"In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again."
Chance the Gardener (Chauncey Gardiner) - from the movie Being There. Being There
is one of my favorite movies because of the amazing simplicity that is offered. People are so taken aback by Chauncey's common sense (of which he is oblivious) that he is deemed a genius.
One of the best things that you can do as a dad is quite simple. It is so profound that many men miss the power of this one behavior that impacts their children so deeply.
What is this behavior? Look at the title of this post. BEING THERE.
That is what kids need. Did you know that a dead father is a better father than an absent father? STOP. DON'T QUICKLY READ THAT SENTENCE. READ IT AGAIN.Did you know that a dead father is a better father than an absent father?
When a dad is dead, the kids have a real reason why they don't see their dad.
When a dad is absent, kids take that personally. They ask, "what's wrong with me? Why won't my dad come and see me? Why won't my dad spend time with me?"
As a young father, one of the things I enjoyed most when my sons were old enough to sit up, was sitting on the floor and rolling a ball back and forth. When they were older, we would play catch, we would also play Nintendo together. I loved going on missions trips with them. We saw several countries and experienced several cultures together.
However, there were also times when I put them on the back burner.I regret the time I spent serving on church boards. Did you know that to a young boy, it doesn't matter to him whether you are on a church board or sitting on a bar stool?
What matters to him is that you're not there. When you're not there, a son imagines why his dad is not there and often imagines that something is wrong with him or you would be with him.
So, this post is written to dads and potential dads: BE THERE for your sons.
This post is written for church boards: let the young dads spend time with their families and let the older dads, whose children are no longer home, serve on the church board.
So let me conclude with more simple wisdom from Chauncey: "As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. All is well in the garden."BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Open Your Heart, Pop Out of Your Rut
Perhaps you've noticed that familiar inner patterns automatically kicks in as soon as you...
- Sense that you're being criticized
- Sense that your spouse is withdrawing from you
- Discover an opportunity to feast on lust
- Worry your partner is lusting after someone else
- Feel disrespected by your kids
- Feel left out by your friends
- Are disappointed in your own performance
- etc., etc., etc.
We cherish our human capacity for resourcefulness and innovation, but how creative do we really permit ourselves to be? So many of our inner responses follow these old tracks created more by our programming than our preferences, by our conditioning than our consciences.
Once we find ourselves in those inner ruts, the behavior patterns we manifest become quite predictable as well. We engage in some version of fight, flee, or freeze. We accuse. We blame. We criticize. We escape. We pull away. We put up a wall. We numb out. We bite our tongue. We pretend we aren't affected.
Our mental ruts have channelled us into behavioral ruts... which then push our loved ones and associates into self-defeating and self-perpetuating ruts of their own. Life becomes a continual round of Emotional Groud Hog Day. New, potentially fresh interactions--sometimes even with brand new people--but somehow they end up feeling eerily familiar. A new day!... but lived in the same old, same old way.
Here is an experiment to try out. It just takes a minute, but when it works the difference can be profound:
- Acknowledge a defensive/protective reaction has come up.
- Notice what you feel.
- Realize that reaction (or part of you) is trying to help.
- Move the reaction you're feeling to your heart.
- Reengage with the situation or interaction in a deliberately open-hearted way.
- Ask God to show you how to handle this reaction and use that reaction to draw you closer to God.
Do it two or three times a day when you feel the gravitational pull of outdated, unwanted emotional reactions. This post is adapted from Dr. Mark Chamberlain. You can find his original post with comments here: http://markchamberlainphd.blogspot.com/2012/07/open-your-heart-pop-out-of-your-rut.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
If any politician wants my vote, he or she only needs to offer a realistic and economical solution for getting my three kids out of bed and ready for school in the morning.
Why is no one talking about this obvious bi-partisan issue? We parents are fighting our own War on Terror here!
At age 7, of course my son should be responsible enough to put on his own clothes. Yet each morning I find myself opting for sanity. We’ve found the hybrid assembly line/indentured servant approach to work the most efficiently (at least as far as Austin is concerned
In the midst of this sad excuse for a new NBC
sitcom, I found myself daydreaming the other day.
(Insert dreamy soundscape and blurred wavy visuals here
“All this would fix itself if I could just download my desires into the mind of my little Leave it To Beaver.
I wouldn’t have to spend so much time barking orders. He would just innately know what to do! Surely this is technologically possible nowadays? An app? A procedure? An implant?Something
?!”But not all children are seven years old.
I woke this morning to the news that the Dallas Cowboys
have slapped troubled wide receiver, Dez Bryant
, with a list of lifestyle rules
he must follow to continue playing for the team:
• A midnight curfew.
• No alcohol.
• No strip clubs and only nightclubs pre-approved by the Cowboys organization.
• Twice-a-week counseling sessions.
• A minimum of one security person with him at all times.
• Security will drive the wide receiver to all practices, games, and even personal functions.
These rules are there to protect. To guide. To make wise decisions for a young man who is obviously struggling to make wise decisions for himself. (And, let’s be honest, to protect a very valuable asset to the Cowboys organization
). But let’s face it, while rules help to control behavior from the outside, they also have a downside:They stir up our impulse to rebel.
They never fix what is at the root of our bad behavior in the first place.That’s why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so potent and powerful.
The Gospel doesn’t mean “your sin doesn’t matter, do what you want.” The Gospel means “You can’t fix it, so God did it for you.”
“God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanityin order to set it right once and for all
. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.
And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them
—living and breathing God!”Romans 8:3-6 MSG
Looks like God already pioneered my desire-download idea. He offers to fix our heart, not just manipulate our behavior.
To give us His life
, not just demand suffocating morality from our old one.This is the Good News! The Gospel. It’s more than a campaign slogan, it’s hope. It’s life.Have you embraced it?
This post was written by Erik Cooper. You can find the original post with comments here: http://beyondtherisk.com/2012/08/28/why-the-rules-wont-fix-you/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The Bible calls the devil, among other names, a tempter (Matt. 4:3
; 1 Thess. 3:5
), someone who leads people astray (Rev. 12:9
). When he comes to tempt, he then seeks to accuse (Rev. 12:10
). I've noticed that when I'm tempted to sin, whether in thought, word, or deed, I feel bad for being tempted, as though temptation itself is a sin, which we know it is not. But when I'm tempted to sin I also feel accused of being a sinner.
Now, I already know that I'm a sinner, a sinner saved by grace through faith in Christ. So, feeling the accusation of being a sinner should not trip me up spiritually, but it often has. In that moment of temptation -- before the act of sin is actually committed -- I feel bad for being tempted. Because of feeling bad for being tempted to sin I then do not pray to the Lord for help. Let me explain how wrong that is.
First, temptation is not a sin. Even Jesus was "tempted" (or "tested") and He did not sin (Heb. 4:15
). So, merely being tempted to sin is not sinning, and therefore we need not feel bad for being tempted. Second, when we're tempted to sin, that is the exact moment when we should run to Christ for help, not shy away from Him because we feel bad for being tempted to sin (Heb. 4:16
Finally, the Lord already knows that we're privy to being tempted to sin: "For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust" (Ps. 103:14
). Remember that the Lord God is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Ps. 103:8
). "For the lowliest may be pardoned in mercy, but the mighty will be mightily tested" (Wisdom of Solomon 6:6
Often enough I have felt so ugly inwardly when being tempted to sin that two different results have manifested: 1) I ended up sinning anyway, feeling that the temptation to sin is near about the same as committing the sin itself; and 2) neglecting to pray because I don't feel "worthy enough" to pray.
As for the first error, temptation is not a sin; so even when we're tempted to sin, we can still shun the temptation by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and not sin. No testing or time of temptation has "overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13
God, indeed, provides us with a way out. But too often we willfully neglect to take that way out. Why? Because we want to sin. Let's just tell it like it is: we sometimes want to sin. We want to tell that person what we think. We want to objectify that person and lust. We want that money, so we'll do whatever it takes to get it. We want others to think of us in a certain way, so we'll lie in order to protect our inathenticity.
As for the second error, prayer is not a sign of personal holiness. We don't praybecause
we're holy. Such an erroneous attitude leads to self-righteousness. When we don't feel
like praying, that is the moment when we need to pray all the more! "For we walk by faith and not by sight [nor by our feelings]" (2 Cor. 5:7
Neither do we pray so that we will become
holy. Prayer is communication, not a practice for self-congratulation or a means to actual, personal holiness. We pray to the only worthy One who can help us in time of need. We pray to the only truly holy One.
I've challenged myself lately to pray to the Lord when I feel bad or ugly or dirty inwardly. What I've found is that I usually avoid thinking or acting out sinfully what I was being tempted to do or say or think.
In the very moment when I'm most vulnerable, even when I feel distant from the Lord and unworthy of His presence in prayer because of the temptation, that is when I need to run to and trust in and pray to the Lord the most.
This honest post was written by William Birch. The original post with comments can be found at: http://www.wpfences.com/2012/07/tempted-to-sin.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I was out riding my motorcycle after having just received terrific news. Karyn just told me that I was going to be a father for the first time. So, I was taking one last spin on my motorcycle around Lake Whatcom. The plan was to sell the motorcycle to help with the new baby expenses. Being so exuberant, I was probably traveling a bit faster than I should have been, so as I took this one curve the bike laid on its side. There was some gravel on the road that I hadn’t seen so the next thing I know, I am laying on the road with my bent up bike. As I lifted my bike and walked it to the edge of the road, I noticed that my one knee was bleeding badly and I thought I could see my patella thru my jeans.
This part of Lake Whatcom was not very populated. I started to walk to a busier road. On my way a man in a white
van pulled up and said, “Hey, do you need a ride to emergency?
I saw your bike back a ways.” I told him, “yes, I need to get some help.” I slowly got into the passenger seat and noticed that the man was dressed completely in white,
looking like something that a professional painter would wear. As we talked, I tried to look at his face as I leaned forward and he turned his face to the left. He said, “I have a hard time looking at blood.”
I don’t think that I was completely aware because I was in pain and in shock so I think I passed out because he shook me and woke me up once (I don’t remember him touching me).
We were approaching one hospital and he said, “Is this emergency room OK?” I said, “it’s OK but if you don’t mind, would you take me to the other hospital? This one does abortions and I don’t think that’s right.” He promptly said, “yeah, I agree. Let’s go to the other hospital.”
The other hospital was just another five minute drive. As we were going to the other hospital, I said, “do you have a business card so that I can write you a thank you?” He said, “nope. I don’t use business cards.” I said, “what’s your name then?” He said, “you don’t need to know my name.”
He stopped at the emergency room and I slowly got out of his van. I hobbled a few feet and turned to wave and the van was nowhere to be seen. Second story
We (Karyn & I and both of our sons) had been missionaries in Ecuador and returned back to our former church
and in less than a year moved to another community. We purchased a house that was near an elementary school and our boys liked to ride their bikes around the playground in the summer.
One son was not happy about the move and was feeling a bit down about life
and was riding his bike alone at the playground one afternoon.
Suddenly, he came running back to the house, cheerful,
and said, “hey Dad, I made a new friend!
There’s a boy up at the playground who said he was with me in Ecuador!”
I said, “that’s cool, someone we know from Ecuador!” We rushed back up to the playground to find this boy and he was gone.
My son described him as a boy his own age and size and was very friendly.
I said, “if you see him again, have him come over to our house so that we can meet him.” My son went up to the playground several times over the next few days and he never saw that boy again.We have talked about these encounters with family and friends and most come to the same conclusion that I have. Most believe that they were encounters with angels.Whaddyathink?BE HOLY.BE AMAN.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
We can hang on to our attempts to control ourselves and others and stay anxious. Or we can let go and let God.
We are anxious because we think we have to take care of everything and everybody. We are anxious because we believe we cannot be happy unless we can control the people we love. We are anxious because life's problems are more than we can handle, but we try to handle them on our own anyway.
God invites us to give up our anxious way of life. We do not have to take care of everything and everybody. We can, instead, let God take care of us. We can bring our anxious hearts and our long lists of concerns to God.
Responding to this invitation requires a great deal of us. It requires that we acknowledge that we cannot do what we have been trying to do. We are powerless. It requires that we turn to God. It requires that we release our control, our anxiety, our very lives into God's care.
God invites us to serenity. "Give up your anxiety," God says "bring the concerns of your heart to me."
I am anxious, Lord.
And I feel guilty about feeling anxious.
And I feel anxious about feeling guilty.
And I feel anxious about feeling guilty about feeling anxious.
I am overwhelmed by all I am trying to do.
I need your invitation to serenity.
I bring you my requests today, Lord.
I bring them to you.
I admit that I do not have the power to solve these problems.
I acknowledge that you are Powerful.
I ask you to take care of me today.Amen.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
Looking back on my life I realize how ill equipped I was under my own power. I knew God was powerful but in my mind I still put limitations on Him. I got into the habit of thinking that my sin bound God from using me for anything significant. Then, my life changing moment occurred. Soon after I killed a man, and subsequently dealt with overwhelming guilt, I had a very unusual encounter with God. He revealed himself to me in the form of a burning bush. I have, obviously, witnessed a bush burn before …it happens all the time in the dry areas. This bush, though, was not being consumed for some reason. It’s like it was being protected from damage and decay somehow. The voice of God was audible in this setting. I felt love. I felt peace. I felt like I was forgiven.
The word God spoke to me was rather odd and, at the time, I thought it was probably meant for someone else. God wanted me to lead an entire race of people (the Israelites) out of the captivity of Egypt. Egypt, by the way, was the most powerful empire in the world. Let’s face it; there was no way this was going to happen. Imagine how angry that would make Pharaoh. Millions of people who were used as the labor force of the empire….just walking out of the country? I think someone would notice that before the plan was implemented. Also, why did God choose me? I can’t even speak clearly. Great leaders have booming, and persuasive voices. Their natural charisma compels people to follow. This was not the way people would describe me.
As I looked into the burning bush, I realized that God had the power to protect me from damage. I also realized that He was calling me in the midst of my sin and inadequacies. My obedience and dependence on Him would be my salvation. I did what God told me to do, and the rest is history.
As I reflect on my history there are things I observe about the current generation. The first observation parallels with my earthly call. The people of God still often act as if they are in bondage. They allow negativity, material possessions, selfishness, entitlement, and anger to hold them captive. They have a hard time embracing the freedom that is available to them. The last observation is that they think God can’t use them if they have sin in their past. I will be the first one to say that I as guilty of that same thought process, but I found out that God uses us….despite us.
Brothers and sisters…embrace your freedom today, and accept the fact that God has an enormous plan for your life. Don’t worry…He will protect you.
This post is written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post with comments, you can go here: http://otherwordsdotnet.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/moses-speaks/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Over my 24 years of pastoral ministry, I’ve had the occasion to work with multiplied hundreds of men who struggle on a regular basis with the snare of pornography.
I often say that the hardest thing about the Christian life is that it is so daily. I have learned that the hardest thing about the battle with lust and pornography is that it is so hourly.
Yet, the battle can be won – one life, one day. one hour, one decision and one thought at a time.Titus 2:11-12 challenges us to recognize that that grace of God instructs us to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”
One of the ways we experience this grace is by recognizing the positive power of pure choices.
In my book, Think Before You Look – Avoiding the Consequences of Secret Temptation
I present forty chapters, each presenting positive reasons to avoid the snare of pornography. Here they are in summary as a positive dose of pure prevention.
I fully enjoy the pleasure of my love relationship with Christ.2.
I fulfill my true identity as a child of God.3.
I experience God's provision of empowering grace.4.
I enjoy my freedom in Christ to its fullest.5.
I avoid a life-pattern of deception.6.
I cultivate a soft and sensitive conscience.7.
I turn away from the solicitation of harlots in my heart.8.
I refuse the temptation of idolatry.9.
I prove to be a faithful steward of my money.10.
I prove to be a faithful steward of my time.11.
I abstain from any promotion and support of the pornography industry.12.
I preserve God’s gift of loving sexual expression for its intended purpose.13.
I protect the purity and power of my God-given imagination.14.
I develop disciplined character.15.
I guard the integrity of my Christian testimony.16.
I promote health and harmony in the body of Christ.17.
I cultivate a stronger resistance to future interpersonal sexual sin.18.
I nurture the proper biblical view of the sanctity of womanhood.19.
I relate to women as equals and persons of ultimate worth.20.
I learn to live in reality rather than fantasy.21.
I steer clear of unnecessary personal guilt and shame.22.
I cultivate a lifestyle of contentment and satisfaction.23.
I experience the blessing of living as a servant24.
I learn the relational skills of authentic intimacy.25.
I avoid future mental, emotional and spiritual scars on my life.26.
I experience the joy of the Christian life.27.
I lay up eternal rewards.28.
I learn to deal with the causes of my problems rather than treating symptoms.29
. I prevent potential temptations for others in my sphere of influence.30.
I honor the trust and prayer support of those who have invested in my spiritual life.
If I am married: 31.
I avoid adultery in my heart.32.
I encourage my wife's trust.33.
I honor my vow of marital purity and faithfulness.34.
I keep my marriage union pure from fantasies of other women.35.
I communicate acceptance and honor toward my wife.36.
I avoid the pathway that could easily result in infidelity.
If I have children:37.
I minimize the risk of my children being exposed to pornography.38.
I model strong and genuine moral values for my children.39.
I avoid embarrassing and embittering my children.40.
I encourage all of the above positive qualities in their lives.
This post is written by Daniel Henderson. The original post can be found here: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-how-to/150646-40-positive-reasons-to-avoid-porn.html/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel:
“Seek me and live; Amos 5:4
This passage comes at the end of an indignant tirade on behalf of God. Amos, up to this point, has been describing the deep sin that Israel has been involved in, and also includes the iniquities of the surrounding regions. Israel had fallen into pleasing themselves, and bowing down to idols and God was teaching them a very important lesson. It was a lesson brought on by their refusal to seek God’s will, and fashion their own empty truths.
One can read the book of Amos and sense the anger that was spoken through the prophet. God had given Israel a strict warning that there would be hell to pay if they turned their backs on Him. Many would interpret this series as “God taking back His love.” This is because God is describing the destruction that will be coming their way as a result of their actions. In all reality, it is quite the opposite. God had warned Israel of consequences from the very beginning. Israel shouldn’t have been surprised at the coming punishment. In the midst of this angry rant, God is also reminding them of all He has done for them. This situation became an essential teachable moment for God’s chosen people, and later we see true tenderness, and concern for a nation in real trouble.
The book of Amos balances on this one verse (listed above). God asks Israel to turn back to Him and experience life. The fact is, we can experience true life when we seek God. Many are lost and drowning in a world that seeks to desensitize them to the calling of the spirit, but God is constantly wooing us back to a relationship with Him. God doesn’t desire to fight us, and destroy us if not obeyed……He simply lets us know what life is like without Him. It is empty, destructive, cold, and useless. Only He can change that. Seek Him and live!
This post is written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://otherwordsdotnet.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/seek-him-and-live/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
A new study by Patrick F. Fagan examines the effects of pornography on individuals, marriage, family and community. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion at the Family Research Council
. He specializes in examining the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America's social problems. This study is important for everyone to read as it demonstrates that it has damaging effects on individuals and families. In the summary Fagan explains,Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual's concept of the nature of conjugal relations. This, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the factors in undermining social stability.
Social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists have begun to clarify some of the social and psychological effects, and neurologists are beginning to delineate the biological mechanisms through which pornography produces its powerful negative effects.Some of the findings inside the study include:
- Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
- Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornography they use, become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
- Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
- Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.
- Among couples affected by one spouse's addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
- Many adolescents who view pornography initially feel shame, diminished self-confidence, and sexual uncertainty, but these feelings quickly shift to unadulterated enjoyment with regular viewing.
- The main defenses against pornography are close family life, a good marriage and good relations between parents and children, coupled with deliberate parental monitoring of Internet use. Traditionally, government has kept a tight lid on sexual traffic and businesses, but in matters of pornography that has waned almost completely, except where child pornography is concerned. Given the massive, deleterious individual, marital, family, and social effects of pornography, it is time for citizens, communities, and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach.
This post was written by Ed Stetzer. The original post can be found here:http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-blogs/139251-the_effects_of_pornography.html/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.