Version 0.41 - 2010-04-14
In the early 1990s I read the book 20 Things I Want My Kids to Know by Hal Urban. This book inspired me to think through what the most important lessons I have learned, and writing them down so I could keep these lessons in the forefront of my mind, and that I could some day pass them on to my children. This is very much a work in progress. There will likely be phrases that will mean nothing to you... they are hooks that remind me of things that I want to share. While I am happy for this document to be read by anyone, it is being written for my daughter Helen, and she doesn't get it for a few more years (e.g. don't expect it to look really finished until 2014). I know that my prose are often awkward and choppy. If the following topics seem good to you but my writing style is too painful to read, I would encourage you to read the book Never Mind the Joneses by Tim Stafford. I believe Tim's book is easy to read, and does a good job capturing much of what I think is important. I would also encourage any student of life to check out the material found in books that changed me. I would love to hear from people who have been thinking about what are important lessons they want to pass on to their children. Send me mail with your ideas.
While it is not a popular viewpoint today, I believe in absolute truth. There is only one reality, one true morality, things are either truth or false. If two people hold conflicting views, they aren't both right, though both could be wrong.
The challenge is discovering what is true. This takes work and humility. Even if someone works to discover what is true, it doesn't mean they will succeed. Some things might be so beyond our ability to understand that we will never really know the truth, we will see only a small portion of the truth and come to an incorrect conclussion. For example, if someone saw only the trunk of an elephant they would have a piece of the truth, but likely be very wrong about what the whole elephant looks like. It is always a worthy goal to seek truth.
Truth with set you free and lead you to a good and effective live. Truth is the only thing worth standing on. Lies, falsehoods, secrets etc, might see expedient, but they are like quicksand. They will drown your life if you walk into them. Lies can only hurt people and will rot away your heart and conscience. Secrets limit your ability to share fully with others and hurt your inner life until expose by the healing light of truth and honesty. Ultimately, lies and falsehoods will be revealed and brought to light because the Lord knows all. So live your life as if everything you do and say will be broadcast for everyone to see and hear. Live in the light. In the end you will give an account to the Lord, and you won't be able to fool him. Indeed, many secrets and cover-ups are exposed in this life. Don't compromise the truth today because in the face of eternity it is stupid, and even in the short term, tends to be ineffective and more often than not will backfire.
So if it is such foolishness not to live based on the truth, why do people live any other way? First, some people are honestly wrong. They have thought about an issue, maybe studies the particulars and have come to the wrong conclusion. The solution for this is to be willing to honestly look at the facts and be willing to change your position if you find you are wrong. Don't let your pride stop from admitting that you are wrong.
Another common issue is that people never examined facts and so they follow "traditions." I would refer to this as an unexamined life. The solution is, of course, to examine life. Look for facts and data which actually speak into whatever you care about. It is amazing that people who are willing to spend hours researching a purchase or a sports team spend very little time examining their assumptions about life.
Many people are able to express "truth" but their day to day conduct seems to contradict their stated views. This is quite common, especially amount religious folks. While some of these people are blatant hypocrites were their actions showing their true hearts, often times people like this do "intellectually" believe their high sounding words even though it doesn't come out in day to day life. Why is that... are they completely irrational? Typically no. What's going on is that over time their experience have lead them to use ineffective method to get some result. This has resulted in deeply held mis-belief that contradicts what some philosophical position they express.
Be aware of how easy it is to lie to ourselves. Jer. talks about how are hearts are evil and sick, only God can cut through to the true. Thankfully, God's spirit has given us a new heart, but old habits die hard. It is easy to slip down the slope into a mess.
Self Assessment ineffective. Best to be guided by God which is often spoken through others Phil 3:15, I Cor 4, Jer 17:9
Honesty, Morality & Conscience - Jerry Bridges
A Circle of Friends - Robert Wicks
Telling Yourself the Truth - William Backus
Basic Biblical Counseling - Larry Crabb
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
God is the source of life. He is personal and knowable. If you want to live life to the fullest, root your life in God! You will never regret this. We were all made to worship our Creator. We were all made to be in communion with our Maker. There is nothing better than catching a glimpse of the Lord. The ultimate experience for us is worshiping and praising the Lord. I don't think any of us can truly understand how awesome the Lord is in this life. The few prophets who caught a glimpse of Him were struck speechless. They had to bow down. Then they had to tell everyone about what they experienced. When this current age has run it's course, and a new heaven and earth are formed, people will still worship God. Worship is eternal.
Authentic worship is rooted in truth. It starts by knowing who the Lord is, what He is like, and what He has done. Worship then chooses to respond to the Lord. To follow, to obey, to love Him. Praise is remembering who the Lord is (His character) and what He has done, and celebrating that in our words, songs, poems, dance, and art.
Remember, your relationship with the Lord is priceless. The Lord will spare nothing to assure a close walk with him. Everything boils down to God's goodness and faith to trust Him. Nothing else matters.
Worship is a choice and a verb, not a feeling. You will often not feel like worshiping. That doesn't mean that you don't. Choosing to worship doesn't guarantee that you in you feel good, happy, content, or any positive emotion, though it will often reset your perspective which can lead to contentment.
Knowledge of the Holy - A.Z. Tozer
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9
If you find yourself trying to be "good" or looking for others to treat you properly, you will always be disappointed. No one is "good" only God. People will always fall short. You will always fall short. Don't be surprised or shocked. Seeing your failures can be hard. So what can you do? Throw yourself at the Lord feet. Confess that you need help and let him lift you up. Let God forgive you. Let Him love you. Let Him cloth you with white robes and heal your scars.
The story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15 is one of the most powerful illustrations of God's love in the face of failure. What can you learn from the prodigal? Don't delay entering your Father's embrace. Your relationship with your holy Father is based purely on His love for you. The Lord is already right there with you, ready to forgive. All He asks is for you to drop your pride, admit your short-comings, and turn to Him. This is one of the simplest, and one of the hardest things to do. But you have to, or you will live a haunted and unfruitful life. It is very easy not to live by grace and want to prove that you are valuable, but this is the high of folly. Doug Lawver taught me two phrases which have helped me keep perspective:
Another direct application of living by grace is to eliminate shame. If God is for you, why do you worry about shame. Yet, many lives are dominated by shame, and the avoidance of shame. Junior High School seems particularly shame laden. Folks who work well with junior high age folks are typically shameless which is a very good thing.
Just as the Lord deals with us by grace and shows us love, we should share that love with others. When people fail you, forgive them. You will find that being able to forgive is one of the most important skills that you can learn. Forgiveness will be needed in any worthwhile relationship. If you are close to someone, you will need to forgive them, and they will need to forgive you, because you will hurt (and be hurt) until the Lord returns and we are made like Him. It your relationships are smooth then you must be creating self-protective barriers. Drop them and learn to love, sacrifice, and forgive.
Ragamuffin Gospel - Brendan Manning
Transforming Grace - Jerry Bridges
Jacob and the Prodigal - Kenneth Bailey youtube prodigal video
Encouragement - Larry Crabb
Love Within Limits - Lewis Smedes
The Art of Forgiving - Lewis Smedes
He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. --Jim Elliott from Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliott
The world we live in worships money, power, prestige. These are things that will pass away. What really matters is what is eternal, what will last forever. The only thing eternal is people! People are more important than things. Material things are nothing when compared to the value of people. Live you life for people. Friendships are more important than anything your might own. C.S. Lewis suggested that we would fall down in worship if we ever saw the people around us with true eyes.
Classic wisdom which is back up by scientific research informs us that contrary to popular opinion, happiness and wealth (beyond enough to have basic needs met) had little correlation. What makes people happy is meaningful work. For example, In an experiment people were given $50. Half were told to spend it one themselves. Half were told to us it for others. There was a very strong correlation between improved happiness over the day and the people who gave the money away. HBS Paper on Giving.
Remember that we are to live as aliens and strangers because this is not our home.
The Weight of Glory sermon by C.S. Lewis
Real Prosperity - Gene Getz
Living with Less - Joshua Becker
Materialism <--> Low Self Esteem
Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something
The Princess Bride
Our world is broken and until we see the new heaven and new earth we will face pain. No matter how balanced, holy, or mature an individual is, they will suffer and experience loneliness, pain, a sense of loss. Even Jesus, God's own son experience each of these things. It's important to remember that even in the midst of these experiences that we do have a loving Father, God, who will set things right in the end.
Just as important to understanding that the world is broken, is understanding that it was originally created to be good. Evil, brokeness is a perversion of what is good, not something new and free standing. At the heart of every sin you will typically find something that handle correctly would be good, but because it has become an idol ends up being evil / brokeness.
God is concerned with all the people of this world, but he is especially concerned with people who need help. If you look through the Bible, one of the most consistent themes is the concern for social justice. We are called to be concerned for the orphan, the widow, the alien. Jesus said that visiting prisons was visiting him. What does this mean today? We must be concerned for single mothers, immigrants, homeless, and other who have been disenfranchised by our modern society.
Beyond "social justice" we are called to be concerned for our neighbors. To be able to effectively care and love other people we need to have a sense of what they are thinking, feeling, and what issues they are facing. Empathy is key to being about to effectively love someone else.
We should celebrate life. We have been given a great gift. Live with a thankful heart, and an attitude of gratitude. Cherish and love life. God gave it to us. A thankful heart means you are glorifying God. This means you are living in accordance to how you are made. This is one of the reasons a thankful heart tends to prompt good health.
Joy is much more durable and fulfilling than happiness. Happiness is depended on external circumstances and does not, in itself mean that something productive is happening. Real joy typically involves being highly engaged in something which is of lasting value.
The How of Happiness
Bear each others burdens
Value of a honest friend
If you believe that God is looking out for your, and that you are doing what He wants, then you can walk with courage and not worry about what might happen. Failure is as important as "success".
But in the context of Eph 2:10 (god prepares good works), his yoke is light, and never given more than we can bear.
Listen and learn. Don't be self protective. Even if someone criticism are interested to hurt, see if there is something you are learn from and grow through the experience
Green Letters - Miles Stanford
Broken In the Right Place - Alan Nelson
Walking in Victory - Dennis McCallum
Celebration of Discipline - Richard Foster
Changing on the Inside - John White
"Balance" - Tapes by Os Guiness
Spiritual Leadership - J. Oswald Sanders
Master Plan of Evangelism - Robert Coleman
Connecting - Stanley & Clintom
Wounded Healer - Nouwen
In Search of Guidance - Dallas Willard
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
What Color is Your Parachute - Richard Bolles
The Call - Os Guinness