connection.

Dad’s don’t always know the right thing to do, or how to do it. And that’s hard because men derive significance and worth from doing things well. They sometimes avoid the things they are unsure about. But not the parenting, sure or not, Dad’s hang in there. 

Five Characteristics of Great Dads

  1. Has a growing and evident patience.
  2. Can be fun, even silly, but not childish.
  3. Recognizes that parenting is all about the kids.
  4. Believes he is the primary example of faith and Godliness.
  5. Leads his family from his heart and with his mind.

I love watching Dads. They’re busy playing catch, riding bikes, going fishing, playing dolls, having tea parties, attending events, and beaming with pride. Fathers have mastered the art of strutting while sitting down. I know I did. 

Good parenting isn’t instinctive, it isn’t inherited. It requires commitment, effort, and humility. It demands buckets and barrels of love.

To Close

Enjoy the cards and the gifts, and thanks for all you do, you are the best!

Happy Father’s Day!

The New Steam Mop

Some assembly required. That’s what it said on the box.

The Steam Mop

My wife loves her steam mop. It’s her primary cleaning device and her go to machine.

What Happened?

It died. From the dirt it came and to the dirt it returned. Actually, it returned to the land fill. She mourned. She grieved She waited an appropriate amount of time then ordered a new one. Way to go Amazon!

The Arrival

It arrived in a big box that was inside an even bigger box. Eventually, it got unboxed. She said, “Honey, I got it out of the box. But I don’t feel like putting it together tonight. I’ll do it in the morning.”

In my marriage, that’s code for, “Would you help me or just do it for me?” I did.

steam-mop-wood-floor
Not my wife’s new steam mop or her feet, slippers or floor but close, really very close

The Assembly

Some assembly was required. I went to get tools. “The right tool for the right job,” that’s what Dad always said. I got pliers and a hammer. What do I know about the right tools?

However, in no time at all it was assembled. Maybe a little time. Maybe more.

And Then…

Then she said, “Hey, what’s this for?” She held up a piece of hardware. I had no idea. I reread the directions and reexamined the diagrams that illustrated the directions. I stared and glared. I imagined where I would go and what I would do if I were it. Nope.

I went to bed.  

To Close

The leftover piece of hardware wasn’t for assembly, but for its use. My wife figured it out by reading the operating manual, which I had chosen to ignore due to my being male. She shouted, “I figured it out!” Uh huh, some assembly indeed.

My wife loves her new steam mop.

The Constant Counting

How high can you count? Ever tried?  It’s tougher than you think.

Challenges to Counting

  • Falling asleep at 231.
  • The Boss: “Stop counting and start working”
  • Irritating people by counting out loud.
  • Sneezing, losing your place, having to start over.
  • Not sure what comes after a trillion.

Things People Count

People count sheep, their money, and their kids. Some people count beans, like accountants. We count the number of tickets sold. The pills left in a prescription bottle. The miles to get someplace and the miles left to get there. Kids count the days until school is out and the days until Christmas.

We look up into the clear night sky and count the stars.

counting stars
How high can you count? How many stars are there? 

When Something Really Matters

Counting isn’t always about numbers. Teachers say, “This test counts for half your final grade.” Coaches say, “Alright, let’s make this one count!” A patient, “Doctor, does flossing count for every tooth?” The Dentist, “No, just for the ones you want to keep.”

The Spiritual

There’s a book in the bible named Numbers, it counts bunches of stuff.

Pastors and Ministers say, “We’re not all about nickels and noses.” But everything and everyone gets counted all the time.

Jesus appointed twelve apostles. He sent out the seventy. The baptisms on the day of Pentecost were counted. Paul wrote about his persecutions and gave a number for how many times each thing happened.

A Preacher’s Story

During his sermon the preacher noticed a boy looking up at the ceiling. After the service, he asked…

Preacher: “Why were you staring up at the ceiling?”

Boy: “I was counting.”

Preacher: “I see, how high did you get?”

Boy: “176.”

Preacher: “Why did you stop at a hundred and seventy-six?”

The boy: “That’s how many holes are in each of the ceiling tiles.”

To Close

We count the days until vacation, the dollars in the account, and the beds to be made. Lots of things get counted.

But for today, what matters most? What is it that really counts?

Shalom

 

Baseball’s Grand-Slam!

Our home team Houston Astros are having a winning season.

A Fan

I enjoy baseball. It’s not my favorite sport, but I like it. For me, baseball is better when I’m in the stadium.

The Pace

It’s the pace. Baseball can be a bit slow. Then, just when you are losing interest, BAM, there’s a homer! Everyone leaps to their feet in raucous celebration. 

Saturday Afternoon

The Astro’s were having their, “Faith and Family Night.” That means that after the game there are testimonials from players who are believers, and a concert with a popular Christian band. A group from our church attended the game and the concert.

Except For Us

We were at the game and looking forward to Mercy Me performing. But we had neglected to check our parking ticket stub. We were required to vacate the parking garage by 7:00. The band didn’t start till nearly 7:00. So, we missed it, we missed Mercy Me who is one of our favorite Christian bands. We love their songs about Jesus.

Speaking of Missing It

For some years, it’s been on my mind that Jesus isn’t named in the Old Testament, not in the Law of Moses, the Psalms, or the Prophets. Which seemed odd to me. Why not mention his name? Why not reveal who the Messiah would be?

There are hundreds of Messianic prophecies, but not his name.

Then I discovered something. Jesus was named in the Old Testament, many times. I had missed it and it was right there in plain sight.

To Close

This morning, at the Southeast Church in Friendswood, Texas, I’ll be attempting to teach this discovery to my congregation. If you are local your are welcome to join us at 8:30 or 10:45, or you can watch the live stream: www.southeastonline.org

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Like baseball, the scriptures can seem a bit dull or slow in places. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, BAM, there is a homer, a grand-slam! And it’s a get up and celebrate moment!

Shalom

“Cutting and Pruning”

Three unending necessities: cutting and pruning.

The Back Yard

My back yard is mostly swimming pool, with flower beds lining the fence on three sides. There is no grass, but there’s plenty of everything else:

  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Flowers
  • Bushes
  • Roses
  • Jasmine
  • Ground cover

The Challenge

The challenge is that it all wants to expand, climb, and thrive. If left alone for more than a week, it turns into jungle. So, it necessitates constant cutting, pruning, thinning, and shaping. 

pruning-roses
It’s unending: the cutting, pruning, thinning and shaping. 

Options?

I could pay a service to handle it. I could uproot and tear it all out. I could leave it to its natural state of unchecked growth.

Or, I can keep taking care of it so it keeps looking beautiful.

Now Jesus

“I am the vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me  that bears no fruit, while very branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)

A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So, he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’” (Luke 13:6-7)

Jesus understood vineyards and orchards. Good fruit grows from good trees and healthy vines.

To Close

We are planted in the vineyard of Christ, and he’s looking for fruit. He cuts off the unfruitful branches and prunes the fruitful ones.

Either way, we’re being cut and pruned, its life in the kingdom.

Hang tough.

A Tired Treadmill

It’s Thursday morning, and I just returned from the gym. It was brutal.

Why?

Some mornings I’m energized and ready for a great work out. Then there’s the other kind, the kind I had today. Don’t really understand why. Maybe it’s a lack of calories, or maybe a poor night’s sleep. Or both?

Limping Through

That’s how it felt, just limping through. It’s the work out I couldn’t wait to finish. Any amount of weight was too much to lift. Any kind of aerobics were too aggressive. The stretching was painful. I gave it a shot. But after 30 minutes, I went home. 

700-02798064
Not me or my gym, but close, really very close.

And Now…

Well, and now I’m blogging about it. Why? Because it’s on my mind and it’s my blog and I can waste the readers time with something innocuous if I want too. Sorry.

A Lesson?

Maybe. Let’s see, is there something I can link this to, something of value? Hmmm. Well, here goes:

  • Perseverance: nothing good comes easy
  • Patience: nothing good happens quickly
  • Power: the body needs fuel to work effectively
  • People: my work out buddy wasn’t there
  • Procrastination: not sure how it applies but it’s a good P word.

Something Spiritual?

The Spirit is willing but the body is weak. Yep, how true. My spirit wants to soar, to aim high, to reach for the stars. My spirit seeks to be lifted by the Holy Spirit. A weak physical work out is one thing, but a weakened spirit due to lack of nourishment is another.

Can my soul be energized with too few calories? I need the Holy Spirit?

To Close

I’ll get by with a weak work out. But not so sure with the spiritual part. Frankly, I need the fresh breeze of the Spirit every morning. My day is better with it and far less effective without it.

How about you?

Try, Try Again!

I’ve noticed some things…

  • It’s hard to be brilliant with a mediocre IQ.
  • Its tough to be gorgeous with below average looks.
  • It’s difficult to be a high achiever with only basic skills.
  • It’s impossible to be accomplished without a work ethic.

Of The Four

I can’t raise my I.Q. My looks were fixed at birth. I can’t order more skills from Amazon. However, working harder is within reach. Effort requires no skill, only determination.

Determination is within everyone’s grasp.

The Lie

Some say success comes only to the brilliant, to the beautiful, and to the gifted. No doubt it helps. But how would I know? However, it’s a lie that success is only for the blessed.

  • “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” T. Edison
  • Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Unknown
  • “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth

The Messiah

Reading about the Messiah’s ministry, I get these insights about his work:

  1. He was an early riser.
  2. Every day he taught, did miracles, and blessed people.
  3. He went to different villages & synagogues every day.
  4. He always welcomed children.
  5. He was never too busy to help someone.
  6. Jesus often worked till late in the evening.
  7. He had the Spirit’s power, but the work ethic was all him.

Now Jesus

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” Luke 4:42-44

A Famous Quote

The following quote came from a Teacher’s Manual written by American educator Thomas H. Palmer (1782-1861) He wrote it to motivate students to do their homework.

quote-tis-a-lesson-you-should-heed-try-try-again-if-at-first-you-don-t-succeed-try-try-again-thomas-h-palmer-309006

Be encouraged. Don’t give up. Effort requires no talent, just an unyielding desire to see the job done.

Success may be just around the corner.

Shalom

You Are Influential!

“You never know the influence you have on others.” Sound cliché? Is it true? Who are the influential people in your life?

Close To Home

  • Dedicated teachers
  • Caring coaches
  • Mentors & role models

In The Home

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Loving care providers

The Spiritual

  • Bible class teachers
  • Ministers & Pastors
  • Authors and Speakers

Special Occasions

Funerals reveal the influence a person has had on others, how the one who is gone has affected the ones who remain.

It also happens at dinners that are held to honor someone’s achievements. 

Friday Evening

This past Friday I attended such a dinner. It was held in honor of a coworker, for reaching a milestone. The restaurant was good. The private dining room was fine. The food was enjoyable.

Dinner honor
Not our restaurant, or our group, but close. Really very close.

Then each coworker spoke to the honoree, expressing congratulations and appreciation. It just knocked me down. Yes, everything said was well deserved, of course. But the depth of what was said was just beautiful. 

Some Of The Influence

  • “You took a chance on me when I wouldn’t have.”
  • “You’re one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever worked with.”
  • “You’ve helped me so much, both professionally and personally.”
  • “No matter what, you are calm, patient, and understanding.”
  • “I’m so glad you are my friend.”

It went on and on. I was moved by the respect and admiration. It was wonderful.

To Close

We all have a story. All of us will leave some footprints in the sand. We shouldn’t doubt our influence, that we are affecting others in lasting ways. It happens.

Like the one at the dinner, let’s make sure we are a lasting influence for good!

Shalom

Honring A Special Person

Great organizations have someone making sure everything goes well.

Superheroes?

  • Batman had Alfred
  • The Lone Ranger had Tonto
  • The Green Lantern had Kato

Entertainers

  • Elvis had the Colonel
  • The Beetles had Brian Epstein
  • Ralph Kramden had Alice

Biblically

  • Moses had Aaron
  • Jesus had Peter, James, and John
  • Paul had Barnabas, Timothy, and Titus

Those special servants are more than assistants, coworkers, or employees. They are passionate, gifted, and have skill sets that make the difference between success and failure. Yet, they are not in the spot light and often go unrecognized for their vital contribution.

In My Ministry

I’m the Senior Minster for my congregation. I serve as Chief of Staff and am accountable to our Elder Board for our Minsters, Administrative Team, and for the general vision, growth, and development of our church. Some of that is easily done and some is highly difficult and demanding.

I  couldn’t do it alone if my life depended on it. There are talented and dedicated people taking care of numerous ministries and important tasks. The Lone Ranger may have been the only Ranger, but he still had Tonto and Tonto made all the difference.

A Special Person

Our church has someone who daily makes a huge contribution to our success. She’s our Executive Minister and this year is her twentieth-year at Southeast.

A Few Thoughts

  • She oversees all financials
  • Manages the Admin team
  • Manages everything related to human resource
  • Serves as sounding board and wise counselor
  • Was project manager for the relocation of our church
  • Was project manager for our new Worship Center
  • And so much more

I couldn’t do my job if she wasn’t doing hers. Frankly, she works harder, and longer, and routinely sacrifices more than I do.

She is the constant presence, the steadfast anchor, and the beating heart of our office and church administration.

To Close

This morning, in each service, we’ll take a moment to appreciate her twenty-years of service to God and to our church.

debbie
Our Executive Minister, Anchor, and Servant!

Thank you, Debbie. You are the best, and keep us looking better than we are.

God Bless You!

Being A Power-Tasker

This blog is about multi-tasking.

Not True

I’m recovering the claim that women are better multi-taskers. Not true. I myself can multi-task very well. In fact, I’ve been described as a Power-Tasker.

Just In Case

If you don’t know what it is to multi-task:

  • It’s doing more than one thing at a time.
  • Mental flexibility for simultaneously processing multiple ideas.
  • The appearance of having more than two hands.
  • Ability to give birth to a human child.

Giving Birth?

Sure, it has to do with being a Mother. You’ve seen Moms in public. They carry a child in one arm, push a baby stroller with the other arm, have a diaper bag over one shoulder, a purse on the other,  manage a satchel from work, packages from shopping, and then talk with a cell phone between their cheek and shoulder.

Mom_carrying_everything_while_dad_takes_a_phone_call
Now That’s Multi-Tasking, Good Thing She Has A Supportive Husband

Impressive?

Sure, it’s impressive. They are to be commended, even rewarded. Maybe a ceremony! It would make the local paper and the 6:00 news.

“Local Woman Wins Multi-Tasker of the Year”

And Men?

Well, men are less adept. First, they’re incapable of giving birth. They rarely carry a purse. And couldn’t keep a cell phone between their face and shoulder if their lives depended on it. However, when necessary, men can multi-task, it’s uncommon, but it does happen, it’s been seen. 

Examples?

Men don’t like making more than one trip for anything. If they’re carrying groceries, they’ll grab three, four, or five plastic bags in each hand. Blood circulation will cease, their hands will cramp, and the plastic will start cutting. But it’ll get done in one trip. They aren’t going back.

It’s true for taking out the trash, unloading the car after a trip, and other things.

To Close

It’s true. I have been referred to as Power-Tasker. So far, I’m the only one saying it, but still, I can multi-task with the best of them.

My secret? I think through the multiple tasks needing to be done, make a list, and then approach each task in order, one at a time, I’m a Power-Tasker. 

Yep.