May 29, 2009

Way to go Alabaster Red Sox!

Last night, I had the privilege to be a part of my son Nathan's little league team wrapping up a very special season. The Red Sox won the championship of the Alabaster Minor league and capped off a perfect season. This very special group of boys won every game we played this season! It wasn't easy, but they fought hard and played together as a team each and every game.

None of us coaches could possibly expect at the beginning of the season when we got this group out on the field for the first time that perfection was possible. We knew we had some very good players, but it was rough at the start. Most of this team is composed of 9 yr. olds who are playing "kid-pitch" for the first time. The first time we did fly-ball drills nobody came close to catching one. Our first batting cage practices were mediocre at best. However, our head coach set the goal that every practice we just wanted to get a little better. These kids worked hard and did everything we asked, each and every practice.

We had games we dominated from the start this season. We had a game where we scored 12 runs in one inning to come back down late to win by 9. We had a game where we had to score 9 runs in our last inning to tie the game after the time limit had run out. We had a game where we were losing with 1 minute to play before time ran out. We started the next inning, scored 4, and won.

All in all, we are proud of this special group of kids, especially my boy Nathan. He ended the year with a great game, getting 2 solid hits. At the end, we brought all the boys out to the mound to give them their championship trophy. Thanks again boys for a great, fun year.

May 26, 2009

Put Your Dream to the Test - Review

Alright. I have now completed my second book review for Thomas Nelson Publishers book review bloggers. For this one, I selected a book by one of my favorite authors, Dr. John C. Maxwell.

I have been a big fan of John Maxwell's writing for a long time. I was a member of the Injoy Life Club for several years and gained a lot of valuable insight from his leadership teaching. His book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is still one of the top 5 books I have read as a leader and one I refer to quite often.

Put Your Dreams to the Test is another inspiring read from Dr. Maxwell. His premise is that everyone has a dream at one time or another. He gives the reader 10 questions to take your dream from wish to fruition. Dr. Maxwell defines a dream as "an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it." This definition alone is enough to draw the reader to explore this book further.

He believes that all dreams have the power to inspire and empower you. He helps the reader to clearly define the dream - creating a clear picture of an achievable future. He also helps the reader to identify if the dream meets with the passion of the dreamer as well as whether you have considered the cost to achieve it. The most helpful chapter to me was "The Pathway Question: Do I Have a Strategy to Reach My Dream?" One helpful quote was this: "The secret to your success is found in your daily agenda. If you do the right things day after day, then you will make progress, and you will eventually achieve what you set out to do." That's inspiring advice.

Another great piece of advice was implementing the "rule of five", doing five things every day that can move you closer to your dream. This helps to answer "The Tenacity Question." Most people fail to achieve their dreams because they fail to have the stick-to-it attitude necessary and put into practice small steps consistently to make it happen.

As usual, Dr. Maxwell writing is filled with plenty of inspiring stories and illustrations to make each point. Maxwell is an excellent story-teller and has an exhaustive illustration file drawing from Christian as well as non-Christian sources. This book is meant for anyone who has a dream, whether Christ-follower or not. It will have powerful potential for the kingdom of God if readers can develop a God-led dream to advance the kingdom. I wish that Dr. Maxwell were able to spend more time developing how dreams can have kingdom potential and not just a pathway for earthly success. There is tremendous inspiration and encouragement in Put Your Dreams to the Test for any and all Christ-followers. Get a copy for your library and put it into practice. You may find your dreams coming true.

Man Up Jon...

Ok. This will be painful to admit, but this last week I watched the season premiere of Jon and Kate Plus Eight. Now mind you, I don't normally watch this show. I promise you. I may have watched 10 minutes of 1 episode before Sunday night. However, with all the news plastered all over the place of Jon and Kate's recent problems, I was interested to see how it was going to be handled on the air. It was one of the saddest experiences I had ever seen.

Most of you probably know that Jon Gosselin is rumored to have had an affair recently. He denies it, but does admit to "making some mistakes." I watched as Kate and Jon were interviewed separately throughout the program instead of the usual together on the couch. Most of the conversation had little to do with the eight children and mostly to do with how they were handling each other.

Here's my problem with what's going on: First, Jon says this really isn't what he wanted with this reality gig. Evidently, he's having a hard time keeping up with the public scrutiny. Waaa! That's what happens when you put your family on the air to profit from them. If you can't handle it and it's tearing up your family, then find a way out of the contract dude. Second, when both Jon and Kate were asked where they were in the relationship, Kate responded she was there but Jon said he was "here for the kids." Come on! For the kids? Do you really think that what the kids need is a dad who isn't around when the spotlight is on and only comes around to tolerate his wife? Were the kids on your mind when you were photographed with that 23 yr. old in the car? Were you there for the kids too?

You know what your kids need Jon? They need a father who models for them what a man really is like. They need a man who will stand in the gap for his family and not dessert them just to please himself. You've got three boys who need a father to lead them through the difficult landmines of life that await them in the coming years. They need to know you can lead them through how to have a relationship with a woman based on integrity. They need a dad who can admit his mistakes and still place his family first. You have 5 girls who need a model for what they need to look for in a man. They need to see a father who loves their mother with all his heart, no matter how difficult the home may be. Your girls will get their model for a husband from you Jon. What are you going to show them?

Also, I heard several years ago about how Jon and Kate were Christians and the place of spirituality held in their family. Now, that may well be true. As Christians, we are no less immune to problems in our home, especially when that home has the child dynamics of the Gosselin household. However, it's time that Jon and Kate moved past being Christians and instead became Christ-followers who went back to the center of their relationship. It's time they focused more on God and His Word in their relationship. It's time they hit their knees in repentance and prayed for the brokenness of their relationship to be restored. It will take unconditional love and a heart that has been broken before they will survive.

It's time to Man Up Jon! You are failing your family. You are failing your wife. You are failing your children. You are a perfect picture right now of what's wrong in our culture with men today. Today's man is a perfect picture of passivity and selfishness. Today's man is confused and wandering. Too many men, including Jon, have sacrificed their families on the altar of personal fulfillment and happiness. It's time to man up and take your family back from the enemy. Your wife and kids are far too important. You stood on an altar and made a vow to your wife and to God. Vows may not mean much to us, but God takes them very seriously. If you really believe, Jon, that your life would be better apart from this family, I would have several guys that I know who would beg to differ with you. Take your family back. Don't let another opportunity arise for your daughter to say "When are you coming back daddy? Why do you have to leave?"

Men. It's time to take back our families. It's time to go to the Jon Gosselin's of the world and help them before they lose another family. It's time to hit our knees for our families and the families of our brothers-in-arms in the church. I am not trying to be critical of Jon. My heart breaks for him and his family. I am praying that at the end of the day, we will see a restoration of his family. I am sure that the media scrutiny will be so much that restoration will be unlikely. However, our God is faithful. If we seek him and honor him, he will lift us up. Jon and Kate, you can make it. It will take more out of you than you know. But if you are willing to pay the price, you can make it.

May 22, 2009

Summer begins - Family Updates

Well today is the first day of summer at the Haines' house and the kids are pumped. This morning my youngest, John David, graduated from 4K at Kingwood Christian School. We had a great time listening to them sing the books of the Bible, count to 10 in Spanish, say their memory verse, tell about long and short vowels, and lots more. He walked up and received a diploma from his teacher, Mrs. Vaughn. It was a very special time for us. He has made a lot of advances this year in 4K. We're looking forward to his first year in big school in the fall.

Nathan completed the third grade yesterday and ended his tenure at Creekview Elementary. He has really established himself as a leader at school and is still and excellent student. He especially likes science and art. He likes anything that he can tinker with or draw. He also participated this year in the gifted program at Creekview and had a great time. He is a thinker and GRC really helped him use those thinking gifts. Nathan is playing baseball with the Alabaster Minor Red Sox (9-10 yr. old) team. So far, our team is undefeated at 13-0 with 3 games to go. It's been a great group of boys and they have all made tremendous advances since the first practice.

Drew just finished second grade at Creekview and had one of his best years. Like his older brother he was tested and accepted into the GRC program starting in the fall. From the beginning, Drew's teacher Mrs. Roberson has said that Drew is "sneaky smart." He usually finishes his work faster than other students. He is an exceptional reader and is already on a 5th grade level. He has also developed a knack for writing this year. His teacher was very impressed with his ability to develop a story. Drew also has a passion for computer and video games. He bounces around between the computer, Nintendo DS, his PSP, the Playstation 3, and sometimes the Wii. Yes, we have too many video games around the house.

Now that summer is here, we are looking for some things to do. We'll spend some time swimming as well as try to get in some fishing trips for me and the boys. VBS will start in 2 weeks and Nathan is also doing a baseball camp at UAB one week.

I'm preaching at Westwood this Sunday. Looking forward to it. We are in a series called "Lost Words" and I am preaching on "Kindness". Much of the church will not be here as it is time for the yearly Memorial Day exodus to Disney or the beach. Whatever your plans, have a great weekend!