About the Chief Outkicker

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Dayton, Ohio, United States
I've accused my friends, Jeff and Jonathan, of reaping more out of life's harvest than they deserve. I joke about this with them, but in reality, I am actually the one who has been blessed way beyond what I deserve. I have a wonderful wife who loves the Lord and who loves me. I have three great kids. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is my great provider. I have done nothing to deserve the good and wonderful gifts I have been given in this life. I am the one who is "outkicking my coverage" daily. Life is good. I am a teacher (18 years and counting), a husband, and a proud father. Most of all, I am a Christ follower. My desire is to follow Him so closely I am covered in the dirt of his sandals. Follow along as I work on allowing the Spirit of God to help me navigate this blessed life He has given to me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Decisions... Decisions... Decisions...

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." -- Western-Union internal memo, 1876. Alexander Bell offered the patent for the Telephone to Western-Union in 1876 for $100,000. They declined. The telephone patent has been estimated as the most valuable patent of all time. Bell's Company, AT&T, later aquired Western-Union.

Modern history is marked by bad decisions. In addition to the one above, I can think of three other well-known big failures in decision-making. First, there were the potential investors Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to be the first to drill for oil in 1859. The investors were quoted as saying, "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try to find oil? You're crazy." Then there was the Decca Recording Co. that refused to sign the Beatles in 1962 because "guitar music is on its way out." Another notorious decison was made by was actor, Gary Cooper, who rejected the role of Rhett Butler in the Academy Award Winner Gone With the Wind. He was quoted as saying, "I'm just glad it will be Clark Gable falling on his face and not Gary Cooper".

Is anyone immune to making poor decisions? I know I am not. How do I make sure to make good decisions about my family, my finances, my marriage, and my career? Should I rely on information? Should I rely on my experience to guide me? Should I rely on the opinions of others?
In an earlier post, I quoted Proverbs 27:12-- "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." How can I go from being that guy who continues to go on and suffers from my unwise decisions to being a wise decison-maker that is blessed by God.

I believe the answer lies in a familiar passage of scripture that is often quoted, but rarely examined for the sage advice that it gives to the believer. It is found in Proverbs 3:5-7a:
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

7Do not be wise in your own eyes...

These are the words of King Solomon, the wisest man to live on the earth. When he was crowned as King, the Lord offered to give him anything he wanted, and Solomon asked for wisdom. God granted that wisdom to him, but Solomon's advice was to NOT trust your own understanding. If anyone could trust in his own intuition and reasoning, it would be Solomon, but this young king knew something that you and I don't readily recognize... The key to wise decision-making is not found in ME, it is found in the person of GOD.

Let's go back to the passage again:
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
I am called to lean on God, not my own wisdom or or intellect. The Hebrew word for "lean" in this verse means to prop something up against something else. I am being called to put my full decision-making weight on Him and the precepts of His Word. Pastor Andy Stanley is quoted as saying, "Direction doesn't begin with a search for knowledge or direction... It begins with submission to God."

6a in all your ways acknowledge Him,
I am also called to acknowledge Him in every area of my life. The word "acknowledge" means to literally make him the head or Lord of it. This means establishing a humble attitude before God with a decision to submit to His ways in every area of your life.

6b and He will make your paths straight.
This is one of those IF-THEN statements. If I acknowledge Him in all areas of my life, then he will make it clear for me which path (decision) to take (make).


God knows the future. I need to acknowledge my need for Him in all areas, and He will give me the decision-making ability I need.

7Do not be wise in your own eyes...
My pride, arrogance, and self-importance often get in the way of the good and perfect gifts God has for me. I oftentimes go it alone and rely on self in making life's decisions. God's wisdom is far, far, far superior to that of his creation, yet I rely on my own intellect to help me make my decisions. Information, wisdom, insight, and common sense are not enough. I need a Savior... I need to allow God to lead me.

It is easy to trust God and lean on Him in areas over which I have little or no control, such as my salvation, safety, health, etc. However, it is difficult to drop my pride in areas where I have experience and knowledge. It is especially hard to drop my pride in areas in which others see me as a seasoned veteran or expert. I am called to acknowledge Him in "all my ways". This includes my marriage, parenting, education, profession, etc. It is most difficult to acknowledge God in areas where I think I am in control.

I need God to guide me in making wise decisions that result in blessing, rather than curse. To get there, I need to develop an attitude of dependence on God. I need to acknowledge Him in every area of my life. THEN... He will show me what to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Death of "Independent Steve"

I can remember a few years ago when my wife asked me, "What do you want to do for Fathers Day?" My response was, "I want to be left alone." Sounds like a sarcastic answer, (and I will admit I have been accused of being a bit of a smart alec) but at that time I really meant it. At that point in my journey, I felt like I needed to be alone. I needed to connect with myself. I needed to meet my need to recharge and rediscover "Independent Steve."
I tell you, God has brought me a long way since that Fathers Day not so long ago. He is doing a work in me. He is doing it through a great group of people he has placed in mine and Kari's lives. They are our Small Group Bible Study group of friends. Because of these people, I am no longer that guy who is constantly concerned about killing "Independent Steve." I enjoy the company of good friends who get me. I really like it when they laugh at my jokes too. Tonight we spent about 5 hours (seemed like not enough time) just hanging out while our kids played. Our hosts were the McCaskeys (see Chris in the pic, the hairy guy is not Becky nor Scott) -awesome hosts, and great company to boot. I wouldn't trade evenings like tonight for anything in the world.
Because I love you all so much, I have decided to dedicate this post of Outkicking My Coverage to the members of our small group (we need to come up with a catchier title than that). I was told Saturday that my posts on this website were not as funny as someone (Becky Mc) had expected them to be. I was hurt by this. I cried a little bit, but then I decided to get over it and be the bigger person. I chose to express my love for that person and the other people of our small group by sharing something I find hilarious. I have found a quote from Jack Handey for each of you. Some are well-chosen, and some are completely random. So here it goes:

For Edge and Dee:
Whenever you read a good book, it's like the author is right there, in the room talking to you, which is why I don't like to read good books. (this one is esp. for Edge)
It takes a big man to cry... but it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man. (this one is esp. for Dee)

For Russ and Becky Mo:
There should be a detective show called "Johnny Monkey," because every week you could have a guy say "I ain't gonna get caught by no MONKEY," but then he would, and I don't think I'd ever get tired of that.

For Chris and Becky Mc:
Somebody told me how frightening it was how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.

For Kari:
If you go flying back through time, and you see somebody else flying forward into the future, it's probably best to avoid eye contact.

For Scott and Heather:
If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did."

For David and Janet:
Ambition is like a frog sitting on a Venus Flytrap. The flytrap can bite and bite, but it won't bother the frog because it only has little tiny plant teeth. But some other stuff could happen and it could be like ambition.

I love you all! Thanks for killing "Independent Steve." It was time for him to go.
Happy Father's Day to you all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat

"...I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat'... We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, 'Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.'"
-Winston Churchill,
May 13, 1940 In his first speech to the British House of Commons

Churchill's task was a daunting one --to preserve England in the face of the evil of Nazi fascism. His words were strong and resolute. Churchill stood before the world and laid-out his plan. It was a simple one: Victory, no matter what the cost. There were no options. This was about the survival of his people, the British.

Churchill's resolve got me thinking that if Churchill could say what he said about the preservation of England, how much more should you and I do the same in our quest of defending the truth and the message of the Gospel that God has entrusted to us?

Writer, G.K. Chesterton stated, "We have lost modesty, and it's dislocated from being confident of what we believe. We have become confident in ourselves, rather than what we believe... We are producing a generation of theologians who are too modest to even believe in the multiplication table."

Truth has definitely taken a hit. Today's society values thinking for yourself, challenging what you have always thought to be true. Colleges today are especially guilty of encouraging this way of thinking. They are producing young adults who are confident in who they are, but hardly confident in what they believe. Does higher education knock faith out of an individual? Students are taught that it is OK to deviate from what you have been previously taught. Pastor and Christian Apologist, Ravi Zacharias has an answer to this trend. He is quoted as saying to a group of college students, "You better hang on to your confidence in what God has promised you is true in the scriptures. Then when you face all kinds of odds, you are still able to triumph."

Zacharias has been quoted as saying,"You can have confidence that whatever it is you are facing: whether it be trials or no trials: whether it be heartache or no heartache; whether it be struggle or no struggle; the fact of the matter is IF YOU HONOR GOD, VICTORY IS GUARANTEED TO YOU."

We need to be willing to stand up for God's Word --the ultimate truth in this world of relativism where truth seems to change with each gust of the wind. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to empower us to be modern-day Joshuas who will be "strong and courageous" in the face of the enemy -the father of lies.

In Joshua chapter 1, after Moses died, God gave Joshua the same kind of challenge, but promised that he would be there to guide him every step of the way. He extends the same challenge and He makes the same promise to us today. Will we stand up against attacks on His truth?

Joshua 1:6-9 (The Message)
Joshua 1 1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses' assistant:
"Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I'm giving to the People of Israel. I'm giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It's all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I'll be with you. I won't give up on you; I won't leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don't get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you're going. And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed. Haven't I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take."
How willing am I to give my blood, toil, tears and sweat to the defense of the Gospel? How willing are you?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't Want to Be Like Harry

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."
-Proverbs 27:12

I recently read a story about a man named Harry Truman (not our 33rd President) which really got me to start thinking and praying about the paths I have chosen in life and where they are leading.

Mr. Truman was a cranky, colorful man who became a media celebrity in Washington state in the winter and spring of 1980. You see, Harry built and owned the Spirit Lake Lodge, which was located within spitting distance of beautiful Mt. St. Helens. When geologists discovered that the "mountain" was indeed a volcano that had been dormant for many years, people within a 100 mile radius began to make plans to leave the area. This was about survival. A volcanic explosion would result in certain death for anyone in its near path. As it became clear that the volcano would erupt in the spring of 1980, Harry Truman refused to move. Two months before the volcano blew, he was quoted by the The Daily News as saying, "If I left this place, it would worry me to death. If this place is gonna go, I want to go with it, 'cause if I lost it, it would kill me in a week anyway." Harry even told reporters that he had a secret cave where he would take refuge during an eruption. Later, his sister said there was no such cave, although in any case he wouldn't have had time to reach it. When rumblings of Mount St. Helens' first eruptions prompted evacuations of the Spirit Lake area, Truman stayed true to his ornery promise. He refused to leave. Then, at 8:32 am(PDT) on May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens completely erupted. The blast obliterated all traces of his beloved lodge and buried Truman and the site in ash. He was 84 when he died.

By all accounts, anyone with an ounce of sense would consider Mr. Truman to be the fool of all fools. How could he ignore the sure signs of the coming disaster? He knew what was coming, but he did nothing about avoiding the danger. I would never allow myself to be caught in a similar circumstance, leading to a sure consequences or even death. I am too wise for that. Really? Am I? When I consider some of the paths I have chosen, I find that I am just like cranky, obstinate Harry Truman. I have to ask myself if I am following the same path he followed when it comes to different areas of my life, such as my health and my finances? Am I headed toward disaster? I have always had good intentions, but intentions don't affect the end result. I have been convicted that I need to invoke the power of God to make the decision to be very intentional about how I live my life. The choices I make with my lifestyle today will determine the end result for me and my family. I don't want to be a Harry!

I have begun praying a simple prayer that I heard Andy Stanley pray on a recent podcast of one of his sermons, tiltled Destinations. It goes something like this:

Help me to see trouble coming long before it gets here.
Give me the wisdom to know what to do.
Give me the courage to do it.

The writer of Proverbs calls the man who sees danger and does something about it prudent or WISE. I want to be that man. I don't want to be the SIMPLE man like Harry Truman who keeps going on the same path, knowing that it will have a bad result. That man (and his family) will suffer for it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Why Pray?

June 28, 1787, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
"How has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights ot illuminate our understanding? In the beginning of the contest with Britain... we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard... God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, it is improbable that an empire can rise without His aid."
-Benjamin Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention

I have been thinking a lot about prayer. I can remember about 7 years ago, when our family went through a really traumatic experience, feeling really helpless and unsure if my prayers were even being heard. A trusted and Godly family member told me to continue to pray for this situation because, as she put it, "God is moved to act when his people pray." That stuck with me, but I still didn't get it. Do my prayers actually have anything to do with what God does? Who am I to even think that I could have a bearing on whether or not God moves in a situation?
I got into the Word to try to answer this question. My search took me to James 5:16.
--"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Wow! My prayers to have power. But why is the God of the universe moved by my requests? My search then took me to John 1:12.
--"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become sons of God."
God is moved by our prayers because when we accepted Him as Savior, He immediately regarded us as His children. As children we have access to his throne. OK. This seems to good to be true. It's God's Word, so it is sure to be true. I think that is is absolutely amazing that through Christ's sacrifice, we are seen by the Father as worthy to approach Him with our requests.
I am currenly reading a book co-authored by Jack Hayford and Stormie Omartian, titled The Power of a Praying Church. In this book, Hayford has described the power of prayer in a way that has made the information from the paragraphs above make complete sense to me. I am a word picture guy, so sometimes I need to see God's Word in flanelgraph or on Powerpoint before it registers. I hope this word picture of prayer helps you understand our role in effecting God's will as I have. Hayford compares the power of prayer to the engine of a car. There is very little power in the keys of a car without being put into the ignition. In other words...I don't have the power to go outside and get myself going 60mph, but I have access to a resource that can get me moving at that speed. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus said, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven." According to Hayford, "keys" means authority, privelege, and access. Some things will not be turned on unless I turn them on. Some things will not be turned loose until I turn them loose. Some things will not be set free unless I set them free. The key doesn't make the power (we are powerless in ourselves), it releases the power of the engine (God's power). Because Jesus has given us the keys to His kingdom, we are given the right and responsibility to come before God in prayer, expecting Him to move. It is an awesome thing to know that through prayer we can move God to act. We are responsible for our part in the partnership with God in prayer. If we don't use the key of prayer, it is likely that nothing will happen. In other words, nothing will be released or unlocked.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Reality Check for Husbands

I enjoy listening to podcasts of sermons on my iPod. It helps pass the time as I exercise (not often enough) or wait for my daughter to finish her swim practice. More than just passing the time, I have found that listening to the preaching of the Word has had a huge impact on my behavior. Weird, huh? My feeling is that it is impossible to be inundated with the Word without putting it into practice. Further improving my power to do this is the Holy Spirit. He helps me to be a "doer of the the Word." Anyway... I digress.... Some of my favorite preachers to listen to are Ben Hardman (actually my wife's cousin) from a megachurch in Louisville, Andy Stanley, and Dr. James McDonald. I was listening to a sermon from Dr. McDonald's website "Walk in the Word" the other day where he preached from a familiar scripture that I haven't ever thought much about before. It was I Peter 3:1-7.
I would like to share with you the 3 main points that Dr. McDonald shared regarding this scripture, as they have been areas that I am allowing the Holy Spirit to work on me.
1. Spend time with your wife. The scripture says "live with your wife." The word "live" literally means to spend time with her. Dr. M suggests trying 15 min. per day, 1 evening per week, 1 day per month, and 1 weekend or more per year. This time commitment will show her that you value her.
2. Study your wife. "...in an understanding way" means that we men need to realize that our wives are very different from us. Duh! We need to take the time to observe them, and try to meet their needs in a way that they will appreciate.
3. Honor your wife. "Showing honor"... "Honor" in the Greek is a military term for how a general publicly commends his soldiers. We need to publicly recognize and praise our wives for their efforts in our lives and homes. We need to do this in front of our children, our wives' friends, our families. Proverbs says, "Don't withold good when it is due."
Dr. M concluded his message with the statement, "Do these three things consistently, and it will transform your marriage." I am giving it a shot. Guys out there: The challenge has been brought. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you to make your marriage all that it shoulg be?