When Is The “Cutting Edge” Too Deep? - 4/23/2015

How much is too much? This debate probably will be one which never ends and usually the tipping point would be determined by an individual rather than the masses. But my question is, when it comes to cutting edge technology, have we cut too deep?

One of the exercises that preaching and sermon preparation requires is people watching. When I am in public, I make a conscience effort to observe how people treat one another. I note what type of interaction is taking place in the room and then consider why this is the case.

Before the phones in our pockets got so smart, you could walk into a restaurant and see people actually looking each other in the eyes and having what used to be called a conversation. Dates consisted of paying attention to each other, not hash tagging the menu item selected. Movie theaters weren’t lit up by the glow of a text message, and homes were places where families sat around a table and had a meal together. Parents actually read books to their children, as opposed to granting them permission to download a novel. Then, when the kids went to bed, mom and dad would speak face-to-face instead of updating their status on Facebook.

Now before you write me off as “that Stone Age guy” who resists all change and longs for the good ole days, I too recognize how many wonderful things cutting edge technology has brought to our lives. Right now, as a ministry, we are reaching more people with the message of the Gospel through our church services than ever before; technology is making it possible. So, don’t think that I am in any way suggesting that we limit innovation and growth. I am simply suggesting that everyone consider what they should do with it, and act accordingly.

I guess it’s like all edges that cut. Consider the scalpel of a surgeon; it is a required tool in the operating room to perform the procedure that will improve your quality of life, and in some cases save it. Even though it did a lot of good, there will always be a scar. From what I can see, looking at the people around me, the scars being left by the cutting edges of technology are on the relationships we should cherish the most.

Because of technology, we are always connected to the office (great for work, bad for the kids who want to play in the back yard). We can find people we went to kindergarten with, reconnect with old friends we haven’t seen in ages, or even find out how “old so and so” is doing. That’s a lot of fun at times, but it also takes time; and that is the scarce commodity that technology seems to be at war with. Technology cannot add one more hour to a 24-hour day. It can give you several options on what you can choose to do to fill the hours, but it will never be able to add hours. When it comes to being on the cutting edge, use it wisely because while technology is incredibly cool, time is truly precious, and it is too scarce to waste.

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I Wish I Knew What to Say.... - 4/16/2015

This morning was quite interesting. Today is my daughter Hannah’s 10th birthday. It began with hugs, kisses, high fives and laughter as we remembered that exciting day, 10 very short years ago, when Kendal and I met the first of our four precious children. I wish I knew what to say that could help Hannah feel just a portion of how much I truly love her. “Happy Birthday, baby”, just doesn’t seem to cut it. I wish I could let her walk through the halls of my mind and memories over the last decade, so that she could grasp how I felt the first time I held her, sang her to sleep, or prayed over her…how proud I was when we took off her training wheels, or how mad I was the first time she got hit by a pitch in softball.

I wish it was possible for her to feel a small portion of what I feel for her, not for any other reason than the simple fact that she is growing up in a world that can be very difficult at times. It can be cruel and unfair, wonderful and glorious all in the same day…and without any pattern or reason. As her father, I truly want her to know that no matter how hard life becomes, I will always be there for her. When it comes to feelings like this and expressing them, I have my objections with the human language.

Today is also Holocaust Remembrance Day. While I was squeezing my 10-year-old this morning, half a world away sirens sounded, traffic came to a standstill, no one moved for two minutes as all of Israel remembered that, just 70 years ago, six million Jews were slaughtered in the death camps of Europe. As we pulled out of the driveway, the morning radio show mentioned the memorial that was taking place, and my 10-year-old started asking questions. “Dad, what is the Holocaust?” I gave the historical facts. “It’s when the Nazi’s led by Hitler killed six million Jews.” The questions kept coming. “Why, Dad?” “Did any kids die?” “Did any babies die?” “Why, didn’t someone stop him?”

Just an hour earlier I was searching for words that would help her feel how deeply I love her. Now I am stumbling over phrases that make it seem like I have forgotten how to speak at all. Again, I wish I knew what to say. There is no way to completely express how tragic and horrific that chapter of history was. It is not something anyone wants to discuss, especially a dad with his daughter on her 10th birthday. But it has to be discussed every time it comes up. Otherwise, how will she know? If she has to find out, let her find out from me. I just wish I knew what to say.


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"I would love to...." - 4/9/2015

"Hey, I haven't seen you in a while...." "Yes, I know, we've been just so busy!"

How many times a week do we participate in this conversation? How often do we find ourselves confronted by the fact our lives are becoming busier and busier, but don't seem to be getting better and better?

The speed at which we live seems to encourage us to do more, become more involved , and accept more commitments, but I think it's fair to ask ourselves, is more always better? Or as the old phrase goes, is "less more”? I am a person who has very little free time. As a matter of fact, I have a phone, computer, executive assistant, and a wife who all serve as reminders of what's going to happen next. There are not too many minutes to spare, but I assure you there are no hours wasted. I cannot afford to. After all, even the Bible warns us, "Time is short...."

I am often asked, "How do you handle your schedule?" The answer comes in 4 simple words. "I would love to...." It's what follows those words that really make the difference. You see I have made up my mind to prioritize my life and because of these life priorities my daily schedule is decided for me.

Priority 1: My Family

My wife, Kendal, and our 4 children are on the top of my list everyday period and without apology. They are my first, "I would love to...." Most of the time what follows that statement concerning my family are statements like...

"I would love to go to your game, what time does it start?"

"I would love to bake a cake with you, let me get the sugar."

"I would love to play Legos, what are we going to build?"

"Kendal, I would love to take you on a date this weekend, where do you want to go?"

It's not that I don't have other things I could be doing at that time; it's just that because they are my priority and I choose to commit my time there on purpose. I believe if I spend time with my family on purpose now, they will spend time with me on purpose later.

Priority 2: Work

My second priority is the work of my hands, the call of God on my life to be the Pastor at Cornerstone Church. In the time that isn't consumed with my first priority, I give all that I have to this one. Here the conversation has some things in common and others totally different, but all with the same intent of being done on purpose.

"I would love to help, what do you need?"

"I would love to, but not at this time."

I would love to however, I am already committed."

Don't be afraid to politely decline an opportunity because there is only so much you can do in a day and thankfully not everything is yours to do. Sometimes, it's easy to feel like it's all your responsibility, but I promise if you look around chances are you will find someone who is willing to help.

Priority 3: A collection of friends, extended family, and new acquaintances that God puts in my path.

These connections are always exciting, because you never know where they lead. They may lead to an opportunity for business or friendship, or something even greater, you never know. However, because my life is already prioritized, I permit myself only to take these invitations when my family and my ministry don't need me at the moment. So you can imagine how few those moments are.

I see a lot of people who have a similar set of priorities maybe not in this order, but somewhere in their daily lives are family, work, and friends. My advice is put what cannot be replaced at the top of your list, and tell the rest of the world, "I would love to, but not right now." Don't be afraid to slow down and tell others no, and see if you can't take some of the busy out of your life, and put the better back in.

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Just Because - 4/2/2015

I am often asked by others, “When do you think your dad will slow down?” I smile and usually give a humorous reply like, “He has! He’s only working 12 hours a day instead of 18.” It goes without saying that my father is the standard for many things in my life. He is the standard for being a Man, a Dad, Pastor, Leader, Husband, and Friend. He is also a man of courage and conviction, but quite possibly the greatest benchmark he has ever set for me is the standard of the work ethic. He has always been an archetype to me of what hard work and real effort can produce.

This past Sunday, just a few weeks before his 75th birthday, I sat and watched him preach with such energy and passion that I thought this man is from another universe; where does this kind of passion come from?

I believe it comes primarily from two places. The first is a biblical truth that cannot be ignored. Isaiah wrote, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (40:31). There is no doubt that a tremendous amount of my father’s energy comes from the simple supernatural fact that God gives him strength. I could record page after page of examples that I have seen first-hand; however, I have been told the best blogs are 500 words or less. The other reason my father seems to have such energy and passion is what I would like to spend the most time describing. My father is driven by a cause and he does not do anything without a good reason to do it.

He started a church to fulfill the cause of seeing the lost won to Christ and helping them discover the difference the Lord could make in their lives. The reason he pursued a television ministry was to take up the cause of the Great Commission; to make sharing all the Gospel with all of the world and with every generation, a reality. The reason he has worked so faithfully to build the relationship between Christians and the Jewish people and to help the state of Israel is because he felt the Lord instructed him to do so at a time when Israel needed a friend. But out of all the causes for which I have seen him strive, there are none that he worked harder at than that of being a father.

I am one of the “Fab Five” as my dad calls us. I can tell you there wasn’t a moment in any of our lives where we did not know without question where we could turn for love, leadership, support, and direction. I would venture to say that my father’s five children kept him up more nights than did his 20,000 plus church members. Not that we were bad kids, but we were his kids, and he has made this statement several times in private and from the pulpit, “If I fail as a father, I will have failed in life.”

Due to the “cause and effect” concept, slowing down doesn’t seem to cross his mind. Not because he wouldn’t like to, but there are still souls to win, sermons to preach, people to serve, and yes his five kids and thirteen grandkids who need him. The cause of parenting will never go away and that is the source that drives him; at least from my perspective.

I may never know what specific cause God has given you. He may have you doing any number of things, but I can tell you a very real and universal cause that he has given to each of us which He never wants us to cease in giving everything we’ve got. That is the cause of caring for our children. As a matter of fact, when His son was on the earth He said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11) You are a cause that your heavenly Father never quits working on. I encourage you to do the same for the children God has given you. Don’t stop working…just consider the cause!

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Say It Again... - 3/26/2015


The repetitious phrases of parenting can at times grind on a grown man. I have compiled a quick top 10 list of phrases we use at our address; see if any of these sound at all familiar:

1) “Don’t touch your sister!”

2) “That is not a toy, its glass.”

3) “Please use your spoon and wipe your mouth with your napkin next time.”

4) “Stop running through the house!”

5) “Where are your shoes? Where is your shirt? What do you mean you don’t know?!”

6) “Say ‘excuse me’ next time you interrupt.”

7) “That’s not appropriate….”

8) “Appropriate means, proper…” “Proper means, being good!” “Oh JUST PLEASE STOP!”

9) “Turn off the light.”

10) “Please shut the door.”

Maybe your list is longer and louder, but these are some pretty common statements heard at the Hagee household spoken repeatedly to our four children, starting with our 23 month old up to our 9 year old. To be perfectly honest, the cadence of these declarations have been handed down for generations because, if I recall, these same phrases were quite often heard bouncing off the walls in my childhood home. As a matter of fact, it seems to be one of the rights of passage in life that sooner or later we all wind up saying the exact same things that our parents said to us, and spend time wondering why our kids behave the way we use to!

It’s inevitable. Whether you want to or not, you are bound to break the childhood promise you made to yourself when you exclaimed, “I will never say that to my kids when I grow up!” Yet, there you stand, a grown man, sometimes assuming the same imposing posture, repeating the familiar words you swore you’d never say. Why? Because you are a parent and you love your children. Therefore, you actively engage in making sure they know right from wrong. There isn’t a greater testimony of your deep affection for your kids than for the world to see that you have taught them how to properly behave.

Maybe you have noticed that there is an overwhelming lack of good behavior these days. I’m not talking about the obvious actions. It’s easy to sound off on the thugs in the street playing “knock out” as they brutalize an unsuspecting victim for the revolting “simple joy” of inflicting pain. I am talking about the more common behaviors that are often ignored in our society today. Things like “Sir and ma’am”; “Please” and thank you”; holding the door open for others to walk through; helping a lady take off her coat; willingly yielding to an elder simply because it is the proper thing to do, rather than argue. These were simple lessons I was taught in my childhood that seemed pretty universal not too long ago, but they have disappeared because apparently there isn’t yet a smart phone app that teaches children manners. I would wager to say that there will never be one that can do it as well as a parent, because hard wired in the DNA of every child is the deep desire for instruction.

In the New Testament, Paul echoes the book of Proverbs and gives parents this admonition; “Do not provoke your children to wrath, but train them…” The connection most people aren’t making is the provocation comes from NOT teaching (training) these children right from wrong. They grow up not knowing the difference and in their frustration, they act out against all forms of authority because when they were at an age where they could have been trained, they were ignored.

The word “train” means to demonstrate something over and over again. It doesn’t happen through occasional reminders; it occurs only when it is ingrained through repetition. So today I want to encourage you to not grow weary in well doing. Keep training your children as I will keep training mine, and by God’s grace, they will become a generation that reminds the world what kindness, patience, and gentleness looks like. You know training doesn’t always come in the form of correction. It also is deeply rooted through encouragement. Here’s another top list I strongly suggest you use over and over again:

1)” You can do it, I know you can.”

2) “I am proud of you.”

3) “You were awesome!”

4) “You are so very important to me.”

5) “I believe in you!”

6) “That was great.”

7) “Don’t ever give up.”

8) “We can always try again.”

9) “I’m on your side!”

10) “I love you with all my heart.”

Remember, God has given you a chance to change the world when He blessed you with children to raise… even if it seems like you’ve said it 10,000 times before…say it again!

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