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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The Dormant Seeds - 3/19/2015

Spring is a gorgeous time in South Texas, by far one of my favorite times of year. The days are nice and long the weather is close to perfect, and everything seems to demonstrate a brand new zeal for life. This is the season of the wild flowers, and folks come from all over the place to sit in starched white button down shirts and jeans to take family pictures, in a carpet of red, yellow and blue. I am always amazed both at how many people do this every year (I am guilty of taking my share of bluebonnet pics), and how many flowers grow in such a short period of time. It seems as if overnight a secret army of landscapers pulled up the dead and dormant grasses of winter and spray painted every field and highway with a patch work of colors.

I was recently speaking with a friend from out of town about the wildflowers because they usually plan a visit in order to enjoy the scenery and catch up. In the conversation they were remarking how they didn’t understand how such a “dry” climate, could create such plant life so quickly. They live in the North East and usually have around 45-50” of rain every year and San Antonio is lucky if we reach 24”, especially with the extreme droughts in recent years. That’s when I said something that I have not been able to get out of my mind, which is probably why I am blogging about it now. I replied, “They grow so quickly because of the 1,000’s of dormant seeds that just needed a little rain to grow.”

Sounds profound right? Think about something very small and easily ignored almost forgotten, is lying in wait of just the right stimulation and suddenly the full potential of seed appears. It got me to thinking about all of the dormant seeds in my life. There are seeds of encouragement, and discouragement. Seeds of joy and some of sorrow, seeds of everything good and seeds of all that is wrong, and there they lie waiting to be watered.

If I water the good seeds with the water of the word, then my life is like the abundant vineyard that Christ spoke of in the Gospel of John. My life will produce fruit and that fruit will remain. If I choose to cultivate the seeds of bitterness, revenge, greed, or self, then my life will certainly have a different outcome. This is what Hebrews 12:15 warned us about, the dormant seed of bitterness. “…the root of bitterness springing up and by this many become defiled”.

Don’t ever forget the dormant seeds in your life will grow if they are watered and when they spring up they will either be a blessing to all or a burden to many. Make sure that you take the time to grow the good and allow the Word of God and the Hand of the Holy Spirit to pluck out the bad. So that the life you live will be something that those who pass by or choose to stay will be able to enjoy.

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The Force Is Strong With This One - 3/12/2015

Probably one of the most well-known film series of all time has to be “STAR WARS”. Many children born in the late 70’s early 80’s learned how to read by doing our best to spit out the words, “In a Galaxy far, far away…” as they scrolled up the screen, they always seemed to move out of sight faster than I could read them. For a while Star Wars was everywhere. I have even heard some attempts through the years to draw parallels between, “the force” and “dark side” in sermons on spiritual warfare, by guest speakers at youth camp, as if the Apostle Paul needed some help making his point from George Lucas! But as of late it seems that Star Wars is having a renaissance, at least at my house anyway.

My two boys, J.W (8) and Joel (5), have bought in hook, line and sinker. Star Wars merchandise is everywhere. From the Lego sets to the little plastic action figures that you can’t ever find until the lights are out and you are walking across the floor in bare feet. Every “Family Movie Night” they come to the living room dressed as Jedi’s with light sabers a glow. This is just fine with me because I spent years watching “Dora” with my oldest daughter Hannah Rose, and since my baby, Madison, can already sing “Let it Go”, I am certain the cinematic pendulum will once again swing in favor of the ladies at my residence.

The other morning while driving the kids to school, Joel asked, “Dad, what’s the force, and how do I get it?” Before, I could come up with adequate 30 something wisdom to offer my 5 year old and answer, J.W blurts out, “I know!” Interested to hear my 8 year old Jedi shed some light on this deep topic, I let him have the floor. “Joel,” J.W continued without hesitation. “The force isn’t something on the outside of you that you feel, it’s on the inside of you.” Good start, I thought to myself. “It comes from the things that you know do right and the things that you know are wrong. The force works better when you think about the people you love, and how much they love you.” Now I am starting to wonder if Obi Wan has crawled in the back seat of my truck. “The force is what’s good inside of you, and the dark side is all the hate. Joel, if you want the force, do what’s right, and don’t give into hate, because if you give into hate you will destroy yourself, just like Darth Vadar did.” I was floored, Joel was satisfied, and Hannah rolled her eyes at the thought that men would take the time to talk about such things.

Since that conversation I have grinned as I thought back on how much childlike faith and true wisdom there were in his 8 year old words. The force, isn’t something on the outside and it does come from the inside. It is most certainly fed by what we feel and are willing to dwell upon. Consider what Solomon wrote: “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Paul told the New Testament Church, “whatever is good, lovely, of good report, think on these things.” Consider how many times the feelings, emotions, and concerns on the inside of us have a real impact on all that is going on around us. Most of the time, it’s how we feel on the inside that determines what we perceive about the world on the outside.

But don’t forget the part about hate. Without a doubt is the darkest of the “Dark Side”. When we give into it we destroy ourselves on every level. Give into hate and you destroy relationships, throw away opportunity and build walls that divide instead of bridges that unite and connect. There is no end to the damage you can see the darkness of hate accomplishing in the world around you and it must be stopped at every turn. Global, personal, racial, denominational, and in every other fashion, we must remember what Christ told us. “This is my commandment, that you LOVE one another, that your JOY may be full.” I must tell you the theme song to Star Wars never brought me to the altar, but to hear what my son had to say about “the force” that day has brought me to my knees. Asking God to find any ounce of darkness and replace it with the force of love. I may never be a Jedi, but I know there is no stronger force in any galaxy like the Love of Jesus Christ.

As for JW I must say, “The force is strong with this one!”

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It’s a Matter of Life and Death - 3/5/2015

The civilized world has been shaken by the horrific deeds being carried out by Radical Islam and the growing army of ISIS fighters who post such cruelty for the world to see. For some time many Christian communities around the globe have been shaken as the stories of crucifixion, beheading, burning and torture were shared from witnesses at the scene. Now through modern technology, the reality of the threat is very real and the dangers too unpleasant to ignore. The Radicals have made it clear that it is life or death.

Without getting into the political positions and personal opinions that this issue creates, I would like to address one point and prayerfully give you the chance to think about it daily. I read recently how Isis had surrounded a city in Iraq and set vehicle check points on every road coming in and going out.

Their sole purpose was to ask if those who were traveling were Muslims in favor of their cause, or did they have a different faith. It is no mystery what was being done to those who would dare claim that they were not on the side of the Radicals. Those gruesome pictures were being posted and broadcast all over the world. As the account recorded, 3 young boys in a vehicle were stopped and asked the question, “Are you a Christian?” They all said, “Yes.” They all were dragged from the vehicle; beheaded and displayed as an example of what Radical Islam does to the unbeliever.

As I read the story, I was chilled by the mental images playing in the theater of my mind. I was enraged that such unbelievable violence would occur without a just response, and I was heartbroken at what I felt the Holy Spirit ask me next. “They were asked to die for their faith, will you live for yours?” While cell phones and the internet can make what happens on the other side of the world seem so close, we in the West are fortunate in that it is still far away. For now! If we do not start living for our faith, we may soon see firsthand people dying for their faith right here at home.

If we do not take our energy and use it to tell others about Christ our Savior and what He has done; if we don’t become a seven day a week Christian instead of a Sunday Saint; if we don’t start becoming concerned about where our world is headed and do something about it; then we may be faced with the horror of this extremism here.

I believe that there are opportunities in front of us every day to LIVE for our Faith. To pray for someone in need; to demonstrate an act of God’s love to one who is hurting; to be the light of the world and shine in this hour of darkness. Don’t let the importance of the moment pass you by. LIVE for Your Faith, before you die.

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How long will it last? - 2/26/2015

The other day I was listening to the morning news while getting ready for the routine run down I-10 to drop the kids off at school and then off to the office. There was the typical series of sensation that filled the first fifteen minutes of the hour; you know, local crime, global chaos… all the uplifting stuff.

After the first commercial break the anchor on the local channel started the annual coverage of Punxsutawney Phil for evidence of whether or not the winter will continue or be cut short. To be perfectly honest, since we don’t have many groundhogs in my neck of the woods, and mostly associate the two words ground and hog with a delicious breakfast meat, I didn’t pay much attention to coverage because mornings are pretty busy at our house and traffic can be a nightmare if you leave late.

As I was driving down the highway, I was listening to my children talk about what they were going to do that day. They were chatting about everything from a fourth grader fretting about a science test to a kindergartener without a care in the world, and suddenly seasons and their lengths meant a lot more to me. Earlier I had been watching that rodent on the news and had not given it much thought. But now I was quietly asking the Lord for time to slow down the season so it could last a little longer as I heard the harmonies of my childrens’ spirits collide with their competing voices. “Dad, can you turn up the radio. I love this song!” “No turn it down I have to study!” “Dad, I want two breakfast tacos, two biscuits, and four bowls of coco puffs! I am starving! I haven’t eaten since last night!!!” That came from the Kindergartner! How I will miss the drive to work when there are no longer those voices to fill it.

When it comes to seasons we really have no control over how long they will last. Their course is set in the Heavens by the sovereign hand of an Almighty God. When do not determine their beginning nor influence their end, but we are entirely responsible for what we do while they last. I may not be able to keep my children from growing up too fast, but I can certainly give them all of the support, encouragement and instruction possible while we share this time.

It goes without saying that there are many seasons in life. Ecclesiastes reminds us there is a time and a place for everything under the sun. Joy, sorrow, plenty, want, peace, war, living, and dying. They are all in there. What we must not do is cherish one and not embrace the other. We have to understand that there is an opportunity for us to learn something from every season in life, and trust God to give us the chance to appreciate it while it lasts.

If I dread the next season of life, I forfeit the opportunity to enjoy this one. If I grudgingly endure this one, I will probably enter the next one with a terrible attitude and not be prepared to maximize whatever opportunity it presents. Either way, for better or for worse, I have to remember those four words so often read over and seldom absorbed from the scriptures, “It came to pass.”

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