Archives For Family

Breaking the Chains of Hopelessness

The first time Rick publicly prayed at a weekend church service for people living with a mental illness, his words were simple. He asked God to bring comfort and strength to anyone living with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness. He asked God to reassure them that their pain and suffering mattered to God and to their brothers and sisters, and to remind them that as a church family, we would do all we could to offer support to them and their families.

The response from the congregation was astonishing. As he stood on the patio following the services, dozens of men and women who were living with a mental illness, or who loved someone living with a mental illness, lined up to give him a hug and to thank him for bringing their struggle into the light. Many spoke through their tears about the deep gratitude they felt to hear mental illness mentioned from the pulpit in such a loving and positive way. “I’ve kept my illness a secret at church,” several said. “I didn’t know it was okay to talk about it.”

That simple,…

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During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command operated 24 hours a day as a shield of protection for our nation. This meant that at any point in a given day, there were fully combat-configured bombers flying to assure the safety of our nation.

Since these planes flew constantly, how did they remain full of gas? They did what is called mid-flight refueling. A refueling plane actually flew up next to the Strategic Air Command plane, docked in, and filled the plane with gas.

As a pastor, you need to learn how to refuel your life in mid-flight. You can’t just hop off to a tropical island every time you get tired and discouraged. You have to keep going. You have to learn how to recharge yourself in the middle of your hectic lifestyle.

The fact is, it takes energy to do God’s will. What do you do when you run out of energy? Psalm 94:19 says, “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer” (TLB).

I suggest that once a day, you should go outside in your yard, sit down, and…

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Every relationship — even a good one — has conflict. If you don’t know how to deal with it, how to resolve it, how to manage it, you can kill your relationship.

The Bible says conflict is caused by selfishness. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren’t they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you?” (GNT). I am basically a selfish person. I think of me before I think of anybody else. And you do, too. I want what I want and you want what you want, and when these competing desires collide, that’s called conflict.

The night before I got married, my father-in-law sat down with us and said, “There are five areas where marriages usually have conflict: money, sex, in-laws, children, and communication.”

My father-in-law was a prophet. In our marriage we’ve gone five for five! We’ve hit every single one of them.

Some of you are in major pain right now. You are frustrated. You feel stuck in your relationship because you have argued about certain issues over and over with no resolution, much less reconciliation. You don’t know what to do.

If you’re going to…

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Man

After spending a decade on the phones counseling depressed, down, and suicidal people, I have come to the conclusion that the thought of suicide (in some form) is a thought many men have pondered.

From “I wish I weren’t here” to “everybody would be better off without me” to “I want the pain to end,” men have wanted relief at some time in their lives.

Unfortunately, while more women attempt suicide, it’s men who are more successful at taking their own lives. It’s the final step in the plan for destruction set in motion by our enemy.

All too often, the thoughts, circumstances, sadness, or brain trauma that lead up to suicide get suppressed momentarily only to resurface later with greater intensity.

A man loses hope. The decision of self-demolition ensues. Yet . . . there is hope, and there is life. It’s just one call away. And it comes with a promise. The key word to remember is “yet.”

The Bible, and the entire book of Lamentations, includes many true stories about being in distress. One lament, in chapter 3 verses 19-20, provides context we can relate to: Feelings of affliction, aimless wandering, bitterness, and…

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Isolated in the Crowd

Do we choose to be overwhelmed? Or to suffer with depression and anxiety? The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no.

Depression and anxiety are epidemic in our culture. Suicide, the most tragic possible end of these conditions, is all too common today; and the church has had a mixed and mediocre track record of dealing with it.

Close to a decade ago, I entered a period of depression and anxiety that I didn’t see coming, and didn’t recognize until I was in fairly deep. I had made the choice to say yes to “opportunities” that wound up crowding God and other people out of my life. As a result, I descended into a bit of a pit. My soul suffered. My wife and kids suffered. My church suffered.

After moving to the West Coast and getting plugged into a church and a small group that forced us to get real, I finally began to understand where I was and make the slow and difficult climb out of the valley. I’d been overwhelmed.

What does overwhelmed look like in the life of a Christian?

First, you can’t keep God happy, so you stop trying,…

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“He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.’ The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, ‘You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?’ Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water’” (John 4:4-10 NLT).

Though most of our personal evangelism probably happens in the context of some kind of relationship (friend, family member, coworker, neighbor, classmate, teammate, etc.) there are countless opportunities we have throughout our lives to engage complete strangers with the Good News, just…

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Being vs Doing

In the Christian community, the last generation of leaders has often been called the “builder generation.” These were men and women who accomplished great things – including founding universities, launching massive media networks, and building ministries with a global outreach. They were great “doers.” The problem was, far too often they weren’t so good at “being.”

Some of those same leaders who accomplished so much for the Kingdom of God were also closet alcoholics, others were absent fathers, many had raging egos, some were tyrants in the workplace, and still others committed adultery and virtually destroyed their families. On the surface, they were remarkable leaders, but inside, they deeply struggled.

Throughout the Bible, it’s interesting that before the Lord calls us to “Do” he calls us to “Be.”

The Scriptures remark about the righteousness of men like Abraham and Noah before it tells the stories of what they accomplished. Certainly they stumbled from time to time – we all do that – but their primary concern wasn’t accomplishment, it was their relationship with God.

I know from my own family experience my father’s generation often found their identity in what they did, rather than…

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If you walk into the Little Lambs preschool choir rehearsal at Saddleback Church on any given week, you’ll hear tiny but powerful voices singing out with all their might.

Lyrics like “You are good all the time, all the time you are good” echo through the worship center. It is so precious to hear the praise of Jesus on the lips of our young children.

I have the privilege of mentoring children in what it looks like to live a life of worship. We are teaching children to become lead worshippers in the various kingdoms God has placed them in – school, family, church – and all of the activities in between.

It is both an honor and a responsibility that we are given to invest in these children now and not 10 years from now. They are today’s leaders, but they are too often sidelined in their ministry until they become adults.

At Saddleback, we understand and believe that these early years are the most formative, and we recognize the opportunity that we have to inform the foundational building blocks that will help shape these young worshippers. We take them seriously and always remind them…

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Achievers

Men are wired for achievement. Ultimately, God made us this way so that we would pursue and achieve his purposes for our lives.

But there are a lot of reasons why men struggle to achieve the goals for which God made them.

  • We’re easily distracted by both opportunities and threats.
  • We’re criticized when we choose to follow God’s plan at any cost.
  • We’re often overwhelmed by the responsibilities of manhood.

Here are some words of wisdom for men who want to fulfill their God-given destinies and achieve his purposes . . .

1. Keep on working in spite of the distractions.

There are multiple kinds of distractions men face. Some are subtle and some are obvious, but we manage, often, to fall for both.

Positive distractions come in the form of opportunities to do more things than we were made to do. Often, these are “good” opportunities, except that they aren’t the opportunities God has led us to pursue. We get busy. We get overwhelmed. And we start finding our identity in work and business and secondary pursuits.

Negative distractions come in the form of enticement to sin, to slack off from our responsibilities, or to substitute our own…

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Man

Life is about embracing the process that leads to our progress.

That is, living a bold life means embracing our circumstances, good or bad, as a vehicle for learning and growing.

I don’t grow courage unless I face some fears. I don’t become more loving unless I’m challenged by harder-to-love people. I don’t learn to lead people well when I isolate myself.

You get the picture. Personal growth for men is about embracing challenge. Sometimes, we need to look for trouble!

Here’s the problem, though.

Most men don’t grow.

Most men stay trapped in passivity, rendered anemic by their fears, haunted by their pasts, and caged by their insecurities.

You wanna know who did grow?

Jesus.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, you’ll likely see the value very quickly in this description of Jesus’ growing up years:

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people (Luke 2:52 NLT).

Jesus grew.

In fact, Jesus grew into the single greatest influencer the world has ever known. The entire world lives by a calendar that works because of Jesus (even though we’ve had to make some minor adjustments for accuracy).

While I think there are good male role models from all walks of life, I…

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VolcanoThe sound of the explosion was heard up to 3,000 miles away in Perth, Australia.

That is on the ground reports following the Krakatoa volcano eruption in Indonesia in 1883. Its “blast zone” was felt worldwide because of a strange event within the volcano which occurred as it was undergoing a “normal” explosion. So what happened you say?

The bottom line is this: something got inside it.  Tuck that thought away for now as  I give you a 20-second lesson in volcanology. Don’t worry. You can steal the illustration later at no charge!

As Krakatoa’s walls began to rupture after its first two explosions, ocean water entered the magmatic chambers of the volcano creating the conditions for a phreatomagmatic (pronounced free-atto-mag-matic) event. This was the secret power behind Krakatoa’s unusual force and displacement powers. In simpler terms: the mother of all pressure cookers was created, contained, and then carried outward at the moment when the power below overcame the pressure above holding it down.

The result: a super-explosion that, quite literally, rocked the world.

Sitting on a spiritual pressure cooker?

So what do phreatomagmatic volcanic events, Krakatoa, the Holy Spirit, and rocking the world have to do with God’s men in…

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Social media is here. It’s not a trend. It’s not a fad. It’s part of the atmosphere we breathe in, like oxygen. Like it or not, social media is here.

You and I who are parents of teens and preteens grew up in a very different world. I remember the first broadcast day for MTV. Remember the first video? It was “Video Killed the Radio Star.” And it was prophetic.

We also grew up at the advent of the Internet for home users, email, and social networking when it wasn’t cool.

Email started out as a kind of inter-office instant messaging system. Now, seven out of 10 people check their email a minimum of six times per day.

In the first internet generation, we would “dial up” and then “disconnect.” You could hear the modem scream and then hope for a “You’ve got mail” announcement.

Now, it’s always on. We’re absorbed in it.

I have a daughter and, as of this writing, she’s about to turn 15. I couldn’t be more proud of her maturity when it comes to social media and technology. But it’s something I think about every single day. I have two boys – currently 7 and 4 -…

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