How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life

What If You Don’t Want God?

August 1st, 2012

Self-worship affects every part of us. The final impact is on everything we are. The soul, that holds it all together, is in ruin. When we mistake ourselves for God, then God becomes meaningless or an enemy. We cannot want him. If we work against God in every part our being, we become the kind of people who cannot want God.

Jesus speaks about hell often. “Hell” is to be separated from the presence of God forever. When you have soul ruin, hell is the destination. It is not so much God sends people to hell. In many ways, hell becomes a choice. It is the logical destination for those who cannot want God. We are given the choice of being in relationship with God and if we choose to turn away, God honors that. He will never force himself on us.

Often people will speak of death-bed conversions where someone denies God all their life, and before they die, they repent and seek him. Is this authentic? That person may have been seeking all along and it just finally surfaced in the light of day, so, yes, I think it is possible.

Yet, probable? No, not likely. If life away from God is the life we are living, being with God is not an option that is within our realm of choice. God has an infinitely flexible will; we do not. No one “just misses out” of heaven. Life without God is a constant choice that keeps a person focused in a destructive direction. In the end, God is faithful to our choices.

To paraphrase a thought from C.S. Lewis, Instead of one who trusts saying, “Thy will be done,” God says to the person in soul ruin, “Thy will be done.”


“Spending so much emotional energy on those who don’t want God, results in less focus and energy reaching out to those who do.” Comment.


What happens if you choose to ignore God?

July 9th, 2012

Living With a Ruined Heart

“Acting on belief that is based on evidence” is a good definition of faith. When an atheist claims there is no God, the belief is not based on a solid body of evidence. There is so much evidence to the contrary, it may be the atheist has more “blind faith” than faith.

Romans 1:20 (NLT)
From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.

Today, we are able to see way more of “earth and sky and all that God made.” The evidence for design in the universe- and the big bang evidence for space, time, energy and matter being created simultaneously- all point to to a likely conclusion that there is a causative, extra-dimensional agency. This doesn’t specifically warrant this being the God of the Bible, but there is other evidence for that being the case. Let’s just consider a “god” in general.

Why do a small minority of people not trust there is a god? Why do so many more people act as if there is no god? The challenge is, if God exists then God must somehow be in charge. If God is in charge then guess what? We’re not.

The path of ruin begins with the heart. Choices are made as if there is no God. These choices affect all the other parts of our lives. We wish to be in charge and if God exists we can’t logically hold to that viewpoint. So we begin to deceive ourselves in one of two ways. We either choose to believe there is no God, or we act as if there is no God. Either way we lose. This is why unhealthy behavior by atheists and by people who identify as Christian can look very similar. One ignores the consequences of there being a God, and the other acts as if God doesn’t care. If we keep choosing to ignore God, we keep ignoring the blessings God has in store for us. When our hearts are turned in another direction, we cannot be our best, true selves.

Look for evidence of God today.


To Begin Again

June 13th, 2012

First in a series on transformation from the inside out. This is a book based on the teachings of Dallas Willard, in particular from Renovation of the Heart. Start here, be open to the Holy Spirit, and get ready to go!

We are designed to be in relationship with Jesus. The Christian life is not a set of rules and regulations. The Bible is not a rulebook, but a description of this way of life. We do not have a list of laws that we follow to become worthy of attention from God. To grow in faith, we live the life we are designed to live, and we are transformed from the inside out.

This is the key. Inside out. Not a flurry of activities that make us acceptable to receive God’s love. God already loves us and we are open to being changed from the inside out.

We don’t do good things to please God. We become the kind of persons who can do good things naturally because we are being transformed. It is out of the “becoming” that the “doing” follows.

(Note: Each day you will have the chance to think deeply or do something. Why not?)

What is the most important class you have ever taken? Why was it so key?


Time: The Critical Investment Every Father Needs to Make: #4-Toddlers: 4.1: Don’t Try to Play Make Up

September 23rd, 2011

with my dad in my hometown on my 55th birthday!

Your son is now at an age when he is mobile and he is curious. This is also the age when you can get him away to explore on your own. “Mom trust” kicks in a bit more, she gives you a “boys” pass, and it is time to let the fun begin! You have prepared for this day since before he was born and now…

Hold on! Time for a little self-inventory:

  1. Are you going to try to give your son the focus you did not receive from your own dad?
  2. Are you going to try to create a mini-me whose interests directly mimic your own?
  3. Do you have dreams of this little bundle of joy being in the NBA, on the PGA, or going to Stanford for a PhD?
  4. Do you keep upgrading your video and photo capabilities with new hardware and software, renewing like yesterday’s magazine subscriptions?




1. Are you going to try to give your son the focus you did not receive from your own dad?

Memory research is showing us that our memories are selective at best. In fact, the latest studies are showing us that we remember more clearly the things we think about the least. The more we play those “tapes” from our past, the more reality and perception clash. You are not your father and your son is not you, neither now, nor when you were a little boy. So relax, take a deep breath and repeat after me:

“My son is a unique child of God. There has never been anyone quite like him, and there will never be anyone quite like him, ever.”

and, repeat after me:

“I am a unique father for my son. There has never been a father quite like me for him and there will never be a father quite like me for him, ever.”

Now, doesn’t that make you feel better? Isn’t that good to know? You can imitate the best of what you can remember from your own father/son relationship, imitate solid fathers you have known or know now, and learn from fatherhood resources (like this blog!), which will help along the way.

Time: The Critical Investment Every Father Needs to Make- #3 Infancy

September 21st, 2011

a little too much time investment!

The relationship between a dad and his son is the original, “old school” male bonding experience. This is a very simple truth that is often overlooked. Having an active father in a baby’s life provides a strong environment for healthy growth in all arenas. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, however you look at it, when dads are there, it is like fertilizer for a healthy life. There is no in vitro substitute for the influence a father brings.

This is not just about a dad and his son; it is about mom, too! It may “take a village to raise a child,” but the village begins with having your husband by your side, and covering your back. When I hear someone say, “Children don’t need a father in their lives,” I know this statement is not coming from a dad or from a mom who has raised kids with a dad.

If this simply means “It is possible to raise children without a father,” then, obviously this is true. The same goes for a mom. From a possibility perspective, “Children don’t need a mother in their lives,” is equally true. We just never hear this.

Practically, sharing in the tasks of raising an infant brings husbands and wives closer together. It isn’t healthy to project all our needs for encouragement, joy and affirmation onto one person. Human relationships flourish as we join together with others for a common purpose. We can share work, share interests and hobbies, raise pets, and such, yet raising a child becomes the most primal, instinctual place for growth. Our capacity as men and women expands as we raise children together.

Now, dads, this doesn’t mean you have to get all weird on me. I don’t want to see any breast feeding apparatus like Robert De Niro, as Jack Byrnes, in Meet the Fockers(2004)! Yet, sharing in those basic infant care tasks has a ton of psychological and emotional influence, for you and your son. Here are some examples:

Holding your son closely and watching him drink from his bottle is about as close as you will ever get to seeing pure peace.

Sharing in soothing your son during nighttime fussing is not just for the sake of relieving your wife’s sleep deprivation; your son is learning that you are there to bring security into his life, as well.

Changing diapers may have been a bit too much for some of our fathers to handle, but we step up. Because it is the politically correct thing to do? No, because we learn so much in this simple action. We learn that if we can take crap from our sons at an early age, we can take crap from them later! One of those lessons in “unconditional love,” let’s just say. O, and remember to have another diaper handy to throw over him just in case…

Taking a nap with your son lying on your chest is a great excuse to get some rest, and your son can get used to the rhythm of your heart, as he has his mom’s for so much time in the womb. An added bonus is, while you are snoring because you are sleeping on your back, she won’t poke you. Instead, she’s thinking, “Isn’t that precious…” Saw away, boys!

Now is the time to sing, pray, and give blessing to your son each night. Faith is not a “woman’s thing.” A habit formed from the beginning like this will have huge dividends as he grows older. Both for him and for you (I will spend a whole chapter on the topic of spiritually nurturing your son).

Yes, spending lots of time with your infant son is as much about you bonding with him as it is he bonding with you. I can’t help but think of those old film clips I saw when studying Psychology, of ethologist (study of animal behavior), Konrad Lorenz, walking with geese following him. He is showing an example of “Imprinting” (“in which a young animal acquires several of its behavioral characteristics from its parent.”)

Your son is not a goose, he isn’t your clone, but as a dad, you have to realize how the time investment you make from day one will significantly increase the effectiveness of your influence in the coming years. Your journey has just begun. Honk! Honk!

Time: The Critical Investment Every Father Needs to Make #2: The Myth of Quality Time

September 19th, 2011

Speaking of the decline in time spent by fathers with their sons in my last post, let’s look at what takes place with mothers and daughters in America, only beginning much later. Daughters, who spent their lives “apprenticing” with their moms at home, were now seeing more and more of their moms entering the workplace. This shift begins during the depression, grows during WWII, with women flocking into the factories (“Rosie the Riverter”), and then continues in the post-WWII years.

For many moms this was an economic decision. In particular, lower income families didn’t have the option of mom “staying at home.” Yet with the post-war economic boom for higher economic families, staying at home becomes a choice, as well.

For many, a mom working becomes, not so much a sign of economic necessity, but a cry for freedom and liberation from the grinds of being a “housewife.” It was about being free to be your own person, and this message was usually given by those who self-identified as “Feminists.” Working outside of the home becomes a badge of honor; a statement of liberation.

So, let me see? When fathers started spending less time with their children, especially their sons, we didn’t even blink. But, take mom out of the home…Watch out!


I remember the backlash.

“A woman’s place is in the home…”

“Letting preschool/daycare raise your kids…”

“Latchkey kids…”

Yes, there is virtual silence in popular culture with the decline of father/son time, but when mom starts “doing her own thing,” she hears about it! So, what is a mother to do? The feminists tried to come to the rescue, but their message wasn’t always helpful when it comes to time. Not helpful for sons or daughters.

You see, right about this same time, a new term was coined, “Quality time.” The earliest we see this in print is in an article from the Maryland newspaper, The Capital, January, 1973.

The major goal of each of these role changes is to give a woman time to herself, Ms. Burton explained. “A woman’s right and responsibility is to be self fulfilling,” she said. She gives “quality time” rather than “quantity time” to each task, whether it be writing, cleaning the house or tending the children.

“Quality time” doesn’t take into consideration how learning takes place. The assumption is that intense focused time with your child is going to be as influential as “Quantity time,” perhaps thought of as “large amounts of time simply being present with your child in an unstructured, unfocused way.”

Even thinking this way you realize how this advice is easily misguided. First of all, the more time spent with someone the more opportunities there is to learn from imitation. Remember, what I said earlier? Imitation is just as important a learning tool as information. A son has always learned more than a trade or skills in living life with his father. Spending time with his father is a primary “classroom” for what it means to be a man.

Second, who is to say that by spending lots of time with your son is always unstructured and unfocused, and even if it is, who is to say that this is, necessarily, a bad thing? Unstructured, unfocused time can be the source of some real connection, can’t it? Just “hanging out with your dad” doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Actually, even for a “quality time” advocate, if you intentionally seek to be more attentive to your son during “quantity time,” you have just given them more thorough “quality time”, anyway! Then, it is time to feel guilty, once again!

There is at least one thing we do learn from the concept of “quality time” that is helpful for fathers, however. Intentionally scheduling time to be with your son. Throughout their childhood, dads can learn to schedule activities, both structured and unstructured to invest time in their sons. Next we look at what this might mean at different stages in the life of dads and sons.

How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life