Tuesday, June 29, 2010

P4E.164 My Dad Always Said: "Do More Than is Expected"

This whole "My Dad Always Said" idea is an off-shoot of this blog's main purpose, which is encouraging men (myself included) to be more Christlike in their marriages. Part of being a Christlike husband is being a Christlike father. And, part of being a Christlike father is to model and impart Christlike character qualities to my children. As I said before, I had a very rocky start, but I'm trying to make up for lost time here.

So, another concept that I hope my sons will remember me for is the idea,

"Do More Than is Expected."

In general, I think most people over-promise and under-perform. It can be sort of anti-climactic to get exactly what you asked for and no more. More often than not, it seems we don't even get what we asked for. But, when someone does do more than is expected, people take notice. They feel more highly valued. They feel special. And they look at you in a different (better) light. This truly sets you apart from the crowd. The Boy Scouts ingrain doing more than is expected when they demand that you leave a campsite looking better than when you arrived. My son, Jon, learned in the Fire Department culture that "Early is on-time and on-time is late."

In some ways, doing more than is expected translates to "Do the Unexpected." The unexpected is romantic, because it is not practical, it is not pragmatic, it is unrealistic and idealistic. In this sense, Christ epitomised "Do the Unexpected." As a groom to His bride, the church, Christ did the unexpected by sacrificing Himself for the church's good. For whatever reason, I truly believe that women respond more deeply to the unexpected. As a husband, I think this is a particularly important concept to keep in mind (And I have to constantly remind myself).

Peace, Kim

Monday, June 28, 2010

P4E.163 My Dad Always Said: "Work first, then play"

The fact is, I don't remember my father imparting any lasting words of wisdom to me. This may say more about my own poor memory than it does about his lack of words of wisdom. Nevertheless, I just don't remember him routinely letting me know what was important to him that he wanted to pass on to me.

I, in turn, do not remember passing on to my sons any pearls of wisdom. I wonder what I might have routinely said or somehow imparted to them. I know that I did not purposefully make an effort to let them know what I think is important. I did not rummage through my own experience and glean from it important lessons and then pass them on to my sons. This falls into the category of "regrets." I found out yesterday that a friend passed away last weekend. She found out about a month ago that she had stage 4 lung cancer and was gone that quickly. The thing about blogging is that I do have the ability to write about what is important to me.

Still, all is not lost. I'm still kicking. My sons are relatively young (Ben is only 17 and living at home). Amazingly, in spite of my shortcomings as a father, they sometimes ask for advice or perspective. I may yet have a chance to let them know the little pieces of wisdom that I think are important.

So, the first that comes to mind is: "Work first, then play."

It's amazing how easy it is to be hypocritical when it comes to what's important to you. But, my hypocrisy is not the one that might jump to your mind when you hear "Work first, then play." My problem is not with the "Work first" part. It's with the "then play" part.

My parents worked hard. They both worked long and hard. They impressed on me, by their example, to work long and hard. I don't remember them having hobbies. I don't remember sports or music or entertainment of any sort playing a big part of our home. They didn't camp or hunt or fish or go to the desert or the river or the mountains or the beach. They didn't have motorcycles or bicycles or toys of any sort. My memory does not recall much "recreation." Yes, we did have a few vacations, but they were not "annual affairs." We did not travel much for fun. This may have been because we were not well-off when I was growing up.

In any case, I learned "work hard." I chose a profession that is labor intensive; architecture. I chose to be self-employed as soon as I could. I did not have the discipline to work first, then play. I just worked. So, my sons have the same experience that I had growing up. No hobbies. No regular recreation. No hunting or fishing or camping or desert or river or mountains or beach. No vacations. No travel. No fun.

So, this is an encouragement to my sons to do as I say and not as I do. "Work first, then PLAY." I DO believe that it is important to get the work done first. If I procrastinate or delay the work, I find it doesn't get done. If I don't start the work first I find that I realize that I don't have the necessary tools or materials or time or planning to get the work done in the time I allotted. But, part of the important planning to work first is to set aside time and planning to PLAY. There's a saying that goes "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." That's me. Dull Jack.

Anyway, I hope that when I'm gone, my sons will remember that Dad always said, "Work first, then PLAY."

Photo by Clive Reedman found at Flickr

Friday, June 25, 2010

P4E.162 On the Anniversary of MJ's Passing

Last year, I wrote about Michael Jackson's death and what spiritual lesson I drew out of it. On the anniversary of his passing, I found this:

I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer's Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya' Know
'Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That's Why I Want You To

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They're Not

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya' See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That's Why I'm Starting With

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change

Not bad advice. This is what makes writing so amazing. It's as though one can speak from beyond the veil of death to those who still live and have life to live. This particular piece of advice is especially fitting to those of us who struggle in our marriage.

Peace, Kim

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

P4E.161 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 22

Construction Site Sign

This is the final installment so I thought I'd recap why I wrote "The Best Safety Device" Series in the first place:

1. Ken Nair, author and founder of Life Partners, teaches that many times wives do not feel safe to share what is going on in their hearts because their husbands have a track record of getting angry, belittling, denying or ignoring whatever they share. It's important for us to help them feel safe to share if we are ever to aspire to 'spiritual leadership.'

2. I happened to see a sign in a restaurant that was relevant in light of what Ken had been teaching. It said "The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man." I thought that it was probably a construction site sign, but that it had spiritual overtones as well.

3. As husbands, we have to be reminded that, in relationships, "safe" is not so much a status as a state of mind. To a wife "safe" means: cared for (physically and spiritually), knowing that we share the same values, not only unchallenged by us but defended by us, peaceful, secure, out of harm's way, not "walking on eggshells" because they don't know how we are going to respond to any given situation, confident that we are not going to "blow up", able to trust that we are consistent in our character when we are not with them. According to the sign, if we are to be a "best safety device" to our wives we need to be "careful men." Careful with what?

4. To recap the series, if a man is to be "safe" to his wife he must be "careful" with:

1. The way he drives. (I know, a weird way to start!)
2. His eyes.
3. His thought life and by extension, his time.

I hope this has been as much a blessing to you to read as it has been to me to write.

Peace, Kim

Monday, June 21, 2010

P4E.160 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 21

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A safe man is careful with: His life! (cont'd)

"Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!"
(Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol')

On Saturday, November 4, 2006, I witnessed the last few moments of Mia Eriksson's conscious life. I was at an International Equestrian Event at Galway Downs near Temecula. As Mia took jump 19 in the cross country event she was thrown. I watched in horror as her horse, named Koryography, did a full front somersault and crushed Mia as he fell. She died a little over an hour later at the hospital.

I agonized all the following week, trying to wring out what spiritual lesson God had for me in witnessing such an awful event. It came to me one morning that week, as I was talking to my wife, Gwen. Let me share what, to my shame, had been my thinking in the past:

As a man, husband and father I think I have all the time in the world to resolve my relationship problems. I'm on cruise control. I don't understand why my wife can't just be happy. Be satisfied. After all, I don't cuss at her, I don't hit her, I don't go out on her. I'm not such a bad guy. I work hard, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I bring home the bacon. I make sure we all attend church regularly. What more could my wife and kids want in a husband and father?

I think I have plenty of time to have an impact on my children's lives, their character, their spirits. There is no urgency to change the way I think, act and talk towards my wife. There's no emergency, life goes on. I'm working on it. I'll be here. She'll be here. My sons will be here.

The fact is, time is short for me. I don't know when I or those close to me will be gone. Mia Eriksson was only 17 when she fell. I vow here and now not to let Mia's life or death be in vain. She will at least have impressed on me that life is short and, with God's help, I will be careful to make the most of it by changing the way I think, act and talk to be more Christlike towards my wife, children and those around me. If you'd like, you can join me in that vow.

"Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
(The Ghost of Jacob Marley to Scrooge in Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol')

Peace, Kim

Friday, June 18, 2010

P4E.159 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 20

Construction Site Sign

A safe man is careful with: His life! (cont'd)

The September 2006 cover story of Men's Journal was "Perfect Things" and had a picture of a 1958 Chevy Corvette C1. Perfect. It's not often that we see anything put forward as "perfect." I wonder, when the guys that designed the 1958 Chevy Corvette C1 were designing it, did they think that sometime in the future it would be deemed "perfect?"

This reminds me of Jesus' command in Matthew 5:48. Right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, He says, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Whenever we begin to create anything it's not common that we strive for "semi-perfect." We don't usually think "well, this project is going to go all wrong, so I'm not even going to try to make it right." But that does seem to be the way we approach a Christlike life. I have a tendency to throw in the towel before I ever get started. I have the excuse of being "human." It's easy for Jesus to say "be perfect" because, well, He's Jesus! I'm all too willing to settle for "semi-Christlike."

The more ambitious the endeavor, the more we realize that we cannot execute our creation without help. We don't usually consider this acknowledgement of needing help as "weakness" but as realistic and furthering the overall cause of getting it right. Getting help increases the chances of getting it perfect. No one man was responsible for creating the 1958 Chevy Corvette C1.

But, we don't think this way when it comes to being Christlike. Then it becomes a manly, macho, poser thing that we can't possibly show weakness, vulnerability or need. But, frankly, I do need help in this quest for Christlikeness. I need accountability help and my helpmate's help and the Helper that Christ promised would come after He left.

Did Jesus know what He was commanding us? What do I do with His command to "be perfect?" Ken Nair, founder of Life Partners, has really helped me to come to grips with this dilemma. He says, "It's not about being perfect! It's about the sincerity of your pursuit of Christlikeness." This helps me because I know that I can't be perfect, but can I perfect my pursuit of being Christlike? YES!

Blessings, Kim

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

P4E.158 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 19

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A safe man is careful with: His life! (cont'd)


I've been a very dogmatic person in my life. And my dogma bites. You name it and I've been dogmatic about it: abortion, homosexuality, pre/post/amillenial rapture, baptism, Calvinism/Arminianism, conservative/liberal, gun control, the Iraqi war, as well as which way the toilet paper should roll off the holder (under-don't even get me started!). I'm dogmatic about my pet peeves. People who drive crazy, people who cut in lines, people who cna't spell, people who are dull and rappers had all better watch out.

But, I have this friend who is now a graduate of Oxford University (you know who you are, wink). He has this annoying habit of asking probing questions that challenge my dogma. I say annoying because it makes me think hard about what I believe and challenges my life's paradigms. Annoying as it may be, I've come to see it as very helpful in clarifying and even changing my mind and heart.

The problem is that all this dogma has created a hard, critical, judgmental heart in me. I find fault in others because they don't believe the way I do. This leaves me in the awkward position of loving people conditionally; embracing them if they believe like I do and thinking less of them if they don't. And frankly, as my Oxford friend has so annoyingly brought to light, I can't even defend my own beliefs very well. The people that were bitten most and hardest by my dogma were those closest to me; my wife and children.

This does not sound like a very carefully Christlike life, does it? That's because it isn't. With God's help and a changed heart I'm endeavoring to check myself when I have "strong feelings" about any subject and making sure that I'm not causing harm in other people's spirits for no good reason at all.

Blessings, Kim

Monday, June 14, 2010

P4E.157 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 18

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A safe man is careful with: His life! (cont'd)

Once again, not careful with whether you will save your life or lose it, but how you live it. How am I living my life when I'm alone?

They say that the true measure of a man's character can be determined by what he does when he's alone. When I'm alone I realize that I have the potential to let down my defenses and fall to my flesh. To be a hypocrite. What does this say about me and my motivations? Does it mean that my words and actions are defined by those around me? Do I look at, listen to, read, touch, think, say or do things differently depending on who is or isn't there with me? Is there a "dark side" that emerges when I'm alone? Would I be embarrassed by or ashamed of what I am looking at, listening to, reading, touching, thinking, saying or doing if I was found out?


I recently heard a pastor say that one of the biggest problems in the Christian Church is....atheism! If I allow my "dark side" to emerge and I fall to my flesh when I'm alone, am I acting as though I believe there is no God?

These questions boil down to "Am I exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit called 'faithfulness' in Galatians 5:22?" Later, in Galatians 6:7 I get this warning: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap."

So, to be considered 'safe' by those close to me I am striving to be careful with my life and to be faithful to them and Christ when I am alone.

"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was." (James 1:23-24)

"Who are you? Who, who, who, who?" (The Who, 1978)

Blessings, Kim

Thursday, June 10, 2010

P4E.156 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 17

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A safe man is careful with: His life! (cont'd)

In my last post, I described who I was then:

A whitewashed tomb/poser/hypocrite

I am confident that I am now no longer there. How is that happening? It started with recognizing that my fleshly nature is dark and sinful. When I remain humble and teachable (not arrogant), I leave the tomb door open for Christ to examine and bring light to my heart, my character, my attitudes. His WORD helps me to contrast His ways and my own ways. I use this knowledge to RESIST and CHANGE my own ways to be more like His. This is constant WORK. If I don't continually work at changing I will return to my default values - the worldly, fleshly, dark & sinful ones.

I believe that Alcoholics Anonymous adopted this Scriptural model by having its members introduce themselves as alcoholics no matter how long they have refrained from alcohol. They know that their members all have the potential to return to their default alcoholic values and ways. They acknowledge that they need help from a "Higher Power." They support each other and hold each other accountable. This is a model that we Believers need to co-opt back from AA!

Scripture says:
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be...abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain..."


"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against...the spiritual forces of wickedness."

So then, in taking care about how I live my life, I have moved from a poser to an acknowledged sinner who recognizes his nature and is in a constant battle to resist and change it. God help me!

"For I am the same person still: and though the Lord has dealt bountifully and wonderfully with me since, I have still equal reason to lie low in the dust before him, with my hand upon my mouth, and to say, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.""
John Newton, 1791

Peace, Kim

Monday, June 7, 2010

P4E.155 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 16

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A safe man is careful with - His life

I'm not saying that we should be careful with whether we'll save our lives or lose them, but how we live them. I've been thinking alot about what is different about my life 'now' as opposed to 'then.' 'Then' my Belief consisted of going to church once a week, not swearing (at least when anyone was within earshot), listening to Christian radio (even still, I was cynical about what I was hearing), espousing the appropriate (conservative, patriotic) political viewpoints, possibly attending a mid-week men's Bible study and condemning the immorality of the 'world' (even though I secretly took part in it in my heart). No, there was not a lot of Bible reading or prayer. Conveniently, I didn't drink and I didn't smoke.

Honestly, my Belief did not consist of much more than that! All the while I was posing as a Believer. I was the classic 'white-washed tomb.' I looked good on the outside, but on the inside I was a disgusting, dead, decaying, black mess. And the place where that black slime oozed out was....at home. My wife Gwen and my sons knew/experienced the real Kim. They suffered the hypocrisy and now I suffer for it by having relationships with them that are less than God's best for our lives. God is gracious and with a lot of work, those relationships are being healed.

As always, I'm hoping that by my telling you about me that you can learn lessons from my mistakes and avoid making them yourselves.

"This is your life.....Are you who you wanna be?" Jon Foreman/Switchfoot

Blessings, Kim

Thursday, June 3, 2010

P4E.154 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 15

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A safe man is careful with: His thought life! (cont'd)

Again, you must be wondering what sort of success I'm having in overthrowing my worldly values and replacing them with Godly ones. Let me quote Paul as my answer:

"For that which I am doing I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing that I hate."

What I've come to realize is that on my own I can do nothing. I've come to a crossroads. I can use the realization that I cannot do anything on my own as an excuse not to try or as motivation to figure out a way to get it done.

As a man raised in American culture, my worldly value is self-sufficiency and so it is very contrary to my nature to ask for help or look for it. But in the realization that I cannot do anything on my own is also the realization that I need help and that I need a savior. I must become dependent on help and a savior.

What does it take to admit that I must become dependent? Unfortunately for me, it takes humility. That's why I fight it so hard. That is why I, as a man, have such a hard time stopping to ask for directions when I'm lost. This realization has shed new light on Christ's words in Matthew:

"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

It's like an unbroken circle:

I depend on God for the humility
necessary for my salvation so that,
in preparation for eternity,
I can overthrow my worldly value of self-sufficiency so that
I depend on God for the humility
necessary for my salvation and so on....

When I'm careful to keep my thoughts focused on this unbroken circle, I become safe to my wife and those around me.

Blessings, Kim

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

P4E.153 The Best Safety Device is a Careful Man - Part 14

Construction Site Sign

A safe man is careful with: His thought life!

You may wonder what I mean when I say "I reject the world's values and embrace God's." I've been studying my own values and wondering the same thing. I'm asking myself: "Which do I value more?"

Being served or serving?
Fame or obscurity?
Power or meekness?
Wealth or poverty?
Words or actions or attitudes?
Aggression or passivity?
Beauty or homeliness?
The famous or the obscure?
Knowing all the "right" people or having no "connections?"
Control or powerlessness?
Self-sufficiency or dependence?
Rebellion or conformity?
The tangible (seen) or the intangible (unseen)?
Being held in "high esteem" or being mocked?
Male or female?
An air of superiority or humility?
Strength or weakness?
Violence or harmlessness?
Faithfulness or adultery?
Myself or others?

You see I could go on, but without even trying my natural value
system aligns with the world's and not with God's. He puts it this way:

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways."

This is an internal struggle, one of the mind and the heart. I'm
beginning to make conscious decisions to overthrow my natural values
and replace them with Godly ones in preparation for eternity.

Scripture says,
"Do not love the world, nor the things of the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him...
The world is passing away...
but the one who does the will of God abides forever."

Peace, Kim