🗣️1. Talk to kids not just at them — pick up your stuff, wake up, get ready, do your homework, get off your phone. We have to say this stuff but it shouldn’t be all we say. Remember: rules without relationships lead to rebellion 😳 Compliment their outfit, ask about their interests, tell them something dumb/funny you did today, and one question we’ve found helpful (and sometimes hilarious) is “what was the best and hardest part of your day?” See Col 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious…

⏰ 2. Spend “non-performing” time with kids — organized sports and all extracurricular activities are great and teach our kids so much. But for kids it can sometimes feel like they’re always trying to perform and never quite meeting expectations. Less intense activities can build better relational equity : fishing, camping, playing in the yard/driveway, cooking, taking goofy pictures, dance routines (don’t worry that’s mom’s territory), watching sunsets, road-trips, etc. See Eccl 3:12-13 Enjoy life…

✌🏼 3. Discipline and move on — correction and consequences are inevitable but hanging it over their head or talking about their failures with others is not necessary or helpful. They make mistakes but they’re not a mistake. Let’s be careful they not get confused about that. See Eph 6:4 don’t exasperate kids…

🤵‍♂️👰‍♀️ 4. Love their mom/dad — kids experience secondary joy and peace from parents getting along. Sadly, the opposite can be true too. Maybe the best thing we can do for our kids is to date their mom/dad. Single parents aren’t exempt. Strive to live at peace with their mom/dad for their sake. See Eccl 9:9 Enjoy life with your wife…. See Rom 12:14 Live peaceably with everyone…

🤐🫡 5. Stop complaining about sports refs or any other authority in their life. I led with refs because my daughter plays basketball and it’s been weak spot for me. Refs, along with teachers, coaches, bosses, police, and other leaders represent authority figures in a kids life. If we disrespect authority we give them a green light to do the same. Their coach can argue calls if needed. And if we need to address another authority we can talk to them, not about them. Let me be clear — It’s not just the disrespect. It’s the *complaining*. Complaining is tired, weak and unbiblical. Got a kid who complains? We need to ask where they’re picking that up? 😅 See Rom 13:1 respect authority… And See Phil 2:14 stop complaining

🙏🏼 6. Pray for them daily — each one by name with specific needs and biblically informed dreams we have for them. Praying expresses dependence, solicits God’s help, and softens our hearts towards our kids. See Col 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer…

📖 ✝️ 7. **MOST IMPORTANT** Stay close to the Lord, grow in our faith and encourage our kids to do the same — Life is full of lessons and parents are the main curriculum for our kids. If parents worship, pray, study the Word, and fellowship with faith family our kids will likely follow. Of course we need to instruct them, but we can’t share what we don’t possess. A devoted life to God is more than a way to make our kids “act right.” It’s a passionate pursuit of the Lord. And kids need a living example for how to do that. See Deut 6:5-9 Love the Lord…teach them diligently…

Parents, I hope these are helpful! They came from a conversation my wife and I had about what we need to continue to do and improve on as parents. They helped us and we need all the help we can get. Parenting is hard! Nobody’s getting it exactly right! But we want to seek God’s wisdom and grace to parent more faithfully for the glory of God and the good of our kids, in 2023 and beyond. #HappyNewYear

Uncomfortable For Christ

In a day and age when personal comfort has become the aim and measure for what we are willing to do, it could be that we’re not experiencing Jesus because we’re not willing to be where He is.

Think of all the hard places we see Jesus in Scripture — In the middle of a frightening storm on the Sea of Galilee, among the grieving at the grave of Lazarus, near a leper begging for healing, at a well in the heat of the day talking with a woman caught in adultery, among tax collectors and sinners, teaching people in a desolate place where no food was available, in the dirty manger, the Cross, the empty tomb. All these gritty, tough, uncertain, UNCOMFORTABLE places.

Obviously it’s not about visiting these geographic locations. It’s about self denial, which is a total departure from the current cultural narrative that says do what makes you feel most at ease, most comfortable. We won’t experience Jesus there.

Different pursuits, mean a different path. Forgiving others is hard. Helping the poor is costly. We don’t always feel like worshipping. Loving people through hardships is exhausting. Praying sometimes feels futile. Reading the Word can be confusing. Repentance is humbling. These things and countless others are gonna make us uncomfortable. But they’re so worth it because that’s where we experience Jesus.

And why should we expect any different? Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. – Matthew 16:24



There’s no telling how many times a day this little man says “Dad” 😂 It’s nonstop. “Hey Dad… Um Dad… Look Dad….Help me Dad… C’mon Dad…”

Casey (my wife) says it’s because I spoil him 🤷🏻‍♂️😆 and that may be true, but it’s also because he knows:

1. He needs my help. 🤲🏼

2. I’ll listen to him. 👂🏼

3. I love him. ❤️

4. I’m gonna do everything I can to take care of him. 💪🏼

Question for you and I, how often does our heavenly Father hear from us? The Bible says pray non-stop (1Thess 5:16). And we know:

1. We need his help 🤲🏼

2. He’ll listen to us 👂🏼

3. He loves us ❤️

4. He’s fully capable of taking care for us 💪🏼

📖 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:26

Now would be a great time to #LookUp and say “Hey dad…” 🙏🏼 😌

📸: sunset in the treehouse 🌅

For to us a child is born…

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… Isaiah 9:6

Our adopted son Luka was born Dec 1, 2019. He was so tiny. Just 4lbs when we brought him home from the hospital. Celebrating Christ’s birth that year, while holding a frail little baby was a unique experience. It’s amazing when you think about it — The Savior of the world came to us as a baby!

For Christmas in 2019 I had some pictures of Luka’s first few days printed and framed and gave them to Casey as a gift. Sounds weird now, but it felt risky to do at the time, because as a foster baby we didn’t know how long he’d be with us. Could be 2 more days or 2 more months. We just didn’t know. Those tangible pictures represented the strong feelings of attachment we had but were afraid to show. We excited, joyful, and loved him very much. We couldn’t help but feel those things. When Casey opened the pictures on Christmas morning, she and I looked at each other and we both teared up. Our “big kids” were looking at us like we were weird, that’s nothing new 😂

Here’s the thing, babies bring us (all of us) joy. Did you know a “feel-good” hormone called Oxytocin is released in you when you hold a baby? Being close to a baby literally makes you happy! Now, I can’t explain all of that physiologically 😅 but from an emotional standpoint I can tell you that in December of 2019 with baby Luka, we were experiencing the joy of NEW LIFE. By embracing him we were embracing hope, change, possibility and promise! Baby Luka’s lungs weren’t even fully developed but he was teaching US to breathe again.

Jesus came as a baby. Small, fragile and vulnerable. There are many reasons for that, but at least one reason is to point out the fact that HE BRINGS NEW LIFE. And if you and I take hold of Him we’re embracing on a much, much larger scale — HOPE, CHANGE, POSSIBILITY and a whole new world of PROMISE. Over and over Jesus teaches us to breath again. He makes us born again! ✝️

At Christmas in 2019 we had no idea baby Luka would/could be a part of our forever family, but he is. He’s actually (asleep) right beside me as I type this. We’re pretty much inseparable 😊 And in an even more fulfilling way, that baby born in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago is ALWAYS beside me and within me. We are inseparable. And I’m a part of His forever family for all eternity.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:23

Merry Christmas!

“Old Man Marley” – God With Us

🎄 From the last scene of the movie Home Alone. The previously misunderstood ”Old Man Marley” embraces his granddaughter while waiving to his 8 year old next door neighbor, Kevin, who looks on in joy from the window of his home.

The night before, Kevin had urged Mr Marley to take the initiative and reconcile with his adult son, the father of the girl he’s hugging in the picture. Mr Marley had taken that advice, and as a result the family was reconciled, together again at Christmas.

Broken relationships require someone taking the initiative to be mended. At Christmas we remember that God, in Jesus Christ, took the initiative for us to be reconciled to Him. God has come to us, have you come to him?

Could you describe your relationship with God to be close like the one pictured here? That’s what God wants, closeness. Christmas reminds us that God became a man and lived, died and resurrected so that we never have to be distant from Him again. Not on his end, anyway. He’s taken the initiative. Have you welcomed, and by faith, received Him? Do you know and love Him? #GodWithUs

How To Grieve From a 2 Year Old

Holidays are hard for people who are dealing with loss. Wanted to share a lesson on dealing with grief from our 2 year old.
Luka’s holding a picture with Stormi in it. Stormi is our foster baby that was recently reunited with her momma after spending a year with us. The framed photo was in our Christmas decorations and Casey set it up in a prominent place over the weekend. A couple different times now, Luka has brought it over to me, pointed to Stormi, and with a sweet and sincere voice asked “Daddy do you miss this girl? You miss Stormi? Do you love her?” And I say “Yes I do buddy, very much. Do you miss and love Stormi?” He nods his head yes, and puts the picture back in its place.
Y’all see what he’s doing? He’s grieving. He misses her and wants to make sure she’s not forgotten. I bet lots of folks can relate to Luka in this way. But a lot of folks may not wanna bring it up for fear they’ll bring the mood down at the Holidays. But it needs to be said. It’s a natural and healthy way to deal with loss. Doesn’t mean that you’re sad about everything, just means that you miss and value the person you’ve lost. Like Luka, you don’t want them to be forgotten.
I wrote this, hoping that maybe Luka’s innocent but effective method of grieving might give someone else permission to share what’s on their heart and mind with others. “I miss ______. Do you miss and love him/her?”
One day, we’ll see all of life from God’s perspective, and things will make sense. But right now, from our vantage point, life is a mixed bag of happys and crappys. It’s important that we get outside of our own head and process what’s heavy on our hearts with others. A 2 year old inherently gets that. Hope we can too.
Y’all keep looking up!

Tuesday Morning…

Men’s Bible study this morning—We had some serious iron sharpening iron going on with a heartfelt personal testimony of how Christ helped overcome addiction. That helped some other guys feel comfortable to share their struggles and what the Lord is doing in their life.

I love these guys and am thankful they’re willing to be up early for the Word and for one another.

Here’s some Bible references we looked at:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:7-8

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… – Galatians 5:22-23

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. – Proverbs 23:20-21

What our children need from us

Back to school time may turn our hearts toward our kids more than any other season. Hoping this is timely — here’s 10 things (among others) that children need from us with applicable Bible references.

1. PEACE – Proverbs 17:1

2. TIME – Ephesians 5:15-17

3. OPTIMISM – Philippians 2:14

4. SPACE – Ephesians 6:4

5. TRUTH – 2 Timothy 3:14-17

6. EXAMPLE – 1 Corinthians 11:1

7. ESTEEM – Proverbs 22:6

8. ACCEPTANCE – Proverbs 17:17

9. AFFECTION – Romans 12:10

10. DISCIPLINE – Proverbs 23:13

We went through these 10 in detail last Sunday, but hopefully these words alone can serve as helpful reminders. As a dad and friend to many of you I’m praying that we as parents raise our kids for His glory. God is the best Father. And ultimately our kids are his, I just pray that we be faithful and steward well what He’s blessed and entrusted us with.

Also, here’s 4 important passages on the subject of godly parenting : Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Psalm 127:3-5, Psalm 128:1-3, Ephesians 6:1-4

8 Things the Bible Says About Itself

📖 8 Things the Bible says about itself:

1. IT’S INSPIRED. All Scripture is God-breathed… – 2Timothy 3:16

2. IT’S TRUE. The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. – Psalm 12:6

3. IT’S AUTHORITATIVE. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22

4. IT’S CLEAR. The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. – Psalm 119:130

5. IT’S SUFFICIENT. All Scripture is…profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

6. IT’S POWERFUL. The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword… – Hebrews 4:12

7. IT’S CHRIST-CENTERED. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me… – Jesus, John 5:39

8. IT’S PRECIOUS. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. – Psalm 119:72

H/T Matt Smethurst @ The Gospel Coalition 1/20

Psalm 23 🐑 📖

I know Psalm 23 by heart and reference it and recite to myself all the time. The fact that the Lord is my Shepherd is a huge help in all kinds of circumstances.

🫣 Scared? Psalm 23 📖

🥺 Worried? Psalm 23 📖

😵‍💫 Can’t sleep? Psalm 23 📖

🤨 Getting slandered? Psalm 23 📖

😢 Preaching a funeral? Psalm 23 📖

🤔 Need reassurance in life? Psalm 23 📖

This evening I was researching the last part of Ps 23:2 ”He leads me beside still waters” and I came across something kinda cool — a lengthy, in-depth audible meditation on Psalm 23. I think the idea is that it allows you to focus and enter into the rest that God has for us in the Psalm so you can rest your mind, your soul and your body.

So, I don’t know what you have going on in your life right now but I bet Psalm 23 can help! Here’s the YouTube link