A Few Words for My Sons

man child sky

man child sky (Photo credit: erix!)

I want you both to know that I am honored to be your dad.  I’m not sure how I became so blessed, but I thank God that I am.

There are some things that I hope to teach you over the years.  Not just skills and knowhow, but character stuff.  Things of the heart.

Right now, there’s a lack of good men in the world.  There are some, but not many.  I know that you boys will be a part of that minority of men who stand out.  Who add flavor and light wherever you go.  For this, I am proud already.

Make sure to always keep your priorities in order.  Jesus 1st, family 2nd and all else 3rd.  As you put Jesus 1st, you will be better men.  Better friends.  Better husbands.  Better fathers.  Trust me in this, it’s true.  You’ll mess up and that’s okay, just get back up and keep trying.  Rely on the grace that only Jesus can provide.

Work hard.  You’ll have good and bad days, but always maintain a good work ethic.  Work ethic trumps perfection.

Be honest, always.  When nobody is looking, be honest.  When someone asks you a question, be honest.  When you’re hurting, be honest with yourself and with God.

Be courageous, strong and full of integrity.  Actions often speak louder than words.

Lead by example, but also learn how to follow.  You can learn a lot by hanging back and observing others.

Always be prepared to give a reason for the faith that you have.  Everyone needs Jesus, some just don’t know it yet.

Don’t live your life to please others.  Jesus’s opinion is the only one that matters.  It’s the only opinion that lasts.

Don’t expect perfection from yourself or others.  You’ll only be disappointed and bitter.  We’re all searching and struggling.  That’s why we have Jesus to turn to.

Respect women.  Open doors, let them go first in line, pick up heavy boxes for them.

When searching for a wife, pray about it first.  You’ll know when you meet her.  Somebody special like your mom would be ideal, but it’s your choice.  My hope would be that she loves God and appreciates the small things in life.

Always keep an eye out for people in need.  They’re everywhere.  Buy somebody a hamburger.  Offer a smile or even a listening ear.

Please don’t take life too seriously.  It’s only temporary.  We have Heaven to look forward to.

Make sure to slow down every once in a while.  Take a deep breath, smell the roses, watch the birds.  God created them for us.  It’s good to enjoy His blessings.

When you hurt yourself, it’s okay to cry or whine about it for a few seconds.  Not too long though, it can be annoying.  Rub some dirt on it, you’ll be okay.  Scars are cool.

When you get your heart broken by a girl or somebody else, know that it happens to everybody.  It hurts, I understand.  Don’t let it define you.  Try to look for the good through it.

Pray for your enemies.  It’s a really hard thing to do, but you must.  They need help too.

Forgive everybody.  Jesus forgave us, and we’re pretty bad.  We need to let others off the hook.  They’re imperfect, just like you and I.  You don’t have to agree or be best friends with them, but you need to forgive.

When you think about how you want others to treat you, treat them the same way.

Hang out with the quiet kids.  The ones who aren’t so popular.  They’re special and gifted, just like you.

Love, love, love everybody.  If you disagree with somebody, love them.  If somebody hurts you, love them.  If somebody believes in a different God than you do, love them.  If somebody dislikes you, love them.  Love is powerful.

Be humble.  Admit when you’re wrong, it’s a sign of good character.  Learn to say “I don’t know” when you aren’t sure of an answer.

Find a good church to go to.  One that talks about Jesus and loves kids.  Don’t feel guilty if you can’t find one.  Keep searching and praying, you’ll find one.  It’s just a building after all.  Having Jesus in your heart is the most important thing….not brick and mortar.

I think I pretty much covered the main things that are on my heart for both of you.  I’m sure more will come as time goes on.

I want nothing but the best for each of you.  By God’s grace, my hope is that I may somehow be able to teach you how to be men.  Real men of conviction, courage and love.  That in spite of my own imperfections, you would experience the love of God through how I live and treat others.

I pray every night that Jesus grips you.  That He surrounds you.  That He lives through you.

I don’t take my position as your dad lightly.  Although I have my own hopes and dreams for your lives, I know that your life is your own.

Be comforted in knowing that no matter what path you each decide to take, I will love you no matter what.  You’re my boys, my blood, my gift.

God bless both of you,

Dad

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Being Content

Trash To Treasure Preparation 008

“I want” is a phrase that we all know too well isn’t it?  We said it when we were kids and we sure say it a lot now.  It’s so easy to confuse the “wants” from the “needs” of life.  In America especially, we have all fallen into the trap of consumerism.  Staying up to date with the latest clothes, or shoes, or phones or cars…the list could go on forever.  Is it really worth it?  Why do we so easily fall into this seemingly shallow trap and call it “happiness?”

First off, I have a confession to make.  I’m a pretty simple guy for the most part.  I do have a weakness though…..shoes.  I love shoes and I always have.  Growing up, I got my 1st pair of Nike’s in Jr. High.

I had to buy them with my own money and I was so proud of them.  I would take them out of the box and just stare at them.  They were my idol for the moment….sitting there in their flourescent green and purple brilliance.  I cleaned them religiously.  They were a part of how I viewed myself.  They contributed to my identity, so to speak.

I still love shoes and that’s ok.  I really try to keep my little fetish under control.  It’s alright to like stuff.  When our “stuff” starts to become our identity is when hope can begin to fade and the search for happiness continues, one credit card swipe at a time.  You see, it’s all temporary.  It wears out.  It gets old.  It gets left behind after we die.

Another thing….we, as a people, really aren’t as cool as we think we are.  Let’s be honest, people don’t really care about our appearance or our things as much as we think they do.

So, let’s say all our luxuries were taken away; where does our happiness come from?  How do we get past this “I want” mentality and start living day-to-day with a content spirit?

There’s a guy named Paul in the Bible who is an awesome example of how to live a content life.  This guy’s been beaten, blinded, starved, ship-wrecked, the list goes on.  Here are a of couple verses that pretty much sum it up:

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”-Philippians 4:11-13

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”-1 Timothy 6:6-8

It sounds like Paul had things figured out.  Through his faith, through his belief in Jesus, he finds peace.  The stuff of this world is secondary.  The opinions of others is secondary.  His relationship with God is primary.

So let’s say that we take Paul’s advice.  Instead of relying on stuff like clothes, phones, cars, careers, opinions, appearance, Facebook, Twitter, etc., we rely on our Creator.  What a shift.

You see, God is not temporary.  He is eternal and so is Heaven; the destination for those who believe in Jesus Christ.  If we can somehow focus on this truth and reality, we find hope.  Hope turns into love and love turns into contentment.

We’re more concerned with pleasing Him, not those around us.

Taking our eyes off ourselves and pointing them straight up to God.  So simple to say, yet seemingly impossible to do at times.

Where do you find your happiness?  Do you feel content?

God Bless,

Paul