Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Purpose Driven Parenting

Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Church back in 1995 and followed it up with his best seller, The Purpose Driven Life. I guess you have to say that he coined the phrase Purpose Driven, but he certainly didn't originate the idea. Most of the best known New Testament passages, from "Take up your cross and follow me" to "Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life," are about being focused and committed in our faith. The truth is, we - both individuals and churches - have always been purpose driven. It's just that our purpose hasn't always been God's purpose.
The leadership at Florissant is very much committed to being driven by a clear purpose. I have been pushing and promoting our purpose for two years now. Beginning this Sunday I will be presenting our plan, our steps, for carrying out our purpose. I will share those on this blog at a later date.
With all my attention on the idea of being a purpose driven church family, I find myself realizing that everything that is important in life must be driven by a clear purpose or we will mess it up - get distracted - outright fail!
Doesn't every successful marriage have a clear purpose? We call it vows - remember? And what about parenting? Maybe the reason so many struggle with how, why, and when to discipline is because they don't know what the goal is! What's the win in parenting? A sweet child? An obedient child? A non-embarrassing child? A child that excels?
What should drive the focus and energy of all parenting? A child that loves and walks with God? Yes, but that will still be their decision. You will never be more than an example and an encourager. No, the goal/win of parental discipline must ultimately be self-control. The steps must come from asking yourself the question, "What must I do to help my child become a self-controlled adult?" Are you guiding them to better self-control or is your parenting style/approach contributing to their selfishness or your need for control?
That means you are working yourself out of a job - if you do it right. And when the time comes, you don't have to "let go", it's just time to go, because you raised them to know what they must do and they have the self-control to do it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blood, Building, & Basketball

Donna took this picture of me during our Blood drive last Monday. She had finished with her donation, but mine was taking a little longer. We try to donate every time they schedule a drive. The young girl on the cot behind me was a walk in from the community. She was a nice young girl in nursing school. It's great to have a way that our neighbors can come into our building and give.
This is another picture that Donna took on Tuesday as one of the two side stages for the play was being constructed. I just happened to be there to help hold a railing in place. The work was being done by Ken Fester, Ron Ebker, and Ken Teson. It's nice to have dependable works who will attempt to build all the things that my mind creates.

This is one shot of the visual illustration I used in yesterdays lesson. I bought the basketball goal and began using it last Sunday so we could talk about our purpose and plan as a church family. With Donna's help, I put the theme sign up on it Saturday: His Purpose, Our Plan. Last week I used basketball to illustrate the need to be purpose driven. The purpose of basketball is to get the ball through the basket. Yesterday I used it to illustrate the importance of having a plan to get the ball through the basket. I drafted some helpers to show a simple offensive play that hopefully results in a basket. Over the next three weeks I plan to use the goal/basketball to help me share our plan with the church family. Doesn't every church auditorium have a basketball goal on it's stage?
And yes, the goal will then be placed at the Root house for kids - big and small - to use. It adjusts down to eight feet, so we should be able to have some fun in the driveway the next time family comes to Florissant.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It Feels Good...

Have you ever thought about the things that make you feel good? I'm not just talking about things that just physically feel good - okay - food, sex, and a good massage are a given, but those things that touch the heart-level-feel-good-spot. Some of the things that popped into my head are...
1. It feels good, after teaching or preaching, to hear someone say, "You made me think."
2. It feels good to let someone else go first.
3. It feels good to see honesty. I paid for my haircut Thursday, which always includes a good tip, and rushed out to my car to move on to the next event in my life. Before I could pull out, my barber came running out to stop me. I'd accidentally gaven him a fifty instead of a twenty for my haircut and he knew the tip wasn't that much. I'm not use to having a fifty in my wallet, so it also felt good to be able to put it back and give him the twenty.
4. It feels good to see people show respect for a funeral procession.
5. It feels good to go to sleep knowing my loved ones are safe, healthy, and walking with God.
6. It feels good to be in the woods in the Spring, surrounded by Dogwoods, and hear a turkey gobble.
7. It feels good to be able to turn the AC down and keep my blanket on my bed in warm weather.
8. It feels good to ignore things that use to really tempt me. (Not that I've arrived...)
9. It feels good to hear elders ask, "What do you think, Mike?"
10.It feels good to know that even with so many blessings, I'm okay with leaving it all to be with God for eternity.
EXTRA POINT: It feels good to know that this list could be A LOT longer if I had the time and space. How good is that?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Facts About Faith

If you read my last blog, here's a word to think about. FAITH. What is it? How would you define it? Is it the same as hope? Is it the mental acceptance of something? Is it a system of doctrinal conclusions (i.e. The Faith)? Is a conclusion that we reach valid if it doesn't effect us, change us, or drive us? I guess if it's just an educational fact, maybe there isn't much of a need to be "driven" by it, but what about value beliefs or spiritual conclusions? Do we really have a faith in God if we disregard Him, reject His values, and refuse to act like we will answer to Him?
Faith? Is it just believing in something we can't see, or does it include life forming conclusions that lead to life changes? It all depends on whether or not our faith is the God pleasing kind of faith.
If you're part of my Florissant family, you will hear this again - later, but I want to offer up what I "believe" to be the three most important Facts About Faith - a personal, God-pleasing kind of faith.
1) Faith is what you tell yourself about God (formation and reality)
2) Faith is the heartfelt decision to seek after God (draw close to Him and He promises to draw close to you)
3) Faith is the primary measurement of your relationship with God (or to put it in the negative, without a desire for a relationship with God, it really isn't faith)
On the theme of Being Real, these three Facts About Faith will help anyone determine if their faith is the real thing or just some kind of socio-religious acceptance mechanism. I want the real thing, don't you?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Words! Glorious Words!

I have always been fascinated with words. It's so interesting to see where they come from, what they mean both connotatively and denotatively, and how that meaning changes with time. I'm especially intrigued with Bible words and how the changing of definitions changes the meaning of biblical truths. There are so many religious words that we all use today that have totally different meanings to today's culture from what they did in Bible times. Words like worship, church, discipleship, gospel, and righteousness, I believe, are so colored by time, traditions, and institutional religion that we miss a great deal of what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us in the Word. At the risk of being a heretic, I feel confident that our views of baptism are extremely influenced by the fact that it's a transliterated word (moved from Greek to English without change) rather than a translated word. We have four centuries of teaching, arguing, and dividing over the doctrine of baptism because it became a religious rite when it went from the concept of immersion or burial to a sacramental act. How would it have changed our interpretations if it had been simply translated?
I mentioned in Sunday's lesson that many have done a grave injustice to the word pattern in 2 Timothy 1:13. When you define it or see it as "a copy" or a detailed "blueprint" you miss Paul's intent and launch on a journey of trying to discover all the "patterns" hidden in the Bible and set yourself up for plenty of potential clashes with others who see patterns you don't see or miss the ones you think are "obvious". The Greek word HUPOTUPOSIS is about purpose not copying. It comes from the root word for an impression, a framework, or boarders. When Paul said to "keep the pattern" he was calling for God's people to stay focused on the purpose - what He did in Jesus. That's not a huge deal to some, but when you realize that most of the battles and church splits of the past were about supposed patterns, it means we fought about issues that shouldn't have been issues in the first place.
Word studies can be dangerous. Just like misinterpreting a word can send you down a wrong road, focusing on words too much can cause you to miss the spirit of what God wants you to learn. That's also the danger in becoming a pattern hunter. Satan loves a good distraction, and he loves to give us a new legal system that ignores the Spirit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wonderfully Unique

There are few verses in the Bible that have caused more guilt, more sadness, and more trepidation than Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Unfortunately, there are few verses in the Bible that have been as misunderstood, misapplied, and mishandled as much at Proverbs 22:6. To often it has been seen as the absolute litmus test of parenting, so every parent with grown up kids who turned out bad beats themselves with this verse, and every parent with small children lives in fear that it will indict them some day.
This verse shouldn't be taken as a black and white judgment of parenting. The emphasis isn't on the cause and effect nature of parenting, though it's obviously included, but on the recognizing of the individual uniqueness of each child. The word's "way he should go" should be understood to refer to "how that child is bent" - their personality, abilities, and interests. Every child is different. Cookie cutting parenting isn't any more effective then cookie cutting school teaching. Parents must guide and disciple each child understanding their differences and their unique personalities.
When our children where small, we never tried to point them in any particular area of interest in terms of careers or occupations. We stressed excelling, serving, and glorifying God, but we never tried to push them to be anything they didn't want to be.
I have nothing against naming a son "Junior" as in Mike Root, Jr., but as a preacher, I was intentional about not wanting our son to feel pushed into becoming a preacher, or anything other than what his heart and talents led him to become. All three of our children followed their passions and we did everything we could to encourage and empower them. We never wanted them to walk in our shadow, but rather in the footsteps of Jesus. Even then, they each had to be led and encouraged somewhat differently.
Train a child? Certainly. But sometimes that training involves getting out of the way. Sometimes you help them grow and sometimes you let them grow - depending how that child is bent.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eggstra Fun Week!

It was wonderful to have our daughter Elizabeth and three of our grand children with us all this past week. The first couple days were slowed down a little by Elizabeth and the youngest one, Curtis, feeling a little under the weather, but the activities went on nonetheless. The above was one of several rainy day crafts that Nana put together. Painting Easter egg cookies. Lots of color there, and even Mom got to do a little art work. Ashlyn and Carter were quite proud of their work, but I think they enjoyed consuming them more than painting them.
One the prettiest day of the week, they all went to the zoo and enjoyed seeing it for once without being hot and sweaty. They had a lot of fun and even road the train, which was something that they hadn't done before.

Look at all the dimples! Where did they come from? They were clearly feeling much better during that day at the zoo.

After the Easter egg hunt at the church building Saturday morning, with hundreds of kids and thousands of eggs, Carter helped me hook up the trailer and the ATV so we could take it for a ride over at Larry and Wanda Stewart's place. We had a lot of fun circling their property and checking out some deer tracks in their woods.

Chad was able to fly in on Friday morning and be here for a couple days. It was good to see him and have him here to share the weekend with us. They had Easter baskets ready for the kids when they got up Sunday morning. In this picture, Carter and Ashlyn are helping Curtis discover what was in his basket. They explored their baskets much earlier in the morning.
It was a great week and we are so thankful that we got to spend some time with them. Now we can't wait until the next visit. Hopefully everyone will be able to come up for the play in June. It's less than two months away. Oh my! We've got a lot to do between now and then.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Faith Is Knowing

Faith is an amazing thing. On one hand it seems so strange, because it's all about things we can't experience with our senses, and on the other hand it's incredibly common. The vast majority of all the knowledge we have - things we claim "to know" and are proud about knowing - is actually based on faith. We weren't there, we didn't experience it, and we don't "know" it from our own journey of discovery. Someone told us, or we read about it, or through logic and deduction, we concluded - concluded what? That it's a fact, it's truth, and we totally accept it. How did that happen? We told ourselves, based on evidence and/or the testimony of others, that it's true and we believe it.
That is faith. It is simply what we tell ourselves and therefore choose to believe. Remember the classic Hebrews 11:1 definition of faith? "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Some quickly think of that as being weak and undependable, but it's the rule we live by. That guy driving his car straight at me, going sixty-five mph, will miss my car by several feet. I hope for that and feel sure about it, but I haven't seen it happen yet. Faith and trust makes us believe what our teachers, our parents, and our friends tell us about a world we haven't seen and a history we'll never experience. Faith is the backbone of cause and effect. I like what Philip Yancey said about faith. He said, "Faith is believing in advance what only makes sense in reverse."
We tell ourselves to believe things all the time. Why is it so hard for so many to see the evidence, live in hope, and be sure that the Son of God was raised from the dead? From an historical point of view, there is more proof and more eye witness testimony for the historical fact of the resurrection than there is for most of what fills our history books.
It just comes down to what you choose to tell yourself and then believe.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Real Men?

If you read my blog regularly, you have heard me mention the Men's Fraternity class several times. Next week we have the last of our twenty-four classes and before it all becomes history for me, I want to encourage you to look into having this class at your church. The class itself is entitled The Quest For Authentic Manhood, and it's taught by Robert Lewis, a Little Rock, Arkansas minister and author, who wrote Raising A Modern Day Knight. It is some of the best material for helping men be better husbands and fathers that I have ever seen. For me, it was informative, but mostly affirming, since I've been at it for so many years, and taught a lot of the same things. But he is incredibly focused and uncompromising in his approach and in his material. It's really good stuff! I wish every man could experience this class and get the clear sense of direction that Lewis gives. I especially recommend it for young men, even teens, but especially young married men and men with small children. It would truly bless them and their families like no other class or series of sermon could ever do. It gives such clarity of purpose and priorities, and offers some wonderful insight and suggestions on how to be real men, great husbands, and life-forming Dads. This is real life changing material that every church should offer, and insist that every man attend. The toughest part of the class is that it's set up for an early morning, one day a week so that it won't interfere with anything and can be done before going to work. A 5:30 A.M. class is truly tough for lots of young guys. It's and hour and a half long, so I think it could be done on a long Wednesday evening (7-8:30). It's worth whatever sacrifices and adjustments it may take. Women need to insist that their husbands attend because it will bless your marriage so dramatically. Lewis has a little Calvinism in one or two of the presentations, especially about original sin, but it's short and unimportant to the greater message.

Look into it. Lead it at your church. Call me if you want to know any more about it. Their web page is and the material is produced by LifeWay. You do have to purchase the program package (DVD's) and there is a small cost for each workbook. It would be an absolutely wonderful experience for a father to go to with his older teenage son(s). It covers all the things you know you're supposed to discuss with your son, but will probably forget.

In today's world, men need help being real men, and believe me, this is the ticket. It would be a great way to kick-off and build a Men's Ministry.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Breakfast Club

Elizabeth and her three (Carter, Ashlyn, & Curtis) arrived Saturday afternoon, so along with watching some DVD's and playing on all three levels of the house, we've been doing a lot of what we do best - eat. This morning we had eggs, bacon, elk sausage, and of course, homemade biscuits. So much for our Phase One South Beach Diet! You can see in the above picture that we're just finishing up. Time to plan lunch! You can't see Ashlyn much at all, and only the top of Curtis' head is showing over the table to Elizabeth's left. I just snapped a couple quick pictures, and without my reading glasses on, I really can't see my camera view screen very clearly. I never really know if I got what I wanted until I put it on the computer. Obviously, I should have worn my glasses. Notice also that I didn't eat all my eggs. I wish I could brag, but they went begging because of biscuits and apple butter. Too bad Chad & Pat weren't here. We actually had a lot of biscuits left over. And look at how much bacon and sausage is left over! What self-control!
And speaking of biscuits and apple butter, here is a very proud Carter, showing his Monster Biscuit (the largest) covered with Nana's amazing homemade apple butter. Hey, it's got apples in it! It has to be health food. You remember? A jar a day keeps the doctor away.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friends Who Bless

I can't begin to guess how many times in my three & a half decades of preaching I've had the following conversation. Some one exiting the auditorium, shakes my hand and says, "Brother Mike, you stepped all over my toes this morning!" To which I respond, "Well, I've been stepping all over my toes all week, so it's nice to share it!'
I usually have my Sunday lesson ready on Wednesday. That gives Jerry time to make sure his songs match the topic I'm preaching on that week. When I think back on the many times in my younger years that I HAD (?) to put together a Saturday Night Special, I'm glad I've grown to where my lessons have a higher priority, and my self-discipline actually exists. I study on Tuesday and put together a very rough outline, and then I flesh it out Wednesday morning. I give a copy to Jerry and send a copy to the signing group so they can practice, and that gives me the rest of the week to mediate and pray about what I'm going to share in the lesson. Thus the "I've been stepping all over my toes all week" comment. I never preach or teach anything that I haven't grappled with and applied to myself.
One little sub-point in this Sunday's lesson deals with being thankful for the people in our life who brought out the best in us. I plan to ask the question, who's thankful for you and for how you brought out the best in them. We can't always know who we have influenced for good, but don't you want to know that you've helped somebody be a better person? I sure do. I'd like to think I've helped others want to grow, to stretch their faith, to use their gifts, and to seek a closer walk with Jesus. I hope there are people for whom that it true, but even more, I hope there aren't people who had to ignore me, get over me, or forgive me - to fine Jesus.
We must not be defined just by how much we are blessed, but by how much we bless others.
Who have you blessed lately?