What African Ebola Taught Me
I've just recently returned from Africa, where we visited six cities and two different countries. At each airport we landed, we were asked multiple questions about our exposure to certain high risk areas for Ebola. We were scanned with temperature sensitive equipment and examined by agents.
Ebola had broken out in the states, but not yet in the areas we visited.
We were warned by family and friends about the dangers of the deadly disease and many family members were very nervous about our going to Africa amid news reports of ebola outbreak.
On our return, I noticed that the moment I shared that we were in Africa, almost everyone took a step back, wiped their hand on their shirt (the one they had just used to shake mine) and asked "Which part of Africa?"
I always smile and say, "not that part."
But I saw something more deadly than ebola in Africa and the sad part is, it was already here in the US as well.
78% of Americans under the age of 15 already have it.
85% of the men in prison already have it.
If you have it, you are 3 times more likely to die - by suicide.
If you are a child and the majority are; you are 4 times more likely to drop out of school, and 4 times more likely to have severe behavioral disorders.
It already cost the US taxpayer billions to incarcerate and rehabilitate these infected.
It is an epidemic more deadly, more costly, and more widespread than Ebola could ever become.
But the good news is, its easily cured. The epidemic is Fatherlessness and the answer is Fathering.
When a young man is fathered by a strong and capable male mentor, the epidemic stops. We have seen it countless times. Its a simple yet profound cure. A little love and attention, instruction, and affirmation can change the tide.
When a young lady is told that she is beautiful and she has worth beyond measure, she will begin to radiate with strength and confidence. When she is taught the definition of her feminine strength, she will become a leader.
This epidemic will only become worse unless we identify and get involved in outreach to these youth. The symptoms are clear and evident in youth without fathers.
This epidemic is far more deadly and widespread than ebola. The time to act is now.
Great organizations like the Men & Ladies of Honor (www.honorministries.org) are spear-heading great outreach efforts and seeing tremendous results. Get involved by volunteering, praying, or supporting financially. You can make a huge difference in the life of one that has been infected.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Each year I follow a similar path; between Christmas and New Year I begin listening for a theme from the Lord concerning my upcoming year. Because I realize that "there is no greatness outside of God", I am sure to ask His opinion on my thrust for the upcoming year. Then, with that theme in mind, I sit down and write out the plans and goals that I have in my heart concerning the upcoming year. I try to do this on a retreat or weekend getaway with my family to a secluded place. We like to go to Beaver's Bend, OK where we hold our youth camps during the camp season. It seems like an appropriate place to hear from God.
This year I did something a little different when it came to goal setting. I involved my family. I asked what the Lord was speaking to them and what they had in their hearts. The results were amazing. We were closer as a family than I can remember in some time. It became a family devotional time.
The reason I involved them was because one of the clear words I heard from the Lord was that one my purposes for 2014 is to build those around me. To encourage and equip and help develop those in my sphere of influence (The Inner Circle) to reach the goals that God has placed in their hearts.
For that reason, I want to share a few practical things that we are doing as a family and I am doing personally to achieve the plans the Lord gave:
1. Commit to Spiritual, Mental, Physical, and Financial goals for myself and family. These goals must be S.M.A.R.T - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (X by Y).
2. Commit to Build and Encourage those in my Inner Circle to help them see great things this year.
3. Develop a DAILY devotional that includes Bible reading (I use the One Year Bible - NLT). Prayer & Worship ( I use Pandora - Bethel Live - On my Iphone during my shower time.)
4. Develop a weekly Family Devotional Time on Monday or Tuesday evenings with my wife and children where we read scripture, pray for one another, and discuss the things that help each other.
5. Develop a time when you can regularly assess where you are in your goal process. "Whats important is recorded, whats recorded gets measured, and whats measured improves."
Developing these habits will help you and those entrusted to you to grow leaps and bounds this year. Listen, life is short, so we have to make the most of our lives AND have fun while doing it.
I want to help you reach your goals this year. Even if we "baby step" it, lets get started. Let me know if I can help you! You can also join my inner circle Facebook page here: Inner Circle Facebook Page