Tag Archives: Parenting

Extraordinary Experiences


This quote from Mark Sanborn’s Fred 2.0 stirred my thinking significantly. Though targeted towards business owners, read carefully what he says here:

“Many resources, it seems, are undifferentiated commodities that we could get from anyone, anywhere, anytime. Employees who offer nothing different from other employees are interchangeable – and they likely won’t go far in their careers.

“If everything we provide, as individuals or organizations, is exactly the same as what others provide, there is no reason for customers to choose us, our products, or our services above others. That means the competition always will be based on price – lowest price, to be exact. If we want to be in demand as an employee or an employer, or as a product or service provider, we need to make sure we offer customers the ultimate differentiator: an extraordinary experience.” (emphasis added)

Read the bold italicized sentence again.

His point is – in business – if you want to set yourself apart from your competition, the way to do that is to ensure the customers’ experience with you and/or your product is Extraordinary. Different. Superior. Phenomenal. Mind-Blowing.

Here’s what has stirred my thinking: I think the exact same thing applies in marriage, in parenting, and – dare I say it – churches.

Wanna make sure your spouse doesn’t go looking for another ‘product’? Make sure you are always living to make him or her thrive (extraordinary experience). Make sure they know that your love for them is far superior than anyone or anything else.

Wanna make sure your kids stay connected with you after high school? Build a culture of love and joy and peace and fun and excitement and wisdom and compassion and discipline and character building. The ultimate differentiator is an extraordinary experience.

Or what about churches? How do we – as church leaders – differentiate ourselves, not from other churches, but from other things vying for our people’s time and attention? How do we make it to where our people desire to come worship corporately? Is it possible to build a culture where people prioritize attending church over their beds, brunch, the lake, a game?

Could it be that so many church people choose other things over regular church attendance – not because they are lazy and sinful (I know plenty of regular church attenders who are that – don’t you?), but because those charged with leading the church have defaulted to providing a mediocre experience over and over again?

Could it be that thousands of church people are being more impacted by ‘extra activities’ than their church experience? Is it that they are mis-prioritizing things in their lives, or are they merely doing what adds the most value to them?

Am I saying it is wrong to miss a Sunday to go to the lake? Of course not. Go and have fun.

Am I saying that all who skip church to do other things are intimately walking with Jesus? Nope. Not saying that either.

I just believe that we church people – especially us church leaders – could learn something from Mark Sanborn. As I think about many, many, many, many church services I have endured in my lifetime – to be honest – going to the lake or sleeping in an extra hour would have added much more value to my life.

Do I think it is all the church’s fault? No. Of course not. I know we live in a fallen world and we are sinners and are ‘prone to wander.’ But if the God we say we love and worship and serve is the Author of Extraordinary Experiences – should we not strive to do the same for His people when we gather? Maybe, just maybe they would have a reason to come back.


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Thank God for the Boogey Man

So, my Pharisaical-Legalistic self didn’t even want my kids to watch Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians. When I saw the previews, I remember thinking:

“Nope. Not gonna let my kids watch that. Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy imagessaving the day? Not in my house. We have a hard enough time knowing what to do with those things. I am not going to let Hollywood put more logs on those fires. No. Sir. Ree. Only Jesus saves in my house.”

I felt alot more righteous after I thought it. You know how it goes for us church people, right? We feel so much better about how spiritual we are after we think of 25 reasons Hollywood is so unspiritual. [I need help don’t I?]

But as any parent knows – saying in your mind what you won’t let your kids do usually comes back to get you. Luke turned 8 on Saturday. Wanna know what he wanted to do Saturday night? Watch . . . . Yep. Rise of the Guardians. Know what I watched with my 3 kids and wife on Saturday night? Yep – Rise of the Guardians. Know what else? I loved it. Thought it was great. Couldn’t wait to go to sleep to see if Mr. Sandman was gonna show up. Wanted to lose another tooth so that the. . . okay, I’ll stop. But you get the point. I enjoyed the movie.

I learned some things about myself, my kids, and Hollywood. School is out. Summer is here. Your kids are going to start looking for stuff to do.

Here are some thoughts about movies and parenting to maybe help out this summer:

1. Kid Movies Aren’t All Evil. 

They’re fun. They’re entertaining. They’re something you can do together. There are some really good ones out there.

2. Kid Movies Provide GREAT talking points.

Since Saturday night, I have been able to take certain portions of the movie and revert it back to them, or a truth from the Bible, or just to laugh with them. For instance, at one point Santa takes Jack Frost into his closet and asks Jack what his ‘center’ is. In other words, Santa knew his purpose in life (his ‘center’). He pushed Jack to know his. This provided a great talking point for me and the kids about our purpose. Know what? They got it. Why? They had just seen a movie run by experts who know how to relate to kids.

3. Kid Movies Almost Always Picture the Gospel.

I’m serious. Take Rise of the Guardians. The “Man in the Moon” appoints Jack Frost to rise up and destroy the evil Boogey Man. Yes. You read that right. The Boogey Man wants all children to live in fear. The “Man in the Moon” chooses not to just “let it be,” but sends one who can conquer. Sound familiar? Yep. God appointed Jesus to destroy the works of the devil.

Monday morning at breakfast I talked about that – for maybe 3 minutes – and guess what? All 3 kids were engaged and intently listened while they processed the connection. I’ll take 3 minutes of having them all engaged any day.

If you think about it there is almost always a bad guy wanting to mess everything up and a good guy who is appointed to set it all straight. WE know that ultimately this has happened in Jesus. We can use these things, however, to help our kids understand it deeper and more fully.

4. Kid Movies Almost Always Provide GREAT Visual Examples

If you watch carefully, usually there is a smart aleck kid or a child with a major attitude. Also – without fail – the parents are usually the idiots in these movies (especially the dads!). These things are what make these movies (and many of the ‘kid friendly’ shows on TV) so dangerous. There’s (usually) no bad language or violence or sexual content. But there is an ‘air’ of bad attitude or ‘dumb’ parents that is extremely disappointing. Instead of just refusing to let our kids watch anything, I think it is good to let them see and watch things that contradict what the Bible teaches – SO THAT – you can talk to them about it and help them SEE it. It’s one thing to tell your kids what should or shouldn’t be done. It’s another thing for them to actually SEE it and then have an explanation.

What to do with your kids this summer?

My first suggestion would be to take and keep your kids OUTSIDE as much as possible. For those extra hot or rainy days – however – read a good book and watch a good movie. Watch it WITH THEM. Then, when they least expect it, throw out some intentional thoughts. After my Monday morning 3 minute Gospel connection who knew I would think, “Thank God for the Boogey Man!”???

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How Do You Explain Tornado Killings to an Eight Year Old?


Last night I received this ‘tweet’ from an FBC parent:

So (son’s name) just asked, ‘Why did God send that storm and let those kids die?’ How do you explain that to an 8 year old so he will understand?

Wow. That is some seriously difficult stuff. It’s hard for this 36 year old theological PhD pastor to understand – much less try to help an 8 year old understand.

My tweetable response (for those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, you only get 140 characters per ‘tweet’): “Short answer: God is good no matter what; we live in a world where ALL of it needs rescued by Jesus. One day it won’t be like this – heaven.

I have been thinking about this mom’s tweet. It hits home on several fronts. One, I am this family’s pastor. Two, I have an 8 year old living under my roof. My 8 year old hasn’t asked the question, but if he does how do you explain something like this to an 8 year old – so he/she will understand?

Here’s my best shot. I would try to break it down like this:

1. God made everything perfect. 

2. Sin messed everything up. 

3. God sent Jesus to fix everything. 

Though each of these truths are MASSIVELY deep and important and rich (I can feel sermon series’ rising in my bones as I type!), I would try to keep it as simple as possible.

In Genesis 1 and 2 we know God made everything and He made everything perfect. No problems. No storms. No crying. No death. No sin. No bad – Anywhere. However, in Genesis 3 we read where Adam and Eve sinned against God and did what God said not to do. When that happened, because God hates sin so much, the whole world started going crazy. God hates sin so much because it hurts His children. When sin entered God’s perfect world, everything and everybody started going bonkers. But instead of God giving us what we deserve because we sin against Him, He showed just how much He loves us. He sent Jesus to make everything all better again. Jesus went through what we deserve so we won’t have to. Jesus did everything for us. One day, He will come back a second time and will make the world the way God originally intended. It won’t always be like this.

Paul said this in Romans 8:19-21 – “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”

Yesterday was yet another reminder that we – as God’s people – eagerly wait for that glorious day when this stuff will be no more.

You might even want to sing a Christmas carol today. A line in “Joy to the World” goes like this:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Yesterday we saw again the tragic affects of sin’s curse. But God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to make His blessings flow ‘far as the curse is found.’

Parents, let’s help each other here. What else would you add? How have you responded to your child?

[I saw the image posted above here and here.]

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Free Flow Friday!!!!

Unknown-1YES!!!! It’s Friday!

It’s that time of the week where I point you to links and articles and stuff I think you might find helpful.

It’s Free. It’s been Flowing through my mind. It’s Friday. Enjoy. . .

1. 10 Politically Incorrect Reasons Why We’re Still Married

“#2. We’ve made our physical appearance a priority. Neither one of us would admit to being “10s” by any stretch of the imagination, but we want to look sexy for each other. We work at it. That includes eating right, exercise, clothes, hair, etc. For example, Emily and I have made a pact — she decides what my hair looks like, and I decide what her hair looks like. Again, we prioritize the needs of our spouse.”

2. 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Son Today & 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Daughter Today

“I would tell her daily how beautiful she is and that I love her unconditionally.”

“I would discipline myself to be available when he needs me.”

3. Awesome Apps

Great (FREE!) Bible Apps for Kids

Apps to Help You Share the Gospel

4. Let Them Come Home

“Looking back on my years of rejecting Christ, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child so that they, too, would wake up to Christ’s amazing power to save even the worst of us.”

5. Texting and Driving Kills More Teens Annually than Drinking and Driving

“The reality is kids aren’t drinking seven days per week — they are carrying their phones and texting seven days per week, so you intuitively know this a more common occurrence.”

6. Shaping a Child’s Soul, a Task Too Important to Be Turned Over to the Professionals

“The role of God-called leaders is to encourage and to equip their brothers and sisters in their communities of faith to serve as ministers and missionaries first within their own households, and then far beyond their households (Acts 2:39; Eph 4:11–13). These processes are not likely to be quick or efficient. Sometimes, it will feel as if professionalized programs would be an easier solution, but no church program can develop in a child what parents are able to engrave in their children’s souls day-by-day.”

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Free Flow Fridays!!!

Unknown-1Today is the day where I kick back and check my brain at the door.

Instead of me having to think – at all – I just link for you some articles I think would be helpful for you and your life.

Besides, it’s Friday! Haven’t we used our brains enough this week?




#1. 10 Interesting Facts about Marriage 

“Due to jobs, kids, TV, the Internet, hobbies, and home and family responsibilities, the average married couple spends just four minutes a day alone together.”

What will you do about these realities?

#2. 7 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Me

“Daily, I tell my kids that I love them and I work hard to show them that I love them. When correcting my kids, I labor to make sure that they feel and experience love from me. I want my daughters to feel loved by me and to not look for inappropriate love from another man. I want my sons to know that I love them and value them.”

What’s your list, dad?

#3. Autopsy of a Deceased Church & Can a Dying Church Find Life?

“If a church is dying, it cannot then by definition find life.

I must say from a pure statistical perspective, most churches with the symptoms I noted will die within a matter of a few years. Though I don’t have hard data, I would be comfortable suggesting that the percentage exceeds 99 percent.

But among the American churches on a death march, there is that rare exception, that one in 1,000, that extraordinary situation where a church defies all the man-made odds and moves from near death to health. Those churches are rare, but they do exist.”


#4. Haunting Headlines. . . 

I wrote some thoughts about one issue here.

Related, here are other headlines that remind me that “This is My Father’s World” and the world I/we have been sent into with the Gospel:

“God Bless You, Planned Parenthood” – President Obama

The First Lady Tweets Support of NBA Star ‘Coming Out’

Suicide Rates among the Middle Aged Rise Sharply


#5. Is Your Church Ready to Reach the Unchurched?

“Almost every church I know says they want to reach unchurched people. But few are actually doing it. Part of the problem stems from the fact that many churches don’t really understand unchurched people… And part of the problem is that our model of church is designed to reach and help churched people, not unchurched people. Churches haven’t embraced change deeply enough.”

If you are a member of FBC El Dorado – put #3, #4, and #5 together. What do you think it will take for us to reach our city? Our world?

Help us, Jesus. We need YOU!

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Free Flow Friday!!!!

You betcha.

What could be better than Friday?

Well, Free stuff on Fridays is better than just Friday.Unknown-1

What’s even better than Free stuff on Fridays?

Free stuff on Fridays that might make the rest of your life better.

Here goes. . . Enjoy!

#1. I Completely Disconnected for 10 Days. . . Here’s What Happened

“I realized how much richer and more satisfying any experience is when it’s not interrupted. . . . What grew each day was my capacity for absorbed focus.”


#2. Top 10 Ways To Ruin Your Child’s Imagination


“Never allow children to organize their own worlds of exploration of that which is interesting or challenging—replace the spontaneous and child initiated and replace it with 7 days of structured activities controlled by others and a timetable that leaves no scope for exploration, time wasting, and contemplation.”


#3. Top 10 Actual Stories of Preaching Distractions


“During a point of real emphasis in the sermon, a choir member let go of a huge sneeze. That was distracting enough, but she failed to cover her face, and a huge pile of mucus landed on the shoulder of the preacher’s coat. He didn’t realize it at the time. Many in the choir had to leave as they couldn’t stop laughing.”

[Editors Note: Please do not try any of these. . . especially #10. I would NOT recover.]


#4. Little Moments, High Calling

“These are the moments God made parents for. You are God’s agents on the watch. You have been given an incredibly high calling. You are God’s instrument of help and preparation as your children mature out of the home and into God’s world. These moments make your life worthwhile. Here you will make a contribution that is worth infinitely more than any career or financial accomplishment.”


#5. The Real Costs of Saying ‘No’

“Perhaps the real reason that we fail to say ‘No’ is that we are too concerned about letting others down. Bill Cosby once said ‘I make it my goal to please one person every day. Today is not your day.  And tomorrow is not looking too good either.'”


Oh yeah – by the way – Have you signed up for the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast coming to El Dorado???? Let me give you 10 reasons you need to right NOW!!!



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The ‘Queen of Questions’ Chimes In

Many thanks to those who responded to my inquiry yesterday about how much parents should get in their children’s business. Several commented here on the blog, several of you emailed, several sent a text, and several called. Thank you. Very helpful and much appreciated insight.

Dear ole mom, however? Well, she just up and wrote her on thoughts in treatise form on what her son had to say. If anyone knows my mom – she not only has ALOT of questions; she has a lot to say, period.

You can read her entire post here.

What I appreciated most about her thoughts was what a very, very, very, very wise man told her one day in the doctor’s office when all of us youngins’ were little.

In her own words:

“I was given permission to be this way by a person I trusted thoroughly when my children were growing up — their pediatrician, Dr. William Walker in Decatur, AL.  Oh my!  What a wonderful doctor.  Such a wise man.  Every family should have someone like Dr. Walker.  I can’t count the number of times he looked over his glasses at me to ‘tell it to me straight’ when he thought I needed to adjust something in the way I was handling the upbringing of my children.  I usually made it to the car before I dissolved into tears, but I took his advice to heart, and everything he said proved to be correct.  Ultimately, we all benefited from his knowledge and frankness.  Once, when I had firstborn Laura in his office for her yearly check-up, she stepped out for a couple of minutes to be weighed, measured and probably given her hated inoculations.  I mentioned to Dr. Walker that Laura was very quiet.  She would come in from school in the afternoons, go up to her room, and we wouldn’t hear a peep out of her until suppertime.  I remember saying, “Is that all right?  Should I leave her alone like that?”  His response — looking directly at me, once again over his glasses –‘Do whatever you have to do to stay in her world.’ Now, I admit that I had to think about that for awhile.  At that point in Laura’s life, she didn’t WANT me to ‘stay in her world.’  She wanted to be left alone, but in my heart, I knew it wasn’t best for her to internalize so much without learning to share her concerns and problems.  I started by going upstairs, knocking on her door, and going in to sit on her bed with her for a few minutes in the afternoons just skimming the surface of events from that day.  She didn’t always act like she enjoyed my little visits, but deep down I think the few minutes of individual attention started to grow on her.  She was never a behavior problem in school, and her grades were always at the top.  It was more a matter of what was in her heart.  With Dr. Walker’s urging coupled with my already-curious nature, I felt like I had my marching orders to plunge ahead.  My other two children were easier and more talkative than Laura, but they each posed their own challenges in terms of getting inside their heads.  I really had to become a student of my children.”

Parents out there: I know most of you reading this never met Dr. William Walker of Decatur, Alabama. But no matter where you are, how your children are wired, who your mama is, or what parenting type you aspire to – THAT IS SOME INCREDIBLE ADVICE.

Do whatever you have to do to stay in their world.

What’s your strategy? How will you intentionally do that this weekend?

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