Tag Archives: Family

Book Review: The Pastor’s Family

Book Review:  The Pastor’s Family by Brian & Cara Croft

The Good:

It Takes Two.  Probably my favorite aspect of the book is each chapter provides two perspectives:  the pastor and the pastor’s wife.  This did two things.  First, as a pastor it provided encouragement, challenge, and practical training for the years ahead.  Second, it provided a whole new perspective of what the wife feels, deals with, and the challenges they face.  It allows the reader to come away more sensitive to the other spouse and a willingness to see the other side of situations.

Big Eye Emoji.  I was shocked.  Maybe I need to be a better student of church history, but I had no idea of the struggles some of the greatest preachers in history had in their family life.  Marital struggles, parenting regrets, and family difficulty…how was I so naive.  If these fellas struggled, I need to be even more on guard and fight for my marriage, my family, my children.

Heart to Heart.  At the end of each chapter, it allows the husband and wife to ask questions.  Each of these questions were well thought out and are valuable to a ministry marriage.  Put these into practice and allow it to be life-changing material rather than just head knowledge.

The Bad:

For Real.  This is stretching it, but for someone early in ministry there needs to be a warning here.  This book is real and honest.  It speaks of difficulties, depression, struggles…just make sure you are ready to read this.  It acts as a warning, and an important one, but prepare yourself if you are just entering ministry or have a young marriage/family.

The Grade:  A.  Those in ministry need to read this book.  It won’t take you long, but it will have great impact.  It’s highly practical, challenging, and encouraging along the way.  It’s like a pastoral mentor and his wife taking you by the hand and leading you through the next years of your marriage and parenting.  The value goes beyond the price of the book.  Without a godly family, how will you have a godly ministry.  Sometimes we get things backwards…this book will help put you back on track.

Extra Credit:  Read the reflection article on pages 107-109.  It is dynamite.

 

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Book Review: Mighty Men

Book Review:  Mighty Men by John Crotts

The Good: 

41Y2F5DK1CLLeadership Inspiration.  As a man, you don’t walk away from this book with your head down and wallowing in your “I can’t do this” pity.  It gives you a little pep in your step to get the job done.  This book provides you practical steps to accomplish leadership in the family.

The B-I-B-L-E, that’s the book for me.  Love when a book has a solid foundation in God’s Word.  Well, this book’s foundation, walls, outlets, and ceiling fans are all rooted in the Bible.  Every subject, heading, chapter is firmly supported by God’s Word throughout the book.

Just My Size.  This book packs a punch is only 37 pages.  For a slow reader like myself, it was a refreshing change to provide valuable information in a book that didn’t take a while to read.

The Bad:

Do-it-yourself Design:  If you are into glossy pages, clever font, and perfectly structured chapters…keep moving along.  The book is very rudimentary in design, especially the pages within.  But if you are able to move past that, the value is in the words.

The Grade:  A.  Husbands, fathers, men…you need to pick this book up.  Sure, some of this may be review, but it needs reviewed.  Better yet, read it, then find someone you can mentor and give them this book.  Take them to Bob Evans a few times, get the Farmer’s breakfast, put some ketchup on those home fries…and build mighty men!

 

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2016 Youth Ministry Goals

In Philippians 3:14, Paul was not talking about youth ministry goals.  But I still love the phrase “press on toward the goal”.  In ministry, you must do just that…”press on”.  It is important to reflect on your past accomplishments, like I did last week, and grow from your mistakes and build on your successes.  But, it is also vital in ministry to look ahead, plan, and seek God’s guidance for the year ahead.  Below are 10 goals for the 2016 ministry year.  Hopefully these will provide you with ideas and/or encouragement for the coming year.shutterstock_263635745

  1. Short Term Mission Trip – Mission trips are a part of our ministry every summer in a cycle of local, out-of-state, international, and work trips. This way, the 4 year high school experience will allow for various types of mission work. This year a trip to New York is in the works.
  2. Inter-generational Ministry Continued Improvement – A tech class for seniors, service projects combined with adult small groups, guest speakers, mentoring initiatives, and integrated mission projects.
  3. Better Timing – Each year I look at my schedule and there is always at least one “why did I schedule that there?”.   This year I want to make a more conscious effort in the timing of events and programs. Team with parents in working out better schedules. Not all conflicts can be avoided, but why not adjust the schedule if it can be.
  4. Family Series – I have been trying to find more ways to gather the family together in a youth ministry context. This year, I plan to teach a small series on the family with the entire family.
  5. Co-Mission Event – Continue the annual co-mission, which is a mission conference for students. This year, there may be some changes to enhance and improve the evangelism training for the students.
  6. Series on Fear – I read recently teens have a wide array of fears. Fear is often what keeps them from doing right and what tempts them to do wrong. Fear takes them places they don’t want to go and holds them hostage when they want to leave. Fear is something we need to talk about.
  7. Winter Retreat – In the past, the winter has been difficult to draw up enough interest for a retreat. Part of it is timing with winter sports, weather, and life. But this year we hope will be different having a younger group.
  8. Service – Each year we place a heavy emphasis on service and provide ample opportunity to serve in the church and in the community. This year is no different with continuous plugging in of students in church life and a community/church service project scheduled every month.
  9. Global Emphasis – With the World in Need month continuing this year, we plan to place an emphasis on the issue of poverty across the world. We hope to encourage the students to not only pray but be a world-changer and do something about global poverty.
  10. Apprenticeships – Along with having a youth intern this year, I want to encourage the student leaders to seek out mentoring opportunities. These will be called apprenticeships within the student leadership team, but outside the group it is simply the older students helping the younger students with life. Mentoring needs to happen both up and down…being mentored, and mentoring others.
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5 Practical Ways to Balance Ministry and Family

We’ve all heard the “only work on Sundays” jokes (well, some aren’t joking) over the years.  But for those in full-time ministry, you know your only “workday” is not just on Sundays, but the hours can often overflow into the evening and into the weekend.  Still young in the pastorate, I’ve learned lessons the hard way, and am still learning ways of balancing my precious young family with the ministry that I cherish.  And, it is a question that I often ask veterans in ministry, who seem to have a great handle on balancing family and ministry.  So, here are just a few practical ideas that I’ve heard from my mentors.New Years Vacation2

  1. Take Them With You. This may be the advice I’ve heard the most from ministry veterans. And it is to take your family, especially your kids, with you while you do ministry. Take your kid with you to a hospital visit, allow your wife to participate in counseling when appropriate, and if in youth ministry, let your teens enjoy your kids and not see them as a hindrance. *Here’s another key: Teach your kids that being in ministry has benefits too. Although daddy may have late nights, they also have a day off during the week; can take them to conferences at cool hotels, and other perks. Show your family ministry is a blessing, not a burden.
  2. Go On Dates. Make dating your wife a priority in your life. Put it in your schedule on a regular basis. Plan ahead for babysitting and other arrangements that need to be made. But don’t stop there; take your kids on “dates” too. You’ll see this guy in line for the new Cinderella movie this weekend, not because it’s my favorite Disney movie (Beauty & the Beast and Tangled all the way!)…but because I want to spend special time with my kids, get to know them more personally, and let them know I value time with them. But this too takes planning and intentional work.
  3. Take Your Creativity Home. One of my mentors laid this dagger into my heart. He asked me the question “Is your time with your kids at home as creative as your activities with your teens/children ministries?” OUCH! That one hurt. So, in the months after, I’ve tried my best to be more creative in my time with my kids. This means I’ve set up obstacle courses in the basement, taken magazines out of the mail and put together “favorite things” craft projects, and even did a neighborhood soccer camp (I had 8 little girls from the neighborhood in my front yard!)!
  4. Drop Your Work Off at UDF. Another friend told me to drop off your ministry at a place on your way home. Simply pray to God and ask Him to take the burden of ministry, put the criticism, the challenges, and the difficult counseling appointment at the feet of Jesus. Sure, those things will still affect you, but your kids and wife still need your best when you get home. So, my goal is to drop off the struggles of ministry at the UDF on the way home.
  5. Your Phone Can Be Your Enemy. Put your phone down. One pastor mentor of mine even said he does not come into the house on the phone, but will either pull over or stay in the garage to finish the call. Other ideas given are to take the phone out of the pocket or belt holder, and place it on the coffee maker or dresser (just don’t put it in the microwave). This will allow you to hear it for emergencies, but lets it go when someone liked your picture of your cat playing the piano.

Please let me know how you balance ministry and family. I’d love to learn from you!

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Book Review: “What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him” by Byron Yawn

Book Review: What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn51pc3yNJ2uL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Good:

One Liner After One Liner. Goodness, I have never read a book that had so many one-liners that hit you right between the eyes, especially as a dad. So much so, you had to really take your time through some paragraphs because were so full of sentences dripping with truth and power.

Like a Modern Day Proverbs. The wisdom this book provides for sons and Fathers of sons is priceless. It will provide healing, wisdom, instruction, and parenting guidance. It reminds me of the book Solomon wrote for his son…while it certainly does not have the power of God’s Word, it still draws from Biblical principles for the next generation of men.

Counseling Gold. Countless times I wrote in the margin of this book “counseling illustration” or “use in counseling”. As a young father, I need all the wisdom I can get in parenting my own children, let alone counseling other fathers. This will help.

Humor Like a Desert. Just how I like it. I love dry humor, and this book was full of it. It was well-placed, and allowed the read to be more enjoyable. At times, it kept me coming back for more.

Miscellaneous Reasons for Purchase. #1 – Man Laws. #2 – Chapter on Sexual Purity. #3 – Chapter 18 will grip your heart and will have an incredible effect on the reader (if not, check your pulse).

The Bad:

Redundancy. There was some redundancy of literary style at times. Hard to explain, but sometimes slowed the flow of the read. The repetitiveness in style often cause the writer to say the same thing in different ways in the same paragraph.

Too Dogmatic? I put a question mark here because it wasn’t something that caused me to struggle in my doctrinal view of the book. However, there were some very strong statements that may cause you to slightly raise an eyebrow, but not get bent out of shape.

Take the Gospel, and Call me in the morning. This seems like this is happening more and more in our Christian culture where we simply say the solution is the Gospel. While it probably is true, I need more than just the word, but an explanation. There were times in the book where it had the former without the latter.

The Grade: A

I just finished the book a few days ago, and have already recommended it to a Men’s Bible study group, a parent of a teen, and put it in my planner to recommend at my next big parents meeting. This book comes strongly recommended from one dad to another. With my little boy coming any day now, I needed this, and your son wants you to read this book too.

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Double Book Review: “The Meaning of Marriage” & “Is God Anti-Gay”

Book Review: The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Kellertim_keller

Side note: I try to read at least one marriage/husband book per year. If you decide to this, this book would be a great place to start.

The Good:

Have a Good Pen Ready. I found out really quickly I needed to make sure my pen had plenty of ink, because I was underlining like a college freshman in their first class. This was like going through pre-marital counseling, a seminary class on marriage, and a sermon series on the family all rolled up in one. So my first advice to you is to have your pen, locked and loaded.

If you’re married, make room on your shelf. Packed with enjoyable and impactful personal stories and real life examples, this book provides superior insight to the marriage relationship. Additionally, this quite possibly may have the best Biblical support of any marriage book I have read, just incredible Biblical foundation.

College/Young Adults…Peep This! Chapter 7 is an absolute gold mine for college/young adults and anyone that is ministering or counseling this particular age. This chapter is worth the price of admission. Singles as well, you will want to read this chapter.

Spoiler Alert. Not to ruin the book for you, but the principles are life-changing. For example: Marriage should bring glory to God, if not you are doing something wrong. Or here’s another example: You will not be marriage to the “same person” forever – if you are doing marriage right you each will inspire each other to change more like Jesus Christ. GOOD STUFF!

The Bad:

Wordy.  My only complaint was there were a few occasion of wordiness, and could have been more succinct. But even this comment is being a little nit-picky.

The Grade: A.

This may be the best marriage book I have ever read. The combination of Biblical foundation and timeless life principles is difficult to beat. This is well worth the read for anyone preparing for or in marriage.

anti-gay 

Book Review: Is God Anti-Gay by Sam Allberry

The Good:

It’s all about perspective. The author admits to struggling with same-sex attraction. Therefore, the perspective is what makes this book superior. Christian authors can attempt to write these words, but from the pen of someone who experiences the struggles, the weight of the words increase dramatically.  There was truly a balance here. These were determinations and principles that the author truly had to experience and fully believe. Otherwise, it would be a practicing homosexual writing these words, not one who struggles with same-sex attraction. Therefore, the author provides great insight in a balanced approach to the treatment of the gay community and the homosexuality subject in general.

New Insight. Some of the Biblical perspective and groundwork were incredibly enlightening. In fact, there were times where I thought to myself, I never even thought of that, and it makes total sense. The depth from the combination of a Biblical scholar who struggles with same-sex attraction was a lethal combo, in the sense of providing spiritual depth along with a human touch.

Great Ending. Don’t you hate it when you watch a movie that is good all the way up to the end, and it just ruins everything? This book is nothing like that. The ending, especially the words penned on page 83 are worth the price of the book one hundred fold.

The Bad:

One piece missing. It is a short book, so there could always be more you could add. However, one piece that seems to be missing is the interaction with culture. This book dealt more with friends or those attending church, what about engaging culture?   Chapter 5 just needed to be a little longer.

The Grade: A-

Everyone I’ve talked to said this is a must read on the topic of homosexuality. As I said before, this book is written by a man who has dealt with this issue in their own life, and comes to the table with elements that have come out his own personal journey. He truly had to believe what he writes, because it affects his life choices. Additionally, the depth of spiritual insight on the subject was eye-opening. Worth the quick read.

 

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10 Things I Learned After Having Daughters

  1. Chevron is not just a gas station.
  2. Mood changes can happen in a split second. A laugh can turn into a cry in a drop of a toy.
  3. No matter the time, place, or activity…a girl can quickly pose for a picture.
  4. Clothes. Clothes.  And Clothes.  Um, and then more clothes.
  5. I think God installed tear ducts a little looser in little girls.
  6. Craft time is essential to life.
  7. You don’t have to worry how they are doing sleeping, because they will visit your bed regularly throughout the night.
  8. People keep telling me “just wait until they are teenagers”. Sounds good, I think I’ll wait.
  9. They like those Barbie movies. If you have watched them, you wish with all of your being that this was not true.
  10. It’s rare that a hug is not available when you need one.

family pic

(Picture Courtesy of KariMe Photography)

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As For Me and My Crazy House – BOOK REVIEW

The Good:

The overarching quality of this book is the realness.  The author’s transparency of his family life is both refreshing and re-assuring, that pastor’s families don’t have it all together, and it is as times crazy.  But, the book does a great job at providing insight of developing balance with family and ministry.

You know it is a good book when there are statements or ideas that will be lifelong “sticks”.  What I mean by “sticks” is these are things that I hope to do within my lifetime, or within the time my children are still in my home.  Examples would be the “moving of the fulcrum” on page 94, or turning off the cell phone and turning attention to the kids, finding a mentor, dating your wife, one-on-one time with your kids, the long distance race of parenting…just to name a few.  You may read this list and think those are all no brainers…yeah, but don’t you want practical ways to accomplish all those things.  This book will provide that for you, with humor and realness!

The Bad:

The transparency went a little far sometimes, for example, the mention of the “mom thongs”.  Didn’t really need that mental picture.  Overall, I thought the final parent chapter was good, but some could interpret it as “light discipline” parenting.  I’m guessing that was not the intent, but need to be careful in how you read it.  Don’t let it excuse you from disciplining your kids.  Other than that, it’s hard to find more faults.

Conclusion:

If reading was a race, I would be the tortoise.  So I enjoy books that are easy reads, fun to read, and fully practical to my everyday life.  I took my time with this book, reading just a few minutes each night and was almost disappointed when it was all dine.  Overall, this was a life-changing, fully practical, ministry & family building…book.  I hated it.  Just kidding.  Of course, I am recommending you give it a try!

Grade:  A-

 

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