Malcolm Tyree

A collection of thoughts on things that matter

Archive for the category “parenting”

Pastor Appreciation Month: Gene Lanham

I grew up in a typical American family. My parents divorced when I was five. My dad remarried when I was 10. I have two younger siblings, a brother nearly 3 years younger and a sister just over 14 years younger. My Dad served in the Army, was a part of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. My moms worked. My parents had grown up with a bit of church in their lives, but as a family we didn’t go to church, pray, or even really talk much about God and faith. We went about our business of work, school, and living life.

As a high schooler in the early 90’s I was introduced to the theology of Garth Brooks. His music had a way of capturing my imagination and my thoughts of the time. I won’t forget how true I believed the song “Unanswered Prayers” to be. Probably more than any other thing I had heard up to to that point, Garth Brooks was shaping my theology.In my Junior year, my best friend got a bug to try out a church in town. I tagged along, because that’s what friends do. I was probably a bit too pious in my Brooks theology and nearly created a fight in Sunday School when I asserted the wisdom of “Unanswered Prayers” to a class of seasoned church goers. Needless to say, we didn’t go back.

Nearly a year later, I went with the same friend to a different church. He had been attending there for a few months without me. The church’s building was located close to a mile from my house. One day my friend invited me to join him for a Friday night movie at the church. I went; mostly because I didn’t have anything else going on. 

After that night, I found myself returning to the church Wednesdays and Sundays. The 200 or so member church was led by Bro. Lanham. He was a distinguished looking guy with his finely trimmed mustache and silver hair. He would wear short sleeve button up shirts with a tie and a jacket on Sundays. I can’t recall ever seeing him wear a pair of blue jeans. He would preach every Sunday and often sing. He liked a country and western styled Gospel music. His wife, Sister Lanham, was the church secretary and leader of the women’s ministry. She was often found wearing a dress and a big welcoming smile.

On Easter Sunday, 1993, I went forward in the church and prayed. It is that day that I accepted Jesus’ work on my behalf and asked him to change my life.

In June of ’93, Bro. Lanham baptized me, my best friend, and our classmate who had led my best friend to attending that church.

 

picture of the Lanhams

Bro. and Sis. Lanham


Bro. Lanham was my first pastor. 

I can’t recall anything special about what he preached. Nor is there anything special about the way he preached. He made it all seem pretty simple. He would remind us to love and serve God and be holy. Looking back, I think he extended a simple plea for us to be saved and sanctified, week after week. Bro. Lanham was never overly stern. He was gracious and humble. 

Bro. Lanham was brave enough to let me cut my teeth in ministry. It started with mowing the church lawn. I’m sure it was really hard for him to give up that responsibility. Then I asked if I could change the marquee sign. When our youth leader left, I volunteered to teach the lessons on Wednesday. All the time, Bro. Lanham said “yes.” I am sure there is more to these simple memories on his side, but for me that is how it seemed. He even let me “sing” solos and gave me my first opportunity to preach. 

Bro. Lanham had a first name. It was a long time before I knew it. Turns out, he didn’t even go by his first name. My guess is I learned his first name, not long after I learned the name he went by. But for me, his first name was “Brother.”

I am honored to have had Leslie Eugene “Gene” Lanham as my first pastor. His ministry at the First Church of God in Clarksville, Tennessee, shaped me in my earliest days. Like a baby learning to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, and run, Bro. Lanham was like a parent in my faith.

Today, as I sit here typing this out, I am still impacted by his life. You see, what I didn’t mention is that Bro. Lanham began praying for me before we even met.

One Christmas season, Bro. Lanham was working at the mall as Santa Claus. One of the ladies working as Santa’s Helper was a mom to two teen aged boys and a toddler girl. He prayed for that family and the oldest son wandered into the Church of God and moved out of the Brooks school of theology because God answers prayer.

Conflict – Trust Building: why tension can improve trust

In his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni identifies conflict as being essential to great team work.  The problem is many of us see conflict as a bad thing, but when we’ve proven we can trust each other, conflict is something that helps us build each other up.

Instead of conflict being about tearing each other down, we need to see how conflict sharpens us.  When someone disagrees with one of your ideas or plans, remember they are not saying they don’t like you.  Instead they see a short coming in your plan or a flaw in your idea.  More often than not, they’re wanting what’s best, just like you are.

If you are slow to engage in conflict, choose to trust.  Trust that the person will receive the critique with a teachable spirit.

If you are on the receiving end of conflict, choose to trust.  Trust that the person you are in relationship with is working for your good.

The Hebrew Proverb captures this best:

As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
(Proverbs 27:17)

Conflict – Overcoming the Appeaser: why conflict is good

Winston Churchill was one of the more amazing personalities during the 20th Century.  His leadership for Great Britain and the world still inspires many today.  Before Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940, England along with most of Europe failed to deal with Nazi Germany properly.  For many in leadership, the Great War, World War I, was still fresh on their minds, concluding just short 21 years before the invasion of Poland.  Seeking to avoid the war, world leaders sought to appease Adolf Hitler.  As a result the world was drug into a second world war.

Out of that experience and many others, Churchill’s words ring true:

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

In too many instances, we allow the crocodiles of life to stay too close, instead of eliminating them.  To deal with a croc requires conflict.

What keeps you from dealing with the crocodiles of your life? 

Remember, crocodiles left around have a tendency to come back and eat you.

Conflict – Seeking Revenge or Forgiveness: An attempt to make things right

N.T. Wright has said: “If confrontation has to happen, as it often does, it must always be with forgiveness in mind, never revenge.”

Why do you think it is so difficult to seek forgiveness in a confrontation?

Why is it so easy to seek revenge?

What rules can you apply to relational conflict that will make forgiveness more likely than revenge, when all is said and done?

Here are 6 rules I’ve suggested when it comes to conflict:

 1. Respect your the other

2. Practice the proper time & place concept of a fight

3. Use a time-out to cool down so you don’t cross the line

4. Don’t get caught up in the past or use names

5. Stick to the real issue

6. Be willing to lose

Few of us actually enjoy conflict, even fewer of us work to resolve issues and find forgiveness for the wrongs in our life. More often than not, when we engage in conflict, we are hoping to be proved right. After all vengeance is our attempt to make things right by our own power.

We see time and time again that vengeance might feel good in the moment but it often destroys not only the most immediate relationship, but many others along the way. Forgiveness on the other hand restores relationships.

Saying, “I’m sorry,” has a way of making things right that vengeance can’t even fathom.

Conflict – It’s Inevitable: Choose Your Sides Carefully

It happens in every household: “Mom! Dad! He won’t stop!”  Something has happened with the kids, a conflict has emerged, and now one or the other is calling in support for their side.  It drives parents crazy but it happens again and again.

The scary thing is it doesn’t stop with kids!  As adults it is less likely someone is going to call for mom or dad (less likely doesn’t mean never), but it doesn’t stop someone from bringing a “friend” into a conflict to support their side.  Sometimes a person can even be drawn in to the conflict unwittingly.

Here a quick word of advice about conflict – choose your sides carefully.

Odds are, after the conflict is over, you will find yourself in relationship with both sides.  Try to avoid making that an awkward place to be.

How do you avoid being drawn into a conflict?

What secrets do you have to keeping a relationship with both sides of a conflict?

A Quick Review of the Books I Consumed in 2014

Books have a way of opening our mind to experiences beyond our day to day lives. They allow us to think from different perspectives and glean from the learnings of others. I do enjoy fiction books, I principally take in non-fiction works.

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Here is a run down of the books I’ve worked through in 2014.

41 – George W. Bush’s look at his father’s life. – This was a fun and insightful look into this family which has dominated the political landscape for a generation or more. Without a doubt, George H. W. Bush has lived an amazing life and W paints the story well. I took a particular liking to the way W describes the family’s time in Odessa and Midland, Texas. Oh, if you’re looking for great quips, W quotes Barbara Bush in all her honesty and humor.

You Heard Me – Colin Cowherd of ESPN rants about his observations on life and sports. I like the way Cowherd is able to draw understandings about systems and approaches to life through breaking down sports. His unique perspective of being on the other side of sports industry helps us to see, it’s just life. If you like his radio show, you’ll enjoy the book.

Daring Greatly – Brené Brown’s stellar work on living life full on is my book of the year. Brown works through the paralyzing nature of shame and how it keeps us from living full lives. Her insights into vulnerability and courage will make you weep and inspire you to dare greatly.

A Farewell to Mars – Brian Zahnd walks through his understanding of how Christ-followers should live an alternate lifestyle when it comes to war and violence. This book will challenge your patriotic and American system sentimentalities. Zahnd sees our worship of war and violence as being an act of idolatry.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmund Morris walks us through the extraordinary life of Teddy Roosevelt as he makes his way to becoming President of the United States. Seeing sickly Roosevelt overcome one adversity after another to become the man of courage and strength was exciting and it is easy to see why he is among America’s favorite Presidents. He was bull headed, fiercely devoted, and unwavering. Morris describes him as the embodiment of America at the turn of the 20th Century.

Zealot – Reza Aslan’s look into the life of Jesus was a insightful perspective into some of the political tensions and class systems of the First Century. I was intrigued in how Aslan sought to uncover the “true” Jesus, one he describes as more of a political revolutionary than a religious leader. For me, I found his description of James and Paul’s relationship to be some of the more challenging features. I does not appear to me that Aslan has a great appreciation for Paul’s contribution to the understanding of who Jesus was/is.

Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek’s exploration into how a leader’s behavior influences his followers is extremely insightful. Using examples from the Military and other fields, along with working through the chemical reactions that occur within our bodies, Sinek paints a picture in which servanthood really is the best form of leadership, especially when the servanthood is inspired by a greater purpose. I highly recommend this book.

Divergent – Veronica Roth’s post-apocolyptic teen drama is filled with a gritty world that wrestles through relationships and morals. The way Roth wrestles with the temptation to play each of us in our categories is quite interesting, especially since we are a mix of so many factors and features, so of which are in great conflict with one another.

Short Stories by Jesus – Amy-Jill Levine seeks to unpack some of Jesus’ parables a part from the anti-Jewish sentiment that they are often interpreted through into the church today. She seeks to show us how First Century Jews would have connected the words to other stories, events, and situations of their day.

Overrated – Eugen Cho is one of my favorite guys to follow on Twitter. I appreciated Cho’s call for us to be more than just talk regarding our Christian convictions, but to actually recognize that some of the difficult situations we find ourselves in are a part of how God is providing an opportunity for our convictions to be lived out. Cho pushes us to do more than just love the idea of changing the world, but to actually live out the process, even though the only world that changes may be our own.

Planting Missional Churches – Ed Stetzer is another guy I follow on Twitter (along with almost anyone else interested in church planting and leadership). This book is a reminder that so much of what we have done in the past is try to extract Christ-followers from their neighborhoods and points of life and bring them into the church, when in fact we should be helping Christ-followers see how they are to be incarnational in the places they already live.

Family-Based Youth Ministry – Mark DeVries seeks to offer a different way of youth ministry because there is a rising understanding that the traditional youth ministry model is not producing adult disciples of Jesus. DeVries is challenging the short-term nature of Youth Ministry and is hoping to help us place youth ministry within a greater context of discipleship, particularly as a part of the family’s discipleship.

One Man, One Time – Kelly Barcol is a friend and fellow church planter and this is his story. Barcol takes a honest look at his faith journey and how it is so strongly related to the time that one man, one time, loved him enough that Barcol was able to see Jesus.

The Purpose Linked Organization – Alaina Love seeks to help individuals and organizations work within their strengths. This take on personalities and strengths was helpful for me to cast in a fresh light the type of personality, temperament, and perspective I have when it comes to work. I working hard to keep my preferences (purposes) in alignment while not imposing them upon others.

Flesh – Hugh Halter is one of those guys who is just flat out honest. Yes, Halter is a pastor and church planter, but he is also someone you’d expect to find at the MMA fight or at the local pub more than leading people to follow Jesus. I guess that’s what we really need isn’t it? More regular people leading other to follow Jesus. This is as much an autobiography as it is a how to book.

Viral Churches – Ed Stetzer & Warren Bird remind us that following Jesus should involve a multiplication of followers of Jesus. Essentially, as individual grow as disciples they in turn will lead others to be disciples, which will lead to the need for more congregations/churches. So the key for the church expanding and going viral is not programs and events, but disciples making disciples.

Counterfeit Gods – Tim Keller is one of the leading Christian apologetics in the United States. Living in the heart of a culture capital, Keller sees clearly how money, sex, and power control our lives making them gods that we pursue. Keller writes, “When we are completely immersed in a society of people who consider a particular idolatrous attachment normal, it becomes almost impossible to discern it for what it is.”

Better Together – Jim Toberlin and crew explore the dynamics of a church merger. Using case studies they identify the marks that lead to a healthy merger, while being honest in stating there’s not just one type of merger. The indicators are that more churches will merge in the coming years so this is a helpful read for those exploring or leading others through this process.

So that’s what I have consumed in 2014. I’m working through Rob Bell’s book The Zimzum of Love. This book is about marriage and how we feed it to strengthen it.

In case you are wondering, I finished most of these. I either read these via Kindle or listened to them through Audible.

Telling the Truth Is Good, Except When It’s Bad

Chances are you will be presented an opportunity to tell someone the truth today.

Hopefully, it won’t be the tricky question from your significant other:

Does this _______ make me look _______?

Those types of questions are hard. But for many of us telling the truth is even harder.

Here are a few reasons why it is hard to tell the truth:

1. It Can Hurt Someone’s Feelings

2. It Can Make You Look Like a Jerk

3. It Can Come Across As Uncaring

4. It Can Make Someone Mad at You

These aren’t the only reasons it is hard to tell the truth, just a few. Now that I have written them out, I can see that we often avoid telling the truth because we are more interested in protecting ourselves. I might not be honest because I am afraid of how it will cause others to think about me!

Hmmm………………

Truth.001

Several years ago, a college professor defined love as:

Acting for the betterment of another regardless of how it helps you

This is a definition of love that runs in conflict with our culture today. We tend to see love as being about “how I feel,” versus “what I do for another.” Another way to say it is, love is “how I feel about how someone else feels about me.” However you might phrase it, love tends to be described in selfish terms versus selfless terms.

I wonder if we were able to redefine love into a selfless act if we would become more truthful. If we could do this, my guess is truth and love would take new priorities in our lives and others would notice the change.

So the next time you are tempted to tell the truth, remember to make sure you love the person you are telling it too.

I’m going to go now. I have some work to do.

 

3 Key Relationships Critical to Your Life’s Journey

It has been said that life is a journey, I’m just curious where’s it headed?

Regardless if your life’s travels will take you around the world or just across town, the journey of emotions and growth along the way is something you need to be intentional about. With social media allowing us to connect to each other in a number of different ways, it is clear to me that many of us don’t know where our journeys are taking us. Like Forrest Gump, too many of us are just running!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Forrest! I just think we need to be more intentional about where our journey is headed. I’ve met too many people who don’t know where they are headed in life and can’t seem to break out. They lack a sense of purpose in their living.

More than a decade ago, Rick Warren released the book The Purpose Driven Life. If you’ve not read it, maybe you should pick it up. It’s still a great read. There are many other resources out there to help you determine you life’s purpose. Rick’s book is just one you can start with.

In addition to knowing where you are headed, there are 3 key relationships critical to your life journey. These relationships will help you or hurt you in your efforts to achieve your desired goals.

Key Relationship 1: The person you are sleeping with

I probably should be more specific, this key relationship is really the person you are having sex with. Sex is an amazing experience. It serves as an outlet for our emotions as well as a bonding experience for the couple. It rages within us and can be extremely productive or destructive. Sex is like fire. The intimacy of sex is just one of the reasons why we should be aware of how it affects our life journey. 

My wife plucking my eyebrow

My wife plucking my eyebrow

The person you are sleeping with has the ability to influence you. He or she impacts your sense of self worth. The person you are sleeping with is a key voice in your dreams and aspirations. 

I love what the poet writes:

“Promise me…not to awaken love until the time is right.”

(Song of Songs 2:7 and 3:5).

The person you are sleeping with will carry an incredible influence in your life. Choose wisely and keep that relationship sacred. Like fire, it can warm you or burn.

Key Relationship 2: The people you are running with

There is an African proverb that goes something like this:

“If you want to run fast, go alone. If you want to run far, go with friends.”

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a runner. When I do run, I’m tempted to run fast versus run far. I guess it’s the side of me that just wants to get it over with. How about you?

I see running relating to our friendships because our friends are key encouragers for our journey. If you hang with those who are slow to move, your journey may go slow. If you run with those moving fast, you may feel overwhelmed. Finding the right peer group is critical. 

Some of my running buddies from Odessa

Some of my running buddies from Odessa

In your peer group, you’ll need some who are ahead of you. It will also be important that you have some that are slower than you. Those ahead of you will challenge you to keep going. Those slower than you will remind you to help others.

It will also be important to have those like you in your peer group. I don’t mean these folks need to look like you. Folks like you are those at the same pace, who share the same desires.

If we hope to move ahead in life’s journey, who we run with will influence our efforts.

Key Relationship 3: The community you commit to

In the United States, we see life from a very individual perspective. We tend to think that we are “self made” and we can do whatever “so long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.” Can I just say, that’s nonsense! Our individual actions carry forth implications onto others.

You may want to argue with me on this, but think about it for just a moment. What you are doing right now may not immediately impact someone else, but it is laying the foundation for effecting someone down the line. There are many solo activities that we can engage in, but each of them will influence something in us that will influence the relationships around us.

Here’s an example: I might choose to drink water with lime at the restaurant instead of a soda. This choice is made out of financial and/or health reasons. While eating with others, someone observes my drink selection and chooses to do the same. I made the choice on my own sometime ago, but now it is influencing someone else.

Each of us has an affinity for certain groups and communities. I have a friend who likes to ride Harleys so, he is in a Harley Biker club. Some of my friends like trying different types of beers, so they have their community of taste testing. Some like to sing and play music. Some… you get the point. The community around us allows us to explore and discover new aspects of the journey.

Yet, the community we surround ourselves with has a limited influence on our lives. Community can only influence us to the degree to which we’ve committed to it. 

Think about that die hard sports fan in your life. They’re committed to the community. They attend the game or watch it on TV faithfully. They spend money to be identified with team. They may even go so far as to use the language “we won/lose.” They are a part of the community even if they’re not a part of the team.

The community we commit to shapes our lifestyle. Choose carefully.

Summation

Each of us is influenced by others in our life’s journey. The people we allow into our lives will help us experience life in rich and full ways, but they can also cause chaos and heartache for us. We should be very aware of those we allow into our lives, especially as it relates to the community we commit to, the friends we run with, and the person we are sleeping with. We don’t go through life on our own. 

Breaking the Curse: Disney Rediscovers True Love

Driving home from the drive-in, my 11yr old daughter states:IMG_0780

“I really like how in the last two Disney Princess movies they’re not making true love all about a guy.”

Spoiler Alert: Frozen and Maleficent are not about romantic love.

Frozen has been an unbelievable breakout success. The music runs through our heads, over and over again. The parody videos get millions of hits on YouTube. Yet for me, the beauty of the story is how it defines love. Love is sacrificial.

Maleficent is a new telling of the old Sleeping Beauty story. This new telling cast the wicked fairy has not only the villain but the hero too. Remarkably, to break the spell, true love’s kiss is not about romance, but about something deeper and more meaningful, family.

In both movies, there is a curse that can only be undone by true love. For years, Disney movies have portrayed love’s power over the curse, but only in the romantic love fashion. Now after 70+ years of romantic love being displayed as the ultimate saving power, Disney is breaking the curse.

I don’t mean to belittle romantic love, but I want to put it in it’s proper place. For nearly a century, we’ve elevated romantic love to the ultimate place and we’ve been cursed by it. As the masses have pursued romantic love, they’ve been disappointed because they’ve failed to find their happily ever after in the process. Instead what they’ve found is that the feelings of romance pass and it is too easy to fall in love with someone new.

We’ve been cursed with a pursuit that never meets our expectations. It turns out romantic love is more like lust than love. Lust is a funny thing. Whatever the object of our lust, once we have it, the object fails to fulfill us as we thought it would.

As a result of the curse, countless marriages and families have been harmed and destroyed because of the false sense of romantic love being the ultimate.

Sacrifice and family are better expressions of love by far. They carry with them a greater depth that like romantic love is hard to explain in words. Yet, sacrifice and family are not reduced to sentiments of the moment, but carry forward beyond the moment. These expressions of love actually create legacies for others to live within.

As Disney and others rediscover true love and tell the stories, I applaud them. I don’t expect the curse to be broken overnight nor in just two movies. There are also the lasting consequences of the activities carried out under the curse. The good news is in this rediscovery, we are finding new hope and greater love!

So I join in with my  daughter, Caitlyn, “I’m glad in the last two Disney Princess movies they’re not making love about a guy,” but about a greater love.

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