the reckless dad

because adventure isn't safe

The adventure continues…


Gave the website a refresh yesterday. New theme. New identity. New focus. 

Last week we were on family vacation and we had the opportunity to go to the mountains of north Georgia. It was fantastic. Adventure was waiting at every turn. The boys had a great time. Although, the trip wasn’t without one day where the boys were ‘bored’ and ready to leave. We powered through and that actually turned out to be one of the best days of the trip. 

As I drove back to reality Friday and then back the grind of normal everyday life, I thought back on the adventures we had, the excitement we experienced. As I mused, the thought that everyday is an adventure came to me. As a father, everyday is the greatest adventure I will have. Times like this vacation are tons of fun, but they aren’t the normal. As a father, each day is an opportunity to live a full life teaching and guiding my boys into new experiences. Forging them into men. Giving them guidance and direction to mold them into the kind of dudes who are trustworthy, reliable, integritous, compassionate and disciplined. The kind of men who treat their wives and children with respect and dignity some day. The kind of men who after God’s own heart, like King David.

The adventure starts each morning when I wake up. Some adventures will be safe and easy to navigate: eat your vegetables, share your toys. Some adventures will be dangerous: stay away from pornography, don’t lie. And some adventures will be downright reckless: stay away from the 150′ cliff, today you are getting married. 

Being a dad is always an adventure (especially when you have 3 boys). It’s not always a safe adventure… sometimes as a dad you throw caution to the wind and are reckless. 

What if?


What if?

Not every sentence that begins with ‘what if’ ends in regret or guilt, but many of them do. It has been my experience that regret and guilt are luxuries I can’t afford if my goal is to move forward in life. Regret robs us of our ability to move beyond the experience we regret. It prohibits us from looking to the future and moving on to whatever experience is next in our lives. 

I’m not the expert on moving past regret (or an expert on anything… except maybe Jeeps and Star Wars), but I have come to realize regret is not only not heathy, but unhealthy. I have found. These three techniques useful when moving past my own regret:

  1. What could have happened isn’t what happened. This is simple, yet critical. The what ifs are where we are. What happened has happened and wishing for another outcome that hasn’t happened and at this point, can’t happen is wasted time and energy. Accept the reality of where you are right now. Work with it. Figure out how to make the best of the reality you are in. My favorite band, Celldweller, on his second album has a song called ‘The Best It’s Gonna Get‘ and this is the outlook we bed to have. This is it. This is the best it’s gonna get. This is what I have to work with and it makes more sense to make the most out of what I have rather than wishing I had something else. 
  2. It isn’t all bad. So things didn’t go the way I wanted, planned, hoped or maybe I totally screwed the pooch on this one. Ok. What can I learn from this? Where is the upside here? How can I learn from this and make better choices in the future? How can I use this experience to grow and become a better person? Regret keeps me from learning and growing and moving on to something else, potentially better. 
  3. The past doesn’t define my future. This experiences, usually mistakes are not definitive of who I am and who am becoming. I am not defined by my past experiences whether good or bad. What defines me is bigger than any action or non-action I could have or should have made. What defines you is also bigger than what you have done. Find the bigger, more complete definition of who you are and use that to define every aspect of you life. My life is defined, that is to say my identity comes from, by the love of a Savior who was willing to die for me. Are you willing to look to a Savior for you identity?

What are you regretting today that you need to let go of?

Something Different

I’m sitting in the lobby of the YMCA right now having finished an abbreviated work out due to waking up late. Sipping on some of their free coffee, taking a moment to read the Bible. At my church (Grace Orlando) we are studying the parables and last week we studying the parable of the Prodigal Son. 

One of my favorite. 

While there are many parallels to my life and that parable that I could draw, what strikes me this morning is my tendency to tell God what the true nature of my relationship with him is. When the son came to his senses and returned home he says to his father, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” Like he knows better where he belongs in relationship to his father. The father ignores his comment, hugs him and throws a giant party… overjoyed that his lost son has returned. 

When will I learn God treats me the same way? He isn’t concerned with what I think my identity in relation to him is… he’s only concerned with what he knows my relationship with him to be. God is the source of my identity as my creator, father and savior. Doesn’t his perception of who I am trump my perception, especially considering mine is marred and broken by sin?

There are many lessons to learn from this parable, but the most critical of those lessons is almost lost thanks to the name we have given it, the Prodigal Son. This implies the son is the pivotal character is this story. 

Not so. 

This is the third parable Jesus tells about something that was lost. The lost sheep, the lost coin and in both precious stories the central figure is the one who lost and then searched incessantly, unendingly for the lost item. For the item of incomparable value to them. In the story of the prodigal, the father is searching… waiting… watching for his son’s return so when he spots him far off he runs, undignified, to meet him. 

The central lesson of this story is God searches us. He finds us. He brings us to him. No matter what I have done or who I have become, God has found me. 

He throws a party and rejoices saying, my son who was lost is found, who was dead is now alive.  

I am a Thief. 

I am a thief.
This is difficult for me to admit to myself, let alone to anyone else. I’m not the only one that knows it. I don’t want to be. I don’t like it. In fact, I hate it. It feels constricting, suffocating and like I want to die.
No, I don’t really want to die… the point is that being stuck is debilitating and it robs you of joy, peace, happiness and all the good things of life. I don’t like being robbed. Especially, of the things in life which give it the most meaning and purpose.
I am a sarcastic, cynical and somewhat cantankerous human being. This makes it difficult to be around me sometimes. It is an interesting scenario, being robbed of your joy, because it causes you to rob others of their joy as well. You become a thief. I don’t like being a thief even more than I like being robbed by one. The other day, I came to the realization that it is time to check myself before wrecking myself. It is time for me to get a handle on my inner child and find what has robbed me of my joy, my peace, my happiness and my tranquility and serenity so I can stop robbing those around me.
I am a straight-forward kind of dude and I don’t put much stock in the whole life-force/energy thing we each have. However, I have seen firsthand how we can rob each other of joy, happiness and peace. I have been a thief of those things. When our personal experience is missing those them, we will rob others to of them in order to have them in our lives. Sometimes it is on purpose and other times it is unintentional. But it happens. I have done it… recently.
As humans, we grapple at anything that can/will fill the various holes we feel in our lives. At our core, we are fallen, sinful creatures who have selfishly rebelled against our God and creator; so it makes sense we would rob others of their joy in a feeble attempt to find joy for ourselves. The problem is, your joy can not and will not ever be my joy. Your joy can not and will not ever fill the hole in my life needing to be filled by joy.
And so, I selfishly attempt to find my joy by robbing you of yours and as a result leave a swath of pain, hurt and broken relationships because of my selfish attempt to fill the hole in my soul. I’m not the only one. Many of us do it. Sometimes, we don’t even realize it. At this very moment, I sit on the back patio of a lake house in North Carolina praying to God to find my joy… more specifically that he will be my joy. That God will re-orient my heart and my mind to him. That he will renew them into something new focus on him, his glory and his kingdom and not be focused on my selfish, sinful self. As I sit here, I feel very convicted of how I have allowed Satan a foothold in my life, a foothold of sarcasm and discontent (sarcasm isn’t inherently sinful, it easily leads down the path to the dark side though). I ask God to renew a right spirit within me, his spirit within me to be a man, a husband and a father, after his own heart. I ask for my joy and peace and excitement for life to be restored.
I am sitting at a lake house on the men’s retreat for my church. I came on this retreat with the sole purpose of getting my joy back, getting my focus back. Of remembering who I am before God and how he expects me to live and lead those he has trusted me with. On Sunday, we started a new series of sermons on the parables and we began with the parable of the sower. As I am reading and studying that passage this week, I find I have become the thorny soil. I have a solid foundation and root system in Jesus Christ, yet I have allowed the worry of life to choke out my walk with Christ. I have allowed other things to distract me from my Savior. I have become distracted. I have become like Peter as he stepped out of the boat to walk on the water… afraid, unfocused and distracted. I love Peter. 12 dudes in the boat and he was the only with the balls to get out on the water and walk towards Jesus. 11 dudes in the garden and this joker was the only one who pulls out a sword and says, ‘If you want Jesus, you have to go through me!’ Neither time did any of the others dudes make an outward sign of moment towards Jesus. Peter was impetuous and premature. But at least he did something. He was crippled by fear… not until later, when he denied Jesus 3 times. Which sort of brings us full circle on Peter. While being singularly focused, he was also distracted and unfocused. I am Peter and Peter is me.
They say the first step to fixing the problem is to admit there is a problem. I have a problem. I have become distracted and unfocused and allowed God to be shifted from the center of my life and as a result I have become a thief. As I have lost my joy, I have robbed others of theirs in a feeble attempt to have it for myself.
God, un-distract me.
Focus me on you once again.
Re-orient my life around you.
Renew my first love.
Become my joy again.

What if Star Wars became the paradigm we used to understand life?

What if Star Wars became the paradigm we used to understand life?

So much of life is mirrored in the Star Wars saga. Every major life situation or dilemma is found in the hallowed stories of what is arguably the greatest movie series (greatest story outside the Bible) in all of human history. 

All of the emotions each of us cope with everyday are found in Star Wars: love; hate, fear, betrayal, belonging, connection, depression, anxiety, joy, sadness, excitement, loss, despair and hope. 

We see stories of people being broken, we see redemption, we people use their talents/gifts/powers for good and evil. 

We see fear in the eyes of a little boy taken away from everything he knows to chase a dream. 

We see the hurt in the eyes of a young adult when he realized his friend and mentor has lied to him. 

We see the sting of betrayal by a close friend. 

We see the brokenness in the eyes of a young man who knows he has done terrible things and now he no longer owns himself. 

We see disappointment in the eyes of a father when he couldn’t save his son. 

Star Wars resonates with so many fans because, the story is their story too. They can identify with the feelings our heroes and villains feel. They can see themselves in their shoes. 

Star Wars has become our story. 

Each Day is a New Day

Each day we wake up and we are given a new day to do with it what we want. It can bbe a good day. It can be a bad day. It’s up to us as to what we do with each day. 

No one else can decide what kind of day we are going to have. This realization is difficult for me to swallow sometimes. I don’t think I play the victim card, but I do think I like to blame others for my actions. I like to think things are out of my control and others are responsible for my actions. 

But this is simply not true. 

I am responsible for my actions. No one else. Me. 

How this plays out is we determine how the course of the day goes. We can’t influence the obstacles that come at each day, but we can influence how we respond to them. We can determine how we react, how we respond or what we do with the obstacles that come at us. We aren’t innocent bystanders, we are active participants in every day we face. We decide how we are going to react to whait we face. 

This gives us courage, knowing we are able to impact how each day goes. We have some input into whether it is going to be a good day or not. 

Today, I chosen have a good day. Today, I chose to make a difference in how my day goes. Today, I decide to actively engage in my day. 

What are you choosing?

Gentle Peacemakers

  
I sit down this morning with one of my favorite passages of scripture: the Sermon on the Mount. These 3 chapters in the Gospel of Matthew have been the basis for many hours of personal bible study for me. Two of the verse pictured are some of the hardest for me to swallow: Blessed are the gentle… & Blessed are the peacemakers… I find these verses difficult because I don’t think I’m either. 
Honestly, I find myself relating more to Colt’s peacemaker than to that of a maker of peace. I struggle with being a peace maker for a couple reasons. Peace isn’t just absence of conflict, it’s the presence of calmness. I certainly don’t being calm to most situations, but do bring my share of conflict. I’m cantankerous, quick tempered, I have a fast tongue & I have to be right. All qualities the scriptures urge Christ followers to NOT be. I have decided to I want to make a goal of my to be more of a peacemaker in my interactions with others… especially my family. A few weeks ago at church, we discussed how as parents we shouldn’t exasperate our children… even if they do so to us. I’m trying to me less argumentative. It doesn’t always come out that way. 

And gentle… which I know being gentle or meek means have overwhelming power that you keep restrained. I’d much rather display said power, in order to control. Which is problematic. 

These are shortcomings I’ve noticed in my life. Shortcomings, that bother me. Shortcomings, I want to change. Each day, I try and I have success as well as failure. But each day, I will continue to fight the good fight to become a better husband, a better dad, a man who is more like what Jesus has called me to be. 

What about you?

Mentors

Mentor defineA big brother. A father. An uncle. A grandfather. A best friend’s father. A youth leader from church.

Every person, but young men especially, need an older man to pour into their lives. We need someone to help us learn how to be a man. In our society, we put a lot of pressure on young women but there is also a lot of pressure put on young boys to become manly men. There are certain things that men must know. Things it is expected as a man we are aware of. There are also expectations for men which will dramatically change the world all of the men on the planet would get it right. Once these boys develop into men and then as they take on the roles of husband and father, the expectations only get higher.

How do boys learn to be men? How to boys learn the critical ‘man-stuff’ they need to know? The same way any of us learn anything – someone teaches us.

We need someone who will teach us how to treat women. Women are to be treated with dignity and respect, not as objects for our use and abuse. Boys and young men need someone to teach them the proper way to speak to a woman. The proper way to treat a young woman. I am not necessarily a supporter of the whole idea of courting, but certainly something has been lost in the way our youth and young adults are approaching dating. It has lost the special-ness and wonder it once had. It is now a commonplace, ordinary thing and not something that is special. We have lost to excitement and mystery of entering into a relationship with the opposite sex. There are a myriad of societal issues that could likely be traced back to this… that is a discussion for another time! As boys we need someone to teach us how to treat girls and ultimately women.

We need someone to teach us the mystery, wonder and exhilaration that is fire. This is essential to being a man. Other men will immediately gauge the usefulness of a man based on whether he can build a fire. Whether you use raw elements, a flint stone, lighter fluid or straight gasoline a man must be able to make a fire. This ties into a man’s overall outdoorsyness. Men are supposed to skilled outdoorsmen, too. How good of an outdoorsman can you be if you can’t start a fire.

We need someone to teach us how to properly grill meat. Any meat. Dead animal cooked over open flames is quintessential manhood. Without this ability, is a man really a man? Grilling is more than utilitarian preparation of food, it is an art form. It is something special.  Magic happens when meat is grilled.

We need someone to teach us sports. Almost without exception, it is not possible for a group of men to arrive at a park, field, friend’s house or church without some sports equipment. It could be as simple as a football, soccer ball, Frisbee or a baseball and glove. It would seem as though men are hardwired to play sports. In a group of dudes, even the ones that aren’t ‘athletic’ will find themselves getting drawn into the exhibition off sports. While we seem to be inherently keyed into sports, we still must have someone take the time and interest to cultivate the athlete inside of each of us.

Who teaches us these critical life lessons? It is often our father. Sometimes it is an older brother. It can be an uncle. Maybe a grandfather. Maybe it is your friend’s father. Or it could be a youth leader from church. Or maybe it is all of the above. As boys and young men we need someone to teach us important skills and lessons we need in life. We need someone to mentor us.

We all do. We all need someone to pour into our lives and help us to grow. It doesn’t have to be a perfect mentor. It just needs to be someone who cares about us enough to walk through life with us for a season. Mentors change. Seasons and times of our lives change and what we need out of mentors change. But, no matter the season of life we are in we need mentors.

Who has been a mentor to you? What have they taught you? Who have you been able to mentor?

Fear is a Liar

Fear-is-a-Liar

Fear is a Liar.

I believe this to be the most appropriate location to begin a conversation on how to limit fear. In order to limit fear in our lives, we have to recognize it for what it is. A Lie. Fear lies to us on a regular basis. Fear attempt to convince us of things that likely will never come true. Fear attempts to thwart our efforts of success by getting us to short-circuit ourselves before we even try something.

I am not an expert in mastering fear. I often feel like the apostle Paul who said, ‘not that i have attained it’ because I have not attained it. Not even close on many subjects. Or any subject for that matter. But I have learned to control fear in my life to some degree. I have learned to overcome it and press on through the darkness and coldness of fear. Here are some things I keep in mind to assist me in pressing on through the fear.

  • Failure is ALWAYS and option – Always. It is ok to fail. There is no need to fear failing because it is inevitable. I will fail. And I will fail again. And again. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Learn both what I did well and what I did poorly in that given scenario. There are times when failing is the only way to learn. It is the process of trial and error leading to a better way to get things done. I have overcome fear by learning that it is ok to fail. It is ok to fall flat on my face. It is to make mistakes. The critical part is learning from the mistakes so as not to make them again.
  • ‘What if’ is worse – In my experience, wondering ‘what if’ is worse than anything, even failing. Looking back across the landscape of my life and realizing I tried nothing for fear that it work out the way I hoped. Second guessing my life and decisions I have made, has consumed more hours of my life than I care to admit. Constantly consumed with ‘what if’ because I was unwilling to try something is significantly worse than trying something and having any outcome. Because at least I tried and now I know.
  • Nothing is gained by doing Nothing – my brother had children’s book as we were growing up, whose title or premise I can’t recall. The only thing I do recall is a mouse who consistently said he can’t do this or that. Finally at the end, another wiser character told him ‘Can’t never could’. This phrase has stuck with me ever since. Because can’t never could. If you never try anything then you will never know your limits and you never gain anything, even if the only gained is self-awareness of what you are capable of.

Fear does not tell the truth. Fear uses lies to limit us and give us a false sense of we who are and what we are capable of. These are some things I keep in mind when facing a situation I fear. They have helped me. Maybe they can help you.

An Unpleasant Emotion

fear 1

fear

ˈfir/
noun
  1. 1.
    an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

    “drivers are threatening to quit their jobs in fear after a cabby’s murder”

    synonyms: terrorfright, fearfulness, horroralarmpanicagitationtrepidation,

    dreadconsternationdismaydistress; More

There you have it. Fear.

When I think of fear, I can’t help but to think of The Replacements and the classic locker room scene where the coach asks them to admit their fears. Watch it here.

I have come to believe the reality of life is that we are held back in every aspect of lives by fear. Fear takes on many faces and comes in many forms, but the ultimate reality is that fear controls us all at some time or another. Fear traps us and keeps us from being able to move forward in life. Fear inhibits, prohibits and limits us from moving. It paralyzes. It overcomes and overwhelms. It conquers and leaves devastation in its wake.

Why? Why do we let fear immobilize us the way we do? Is fear really that powerful? Does fear really have that much control? Has fear been unlimited power, rendering us powerless to battle against it?

I think what gives fear its power is the unknown or the intangible nature of what it does to us. There are times when our fears are rooted in reality or in previous experience. But many times, fear is not rooted in anything other than our own fear of fear or a fear of the unknown or fear of an outcome based on insufficient or incomplete information. Let me explain. On Friday I took the youth from Grace Landing’s group home to a high ropes course. A couple of the obstacles we tackled you had to climb a ladder for about 15 feet, then climb a telephone pole for another 15 feet arriving at the obstacle approximately 30 feet in the air. One of the youth was barely able to make it off the ladder. He was afraid of falling. His fear in that moment was fear of an unknown, or more specifically fear based on insufficient or incomplete information. He was wearing a climbing harness which was secured around his waist. He was securely attached to a safety rope by locking carabiner. The safety rope was proper rigged and secured to an anchor point. There was a trained professional belaying this youth. There was literally no way for this youth to be injured while at the ropes course, yet his fears kept him from experiencing the ropes course to its fullest. His fear based on insufficient and incomplete information – if he fell, he would get hurt or die. His fears were never going to be realized at the ropes course.

This happens to us across the expanse of our lives. We face situations and determine our course of action based on what we think could possibly occur and if it is an outcome we don’t like, we are afraid. We begin to fear the outcome and then fear has crippled us from completing the task at hand. Fear based on a possibility. A possibility that is just as likely to not happen as it is to happen. Fear is at its essence being crippled by the possible. Even when experience supports our fear, there is no guarantee the fears will be realized this time around. For the person who gets married and their spouse breaks their heart and leaves them, just because this was their experience it does mean they should withhold from engaging in authentic relationships with other for fear of being hurt again. They may be hurt again, but they may also find a rewarding relationship in which they are surrounded by the love they deserve.

Fear, in reality, only has as much power as we give it. Fear is only as strong as we allow it to be. Fear can only overcome and cripple us because we allow it to do so.

My hope today is identify fear as a force working against us, only having the power we give it. Tomorrow, I want to identify how to limit the power we give to fear.

How has fear limited or crippled you?

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