★ Thought for the Day – Be the MAN to Carry the Light ★

Happy Father’s Day!  Today’s post is not just for men, but for everyone who has a man in their life, whether it be their father, husband, son, uncle, nephew or friend.  The third Sunday of June has a different impact on you depending on what your relationship is  with the man you call Father, Dad or Daddy.  I shared about my Father  in the post called ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★, about my parents divorcing when I was 5 years old and how my relationship with my father was nonexistent from the age 12 until we reconnected at the 36.  There was hole in my heart for many years that drove me to need approval from others.  The muse for this Thought came shortly after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro had finished and I saw this interview that Michael Phelps did for ESPN called “The Evolution of Michael Phelps” that blew me away!

Okay if you did not play the video, STOP READING AND WATCH THE INTERVIEW, it’s worth it and it is the backbone for this post.  I have always been a fan of Michael Phelps even after the infamous “bong photo” hit the front page of the newspaper six months after the Beijing Olympics in 2014.  Retirement it seems, gave the Olympian way too much time on his hands.  As I watched the video, I was reminded of what Proverbs 16:27a (TLB) warns:

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

Boredom opened the door for the enemy to attack and much like we have been talking about in our Temptation Series, Michael yielded to many self-destructive behaviors.  When the photo of Phelps using marijuana was released, it was incredible how the world turned on him.  Parodies and jokes were everywhere and of course shock that he blew it.  It’s interesting that the world we live in is always looking to find someone to idolize but it seems that they love it even better when someone crash and burns!  The media news outlets love the “fall from grace” stories – “If it bleeds, it leads” unfortunately.

In addition to addressing the photo, the interview gave insight into the swimmer’s life about his complicated relationship with his father, Fred, his second DUI arrest in 2014 and the time that he spent in a Behavioral Rehab Facility in which he contemplated suicide after the second DUI arrest in 10 years!  As I watched the brokenness of Michael Phelps over the void that his father’s absence created, I could not help but compare how not having my father in my life not only influenced, but shaped my life to continually strive for the approval of others.

Though to the rest of the world saw Michael Phelps as an unstoppable machine in the water and a picture of perfection and excellence, Michael was silently dying inside and had reached the point of no return in September of 2014.  It is hard to believe that the man who “is the greatest Olympian of all time,” winning (23) medals, (19) – being gold winning at the point in 2014 would make this statement:

“I was a train wreck; I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth.  There were times where I didn’t want to be here.  It was not good, I felt lost.” 

BUT that is how the enemy works!  You can have the adulation of the world, be on the top of your profession or head of the class and still end up feeling worthless and alone.  That was my story too, though I was far from an Olympian, I had success in my life and still felt empty inside as well.  If the most decorated Olympian in history could feel this way at the age of 31, how many other people are struggling with the same insecurities, the same father wounds and the same addictions that threaten to take them out?  My prayer is that God would use me to take back territory that the enemy has stolen and to be a friend like Ray Lewis was to Michael Phelps to help lead people out of the darkness.  The video revealed how Michael’s friend and former linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens, came alongside of him.  Ray gave him the book called “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?” by Rick Warren which helped Phelps to come out of the darkness his was in.  I love what Rick Warren said in the book:

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

Boy if we could grasp this, how different would this world be?  Like me, Michael Phelps parents divorced when he was young (age 9) and he too had his own “father wound” that scarred and imprisoned the Olympian to also strive to be better than everyone else to achieve the acceptance from his father that alluded him.  BUT that does not have to be how the story ends!  You may be reading this today with a similar story of not having the greatest earthly father, but I want you to know there is a Heavenly Father who can be all that you never had and more.  God is in the business of changing lives and rewriting even the most tragic story.  We all love a comeback story and that is what can happen to you if you just trust that God is a good, good Father!  It doesn’t matter what you did, how badly you sinned, it only matters what you do next!  Will you continue in the downward spiral or will you turn things around and repent.  That is what God did for me and for Michael Phelps.  As a result of Michael embracing “a higher power” as he referred to God in the interview, and working through his broken relationship with his father, Phelps came back and won another (4) gold medals and (1) silver in Brazil just 2 years after his life hit rock bottom!

Shortly after the 2016 Rio Olympic, I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Let Your Light Shine ★ in which I shared about a wonderful moment that I had with my mom when went to Washington DC in 1996 and she to was able to touch the Olympic Torch as the relay went through the Nation’s Capitol on the way to the Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Historic Relay with the Torch has been a huge part of opening ceremonies and for the past 10 months I have been mulling over this Thought for the Day about what exactly does it mean to “Be the MAN to Carry the Light?” I saw this image

and the powerful symbolism that the Torch is for the Olympic games and realized that it also has a spiritual connection to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)…

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

We are to Be The Light!  To let it shine as we carry it wherever we go, sharing it with everyone we come into contact with.  As a husband and father I realize the immense responsibility that I have as to constantly be checking where I am at in my personal walk with God in order to be an effective leader in my home.  As a man, this is a God-given role that we must take very serious.  I read this from Charles Stanley that I thought was really good…

“Sometimes we mistakenly think that Grace excuses us from the hard work of growing spiritually.  It doesn’t.  The Bible says that “because of practice” we have our “senses trained to discern good and evil” (see Hebrews 5:14).  That means we grow by allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us, by obeying God, and by making godly decisions.”

Grace is at the heart of the Christian faith.  God is always one prayer away, ready to forgive and restore us just as He did for Michael Phelps, BUT we still have to put in Olympian-like effort to stay the course and live out our lives to make impact on the world.  We all what to make a difference in this life to be remembered by those in our life, I know I do.  My heart’s desire is to be a world changer, first to my wife and daughters and then to anyone God would send my way in order to break through the darkness and the hold that the enemy had on this world!  John 1:5 (ESV) says::

 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

My constant prayer is that God would help me to overcome the attacks of the enemy in both my life and in the lives of others!  That I would be of value for the building of His kingdom here on earth!  John 8:12 (NLT) says:

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’”

Jesus gave us the model to emulate.  I want to be more like Jesus in every way!  Something that I often pray is for Him to direct me, to mold me and use me for HIS glory!  To be the man to carry the light for the building of His kingdom!  I will close with this thought from John Eldredge that he wrote in the pocket booklet called “You Have What It Takes: What Every Father Needs to Know”:

“You, Dad, are the most powerful man in the world…At least in their world…Never forget that no one is as powerful as you are in the lives of your sons and daughters.

Mother is love and tenderness and mercy.  She is a picture of the heart of God.

But identity – especially gender identity – is bestowed by the father.  A boy learns if he is a man, if he has what it takes, from his dad.  A girl learns if she is worth pursuing, if she is lovely, from her dad.  That’s just the way God set this whole thing up.  This power He has given to you.”

On this Father’s Day, I want to leave you with this challenge to impart to your son that he has what it takes, and/or if you have a daughter make sure she know that she is lovely and worthy to be pursued!  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (ESV) instructs:

 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

That is what a man who is worthy to carry the light does!

 

If you want to learn more about healing Father Wounds, check out John Eldredge book called “Wild At Heart – Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul.”

Or you can watch the weekend retreat event call “Wild At Heart Boot Camp” on RightNow Media.

 

If you want to learn more about making a difference, check out:

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

★ Thought for the Day – Share IT! ★

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

 

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★ 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 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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