★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Compromise (Part 5) ★

Our Temptation Series continues today with us unpacking how to avoid the Consequences of Compromise.  If you have missed the previous posts we first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study (click here).  We then studied about alcohol and drugs (click here), pornography and promiscuity (click here), adultery (click here), and most recently gluttony (click here).

Last Sunday the pastor at my church said that Satan wants us to bail out or compromise which got me thinking about this Thought for the Day because you can see this happening constantly in our cultureToday we will delve into the pitfall of compromise.  If you have been following our blog, you know that this is a topic that we have explored quite a bit in the past; and that is because if this area is out of line, then every other part of your life will be affected.  If we say we are a Christian then we must be very careful not to allow things “to slip” in this department.  Now I am not living in a fantasy-land, I would love to say that all temptations goes away once you accept Christ as your savior but that would be denying what 1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) warns.

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Temptation is real and will never go away while we are on this side of heaven. And compromise is a slow fade…What we say, the jokes we laugh at, how act should align with the faith we profess.  I truly feel that how we handle ourselves should be the same regardless of who we are with.  What do you think about that?  Is that possible?  I can honestly say that I try to be the same person whether it is with my daughters, my wife, a co-worker, my pastor or a stranger.  Something that I have always tried to keep in mind is what I once heard motivational speaker, author and former pastor John Maxwell say:

“I am always one step away from stupid.”

What a humble statement and great wisdom too!  No matter how far along you are in your journey, you are always one bad decision away from blowing it!  In an instant we could ruin our legacy and reputation that we have built over a lifetime of good choices.  Peer pressure from friends, or demands from employers/clients, or one’s own ambition to climb the corporate ladder can exert a huge gravitational pull towards compromising our moral or ethical beliefs.  That is why we must heed the warning of 1 Corinthians and be mindful not to give into the enticements that satan dangles in front of us, whether it be cheating on an exam or our spouse, turning a blind eye to corruption or willingly partaking in it.  This may be cliché but you will never regret doing the right thing and not going along with what people are doing.  2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) instructs…

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.  How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?  How can light live with darkness?  What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?  How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?  And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.  Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.  And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.””

When we allow ourselves to be influenced by how we will be perceived or to make choices that we know are not God honoring, we open ourselves to some devastating consequences.

Today’s case study fell victim to the trap of yielding to the court of public opinion.  Saul was the first king of the Israelites and was anointed by the prophet Samuel to lead.  On the outside, he appeared to be quite “kingly,” but on the inside he desired only to garner the people’s approval and would do anything for that affirmation.  For those not familiar with King Saul here’s the cliff notes version about this man.

We are first introduced to the man in 1 Samuel 9:1-2:

“There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin.  He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin.  His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.”

So Saul came from a wealthy family and looked the part as well.  In verse 17, he received a great endorsement from the prophet Samuel…

“When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said, ‘That’s the man I told you about!  He will rule my people.’”

So he came from the right family, he looked the part and had the right supports.  Saul had everyone hoodwinked including the prophet of God.  It’s interesting though, when it came time to appoint Saul as King of Israel, he was nowhere to be found.  1 Samuel 10:21b-24 says:

“And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them.  But when they looked for him, he had disappeared!  So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”  So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”

And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

“Long live the king!?”  The people cheered to receive a king that was “hiding among the baggage” at the time of appointment!  From the onset, Saul proved he did not have what it takes; you can read all about his reign in 1 Samuel 11-13.  As war continued with the Philistines, and hopelessness was spreading amongst the ranks, Saul’s true colors came out as he waited for Samuel.  1 Samuel 13:8-14 (NLT) recalls:

“Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come.  Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.  So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!”  And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived.  Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”

Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle.  So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’  So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.  Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

As a result of not trusting in God and his desire to keep his men in line, Saul violated God’s command that only his prophet could present the offering so he lost the kingdom as a result of giving into compromise!  The same can happen to us in our jobs, our marriages or our friendships if we too follow in the way of Saul.  I got this fortune cookie once that I thought was priceless…

“Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.”

We need to practice discernment and realize that it is our choice as to what we give into.  Now I don’t subscribe to fortune cookie wisdom, so let’s see what the Bible says…

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

Satan doesn’t make us do anything; we make the decision whether or not to compromise.  This is something that I am hoping has come through loud and clear that yielding to temptation is on us but if we trust God He will help us through it!  Living a life of truth is everything!  In the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we discussed all about the attacks of satan, spiritual warfare and the importance of putting on the Armor of God.  In Ephesians 6:14 (NLT) it says:

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

The Belt of Truth is intended to hold everything together.  The Apostle Paul gave this advice because without living a life of integrity everything will fall apart.  Proverbs 21:21 (ESV) has this promise for everyone who will choose a different path:

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”

But will we choose to pursue the tough road, the road to righteousness?  Or will go the much simpler, more traveled road of compromise?  I will close this with this thought from Jimmy Evans:

“There’s a difference between committing a sin and practicing a sin.”  

We all make mistakes; the key is what you do once you have made it.  Will you continue in that compromise or sin, or will you come clean with God and set things straight.  The starting point goes back to trusting God.  We need to daily renew our mind and our relationship with our heavenly Father in order to serve God in our school, friendships, vocations and our families!  That is why this site is called “Daily Dependence,” because we all need to keep Christ at the center of our lives!  What will you choose to do?

 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Got Values? ★

★ Thought for the Day – How Important is Integrity? ★

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

★ Thought for the Day – Talent vs. Integrity ★  

Continue reading

Advertisements

★ Day 07 – Reason for the Season – Unwavering Acceptance ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 107 - Daily Dependence - Reverend Fun - Stable HomeI love the cheesy humor in this comic.  I resonate with this pun from Joseph consoling Mary as he tries to make the best out things after finding out there is “no room in the inn,” as this is how I tend to bring levity to bad situations.  But today I want to look into the life of a man who does not get much coverage in the Christmas story but yet his influence was great.  When you think of the major characters in the Christmas Story, who comes to mind, other thank Jesus of course…The Angel Gabriel?  The Virgin Mary?  The Angel’s announcement of the Birth of the Messiah to the Shepherds?  Or perhaps the Wise Men from the East? What about Joseph?  You know Mary’s husband…In all the Hollywood movie adaptations, Joseph does not get very much attention and so we will remedy that and be focusing on the character of this mighty man of God.

Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT) is told from Joseph’s point of view about Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  (If you missed ★ Day 05 – Reason for the Season – Faith Like Mary ★ we looked into Luke 1:26-38 which is Mary’s point of view.)  As a husband and father of two daughters, I would have found it very difficult to be in Joseph’s position.  Not only trusting that the child is indeed from God but also to endure the daily judgement and speculation of who’s the “real” father’s identity is that must have been pervasive in the small town of Nazareth.  Gossip isn’t a new thing and you know how news spreads in a small town…everyone knows everybody else’s business.  Joseph was a man who clearly thought of others above Himself.  When faced with the betrayal of Mary’s pregnancy, before the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to confirm the truth (see Matthew 1:20), but right before that verse 19 gives us some insight to his character…

“Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.”

Amazing!  “He decided to break the engagement quietly,” and by deciding to do that, Joseph would have never ended the scrutiny or dispelled the rumors of whose child it was.  You know it would be one thing to make that decision after the dream, but to decide that beforehand shows what an incredible amount of integrity Joseph possessed.  In Matthew 1:22-25 (NLT) it says,

“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.  But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born.  And Joseph named him Jesus.”

This furthers the point that Joseph was a man above reproach, because not only did he have an unwavering acceptance to being part of God’s plan for Jesus’ arrival on Earth, and took Mary as his wife, but he abstained from having sexual relations with “his wife” until AFTER Jesus’ birth.  Joseph was an ordinary man who trusted God so much that he was willing to believe the extraordinary and walked it out!  He is a model of integrity and I pray that we would all grab hold of this attitude to accept whatever God’s Will is.  I had heard a sermon some years ago from David Smith, one of Gateway Church’s Elders and he said this about integrity…

“Integrity is when your behavior matches your beliefs … when what you SAY and what you DO aren’t separate … it’s an INTEGRATED lifestyle.  Integrity will bring you peace.  Trust, Respect, Honor and Influence will happen for you if you walk with integrity.” 

It is certain that long before the news of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph was already living that “INTEGRATED lifestyle” in which he had peace in his life and was probably a trusted, respected, honored man who had influence within the community that made him the ideal candidate to participate in God’s plan…To be the stepfather of the Son of God.  Joseph must have had unparalleled confidence and trust in God to walk the path that was laid out before him, which could have only resulted from knowing His character and understanding God’s love for Joseph and the children of Israel.  We posted recently this ★ Thought for the Day – Confidence IN WHOSE You Are ★, if you want to learn more about how you are the Apple of God’s Eye, just like Joseph was!  God will take you and me exactly how we are (see Romans 5:1-8 for further evidence!)  I saw this image and it got me thinking…

07 - Daily Dependnece - What I Want for Christmas“What I Want for Christmas is someone to say ‘come as you are’ and mean it.” 

Every one of us wants to be accepted regardless of the baggage we have from past mistakes.  Today I want to speak on behalf of God and say there is unwavering acceptance from your heavenly Father; He will accept you just the way you are!  And if you have accepted Jesus as your savior but you still feel unworthy because of the lies of Satan, Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) says,

“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.”

That is the truth that Joseph walked in as well!  Though he probably received much condemnation from the people around him when he chose to take Mary as his wife and be the father of Jesus, Joseph was confident in whose he was and that was enough.  Tony Evans talked about what is available to you if you have faith in God, he said,

“God will often wait to do His big thing until you have done what He has asked you to do.  He does this because He wants us to see Him in a way we’ve never seen Him before.  He wants us to experience Him in a way that we’ve never experienced Him before.  He wants us to see the connection between our act of faith and His deliverance.  He wants to be more than just a Cosmic-Santa Claus with a pocketful of miracles to throw down.  God wants a relationship with you.”

Amen?  If you are reading this and you have not trusted Jesus to be your savior, you can develop a relationship with God through Jesus today!  Go to ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★, which will lead you on how to make that decision today.  I am so thankful that God uses ordinary people to do the extraordinary and for Joseph’s example to spur us on to have unwavering acceptance of God’s providence in our lives!  And if you too want for “someone to say ‘come as you are’ and mean it,” then here it is from Jesus who said in Matthew 11:28 (NASB)…

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I will close with this song from Crowder that echoes this truth, aptly names “Come As You Are.”

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Joseph – The Voice of Reason.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Joseph’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here… ★ Day 08 – Reason for the Season – Christmas or X-Mas? – Part 2 ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

 

Here is a follow post on the life of Joseph called: 

★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Harden Your Heart ★

 

Continue reading

★ 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.

 

Continue reading

★ 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.

Continue reading

★ Act Like Men – “Trinity Expresses Community” ★

Day 38 - Trinity Expresses Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen!!!

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

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

Continue reading

★ Act Like Men – “Together” ★

Day 37 - Together

Daily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But for community to happen, there must be:

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

As 1 John 1:8 says,

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

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

Or

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

 

 

Continue reading

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

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

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

So how are women better at building and sustaining relationships?

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

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

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

Real talk: Telling it like it is. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Or

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

 

 

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

Daily Dependence - Section 5 - Do Everything in Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

or

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

 

Continue reading

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

Day 34 - Love Has A Lot To Do With It

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 15:13 says

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

MacDonald follows that point with,

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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?”

 

Here is the next installment. . . ★ Act Like Men – “Love Has A Lot To Do With It” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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.”

 

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Doing It All In Love?” ★

or

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

Continue reading

★ 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?

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

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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.”

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Back To Repentance” ★

or

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

Continue reading

★ 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.”

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Our Strong God” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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

 

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

or

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

 

 

Continue reading

★ 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 start 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’re 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!

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “The Thorny Way” ★

or

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

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

 

 

★ 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” ★

or

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

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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.

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

 

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★

66 - Jeremy Riddle - Sweetly BrokenThis post was inspired by a reader who requested this topic on the “►► You Opinion Matters…” page to see a blog on what if…

“People turned their lives over to Christ daily!”

Well that topic is what we are all about here, so here goes….

Turning your life over to Jesus is the best decision anyone could make!  Another way to say it is surrender…not something that many people like to talk about or do.  When you think about the word “surrender,” images of criminals with the arms raised to the police come to mind don’t they?  Surrender is giving up, or yielding control to another, and accepting the outcome. In the case of police, turning oneself over is accepting the consequences of criminal behavior and inevitable punishment for the crime…but surrendering or turning your life to Jesus, it is just the opposite…in that transference, we accept His grace and forgiveness in place of punishment for our criminal behavior (sin).  Quite a difference!

So before we start to discuss the surrendering daily, the first question to ask…have you surrender to Jesus at all?  You may be reading this and wondering what is this person even talking about…let me just run through a couple scriptural truths…

You have seen “John 3:16” I am sure all over the place, whether held by a fan in the stands, or on a t-shirt, or spray painted along the road or maybe even seen it on Tim Tebow’s face.

66 - John 3-16 Appearances

John 3:16 (NLT) proclaims…

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

And verse 17 goes on to say,

“God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT), the Apostle Paul said,

 “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.”

God sent His son to save you and me!  He loves you more than you can ever imagine and sent Jesus to establish a “relationship” with us… You can read more on this in previous blogs called ★ Thought for the Day – What Does The Love of God Mean? ★  All this was done so that we could have eternal life with God and Jesus in heaven; but as you well know, there are consequences to sin and Jesus was the payment for those sins, as Isaiah 53:5 (NLT) prophesied over 700 years earlier about the death of Jesus…

“But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.  He was beaten so we could be whole.  He was whipped so we could be healed.”

So with all that said, what is the hold up to turning to Jesus?

Here are some common Excuses for not surrendering…

Don’t know You Are Chosen!  

Some people will not surrender to Jesus because they think of our Heavenly Father as a “Cosmic Killjoy” or as an angry God just waiting for us to mess up so that He can punish us; but as you read those verses above look at the lengths that He went to establish a relationship with us!  He truly loves you and I…we are CHOSEN, not because of anything we have done but simply because God loves us…You can read more on this in a previous blog called ★ Thought for the Day – You Are Chosen! ★

Don’t know that there is a difference between Religion Vs. Relationship!

66 - Robert Morris - SurrenderI have shared in the past about how growing up I had virtually no connection to God and quite honestly wanted nothing to do with Him as a result of the words and actions of “religious” people.  I struggles hearing one thing from the pulpit and then seeing another thing outside the four walls of the church.  Hypocrisy was my excuse for not surrendering to God.  Robert Morris made this point,

“Sometimes our religion gets in the way of our relationship with God…you have to make a choice to follow Jesus and to submit your will to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and that’s when salvation occurs.”

You can read more on this in a previous blog called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★

Don’t know that there is Value in Weakness!  

Many people struggle with viewing Christianity as a crutch, believing that if they surrender to Jesus, they are weak, but that is the farthest thing from the truth!!  It takes a strong person to admit when they are wrong…You can read more on this in a previous blog called ★ Thought for the Day – Value in Weakness? ★

Don’t know you don’t have All the Time in the World!  

And finally the biggest excuse of all, is to toy with the idea of accepting Jesus as Lord and savior but to put off the decision for whatever reason.  Maybe because of the feeling that God is a “cosmic killjoy” and so you want to keep having fun so you will make that decision to turn your life over to later.  Or maybe it is a feeling of unworthiness that you need to “clean yourself up” before coming to Jesus, not realizing that you are “chosen.”  Or maybe your pride is getting in the way because you don’t want to admit that the way you are running your life (or not running it,) is not working.  Whatever the reason, Matthew 24:36 (NLT) is clear about the end times:

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen [when Jesus will come back to judge the world], not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.  Only the Father knows.”

So don’t wait, make the decision today, you will never regret it!!…You can read more on this in a previous blog called ★ Thought for the Day – All the Time in the World ★

Okay, so now that we have covered the critical first surrender, let’s talk about surrendering daily.  My pastor has been talking for the past few weeks about “living on mission” where you live, work and play, having an eternal perspective in all that you do.  When we talk about surrendering our lives daily to Jesus, it will result with us living on mission for the kingdom of God.  Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT) has some insight for us…

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, He gave up his divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

So the first step of surrendering daily to Jesus is humility.  Everything that Jesus did illustrated His humility and was done for our benefit to know how we ought to live.  Now as you live out life in humility, does that mean you will get it right every time?  Absolutely now!  My mother was named after the late country music legend, Loretta Lynn who made this astute statement,

“Nobody’s perfect. The only one that ever was, was crucified.” 

I like that so much!!  So often the enemy screams lies at us that as followers of Jesus we should be perfect and when we don’t measure up that must mean that we are no good or don’t have enough faith.  But that is just a lie because he knows that if we truly surrendered to Jesus we would be unstoppable, see James 4:7-8.

“I Surrender” is one of my favorite songs off the “Cornerstone” album from Hillsong Live.  As you continue to read, let this song play in the background and wash over your spirit. 

Here are a couple of verses from this great example of what turning our lives over to Jesus daily looks like…

Here I am
Down on my knees again
Surrendering all

Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way

Lord have Your way in me
I surrender
I wanna know You more

As we surrender, we are putting aside our desires, our agendas and our thoughts and placing it all on God’s capable shoulders.  ‭Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭1-3‬ (NLT) gives great advice.

“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.”

Jesus “endured the cross, disregarding its shame”…why, because of the “joy awaiting Him.”  So if you want to me more like Jesus and serve Him daily, realize you will face opposition and harsh words from non-believers because of what it says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 (HCSB),

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.”

But don’t let naysayers stop you from reaching out to them because that is What Jesus Would Do.

“Every decision we make will ultimately result in regret or reward for all eternity.”  Marty Collier

While here on earth Jesus dealt with His fair share of scoffers and cynics but with humility and He lived a life that was without a doubt “mission minded,” doing His father’s will.  But following Jesus will not only bring insults but will also cost you as he warned in Matthew 16:24-27 (NLT)…

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of His Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.”

Now surrendering to Jesus daily may not actually cost you your life but it may cost you friends who don’t want to be around you because the light you emit will shine a spotlight of their sin.  I love what Lara Casey said…

66 - Daily Dependence - Lara Casey - Made New In Christ“Every day we are given the opportunity to be made new in Christ, not by our might but by our surrender.”  

It really is about Surrender vs. Self-Reliance.  Are you strong enough to admit that you need Jesus and surrender daily to Him or will you pride get in the that like a strong-willed 2-year-old, you say “I can do it on my own?”

The key to happiness is full surrender to God.  I know I have already shared a song in this post but I would be remiss to neglect to share Jeremy Riddle’s song Sweetly Broken” that displays the heart of a person who is “Sold-Out” for Christ, daily surrendering their lives to Him…

At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified

You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now through the cross I’m reconciled

In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is Your faithfulness

My favorite part by far…

“And I was under Your wrath / Now through the cross I’m reconciled”

Wow!!  Because of Jesus, we are a “new creation,” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB) and have eternal life through faith in Him, so there should be nothing stopping you from surrendering daily and serving Him with everything in you!

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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.

 

★ 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” ★

or

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

 

Continue reading

★ 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” ★

or

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

★ Thought for the Day – Stand Up for What is Right ★

“Be a Leader, Not a Follower,” is something I have tried to pour into my daughters’ lives.  For obvious reasons, I have taught them this, so they would not get mixed up with the wrong people, but also because they will never be great or successful, if they ride the coattails of other people.  Albert Einstein said it perfectly:

"The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been."  
“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.”

To be successful in business and more importantly in life, you need to be a leader, even if that means walking alone at times.  It is not easy, but a life of mediocrity and following the status quo is far worse!  Or a life in pursuit of financial gain or power will leave you empty inside in the end.  There is another benefit to walking alone and that is being a person of integrity and truth who not only knows what is right and wrong but also does it.  We have strenuously taught our children to always stand up for what is right which is impossible when you are a mindless follower!

Edmund Burke once said,

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

It was Hamburg, 1936; during the celebration for the launch of a ship.  In the crowd, one person refused to raise his arm to give the Nazi salute.  The man was August Landmesser, seen in this photo which was published in a German newspaper in 1991.  It is a truly polarizing image to see the courage and boldness of one person, who refused to participate in what he did not believe in.

36 - Daily Dependence - August Landmesser - Be This Guy

I hope to never be in the same extreme situation as this man was, but every day I do face decisions at work or with friends where I need to decide whether I will participate in what I know is wrong in order to fit in or will I be a person of integrity who will stand up for what is right?  Compromise is a slippery slope, once you make an exception to violate your beliefs the next time will be that much easier to fail to make the right decision.  Integrity is everything!


What will you choose?

 

If you would like to read more on this topic, here is something I posted that you may like, called:

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Carpe Diem ★

The world lost the comedic genius of Robin Williams on August 11, 2014.  Besides inducing laughter and smiles to people around the world, he was an incredible dramatic actor who brought characters like Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams (Patch Adams)
29 - Daily Dependence - Patch Adams
Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting)
29 - Daily Dependence - Good Will Hunting
and my personal favorite John Keating (Dead Poets Society) to life.
29 - Daily Dependence - Dead Poets Society
As I think about the joy that Robin Williams brought to his audiences, I am saddened to the core that he could not find enough for himself to prevent the depression from consuming him.  Life is fragile and at times like this it is natural to reflect upon our own mortality and take inventory.  Too often we take for granted that we have all the time in the world to tell people how we feel about them or to reconcile with a friend or family member that we are estranged from.  It is critical for us to realize that life is brief… James 4:14 (NASB) gives this somber reminder…

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

That may be the case, but rather than despair, I think this should trigger us to make some changes….and to live life with purpose.  In the 1989 classic, Dead Poets Society, Robin William’s portrayal of Professor John Keating, inspired me to be more than I was, and to live life to the fullest!  In one of the most iconic scenes, Robin Williams gives this life lesson…

"Carpe diem.  Seize the day, boys.  Make your lives extraordinary." John Keating, Dead Poets Society.
“Carpe diem.  Seize the day, boys.  Make your lives extraordinary.” John Keating, Dead Poets Society.

Make your life extraordinary!  Our lives may be a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, but we can leave an impact that lasts for generations to come.  It is time to stop wasting time…seize the day and make an impact!  I endeavor to that with my wife and children, as well as friends and pretty much anyone I come into contact with.  I am far from hitting the mark but I am always striving to do better.  As the new school year approaches, I have been encouraging my daughters to look for that person who is being left out or just doesn’t fit in, and be a friend to them.  The late great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar made this profound statement…

“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”
“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”

And that is so true!  People who know me today would probably be surprised to hear this, but I was that kid that was in need of kindness and a friend.  Living an extraordinary life is not about acquiring power or about monetary wealth or living in an extravagant house or driving a luxury car, but by making a difference in the lives of the people in your sphere of influence.  John Maxwell has one of the best definitions of success which is my mantra and what I would call living an extraordinary life…

“Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most.”

If you asked those closest to you, what would they say?  I love how Anna Quindlen put it…

"When in doubt, choose the kids.  There will be plenty of time later to choose the work."  
“When in doubt, choose the kids.  There will be plenty of time later to choose the work.”

This Thought for the Day is all about making an impact on the people who are around you.  Take the time to spend with your children, (and your spouse) instead of working late, you will never regret that!  The very last command that Jesus made to the disciples in Matthew 28:19 was about making an impact, He said:

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” 

Life is fragile.  Life is brief.  Make an impact!  Seize the Day! 

So what does that mean for you?  What habits or routines do you need to break?  Do you need to start leaving work on time so that you are there for the people in your lives that need you to be around more?  What opportunity or decision are you hesitating on to make that could make an impact?  The choice is yours…


For those unfamiliar with the Dead Poets Society, check out this inspiring scene…Carpe Diem!

 

 


Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Got Values? ★

21 - Daily Dependence - Dilbert - Values

 

Values are an integral part of “who you are.”  I love this Dilbert comic strip because it is clear that the management have none, and that their whole reasoning behind establishing company values is not really to empower the employees, but to eliminate raise requests.

Do you know who you are and what you stand for?  You can’t wait for management to tell you what your values should be, you need to decide that for yourself.  It is vital to know who you are and what you stand for before you are in a compromising situation, otherwise when the pressure comes, whether from a boss or a colleague, you will fail the test…Proverbs 10:9 says it perfectly…

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”

You have heard the expression “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”  It is really true, eventually a lack of integrity will catch up to you and your true character will be found out.  So I ask you…Got values?

 

Continue reading

★ Thought of the Day – What are You the Architect of? ★ 

I once read this definition of Architecture:

“By the simplest definition, architecture is the design of buildings, executed by architects.  However, it is more.  It is the expression of thought in building.  It is not simply construction, the piling of stones or the spanning of spaces with steel girders.  It is the intelligent creation of forms and spaces that in themselves express an idea.” 

As an Architect by vocation, this quote beautifully captures what an architect is.  Ultimately though, before any piling of stones or spanning of girders, a tremendous amount of decisions and problem solving must occur.  In both architecture and in life, I believe to be successful, these skills are paramount.

And that leads us to, what are you the Architect of?  Life is a series of decisions that we have to make, so….what choices are you making in your career and in your personal life?

On A Minute with Maxwell,  the Word was “Choices.”  John Maxwell quoted one of my favorite John Wooden quotes….

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”
“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

“In the end, the choice you make makes you.”  I love that so much!  That goes far deeper than just what career direction to go in or where you spend your 40+ hours a week….it really speaks of the level of integrity that you will walk out in your everyday life.  And it puts the responsibility right where it belongs…on me.  And on you.  What choices are you making today that down the road you will be thankful for?  Are there choices you are making that will become regrets, or areas that you are compromising in?  I think that for many people this quote is unfortunately all to true…

 

“I’m the Architect of my own disaster.”

I would like to flip it around and look at it this way…that “I’m the Architect of my own success”….Each one of us has the power to choose a life marked by integrity and honesty, but of course just like in Architecture, you have to be intelligent in what decisions you make.  Nothing changes if nothing changes.  I will close with final quote…

“The choices we make, almost always determine the level of success we have.”  John Maxwell
 
 

★ Thought for the Day – How Important is Integrity? ★

Roy E. Disney once said:

"It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are."
“It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.”

Throughout my career, I have had bosses who wanted me to lie to our clients, to misrepresent what we had done in the past, and to “fudge” how much further along on the project then we really were. It’s moments like that, that will define who you are, and ultimately, what path your career will take…Regardless of whether you have to misrepresent yourself in a “BIG way” or “just a little white lie,” once you compromise you integrity, it WILL become the “new normal” and will be expected to be repeated.

Zig Ziglar puts a fine point on this thought…

“If people like you, they”ll listen to you. But if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

So I pose the question in a different way… how important is your integrity?

 

★ Thought for the Day – Talent vs. Integrity ★

If you were asked…What is more important to have, talent or integrity, what would you answer?  Depending on the audience you were in front of at the moment, perhaps the answer would be different.  By the world’s standards, the resounding response would be “TALENT” unequivocally.  There is clear belief that to make it in this world, Talent is preeminent, and your “Integrity” needs to be laid aside.  Mark Batterson said it perfectly,

"Our culture celebrates TALENT more than INTEGRITY.  We've got it backwards."  
“Our culture celebrates TALENT more than INTEGRITY.  We’ve got it backwards.”

You don’t have to look too hard to see this played out…from America’s Got Talent, to American Idol, to the adulation that professional athletes and celebrities receive, Talent is everything, and integrity or character…well…that takes a backseat.  The John Maxwell Company posted a blog called, “Why Talent Won’t Cut It,” and they made this astute observation that “Character Protects Your Talent”: :

“Figure skater Tonya Harding, golfer John Daly, sprinter Marion Jones, and cyclist Lance Armstrong…each of these athletes had dazzling ability, but lacked the character to sustain it.  Overcome by jealousy, Harding hired a hitman to attack her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, thereby sacrificing her shot at Olympic stardom.  Daly won the PGA Championship as a rookie, and the British Open a few years later, but his off-course drinking problems kept him from winning as much as his talent merited.  Both Jones and Armstrong gave in to the temptation to supplement their natural talents with performance enhancing drugs.  While the decision brought them victories in the short-run, each eventually got caught and suffered a fall from grace.”

Integrity is the glue that unites talent with success.  Without it, eventually all the talent in the world will not stop the house of cards from collapsing!  Integrity…It matters!