Book Review: Raising a Modern-day Knight

Today, I just finished a very good book recommended to me by some Christian men.  The book is titled, “Raising a Modern-day Knight,” written by Robert Lewis (published by Focus on the Family).  The book’s stated purpose is to expound upon the father’s role in guiding his son toward authentic manhood.

This book hits on a variety of topics regarding parenting, but perhaps more importantly, the book cast a vision for men who are raising sons in a culture that seeks to blur the lines of gender while redefining what it means to a “man”.  Even though my son is only five years old, I am deeply concerned about what is going on in this culture as I seek to raise my son to love God and become a man of honor.

This book takes a stroll down history lane to the concept of knighthood, which was fascinating to me.  While knighthood is far removed from our secular culture in America, the principles hold some timeless truths that became more evident to me while reading this ‘manual’.  There were parts of this book that were perhaps a little premature for my stage in parenting my son.  However, that does not change the effectiveness of the message in my opinion.  Father’s with sons of all ages would gain godly wisdom from reading this book.

As fathers, we need to begin to ask ourselves, “how can I raise my boy into a man?”.   My son is only five years old, but every day that passes by will be a day that I can’t have back with him.  As fast as the first five years have gone, it’s hard to fathom how quickly the next 13 will go.  It forces me to take a hard, uncomfortable look in the mirror, and ask myself, “am I doing everything that I can to accomplish the vision I have for my son?”  Obviously, this question reaches further than just to my first-born son and extends to my three daughters, but there seems to be extra weight upon my shoulders in raising a son.  I see how he watches my every move and desires to be like me.  He cherishes every moment that we get to spend together alone, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.  These events truly warm my heart and give me deep satisfaction.  However, there are moments when I know I have disappointment him, and I must live with that sting.

I pray that I am able to fully embrace the vision for raising my son towards a vision for authentic manhood.  I pray and hope that I am able to give him not only good things in this life, but the best things and most important things in this life.

 

A Time of Refreshing

“Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing  may come from the presence of the Lord.” ~ Acts 3:19

For my family, the month of July was one that could be quantified by number of miles driven.  You could also number the nights we slept as a family at our home, or simply count the smiles on the face of our children enjoying a summer filled with fun trips and family time.

However, for me, the month of July has felt like a time of spiritual refreshment.   To be more accurate, this time of refreshment probably began in mid-June after my wife and I attended the NICHE Conference in Des Moines.  As I sat down for my quiet time tonight, the scripture quoted above from the book of Acts was recalled by my mind, as I reflected on my time of refreshment over the past month.

Therefore, repent and return
To put this passage in it’s proper context, Peter is preaching to the men of Israel  after Pentecost.  He has just finished detailing Israel’s sin and involvement in the crucifixion of Jesus.  Talk about “blunt”.  However, this is the place where we are all called to arrive.  Peter could just as easily be preaching directly to us and to our own responsibility for the cross of Calvary.   For it is not simply Israel’s role in the trial of Jesus which resulted in their need for repentance, but the underlying sin behind the acts for which he was nailed to the tree.  We have all been there… we have our “disowning” of Christ (Acts 3:14), the moments in our lives where our sins have made a mockery of Jesus. Throughout the past 12 years of my Christian life, my mockery of Jesus has looked quite different each time.  Have you considered that there may be sin in your life that makes a mockery of Jesus?  I have found that this self examination does not happen often enough in my own life… (ouch!)

so that your sins may be wiped away
I am constantly amazed at the cause-effect relationships that are found throughout scripture.  It continually points to the fact that God’s ways are not only higher, but wiser than my own!  We are not told to “try and do better”, but to confess our sin and turn and go the other way.  While scripture puts our sinful nature and sin’s ramifications in it’s proper perspective, we are never left without hope.

in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord
Not only are we given a clean slate before our Creator but a promise.  We live in weary times.  There are constantly things that pull at us and drain us of our time before the presence of the Lord.   This is why the time of refreshing has been sweet to me.

This is where the rubber meets the road… will we examine our lives before a Holy God and His Holy Word?  We will we acknowledge our need to repent and return to the Lord?  Will we see our need to repent of our mockery of Jesus and actually do it?!

I pray for you (and me) that the answer is YES!!!

Blessings,
Travis

I Am Who I Am

Every Father’s day is becoming sweeter and sweeter to me.  My growing appreciation for the opportunity to set aside 24 hours in honor of Father’s transcends multiple levels of my life.

My Heavenly Father
I love that Father’s day always fall on a Sunday.  Is there a sweeter way to celebrate, than in worshiping the Father of Lights and King of Kings? Today, as I stood in worship at FFC, my heart was overwhelmed at one point in worship to the song, You are God Alone (written by Billy J Foote and Cindy Foote, made famous by Phillips, Craig & Dean).  There is nothing unique or exciting about the lyrics, it is simply a praise hymn.  However, in the simplicity of the lyrics, something happened.  For today it was transformed into a testimony of God’s beauty in my eyes (thanks Pastor Todd).  For this might and unchangeable God, sent His only Son to die on the cross for MY sings.  While it easy to use the words that name God as “Father” (see the Lord’s prayer), it is another thing entirely to call and cry out to God from our hearts as “Father” in the spirit of adoption (see Galatians 4:4-7).  I am who I am today, because of my Heavenly Father’s, saving grace and work of sanctification in my life.

My Earthly Father
My Father was and is a hard-working man who embraced God’s calling as provider for his family.  He loves God and has always placed his family above all other things that would consume his time.  As busy as me and my siblings were in high school, I can scarcely remember a time where he was not present at one of our events.  His support and sacrifice was never-ending.  My Father taught me what it means to work hard and sacrifice to accomplish the things which you want in life.  As I sit here at the computer, a time during my high school years stands out to me.  I distinctly remember an instance where he “encouraged” me (more like challenged me) to have a stronger work ethic. While I can’t quite remember my immediate reaction (suffice to say it probably wasn’t very God or a great example of submission and respect to my father), as I look back on that time in my life my earthly father was right (in substance) and had every right (in role) to challenge me in this area.  It is little events like these, accumulated over the past 27 years of my life, that allow me to say I am who I am today because of the love and training of my earthly father.

My Role as Father
To me this is the most frightening level of my life to write about it, because I am a long ways from being a perfect dad.   By God’s grace we have four wonderful children, they are well behaved (most of the time), and learning what it means to love God.  Yet, this is an area where God is currently “dealing” with me.  Have you ever had those times where God uses his instrument of wisdom (Word of God, quiet prayer times, godly books, sermons, etc.) to speak truth into your life? Currently this is one of those times. I believe that God is speaking to my heart that as a father, he has given me a high calling of leading my family physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I can’t necessarily define what that looks like or will look like in our family’s life, but I am seeking God and praying for wisdom (James 1:5).  Ultimately, my prayer is that someday, my children will be able to joyfully say, “I am who I am today, because of the role that my earthly father and Heavenly Father had in my life.”

Working out God’s Word

The month of February has certainly been a very busy and impactful month in my life, no matter which way you attempt to define it: work, faith, family, finances.  Our family spent two separate three day periods away from home while I had to travel for work (we call these “mini-vacations”).  I also logged over 2000 work miles on my car.  These are certainly some tangible measures of a busy month.  Beyond the tangible, God was doing intangible work as he delivered on his promises while I committed at the beginning of the month to seek Him more intentially.

1.  Work can become a consuming force in my life, if left unchecked.

This year has marked quite a few changes for me in my workload.  I have accepted some new roles within my office, while transitioning out of some of my past roles.  All of which is very exciting and fulfilling to me, as I truly love the work that I do.  In general, I would classify myself as a driven person.  Growing up, this trait fleshed itself out as academic and athletic success.  Now in the workplace, it becomes a zeal to serve our clients better in our relationship based business.  God has simply taught me that my zeal for him must be above all other zeals (i.e. work, sports, family, etc.).  Or simply, no other gods before Him!  I believe that God is delivering on His promises.  As I seek Him, He is directing my zeal towards the heavenly things that truly matter.

2.  God is forever faithful to His promises.

This one is definitely not a “news flash”.  I have known this to be true for a long time, but it never ceases to amaze me when and how God delivers on his promises.  This month, his provision for our daily needs and financial provision have been at the forefront of my  mind.  Just days ago, my wife and I scheduled my last student loan payments and my family is now debt free (except for our home).  It’s a freeing feeling.  The bondage is gone as God provided the path to freedom.

That’s two for now.  I hope to outline some more in the coming days!

Blessings,
Travis

Committing to "Doing"

I’m going public with my intentions.  After reading through the book “Radical” by David Platt, I am embracing the challenge to read through the bible and pray for the entire world in one year.  Now doesn’t that just sound like some “super-Christian” statement?  I thought you would be impressed!  The reality is, it is not impressive, it should be “normal” for me and for many other Christians.   As American Christians, I sometimes wonder if we spend more time “planning” how we are going to do something and “brainstorming” the most effective methods, instead of just simply “doing” it.  This year I want to replace my planning and brainstorming with “doing”.

So, last night I began my reading plan for the year.  Yes, I do realize that it is more proper to start the reading plan on January 1st instead of Februray 1st.  It’s amazing how many different “reading plan” options are out there.  You can basically customive your plan to your liking (but does every reading plan really have to start on January 1st).   Personally, I’m using the following webiste and plan to accomplish my reading goals for the year (My Reading Plan).  Pray for me that God will use my commitment to ignite a deep, hungering passion for his world over the next 12 months.

I suppose some people may be curious about what it means to pray for the entire world over the next year.  Operation World is a great resource and the one that I will be using.  It outlines prayer needs for every nation in the world, and it simply walks you through praying for them on a daily basis.  From what little experience I have with the book so far, I am thoroughtly impressed and very excited to be embarking on this journey.  God has been teaching me that my heart for missions and the globe in lacking.  I need a deep spiritual revival to give me a glimpse of God’s heart for all nations.

The reality that I face is that I am much better at explaining, organizing, and planning than growing an intimate relationship with my heavenly father on a daily basis.  I want less of my man-made ways of running my life and more of Jesus consuming every detail of who I am.

Blessings,
Travis

Life in Review: 2010

Considering 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 all involved births or a miscarriage, 2010 could be rated relatively boring in comparison.  However, that was certainly not the case, so I thought it would be beneficial to take a brief look back at various areas of my life as a marker looking back and an opportunity to look ahead.

Work
Where to start?  It was quite a year.  I received a promotion and continued to take on increasing responsibility.  In fact, one of my co-workers retired at the end of the year and we hired an analyst so that I could take on more revenue generating responsbility in the office.  God has continued to bless my work and grant me favor with my co-workers and colleagues.  Praise God!

Chilren
No additions to this category this year (as mentioned above), but our children continue to grow, change and develop.  Abel and Amariah both started pre-school this past fall.  My wife, Angela is homeschooling this year and using the Sonlight curriculum.  So far it has been very profitable academically for our children and worth the up front cost.  It’s really neat to watch our children learn and hunger to know more.  Abel continues to love to build with Legos, he is a detail oriented four year old.  Amariah has the most creative imagination of any child I have ever known.  She loves to sing and play make believe.  Isabel and Elliana are now over 19 months old and walking / running / climbing whereever they please!  It’s so much fun to watch them interact with each other and their older siblings.  Children certainly have a way of keeping things in perspective.

Family
My brother got engage to his college sweetheart and we look forward to their wedding in April.  My sister and brother-in-law are finally catching up with us on the kid count and are due to equal us in March of 2011.  My parents continue to be blessed with good years farming and enjoying their seven grandchildren.  My mom had another good year of tests at Mayo. She has now been officially cancer free since her last surgery in December of 2007.   What an amazing work of healing and restoration.  I continually praise God for his goodness and do not take my time with my extended family for granted!  

Church
At First Family Church, we finished series in 2 Peter and Romans, and did a topical study on the Gospel-Centered Life.  We also spend the entire year in our “new” facility.  It was nice to finally have a place that we call “home” after being a mobile church.  We led a Lighthouse group for the first half of the year and then took a break beginning in the fall to take a year to “recharge” from the demands of having a young family and leading. 

Spiritual Growth
It was a good year of growth for me in some theological areas that I had been studying coinciding with the various sermon series.  However, I found myself struggling with consistency in scripture reading off and on.  When my work schedule became hectic, I found myself leaving God with the leftovers… ouch… that’s a tough thing to admit and something I am not very proud of.  I did not have a formal bible “reading plan” outlined at the beginning of the year, and found that did not serve me well.

Eternal Outlook
While, my posting was down this year (only 21 posts = yikes!), I feel that each year God is changing my outlook on life and focusing my gaze eternally.  I want to have a year that counts for eternity and be able to look back with satisfaction that I am not only encouraging christian living with an eternal outlook, but living as a Christian with an ever increasing eternal outlook.

Blessings!
Travis

New Year New Reads

First off, I enjoy reading and learning.  I believe that one should strive to read good books on a consistent basis and as Christians we should be even more intentional about reading the Word of God.  I know I should have had this figured out prior to the “New Year” but I’m hoping to decide on a bible reading plan to help keep me more focused and disciplined.  As the saying goes, “without a plan the people perish”.  For me, without a reading plan my spirituality languishes.  Perhaps you fall prone to periods of less than diligent bible reading, then join me in a reading plan.  God’s Word is rich and true and life-changing, and the only way to develop a true, biblical, eternal outlook on life!

I am also planning to be more intentional about my “other” reading, trying to consistently work my way through “other” books.  I hope to have a steady slate of theology, Christian living, and professional development books.

It’s a New Year that I hope to fill with new “reads”!

What Will 2011 Hold?

It’s hard to believe it is already the start of a new year!  I always love to look ahead with goals and aspirations for improving areas of my life, which more often than not, requires an open and honest evaluation of the past year.  That open and honest evaluation can sometimes be painful.  It’s hard to admit our shortcomings and areas where we were not as committed or devoted as we would have liked to have been.   That being said, praise God for new beginnings!  As a reconciled believer in Jesus Christ, He remembers not our former sins or our past lives, His forgiveness is complete.  You and I can be thankful for the completeness of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ!

Blessings
Travis

The Thanksgiving Beat

~Thanksgiving~  Such a wonderful holiday.  Families around the nation gather to share a meal and fellowship.  Contrary to what most kids in the nation are taught growing up, the holiday of Thanksgiving is rooted in God’s Word.  My prayer is that the heartbeat of my family on a daily basis would reflect the truth of the Word of God.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1)

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater.” (2 Thess. 1:3)

Thanksgiving day often causes much reflection on the goodness of God and His provision for my life.  In fact, my wife, spent an entire week at her blog, Eternal Outlook [with Angela] espousing differing aspects of God’s provision in our family’s life.  But ultimately, it is my prayer for myself, and all those who may read this blog, that we will be known as people of thanksgiving, because of how indebted we are to our Creator and Savior.

I want the heartbeat of my life (and my family’s) to be one that praises God with a heart of thanksgiving on a daily basis.

Blessings,
Travis

One Man's Journey Serving the King of Kings