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Jesus is the most inclusive guy you’ve ever met

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  Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash "'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' (John 14:6 NIV). At first glance, this seems overly exclusive. Jesus is the only way? But on further inspection, we find that Jesus' offer is quite unique from other religions and, in fact, incredibly inclusive." --Louie Giglio Jesus of Nazareth was from a small town, likely learned his father's trade as a carpinter, and lived in relative obscurity until about age 30.  His public ministry lasted about 3 years.  That's about 1000 days, and in that short time, he inspired about 120 folks to become committed followers. Within about 6 months of his death and burial and resurrection, his followers' numbers swelled to well over 3000 committed followers.  In about two generations the mediterrean cities had certainly heard of the Christ, and within a decade his followers earned a new name, "Christiani",

Dad: Wisdom for Family and Household Unity and Relationships

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This blog was written in winter of 2020, but is evergreen in its utility.  I was just thinking about the ups and downs of holidays and how to build family and household unity all year long.  Thanks for reading! Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash Winter holidays are great for many things: Enjoying food, giving gifts, hoping for the best, (possibly) resting more, slowing down and reflecting on the new year and the year we are ending.  Some of us get more time off, we might an extra nap in, or enjoy some food with family we only have during the holidays.  Winter holidays, if we have a warm home, can be times of bonding, sitting under blankets, talking, and sharing great food. Winter holidays are terrible in other regards: Mental health challenges, depression, and self-harm increase, we can be at several parties and feel ultimately lonely, and we might consume more social media that will trigger envy, comparison, and depression. Whenever you read this, there is a way to recapture time with

Dad: The Basics of Protecting our Children, Part 3

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This is part three of a three-part series on basics of protecting our children, our students, mentees, and loved ones physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All of those realms are connected.  They all matter.  All of these fronts require strategies:  We need to protect them against the world, their own sin and character flaws, and finally, the ways of the world.  So I recommend you catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 , then come back to this one. Sources of strength against the way of the world 1. Self-knowledge Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash Use the Bible, the many writings on the Enneagram, go to counseling, use the Many Roles Matrix, ask for feedback... but please pick some combination of at least one of these and get insight on who you are (identity) as compared how you show up in the world (personality, habits, attitudes, beliefs, actions).  We need to know ourselves, good, bad, and most importantly, the ugly.  If we are to truly protect our children we should inform th

Self: Songs for the Hardest Times

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I have some songs to share with you, and before I do, I'd like to offer you a reflection and some context. Reflections led me to share I sat down to spend time with God recently, and I realized that some songs that I practically  needed in order to start the day or make it through the day are not as enjoyable to me, because that season has passed.  I wondered if I'd ever enjoy them again, then I reflected on the cost of just dismissing these songs from service.  I nodded no.  "I need to share these songs!  Someone out there is going through their lowest lows... These songs might minister to them, or help restore their faith, or bring them to faith for the first time." I have truly enjoyed going back through these songs that were precious.  They immediately bring me back to mornings of sadness, confusion, fear, and pride--that I stuck with God, I fought the good fight and I grew even as I experienced more pain and difficulty than I thought I could.  These songs blessed

Follower: Comfort in Disruptive Times

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Those the Lord has rescued will return . They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them , and sorrow and sighing will flee away.  Isaiah 51:11 NIV 'Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. ' Isaiah 49:13 Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash Gladness and joy will overtake them. .. whew... this phrase took me by surprise.  Can you imagine what it would be like to be under a waterfall of joy and gladness?  I want that! ... the Lord comforts his people ... this tender image also arrested me a few days ago when I read it.  Imagine a personal, all-loving, all-knowing being wanting to be kind and tender.  A God who wants to build up my strength by being strong by my side?  Tell me more! Comfort (com [with] +fort [strength]) means "strong with". It does also have connotations of a warm blanket

Dad: Basics of Protecting our Children, Part 2

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Photo by visuals on Unsplash Practice Responses to Danger  As discussed in  Part 1 of this series on the Basics of Protecting our Children, we will teach our kids proactively to protect themselves or we will default to reactions.  In this blog, we consider how to build up the habits, attitudes and beliefs that support responding to danger. The goal of any self-defense program is to respond, not react.  Better yet, we want to train so that our responses are quick like reactions.   We respond well based on how well planned for bullies, posers, and enemies; advertising and the way of the world; and self-knowledge of our own dark side.  Here we'll consider how to respond to these three killers, and help our children avoid naivete and build shrewdness. Planning for bullies, posers, and enemies Bullies don't want to think, they just want the thrill power over another.  Other's fear turns them on, makes them feel strong.  Bullies need to be told "NO" and if opposed

Dad: Basics of Protecting Our Children, Part 1

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Introduction: My Background with Danger Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash I grew up thinking the world was pretty safe.  I didn't practice much situational awareness and was honestly  sheltered from a great deal of evil, manipulation and violence (except for TV shows). My wife grew up very differently.  I grew up white and middle class, in a middle class neighborhood of mostly white folks.  She grew up Mexican-American in a situation closer to working poor.  So mundane things, like walking from the car to the restaurant or walking our dog around the block is something we see very differently. She has much more situational awareness and experience with danger.  She had to show up as a provider for her younger siblings when she was young.  I simply annoyed my little brother and sister, not thinking too much about protecting them, although my sister will tell you I defended her from a punky kid on the bus ride home from elementary school one day.  Honestly, I have learned so much and

How to Promote More Peace

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Advent Reflections on Bible.com and Youversion App I really enjoy the YouVersion App from Bible.com  combined with content from BibleProject.com  is a very engaging way to understand and enjoy reading the bible.  I highly recommend it in our roles as parents, as selves, and as followers. There is a feature that allows you to engage in a bible study called a "plan" with others. A couple of times a year, my sons and my wife and I all do a Bible study plan together. Today's  study challenged my family and I to think of five habits, words, or actions to please God and promote shalom .  I thought that my list might inspire you to make a list or steal some ideas in your many roles. I decided I need to: Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash 1. Listen more often and longer :  There is no good reason to be quick to speak.  Rather, there are many reasons to listen.  Just nod, smile, show you care and listen.  It is simple, a great skill to grow in, and it is ultimately respectful.  A