Can a Person Become a Christ Follower on a Fragment of the Truth?

I can hear them now. Those who tout knowledge of the truth over everything else. I can hear the scripture they might quote or the list of theological truths necessary to “be saved.”

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My interactions with believers in foreign countries who only have a portion of God’s Word in their heart language lead me to believe that a person, any person for that matter, becomes a believer on a fragment of the Truth.

One Man Takes His Life; Another Gives His

I know suicide is a delicate topic. I have friends who have lost family members to suicide. I have battled my own demons of emotional health and addiction, so I would never dehumanize a person who ends up taking his own life. Instead I feel great pain and sorrow for them, their family, and how the enemy wrecks havoc on our souls.

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Two stories have been in the news a lot these week—Robin Williams’ suicide and the Spanish missionary who died from Ebola. Both stories leave many asking why.

Taking One’s Own Life

No one really ever knows why or how someone could take their own life. Sure we can sometimes surmise and try to explain it away but without much success. Family and friends, or in the case of a celebrity, fans are left with more questions than answers.

I find it strange how people romanticize suicide or at least are drawn to it by a morbid curiosity. People seem to not only want to know why but how, when, and where.

Reading articles about Mr. Williams I notice a theme—his internal struggles with depression and addiction. As I noted earlier, I understand these struggles. Even though I have never considered taking my life, I know better than to think I am not capable of any kind of unthinkable act.

But because I have struggled with similar demons, I can recognize that one descends into a dark world of self-consumption. Somewhere along the way a person can’t see themselves having any value to add to anyone else’s life anymore. This is the epitome of toxic shame—to believe a lie that whispers, sometimes drowning out everything else, that you are not worth even living anymore.

You know, I was shameful, he told The Guardian in 2008. You do stuff that causes disgust, and that’s hard to recover from. You can say, ‘I forgive you’ and all that stuff, but it’s not the same as recovering from it.Robin Williams

Giving One’s Own Life

Contrast that with these missionaries who have contracted Ebola, one being the Spanish priest who died, while serving sick patients in west Africa.

I imagine that some of their family and friends asked them why. Why go to a foreign country where you don’t know the people, surrounded by these people who have a highly infectious disease and risk your own life?

What causes one person to slide into a desperate shame-filled death sentence while another willingly risks their life, even sacrificing it, for the benefit of another?

One thing that seems obvious to me is that these missionaries and countless others over time have given their lives for the benefit of another. Intense show of selflessness.

I don’t think this comes from our own nature. It definitely is not the nature of Satan. He is the epitome of selfishness, despair, and toxic shame. He preys on the frailty of man lying to him about his lack of worth, so why not just end it all.

Whereas, God, through His Holy Spirit, fills one with Life. He gently yet boldly speaks into a person’s heart that not only do they have value and are worth living, but that they have something greater than themselves to give away.

Where one suffers with self-hatred another overflows with love for others—even for ones they do not know.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.John 15:13 NIV

Whom do you listen to?

I understand that for some this is hard to read. Either you have lost a loved one to suicide or you have struggled with seeing any reason for living. If this is you, I hope you experience Grace and Hope today. I pray over you that you hear the voice of the One who truly loves you and not the voice of the one who wants to destroy you.

For those who risk their lives for others, maybe not like these missionaries or others who serve in dangerous locations around the world, but maybe you risk your reputation, your financial status, your friends for the sake of another. Be encouraged faithful one that He knows and your reward is stored up for you.

Which person are you? If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to those around you. You are of great value!

4 Ways I Teach My Three-Year-Old Son About Money

In a blog I wrote—10 Life Lessons for My Three-Year-Old Son—one was to learn how to control money or it will control you. Some things easily get stashed into the “I will get to that later when he is a little older” category. Then we wake up one day and they are about to leave our home for good. Handling money is one of those. Besides, what can you teach a three or four year old about money? Well quite a bit actually.

Piggy Bank Savings Toddler Half Filled

Like everything else our children will learn more by what we model than what we talk about. So be warned—if you are not good at managing your money, it will be hard for your child to learn how. But, hey, why not begin now? Doing so will provide a great role model for your child.

What’s the Point of All of This? (part 2)

A majority of this blog’s content comes from the Empowered to Connect Training material. Danielle and I are certified trainers and will offer the course a couple of times in 2015 in the Austin area.

We began this discussion last week in part 1 of What’s the Point of All of This?  We discussed how our history, attachment style, and default parenting style effects our relationship with our child. Also, we talked about owning your stuff and repairing your mistakes. If you didn’t read that article, click on that link to get to it.

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All parents bring expectations with them into parenting—some realistic and others not. For adoptive families, however, lingering unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, frustration and even a real disconnection between parents and children. When a child’s history of pain and loss begins to taint the beautiful picture of what a parent expected their adoption journey to look like, parents are tempted to protect their image rather than embrace their child’s feelings and struggles. When a child’s behaviors (rooted in fear and an instinct to survive) begin to collide with the “way we do things as a family” and are only made worse by a parent’s attempts at discipline, parents can find themselves exhausted and quickly nearing the point of despair.Empowered to Connect

“parents are tempted to protect their image rather than embrace their child’s feelings and struggles.” OUCH! I am often more interested in my agenda, my feelings, my needs than my adopted child’s.

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Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father

519uXA4tn+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This book aids the transformation of my heart toward the fatherless more than anything else I have read. The authors do a great job of bringing the heart of adoption back into it’s rightful place—in the center of who we are and what we believe. I challenge you to read this book to be reminded of who you are and allow it to compel you to respond. Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father

9 Warning Signs that Toxic Shame Is Preventing a Life of Freedom

I found myself telling others almost immediately after meeting them that I had been married three times. I figured they were going to reject me anyways, so why not just get that out of the way.Anonymous Contributor

Do you ever feel like this? That people will reject you if they know the real you, so why not tell them how bad you are right up front? Just beat them to the punch and get it out of the way.

By: Sarebear:)

Shame will do that to a person.

Granted shame can be a good thing when we can separate the shame of an inappropriate action—either committed, seen, or perpetrated against us—from our identity. The difference being I feel shame versus I am shameful.

What’s the Point of All of This?

A majority of this blog’s content comes from the Empowered to Connect Training material. Danielle and I are certified trainers and will offer the course a couple of times in 2015 in the Austin area.
What’s the point of all of this if you’re not going to let it change you?Francis Chan

Far too often foster and adoptive parents focus all their attention on the change and healing that their child needs and ignore what needs to change in themselves. However, what you bring to the parent-child relationship matters—a lot.   We all bring, as parents, our own history, motivations, and expectations into the relationship. In order to help your child build trust, heal and grow you need to focus on your past, your future, and your present. This allows you as a parent to be fully present in each and every moment to help your child heal.

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Is Your History Getting in the Way?

Become aware of how your past may be affecting your relationship with your child and be open to change. This will require learning how to “pay attention to what you are actually paying attention to” (Dr. Curt Thompson). In other words, do you pay attention to your “default mode” of responding to your child’s behavior?

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Revival Cry: Contending for Transformation in this Generation

I began reading Revival Cry written by my friend and pastor of Northwest Fellowship in Austin, Trey Kent. Trey is a catalyst here in Austin in calling us to pray for our city and our generation. I have learned a lot from him. This book is a good follow up to my blog—Have We Found a Better Way?

Be challenged along with me will you?

Revival Cry: Contending for Transformation in This Generation

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Have We Found a Better Way?

Several years ago I had a guy speak a word of prophecy to me. He didn’t know me nor I him. I don’t even remember his name. He described me as being like a maverick horse running around and around a pen of tame horses. A rebellious and adventurous heart yet desiring to belong to a loving and caring master.

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Sadly, that does describe me all too often. Like I blogged in We Have a Runner!, I tend to wander too easily from the God I love.

I look at my life and it’s no wonder that I don’t experience more of His power and peace. I lean on my own understanding, I rely on my own wisdom. I am self-reliant. If I seek counsel at all it is from others before Him. The paradox is that I want to be a godly man without submitting to the God who I want to be like. The result is not pretty. I am prideful, arrogant, covetous, lustful and quarrelsome. I am sinful.

How to Be Free with Your Money

This is a guest post based on a Bible Study by Donnie Dixon. Donnie is the Founding and current Family Pastor of The Church at Canyon Creek in Austin, Texas. Donnie has over 25 years of pastoral experience. He and his wife, Carolyn, have four boys.

What does being free with your money mean? Carefree? Expecting free money? No! How about emotional freedom; free from debt; and freedom to give? You bet! God desires money and freedom to be compatible. Unmanageable debt imprisons us.

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The average US household credit card debt stands at $15,191, the result of a few deeply indebted households forcing up the numbers. Based on an analysis of Federal Reserve statistics and other government data, the average household owes $7,087 on their cards; looking only at indebted households, the average outstanding balance rises to $15,191. Here are statistics, trends, studies and method behind the average U.S. household debt. (current April 2014)

Debt is like a crazy aunt we keep down in the basement. All the neighbors’ know she’s there, but nobody wants to talk about her. Ross Perot

The Bible teaches us how to be free with our money.