Moved Fatherhood Articles to My Personal Site

Over the years I’ve written several articles and reflections on raising 6 children, including two we “adopted” as teenagers, and plan to write more in the future.  I’ve moved these articles to my personal website You can reach those categories by clicking this link.

How To Write A Memorable Eulogy — Example Memorial Service Included

The eulogy is one of the most important speeches one could deliver as it pays tribute to the meaning of a life in the presence of those mourning the loss. It is a solemn occasion as friends and family, often separated by hundreds of miles and many years, gather to pay a final tribute to a loved one. In most cases it is a celebratory time of a life well lived. Tragic situations can provide an opportunity to develop sympathy for the deceased or remember Man Sitting At Gravesitethe important lessons a life cut short. It is the final public reflection of the life that has passed and a means of providing comfort and closure for the survivors. We do disservice when we pull out a standard funeral service from a book of stock event speeches. A vague speech about death and remembrance is equally lacking. A eulogy should memorialize the end of life with an exclamation point, not a whimper.

Why A Good Eulogy Is Important

Preparing the eulogy or tribute

Gathering material on the deceased

Choose material that fits the narrative

Choose an organizational method

Organization types

Ending the eulogy

Concluding observations

Example Memorial Service

Book Review: Hoof Prints to HIS Prints: Where the Woods Meet the Word

Hoof Prints to HIS Prints: Where the Woods Meet the WordHoof Prints to HIS Prints: Where the Woods Meet the Word by Jeff May

As a non-hunter, I was surprised at how much Jeff drew me in with vivid descriptions of hunting trips and seamlessly related experiences to important spiritual truths. I have known Jeff and long respected the depth of his love for God, the passion in his preaching, his faithful living, and engaging storytelling ability. I bought this book as a gift to a Christian hunter who could use some encouragement and I trusted Jeff’s ability to relate to him through this world they share.

Jeff had me in the tree stand, walking on chilly quiet mornings, and seeing the majestic beauty of bobcats and whitetail deer. Most of my male friends are hunters and I don’t object to hunting but devote my time to other interests. I appreciate their love of nature, the hunt, respect for the food they harvest with the gun, and enjoy hearing stories behind the trophies. Like Agrippa to Paul, Jeff “almost persuades me to be a hunter” and I have several friends ready to bring me into the brotherhood should I change my mind. The stories will resonate even more with experienced hunters as Jeff takes them into a world in which they love.

The power in the book is in the spiritual applications from the stories. Jeff clearly and frankly discusses issues from worship, godly service, living through struggles, prayer, pornography, suffering loss, salvation, and the joys of heaven. He shares stories and lessons about a man’s role as a husband, father, son, friend, Christian, and citizen. I know his son and can tell you that he reflects the faith of his earthly and heavenly father, and it is obvious Jeff is devoted to his wife and she loves him dearly. I’ve heard Jeff teach often and he draws from the depths of God’s word but presents the truth in its beauty and simplicity. Like his hunting arrows, he has the focus to know how to pierce the heart with the truth.

This book is perfect for strong Christian hunters as it may give words to meditative thoughts they experience in the woods. For hunters who may not be strong in their faith, like Jesus’s parables it provides a bridge from something they know to important spiritual concepts. I think even non-Christians hunters would enjoy the book as it presents truth without flinching but respectfully and the the language of hunter to hunter might push through barriers to considering God. And, as I have found, even a non-hunter can enjoy the stories and learn important truths along the way.

Buy at Amazon (affiliate link)

What is Peace and Why Don’t We Have It?

What is peace?

The word peace is used in a variety of ways. It can indicate the absence of conflict or hostilities such as nations or a household at peace. Individually, it can describe a sense of contentment where there is no conflict within. The Bible describes Jesus rebuking a tumultuous sea, commanding it to be peaceful and a great calm followed, Mark 4:35-41. Similarly, following the command of Jesus can bring peace in our lives.

The desired state of peace most seek is:

  • Free of anxiety
  • Acceptance of self and one’s situation in life
  • Peace in our relationship with God
  • Harmonious relationship with others

Free of Anxiety

Anxiety steals internal peace

Anxiety disturbs peace. You may hear bad news or forecasts about national and world news, the economy, or uncertainty about your job, health, finances, or situation. Nothing bad has happened but the possibility of negative events can send us into a downward spiral of worry, negativity, and pessimism. Think of the times the news has predicted bad things that didn’t occur. Several years ago there were warnings of frequent super-hurricanes that would ravage the US but since then we’ve gone almost a decade without a major hurricane hitting our coasts. People waste much of their life worrying about things that will never occur and miss the opportunity to enjoy the good that is in their life.

Discontent steals internal peace

Part of this anxiety and dissatisfaction arises from the gulf between how things are and how we want them to be or think they should be. For example, if we are in a monotonous low-paying job but we think that by now we should be a high paid manager, that difference will cause grief, frustration, and dissatisfaction. If we feel like we are in the job we ought to be for our current stage of professional progression, we will feel satisfied. Likewise, if we feel that we should have close friends and enjoy good times but we are alone and bored, we will be discontent. It’s about the reality of our situation, how we think our situation should be (or dream it should be), and our reaction to that gulf. An alternative to frustration and anxiety is acceptance. We can acknowledge the decisions we made and the situations in life that brought us to our current state and accept our situation and be happy about the blessings we have. This doesn’t mean we give up for one can accept the situation and still strive to improve it by making different decisions. Those without peace dwell on the gap and blame themselves, God, and others for their plight, give up a hope that it can ever improve, and list all the things that will ensure things do not change. The key is how we react to the gap between reality and expectation. Even if the gap is broad, you want good health but you are fighting a disease, you can accept your situation and either make different choices from those that diminished your health or, if the problems are not of your doing, follow a plan to get the best improvement that you can. The better we get at accepting reality while allowing for improvement, the more peace we will have.

Finding peace with God’s strength

When faced with bad news or the possibility of bad events in your life, you must realize that there are some things that you can affect and other things that you cannot. Climate change, elections, the economy, and the job market are examples of things our of your control. You can turn off your lights, place your vote, make purchases, and improve your skills but you cannot control the bigger outcome of these large events. The Christian comfort is God’s control over the world for His purposes. When we realize that sometimes evil is allowed to prevail so a greater good may arise, we can accept the decline of civilization and trouble in the economy. God hasn’t promised paradise on earth so we should not expect it. Let me suggest four ways we can find peace in this:

  1. Trust God to take care of life’s needs. The answer is not to fold your hands up and expect God to do everything because He expects us to work. Jesus told believers not to worry about food and clothing, taking comfort that the God who cares for the birds and flowers cares more for our needs, Matthew 5:25-34. However, the scriptures also encourage us to do what our hands find to do with all our might and that one who doesn’t work shouldn’t eat. We have responsibilities that affect God’s provision for our food and clothing. But it is foolish to brood over the basics of life that God will provide. Jesus said to focus on His things (the kingdom) and the Father would focus on our needs.
  2. Trust God with the future. James warns that in making plans we must remember they can be fulfilled, “if God wills” it to be so, James 4:13-17. We should make plans to the best of our ability but realize that a different outcome may result and accept it and operate within that outcome. A song that gives me comfort says, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.” I can face the uncertainties of the political, economical, and personal realities of tomorrow because the God who guided me through today will be there tomorrow. Despite the drama of the world stage, God is in control. Romans 13 tells me God controls the government and its affairs so God can help me navigate what he brings about. He may bring about things I perceive as negative but produces a greater good. God may allow the world to descend further into perversity and darkness so the light of holy people and the truth of His word may shine brighter.  I don’t need to know the future, I just need to know God.
  3. Learn contentment despite your situation. We must learn to be content despite our condition in life. It is easy to be content we have plenty and are in comfort. The challenge is to be content when we have little and are discomforted. From prison, Paul wrote the Philippians to be joyful and encouraged them with his ability to be content in any situation, Philippians 4:10-13. The popular “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is not written in the context of the “never say give up” attitude but is the power behind Paul’s ability to be content in any situation. We must recognize that we may be hard working godly people yet may struggle in life. Sometimes hard work does not pay off as well as we hoped but we can find joy in the results anyway. Sometimes things do not go the way we want but we shouldn’t give up or become negative. As others have said, we pray to God wanting Him to change the situation but God wants to change us. He is trying to make us better despite what we must endure in life. We are made stronger in struggle, develop patience through suffering, and gain endurance through trial. If God doesn’t remove your burden, pray for the strength to carry it and then rejoice in the gift you’ve received from God, 2 Corinthians 12:6-10.
  4. Trust God with everything in your life. Paul, in Philippians 4:4-7, described how we can have a peace that transcends understanding through trust in God. Notice the extremes described in this verse: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you want a peace that surpasses understanding and no anxiety, you must give everything to God. We often say we are putting things in God’s hands but then begin to worry about the outcome. Paul is commanding a radical step of complete trust in God. You can only have a peace that transcends understanding by giving your concerns to God in a confident way that transcends the world’s understanding. You can be free of anxiety when you truly trust that God hears your prayers, cares about your life and your needs, is actively doing something in response to your request (though the outcome may be something different from what you desire), and that His response will be the best because “all things work together for good for those that love God (Romans 8:28).” We can say it but do we really believe it? Do we trust God with the results? I recently talked with a lady whose cancer went into remission. She told me that she didn’t worry at all because so many godly people were praying for her, she was being treated by good doctors, and she would accept the results which either would be death (and going home to be with God) or life (and an opportunity to continue serving God on this earth). Her heavenly perspective and trust in God was such that she said, “I really didn’t worry.” Had she only been focused on a clean bill of health, she would have anxiety but she trusted the results to God and continued to live her life.

Peace Within

Sometimes we do not have peace because we are overly critical of ourselves or unforgiving of our past sins. It is important to learn from our failures and even use them to help others out of the mire of sin that we escaped, but we cannot dwell on the wasted time, damaged lives, and lost opportunities due to sinful choices. We must ask God to forgive us and forgive ourselves as well. No amount of self-loathing or despair will change one minute of the past and it steals opportunities from the present to accomplish much good. As we would find plenty of grace and mercy to forgive a brother or sister anguishing over sin, we should offer mercy and grace to ourselves. I’ve written elsewhere on the importance of forgiving ourselves that provides additional insight into this challenge. We are being perfected, we are not perfect and we must accept that. When we focus on trying to serve God diligently and don’t dwell on our failures, we will be more useful in God’s service.

Peace with God

The comforting words of Paul in Romans 5:6-11 remind us that Jesus died for us while we were in rebellion in order to reconcile us to the Father. If He did that for us when we were in rebellion, how much more can we enjoy the peace as children of God when we obey His will, enjoy His grace, and do His work (2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Colossians 1:21-23)? The Christian can enjoy sweet sleep and calm days because the greatest peace that can be obtain was offered by God through the blood of His Son and He will receive the faithful into glory when this life is over.

Peace Perfect Peace

If we reconcile with God through His Son, forgive ourselves for our failures, and put our cares and anxieties in His hands, we can have peace within, a peace that surpasses understanding. We can have peace though we live in a sinful world, though we have challenges and trials, though we often fail to get what we want, and though life is imperfect. Peace is a wonderful spiritual gift that we should savor and seek to regain if we allow our hearts or our lives to drift from its pleasant harbor.

Social Media Fame Will Not Ease Your Emotional Pain

A Bing search today provided an ironic set of results for celebrity Selena Gomez. She became the first person to reach 100 million Instagram followers AND checked herself into a rehab facility to deal with depression and emotional issues. One would think that someone who has so many fans would have no reason to suffer emotionally, yet this is not the case, as social media followers cannot provide the same emotional support to deal with serious problems in life. As a celebrity, Gomez probably realizes this and understands the difference between fans and friends. However, those of us who do not have fame may feel that if we could just have 1,000 social media followers then our voice could be heard and we would be important. Such is an illusion. There is far more value in a few people who truly love and support you than many times that in “followers.”

Gomez likely is suffering additional problems brought on because of celebrity. If we think fame will solve problems, it will probably only magnify our problems and may create new ones. Many business, sports, and entertainment stars have achieved their goals and received the riches and accolades they desired only to discover a nagging question: “Is this all there is?” The book of Ecclesiastes emphasizes the futility of the things in this life bringing our life meaning; however, we can be satisfied with work and achievement if we have it in perspective. There are famous people who do not care about fame who are able to handle its rise and fall with grace.

From my understanding, Selena Gomez has gone through some significant challenges that would impact anyone’s emotional state. It is wise that she is seeking help to deal with these issues and hopefully she will find strength and encouragement to get through this difficult time. It is good that she is turning to people and not drugs or alcohol. I understand the treatment is from a Christian perspective so I hope, and will pray, she can find God’s wisdom as a strength and guide.

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