Wednesday, May 29, 2013

5 Ways A Man Builds Discipline

Discipline is training to act in accordance with a certain set of rules. Young men either know or find out that it takes a certain amount of discipline to finish High School or graduate College. Older men also either know or learn the hard way that a strong sense of discipline is a requirement in order to be successful in the workplace. And finally a man that is in the position of also being a husband must learn quickly that discipline is needed to maintain a strong marriage and to raise children up effectively.

In all honesty, discipline is a trait that every man must come to grips with at some point in his life.

So if discipline is needed so much in our culture, why is it not taught more to young men coming up through the ranks? Why does this culture have such a hard time raising effective and mature leaders? Why are men struggling in marriages and not growing up? The answer lies in the source. Who or what is your source? Who are you allowing yourself to be mentored by or be disciplined by?  As I was reading through the Book of Hebrews I found a solid section of verses in chapter 12 that shows clearly how God raises up men of discipline.

Here are 5 Ways A Man Builds Discipline.
Hebrews 12:1-13

1) Earthly Father
Hebrews 12:10 "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." When speaking about training and discipline, I have to revert back to my earthly father. This was when I first experienced what discipline was and how it impacted my life. I understand that some men may not have had this opportunity to experience an earthly father, but maybe you had a mentor or close friend that helped you learn along the way. Either way, God first teaches us discipline by our earthly father but then goes to say that God will discipline us for good or after we leave our earthly father. Once we leave the nest, we must continue to seek God and allow Him to discipline and influence us.

2) Submission

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What is Reality?

What is real? What is reality? When did it start and why? 
Are there different levels of reality?

I think about concepts like this all the time. I believe that everyone who has any understanding of the philosophy behind these concepts has already arrived at what they believe to be a concrete ideal of reality. Consider the differences between the religious, atheistic, and the various new age concepts: each is so different than the others and the consequences to our earthly lives are tremendous.

The atheist believes in nothing that they can't physically measure or scientifically experience. Therefore, their reality is merely material. The last analysis of atheism is that whatever is deemed acceptable by the individual or societal mores is permissible and encouraged if it is logically necessary. As such, abortion, eugenics, and strength ought to be encouraged and celebrated to increase the potency of human materialism. You're out of luck if you're not smart, strong and beautiful by human standards... Either relegated to subjugation or mercilessly dismissed of human value.

The last analysis of the new age is that, as a collective, we are god. Our collective consciousness creates reality and changes the material by first creating the pattern of the spiritual. As such, they must rely on their cumulative wisdom in order to create reality. Considering that the addition of imperfect wisdom cannot create infinite, perfect wisdom, their best reality will always fall short of an ideal reality. They cannot hope for an end of suffering, imperfection and fear.

The last analysis of the religionist contains a perfect reality. We recognize that the material is a shadow of the spiritual and that the temporal is nothing compared to the infinite. This material reality is upheld and manifested by an infinite being who is independent of time and matter; this being is absolute and perfect and never changes. This being owns and creates every level of potential reality, the things seen and unseen, the experiential and unfathomable, the beginnings and the ends.

So why is there a material reality? Can anyone know?

I believe the material reality was/is only manifested to allow the infinite being to ever experience anything without knowing the outcome beforehand. By giving us, as material creatures, a free will and by then giving us a portion of his perfect potential (in the form of his indwelling spirit) he can remove himself from timelessness and absolute reality and experience a reality of imperfection through an imperfect being.

So what would that mean to us?

I think it means:  He knows and understand us. He had given us all the tools to fulfill his call to be perfect. He has given us a peace knowing that our perception of reality doesn't have to create destiny for ourselves or our brethren. He has joy when we chose the leading's of his spirit rather than a logical analysis of or material perception. He allows us to experience, in a minute manner, the true spiritual reality in the midst of our current shadow reality.

Even better is that the fullness of this infinite being was made human in Jesus. He both showed us the nature of the infinite's character and revealed the way a human who truly decides to follow God lives. He experienced every human temptation but was still without sin or iniquity.

Jesus was the firstborn of the new man. He reiterated that we partner with God for the benefit of all creation. We call down, and pray for, the true reality to be manifested in this shadow reality when we say "your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

Rest easy today. There is so much more that you can't know or see. It's all exciting and refreshing to know that our God is unfailingly loving, truly faithful, and the provider of every necessary tool to become the men he wants us to be.

This is a Guest Post by a great friend of mine, Ryan E.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Road to Redemption

Standing there at the pew Sunday morning,
My hands firmly grasping the seat in front of me.
The Pastor calls an alter call;
I knew he was speaking to me.
I knew God was calling me.

My mind was angry from my recent sins.
My recent self inflicted complacency.
Images arose in me of lust,
Extreme judgments and selfishness.
I knew this call was required.
I knew this was what my heart needed.
I needed to seek forgiveness,
To be redeemed.

Minutes pass and my grip increases.
I must go up front, I must.
With my knuckles looking white;
I finally released my grip and took the first step.
Down the row and into the aisle,
My steps felt long and heavy.
My mind said everyone was staring at me.
A lie said everyone was judging me.
This was my own reflection;
My very own guilt.

At the front and at the alter,
At my greatest moment,
My knees began to shake.
They bent as I fell to the ground.
My back felt heavy,
It, as well, went down to the ground.
All the mistakes and all the pain;
I find myself here.
Now what?

I began to seek God,
To ask for His forgiveness.
Ask for his hand of direction.
I felt hands being placed on me;
I felt the prayers of others.
As I continued to pray,
People understood.
People cared.
God forgave.
Are you?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

3 Maturity Lessons for Young Men

"Think Different". This was a wonderful slogan used by my wife's favorite technology maker, Apple. The great thing about this phrase is how relevant it is in our culture today. "Think Different" is exactly what the young men of this culture need to do and MUST do starting NOW. What are you waiting for? How about some guidelines?

As Christian men we must think different and I found the Apostle Peter to be a good example for us. No he did not have the technology we have today or the influence that comes along with all of it, but he did face many hardships and persecutions that we can relate to such as pride, lust, drinking and more.  

Towards the end of 1 Peter, we get a solid glimpse of what it means to be a mature young man and how we are suppose to carry ourselves. Follow along as we break down 1 Peter 5: 5-10.

Verse 5: "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you clothe yourselves in humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the Proud but gives grace to the Humble.'" Peter is specifically targeting the young men in this section and his first verse deals with submissiveness. Would you agree that young men think they are on top of the world? That they can conquer anything and that they know everything? I can agree that this is not every man, but this is certainly a large percentage of them. Peter directs us young men to stay submissive because God opposes the proud. In other words, cut out the pride and willingly submit to those above you.

A few other words associated with submissive would be patient, respectful, servant and compliant. As young men we are going to have to earn our stripes. We are going to have to keep our mouth shut when we don't want to and we are going to have to learn things by experience.

Pray that God would show and teach you how to be submissive to those in authority above you.

Verses 6 & 7: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." It appears that out of the three, humility is at the top of the list. Peter builds up this word three times over the span of these few verses. Peter is saying to stay humble under the protection and guidance of God and that after awhile and when you are ready, he will lift you up and make you a strong disciple. We must humble ourselves first and be open to his teaching before we can be released to do his work. 

Being humble also means we are not being proud or arrogant. We do not allow ourselves to be put on a pedestal of any type. We have an understanding that we are lower in rank or "second" to Christ and we, again, are courteous and respectful to those around us at all times. 

Pray daily that God would teach and show you how to maintain humility in your life.

Verse: 8 & 9: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around you like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." So we are to be submissive, humble and self controlled? Who teaches this kind of stuff anymore? I think we can all agree that no one is really teaching this to young men these days, but it is EXACTLY what they need to hear and it is EXACTLY how they need to act. Peter paints a wonderful picture of what the enemy is doing around us and how the enemy is just waiting. Waiting for us to make a mistake and give into sin. We must pull together as Peter says at the end of the verse and work together to defeat this enemy. Stay in contact with your friends in Christ, stay accountable and stay in prayer as we are all going through troubles. 

Pray that God would help you stay self-controlled and alert everyday! Pray for open eyes and an open heart!

And finally in verse 10, Peter says after we have had to suffer through the lessons mentioned above, God will restore us, make us strong and steadfast. It is our reward for being young men that truly "think different".

Stand Up and Think Different this week!

What other lessons can you add to this list?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

10 Ways to Handle Social Media in Your Marriage

1) Never Get Defensive
If you need to defend, your probably in the wrong. Don't defend a virtual friend you never see over your spouse!

2) Unfriend Old Girl/Boyfriends 
Sure they might be your "EX", but you now have access to their every move. Do you really need to know what they are up to? Do you really need to see pictures of them in bikini's men? Don't ask your spouse if "it's cool" if you can be friends with them either.

3) Relationship Status
If your married, you better have it marked that your married. Another cool way to make it known is in your pictures that you post and you can write something good about your spouse or marriage once and awhile. This should help keep the "lookers" away.

4) Be cool with a page review
If your spouse has feelings of distrust and wants to look through your social media, let it happen. Don't lose or break the trust in your marriage over something as meaningless as your status updates.

5) Don't do it at all
I know a lot of couples that don't use social media at all and they have great marriages. Of course, we wont say anything about their overall tech knowledge, but again, this is your marriage and it should be very important to you! Talk it over with your spouse and find out if this would be the best thing to do.

6) Share Happy Photos
Have a great photo of the two of you? Put it up on your wall or keep it as your cover. Have a picture of your child or children? Throw that up on you wall every now and then. You should want to put out a positive message to the people that see you and follow you.

7) No Messaging with the opposite sex
Early in my marriage, I started catching up with some women I knew from years ago. I didn't think it was a big deal at the time until my wife started asking what I was doing. It was a big deal to her and it should be a big deal to you! Again, don't unnecessarily put yourself in bad situations. Keep the private messages for your spouse.

8) Combine Your Pages
I can't say I have done this personally with my spouse, but this might be a great way to stay connected with friends and family and not have to worry about who or what your doing. This would also send a positive message about your marriage!

9) Don't share issues!
What do I mean? Don't share issues that you are having in your marriage on your social media and then let your spouse find out. Marriage is all about great communication skills and with our growing culture of texting and updates, we are losing the one on one deep talks. Go to your spouse FIRST and work out whatever issues you are having. Don't seek your buddies advice that you haven't seen in 10 years...

10) Share Funny things with each other
I love to send my wife a funny pic, interesting message or new story on her wall. Not only does this show everyone that the two of you have great connecting skills, but it shows others that your marriage is strong and happy!

And that was only 10 ways! 

Share some ways you and your 
spouse handle the social media world.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Letter To A Young Man

Dear Young Man,

I've seen you in Church a few times and thought you looked like someone new. I've also seen you at the entrance to the Church, making your way through the crowd and heading to your safe seat location or the other times I would see you throwing out some handshakes to a few men. All of those times you have been alone. With never taking the chance to speak to you, I felt compelled or almost called from the Lord to write you a letter. Trust me when I say this is not my normal pattern, but I've learned to listen when God speaks.

From my occasional glances around the Church crowd, I could tell that you were a man interested in what the preacher was speaking about each day. Clearly much younger than me, I can't help but think of myself when I was younger. To be honest, I probably would not have come to Church and I know I would not have looked as interested. If I was there, I was only there in the physical as my heart was never really in the whole Church thing.

OK, before I lose you and you start wondering why some dude has been watching you, I wanted to challenge you with a few things. I have been through those late teens and early twenties and can remember my cold and hard mind set. I tried to come across strong and confident, but could be broken easily. I was able to fight through many battles to get to where I am today, so hear me out.

My Question: Why do you come come to Church?
In my younger days I mainly went to Church because I simply had to. My earlier years consisted of my parents making me go, my times after that were related to my girlfriend going and the other times I would go out of guilt or a bad conscience. More recently after my marriage, I would go out of duty to my wife. Rarely did I ever go on my own, and those are times and years that I dearly regret. So I ask again, why do you go?

After years of knowing about Christ, the Church and his teachings; it took a thorough beating to get me to truly believe. It took years of struggle to finally believe in the old Bible stories, the amazing people and of course the life of Jesus Christ. I suppose my path in life let me get to this point, but I can't help wonder if things would have been better or different if I would have received a letter like this or if a man of maturity and respect would have grabbed me and shared his life story with me. I like to think I would have listened to him,  but I was very capable of putting on the "good show" without truly living the right life. Confidence is good, but life experience is hard to beat or deny. Again, why do you go?

My Opinion: Why go?
We are all traveling on a path; some paths are easier and some are harder. My suggestion is to stop wondering if Christ is there for you and ACCEPT that he is real and he is there for you. Church is a place of worship, of prayer, of relationship and so much more. Don't just go because you have to or feel guilty. Go because you want to learn! Go because you want to grow spiritually! Say a prayer while you're there for God to speak to you in amazing ways. Take the initiative now and get involved with other wonderful people from the Church. Meet someone new each time you are there.

You'll meet people that are kind and loving.
You'll meet brothers that are going through similar issues.
You could meet the woman of your dreams.
You could meet a best friend.
You could meet Christ and live a fulfilling life, for the rest of your life.

My friend, I pray that this letter meets you with a good heart. All of us together make a family and make the Church. For this reason, I hope to call you my brother some day. What you do with the letter from here is up to you. There is no pressure. Write me back, say hello or just keep living. Keep living for Him!

It will be worth it. I promise.
Your Brother in Christ...

Do you know a man that might need a letter like this?
Have you ever taken the initiative 
with a brother you had not met before?
Share your thoughts or experience in the comments!