Archive | November, 2013

Thanksgiving Sucks.

26 Nov

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERANo, I’m not talking about the weight I gain in the weeks surrounding the holidays.  I’m not upset because my team lost.  I am not referring to my relatives who although I love dearly, always seem to say something to set me off.  I am not really talking about the holiday and all its fanfare at all.

No.  I mean what the title says.  Thanksgiving sucks.  The process of giving thanks to God when you are in the midst of pain simply sucks.  Life is hard and the twists, turns, and bumps along the way haven’t passed me by, so saying thank you when there are other things that I want to say to God, make things a little awkward.

I know this is the time of year when I should be thankful.  I even started the daily list of things I was supposed to be thankful for.  However, it didn’t work out that well.

The Bible says that a joyful heart is good like a medicine.  I believe it, but I also know that sometimes medicine tastes terrible.  As a dad of three young boys, I know that medicine often goes out faster than it goes in.  A spoonful is often enough to make them gag, and sometimes I have to force myself to be thankful.

So I began to think about the medicinal purposes of giving thanks.

1.  Giving thanks helps me remember God’s faithfulness.  Lamentations3:22,23 says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”  Lamentations is not a book of praise (like Psalms), but a book of sorrow.   There are many times when I have seen God’s faithfulness to me and my family.  Forcing myself to remember those times is like a little medicine.

2.  The process of thankgiving forces me to look beyond the difficulties in my life, and focus on the positive.  While not everything is perfect in my life, there are some blessings that he has given me.  Focusing on these things, lifts my spirits and keeps me moving forward.

3.  The process of being thankful makes the good even better. Facing the storms of life teaches us to savor the good.  If our life were just filled with rainbows and sunshine, then I don’t know if we would appreciate it.  Reflecting on the good is like savoring a delicious meal.  You can inhale it, or take time to reflect on it.  Sometimes I rush through the good.

But another problem exists.  Just knowing that the medicine is good for me doesn’t make it go down.  Sometimes my gag reflex causes keeps it from going down.  In this process of thankgiving, my gag reflex goes off because I feel inauthentic about being thankful when I’m hurting so deeply inside.

We all have times when we are hurting, or angry with God, and while it may be okay to be angry with God, these are not the only emotion that we should have towards God.  Even in the midst of hurt and anger, I have other emotions.

The duality of my emotions doesn’t mean that I’m being inauthentic or hypocritical.  It means that I am a complex human being with feelings, emotions, and beliefs.  I am a reed that is easily shaken in the winds of life, and that is unable to withstand alone in the storms of life.

I cannot wait for the pain to leave before I give thanks.  God calls us to be thankful in all circumstances – even in the midst of pain.  So while thanks giving sucks, it is also medicinal – getting me to a different perspective and place in life.

If you’re in the midst of pain and you find that thanksgiving sucks.  Do it anyway.

And if you think I suck, that’s okay.  I am too busy giving thanks for other things.

David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  He will spending Thanksgiving with his family in the frozen state of MN, but is looking forward to the day when God calls him to live in a warmer climate.  So if you know of a job that pays more than writing, please let him know at gdavid@earesources.org.

What does he really want?

19 Nov

give him what he wantsTobi (short for Tobias) is about 2 years old.  Although he was a “surprise” child, he certainly blesses us daily.  He is currently in the stage of childhood where a child knows exactly what they want, but are rarely able to communicate it.  This causes much frustration for the parent and the child.

Many times, he will come up to me while I am working on my computer and utter something.  Sometimes the utterance stays the same, sometimes it changes.  But he wants something.

At first, I check the obvious.  “Hungry?,”  “Thirsty?,”  “Night-night?”  After receiving negative from all three (especially night-night), I take a whiff to see if maybe he wants a diaper change.

On one particular day, I discovered that he wanted me to go to the closet so that he could get to some toys.  I made my way through our toy selection, trying to find which toy he wanted so desperately.  The answer was difficult to discern.  I finally decided that he wanted the Playmobile, and pulled out the crate of toys.

He was happy for a moments as I helped him get it out, but as soon as I walked back to my computer, he started crying again.  Trying to accomplish anything during his tears is impossible, so I came back to see what he wanted.  As soon as I got close to him, the crying immediately stopped.

It took me a few minutes to realize what was going on.  Tobi was not interested in the Playmobile or anything else in the closet.  He was interested in me – his dad.

Sometimes we get overwhelmed or overwhelmed by all of life’s demands.  This is one demand, that I think I should fulfill.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is married to a beautiful woman named Rachel, and is the father to three energetic boys.

My New Thanksgiving Tradition – Away from home during the Holidays

14 Nov

Lots of people have thanksgiving traditions, like having family over, playing games, watching football and eating too much, the list can go on and on. Traditions are about comfort and doing what you have been doing most of your life, because it’s familiar.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to do the same thing year after year but last year opened my eyes to a new tradition.

During the fall of my senior year of college I studied in Nashville, TN.  It is a 15 hour drive from my home in MN.  I still had some time left after Thanksgiving until the semester was over and I did not have money to drive all the way home and all the way back…and all the way home again.

So I went through some options in my head

A)  Spend thanksgiving alone with a frozen pizza and an action movie (not bad but kinda lonely)

B)  Beg some people fly out here (I’m in college, all my friends are just as poor as me)

C)  See if anyone would let me come to their thanksgiving (I have only known these people for a couple months)

As it turns out one of my buddies lived in South Carolina and was driving home to be with his family, he invited me to come over and I thought it would be a great time!  I was a little nervous.  I was going to spend Thanksgiving with another family – a family that homeschooled their kids?  It was different than my background, and they might have other weird family traditions!

God has a way of taking you places you never thought you would be with people you never thought you would meet.  Then afterwards, you can’t imagine your life without it.  One of my life verses is Proverbs 3:4-5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Last year’s Thanksgiving was a blast.  I was totally brought into this family and they welcomed me with open arms the whole time I was there.  Because of their love, I want to start a new tradition for this time of year.

Spend Thanksgiving with a different family each year.

This year I’m going to Buffalo, NY (Lord Willing), to be with different friends.

What’s a tradition that you can start that will stretch your comfort zone?

keagan blanckeKeagan Blancke is a 22 year old broadcasting graduate from University of Northwestern St. Paul. My motto is “it’s all about who you know” and the most important person you can know is Jesus. I would love to get to know you as well, making connections is always beneficial.

Marks of a Sincere Apology – Rob Ford

12 Nov

rob fordMayor of Toronoto, Rob Ford has been in the news for some time over his personal behavior, and questions over a video that reveals his use of cocaine.  At first he denied that the video existed, but after the police made an announcement that the video is real, he has made a full public apology.

Or somewhat of an apology?  I am not his judge, and I will leave that for you to decide.

Public apologizes are hysterical to watch, and all of them are bound to be picked apart in today’s world.  Remember Anthony Weiner?

Sometimes in our household, there are times when I apologize to my wife, but she rightly finds it lacking for some reason or another.  Rob Ford’s words have caused me to reflect on what are the essential ingredients of a sincere apology.  Sincerity is hard to fake.  It doesn’t mean that you have to cry, but it does require showing emotion (according to who you are).  So what are a few key aspects of saying, “I’m Sorry.”

 1.  Self-Initiated.

Were you forced to say sorry?  Did you wife, friend, have to confront the issue or did you?  A willful apology is much more effective at bringing healing.

2.  Acknowledge what you have done. 

Rather than a generic, “I’m sorry,” put into words what you have done.  I can just imagine going to my wife, and saying.  “I have made mistakes…”  I don’t think that it would impress her much.  She is more interested in me acknowledging what I did.  There is power in repeating and putting into words exactly what you did wrong.  We often want just to forget, but sometimes, great humility is found in reflecting on what we have done wrong.

3.  Acknowledge the Hurt you have caused. 

A complete apology shows that you have thought about the consequences of your actions, and who has to bear those consequences.  Not all consequences of your actions end with the apology, so it is important to acknowledge not just the present short-falling, but how it will continue to affect them.

4.  Take Responsibility. 

Sometimes, we say sorry, but add a statement about how the other person should feel responsible.  We offer an explanation of our actions by saying they are a result of another’s actions.  Statements like, “Well, you…” or “I thought,”  It is also important to clearly state the full extent of your actions.  Nothing is worse than an apology that only goes half-way, and then needs to go farther.

5.  A Desire to change

An apology is not complete unless there is a desire to change.  This doesn’t mean that you won’t fail again, but it does mean that there is a desire (and effort) in order to change behavior.  As the saying goes, “Talk is Cheap.”

I wish that I could say that I have arrived in this area of my life.  Each and every apology is a humbling experience.  I think that this is the core that makes it so difficult.  God warns of the danger of pride, and lists it as one of the deadly sins (Proverbs 6).

I love the psalmist illustration of a repentant heart when he says, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” (Psalm 32:5)

I am calling us as men, to face the fact that we are sinners.  We will do wrong.  When we fail, let us move towards repentance and forgiveness.

Real Win – A Book Review

7 Nov

real winThe fact that “The Real Win” was written by NFL quarterback Colt McCoy initially struck me as a gimmicky attempt to cash in on celebrity, but once I got a chance to hear his (and Matt Carter’s) heart for developing godly manhood, I was blown away. This book ended up being a very encouraging surprise!

How does a man measure success? How does he succeed without compromising his ethical standards, becoming a workaholic, or losing his family in the process? Matt and Colt say that it’s about “the real win”, and no, they aren’t talking about the same “winning” that Charlie Sheen is famous for. They sum it up nicely: “The real win means trusting the Lord, walking with Jesus, and living your life in the way He defined it.” (p177).

The four areas of “winning” that Matt and Colt touch on in the book include the home (marriage and parenting), the work place (working for God, avoiding turning career into an idol), character (fighting temptation and the importance of integrity), and the future (being shaped through trials and seeking God’s glory rather than our own)

One of the things that I really appreciated about this book was that the authors where incredibly transparent about their shortcomings and failures as husbands, leaders, etc. They explain the lessons God taught them as they traveled through cancer, injuries, and career setback and how God ultimately healed their marriages and families. They don’t pull any punches or paint themselves in an unrealistic way, but their humility and honesty made their stories relatable.

Another thing that I really appreciated about the book was that it reached out to a broad audience of men. Yes, one of the authors is a professional athlete, but you don’t need to be a sports fan to get a lot out of the book. Yes, they cover a lot marriage stuff, but they also have a lot of great passages that are specifically for single men.

The range of quality in the “godly manhood” book genre is all over the map and there are quite a few duds, but I would highly recommend “The Real Win” if you are looking for a good men’s group study (they have questions in the back of the book) or for your own study and encouragement.

215635_3474090052643_48750391_1Dave Wonders is the Founder of More Than A Beard, and contributing writer.  He is a man of faith who currently serves as the Midday Host at 104.3 The Pulse.

An Interview with the Man of Modern “Beard”dom – David Crowder

7 Nov

One of my favorite things about being in radio is having the opportunity to connect with really interesting people: folks in the community, missionaries, pastors, authors, and musicians.  Over the years, I have put together an interview wishlist and near the very top is the famous bearded troubadour: David Crowder. If you ever get the chance to see him live, DO IT! He is a passionate worship leader and is incredibly down to earth.

Last week he came up to the area where I live (in the Brainerd Lakes of Minnesota) for a concert and he called in for a chat. Granted, this interview falls more in the “fun” category than the “spiritual” category, but he is one of the most famous bearded Christian men out there and I figured you might enjoy hearing it.

Interview Contents:

0:00-1:48- Cold weather/Beards
1:49-3:04- Experiencing dinner with the Robertsons (of Duck Dynasty)
3:05-5:35- Crowder plays a round of “Fantasy Band”
5:36-6:38- The infamous asterisk and why DC*B broke up last year
6:39-7:31- Info on the upcoming album
7:32-7:58- Crowder’s favorite album of 2013
7:59-8:46- The biggest thing that God has been teaching Crowder lately
8:47-9:30- What does the fox say/goodbyes

Dave Wonders is the Founder and contributing writer of Morethanabeard.com.  When he is not reading and writing, he is radio host at the Pulse at 104.3.

215635_3474090052643_48750391_1

All Hallow’s Eve

5 Nov

"Wicked" - or so the Trick-or-Treaters told me ;~)A sign of the season - Halloween is upon us!It’s that time of year again.  Time for all of the spooks to come out.  It’s time for parents to get their kids dressed in costumes that probably won’t last the night in order to go around their neighborhood to collect candy that the kids really don’t need. It’s also that time of year where Christians wage their battle against Satan and all of his demonic forces.  It’s Halloween time!

My wife and I grew up celebrating Halloween.  I remember wearing the masks that you could not breathe out of and walking around my neighborhood to get candy.  I would also go with my cousin around my aunt’s neighborhood to get candy as well.  It was double Halloween for me!  So, since we both grew up celebrating Halloween, we wanted to keep the tradition alive with our kids.  We have taken our kids out Trick or Treating for the last seven years.  My wife does an awesome job making costumes for them every year.  They always look great!

Some Christians look at Halloween as a pagan holiday that invites the forces of Satan to wreak havoc on the world.  Now, I will agree that there is some crazy stuff that goes on every Halloween, but is it any worse than what goes on any given day in our crazy, fallen world?  Probably not.

We live in a society that is increasingly viewing the Church and Christianity as ancient and outdated.  They are looking at Jesus as a cool guy, but someone irrelevant to their lives.  Christians are seen more for what they are against than who they are for.  We spend more time being the moral police or shutting people out than we do making disciples.  We refuse to acknowledge that Halloween exists, yet we will put on harvest parties where we allow the kids to dress up in their costumes as long as the costumes are not scary.  I’m not saying those parties are bad.  Our church used to do one every year and it was awesome!  What I’m saying is that it is time to stop taking such hard line stands against something that is not inherently evil.

We view Halloween as a pagan holiday, but it’s origins are not pagan.  All Hallowed’s Eve first appeared in the fourth century when the Church would remember those who had died for the faith.  They would commemorate these saints, so that others could see what it took to follow Christ.  Over the centuries people began to add other elements to this and it turned into the holiday we know today.  Many of the things that we are familiar with like pumpkins, costumes, and trick or treating are fairly modern ideas (appearing within the last half century).

Since we live in a post-Christian society, we have to stop acting like we live in a Christian one.  We have to stop preaching that America was founded on Christian principles.  We need to live in the culture we are surrounded by.  We are still called to be holy.  We cannot let the culture force us to compromise the Gospel, which some churches have done.  But, we can use cultural norms as bridges or tools to communicate the Gospel.  For example, the last two years my church has done a Trunk or Treat in our parking lot.  People from our church dress up and decorate the trunks of their cars to give out candy to neighborhood kids.  It’s been a great success the last two years and we have a lot of fun doing it.  The purpose of it is to give kids a safe place to go trick or treating and to show families the love of Christ.

If you are anti-Halloween, you obviously have your reasons and convictions and I totally respect that.  The purpose of this blog post is to challenge all of us to rethink the way we do things as Christians.  We need to take a hard look in the mirror and figure out if our actions are leading others to Christ or pushing them further away.  I’m not saying that dressing up in costumes and giving out candy is going to lead someone closer to Christ.  But, if we are going to reach a post-Christian society, then we have to rethink the way we do things.  We need to start using any avenue or tool to bring people to Christ rather than pushing people away from Him.

Halloween is not the devil’s holiday.

He is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8) EVERY DAY not just on certain holidays.

Therefore, let us use Halloween as an opportunity to preach our King rather than our enemy.  Let us preach Christ more on Halloween than we do Satan.  Satan doesn’t need that much attention, but our King deserves it all because of what he did for us and the world.

Ryan Revelry - familyRyan Revelry is the husband of an amazing wife, Allie, and the father of three great boys, Caedmon, Shepherd, and Rex.  He is the senior pastor of Matthews Memorial Church in Chelmsford, MA.  He is also the chaplain for the Lowell Spinners, the single A club of the Boston Red Sox.  He is a big sports fan, rooting for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Bears, and Boston Bruins.  He loves reading, superheroes, and reading about superheroes.

Photo courtesy of Laura Wagner Photography.

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