★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★

Did this title peak your interest?  A buddy of mine asked me where the ideas come from for the “Thoughts for the Days” that I share…were they just from my quiet time while reading the Bible or from somewhere else.  The answer is yes.  God definitely speaks through His Word as I read in the morning, but they are also are inspired from friends or sometimes through a circumstance I am going through.  Today’s “Thought” is unfortunately a result of the latter.  My situation is not life-threatening but it has inflicted some serious mental stress.  It is amazing how tiring it can be running through different scenarios in your mind to find solutions when you are having conflict and strife with someone.  I previously posted ★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★ about what my wife and I learned from a class on this topic.  I have attempted to implement the principles with this person but sometimes no matter how much you try you can’t stop someone from coming after you.

Recently I have been reading about the prophet Elijah who is such a fascinating Old Testament character.  He had incredible highs and lows in his service to God.  We first meet Elijah when God sends him to challenge the evil King of Israel, Ahab in 1 Kings 17:1 (NLT)…

“…As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!””

God then has Elijah go away for the rest of chapter 17 during the 3-1/2 year drought in which God provides for Elijah in unbelievable ways, (go read it for yourself), but I want to pick up in 1 Kings 18:1 (NLT) when God tells Elijah…

“…Go and present yourself to King Ahab.  Tell him that I will soon send rain!”

If you have never read this story about Elijah facing off with King Ahab, 1 Kings 18:1-46 tells the whole account of one of the most epic showdowns that has ever happened!  In all it’s offerings, Hollywood has never given us a greater one than this in my opinion.  Elijah challenges King Ahab and tells him in 1 Kings 18:19-21…

“Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.”  So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel.  Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow him!  But if Baal is God, then follow him!”  But the people were completely silent.”

81 - Daily Dependence - Cliff Notes on 1 Kings 18Cliff notes version of chapter 18…Elijah challenges 850 false prophets to call down fire to burn up a bull on the altar.  They started at noontime and “they raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response [from their Gods.]”  (1 Kings 18:29 NLT).  Okay now it is Elijah’s turn…He prepared his bull and stacked the odds against God by having (12) large jars of water poured over the bull and wood.  Then in 1 Kings 18:38-39 (NLT) he prays to God in view of all and…

“Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust.  It even licked up all the water in the trench!  And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The LORD —He is God!  Yes, the LORD is God!'”

81 - Daily Dependence - BamOne request from Elijah and God delivers BIG TIME!  He then tells the people to grab the prophets of Baal and Asherah so that they could be killed…and incredibly they did!!  Wow…talk about a massive triumph!!  Elijah stood up against King Ahab and 850 false prophets in full view of all the people of Israel and trusted God in a mighty way.  But all this is just setting up for what I really want to talk about which is what happens after the mountaintop experience with God.  What happens after you have a spiritual victory…Chapter 18 without a doubt was a huge high point but chapter 19 gives us whiplash as Elijah hits the lowest low ever.  1 Kings 19:1-4 (NLT) says…

“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal.  So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”  

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.  He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.  Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day.  He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.  “I have had enough, LORD,” he said.  “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.””  

These (4) verses have always puzzled me.  How do you go from calling fire down from heaven and ordering 850 false prophets to be slain, only to be running for your life just a few verses later because one person because threatened to kill you?  Now I said “person” instead of woman, because regardless of your gender, you can be threatened by either a man or woman, who could cause you to run away from the issue.  It could be a bully at school, someone at work or a complete stranger.  In Elijah’s case, it was a woman, but before we judge him too harshly, I wanted to give some insight into the type of person Jezebel was.  1 Kings 21:25 (NLT) tells about the influence she had on King Ahab…

“No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the LORD’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel.”

“Under the influence of his wife.”  Now everyone has a choice whether to follow or to be a leader, but obviously Jezebel was quite evil and had significant influence on he husband.  I am not saying that woman or wives are evil, rather this one particular female was.  You have probably heard someone say something like: “That woman is a Jezebel.”  That comparison is a result of King Ahab’s wife; Jezebel has become synonymous with the description of “a wicked, shameless woman.” (Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/jezebel).  Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary had this commentary on Jezebel:

“Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel.  She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God.  Guided by no principle, restrained by no fear of either God or man…”

So you can understand that the person chasing Elijah was a pretty nasty individual, (1 Kings has other accounts as well.)  I recently found my answer to how someone could go from “hero to zero” overnight as I have had a “Jezebel” in my life chasing after me.  I think Steven Furtick nailed it when he was speaking of Elijah and said,

“We don’t experience our reality.  We experience our perspective of reality.” 

The answer is perspective!  Not seeing things for what they are.  Just like Elijah lost sight of the fact that God was able to wipe out 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah who opposed him and then allowed one person to scare him so much that the very next day he went on the run; I too lost my perspective and allowed one person’s opinion and harsh words to put me in a tailspin.  Now I did not leave the state and take residency in a cave, but it did completely disrupt my state of mind at work and home.  And why??  Jack Graham gives some great insight for that answer:

“After the spiritual victory, Elijah was physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained.  So when word came that Jezebel the queen wanted him dead, he ran for his life.  And here’s the key: Elijah took his eyes off God.”

We cannot take our eyes off of God, not even for a second!  When we do, our perspective gets distorted and we can so quickly get derailed.  We have to always be on the alert that the enemy will use people to being knock you down.  Spiritual warfare is very real and the Devil is always looking to get revenge after you have a spiritual victory!  That is why 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) is so important to remember…

“Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

Elijah is a such a powerful example of the highs and lows we can experience in our walk with God… But we can also use his story as a way to motivate us to persevere and not give up when we are in the lowest valley.  We need to believe what Psalms 24:1–3 says,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid?  The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?  When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.  Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.”

Is is really easy to chant and embrace verse 1…“The LORD is my light and my salvation.”  But I think the end of verse 3 is a whole lot harder to hold fast to…“Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.”  But that is the point, we need to believe in it all…from verse 1 to 3!  God is so faithful, He spoke to me with this verse recently when He prompted my wife to text this verse to me literally right after I had just read it from a “Verse of the Day” email I received that morning!  God speaks, we just need to be listening for that “still small voice!”  In my case, I needed to look up rather than focus on the circumstance or person chasing me.  My perspective was completely flipped…I will no longer be running from my “Jezebel!”  I will not let anybody tear me down anymore, not because I will be fighting them, but because I let God fight for me.  All I need to do is just continue doing the right thing.  I will close with this final thought from Charles Stanley…

Yes everyone wants the Mount Carmel experience but it is in the valley that God will do some of His best work because all we have is Him!!  The Lord will fight for you, you need only trust His faithfulness!

Here is the next post that builds on this thought called…

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Trinity Expresses Community” ★

Day 38 - Trinity Expresses Community

Daily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in LoveI never thought of the Trinity – God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as being “a community” as James MacDonald pointed out in this study.

“God is community – Eternal God, existing in three persons: Father, revealing Himself; Son, the revelation of the Father; Holy Spirit, the delight of Father and Son in that revelation best expressed by the word love.  We are made in God’s image; we are made to make ourselves known and delight in the joy of knowing and being known.  That loving communion is what God models and we are called to enter into with Him and each other.”

“The joy of knowing and being known”….that is a very foreign idea to most men, and quite honestly myself until recently.  I have lived most of my life separated from men which can be traced back to my childhood.  My parents divorced when I was 5, and we moved to another state when I was 12 from my father, and thus I really never had a relationship with him until 5 years ago when God placed it on my heart to reconnect with him.

I resonated with MacDonald’s story about his grandfather accepting Jesus, and the impact that had on his lineage…As a result of that one decision, there are now six generations of MacDonald men who serve Jesus.  My lineage is much shorter than that.  To my knowledge, I am the first person on my father’s side to become a Christ follower.  Since having children, “legacy” has been ever present on the forefront of my mind.  I’m so thankful that so far both children are on the right path, following Jesus, and I pray, like MacDonald’s family that legacy would continue for generations.  I wholeheartedly agree with his assertion that,

“Nothing should be more important to you than generational obedience as the legacy of your life.”

When the three-year anniversary of my father’s death (2/20/2012) came around, it had a conflicting effect on me this year.  I mourned for the relationship I never had with him, as well as for the loss of him, if that makes sense.  But before he died, I was privileged to partner with God to lead my father to the Lord and now enjoy the peace that I will see him again in heaven.  So now there are three generations in my lineage!  Praise God!!

So just like what James MacDonald discussed in the book about Mark Driscoll and his family line, mine is very similar.  Like Driscoll, I had an alcoholic abusive father who eventually accepted Jesus.  I became the “first link in the chain” of my lineage as a Christ follower.  I love that notion of legacy being represented as a chain…men need to “recognize where they are on the chain,” and more importantly to me, be aware or mindful of the chain itself.  I will close this already lengthy self-disclosure with the best advice from the study that we MUST…

“Recognize that an isolated life, with little connection to other men, is the exact opposite of the man who will see the salvation of subsequent generations as his legacy.  Life is about reaching people with the message of the cross for the glory of God.

Amen!!!

Here is the next installment. . . ★ Act Like Men – “Under Orders To Love” ★

If you want to read previous Act Like Men posts click here.

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★ Act Like Men – “Together” ★

Day 37 - Together

Daily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in Love

As this section continues, I am thankful that I have made strides to build the biblical community with other men which was not the case a year ago. God has been doing a great work in my heart and I see the truth in what James MacDonald stated that,

“Plain and simple, men need community with other men.  Loving, you-before-me, dedicated relationship.”

When you read something like this, it is easy for a man to just dismiss it as being weak and unnecessary, but again as MacDonald said that is a lie of the enemy! 

“Earlier in this book, we studied the Satanic strategy of using lies to disguise, divide, and destroy.  Let’s focus on the middle word of Satan’s plan to defeat you.  The word is divide and his strategy is to get a wedge between you and the man who can support God’s work in your life through loving mutual community.”

The various lies that he listed in the book I thought were spot on and I must confess that I have thought, and believed most of them at one point to another but I love this advice:

“The way to defeat a lie of the enemy is: name the lie and insert the truth.”

Just like Jesus did when Satan tempted him in the desert, we need to call the lie out for what it is, and then speak the truth of scripture!

“In every instance we need to name the lie and replace it in our thinking with the truth of God’s word.  That’s what it means ‘to resist the devil, and he will flee from you.'” (James 4:7)

IDay 37 - Proverbs 27-17 - Iron Sharpens Iron see now the necessity of having godly men around me to not only help me get out of the “stinking thinking” that so easily ensnares me, but to help me to grow to be the man of God I have been called to be!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17 (NIV1984)

But for community to happen, there must be:

“Confidentiality,” that what is said “will remain in that room and never be shared with anyone.”…and “Second, men need to experience mutuality.  Men need to know that if they bring you in on whatever battles they have kept secret, you won’t ‘leave them hanging,’ or pridefully conceal the truth about yourself.  They need you to quickly match their personal disclosure.”

As 1 John 1:8 says,

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

I am definitely ready to defeat the lies of the enemy and to commit to community!  Are you?

Or

If you want to read previous Act Like Men posts click here.

 

 

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★ Re|Engage – Understand ★

ReEngage - Lesson 12

Continuing in the Principle of Adore and Respect, Lesson 12 delves into the topic of Understanding. The main idea is:

“God calls you to live with your spouse in “an understanding way.” This means you will need to become a student of your spouse so that you can best love and celebrate them. Your relationship with your spouse is also tied to your relationship with God.”

“Your relationship with your spouse is also tied to your relationship with God.”  This one statement is the lynch to this whole lesson.  If we get this, it will change how we will move forward.

“We need to be servants to one another by studying our spouse and not just be looking out for #1 which is our natural bent.  If you want a better marriage then we need to always be looking out for ways to love and respect our spouse.”  

42 - Daily Dependence - UndersatndingI once heard this definition which I think defines it perfectly…

“Understanding is a three-edged sword.  Your side, my side, and the truth.”  J. Michael Straczynski

The key to understanding people and especially your spouse in every situation is seeing all three sides…Understanding happens at the confluence of all three.  Persevere to understand the one God has blessed you with!!

I love how this lesson started out,

“God made you different, and your differences actually help you to be stronger as a couple then you are alone. By understanding some of these differences, you’ll be better able to serve and celebrate your spouse and help them become the person God has uniquely created them to be.”

Psalms 139:13-14 talks about being “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that is the truth for sure but you know what else is the truth?  Your spouse is fearfully and wonderfully made too!  AND they were made in God’s image (see Genesis 1:27).  When we tear down our spouse, we are tearing down God’s masterpiece!  That is why we need to understand the person God has blessed us with and focus on that as a team, together you are better!

I love how the book posed this challenge to us…

“The challenge all couples face in marriage is to view these differences in a way that will actually bring you together and strengthen your marriage, rather than pushing your apart or driving a wedge between you.”

It is important to remember that we will experience spiritual warfare; Satan will exploit those differences to try at increase that “wedge between you.”

“Your differences are from God and are intended to create a stronger combined entity (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  You are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27-28), and you are to celebrate the unique ways God has created each of you.”

1 Peter 3:7 (ESV) says,

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Live with your spouse in an understanding way.  What does that mean to you?

The book made 2 points about this verse that I want to share.  First that “weaker vessel” means “physically weaker, not of less value.”ReEngage - Lesson 12 - Glass Vs Thermos

They made a great comparison between a crystal glass and Thermos both having value but for different purposes…

“A crystal glass is weaker than a Thermos, but the Thermos does not possess more values than the glass.  In the same way, while a woman may be physically weaker, she is not in any way less valuable than her husband.”

In the last post, ★ Re|Engage – Expectations ★ I shared about my wife’s uncle who married us that he gave me some great advice when he performed the marriage counseling.  The parallel between the wine glass and Thermos reminds me of another piece of advice that he gave me to be a “bull in a china shop.”  Men need to understand their wives are delicate and precious just how a wine glass is.

The second point from 1 Peter 3:7 that the lesson made was that “a clear connection exists between the way you understand (or don’t understand) your spouse and your spiritual intimacy.

For men, Peter makes the distinction that if we fail to do so, our “prayers may be hindered.” 

“The implication is that you cannot separate your relationship with God from your relationship with your spouse.”

So like anything in life, the only way to understand anything is to study it right?  Here is a great question to ask your spouse periodically…How am I doing showing you love or respect?  And then listen and learn from what they say.

I like what they said in the lesson that understanding and studying your spouse…

“is a lifelong process…it requires time and attention.  It requires intentional effort such as regularly dating one another, purposefully pursuing one another and taking time to communicate with one another.”

Here is a great prayer to pray to God:

Show me one way to love and respect my spouse.  Let me see my spouse through your eyes.

I will close with this great advice from James McDonald who suggested these 4 things to improve your marriage:

“Nothing will transform your marriage like spending time on your marriage.”

  • 15 minutes a day(just talking to your spouse) – Guys don’t pull out a stop watch to time it!
  • 1evening per week (spend time together)
  • 1 day per month(really devoted to your marriage)
  • 1 weekend per year (To a conference or something to really improve your marriage)

“The opportunity we have to live with our spouses in an understanding way is one of the greatest challenges and privileges we experience in marriage.”

 

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Emotional Intimacy ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here… 

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★ Thought for the Day – What is the X-Factor of Leadership? ★

80 - Daily Dependence - What is the X-Factor of LeadershipNo…this post will not be tying in the television music competition franchise created by Simon Cowell…the only parallel will be the name.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines X-Factor as…

“A person that has a strong but unpredictable influence.”

Deep down I believe that every single person wants to have an influence on others, to leave a mark of this world, to be remembered…but the question is, how will that be achieved?  The inspiration for this Thought for the Day came from this quote my brother-in law posted on Facebook from renowned management thinker Jim Collins who said,

“Th80 - Daily Dependence - Jim Collins - X-Factor of Leadershipe X-Factor of great leadership is not personality, it’s humility.”  Jim Collins, “Great by Choice”

In looking at the factors of a company’s success, Collins said when humility is combined with ambition, it can be channeled into a cause that is bigger and more important than the individual.  It is interesting that an expert in analyzing businesses attributes humility as one of the keys to a company’s success.  A trait that is not so common these days, as so many leaders focus more on the bottom line than truly leading.  (You can read more about this in a previous post called ★ Thought for the Day – What’s Your Bottom Line? ★).  Another way to say it, is Servant Leadership.  Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase Servant Leadership in his 1970 essay called “The Servant as Leader,” in which he said:

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.  Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.  That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions.”

What a juxtaposition…one approach is that a natural feeling to serve results in the desire to lead…versus, one that is motivated by power or wealth using leadership as a means to an end.  For me the choice is clear…As you might expect, I endeavor to be a servant leader whether it be with the project team at work or with my wife and kids.  I want to pose this for you to ponder as you continue to read…What would businesses, and more importantly this world look like if people who are in leadership were there as a result of a heart for service?  I must admit to you though, it was not always that way for me.  I am naturally a very driven individual, but prior to meeting my wife, all my aspirations for the future were centered on attaining success, wealth and recognition for anything I did.  Increasing “my” bottom line was the motivator in my life.

As a product of divorce, from the age of 5, I witnessed my mom struggle and persevere in raising 3 children on her own in a time when the “D-Word” was like wearing a “scarlet letter“…which only added to the heavy load she was already carrying.  Subconsciously I resolved that I needed to work hard in life, but unfortunately my “driven-ness” resulted in a selfishness and egocentric focus that made me the “center of the universe.”  My teenage years and early twenties were characterized with drugs and alcohol, living life far from God and doing whatever felt good and benefited me.  But in 1996, I met someone who truly had the “X-Factor,” and who has been the single most influential person in my life!!  Bold statement for sure but absolutely true!  She taught me so much about life by the way she lived her’s…and as I got to know her more and more, I realized that the road I was on was leading to destruction, not success.  If you knew me at that time, looking in from the outside, you would have seen someone who was outgoing, successful in school with a promising future…but in reality that was a faux facade, much like the old western movie sets.  I was quite adept at hiding my addictions, and my quest for being the best at everything was eating me up on the inside.  Through my wife’s influence and example of a life rooted in humility, rather than self, I made the single most important decision to accept Jesus as my Savior, which in turn lead me away away from destructive habits and redirected my life to one of service to others.  My wife and best friend led me to understand the significance of Jesus, and with her love and support, she has completely changed the trajectory of where my life would have ended up, which is also now being passed on to our two daughters who have their mother’s heart to serve others.

So what is the X-Factor of Leadership?  It is first and foremost living a life of humility and service to others!  This is something I have seen my wife do day in, day out, for the past 16 years with our family, friends and people she meets along the way.  But she is incapable of doing any of this without Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s power working in her life.  Jesus was the ultimate model of humility when he walked this earth.  Every springtime we remember on “Good Friday” what He did for us by dying on the cross. Then 3 days later, we celebrate Easter when God raised Jesus from the dead…But I know for me, I rarely give much thought to the night before Jesus was crucified when He and the disciples celebrated one last Passover meal together, referred oftentimes as “The Last Super.”  That night, Jesus gave us 80 - Daily Dependence - Foot Washinga powerful demonstration and example to follow what servant leadership is all about when He washed His 12 disciples’ dusty feet.  John 13:1-17 (ESV) recounts the entire event, but I want to pick up right after he finished at John 13:12,

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you?'”

Okay stop.  I think too often we quickly move onto verse 13 without thinking about His question.  If I were one of the disciples, I think I would be confused by the question.  Imagine this scene, these 12 men have followed Jesus for 3 years, watching the power of God manifested in Him as He healed the sick and disabled80 - Daily Dependence - Foot Washing - Sandals, raised the dead to life and performed numerous other miracles.  Now their leader/teacher takes on the role of a slave/servant and one by one, foot by foot, humbles himself to clean the day’s grime from their sandal-wearing feet.   We don’t have a record of any responses probably because of bewilderment from the question so we will move on just as Jesus continued in verses 13-16 with the answer…

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

So the Leader humbled himself to give the greatest example I could think of for servant leadership, so that in return, the disciples would go out and do the same.  It is a call to action for all of us today!  Jesus said in Mark 10:43-45 (NASB)

“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

So as you approach your leadership role tomorrow, whether that be in the office, school or in your home, lead like Jesus!  Take on the mantle of servant as a representative of Jesus!

Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭17 and 23 gives further insight in developing our leadership style!

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”   

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”  

How much different would we be if we wore this name badge?  What if as we started each day, we endeavored to approach people with the heart Jesus, working for Him and looking for ways to serve others?  I bet, no…I KNOW incredible things would happen!  I will close with this final thought from John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Qualities of a Leader”…

“Servant leadership is never motivated by manipulation or self-promotion.  In the end, the extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others.  That’s why it is so important for leaders to be willing to serve.”  

So you want to influence others, you want to have the “X-Factor” of leadership?  Remember this…”In the end, the extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others.”

If you would like to see the continuation of the this post go to here:

★ Thought for the Day – But God… ★

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★ Act Like Men – “The Man From Tarsus” ★

Day 36 - The Man From TarsusDaily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in LoveThe study starts off with a review of the differences between men and women with some really powerful insights.

“Women are hardwired by the Creator to relate, to nurture, and to connect.  Men are designed by God to pursue, provide, and protect.  Connecting sees relationship as an asset and makes you vulnerable to others.  That’s why women need protection.  Protection sees relationship as a potential threat and makes men aggressive.  That’s why men need help with connecting.  Men are closed and weaker at relationship, favoring protection.  Women are open and pursue relationship, requiring protection.”

So how are women better at building and sustaining relationships?

By “making themselves known. [Women excel at] talking to each other about their experiences and being honest about themselves in a way that humans wired for protection, i.e., men, find more difficult.”

I must say that was definitely true of me for many, many years.  I struggled to make and maintain friendships.  I wish I knew back then the secret that MacDonald shared about Paul’s success.

“Paul had so many friends and one is the better for it was because he was a killer in the matter of self-disclosure.”

Real talk: Telling it like it is. 

“Men who are cut off, careful, and closed are also lonely and just as vulnerable in a different way as their wives alone in a dark alley after midnight.”

I love the way that MacDonald contrasted Paul’s original life as “Saul” with his new life in Christ as “Paul.”  I resonated deeply with his description of Saul that he “was one of the most hateful, punishing, arrogant, superior guys you would ever want to meet.”  If I am being honest, the description of Saul was me before I came to know Jesus as my savior.  But Jesus changed everything for Paul and for me!  After meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, MacDonald describes what Paul experienced…

“Paul was crushed by the revelation of his wicked heart and altered for all time.  Pride gone, he referred to himself as the ‘chief of sinners.’  Superiority gone, he called himself the ‘least of the apostles,’ and his mission changed to where ‘he who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.'”

That is me to a tee!  Here is the is key!

“Men don’t open up because they are prideful and self-protective. The lonely, isolated man is that way because he won’t make himself known to others.  Disclosure of self is the currency of intimacy.  It’s what our wives want and what true friendship demands.  You don’t have to spill your guts to everybody and anybody, but God will get you to the place where you know you need to do it with somebody.  The temptation to keep it all inside is the downside of being wired as a protector.”

“You will never fulfill your potential as a man of God going it alone.” 

I relate so much to this next statement because it is so contrary to what I was, and now that I am saved by the grace of God, I see this as being true for me as well.

“Paul is so disclosing of his own failings because he is a broken man trying to help other men find what he found in Jesus.”

As the author of most of the New Testament, Paul was without a doubt, a world changer, who invested in people.  That investment had a ripple effect that is still continuing thousands of years after his death. I pray to have a legacy like that!  One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes that describes what makes “me tick” is…

Day 36 - Zig Ziglar - Where does True Joy Come From

In an effort for full disclosure, that is my heart’s desire to inspire, encourage and guide someone along the path to grow closer to Jesus!

 

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Together” ★

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If you want to read previous Act Like Men posts click here.

 

 

★ Act Like Men – “Two Or More Are More” ★

Daily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in Love

This chapter starts off with one of my favorite verses from Ecclesiastes 4:12 which emphasizes the importance of teamwork.  James MacDonald starts off with this great realization.

“If you see a man making a mess of his life, acting irrationally and spiraling out of control, you can be sure that man has become isolated…The crisis of a man’s life that gets everyone’s attention only reveal a deterioration that has been happening for a long time. One of the earliest warning signs is isolation.”

Isolation brings problems. Absolutely nothing good comes from being alone because that is the way Satan operates. I heard a sermon one time that James MacDonald put it this way,

“Satan…Disguise, Divide and Destroy.  He comes to us as an angel of light.  He gets us isolated by ourselves, and then he takes us down.”

Satan’s activities are not obvious; he comes in unassuming forms and in unexpected ways.  And so when we isolate ourselves we open ourselves to attack. That is why we need to:

“Be selfcontrolled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV1984)

I love how MacDonald pointed out the different stories of Bible men “who rejected the need for community with other men and went off the deep end in isolation,” – Saul (1 Samuel 24:3), Jonah (Jonah 4:3), Samson (Judges 14-16), Elijah (1 Kings 18-19), and Job (Job 16:2).

The best though was when he contrasted that with men who had good friends and the success that they enjoyed “never having big downturns, never wavered, wallowed, or walked away from the Lord.” – Daniel had three friends

Shadrach, Meshach, Abendnego (Daniel 3:17-18), Joshua had Caleb (Numbers 14:6-9), Abraham had Lot (Genesis 13:1; 14:16), Moses had Aaron (Exodus 5:1) and Jethro (Exodus 18:7, 24), and David had Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1; 20:17).

Day 35 - Ecclesiastes 4-12“Strong men serving together thrive in the strength their friendship provides. Isolated men struggle with circumstances and themselves because they have no one to arrest their attention when they get off course, and no one to call them out when they are out of line.”

It is clear that we need to have other men in our life and rely on each other!  I am so thankful that as a result of the Act Like Men conference and this book, I have learned the value of having a band of brothers I can rely on!  I will leave you with this powerful image of Ecclesiastes 4:12 as a reminder that Two Or More Are More!  There is nothing more important to a man’s walk than having biblical community with other men!

 

Here is the next installment. . . ★ Act Like Men – “The Man From Tarsus” ★

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★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★

In part 1 called ★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★ we discussed the importance of maintaining our integrity and persevering in our walk with God regardless of the physical temptations that we face daily. Today we are goign to delve into what it means to Stay the Course with our Finances.  If you look at the top of the webpage there is link called $ Building Your Money Muscle $ which is all about handling our finances God’s way.

79 - Daily Dependence - Building Your Money Muscle

This is a passion of mine that has been fueled by two sources: Robert Morris, senior pastor of Gateway Church and from Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University (FPU) Class. Between them I have grown in leaps and bounds in my understanding of what the bible has to say about money, possessions and the hold it can have on our hearts.  Robert Morris wrote an incredible book called “The Blessed Life” which really opened my eyes to a whole new viewpoint on finances!  It is a really easy read (and for me that is saying a lot…) that unlocked the secrets of living a blessed life both financially and spiritually.  Dave Ramsey’s FPU class is a practical, step-by-step class which teaches you and your family how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and build wealth in a God honoring way.  This class revolutionized our lives and we still apply what we learned 7 years later!  If you are interested in taking the class, click the FPU Class Finder to locate one near you.

Okay, enough background on me, onto our Thought for the Day…In Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) Jesus started off His teaching about Money and Possessions with this polarizing statement:

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

“Store your treasure in heaven!”  This is a critical point to catch because if your singular focus is on gaining and maintaining wealth instead of what God is interested then your heart will always be divided.

I love what Robert Morris said in “The Blessed Life” book:

“When you get to heaven, will you look back on this earth and regret how much treasure you laid up here instead of sending it on ahead to heaven?” 

79 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 6-24Jesus continued in Matthew 6:24 that…

“No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”

Handling your finances God’s way is more about getting your priorities straight then being able to balance a checkbook.  It is deciding in your heart that “no matter what God, I will serve you first and foremost!”

So how do we get to that place?  We need to go to the instruction manual…The Bible…and reading about what God’s Word has to say.  It is also about making changes in how you spend your money and not continuing to make poor financial decisions.  We need to learn from the past and make new choices that will benefit the future.  Dave Ramsey once said:

“My goal is for you to learn from my past stupidity not your future stupidity!”

79 - Daily Dependence - Dave Ramsey - Let My Hindsight Be Your ForesightOr another way of saying it is to…let my hindsight be your foresight.  Learn from others, whether from a mentor or pastor, a class like FPU or family and/or friends who have a biblical worldview on handling their finances.  Let other’s hindsight on their mistakes lead/guide you in a new direction, one which looks UP rather than INWARD.  Rick Warren made this great parallel:

“God’s BLESSING on you is always in proportion to your DEPENDENCE on Him.  Great anointing is the fruit of great trusting.” 

How much do you trust God to provide for your needs?  Now notice I did not say “wants,” I said “needs.”  That is a hard one for sure, one which I have to keep reminding myself on.  The Bible is full of truths about God’s faithfulness in this area…see Malachi 3:10-12 for just instance.  I could go on for hours on how I have seen this play out in my life!  Times when I tried to do it on my own strength and failed miserably…But then when I stopped, prayed and depended on Him, how God then opened the doors to opportunity and freedom!

The key is to stay the course.  “Stay the course” is a phrase used in the context of a war or battle meaning to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism.  You may remember it used by Presidents George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.  Don’t let the enemy or anyone knock you off this path to handling you finances God’s way.  The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:9 that he was going to stay in Ephesus to do God’s will “because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”  Opposition will always come when we try to do the Lord’s work or to do things that honors God because it eliminates the enemy’s hold on you.  But I encourage you to press on through and stay the course because if you trust in God, He is faithful to work in and through whatever situation your poor decisions/choices have led you into!  But with that said you will need to make sacrifices.  One of the fundamental quotes from Dave Ramsey is:

“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge.  Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it.”  
“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge.  Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it.”

This is not rocket science, which is good because I’m not that smart.  It is simply saying no to the “wants,” and start going in a new direction…A direction with a new heart and new way of thinking.  There are so many promises from God that He will take care of our needs.  But we have to do our part as well.  It really boils down to behavior modification and not giving up!  I love this quote from Thomas Edison, he said:

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” 

Could you imagine what the world would be like if Thomas Edison gave up!  Be strong and persevere.  The journey to getting out of debt and attaining Financial Peace will have setbacks and difficulties but I promise with God on your side and with a resolute “will” that you are not going to give up, you will reach the prize that we all want…true Financial Peace with God’s blessings!

On “A Minute with Maxwell,” the Word that John Maxwell spoke about was “Will.”  He said that:

“Will comes out of a passionate desire to accomplish something.  We often hear the expression ‘where there is a will there is a way’…that’s true.   Basically the WILL makes the WAY.”

Get that in your spirit, “The WILL makes the WAY.”  That could not be any more evident than in the life of Jim Ryun who ran the mile in 3:51.1 (that’s minutes not hours!)  Now that is an indomitable spirit, Jim Ryun once said:

“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.” 

So are you going to form new habits and change your legacy and family tree, or are you going to keep running your finances into the red?  I will close this from Zig Ziglar.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last.  Neither does bathing, that's why we do it daily." 
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Neither does bathing, that’s why we do it daily.”

Everyday you need to immerse yourself in God’s Word to get a fresh outlook on life, a clean slate and renewed mind for your walk with Him and the direction for your finances!

★★★ Stay the Course! ★★★ 

If you would like to delve into more, you can check out a previous post called ★ Thought for the Day – Keeping Up With The Joneses? ★

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★

79 - Daily Dependence - Independnece DayYesterday we celebrated America’s Independence Day, the remembrance of July 4, 1776, the day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation; which marked freedom from tyranny!  Today’s Thought for the Day may seem familiar to you.  You may recognize this expression from former Presidents who used it to encourage the country to persevere with the mission the U.S. was involved in.  But in thinking of 1776, my remembrance goes back to 2000 and the film “The Patriot” which was set in that time period.  Mel Gibson portrayed Benjamin Martin, an unassuming man who is forced to join the American Revolution when the British threaten to take his farm away from him (full disclosure, I stole that description from IMDb.)  At one point in the movie, we are introduced to this phrase as Benjamin Martin is remembering his late wife’s encouragement to persevere.  It was a powerful scene but it is the phrase “Stay the Course” that I want to focus on today.

I have been reading about the life of King Solomon in my quiet time recently.  He was such a fascinating character in history.  Incredible things were accomplished during his reign over the nation of Israel – the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, unity in the nation, peace and prosperity like never before.  Solomon started off so strong in following and serving God…(you can read about in this post ★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★ that I recently shared,)…But unfortunately just a few chapters later, the Bible recalls how he was led astray.  Let’s test your Bible knowledge…do you know what caused that?  It was not a crafty business associate or peer pressure or anything external.  It was the lust of his flesh. 1 Kings 11:1-3 (NLT) says…

“Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites.

The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.”

Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the LORD.”

My friend made this astute statement,

"1 Wife = A Good Thing!     2+ Wives = Problems!"  Eddie Rubio
“1 Wife = A Good Thing!  2+ Wives = Problems!”  Eddie Rubio

And boy is that what happened to Solomon.  1 Kings 11:4, 9-13 (NLT) goes on to say…

“In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the LORD his God, as his father, David, had been.

The LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.

He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the LORD’s command. So now the LORD said to him,

“Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants.  But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive.  I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”

The wisest man who had ever lived was destroyed by HIMSELF!  All that Solomon built during his reign was destroyed in the very next generation as the nation of Israel “reaped what he sowed!”  Scary!!  May that not be so of me!!  Such a sad reality but how many of us willfully choose what we know will harm us!  In his book “Act Like Men,” James MacDonald said,

“Choose to sin, choose to suffer,” 

Such a simple concept to understand but yet why do we fail so often?  MacDonald also talked about Solomon’s father David in the Act Like Men book and made this great connection to what too much prosperity without adherence to God’s Word can do.  It was called the “5 Steps that get a man where he never planned to go.”  79 - Daily Dependence - James MacDonald - 5 Steps that get a man where he never planned to goIf you want to read more, I posted about it called ★ Act Like Men – “Before the Fall” ★.  Now I am not saying that if you are rich and living a comfortable lifestyle that your life will go tragically bad, not at all!  BOTH David and his son departed from the path to satisfy what their flesh wanted instead of following God and the consequences were catastrophic.  For David it resulted in adultery, an unplanned pregnancy and murder.  For Solomon it resulted in the dissipation of his integrity and devotion to God, the end of peace in Israel and ultimately the fracturing of the nation after his death under the rule of his son Rehoboam who succeeded Solomon.  If want to study this some more check out 1 Kings 11:‭14, 23, 26, 33‬‬ (NLT) which shows how one man’s sin affected an entire nation as God raised up adversaries to oppose Solomon for his disobedience.

1 Kings 11:‭39‬‬ (NLT) says,

“Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David—though not forever.’” 

Solomon is a great cautionary tale for all of us!  I encourage you to “Stay the Course,” and follow the advice from 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV)…

78 - Daily Dependence - 1 Timothy 6-12 - Stay the Course
“Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

“Fight the Good Fight.  Take hold.”  Those are strong action phrases.  Staying the Course is not something that just happens.  It is hard work sometimes and the decision will cost us temporary gain or pleasure for the BETTER prize of eternal life.  There is no more important decision to make then to trust Jesus and continue to develop your walk with God.  Every 4th of July, we celebrate our freedom, our Independence, but  what I would like to leave you with is that true freedom comes from God through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus provides true freedom over sin and darkness!  Meditate on this truth from Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) about the “Life in the Spirit” that we can enjoy when Jesus is our savior:

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

In every aspect of our life we need to stay focused on obeying God’s Word and not allow any distraction, any influence or any momentary pleasure to steal away the life we can have in Jesus!  Just a side note…we focused a lot on men here but the same can be true for women as well.  Also realize to that it is not just the physical temptations that can lead us astray, but also power and the love of money can too but that’s a whole other Thought for the Day!  Stay tuned!

As promised, here is. . .★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Love Has A Lot To Do With It” ★

Day 34 - Love Has A Lot To Do With It

Daily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in LoveI don’t know why but the 1984 song “What’s Love Got to Do with It” came to mind when I read the name of this study.  I know I am dating myself but I remember chanting the lyrics along with Tina Turner at the top of my longs back in the day!  Well according to James MacDonald, and more importantly, God…“Love Has A Lot To Do With It!”

“Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14) doesn’t leave it with tons of wiggle room does it?  No matter the place or time or circumstance of my action or inaction, the decisive factor in its worthiness before God, the final filter in deciding if it’s ‘a go,’ is the love test.  No matter what, when, who, how, if it’s not loving, it’s a total fail.”

That is a bold statement for sure! I don’t think that for the better part of my early years, there was really any love in my heart. I was very concerned with my needs and my preferences being met and that was it!  Cold and harsh as it may sound, but if I am being honest with you, unfortunately true.  It was not until meeting my wife, that God used her to be the catalyst to change my heart and open my life to something completely different.  In the book he said,

“We have all heard it said, the main thing is that you keep the main thing the main thing, but the main thing and following Jesus is such a big thing by comparison to the small things, it’s the only thing.”

That is a tongue twister for sure.  The main thing is following Jesus. The main thing is loving people like Jesus loved us.  The main thing is seeing people through God’s eyes and then treating them in the same way He would…As James MacDonald said,

“Love is the goal, beginning and end of the law, the first and last priority – the proof of true conversion, the evidence to the World that we follow Christ.”

John 15:13 says

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

MacDonald follows that point with,

“That is what Jesus Christ did for us and commands that we do for one another. Interesting that a failure to do this increasingly is also evidence of the opposite: [as 1 John 4:20 says,] If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.”

My parents divorced when I was five years old, so I grew up most of my life without a father. This section really hit me hard in realizing what has been missing in my life with not having a father and then conversely not having strong friendships with other men, until recently.  i will close with this last quote…

“God has established love and modeled love and created us to need it.  Not sex, love.  Men need unselfish, brothers first, you-before-me-love.  So many men are broken because they don’t have it in their father, didn’t find it in their work, don’t appreciate or cultivate it in their home, and struggle to even admit it’s missing.  Men need the strength and security of relationships with other Christians.”

We need to have Community with other men “to support and encourage one another and what it means to act like a man.”

Here is the next installment. . . ★ Act Like Men – “Two Or More Are More” ★

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