Road Trip Revival #5 “Cascade Canyon and Flanneling Up”

We awoke to another frigid dawn. (33F with frost on our car windows and reports of snow in the mountain passes) Less surprised than the day before…we armed ourselves with fresh purchases of warm hoodies and winter hats.

Jenny Lake - Grand Teton NP

Jenny Lake – Grand Teton NP

We hit the road west, and ate a quick breakfast on the go… noticing the skyline clearing as the elevation rose steadily on our drive up to Grand Teton National Park.

Everyone knew what was coming next… we had discussed our group plans for a serious hike for almost a week. Reviewing the safety precautions (bear spray, making noise as we hiked to avoid startling a grizzly etc…) and talking about the epic views, what it would be like to go into the unknown.

Trusting the weather to stay clear… we set off to hike the famous “Cascade Canyon Trail… a good 12-13 mile round trip hike with over 1000 vertical feet. Rated “Strenuous” it would be hard for sure…especially for us flatlanders! (folks who don’t live in the mountains)

Everyone was a bit nervous to get started. We loaded up our backpacks at the Jenny Lake visitors center, water bottles and an exotic assortment of cliff bars as we talked about all the ‘what if’s’ of hiking in real wilderness.

I noticed Tanner was unusually quiet as we all got our gear together. She seemed to be shrinking into her flannel shirt as the moment grew near. I could tell she was afraid, the frustration from our day at Yellowstone still cloudy in her eyes. She pushed her lips tight and grunted a shy reply… she didn’t want to go. Intimidated she couldn’t make it up the steep trail and as our designated fashionista she wasn’t really ‘into’ wilderness stuff. I gently encouraged her that we were ‘all’ going together and promised we wouldn’t leave her behind if she got winded on the climb.



Reluctantly… she got up and started moving slowly to Jenny Lake. The others excitedly babbling about seeing a bear or a moose, and Tanner just tucked her head a little deeper into her collar, head down… wishing she could be anywhere but here, with us. 

But things were about to change…

We headed across the crystal clear mountain lake, using the shuttle boat (I highly recommend) to reach the trail head to the very popular Inspiration Point (tourist hordes) and the Cascade Canyon Trail, (much higher, longer and less traveled) which was our destination. We had a good 5-6 hours of hiking ahead and according to the rangers at the trail-head, bear and moose were active on the trail. I felt Tanner withdrawing even deeper… so far from her comfort zone. I sympathized… remembering how I felt in New York City.

An hour later we were reaching the crest of the first major climb, a brutal 55 minute ascent. Tanner was head down (between her knees) with puffy eyes and tears. Wheezing, and ranting her anger at being forced to go on this hike from hell. I tried to encourage her, explaining the worst of the hike was over… and how proud I was of her sticking it out. She huffed at me. So I moved on, silently asking God to ‘show up’ for Tanner. 

30 minutes later she flew by me almost skipping… laughter and Broadway strains of Les Miserables flowing off her lips. No tears, no sadness… just exuberant joy! What the heck… ?

I stared in amazement as Tanner was leading everyone else up this canyon trail. Full of happiness and energy, pushing us all to keep up! She and Addy climbing rocks, investigating the sights and sounds of a pristine alpine ecosystem with the unrestrained enthusiasm of a ten-year old! Whoa…. 

Some prayers get answered right away… I guess ? Wow.

By the end of the day, Tanner was a convert. Already planning her next adventure…. and excited that she had tried something so ‘un-like’ her! What a surprise… she was more than she seemed, not just an urban diva… she was a woodland mountain climbing machine ! WoooHoo 🙂

Cascade Canyon Trail

Cascade Canyon Trail

I couldn’t have been happier for her if it was my own daughter. I cried a little as she ran and ran… and ran! Like some kind of dam had burst inside of her, freeing something vital and life-giving. Something precious and pure.

The mountains do that…. the beauty of creation invades our minds and breaks through our broken hearts. Restoring and renewing even our darkest places and spaces.

God was in these mountains… whispering. Calling, answering… touching. 

Alexis saw her elusive moose… drinking quietly from the cascade creek, sandwiched between the Grand Teton peaks as if we were in some kind of surreal postcard come to life. God’s gentle reminder… He wants to satisfy our deepest desires and most intimate longings. The moose a long-term bucket list item for Alexis… and here in this remote corner of creation, God was speaking. Affirming His presence.

The trail to Cascade Canyon is one of my most favorite places in the world…. it was and always is a life-changing experience for all who make the journey.

Kind of like life…

Peace out, Pastor B.

PS – and “Flannel Up” is now a code word for those of us who made the iShine Road Trip of a lifetime together... coined by our very own Tanner 🙂 It’s a symbol of how we can choose to trust God – when we get put in awkward or uncomfortable positions and choose to stay in them, believing He will in time make something awful – become incredibly beautiful! Thanks Tanner for being such a courageous and amazing young woman!

the Mozart Easter Story

Heard a great sermon on XM Radio’s family talk channel. The preacher shared on Mozart, who was quoted in his life to say…The secret to life, is accepting death“. (my paraphrase)

The story goes, that Mozart attributed his amazing life of musical genius and prolific creativity to the understanding that he would die, could die at anytime and that he was completely surrendered to that. He was excited to squeeze the life out of every second of every day that he had, without fear or doubt. He had settled the issue of his passing long before it came up.

Recent controversy with Pastor Rob Bell’s book… “Love Wins” has riled up the talking heads and the blogosphere with accusations of heresy, name calling and polarizing posturing from many Christian camps. His book explores the reality of what the Bible says specifically about Hell, Heaven and life after we die. I’m not here to comment on that other than to say.. I’m more concerned for this blog, in how I live this life, right now.

His understanding of death, released Mozart to live a most remarkable life.

As a believer in Christ, I have theoretically the same belief, that my death will only lead to life. But do I live that waySpecifically…not in the great beyond, or in the great eternity of the unknown…but here and now. Today. Am I living with a clear understanding of the truth behind those words ?

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life…and have it to the fullest. I don’t believe that he was just commenting for us on an inconceivable endless heaven after earth reality. I believe it means life for us here, now. When we surrender our need to be in control of our destiny, we find life. When we let go of our preferences, our endless fears for our kids, the mortgage or the test results just in from the doctor…. we renew our days with something extra-ordinary, a “Jesus” kind of perspective to our day that has the intensity of true and vibrant life in it.

Our kids are watching us as we live, we can teach and preach and do devotions until we’re blue in the face. We can drag them to church every Sunday, youth groups, missions trips or summer camps…but in the end they are watching US to determine what they are going to really believe.

When we live from the reality that we have already”died” to ourselves and to our preferences, we can embrace whatever God directs us towards… determined to live  fearlessly in the face of whatever comes. I believe that kind of life speaks louder than any other effort we can intellectually make to win their trust and hope and belief in Jesus. Our day-to-day understanding of the precious and priceless gift of life that has been given to us in Jesus, provide us with a remarkable weapon of Hope and Healing and Help. We become life-givers to those who are literally and metaphorically dying… Son Rise Cross

So this Easterlet go, allow your own stuff to die. The baggage of worry, fear and frustration that keeps us bound from really living…Please, know that until you surrender the stubborn parts of you that insist on being “right”, or “getting your way”…you’re not really dead yet. So go ahead and die to all of you…So that your and your family can really enthusiastically LIVE.

Fellow Parents,…It’s worth the struggle, and it’s worth the freedom to push through this Easter and not settle for anything less than real life. It’s time to consider a Mozart Easter tradition to begin in your home.

A life of really living… a life with hope and renewed vibrancy…in the beauty of TODAY. After all, we have something and someone truly remarkable to be living for.

Peace out my friends, “Keeping it on the road and in between the lines of Life”


Parents, how old… is old enough ?

Smartphones, cell-phones… ipods-pads-tablets and snap-chat, common currency in today’s pre-teen cultural exchange. From the school bus to the family sofa, kids are using technology younger and younger every year. The tsunami of media has fully crashed into the pre-teen world with a vengeance and we parents are left trying to learn how to sink or swim in the backwash. As a media executive (Bema Media – Franklin TN) I work with video, music and online assets every day. I live this stuff and I’m all too aware of how much I don’t know.

How do we navigate this rushing wall of water we call media ?

Netflix, Hulu… snapchat, twitter, vine, instagram, YouTube and megashare all providing instant and mature content for anyone with a wi-fi signal to download, stream or snap. Kids today are not only being bombarded with millions of new home videos, selfies and R to XXX rated images…more often than not, an average ten-year old will get to “decide” for themselves today what is or isn’t appropriate to ingest with just a smart phone and five minutes un-supervised.

As parents, we are often left confused and disoriented by the almost infinite variety of online options being marketed to our pre-teens and teens. The viral marketing of ideas, brands and values is becoming the daily hot topic of every kids conversation. From the latest music video to the funniest pet or baby post on twitter, kids are combing through the very best and the very worst of mankind’s creative extrusions.

It’s a frightening landscape for parents to traverse safely and for most of us, no matter how aware we think we are of our kids online activities… we’re woefully out of touch and way behind their learning curve.

Knowing the patterns of an average pre-teen and their use of technology might be a good thing to consider before you go and sit down with your sixth grader to ask some basic questions.

Basic Facts:

Media activities make up more than a quarter of a 6-12 year-old’s waking day. (*source DIS magazine – tween tech article) It’s clear that our pre-teens are now entering a virtual world that we may not even realize exists.

Other sources suggest that tweens are now consuming an average of 80 hours of media a week, and doing so with three separate media forms simultaneously. (Mobile phone- iPod – laptop – TV – PlayStation/Xbox etc..)

Pre-teens are consuming media faster than we ever have… they are experimenting and learning how to visualize, create and share their lives, ideas and passions with technology. The smart-phone is not going away, and the use and abuse of these amazing micro-wonders must be at the top of any parents awareness at all times.

Setting some Ground rules:

Parents we will need to consider carefully at what age we “allow” our kids to have access to these mind-bending portals of poetry, art, history…culture and stranger danger. How amazing will be the world our kids inherit, and how deep and dark it may become.

As long as they live with us, we’ll need to help them understand the dangers and avoid the pitfalls of an online mine field. Keeping a close eye on their browser histories, online “friends” and file sharing… is a MUST. To develop your own ground-rules is an important step in raising pre-teens and teens in the digital age.

A clear sign of responsibility, privilege and independence… granting a pre-teen or teen the right to have their own smart phone is a huge rite of passage today and for parents not a decision to be made lightly or from a consumer “peer” pressured perspective 🙂

Take the time to understand your child’s world, listen to what they listen to… watch what they watch and pay close attention to their social patterns of communication. Everything from sexting to homework cheats and dangerous bullies are in those lives… it’s our job to discover those “good” and “bad” influences and enforce some clear-cut boundaries appropriate for their age.

iShine For Tweens

iShine For Tweens

Having “the TALK”

This blog is a reminder to re-engage and have the “talk” – no not the sex talk, the “tech” talk. Helping our kids learn and grow is always a parents priority – but in our world, teaching them safety and protection online is a first step in developing their own “thinking process” for filtering out the bad and allowing the good.

What an amazing opportunity we have to help our kids discover truth and faith and values… don’t hate technology, embrace it… WITH them.

FYI – I didn’t get my girls smartphones until they went to college. My son, a junior in High School… still uses a flip phone cell. You can slow this down…but it’s very hard. In the end, instant communication can be a bit too much drama for the average parent to endure, but you know your kids the best. We can’t police their every action…but we can be clear on what’s right and wrong and work with them to “filter” out the crud and protect their hearts and minds for adulthood.

May God provide you with deep reservoirs of wisdom and insight as you seek to keep your kids on the path of life !

Peace and Grace,

Pastor B.

Teaching them to “filter”


Today marks the 12th anniversary of one of our darkest national days. A turning point in the affairs of modern man, and a starting point for us to work and fight and struggle to keep HOPE alive, to reclaim the space in our hearts that despair tried to steal from us.

picture source

To that end, let’s not let forget the courage and sacrifice of our first responders and the wonderful example they serve to us all to live our lives heroically.

Men and women on 9-11 thought nothing of helping their fellow-man. Instead they chose to ignore their fears… rising up out of the literal ashes to risk everything for complete strangers.

Their acts of selflessness and heroic compassion… mark a moment in our collective American history that should inspire us all.

Please take a moment today with your kids and share with them about events on 9-11. They need to know… and we need to remember.

Matthew 16 (ESV) 24 k  “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Bible – source)

Peace out and God bless,

Pastor B.

Bethany’s Moose… a free excerpt from Road Trip to Redemption

Road Trip to Redemption -by Brad Mathias – published with  Tyndale/Momentum – Carol Stream, IL (C) All rights reserved. Blog today is a follow up to an Interview topic discussed Live on Chris Fabry Live – via Moody Radio

Road Trip to Redemption is Available on and Kindle as well as anywhere Christian Books are sold…


pages 200-203 “Bethany’s Moose” from Chapter 11 

“- The fog was intense, and the twenty miles up from Granby to the west entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park were a bit underwhelming. Fog blocked the amazing views of the pristine lakes to our right, as well as the peaks of the twelve-thousand-foot snowcapped Arapahoe national forest mountains that bumped up to RMN. It blocked the cute lake villages and old cabins; it blocked the views of the valley and the retro-cool tourist town of Grand Lake. It blocked the view of the forest and the trees, and it blocked my view of the road beyond the fifteen feet of pavement my headlights could illuminate. It was cold, wet, and damp. Forty degrees, with misty clouds of almost frozen condensation on our windshield, and I was looking for a moose. 

RoadTrip Parenting Family - Canada 2010

RoadTrip Parenting Family – Canada 2010

We crossed the visitor’s entrance and the fog was relentless—maybe even thicker than when we’d started out in Granby forty-five minutes before. I was starting to get really concerned. I was worried that all that talk and spirituality had been the Mongolian Beef and I was about to crash and burn in an epic way. Meanwhile, Paige was just quietly riding in the passenger seat. I knew she was hopeful, but she wasn’t talking about it. Though she wasn’t given to hearing these kinds of messages from God, she knew from past experiences that God sometimes spoke to me this way, and she was willing to trust me and what I thought would happen. 

I drove the first ten miles as slow as humanly possible. I admit I was stalling. If the sun could get high enough and strong enough, it would burn through the fog and we would be able to see the valley to our right. The valley where there might be a moose. I could tell that Bethany was anxious, hopeful for the first time in a while that maybe she would have a chance at capturing a moose on her camera–and, more importantly, hopeful for a touch from God reminding her that she was special, that he did care, that her needs and wants were vital to him. That she wasn’t alone, that God would provide, that God would meet all her desires, and that her dad wasn’t entirely insane…

After eight miles and thirty minutes of creeping through the valley, after pausing at three road turnoffs to peer into the fog-shrouded valley across from the scenic pullouts, I was done. No moose today. I was wrong.

I didn’t say anything out loud, but I was thinking it: Dude, you’re crazy. You want so desperately for your daughter to see a moose and embrace your faith and heal from something awful that occurred nine months ago that you cooked up this entire road-trip idea on your own dime. You convinced yourself and your family that God would position a moose on a specific day at a specific time just to show Bethany that he cares, that he exists.

I drove on. The fog persisted, but I knew that as we went into the elevated areas of the park, the cooler air would clear the fog completely and the view would improve at least for the rest of the drive. I also knew no moose would be that high in the park. Our only chance had been in the valley below. I resigned myself to being at least partially nuts and went on, smiling and chatting up Bethany and the kids as if nothing was amiss.

I felt the nudge. Again?

I almost heard the words in my head: Pull over, now! They were commanding, insistent, and firm, so I did it. I obeyed the voice and drove the Honda off to the left shoulder of the road. I was stopped a few feet off the asphalt and looking right into the oncoming lane of traffic, stuck now next to a thick stand of trees. I rolled down my window and listened intently to hear something, anything. Not a sound.

I got out of the Pilot; the fog was as thick as ever. “Bethany,” I whispered, ”get your camera. I’ve got a feeling.” We all jumped out and quietly walked to our left, toward a stand of trees and a bluff overlooking the valley below. I knew that because I had been around this general area before, but you couldn’t see it all today due to the summer tree coverage and the unrelenting dense fog. As we approached what I believed to be the edge of the tree line, I saw the fog start to part like a curtain. There, about twenty-five feet from us, was a huge mother moose drinking and grazing by the edge of valley–directly across from Bethany’s position.

I almost threw up.

It was amazing. It was miraculous. It was God. I felt the impossible touch of the divine as it reached into my daughter’s heart and grabbed her! God was shouting at her, “I love you, I love you, I love you, Bethany Rose! I want to be near you, I want to touch your hurts and heal all your pain!” It couldn’t be ignored; it couldn’t be fabricated, faked, or arranged. It had to be God!

I felt weak in my knees, weary and worn from the burden of it all. I realized I had been trying so hard to be the perfect dad, husband, and pastor. I had hoped and dreamed and tried to be all that I could be to Bethany so she would believe, so she would trust in God by my example. But in the end, I wasn’t enough. It took God to show up to win her heart. Bethany and her moose

Bethany was taking pictures as fast her fingers could press the button. She was enthralled, as if a small child had taken over her body and mind and heart. She was smiling, laughing, and full of genuine and unrestrained joy. I hadn’t seen that in her face for a year or more. She was happy, and all traces of cynicism and sarcasm were gone from her face. She was free, released from whatever lies the darkness in her mind had told her about the nature of God.

I could tell the lie was exposed, broken. The truth of God was setting her free. God did care, God was involved, God would meet and exceed her every expectation. This moose in the valley was so specific, so unique, so exactly what she had prayed for that it couldn’t be ignored, brushed away, or contrived as coincidence. It was God. Issue settled. Life changed. Hope renewed, Bethany had her moose, and … I wasn’t an idiot. ” 🙂


Be encouraged RTP families, Just like God showed up for me and my family He will for yours. I don’t care how bad it feels, seems or looks like… God is aware, He is able and He will fix our messes – all we have to do is let him! Peace out Pastor B.

Strokes, skunks and sex offenders … a thursday in November to remember

Starts out like this, noticed my dad (age 73 and lives with us) had a half grin half grimace on his face at our Wednesday night community lifegroup at church, his words were a bit slurred and he seemed really mellow and that was unusual. After a few minutes I noticed his entire left side of his face had gone smooth…no wrinkles… like a massive Botox treatment had been delivered. Uh-Oh I knew what that probably meant. My sister-in-law had just survived a massive stroke two years prior and given that my dad was a quad bypass survivor already, things were not looking good.

My dad was having or had a stroke. Time to get him to his doc and fast. Only problem… He HATES doctors. Took my mom and I a bit of convincing to get him into see his heart doc, who promptly sent him to an ER and then it was a rush of blood work, EKG’s, MRI and three days in a hospital for some additional heart and neurologic “tests”… That’s how my thursday STARTED.

Spent the rest of the day in the hospital anxiously awaiting results from dad’s tests, taking calls, texts, FB alerts and emails from concerned family – friends etc… by 10pm that evening, the danger had passed enough that I felt like I could take the 15 minute drive home to crash for the evening. On the way, my wife calls and suggests casually that I not go through the garage door to our home, but use the front door… ?


It seems that my daughter Bethany had heard some “scratching” on the back door from our kitchen to the garage and thought it was our newly adopted kitty “Piper” wanting some milk or food. Piper – the kitty cat – lives in our garage and has this cute black and white fur pattern, a stripe in fact on her head…

Bethany opens the door and without thinking reaches down to pick up and pet the cute little bundle of fur she automatically thought was “Piper”…  only it wasn’t “Piper” it was her very distant most likely rabid cousin “Pepe Le Pew” !

I’m told the sounds of her echoing screams could be heard across a significant portion of Spring Hill TN.

When I arrived, I quickly checked the situation from the closed outside garage door and found that indeed as advertised, a large skunk was rooting through our trash and recycle bins at the top of garage stairs only a foot from our kitchen door. It seemed intent on making the large pile of old newspapers and toilet paper we kept out in the garage for storage… into his/her cozy new home.  Seriously?

Now it would seem a simple thing to get a skunk out of your garage… turns out… it isn’t.

Two hours and a two BB/Pellet guns later, I gave up and decided it might just be wise goto bed. Somehow throughout my honking the car horn in our garage, mom sprinkling black pepper on our back door floorboards  (which she claimed would scare away the skunk), and my chucking basketballs, soccer balls, any loose object I could find laying about… miraculously the thing never sprayed us.

I have no idea why or how I avoided being hit by some napalm from its legendary rear end waste cannon, but it must have been out of juice? I have no idea how or what had driven this nasty bugger into our garage this particular thursday evening… but I had pumped the skunk with at least 100 rounds of bb’s that seemed just a little less than strong enough to penetrate its furry nasty hide. But it did seem to sting and irritate it enough to jump around a bit when I got off a good shot. Never leaving the garage despite the fact the doors were wide open and I had cat food on the driveway to “entice” it to leave the premises as soon as possible. It never got the message.

As I was pondering my options on the driveway in the dark, a duo of Blackhawk military choppers flew DIRECTLY over me about 50 feet off the ground with their lights off and all their thunder noise makers on. It was a bit of a surprise since we don’t live within 100 miles of an airbase and fortunate that I didn’t wet myself from the surprise. As I stood there, I got a bit nervous as the realization I had been standing completely silhouetted in my driveway with two rifles, one in each hand (of course I knew they were pellet guns,but they might not see it that way…) . This was NOT in ANY way shaping up to be  a good situation…

Awakened by the deafening sound of the two copters, my wife came out  in her PJ’s and informed me why they might be out and flying over our neighborhood, it seems our local TV evening newscast had confirmed  a sex offender/rapist had been seen in town that day and the kids were put in lockdown for a bit in all the public schools. They had not caught the guy, but he was described as being over six feet tall, wearing a black/dark down jacket, had a beard and beanie hat, and police were canvassing the area looking for suspects, leads, witnesses etc…as I stood there exhausted, confused and more than a little disoriented from recent events, her words started to slowly penetrate my sleep deprived brain.

I realized I am over six feet tall…

I was a wearing a dark grey/ black down winter jacket….

I had a beard…

and…I was wearing my wool black beanie hat at that very moment.

I decided this thursday just really needed to be done and over. I mean a guy can only take so much…so  I went quickly into my house and my warm bed. No Police came by to ask why I was outside my home at midnight in our quiet cul-de-sac neighborhood, shooting guns at “something” in the garage.

Next morning…I did a quick search of our wide open garage and found the dang skunk had suspiciously disappeared. When I arrived at the Hosptial my dad was wide awake, alert and asking for some more coffee from the nurses, a very GOOD sign. It seemed the  insanity of the night before had completely evaporated overnight.

GOD WAS GRACIOUS TO ME… I am reminded of the truth that it’s really the little things in life that matter. Like no skunks in your garage, health and safety and security for our families and homes. I’m thankful that days like last thursday are a rare event, God’s blessings in my life are ever-present…but until there is a skunk in your garage… you just might forget for a moment to see them as them as such.

Peace out and Happy Thanksgiving early!


PS – I’m asking Santa for a .22 for Christmas !

Teens, Family and Technology 2011…and the Barna Research Says…. ?

Recent studies by Orange and Barna Research Group have revealed some surprising trends in Teen media use as it relates to families of faith. If you’re struggling with your teen or tween’s addiction to media, technology and instant communicationyou are NOT alone. Most families are struggling with keeping a relationship alive with their teenagers in a time when most of our kids are either out of the house with their friends and extra-curricular activities or plugged in and tuned out when they do stop by…

No one ministry or expert can solve every family communication challenge, but we can point you in the right direction by recommending a great new resource by Orange and Barna Research. Their “The Family and Technology Study” 2011 is up to date with trends, and statistics that will directly impact how you react and guide your families and youth groups. I strongly encourage you to invest in this resource if you have teens or are in youth ministry.

Courtesy of

This is a proprietary research product, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than a introductory statement/quote about their findings, but it gives us something to consider for sure.  Here is a summary from the first page of introduction…

“So, whats the bottom line? Well, technology is impacting families in a significant way, but not in the way you might think. The state of relationships between parents and teens are not as healthy as we might have hoped, but technology does not appear to be the culprit. Technology is not the enemy, it simply facilitates the way we were already relating to each other...” (Reggie Joiner, Jared Herd and Carey Nieuwhof, of Orange)

Clearly with the extensive and detailed research of the Barna and Orange groups, the technology and families trend is being studied and evaluated for us to benefit. If you purchase and study this report, you will find the challenges to our tweens and teens begin and end with the parenting oversight and behaviors, much MORE than in the energy and effort to control the consumption of our kids.

Translated…our kids are following our lead when it comes to media and technology. mimicking our personal use  down to almost the exact number of minutes of media ingested per day… over 225 minutes per day for parents compared to over 275 minutes for teens. (page 18 of study) The reality comes abruptly at us when you stop to think about it… our kids are simply learning from us.

So, if your kids are blasting away too much of their days online, gaming or instant messaging their seven hundred Facebook friends… it may be time to take a long hard look in the mirror of our lives and see how much we’re using our laptops at the dinner table?  Sobering reality to realize that the erosion of the family and faith cannot simply be blamed at the feet of the awful technological tsunami outside our doors… much scarier to realize it’s from the parenting habits well established within.

I encourage you take the time to find out more with a summary of their report at Barna Research, cost is $29.00 but well worth it for concerned Parents or Pastors. ( this is not an advertisement, I use their research regularly in my work and ministry and have purchased my own copy at a recent Orange conference, which I also HIGHLY recommend attending)

God has a strategy and a way for us as parents to reach our kids with the truth of an authentic faith… what may be the most difficult part of that mission, is the changes He may ask us to make along the way. Technology maybe one of the first places we get challenged to carefully consider…

Gotta go… Sorry, I really need to go now to practice my defensive moves on my “Call of Duty” game.  🙂

Peace out,


Help for the Frustrated Wife! – Avoiding the “reactive” marriage Cycle

So as my last post was directed to husbands, fathers and men…it only seems fair (maybe not wise 🙂 ) to approach similar issues from the other perspective. It’s common for most wives to get seriously frustrated with their husbands and over a variety of life issues and habits, personality quirks, behavior patterns (some very serious, some minor) etc… Unfortunately it’s also common for ladies to step into those frustrating situations with a baseball bat and start swinging (metaphorically of course) at the guy.

The typical reaction… Guys pull back emotionally and physically from the relationship. They retreat further from you and get even quieter than before you unleashed your inner tiger and let it “roar”. Often a downward spiral starts to form, where you (the wife) get angrier and more frustrated with each event. Leading to more and more baseball bat episodes and roaring, until eventually the relationship that was once so intimate, vulnerable & fresh is left broken and reserved and superficial, a shell of its former self. And your too tired to care.

What do most frustrated wives usually do in those situations ?

Your reaction may be to trust in your basic instincts, which almost always will be to focus on changing your husband, to force or lure him to adapt his behaviors to be more accommodating to your family. You will be deeply frustrated so your comments may inadvertently get a bit nasty, edged with impatience and anger at his inability to remember your preferences, or your suggested improvements in his actions etc… You will think your editing the worst thoughts out of your comments, but believe me… your tone will more than make up for any censorship you may have maintained. He will know your absolutely torqued off at him, again, and it won’t work well. Oh it may cause some minor temporary changes in behavior, but nothing substantive. But you will feel marginally better for a few days…

If you persist in pushing hard at his exterior, he will continue his slow retreat from you. First to the kids (if you have any) for his emotional support and affirmation, then to friends and if you continue to push over a longer period of time… he will eventually begin to consider other relationships as a retreat from the constant barrage he finds at home. That will lead to disaster for you both and your family.

Consider a few different approaches instead;

1) Look at the relationship from a higher perspective than your own. God has a plan, these bumps in your marital highway are not catching Him off guard. Ask Him for advice and take the time to listen to His response to your deepest frustrations and concerns. If you feel your husband’s being a donkey’s hind-end, then pray for God to change his heart, or yours or both. Ultimately it’s your relationship with God that will fulfill your deepest emotional needs, not your husband. Also, take a sec to gain some balance and  be encouraged, this is a common marital challenge, but not necessarily a permanent status you will have to endure.

2) Take a hard look at the way your “reacting” to your husband. Stop doing that if you can, and when you can’t; take responsibility for it with him and apologize. I know, how crazy. Apologize to HIM ? Yes, please. It will start to change the dynamic with you and him immediately. Lower your “expectations” for him to immediately “understand” what you’re wanting. It’s going to take some regular time in prayer and the Holy Spirit to really start to change him, and you.

3) Find some help. Don’t try to sort this out on your own, and don’t do the gossip circle of confiding in friends who will agree with you and commiserate about their own failed relationships. (you know what I mean here) Go higher than that. Find a lady who has lived a few decades as a married woman successfully, talk with her, pray with her, listen to her. Also, books are awesome, lots of great biblically based marriage resources are on the bookshelves of our local Christian retailers, but more common is the number already in your own home. Look up anything by Chapman, Lucado, Eldridge, Dobson, etc… they will all re-enforce the same basic truth. Love is more than an emotional reaction or feeling, it’s a covenant of commitment. Centering your focus on Christ will re-set your capacity to love your husband and help in learning to understand each others love languages, expressions etc… are all very important to moving past these cycles of reactive behavior.

4) Respect your husband – honor his hard work and efforts on your behalf. Recognize to yourself and your family that this is no small feat. His determination to provide and protect is a major contribution to your health and stability. See his contributions to your well being as valuable as any comfort his emotional vulnerability might provide in your personal relationship. When you understand that his hard work IS his way of communicating his love to you… it may make more sense why he’s trying so hard at his job.

5) Read and live I Peter 3:1-4 (NIV)   Simply paraphrased… Your actions speak louder than your words.

1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

6) Wait expectantly; My wife prayed for me for two years as we went through a terrible separation, infidelity and divorce before God intervened in my heart and our marriage. It was hell. But in the end, God won. The power of my praying wife is an epic testament to the strength she had in faith and her willingness to allow God to do what He had to do in me. This stuff works, it’s counter-intuitive, it means letting go of the baseball bat with your husband, but in the end… big or small, God can handle it.

I can’t guarantee God will heal your marriage, or remove the issues with your husband, but I can tell you he will either give you the strength and grace to move forward or the clarity to walk away. Each marriage is unique and full of baggage, some can be helped with counseling and a community of faith, others cannot. I would NEVER presume to assume that the way God worked in my heart and life is the way he will work with others, but I can tell you… He will work out his love and redemption and restoration in every heart that lets Him.

Last thought… Remember that Marriage is a three-way covenant with  God,  husband & wife. It is not something to be easily discarded or walked away from. It is the solution of last result, when ALL ELSE has failed and you have carefully considered the cost and biblical impact of your choice with trusted advisors and pastoral counsel. In the presence of dangerous emotional or physical abuse or the act of infidelity (adultery) , it’s clear you have every right to leave.

Peace out dear ladies and may God richly provide for you with every need you may have.


Authors Disclaimer – Not being a licensed therapist or counselor I’m only offering my observations, a possible new perspective on the issue. Suggestions shared here are simply gained from the life experiences of a redeemed 20 year marriage, three teenagers and the common marital conflict  relational circumstances I’ve gleaned from years of ministry in the church. In the end, we all answer to God individually for our life choices, not to me, your mother in-law or your pastor. God alone, and He looks at the heart. Beware taking the “easy” out in these things, I believe the lessons not learned will follow you.

Funerals and Family… living without regrets

My wifes grandmother passed away last saturday… after over eight decades of life, she was gone. “Great Mimi” was an amazing lady, a southern treasure who baked and sewed and lived as a kind and considerate great-grandmother whose generosity and love impacted hundreds and hundreds of lives… Mother of two, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of six (including our three).

She was a simple lady, but rich in many other ways, rich in her faith, rich in her kindness and surrounded by love she was admired and beloved by her family,..and rightfully so. She lived a life that we all desperately hope to find, a life full of Grace and Peace and genuine Contentment.

My wife was deeply affected by her grandmother’s life and death. Her life-long attachment to her “Mimi” was strong, and her frequent times with her were deliberate and she consistently wrote, called and visited her every chance she had. She shared of the details of her life with her “Mimi” and constantly was sending school pictures, vacation cards and loving notes for decades. It was clear by the box of letters that we found after the funeral, that “Mimi” kept all of those love letters from my wife, those thoughtful memento’s were carefully kept and stored, treasured by them both all along the way.

Memphis TN was great “Mimi’s” home and regardless of the social, economic or racial changes in her city..she never left. In fact, she lived in the same home for over sixty years, despite the urgings of her family to move. She was independent, resourceful and thrifty.

Great “Mimi” was a sweet and gentle soul, she loved her family and she spoke her mind if it was needed. She believed in her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and she believed in her family. She rarely travelled and loved to stay at home and enjoy her modest and simple life.

Her life was a testament to another time, a time of faith and love and integrity. A time of living within your means and being content to do so. A life of hard work and simple pleasures…. a life I want my family to know. Thanks to my wife’s tenacious will, they did. We never ever failed to visit “Mimi” when in Memphis and my kids grew up knowing her and her amazing cookies, cake and food. She always forced us to eat and enjoy her latest creations in the kitchen. A terrible burden we all accepted willingly whenever we could 🙂

It took an investment of time for us to truly appreciate her and keep the relationship alive in our family, and for each of our busy trips to Memphis we always stopped by “Mimi’s” little house. With today’s intense over-scheduled lifestyles…Time is a commodity that many families don’t have or refuse to surrender to their families, and I believe risk reducing their generational heritage by doing so. My wife would not allow that to happen to her family, and in doing so exposed myself and our three children to the amazing grandmother she loved so much… and to her values and strength rooted in her days as hard-working sharecroppers daughter who never, ever complained or forgot how much she truly had.

Thank you “Great Mimi” for being the beautiful lady you were, and for sharing that peaceful and contented life with all of us. We will miss you. To find our more about Paige’s grandmother… click here.

Parents, my message today is simple…

                                                                    “Take the Time”.

Invest wisely in your families, your extended relationships are too valuable to take for granted, treasure those you have while you can, and expose your kids to the generation of our grandparents. It may never come again and their influence is badly needed in our homes today. Ask you kids to consider… what will their lives be like at the end of their time here on earth, will they be missed, will they be loved, will they have made a difference…?

What will their legacy be for their grandkids…?A good question for us all to take some time to consider. As we left the funeral services on monday, my wife whispered to me… I’m so glad I lived my life with my “Mimi”, I am so glad I was with her near the end…I love that we can take the time today to honor and remember her without regret.

Lets agree to seek together to strive to live out our lives with all of our families… Without Regrets.

Peace out,


Rob Bell…heretic or hero ?

Rob Bell, the charismatic founder of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. Known as an innovative speaker, pastor, teacher, lecturer and author. Deemed by some to be a hero, and to others a heretic. Pastor Bell’s book, “Love Wins” is in the middle of all out debate online, in print, on tv and among Christian theologians on the nature of Hell…he is as controversial as radioactive baby food. Is he a Heretic ? Or is he a Hero?

The Question I believe is actually deeper than that… instead of focusing on the media fire storm around the book, what about the actual discussion on the ideas in the book? For me, one detail has emerged far and above the rest, and that does not involve a discussion on Hell, but what about our understanding of “Heaven”?

Is it possible that we have been over-simplifying and under-emphasising the Hope of the gospel ?

After reading the book… (which to discuss intelligently is a MUST) I believe you will find yourself agreeing with and dis-agreeing with Mr. Bell on several issues. His avoidance of the significant issue of what Judgement is, or could be or will be for souls after death is notable in the book. So for now, the confidence to label the man a HERETIC is off the table for me.

As far as calling him a HERO… I’m not willing to go that far…yet. Jury is still out. For now, I’ll say no. (See Francis Chan’s Video Commentary on this… His comments are precisely what I felt but couldn’t articulate after reading Rob’s book… )

But what about Heaven ?

That is the most fascinating question, the critical “take away” reminder that Rob Bell brings to us from his book. As Christians in a culture of media and marketing and canned infomercial styled faith, we may be guilty of missing the point.  What if the gospel wasn’t just a “get out of jail” card for our soul after death, but a solution for life, practical and available in the “here and now” ? What if Eternal life, was describing what life was meant to be like, and is now possible for those who embrace Jesus as the savior he claimed to be?

What if the whole perspective on our lives was meant to be lived with the reality that everything old was made new, and that everything broken was to be made whole and that every loss redeemed? That the power of the cross was sufficient to re-birth our lives as they were meant to be lived. A fresh start, a radical transformation. Then, the punishment for those who reject that gospel of new life would have to be… old life. Dying… Hopelessness, brokeness, despair… Hell.

That’s fascinating, even likely. But not the point.

Does our understanding of the bible and Jesus then rule out the existence of Hell ? I do not belive so. Rob seems to imply he might go there… ?Not my concern, its debatable, unknowable and brilliant faithful Christian minds for over a thousand years have raised the same question with similar results.

In the end, for me its to some degree irrelevant, my concern is living my life now. I believe that Rob is right in this portion of his reasoning… God has provided us all with the option to “Choose” to live from a “New” source of life that is available only in a re-united relationship with God (Jesus). To choose not to do that is our freedom… and our responsibility. To reject that life leads to Hell.

To accept that leads to salvation… Such a “New” saved life should explode with vibrant and relentless love, hope and peace. That life would influence everyone around it, and that witness would provide to the poor, the dying and the oppressed of the tangible evidence that there is a savior. It would reek of Jesus and it would be impossible to deny that a life in Christ was literally like living as though we were in heaven now.

What I see instead for most of us professing Christians… is something closer to simple survival.

Rob Bell in his controversy, I believe is providing us all with a very powerful platform for further study… forget the issue of whether Hell is a literal or figurative concept. What about “Heaven”? Have you actually considered that the life Jesus promised for us all, is more than a harp and some blue sky… it might be right in front of you now, waiting for you to discover, today ?

In the end, you need to read the book and you need to read it with an open bible. Search the scriptures, find out if what you think you believe is what it really says. You might be surprised at what you find… I was.

Bit of departure from our usual parenting fare today, but I thought it was worth the time, and curious as to your own observations on this controversial subject.

Peace out,