★ Thought for the Day – What’s On The Inside? ★

Have you ever participated in a white elephant gift exchange?  I know Christmas is over but as I was thinking about this Thought for the Day I could not help but think about the popular gift-giving experience where people contend with one another to walk away with the best present. Though there are many different options on how to conduct the exchange, everyone brings a gift to contribute to a common pile, in which participants draw names or numbers to determine what order they will go in.  As each person makes their choice and discovers what they have gotten, each subsequent person has the opportunity to steal it away.  It never fails, even though I try to size up what is on the inside of the mystery gift, I always chose the wrong present and no one ever steals what I end up with.  Hahaha!

At the top of the year I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Living A Lasting Legacy ★, which was about making the most out the “brief time on earth,” to make an impact on the future generation, not just for my children, but for my children’s children!  Today’s Thought will build upon this idea of a Living A Lasting Legacy to give some practical application.  If you have a pulse, you should be thinking about what kind of impact you are making on the relationships in your life whether it is with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or even strangers.  God has put these people into our lives for a reason, and it is our responsibility not to waste the opportunity.  I love what Marvin J. Ashton said,

“Be the one who nurtures and builds.  Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people.  Leave people better than you found them.” 

“Leave people better than you found them.”  I am a firm believer of that way of living.  Just a couple days ago I was listening to a podcast from Louie Giglio called “The Piñata and the Iceberg,” in which he contrasted the decorative cardboard and paper mache animal containing candy, and the significance of the large floating mass of ice.  In the message, he made this powerful point:

“The Piñata is a picture of the culture we live in.  We live in hollow days.  Richard J. Foster said it this way,

91 - Daily Dependence - Richard J Foster - Superficiality is the Curse of Our Age
‘Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.’

It is a difference to being a piñata in the world or being an iceberg in the world…An iceberg is what it is because of the substance that you cannot immediately see.  It’s what is below the surface that makes an iceberg something of substance.”

That is what I want to be, a man of substance.  A man who has depth and always on mission as Paul stated in Acts 20:24 (NLT)… 

91 - Daily Dependence - Acts 20-24 - Tell Others About Grace of God“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

After sharing this with the guys in my life group, there was some great conversation on what it means to be a Man of Substance.  One of threads from the group text was this great listing that I just have to share in its entirety because it’s just that good…

“There is more to being a Man of Substance than just holding everyone accountable to just the spiritual side.  I believe it’s a balance with a lot of different aspects.  This is what we as men need to work on if we are going to do this.  

Areas of Concern:  

  1. 91 - Daily Dependence - James 1-22 - Just Do ItAlone time with Christ.
  2. Alone time with wife.
  3. Alone time with kids.
  4. Alone time with yourself. 
  5. Alone time with guys only.

Non-Negotiables as Men:

  1. Provider of family – Full Time Job.
  2. Financial steward of money – Tithe
  3. Physical activity – Exercise. 
  4. Protector of family – Boundaries. 
  5. Spiritual leader of home – Modeling. 

I believe Jesus’s brother James nailed it when he said, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22. 

We not need to “Just Do It!”  Otherwise we are just fooling ourselves!  What a great list of how to be a Man or Substance…and I dare say you could extrapolate that list to be a guide for how to be a Woman of Substance as well.  I truly believe that these items are exactly what God wants for us, and are practical stepping stones to move us away from the “piñata culture” of superficiality and hollowness to a life as an iceberg that has great depth.

91 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 6-33Jesus’ gave this command in Matthew 6:33 (ESV)…

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

If God is not a priority, and if we are not chasing after Him with all our heart, then the chances of getting the rest correct on that list is slim to none in my opinion. I love that list, and I completely agree with everything on it…Balancing all the aspects of life is essential…but God MUST BE FIRST and once that is case, all the other aspects will begin to fall into place.

Here are some suggestions that will help you to center your life on God and seek after His Kingdom and His righteousness. These are strategies that I learned and implemented from Todd McIntyre, the Men’s Pastor at Gateway Church which has helped me greatly develop in my spiritual maturity:

  1. Daily quiet time (usually before my family gets up,) filled with prayer, journaling and reading scripture (sometimes a reading plan and other times a section of a book of the Bible.) You can read more about this in the post ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★, which is all about developing your Spiritual Maturity.
  1. Fast and pray from sundown to sundown once a week for sanctification and revival in my life, (usually on Monday.)
  1. Meditate on, and write a “Thought for the Day” once a week that God has been speaking into my spirit and heart. This was not from Pastor Todd by was a natural outflow from my quiet time, and ultimately that is how this Blog was born!

I don’t share this to brag but rather to give a model of what has worked for me to develop my spiritual fitness and deepen my walk with God.  I certainly don’t always get this right, or do it all perfectly but I try…and these habits have resulted in “Becoming a Glacier” as Louie Giglio described in the sequel to the “The Piñata and the Iceberg.”  To become a glacier is a slow, purposeful process over a prolonged period which is synonymous with steadfastness or sanctification that will lead to becoming more and more like Jesus.  The key is patience…

“Impatience is the nemesis to habit.”  Louie Giglio   

So the choice is yours, what will you decide?  Continue down the path of superficiality or will you heed Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:33 and dig deeper?  I will close with this quote that I read somewhere…

“Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if GOD hands you a shovel.”

It is going to take work and time but it’s worth it, I promise you!

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★

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

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

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

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

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

My friend made this astute statement,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Choose to sin, choose to suffer,” 

Such a simple concept to understand but yet why do we fail so often?  David’s prosperity without adherence to God’s Word lead him to places he never dreamed he would.  Now I am not saying that if you are rich and living a comfortable lifestyle that your life will go tragically bad, not at all!  BOTH David and his son departed from the path to satisfy what their flesh wanted instead of following God and the consequences were catastrophic.  For David it resulted in adultery, an unplanned pregnancy and murder.  For Solomon it resulted in the dissipation of his integrity and devotion to God, the end of peace in Israel and ultimately the fracturing of the nation after his death under the rule of his son Rehoboam who succeeded Solomon.  If want to study this some more check out 1 Kings 11:‭14, 23, 26, 33‬‬ (NLT) which shows how one man’s sin affected an entire nation as God raised up adversaries to oppose Solomon for his disobedience.

1 Kings 11:‭39‬‬ (NLT) says,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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★ Act Like Men – “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” ★

or

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

 

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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” ★

or

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

 

★ Thought of the Day – What Difference Does a Daddy Make? ★

17 - Daily Dependence - Saving Mr BanksDisney’s “Saving Mr. Banks” pulls the curtain back to allow moviegoers to learn how the beloved 1964 classic “Mary Poppins” almost didn’t make it to the silver screen because of the author’s reservations and fears of what Walt Disney would do to her beloved book.  At first I was skeptical about watching a movie about Mary Poppins, but before the end credits started to roll, I was tearing up and feeling that this incredible film had made it to my top 10 list!  From the writing to the acting to the cinematography, there was not a single thing that I was not captivated by!

As they flashed back and forth from 1961 to P.L. Travers’ childhood, the director brilliantly illustrated what a difference a Daddy makes in the life of not only a child but also the entire family.  The film shows what an involved, tender and very loving man her father was (at first) and how she cherished and idealized him.  Unfortunately, decades later, the effects of alcoholism and a tragic event, plagued the author’s life and paralyzed her from living her life.

In his book “What a Difference A Daddy Makes,” Kevin Leman makes this bold statement:

Daddy’s have the God-given responsibility to support and train up their children in the way that they should go (see Proverbs 22:6) and to be the best earthly example of what their heavenly father is like…that is the difference a “Daddy” makes!

 ★ ★ Please share this blog with all the “Daddys” you know! ★ ★

 

 

 

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