★ Thought for the Day – What Does It Mean To Be A Man? ★ 

There has been, and continues to be, much debate on what the answer is to this question.  Depending on what your childhood was like, the statement “Be A Man” can bring up a variety of emotions and memories.  In this broken world, there are many hurting men who have not worn this phrase as a badge of honor, but rather have been crushed and bruised by it.  But if we look to scripture, we see a very different design of what God’s intention is…1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV),

08 - Act Like Men - 1 Cor 16 - 13-14
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.”

These two verses are packed with very clear directives that offers great advice and insight to answer our Thought for the Day.  James MacDonald explained it this way on what “Act Like Men” means:

08 - Act Like Men - James MacDonaldDon’t Act Like a Woman
(Lead, Don’t Follow)

Don’t Act Like an Animal
(Don’t be domineering, only caring about what you want)

Don’t Act Like a Child
(See 1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)

Don’t Act Like a Superhero
(Be Real!)

 

What Does It Mean To Be A Man?

  • It means being a leader, not a followerput away passivity!
  • It means putting the needs of others before yourssacrificially serving!
  • It means growing upputting aside childish ways!
  • It means laying aside the capeand being transparent about your weaknesses and failures so that others will not be destroyed trying to be something that you’re not!

Today, I pray that your understanding of what it means to “Be A Man,” will align with God’s grand design…if you do, your legacy will be forever changed!

Here is the first in a series of posts from the “Act Like Men” Book by
James MacDonald called. . .★ Act Like Men – “Acting Like Men” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Acting Like Men” ★

Day 1 - Acting Like Men

ATTENTION WOMEN:  Please read this ONE part…
 
If you have a male friend, brother, husband, father, cousin or any other male acquaintance, please, please, please forward this blog to them each day!  I think you will enjoy reading it as well…
You will be amazed at the change you will see!

Daily Dependence - Section 1 - Act Like MenAs I am reading through the book, I have found James MacDonald’s “straight shooter” say it like it is approach incredible!!  I love how Day 1 starts,

“Men and women are designed by their Creator to complement and complete, not compete with one another.  Each is to become more because of the other than they could ever become alone.”
 
“[Women] need their man to be a source of strength, stability, and leadership…Listen to her, learn from her, but don’t fail to lead her. Not many things are sadder than a passive man acting like a woman while his wife is allowed to dominate and usurp the role God has called him to fulfill.”

“Failing to lead is failing to act like a man.”

Ouch!!  That is strong but it is all too familiar to see families broken by divorce or by men who are passive and not stepping up to fulfill their God-given role!  1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭11‬ (ESV) reminds us of what God is looking for,

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
 

MacDonald continues the point,

“Acting like a man means developing a non-anxious presence that sees the big picture, remains calm in a crisis, and won’t cave in under pressure.  Godly men respond; they don’t react.”

“Every man needs a place to be open and vulnerable with brothers leaning together upon the Lord…open your life up and see the seek the strength of numbers focused on a common goal.”

My favorite part is this…

“Acting like a man does not mean “acting.”  The term actually means “conduct yourself.”  It’s the idea of intentionally choosing your behavior to reflect the best of what God calls us as men to be.”

As you read these blogs, keep that in mind, that we are not called to “Act” or pretend to be, but to “Conduct” ourselves as a Man of God ought to!  Now that is powerful!!

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

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★ Act Like Men – “Quality Man” ★

Day 2 - A Quality Man

Daily Dependence - Section 1 - Act Like MenA Quality Man, something that every man wants to be. This day’s reading surprised me and I was surprised by the realization that both fear and anger have been present in me but as James MacDonald said Fearful men and angry men are not quality men.  We need to defeat the Twin Dangers…

“Acting like a man means getting victory over fear and anger. Fear is a self protection we used to insulate ourselves from her by pulling back. Anger is self protection we used to insulate ourselves from her by striking out. In both instances the answers to face and forget of the hurt that expresses itself in fear and anger or both.” 

It takes a real man to overcome the fear and anger that so easily trips us up!!  You want to be a quality man?  Then we need to follow this advice from MacDonald and more importantly the Word of God!

“We must face the fact that a quality man overcome his fear. Such a man refuses to be mastered by his anxiety and embraces the assurance that ‘God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.’ (2 Timothy 1:7). A quality man examines his heart, exposing the fears that generate the lies that lead to sin.” 

“To be successful in relationships, we must fully embrace the biblical observation that in all instances ‘the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.’ (James 1:20)”. 

‭Proverbs ‭14‬:‭29‬ (ESV) says:

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he had this Life Lesson from this verse that he referenced James 1:20 as well…

“It may feel good for a short while to vent out fury at someone but “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20) Responding to bitterness with more bitterness leads only to a combative and even more explosive situation.”

If you are reading this, then it is clear the desire to be a quality man is there, now you just need to work on overcoming fear and anger!

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Not A Quality Man” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Not A Quality Man” ★

Day 3 - Not A Quality ManDaily Dependence - Section 1 - Act Like MenHere is a great way to start off your day!

“Worthless men! They do exist both then and now and their defining characteristic starts with an inability to say no to themselves, but in the end becomes a stubborn refusal to say yes to God.”

As a man, I appreciate the way James MacDonald just says it how it is and has no problem calling men out on the mat.  But on the flip side, he gives clear insight on what is  the target to strive for…

“Quality men are under authority. Quality men listen and yield to the collective counsel of the wise and godly men around them. Whether your father was good or bad, loving or lecherous does not, in the end, give you license to do as you please.  Our Daddy is God the Father and He expects that we will live in submission to His Word and His will for our lives.”

Is this the first time hearing something like this?  This is not the conventional thought process.  Most men operate with the M.O. of overpowering the competition and never yielding to anyone.  There is plenty of conventional thought that will make excuses for bad behavior but I love how MacDonald calls “foul” on those excuses and reminds us what God expects from us.  I love this final thought on how we overcome.

“In God’s strength and for His glory, a quality man denies himself for a higher purpose and says yes to the Lord. Every time you make a hard choice, take the higher road, or do the right thing, especially when your flesh and fans are calling out for you to do the opposite, right then, as you choose what honors God and not yourself, you are acting like a man, a quality man.”
 

The key is saying no to self and submit ourselves to God’s authority!

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “And The Gold Goes To” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “And The Gold Goes To” ★

Day 4 - And The Gold Goes To

Daily Dependence - Section 1 - Act Like MenJeremiah ‭17‬:‭9‬ (ESV) says,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

James MacDonald starts off commenting on this verse with this…

“Do you realize what this means? It means we are so bent toward lying to ourselves that we can’t solve our deepest problem or even recognize its magnitude.”

I once heard a pastor make this great point that supports this statement…He said that you don’t have to teach a child to lie or misbehave, they just instinctively do.  Instead we have to continually redirect, and teach our children to tell the truth.  Here is a great quote that every man need to realize…

“All change begins with a change of mind the Bible calls repentance…Christ calls us to a continuous and even constant state of repentance.”
 

During the Act Like Men Conference James MacDonald made this awesome statement…

James MacDonald - Repentance “Repentance is not a place where we visit. Repentance is where we are supposed to live.”
 

This hit me like a ton of bricks because most people think of repentance as a once in a while or turning point in one’s lifetime rather than what Jesus is really looking for is constant state of submission.  Here is the best part of this lesson…

“The purpose of continuous repentance in the life of a quality man is not a return to the crisis of salvation but part of what the Bible calls sanctification.  Repentance is the choice to embrace the Holy Spirit’s daily work of convicting us about ongoing sin.”
 

Will you embrace the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “What Are You Looking At” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “What Are You Looking At” ★

Day 5 - What Are You Looking At

Daily Dependence - Section 1 - Act Like MenIn the reading for today, James MacDonald covered the segment of “Satan’s Lie” with what he screams in our minds of how we don’t “Act Like Men.”  It was so powerful in pointing out the need to be aware of the Devil’s work in our life.

“Man’s greatest enemy is most present when we are certain he is not. He comes as an angel of light. Satan is working his deception through disguise.”

Romans‬ ‭14‬:‭12‬ (NLT) gives us this sobering reminder…

“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God.”  
 

And in the reading MacDonald gives a strong admonition to follow that.

“God does not grade on the curve. The fact that you are a better man than some of the worthless guys you rub shoulders with will mean nothing on the day you stand before your Creator to be judged by his Holy Spirit.”

We need to be careful about comparing ourselves to others because…

“…you can begin to think you are a quality man when in reality you are not – not by God’s standard, not to the degree that you could be, that He longs for you to be.”

The best advice…

“We must silence the lies of our enemy and discipline our minds to remember that God is not comparing us to other men. God has declared…”
 

“You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:16 (NLT)

The Apostle Paul gave some advice about “silencing the lies” from 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (ESV)

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

Taking captive the thoughts the enemy screams is key to being the “Man of God” He calls us to be!  The lies can come in many different forms but I never thought of the lie of making you feel superior to others…

“As long as the enemy of your soul can have you feeling superior to the next guy, he has successfully insulated your heart from evaluating your own actions and priorities according to God what it means back like a quality man.”

What are your thoughts??  Pleased comment as I would love to have a dialogue with you.

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Truly – As Good As It Gets” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Truly – As Good As It Gets” ★

Day 6 - Truly – As Good As It Gets

Daily Dependence - Section 1 - Act Like MenGreat lesson from James MacDonald, straightforward and right on the mark!

“Only God is perfect!  None of us comes within the country, not a country mile, but a whole country, and proximity to perfection.”

Amen!!  For me I would say a whole universe! It is hard to imagine how a perfect God could love such an imperfect man as me, and yet He does!  This passage really got me…

“Shouldn’t our first promise to God and those we love be our determination to fulfill the role established by God for each and every man?  To do that job to the best of our ability is the essence of what it means to be a quality man.”

That is what I want to be true of me!  How about you?

My favorite part was this reminder…

“The quality if a man is not measured by notoriety or success.”

 

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

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★ Act Like Men – “Disneyland Quality” ★

Day 7 - Disneyland Quality

Daily Dependence - Section 1 - Act Like MenGreat tile with a great message!  One that every man should read!!

“Do you notice and applaud the capacity to do the right thing, in the right amount, at the right moment, and for the right reasons? That is the quality Jesus Christ personifies for us and we do well to act like men and emulate Him.”

Boy sometimes it is tough one to get 1 or 2 of these right but to get all 4 in synchronicity that is a real challenge!  The motives behind my actions I think are the most challenging. I love how James MacDonald said that,

“Life is a series of choices. As men, we are faced with a barrage of choices every single day….The little things not addressed, dealt with, handled, or held up become big things that can bring devastation…A discipline not maintained can bring a weakness and yielding that could destroy multiple generations in my family.”

Being passive and letting things fester or not “staying the course” in my walk with God can have long lasting consequences…very humbling!

“Acting like a man, a quality man, has to involve conscious quality control. There is no quality without balance. Jesus exemplifies the importance of quality control of our quality choices by the way He often stepped aside from healing and teaching to attend to His inner life.”
 

Mark 1:35 (NASB) says,

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”

Jesus shows us that setting time at the beginning of the day is paramount.  Rising early to spend time with God is probably the most critical aspect to becoming a Man of God.  I love how James MacDonald finished this lesson with this admonition:

“Don’t be ‘that guy’ who doesn’t pursue quality throughout his life.”

I was reading ‭Titus‬ ‭1‬:‭6-9‬ (NLT) and thought it was exactly what “Acting Like Mn” is all about!!  The passage is talking about the requirements to be an elder but I think it really applies to anyone who wants to be a “man of God” or a man after God’s own heart. See if you agree.
 
“An elder must live a blameless life. 
 
He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. 
 
An elder is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. 
 
He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. 
 
He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 
 

He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.”

What are your thoughts?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Let Your Partner Take The Lead” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Let Your Partner Take The Lead” ★

Day 8 - Let Your Partner Take The Lead

Daily Dependence - Section 1 - Act Like MenWe need to rely on a God’s grace “to stay motivated when we fall short.”

“God’s greatest gift to us since the cross of Christ has been the Holy Spirit.  As a follower of Jesus through faith in Him, the Holy Spirit is your only hope of ever consistently acting like a man.  He is the courage to make right choices, the guy toward truth and away from air, the source of our comfort, and the provider of our strength. His primary tool is the word of God.”

James MacDonald posed this question, in what ways can you say,

“I’m a different person because of the impact God’s word has made in my life?”

This book is reminding me day after day, that if we persevere, if we will conduct ourselves like men, if we continue to read God’s Word, we will be changed!

 

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Keep Your Head Up” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Keep Your Head Up” ★

Day 9 - Keep Your Head Up

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be WatchfulAs I am moving through this book, I am constantly amazed at how God is working through James MacDonald to speak into my spirit!

“Acting like a man means always being on alert, ever aware, at the ready constantly, paying close attention continuously.”

I think that one of the greatest strategies the enemy has, is busyness and this lesson was a sobering one..it really got to me.  MacDonald made a scary statement…

“Most Christian men are asleep; nevertheless it is true. Most men are not alert, not paying attention, and not watching out for their families as God commands them to do.”

Do you think you are asleep?  As I think about a lot of nights where I tell my girls that I am too tired to tuck them in, or miss an opportunity to share a scripture or two with them, I feel like I am dropping the ball.

It was humbling too what he said in relation to our jobs…“it’s so very sad when we do the job for others and failed to do it for those who need us.”

“Your highest loyalty after the Lord is to your family. Your first priority after God is your wife and your kids. You, metaphorically, are standing at the door of your home and watching to make sure nothing enters that could be detrimental and to neutralize all threats.”

Whether you realize it or not, being the man of the house is not one of honor, but one of service which involves being a gatekeeper to protect your wife and child(ren) from the garbage that is out there!  How are you doing?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Snap Out Of It!” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Snap Out Of It!” ★

Day 10 - Snap Out Of It

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be WatchfulThe prayer that James McDonald prayed at the end really got me…

“Give me wisdom as I seek today to bring greater urgency to Your [God’s] agenda for my marriage and family’s future. Please continue this work in my life so that I am daily being prepared for what You already know I will face in the future with your help.”

That is a prayer that is so close to my heart and one I have been trying to move towards my own walk. I really loved how he made a point to say “to bring greater urgency” for your God’s agenda, not mine and the reminder that God “already knows” what I will face in the future. The battle cry he makes in the following two quotes is truly my desire:

“Wake up, stay alert, pay attention, and live with urgency. Life is short; eternity is forever, seize you have your opportunity to lead and guide your home toward God’s purposes, do it now!” 
 

1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT) warns us that we are to,

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”

Spiritual warfare is very real…we have an adversary that is always on the loose looking to ensnare us but we also have divine appointments, aka, opportunities to reach those around us.  James MacDonald finished up with this great reminder!

“Opportunities are seized by God’s men with urgency. We recognize the chance to speak a word, take a stand, make a difference, carry a burden, and we. Take hold of it with urgency because we have been watching for that exact opportunity.”

Amen!!  and I will close with Ecclesiastes 9:10a (ESV) says,

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with [all] your might.”

What is your take away from this, would love to hear your thoughts!

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Man – Do I Feel Stupid!” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Man – Do I Feel Stupid!” ★

Day 11 - Man - Do I Feel Stupid

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be Watchful“Man – Do I Feel Stupid!” is a phrase I have used more times than I care to admit!  I love the way James MacDonald begins this chapter,

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you, and you won’t know when you get there.”

I have noodled this statement quite a bit. Pretty good advice. The story of Esau and the selling of his birthright for a bowl of soup has always perplexed me but viewed through the lens of this idea of not knowing the road he was on or rather understanding the truth of God’s love and grace, it helps to see how he could throw it away.

“Every Christian with biblical watchfulness knows the importance of ‘work [ing] out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ (Philippians 2:12)  Good works save no one but they are the obvious and increasing evidence of a person genuinely saved.”

This section on “watchfulness” and the reminder that God will “strive with man forever” in our disobedience to repent is something that has really hit me hard so that this is not true of me.

“You must wake up and live for Christ with urgent thoughtfulness while you still can, while you still care.  If you don’t, you will reach the point of refusal Esau reached and find out in the end, through your tears, that you never really had saving faith and tolerated your unbelief past the point of no return.”

Thoughts?  I pray that is not true for you!  Don’t wait to live for Christ!

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “You’re Only Lying To Yourself” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “You’re Only Lying To Yourself” ★

Day 12 - You're Only Lying To Yourself

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be WatchfulThis study opens up with a powerhouse statement, that when you first read it you could be offended but when you really think on it, it is spot on!!!

“People who have been saved by grace through to love giving grace to others. If you don’t love more and better than you used to, you are just not saved. It’s time you stop lying to yourself.”

It is also supported by 1 John 4:20 (ESV) which says,

“If anyone says, ‘I love God’ and he hates his brother, he is a liar.” 

Wow this is a very strong statement and I love the way that James McDonald just says it as it is!  I think it’s an interesting challenge that we need to “love more” and “love better” than we used to!  This is something that I try really hard to do myself, I think I do okay but is always room for improvement!  I am a firm believer of trying to “leave people in a better than you found them.”

“The Bible commands, ‘Be not wise in your own eyes,’ (Proverbs 3:7) and ‘In humility count others more significant than yourselves.’ (Philippians 2:3)  God’s word has nothing good to say about the critic, but it does command the wise man who listens and learns from everyone, even loving his enemies. Let’s do better at ignoring the noise of those who only seek to destroy, and let’s continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus, seeking to serve Him with greater urgency every year, as long as He gives us breath.”  

So where do you stand with this?  Would love to hear your thoughts?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Headed For The Ditch On A Sunny Day” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Headed For The Ditch On A Sunny Day” ★

Day 13 - Headed For The Ditch On A Sunny Say

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be WatchfulThis day’s reading for me was really powerful because it exposes all the lies and ways that the enemy tries to trip us up in our walk with God.

“Our enemy Satan comes to us as an angel of light. You may be hearing from the devil when you least expect it. Since the garden of Eden, his approach has always been the same.”

It’s scary to think of an enemy that’s constantly coming after me, it was sobering how MacDonald put it…

“First, he disguises himself… Satan’s moves are so pathetically consistent it’s shameful we still get fooled.”

He is pathetic, but yet we keep failing in the same area over and over!  The next strategy, I think is why it’s so critical that we keep on communicating with each other is the dividing strategy.

“Next, he divides you from The people you need most in love most deeply.… For Satan’s purpose, making you a completely ineffective and isolated follower of Jesus is as much a success as keeping you lost in sin.”

How sad indeed will it would it be if we end up ineffectual of being corrupted by self-righteousness!  And the final strategy through strongholds or satanic deception is the worst.

“Once he has the lie disguised as light and has divided you from those who can turn the light on for you, he moves in for the kill with the final move: destroy.”

As you can tell I got a lot of this day. What about you?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Never Give Up” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Never Give Up” ★

Day 14 - Never Give Up

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be WatchfulThis lesson was really powerful about the struggle that we have all been faced with between God’s sovereignty and continuing to pray for what seems impossible, especially for a child that has wandered away from the faith, (as James MacDonald’s daughter had;) but I love the fact that she is now walking with the Lord and that God has changed her so much that she is the most authentic and compelling Christian woman MacDonald knows!  There is always hope, I always say if God could save me, He can save anyone!  There’s great wisdom in what he said,

“God is sovereign even over people who make His sovereignty into a reason not to pray in faith and believe…God is always infinitely larger than any of our descriptions of Him.”

I think the enemy really gets a hold of us, making us misunderstand God’s sovereignty so that we give up.

“Giving up is easier than going to war.”  The key is to follow “Christ’s instruction that men ‘ought always to pray and not lose heart,” (Luke 18:1 ESV)

Hard to do sometimes but I realized that if I really want to “conduct myself as a man,” and be the Godly Man I say I want to be, I must keep in the forefront this last statement…

“Our highest calling is to our wife and kids. If you are serious about acting like a man, you won’t stop until all whom the father has given you are resting safely in His saving embrace. Refuse to see God’s sovereignty as a barrier to your prayers; see it instead as the assurance that no matter how far those we love get from Grace, sovereignty can find and bring them home.”

Do you find yourself in a stronghold or mindset that prevents you from praying as you ought to?  Let’s have a discussion on this…

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Jesus Was Fired Up” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Jesus Was Fired Up” ★

Day 15 - Jesus Was Fired Up

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be WatchfulI love this lesson as it is everything I am about!  I was once told by a co-worker that he gets anxious every time I call him because it’s like I am on fire and that the project always feels like it in crisis mode.  What I have learned in leading a team, is that unless you are completely “engulfed in flames,” then others won’t even “warm up” to what needs to get accomplished.  In the reading James MacDonald asked these two poignant questions…

“Are you fired up about the things of God? Does an urgent passion burn in your heart to see God’s purposes advanced in your life and through you, to others?”

 

I am fired up to see lives transformed and renewed. To see people who are lost find the answer to the God shaped hole in their heart!  To see strongholds broken and people set on a new trajectory, a new legacy!  I want to be just like Jesus!  To exhibit every aspect of His attributes. I like how MacDonald put it:

“‭Jesus is strong and masculine in every righteous way that word can be used. And He didn’t need to act like a man, he created man (Colossians‬ ‭1‬:‭16‬) and became a man (John‬ ‭1‬:‭14) to reconcile things to Himself.” (Colossians‬ ‭1‬:‭20)

“Oh yeah, Jesus is fired up about everything that matters and he wants men to have the same urgency. Do you?”

 

 

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Watchful Home Improvement” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Watchful Home Improvement” ★

Day 16 - Watchful Home Improvement

Daily Dependence - Section 2 - Be WatchfulI don’t know what but when I read this title I thought of the 90’s sitcom “Home Improvement” with Tim Allen but the subject matter is quite different!

“The great need in our world today is quality men applying themselves to God’s purposes with urgency.”

First sentence of the lesson and I stopped and said “amen!”  Section 2 of “Being Watchful” has been really powerful to me and has opened my eyes to a lot of things that I thought I am doing pretty good at but certainly can do a lot better than I have been.

“Men act like men at home when they realize they will be held responsible for how well they represent God to their family.  Training your children is commanded But it must be age-appropriate. ‘By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond.’ (Proverbs 29:19)  

I know this to be true…Failing to discipline whether because of laziness or concern of hurting their feelings, will only hurt my daughters development in the end.  Israel Houghton has an incredible song called “Where Are The Fathers” that really brings home this point!

“Where are the fathers?  The responsible ones?  Where are the fathers?  Have they helped to raise their sons?  Look at the daughters, do you see their violation?”

MacDonald goes on to say,

“Pain is a powerful teacher. So much so that God has woven pain into the fabric of every sinful action. We always say, ‘choose to sin, choose to suffer.’  And because God loves us, He ensures that all human behavior works that way. It’s Dad’s job to drive home the lesson. Doing right leads to blessing as surely as doing wrong leads to pain.”

Sad reality but so true!  When you think of that “choose to sin, choose to suffer,” it’s such a simple concept to understand but yet why do we fail so often?  Here’s the capstone quote from James McDonald for me:

“As a father, you are patterning your discipline after you heavenly Father, whom your children need to realize you deeply respect and love. God trains His children on a foundation of fear and later, perfect love casts out fear…It’s important that your kids know that you’re not perfect. One of the best ways to show them is when you admit you’re wrong and ask them for forgiveness.”

This is an area that I have worked really hard at, because I saw so much hypocrisy growing up that I never wanted my daughters to feel that about me and I also did not want them to feel like they were failures because of a “perceived” or “presented” perfection that their father was unable to reach either.  Looking at my now 11-year-old and 14-year-old and admitting I am wrong is quite humbling but when it comes down to it, there is nothing more powerful in forming a child’s understanding of a loving Heavenly Father like saying ‘Daddy messed up, will you forgive me?

So I pose this question, how are you at asking for forgiveness to your child?

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

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★ Act Like Men – “Urgently Unclear” ★

Day 17 - Urgently Unclear

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithI love how James MacDonald started…
 

“I needed to channel my urgency into a manner of expression that advanced rather than hindered my goal. The problem is when our urgency is directed toward the wrong stuff or even directed toward the right people and issues but in the wrong amounts, in the wrong way, at the wrong time.”

This is something I really struggle with at times because of the “urgency” and passion I feel towards helping people see the path that leads to God and salvation. My “engulfed in flames” approach can really turn people off or scare them away.  I really have tried and still need to temper my zeal in the way that I approach people.

My favorite part was this…

“What a man believes about God is the most important thing about him. You can’t just make it up.” 

Wow! That is so powerful and though I’ve heard it before, it really needs to penetrate my heart more, and all of our hearts. There really is nothing more important than our belief structure with God.

“Someone has said that we pray for easier paths when we ought to pray for stronger shoes, and the stronger shoes of the Christian life are robust, biblical theology. Your success to act like a man will be a product of how well you really know God’s Word.”

A friend of mine had this insight on this part.

“Really powerful message. Especially when he talks about standing your ground and not asking for things to be easier when we should be asking for things  that will make us stronger.  Being equipped soldiers in a fight, instead of selfish children looking for a cosmic genie.” Tom Duarte

Are you viewing God as a “cosmic genie?”  No one likes pain but the Bible is clear that there is great value in trials. ‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-4‬ (NASB),

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

‭I love how the Message translates these verses.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-4‬ MSG)  

Imagine if we saw the trials as a gift and we  stepped up and faces the challenge??  MacDonald nailed it with this last statement:

“Standing firm when it comes to the faith, means holding the biblical ground without compromise. It is active, not passive – not leaning or sitting or retreating but standing.”

Amen??  What do you think of this?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “A Craving For Clarity” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “A Craving For Clarity” ★

Day 18 - A Craving For Clarity

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithAs a guy who gets fired up very easily about things, I think having clarity with that passion is important. I love how MacDonald starts off this day’s reading,

“Urgency alone is not enough. There has to be clarity guiding our urgency so we spend our passion on the few things that truly matter.”

“Squirrel moments” happen to me all the time and if I am not careful I can go down rabbit trails that will not lead anywhere

“As men we fashioned by the creator to spend ourselves for a worthy cause.  Standing Firm in the Faith…is a call to clarity about our urgency. We are not acting like men until our urgency is engaged with full biblical clarity.”

Is your urgency is engaged with full biblical clarity?  The great thing is with a little effort and a little less sleep in the morning, we can get to a point where we can know God’s Word and have “full biblical clarity.”  As James MacDonald said,

“God’s Word doesn’t change, message doesn’t shift. They can’t be compromised in any way. It’s where we stand firm.”

Probably the best part of today’s reading was the five gospel “gotta haves”…The five things that every one who is saved and trusts in Jesus Christ must believe in.

“God, sin, substitution, belief, and life. 

This was just awesome and I love how succinct and encompassing it was!

“God is a summary term for the Trinity as revealed in Scripture.” (See John 14:16-18, Ephesians 4:1-7)

“Sin is our universal condition of separation from God.”  (See Romans 3:23 and 6:23, Psalms 51:5)

“Substitution refers to what God did in Christ and His cross to rescue us from Sin,” (Colossians 2:13-14)

“Belief is placing our whole trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and eternal life.” (See Acts 16:31)

“Life is the present and future promise God gives to those who place their faith in His Son.” (See John 3:16 and 10:10)

I love how he wraps it up,

“Standing firm in the faith means that just as you wouldn’t take your family to a fast-food restaurant every night for dinner or let your children eat out of the neighbor’s trash bin, you should never expose your family to a ministry that isn’t foundational committed to the authority of God’s word without apology.”

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Clarity In Crisis” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Clarity In Crisis” ★

Day 19 - Clarity In Crisis

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the Faith‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭12‬:‭13-14‬ (NASB), this is what the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon had to say….

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

Pretty easy huh? “Fear God and obey his commandments!” Lesson over right? I love MacDonald’s starts off this lesson.
 

“While the culture is constantly focused on fluff and positivity, God’s word offers not just a competing worldview but a contrary one…The Scriptures bring stark reality, the depravity of the human heart apart from God. His Word declares the dangers of sin using the lives of men and women who needed a front-row seat to learn that all sun brings suffering.”

I have always loved how God doesn’t hide any dirty secrets or skeletons in the closet about the Men and Woman of God, He reveals it all for us to learn in the present.  This was really powerful…

“Yes, Christ sets us free from the penalty of sin through faith in Him, and yes, the power of sin is broken through salvation so we are no longer slaves to the flesh… But the presence of sin is not broken yet and God wants it to be neutralized through our moment-by-moment relationship with Him.”

Wow that is incredible, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it said better!  The penalty and the power of sin is broken but the presence of sin doesn’t go away without us walking with God daily.

“The harder you try to set up satisfaction for yourself apart from God, the less you’ll have it. Only a central focus on Jesus Christ and all He said and did can be the one thing that puts everything else in order. Even when it seems like it’s falling apart.”

I have seen that last part played out in my life, time and time again!  What about you?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Paul’s Clarity” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Paul’s Clarity” ★

Day 20 - Paul's Clarity

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithI love the start of this study!

“Keeping the faith is not a two-minute drill; it’s a long obedience and faithfulness over years.” 

In our got to have it now, microwave culture, the idea of anything lasting more than 30 seconds seems to be an antiquated ideal.  But keeping the faith is…

“Consistent trust in Christ.… Protecting it from distortion…[and] Passing it on to others.  Faith doesn’t grow or deepen when we cower in secrecy. Faith strengthens as we go public.”

That is a great summary of “how” to keep the faith. I love the final part especially, that our “Faith strengthens as we go public.”  Going Public about Faith in Jesus, is an area that many people, men and women alike have great difficulty doing. Whether it’s an inferiority complex, doubt about what to say, or just plain laziness, many people will not speak up about their beliefs. The Apostle Paul  however, is a great example that if we want to “Act Like Men,” and become more like Jesus, then we need to step out of our comfort zone!

“For Paul, standing firm in the faith meant keeping it personal, keeping it pure, and keeping it going. Through his suffering, God gave him an immense clarity about what keeping the faith is all about.”

How about you?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Clarity In Conflict” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Clarity In Conflict” ★

Day 21 - Clarity In Conflict

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithThe closing prayer of the study really got me…

“Forgive me for thinking I can avoid the truth about myself with excuses.  Teach me to be ruthless and rejecting self-righteousness and self-justifications.”

I really love James MacDonald’s writing style and this book has been teaching me is that even though I may think I have things well in hand, I am just lying to myself and need to check my motives at every turn.

“John 8:44 says Satan is a liar and the father of lies. He captures and conquers men’s lives through his convincing lies, often nullifying good intentions with wrongful actions that seemed manly in the moment but in the end lacked the balancing power of clarity.”

Ouch!  I wish that I could say that wasn’t true and me, but then again I’m a be lying.  This point was really powerful…

“The lie of Satan is, ‘As long as you’re doing the right things, your method doesn’t matter.’ This single issue is pulling down Christian been everywhere.”

It is really hard to understand how you could do the right things but in the wrong way or in the wrong amount or at the wrong time and completely blow it!  MacDonald had a right when you said that is the “devious nature of our enemy.”

Do you find that to be true in your life?

It was interesting to me in the reading as he spoke about King Saul’s and the many excuses that he had for disobeying God. As I read these, I thought how I have fallen into each one of these categories.

1.  Justify obedience – “I disobeyed but I had a good reason.”

2. Partial obedience – “I obeyed partially.”

3. Blaming others for my disobedience – “My fear of others made me disobey.”

4. Blaming others for causing me to disobey – “They made me do it.”

But ultimately, “There is no defense for disobedience…Many things make our sinful choices understandable wild nothing makes them excusable.”

The key is how do we react when our sin is exposed. Will we resort to one of Saul’s four excuses?

I love the hope at the end of the lesson where MacDonald says,

“God is waiting for your repentance, and when you get it, He runs to love and gladly forgives you.”

Reminds me of Jesus’ parable from Luke 15:11-32 of the prodigal son’s return, and how God is like the father in the story, just waiting for us to come to Him!  What an awesome Heavenly Father we have!!!

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Clarity – The Father Personifies It” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Clarity – The Father Personifies It” ★

Day 22 - Clarity – The Father Personifies It

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithToday’s study gave insight to character to God which was awesome!

“Holiness means a lot of things: different, set apart, not like us, pure. In holiness, nothing is blurry or undefined. Nothing is relative or in transition. Holiness means everything is perfect, settled, and going to stay that way.”

Could you imagine having that perfect clarity on your life?  That is definitely the direction I want to be at!  I agree with MacDonald’s statement…

“Now that is a view of God we have lost in the church. Preferring The comforting messages of certain attributes of God, our lives have become a trifling with his Holiness. We desperately need to regain this view of the highness and holiness of God. His Holiness is the ultimate clarity.”

I read this to my girls and got very animated with that last part. Like the rallying speech in Braveheart before they went into battle, I belted out “His Holiness is the ultimate clarity.” This needs to be our battle cry!!

“The clarity that our heavenly father expresses in perfection is the holiness that He wants to express through us. He desires each of us as men to be moving in the direction of his Holiness.”

That should be our mantra of moving in the direction of Holiness. Yet how often as men do we waiver, fail to lead, go limp between opinions, wander, or stumble?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “The Clarity of Christ” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “The Clarity of Christ” ★

Day 23 - The Clarity of Christ

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithIt is funny, I mentioned the other day about how animated I got reading a quote from the book like I was Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Then in today’s study James MacDonald starts out all about the movie and the clarity that William Wallace had in his mission to free Scotland from the English. Like MacDonald, I too think Braveheart is the greatest movie of all time and love this statement,

“When a quality man is acting with urgency and clarity, God is going to do some awesome things. Sadly though, we are often urgent about the wrong things and unclear about what matters.”

Have you been feeling the move of God in your life??  We prayed for a Word from God for 2015 and mine is “unstoppable determination for holiness.”  (If you are interested I posted a blog called ★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★ that you can read more about.)  Along with that I believe today’s message of having “The Clarity of Christ” goes hand in hand.

“Jesus Christ is the personification of quality manhood and the impact made when urgency is tempered by clarity…Jesus Christ was all about clarity… Christ was clear about timing, conflict, compassion, mission, family, commitment, and His own identity [as a child of God!]”

Can the same be said of you?  I know this is my prayer and focus for 2015!

“Christ knew who He was, why He came, what was worth His time, how long He had, and exactly what to do to advance His mission. I am absolutely and constantly overwhelmed by the clarity Christ exhibited to channel His urgency. Clarity with urgency leads to unparalleled productivity.”

Unparalleled productivity for the kingdom of God is what I want!  The last two sentences nailed it!

“Every day is precious; every day is a gift from God. Men are called to live with and bring clarity, applying ourselves to what matters and lasts. Let’s live today with that kind of clarity, while we still can.”

Amen?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “This Is Not A Test” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “This Is Not A Test” ★

Day 24 - This Is Not A Test

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithThe reading from today was so powerful!!  It was incredible how James MacDonald made the plea for our connection to the Holy Spirit should be personal.  I love how he compared the Holy Spirit to an early warning system about the “attack that never ceases to assault God’s designs” on my life.  I had posted something very similar called a while ago called ★ Thought for the Day – The Holy Spirit is Our Spider Sense ★ that expands on this idea.

I like how he goes in the two simple temptation strategies that the Devil comes against us with:

1.  “Satan tempts us to do things God the Holy Spirit does not want us to do.”

2.  “Satan resists our doing the things God’s Spirit is prompting us to do.”

“When Satan is tempting us, the Holy Spirit convicts us to say no.  When Satan resists us doing right things, the Holy Spirit pushes us to obey.  In fact, His warning come with power to obey if we are willing to follow His lead.”

How many times though do we not follow the Holy Spirit’s lead? MacDonald offered this reminder that…

“We cannot live the Christian life ourselves.  Paul says in Galatians 5:16 (ESV), ‘But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.’  What Paul means by ‘walk in the spirit’ is essentially to ‘live in dependence on God’s spirit.'”

Living in daily dependence on God’s Holy Spirit is the key to success but we cannot ignore the signals!

“The warnings issued by the Holy Spirit are not ‘tests’ of the system; they are broadcasts of imminent attacks.  Attentive reading if God’s Word will set you up for frequent Holy Spirit warnings as He uses Scripture to set off alarms of danger in your life.”

I have read Ephesians 4:30 about “not grieving the Holy Spirit,” but the quote from J. Oswald Sanders really opened my eyes to how much He loves me and made it so much more personal about!

“Grieve is a love word.  One can anger an enemy, but not grieve him.  The words are mutually exclusive.  Only one who loves can be grieved, and the deeper the love the greater the grief.”

The other thing that MacDonald said this that really hit me…

“We all experience times when the spirit is controlling us, and all of a sudden we get in a situation and speak out something that we shouldn’t say, in our flesh.  The Spirit is saddened and we are not being controlled by Him anymore. Grieving the Spirit forfeits His filling and leaves us on the vulnerable.”

Besides no wanting to hurt the Holy Spirit, being left vulnerable is a scary reality!  The last part really got me the most!

“When we hinder the Holy Spirit by resisting Him, desiring against Him, grieving, quenching, and rejecting Him, we are not filled with the Spirit. And we forfeit every spiritual perk, not just the warnings. Every good thing God wants to do in my life comes through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit.”

Wow!!

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “The Battle To Be Strong” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “The Battle To Be Strong” ★

Day 25 - The Battle to Be Strong

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be StrongThere was quite a delay for me from the time I read day 24 and then day 25 which is no surprise to me why I “somehow” was unable to get around to read it because of the power of this section.  The enemy definitely does not want this section to be read.

“Men love strength and are frequently called on to exhibit it. In fact, my guess is that when you read our theme verse in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 and assessed the five imperatives of biblical masculinity, you were most comfortable with the call to strength.”

“The problem is that Paul’s exhortation for men to ‘be strong’ has little if anything to do with physical strength…the word is requiring that our strength as men be continuous action, a state of being more than a momentary muscular action.”

That is a whole lot to take in and if you are like me, you probably are surprised by what being strong is really about. This next part was especially good.

“God calls us to have strength in our character and conduct, not simply a stiff upper lip in sorrow…The strength does not come from a place inside us but a source beyond ourselves, namely, the Lord.”

‭Psalm‬ ‭121‬:‭1-2‬ (ESV) says,

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

James MacDonald did extensive surveys at men’s events and found this out…

“Can you name the three biggest issues in a man’s life and our generation? 
 
Number three is frustration at work, feeling stuck, unfulfilled, and unsure how to see that change. 
 
Number two is a sense of being in over their heads at home. 
 

And… the number one issue facing men in our day… Sexuality.”

That is quite a list!  But this next part hit me hard!

“Unrepented, ongoing, unaltered patterns of sexual sin will take a man to hell.  Yet many are living that very life, deluded by weak preaching and deceived by biblical illiteracy into thinking Grace coddles the unrepentant. If your faith hasn’t changed you, be sure it has not saved you.

Wow that is strong!  I love the way MacDonald puts things “Grace [doesn’t] coddle the unrepentant!”
 

Matthew ‭7‬:‭22-23‬ (ESV)

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord’..,then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me.’”

The prayer at the end was really awesome and powerful!

“In my heart I deeply desire to be a slave to righteousness and not a slave to sin. I pray for greater levels of victory over the power of lust and longer seasons of joyful obedience to your word. Forgive me for the times I have allowed my desires to dehumanize and objectify people for selfish sinful purposes. Cleanse my heart and mind from images and memories that hinder my desire to obey your command to be “strong.” I welcome your strength today to conquer any lust lingering in my heart and ask that I could walk today in genuine victory and flee any temptation I encounter for your glory. In Jesus’ name amen.”

‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2‬:‭21-22‬ (NLT)

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. 

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”

This was a powerful study!!  What are your thoughts?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “The Strength of Authenticity” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “The Strength of Authenticity” ★

Day 26 - The Strength of Authenticity

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be StrongMark‬ ‭3‬:‭25-26‬ (ESV) says,

“And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.”

I have always love this teaching of Jesus about the importance of unity. I found it interesting how James MacDonald tied it together in the area of purity…

“He [Jesus] taught us that anything attacking itself not long endure. By reading into the fourth section of this book, you are demonstrating great desire to act like a man in everything those words mean. 

The danger is if you have not yet won a decisive victory and wielded your sword across the neck of unrestrained lust in your life, your house is headed for a fall. And with immense sadness, those who love you will lament, “Great was the fall of it.” (See Matthew 7:27)”

I pray that this is never happens in my life!!

“Nothing weakens a man like hypocrisy, wavering between two opinions. James 1:8 says, ‘a double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways.”…A double mind declares, ‘I want to honor God AND my selfishness.’  A divided heart is like an engine trying to run with water in the gas tank.”

There is nothing I hate more than hypocrisy. I am an all or nothing by kind of person so when I commit to something I give it my all. If I don’t I am cold as ice. There really is no in between so in that regard double mindedness is not something I struggle with. Do you find that to be true in your life? This next part was a great reminder.

“When we dwell on our desires, yielding is just a matter of time. Strength wears away in the divided heart until the Darkside takes over.”

As a Star Wars fan growing up, I remember talking all the time about the Darkside in regards to Darth Vader but it is quite another thing to think of it in relation to the true dark lord, Satan. As the song goes, “it’s a slow fade” or as MacDonald put it the “draining of strength that has been seeping away during a thousand little compromises over a long period of time.”

Is really incredible how revealing James  MacDonald has been in this book about his own journey to purity… These three statements really were quite profound to me.

  1. “Too often Jesus Christ was not my master but a bystander.”
  2. “When temptation came, I wasn’t strong because I wasn’t authentic. 
  3. “I didn’t know the power of grace, so I felt a ton of guilt and I didn’t rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, so I was weak in the face of temptation.”

Wow!!  May we all have this genuineness!

“The joy of following Jesus is the fellowship of living in His strength and knowing His presence as a moment-by-moment reality…Jesus doesn’t give us strength, He is the strength.”

I heard this quote from Richard Sibbes that I love,

“A man that is united in Christ cannot be conquered.”

What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear from you!

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “The Sampson Syndrome” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “The Sampson Syndrome” ★

Day 27 - The Samson SyndromeDaily Dependence - Section 4 - Be StrongSampson’s life was supposed to belong to God from birth.  Raised as a Nazarite to be faithful…no alcohol, no touching corpses and no cutting his hair.  On the surface he did these things, however….inside he was weak.  Like all of us he was drawn to his own pleasure.  And we all must be very careful not to fall into the same trap as Samson.  This was a very sad reality that James MacDonald said about Samson,

“When he fell into sin and betrayed his vow, his strength disappeared and he didn’t know it, declaring “‘I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” (Judges 16:20 ESV)  As a result, Samson could no longer serve the Lord or use his strength.  Is there anyone in the Old Testament who started out so strong and ended up so shamefully?  Samson, ,so incredibly powerful and at the same time so pathetically weak.” 

I have always thought how unusual a character Samson was. It really is hard to believe someone so phenomenally blessed by God could fall so far. Sure he had the “Hollywood action flick” ending killing more Philistines in his death than ever before (see Judges 16:23-31 for the account of his death,) but I would much rather the “romantic chic flick” ending that they lived “happily ever after.”  Lots to chew on….I certainly did not started off strong in my life, as it took 24 years to change my ways and turn away from sin and accept Jesus.  Since then, my walk with God has gotten much stronger, but without the power of the Holy Spirit I would fail miserably.  If not for the grace of God, I would have long ago ended up like Samson.  That verse from Judges 16:20 is so haunting, “But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”  May it never be so in my life!

I am continually amazed by the raw honesty of MacDonald as he has been revealing how he lived his life with a double standard.  The warning for you and me is to be very careful to not look and act like Sampson….appearing strong and connected to God while inside being selfish and rotting in our own perverse sin.  In the end, MacDonald said

“Samson’s life did not belong to God; it belonged to Samson.  He was a sensual person.  Though he grew up under God’s blessing, his attention was drawn to pleasure like a moth to a sizzling bulb.”

Satan is so good at hitting men in this area of our sexuality and corrupting us at an early age to not view woman and sex in the proper ways but as believers we need to put up safeguards and heed the warnings of scripture to “Flee from sexual immorality.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)  I am hyper vigilant about not watching TV or movies with sexual content and keeping boundaries up as I am on the Internet and not giving the enemy an inch to slip in the door.  And if you thinking “Oh I don’t have a problem in this area,” or “I won’t fall into sexual immorality,” remember the rebuke from 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV)

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

The best quote for me from the reading was…

“Any man who refuses or ignores the warnings of those God has placed over him is tearing the warning label off the bottle of poison and placing it in the fridge.”

Selfish desires and ignoring God’s warnings are a surefire way of failure and must not be true for us if, we are to be the men God wants us to be!

My friend Tom Duarte made this astute assessment of Samson…

“When you read Judges 16, it is amazing how Sampson was so blinded in his lust that he never saw the schemes of Delilah.  It is easy to say that he should have known that she was up to no good when every time he told her the secret of his strength, the Philistines all of a sudden showed up.  I think we all end up like that though if we are not careful.

Like a frog put into the pot of water…If it is hot, it will jump out sensing the danger.  However if it is put in cold water that is slowly warmed over time it will sit there and die.  It is time to be aware… To keep an eye out for danger and hear and obey the warnings.  Lord don’t let me be the frog in the pot of water slowly dying!”

Amen to that!  May we never be like the frog and die from a lack of awareness of our own condition!  I will close with this final warning from Casting Crowns song that say…

It’s a slow fade
When you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade
When black and white are turned to gray

And thoughts invade, choices are made
A price will be paid
When you give yourself away

People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh, be careful little eyes what you see

So what will your story be like?  Don’t let God’s wonderful gift of sex be corrupted by Satan!

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★ Act Like Men – “The Thorny Way” ★

Day 28 - The Thorny Way

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be StrongMy life verse is from 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10b

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

My whole life is centered around this foundational truth…My acknowledgment of my own weakness and God’s amazing grace working in me!

I like how James MacDonald described Paul,

“The Bible says that his stature was unimpressive, his appearance unattractive, and his speech contemptible…a man so focused on his deficiencies and weaknesses was the strongest servant of the church in all history.”

I love how God does not use the obvious person for the task, in fact Paul was the chief persecutor of the early Christian Church but yet incredible things were done through Paul’s ministry.  He is the true poster child for one of my favorite quotes…

“God doesn’t call the QUALIFIED, He qualifies the CALLED!”  

But the secret to Paul’s success the realization from 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10b.  I love how MacDonald talked about 2 Corinthians 12:7 when Paul said that “So to keep me from becoming too conceited…a thorn was given me in the flesh.”

“A thorn is an enduring source of personal pain allowed by God for our good. Thorns are real. They are lasting, tormenting, and beneath it all, Satanic. Satan’s goal is to harass and torment us through our thorns. His goal is to paralyze you with fear; to pummel you into painful hopelessness; to make you think all is lost and nothing will change. That’s your thorn. Whatever form it takes in attacking mind, will, or emotions, torment is Satan’s purpose.”

But like everything with God, even though Satan is trying to tear us down, God is ever faithful, see Romans 8:28. Love this…

“If you’re going to get through with your thorn, you’ve got to have Grace. Your thorn will crush you without God’s grace…He is the grace. He is the strength.  It’s intimacy with Him! His presence is power! No matter what we need, Jesus is the answer when he literally says, ‘Sufficient for you is the grace of me.'”

Wow that is beautiful!!  I think I love this chapter the most because I love everything about God’s grace. Truer words were not spoken then these…

“You never really get the grace unless you see the need for it. And even that realization is a grace. The grace of Jesus is not fully seen until weakness is fully experience.”

I agree with MacDonald when he says this “a total paradigm shift” because the thought that “Strength is found in an admission of weakness.” Is absolutely obscured in the worlds eye!  But he nailed it with this…

“God allows us to feel our weakness so that we will run to Him for His strength. Only His strength is true strength. When we humble ourselves and admit our need for His strength, we are living authentically.”

And we need to stand on the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB),

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”

So will you trust Jesus to be your Strength?

 
Day 28 - Daily Dependence Mission

 

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★ Act Like Men – “Before the Fall” ★

Day 29 - Before The Fall

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be StrongEvery one of James MacDonald’s lessons that deals with the subject of Satan’s lie as it relates to 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 is incredible.  Day 29 is no different, as he debunks Satan’s lie about “Being Strong.”

“Satan is a serious enemy, described in 1 Peter 5:8 as ‘a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.’  In the ancient world the lion was the most feared predator and the one most likely to catch its prey.  Men are being stalked by Satan’s schemes in the area of sexual sin and their carcasses litter the landscape.”

The sobering part of 1 Peter that has always gotten me is the, “someone” part.  Our enemy does not care who it is, so long as he can destroy you!  And MacDonald puts a fine point on it with this statement…

“Christian men are especially vulnerable as a real trophy for an enemy that wants most of all to discredit Jesus Christ and make a mockery of those who have taken His name.”  

Day 29 - James MacDonald - 5 Steps That Get a Man Where He Never Planned To GoIt was interesting the way he described King David, the man after God’s heart, who “loved God, modeled a worshipful life, reigned according to God’s principles, but couldn’t ‘keep it in his pants.’” How many men are plagued with the same thing?  The most powerful part of the reading for me was the “5 Steps that get a man where he never planned to go.”

First Step Down:  Prosperous times produce passive wills.

“Few of us can handle the temptation of inactivity.”

Second Step Down:  Passive wills produce overpowering emotions.

“With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery of the flesh.”

Third Step Down:  Overpowering emotions produce perverse thoughts.

“Feelings tend to become actions…What the mind desires, the will exercises and goes after.”

Fourth Step Down:  Perverse thoughts produce private sin.

“When we dwell on desire, yielding is just a matter of time.”

Fifth Step Down:  Private sin produces public consequences.

“What the rationalizing, deceitful heart says it can avoid, it cannot.”

What a powerful visual on the slow decline of a man as temptation is yielded to.

“You don’t realize all that you are giving up in the moment of temptation.”  Unknown

But Romans 13:14 (ESV) gives us a great antidote!

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

I think this last quote from James MacDonald is a great finishing statement that we ALL need to ponder at length .

 “Be assured that our enemy wants to devour you.  I challenge you to look at your life today and see where there is slippage.”

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★ Act Like Men – “Our Strong God” ★

Day 30 - Our Strong God

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be StrongPsalms 51:6 (HCSB) says,

“Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within.”  

I love how James MacDonald starts off the study…

“Strength flows from the fountain of God’s integrity. Honest people are the strongest people. Internally consistent men experience the flow of God’s strength.”

How true is this?  People who are fake and living a double life are always afraid of being found out so they can’t operate in power.

“The reason so many are battling anxiety, fighting down their fears, wrestling with doubts, and falling into compromise is that they are without God’s strength…Authenticity is the first thing to go.”

When we are without God’s strength it won’t take much for Satan to take us down and make us ineffective.

“Like David, we have a number of self-destructive options we use to avoid repenting and admitting sin….deny, avoid, blame shift, rationalize, and give excuses.”

Amen!!!  Boy MacDonald nailed it!!  Proverbs 26:11 (NLT) comes to mind with this…

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

I know I don’t want to continually repeat the same mistakes and end up just like a dog.  MacDonald made a great point about needing fences to maintain purity.

“A moral fence is a decision to forgo a particular behavior that though not wrong could lead to a wrong or a wrong appearance.” 

Fences or boundaries are key to keep yourself of out trouble by protecting any vulnerabilities. But his final point is key.

“Of course, no set of rules can keep a bad intentioned man with hypocrisy in his heart from immorality, these rules are not designed to stop men determined to do evil, they are to protect and guide men who do ‘desire integrity in the inner self.'”

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

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★ Act Like Men – “Back To Repentance” ★

Day 31 - Back to Repentance

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be Strong2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV)

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

James MacDonald re-sets the bar (even higher) concerning repentance.

“When we wait on the Lord, we invite Him to root out the dissonance in a divided heart and bring to us integrity of full surrender to His will.  In that we experience His Strength.”

“Wait on the Lord”…not something that any of us like to do.  It really is brutal but that is how God refines us and prepares us for the next phase. If you are like me, you hate waiting too but in doing so we will attain strength.

“The everlasting God does not grow weary or tired, and by waiting on Him we can renew our strength.” (Isaiah 40:28-29)

Samson’s “strength was in his authentic obedience to God; when one left, the other did too, Jesus personifies the strength that comes from with full obedience and an undivided authentic heart. Sadly Sampson personifies the opposite.”

God’s grace “cleanses us from all unrighteousness…if we confess our sins.” (1 John 5:9)

But there in lies the problem…We need to confess our sins in order for us to be cleansed. I like what McDonald says.

“Most guys trapped in an endless cycle of ‘sin confess, sin confess, sin confess’ begin to wonder if they will ever see progress and stop stumbling in the same old spots.  The answer is yes, you can see change, but the word you need is repentance. Confession follows repentance.”

He talked about this next point in the book at the conference as well which was hysterical and yet powerful.

“Repent was the one word sermon repeated by every Old Testament prophet. They would show up to deliver a message and say, “Good morning… Repent!… Let’s pray.”

That sure would make Sunday morning service quite different today huh?  He made these great points about the Five Marks of Genuine Repentance:

  1. Grief over sin: Repentance is at work when your awareness of sin causes pain, sorrow, and shame with no hints of excuse or blaming others.
  2. Repulsion over my sin: Repentance is at work when shame is joined by sickening and pulling back from sin as filthy, ugly, and contagious no matter how attractive it was in the past.
  3. Restitution toward others: Repentance is at work when sin has harmed others and it results in urgent action to make things right even at great cost.
  4. Revival toward God: Repentance is at work when God’s open arms are run to without hesitation…A healthy fear of God and of sinning further develops.
  5. Moving forward: Repentance is at work when you get locked in on what’s ahead and experience freedom from what’s behind.

You know whenever someone repeats something, it must be pretty important and repentance clearly is one of those areas that is really important for us to get right!  What are your thoughts?

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★ Act Like Men – “Letting Your Partner Lead” ★

Day 32 - Letting Your Partner Lead

Daily Dependence - Section 4 - Be Strong

This section to “Be Strong” has really been challenging to get through…Not because it is not as good as the other sections, or as a result of any unconfessed sin in this area, or the lack of application, but because of the incredible amount of spiritual warfare and opposition I have felt!  James MacDonald starts it off perfectly!

“As men we are forced into many situations in our roles as provider, protector, father, husband, and pastor to our families. Too often we skip training and just stumble along in our roles, wearing the right uniform but having no clue how to get over the hump and actually fulfill the role effectively…What we need as man is a source of strength outside ourselves.”

It is so easy to get derailed when I am not anchored in the true source of my strength…The Holy Spirit!  Here is a great point to remember from the reading!

“Don’t be overwhelmed over the pressure of countless life choices. The Holy Spirit lives inside you to lead you moment by moment into obedience to God’s Word.”

Romans 8:14 (NKJV) says,

“As many as are led by the Spirit of God those are sons of God.”

I love how MacDonald closed the study…

“His convicting presence in your life and mine is our very best opportunity to live quality lives and truly act like men God has called us to be. Let your partner take the lead.”

 

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★ Act Like Men – “Doing It All In Love?” ★

Day 33 - Doing It All In Love

Daily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in LoveRomans 12:9 says,

“Let love be without hypocrisy.”  

What a simple, but profound statement, which if not practiced, can totally invalidate any efforts to connect with and impact people positively. MacDonald was so honest in sharing how he had viciously bullied people in school.

I on the other hand was on the receiving end of being verbally and physically bullied through much of my middle school days and into high school. He made an interesting statement though.

“Where were the men in our lives who knew what it was act like a man?”

How I wish there were some in my life. Here is a sad by true statement in what he said…

“The fact is, many men still exhaust themselves in criticizing and attacking others.  Maybe we fear that other people’s success will somehow diminish ours…we have a deeply engrained bent and a pesky, persistent pattern of seeming to be wise in our own eyes. This makes love an impossibility.”

Amen??  No, I don’t think many men will be ready to admit that openly but it’s true nonetheless.

“We know we have a lot to act like a man with urgency that is governed by clarity and strength of the Lord. What remains is this manner of love.  Or as Paul put it, ‘Let all that you do be done in love.'” (1 Corinthians 16:14)

I so love MacDonald’s writing style, it is spot on with how I think…

“I know I always appreciate content that gets boiled down, so let me give you the bottom line.  Love is selfless!  Love is ‘you before me’ decision making.  Need it shorter?  Love = Ub4me!  There it is.”

“The words let-all-that-you-do-be-done-in-love speak for themselves. Selfless, sacrificial, you-before-me living.  Not hard to understand but incredibly difficult to apply in actual life situations.”

But the key to any change is first chosing to begin.  So will you choose today to “let love be without hypocrisy?”

 

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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.”

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★ 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!

 

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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!

 

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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?

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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” ★

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★ Act Like Men – “Under Orders To Love” ★

Day 39 - Under Orders To LoveDaily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in LoveJohn 13:34 (ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Seems like an easy nothing to do…love one another, but like most things in life, it’s easier said than done. I like how James MacDonald starts off.

“When we see the faults of others, we are to forgive and forbear in humility.  We are commanded, ‘Let each esteem others better than himself.'” (Philippians 2:3 NKJV).

It doesn’t mean become a doormat for people to walk all over, but to try to put other’s needs above your’s when possible.  I never really thought about this next point that he made.

“The greatest failure in human existence is the failure of Christ-followers to ‘love one another earnestly from a pure heart’ (1 Peter 1:22) and to heed the words of Christ: ‘By this all people won’t know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.'” (John 13:35) 

Do you agree with that perspective seems quite bold right?  But here is the final nail in the coffin of doubt…

“The Gospel’s greatest failure is not lack of proclamation by lack of application…It’s pointless to deny the true cause behind debates and divisions – a failure to love.” 

That is an interesting way to look at it because when you break down every conflict or offense, it really stems back to a lack of love either from the offender or the being offended or both.  And you can’t debate this point (pun intended.)

“Given the impossibility of not failing one another, when the Bible says, ‘We all stumble in many ways,’ (James 3:2) the only way forward in loving community with one another is forgiveness…There are no enduring relationships without forgiveness.”

Wow!!  We all want our friendships, and/or marriage to endure, well the linchpin to that happening is through forgiveness!!  If you want to learn more about this check out a previous post called ★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★  I like how honest MacDonald was in admitting that he failed to “let all you do be done in love,” and how he had to learn,

“If you are wrong in the way you are right, you’re wrong even if you are right.”

I agree with that on so many levels and I think it is a great point that all men need to learn and practice daily!  The ending of his prayer is what I pray often…

“Give me fresh eyes to see the people around me, those I need to forgive, those I need to forbear with, and those I need to leave in your hands and wait with open arms for the day of reconciliation.  Thank you for your patience with my sinful selfishness that harms Your kingdom and wounds Your people.  Grow me in the matchless love of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  In His name I pray, amen.”

 

Here is the final installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Strength To Love” ★

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

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★ Act Like Men – “Strength To Love” ★

Daily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in LoveReading this “40 Day Devotional to Biblical Manhood,” has been an odyssey to say the least. Lasting much longer than 40 days as obstacles (spiritual warfare), procrastination and just plain busyness got in the way of learning these 5 critical areas from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 on how to become “a quality man,” which I so desperately want to be for God, my wife and my daughters.  The journey of “Act Like Men” has brought me through a variety of emotions and deeper levels with God than ever before.  Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV) says,

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” 

That is what I pray to be about…walking with Jesus, being built up in Jesus and established in the faith for all my days!  My pastor preached last Sunday on “Spiritual Awakening,” and gave this prayer challengDay 40 - Marty Collier - HUNGER_BROKENNESS_BURDENe to go to God daily in prayer and ask for:

“A HUNGER for God’s Word.  A BROKENNESS over sin.  And a BURDEN for people.”  Marty Collier

Wow!!  Could you imagine what men would be like if we would pray that earnestly everyday?  The whole point of this book is for men to have a spiritual awakening to realize that the 5 pillars contained in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 are critical to be a “quality man of God.”

It is so sad the truth behind MacDonald’s statement,

“Men are checking out at prolific rates because any careful review of the ‘Christian Man’ job description has at the top impossible!”

But I love how he counters that sad statistic with this…

“The Christian life is not, nor was it ever intended to be you as a professional juggler of the latest list of biblical priorities…We have no ability to sanctify (change) ourselves than we have ability to save ourselves. Colossians 2:6 makes this clear: ‘As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.’ Are you doing that?…you have no ability to live the Christian life, no more capacity in yourself to live the gospel then you had to believe the gospel in the first place.”

Day 40 - James MacDonald - Professional JugglerI think that is a major problem with men, and especially myself; I try to handle everything on my own, on my own strength but in the end I fail. I am not a master juggler at all and as MacDonald said, I need to realize that I need Christ daily to renew me, and strengthen me for what I am going to face that day. As he said,

“The Christian life is the life of Jesus in me by the Holy Spirit.  Christianity is not me striving to live like Jesus as a ‘thank you’ for saving me.  Christianity is Christ taking up residence in me by the Holy Spirit living His resurrection life through me.”

Amen!!  It’s amazing how much easier life can be when that perspective is straight in our minds…When we have Jesus in the center of the whirlwind of responsibilities of life, we will have stability just like a metal sign post in the ground.  It is interesting what James MacDonald said about what Jesus will NOT do though…

“Jesus will not wrestle or fight with you; as long as your flesh wants to be in control, it will be.”

Boy that one hurts but we need to “stop juggling and start communing” with God.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) says,

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

He will surely do it!!  What a great promise… but how many times do I get that backwards and try to do it on my own?

“God doesn’t just call me to do it; He Himself is the doer, if I will just lean into my constant communion with Him and yield my ‘members as instruments of righteousness.'” (Romans 6:23)

I love the ending prayer, one which I plan to pray as I move forward in my walk with God…

“I so long to gain and maintain clarity on this point of empowering community with You as the foundation of all that I am and do.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; I can do nothing of eternal value in my own strength.  You have given me Your Holy Spirit, as the power to live in community with others and love them as you would.  I so want to live in the power of Your Spirit, setting aside more and more evidences of the exhausting life that tempts me every day.  I’m relying on Your Spirit to issue piercing warnings each time I stray into that danger zone.  Please get glory for Your name as You empower me to act like a man and lead other men in this worthy calling.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

This is the final installment of the Act Like Men Book.  I hope God has spoken through these posts and that you will read not only James MacDonald’s book but the Bible on what it means to be a Man of God!

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

 

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