With Accountability comes great responsibility

Accountability should be at the core of every bible believing ministry – no excuses.   Accountability means the state of being accountable, liable and answerable to those who are before you.  Before we go any further into this blog ask yourself this question, If Hebrews 13:17 tells me to submit to authority, then what does that mean for me if that authority has no accountability on Earth (because they most certainly do by our heavenly father)?  Ask yourself what does that mean for me if the person who I report to doesn’t follow any code of accountability?

You can Google just about any major mega-church and find gossip and lack of accountability in some of the most respected institutions of Growth and spread of the Gospel – what went wrong?  I have some thoughts on this and if any of these current or former leaders read this then my prayer is that truth (in love) will resonate and allow them to hear the Holy Spirit comfort them, encourage them, and urge them to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ.  I will not claim to have all the right answers nor can I say that what I may suggest in the post is the way that everyone should go.  What I will say is to test what Lance and I say through these posts – test them with Scripture and examine them closely and pray on what we say – if they pass this examination and test – well, then, the rest is up to you.

First and foremost, I want to say that whatever I may say, Lance may say, a preacher or elder or teacher or business leader may say – if it is not about Jesus Christ being the first and the last – then it is very unfruitful in the ways of building disciples of Jesus Christ.  Jesus doesn’t want fans – he wants followers.  That means that each and every one of us, who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Savior, we were bought with a price.  Our lives no longer belong to us or our wants, they belong to God.  What we do in this life is how we honor him with our stewardship of His time, talent and treasure that He gives each and every one of us who belong to Him..

Some questions, that we as members of bible believing churches can ask leadership who have accountability:

  • What is their fruit?
  • Who are they accountable to (a church board?  a board of Elders?  A consistory?)?
  • As I test what they say, teach and witness to, does it hold true to Scripture?
  • Is it about Jesus, reaching the disconnected and growing the connected?

both fruitsfollowingWhat is their fruit?  On a piece of paper draw a line down the middle of the page.  On the left side write the subject:  Fruit of the Sinful Nature and on the right side write the subject:  Fruit of the Spirit?  Your list should be based solely on what Scripture says in Galatians Chapter 5.  The Apostle Paul gives the Church a stern warning in this before he gives us the list of each fruit in Galatians 5, “13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”

Who are they accountable to?  If your church leader(s) do not have biblical accountability in their lives, in their work and in their daily regiments, I want to caution you.  In my church, we have a Consistory, which consists of the three offices of the Church:  The Pastoral, Elders and Deacons who oversee the Church.  The Management Team in some churches is set up to “manage” the daily operations of the Church, while the Elders are called to take care of the Spiritual well-being of the church and to make sure that the word of God is preached and to care for the flock.  The Deacons are called to take care of the needs of the church and the pastoral is called to teach and preach and feed God’s sheep through the Word of God.  We have accountability and we encourage each other to live a life worthy of Christ.  We gauge each other on the fruit that we see.  Sometimes we disagree, sometimes we can even argue, but as long as the word of God is consistent in our lives, then we can agree to disagree letting the truth of God’s word reign in our lives.

Examine & Test:  Do we/they pass the test?  2 Corinthians 13:5-9 (ESV) 5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.”  One of the things that makes me cringe, as an Elder in our church, is when individuals say that this is what God is saying to them and what they should be doing (Please don’t take this wrong, because we both know that the Holy Spirit dwells in those who are followers of Christ and the Holy Spirit guides us in the ways that we ought to go.  We also believe that God talks to us through His Spirit, His Word, His preaching and teaching and when the Fruit of the Spirit is pouring over that direction).  What I am talking about here is when someone says that God is telling them something and nothing that I just previously mentioned lines up with that.  One of the things that I see most men struggle with (including me) is submission and obedience.  Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) “17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”  Before you believe that you are giving us leaders a “blank check” read this from Jesus’s brother, James 3:1-2 (ESV) Taming the Tongue, “3 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” Leaders will be judged at a greater strictness (by whom, you ask, He who will judge all of us – Jesus Christ).

There are two leaders that I really respect and I have come to really appreciate their preaching and teaching.  I appreciate how they challenge each of us to be better in their walks.  I appreciate how they love the church and the body and how they love Jesus.  Are these men perfect?  By no means, they are all mere men and they sin every day (trust me – we all do).  So, than, if they do not have accountability, a board of Elders and Deacons and a Consistory to hold them in that accountability, then what are we to do for the body?

On the other side of this, are those who have been hurt, misguided, victimized and or maligned by lack of this accountability.  Does this allow us, who profess the name of Jesus Christ, to blog about, tear them down, print nasty and bitter words?  What is the fruit in this?  What does this say to the lost (the World) who is watching?  Does that make them want to follow Christ and his teachings?  Does that make them want to believe in the Word of God and the power of His Spirit to overcome the worst of sins in each and every one of us?

Are these words that are printed, recorded and redistributed loving one another?  Are they made to build up the church and to edify its members?  Are they there to love our neighbor as ourselves?  I would like to gently say – NO!  These words are from the pit of hell (not the person writing them or the individuals who have been made victims or the like).  I am talking about the very essence of these words – they are from the pit of hell.  How can I say this?  How can I know this?  How can I believe this?  Please re-read Galatians 5, Ephesians 4 and the very word of God.

These blogs, these news stories, these videos are bearing the fruit of the sinful nature (discord, disunity, factions and the like).  Any fruit that bears the fruit of the sinful nature IS FROM THE PIT OF HELL!

Now that I have probably made some of you uncomfortable, some hurt and some confused, let me re-direct you back to the point of this article – ACCOUNTABILITY.  The last point about accountability is this:

Is it about Jesus? (are we bearing his fruit?  Are we reaching the disconnected?  Are we growing the connected?)  Are church has a few core mission statements and one of the biggest is that it should always be about Jesus (from beginning to the end) and the other that we use a lot is:  Reaching the Disconnected and Growing the Connected.  I love this because Jesus first loved me in all my broken-ness.  His father (God the Father) loved me so much that He gave His only Son for me.  And if that weren’t already enough, when He rose again (Jesus the Christ) and now sits at the right hand of God, He gave His Spirit to each one of us who confess His name.  Talk about love!  Talk about forgiveness!  Talk about the great story ever told.  If you are in a church (which we are called to be in community as God the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are in community.  This is healthy and this is the body of Christ.  Therefore, we are to build each other up, to teach each other how to use our gifts.  We are to edify each other in truth with love.

No matter how bad the offense, the leader, the lack of accountability I can clearly promise you (through the very word of God) that every tongue will confess and every knee will bow.  I can promise you that those are teach and lead and direct God’s sheep in the wrong direction – will be held at a higher level of judgement.  All of this belongs to God.  I can also tell you this, without any doubt, that God IS IN CONTROL.  No matter the right or the wrong, God is still in control.  His plans will succeed and he will never fail.

What if we go through these very trials and tribulations to build us up and to test our faith in order for God to use us for greater things for His Kingdom.  Can we pass the test?  Can we forgive as Christ has forgiven us?  Can we love the Lord our God with all of heart, mind, body and soul and just like this commandment, can we love our neighbor as our selves?

This is the Gospel.  This is the truth.

If you are a leader and have no accountability then repent, turn from these ways and make it all about God.  Love!  If you are a follower or a member of a body of the church, then submit and obey and trust that God is in control.  Ask the right questions to those who truly have biblical accountability because when do ask these leaders they will pray, reflect and repent because it shouldn’t be about them, rather, it is always about God and His Kingdom.  If you find yourself speaking for God and no one else confirms this, nor scripture nor the fruit of the Spirit THEN REPENT, turn the other way and love!  Love one another thus fulfilling the command of Jesus.

If you are a leader and a denomination that says that you have accountability and you and your church are trying to justify sin (that is clearly listed and labeled truth in Scripture) then REPENT and turn away from these wicked practices.  God will forgive and his church will restore you as we are called to do.  If you are a member and you are living in sin and/or trying to justify sinful (hypocritical) behavior then REPENT and turn away from these evil practices.

When the body comes together in unity and loves one another, NOT EVEN THE GATES OF HELL can prevail.

Thoughts?

D

Conflict Resolution

yoda-quotes-2“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” - Yoda

As a disciple of Christ this is a very difficult subject to breach.   You pick the topic and the subject and I can show you hundreds of years of conflict that has even divided Christians and religions.  Turn on social media and look at all the venom and cruelty of words that are out there (some even from the church that is embarrassing to watch/read).  Some of the most controversial topics are as follows:

  1. Relationships (husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend, sexual variation)
  2. Terrorism
  3. Death Penalty
  4. Global Warming
  5. Legalization of Drugs
  6. Healthcare
  7. Plastic Surgery
  8. Illiteracy
  9. Abortion
  10. Stem Cell Research

In the church, alone, we see each other argue over denominations, sexual orientation, baptisms (infant vs adult), politics and so on.  No one person or group is exempt from controversy.  The real issues are what we do when we reach conflict.  How do we resolve conflict and what does God expect from us through this process.  (Note: Already in some of your minds, you are saying, “No way” you don’ t know what happened to me and how can you ever expect me to forgive?).

Personally, I can share numerous times when life has not been fair or when I have been made a victim.  Sometimes I still think about certain events in my past and quietly long for God’s vengeance of these past wrongs, but then I am humbled and reminded that I do not want this negative attitude to turn back toward me instead of the aggressors.  God is everywhere at every time no matter how we try to spin that mind-blowing thought.  That being said, when this God sends His only Son to die for us and pay for our sins, then how can we say that we cannot forgive?

What does Scripture have to say on this:

Romans 12:17-21 ESV Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Steps to take (in no particular order)

  • James 1:19 ESV Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
  •  Matthew 18:15-17 ESV “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
  •  Proverbs 15:1 ESV A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  •  Matthew 5:9 ESV “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
  •  Luke 17:3 ESV Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,
  •  Philippians 2:4 ESV Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  •  Colossians 3:13 ESV Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
  •  Proverbs 16:7 ESV When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
  •  Leviticus 19:18 ESV You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
  •  Matthew 5:24 ESV Leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
  •  Ephesians 4:26 ESV Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
  •  Ephesians 4:31 ESV Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

As Yoda so eloquently states, Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate and Hate leads to suffering.  There is so much truth in these words that I can hardly contain myself in typing this.  Think about prejudices (= ignorance and misunderstanding ON BOTH SIDES – which births from fear and then anger).  Think about Sexual hot topics (homosexuality, cohabitation, pornography, you pick the vice – again, this all leads to suffering).  Pick your topic (being a victim = fear leads to anxiety and bitterness and then leads to anger and then suffering).

This is a big ask of all of our readers (including yours truly writing this) but think of the Author of lies and of hate (malice) and deceit – none other than that old Serpent (Lucifer, aka Satan).  He is the Father of all lies and loves to tear good in half given any opportunity that God gives him.  Think of those that do not know Christ (ignorance and fear which leads to anger and hate which leads to suffering) – this all happens for reasons beyond our comprehension.  BUT (there is a big BUT here) there will come a time when all knees will bow and every tongue will confess and God will judge those who are not in the book of life for their transgressions (not knowing His Son) and He will judge the saints for what they have done being His stewards (of His time, talent and treasures).

What are we waiting for?  Let’s try to forgive as we have all been forgiven!

Thoughts?  Remember fear is the path to the dark side.  If God is for us, then who could possibly stand against Him?

Blessings,

D

 

 

How to be a man – part 2

In the Book of Job, we read the following text:

Job 29 English Standard Version (ESV)

 

Job’s Summary Defense

29 And Job again took up his discourse, and said:

 

2 “Oh, that I were as in the months of old,

as in the days when God watched over me,

3 when his lamp shone upon my head,

and by his light I walked through darkness,

4 as I was in my prime,[a]

when the friendship of God was upon my tent,

5 when the Almighty was yet with me,

when my children were all around me,

6 when my steps were washed with butter,

and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!

7 When I went out to the gate of the city,

when I prepared my seat in the square,

8 the young men saw me and withdrew,

and the aged rose and stood;

9 the princes refrained from talking

and laid their hand on their mouth;

10 the voice of the nobles was hushed,

and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.

11 When the ear heard, it called me blessed,

    and when the eye saw, it approved,

12 because I delivered the poor who cried for help,

    and the fatherless who had none to help him.

13 The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me,

    and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.

14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;

    my justice was like a robe and a turban.

15 I was eyes to the blind

    and feet to the lame.

16 I was a father to the needy,

    and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.

17 I broke the fangs of the unrighteous

    and made him drop his prey from his teeth.

18 Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,

and I shall multiply my days as the sand,

19 my roots spread out to the waters,

with the dew all night on my branches,

20 my glory fresh with me,

and my bow ever new in my hand.’

21 “Men listened to me and waited

and kept silence for my counsel.

22 After I spoke they did not speak again,

and my word dropped upon them.

23 They waited for me as for the rain,

and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.

24 I smiled on them when they had no confidence,

and the light of my face they did not cast down.

25 I chose their way and sat as chief,

and I lived like a king among his troops,

like one who comforts mourners.

———

imagesFollowing up on a previous post that I wrote about manhood, we discussed the following in our Men of Faith Group this morning:  What does biblical manhood look like for a disciple of Christ.  How does God want us to be true men:

DIVINE PURPOSE
Jeremiah 29:11-12 (ESV)11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

1 Thessalonians 4:3- (ESV) 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification:[a] that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body[b] in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

UNDIVIDED HEART

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV) 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

Psalm 119[a] א Aleph 1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.

STRONG AND COURAGEOUS

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV) 13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

1 Kings 2:2 (ESV) 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man,

ABOVE REPROACH

1 Timothy 3:2-7 (ESV) 2 Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

————–

Welcome-to-ManhoodWherever you are in your journey as Christ’s disciple, it is never too late to fear the Lord (in awe of Him) and confess and repent and move toward the man that he wants you to be.  For me, on vacation recently, I realized that one of the things that I was struggling with was a divided heart.  I love the Lord and I read His word and pray everyday, but the Lord revealed to me that I was not pursuing him, rather I was be routine with Him instead of relational.

 

God doesn’t just want a part of us, he wants all of us including our attention and focus (He wants a relationship with each of us).

 

 

Are there any things that you have to let go of and/or repent of to be the man that God wants you to be?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Blessings,

D

 

 

Your way versus God’s way

Joseph Reassures His Brothers

download15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died:17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,”they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

———

I am not sure about the rest of you, but I truly love the story of Joseph.  When I think about God’s faithfulness, I am completely amazed at how life and history have unfolded into ways that can only be explained by God.  That is, to say, that left on our own accord, life would be hopeless.  I have seen musicals and the movie, but each time that I read Genesis I glean more and more through the years.  To give you a background in this story, for all intensive purposes Joseph:

  • Was spoiled
  • Was not liked by his brothers
  • Was mistreated
  • Was betrayed
  • Was falsely accused
  • Was put in prison (he was innocent)
  • Was neglected
  • Was a dreamer

Through all of this God’s provision and sovereignty reigned through and through this true story.  Through Joseph’s rough life, he encountered pain and distress and anxiety and the like.  He probably felt very alone a lot of times and felt depression along the way.  Right up until the point that God gave him the interpretations of men’s dreams.  God enabled him to be the second man in command under just Pharoh.  Because of this, God’s promise to Abraham was sustained and His way went on to present day – Jesus is alive and sits at the right hand of the Father.

When we start to think that this world is about us and what we want and how it can best serve us – we miss the whole enchilada, that is, we miss God’s plans and blessing for our lives.  When we live in a secular world that becomes more hell bent on the world’s form of truth versus biblical truth (we have grave problems).  Life is never supposed to be easy nor should we expect that if we are professing Christ.  God loves us!  Jesus said that if we bear his name that we will be persecuted.

God knows the plans for us because He is the I AM!

We are not in control, God is.

If God is for us, then who can really be against us?

We need to learn the secret to life:  Contentment

What are some ways that you need to give up?

Let Go and Let God!

Blessings,

Dante

 

Faith without works…

In Genesis 22, we read the following passage:

Genesis 22 New International Version (NIV)

faith-without-works-is-deadAbraham Tested

22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”

19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

—–

BELIEVEFor many of Christians (true Jesus is the only way Christians) we have a hard time with this.  That is, to say, that we believe in Jesus.   We believe that he was born of a virgin, that he fulfilled all the prophesies about him (every one of them), that he was crucified (and died) and that on the third day he was brought back to life and that he now sits at the right hand of God.  Here is where the issue or problem may occur for us as Christians – the without works part of our faith.  Do not misunderstand me here, there is no works that we could possibly do in order to save ourselves – only God can save us through His Son Jesus Christ.  The point being that our bodies are living temples to God’s Spirit who resides in our temples.  How can we expect the Holy Spirit (who resides in each follower and believer in Jesus Christ) not to bring good works out of us?

If then we are raised by Jesus Christ (from being dead in spirit to life) then why do we not expect to see the fruit of the Spirit?  Sometimes this is difficult in that God lays before us trials and tribulations (tests) that for some can be painful or could stretch us in ways that we never wanted to be stretched.  In sacrifice that we never wanted to make, in works that we never wanted to work out.

Abraham had Isaac at the ripe old age of 100 years.  God then called him to take his son and sacrifice him.  Many of us read this story as blind faith (I don’t).  Abraham believed in the Lord and his works (by his faith in God) was counted to him as righteouness).  Abraham believed for years that God would give his barren wife a son (God did).  Abraham believed in the power of the living God (because he witnessed time and time again).  As you read the story in Genesis 22, we see that Abraham did all that the Lord required of him (even binding his one and only son) and he was even going to sacrifice him to the one true God (he trusted God because he knew God and what he did and could do).  Because of this work (Abraham had to work – do the action – that the Lord required of him before the blessing could occur).  Does the Lord have the power to bless us without action (of course), does the Lord bless us with the fruit of His Spirit (of course, he can do as he pleases).

Most of the time God calls us to action (as you read in James 1), in order to build us and strengthen us to who He knows we can become (disciples of His).  I want to end this post with words from the Book of James:

James 2:14-26New International Version (NIV)

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[b] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

—–

When it is in our power to do good and we don’t – shame on us.

When it is in our power to do good and we do – God smiles on us.

When we can do good to others – it is better for us (not expecting anything in return)

The blessing in this is that we truly get blessed more than the one(s) who we are blessing.

When you give, do not let the left hand see what the right hand is doing (because God knows and watches the actions of our hearts).

Blessings,

D

 

Broken Arrow

One of the perks of being a Legacydad writer is a website called RightNow.org in which I can listen to books and messages by various speakers.  I am currently listening to the sermon series by Pastor Tony Evans called Meaningful Manhood.  Questions like why are we hear and what the men should be doing along their path of manhood.  This is a very good sermon series and he begins by quoting from the movie with Mel Gibson “We Were Soldiers” based on a true story of the US Army in Vietnam.

At one point, when the Colonel is overrun by enemy troops, instead of evacuating the leader from safety, which is want the brass back home wants them to do, the Colonel (played by Mel Gibson) calls for Broken Arrow.  From the website www.military.com, we read this, “Before dawn, Moore orders his company commanders to meet him prior to an attack to rescue the still cut-off platoon. Before this meeting takes place, the PAVN launch a heavy attack which shatters the early morning stillness like a huge explosion. The attack is carried out by the 7th Bn, 66th Regiment and the H-15 Main Force Viet Cong Bn.  C Company of the Cavalry Battalion bears the brunt of the assault and is soon involved in hand to hand combat. The right portion of D/1/7 is also struck. The code word “Broken Arrow” is sent out over the radio by the Battalion Forward Air Controller. Within minutes, all available fighter bombers in South Vietnam are headed for X-ray to render close air support to “an American unit in grave danger of being overrun”. A 3 hour battle that features non-stop 105mm artillery, aerial rockets, and determined American Infantrymen, results in Charlie Company holding it’s ground in a stunning display of personal courage and unit discipline. But it pays a terrible price – no officers left and only 49 men unhurt. 42 officers and men killed; 20 wounded. Scores of slain North Vietnamese and their weapons litter the bloody battleground.”

When we take a look at our daily jaunts of life as husband, father, employer (employee), church member, citizen then we have to ask ourselves these questions:

 

  • Do I believe in the word of God as the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
  • Do I believe that God is Sovereign?
  • Do I believe in Good and that there is evil?
  • Do I believe in Spiritual Warfare?
  • Do I believe in the saving and redemptive power of Jesus Christ?

 

If you answered these questions, like me, then you answered yes and most definitely yes to all of them.  (if you did not, please private message me to dante@legacydad.com and we can chat further). If you agree, then keep reading please.  Jesus Christ calls each and every one of us to disciples – being his disciples.  I do not want to mislead you, there is a cost discipleship, no doubt, how we spend our time, talent and treasure will be measured by Jesus Christ at his Judgement Seat.

What are these costs:

 

  • We no longer own everything (everything belongs to God)
  • We no longer have excuses (read Luke 14)
  • We no longer use terms such as “I” and “Me” (instead we use “May His Will be done”)
  • We no longer are selfish
  • We have to consider the cost before we can truly follow
  • We have to not only “hear” the words of the Bible, but he wants us to do what they say!
  • Doing what is right (even when others do not see what we are doing)!

Sometimes, as men, we get caught into the daily struggles and routines of our lives.  The pressures, the stresses, the monotony of life:

  • We forget to date our wives
  • We forget to pursue our wives
  • We need to spend my quantity (instead of just quality) with our kids
  • We need to be more involved at home and at the church (it’s not just about the $$$)

What sin, what circumstance and what situation(s) is holding us back from true discipleship?  How can we change this?  What needs to be done?

More to follow,

D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you struggle with?

This past week my family and I go to this annual bible conference and spend it with my in-laws, my wife’s sisters and their kids.  I have been staying the whole week for the past 5 years as my wife told me that she truly enjoys having me there and that my kids really enjoy my company as well.  My other brother-in-laws cannot attend as they have jobs that don’t afford them the extra week that I can take.  In either case, the past few years I have honestly connected to the missionaries, the speakers and the worship, but for some reason this year I didn’t.  It is not to say that they weren’t engaging (they were) or that they were good (they were) or that they were walking with God (they are), but I think that it was more my spiritual condition and I had to do a heart check.

dunehikeSo on the last day I went for a 6.2 mile run only to be taunted by a large dune that needed to be climbed – so I climbed it and went on a two-mile climb, hike, run and walk through the dune side.  I prayed and confessed and asked God to reveal in me what I needed to change along this pathway (aka my journey).  Oh wretched soul that I am, thank you Lord for your redeeming blood.  I want to qualify that I do pray everyday and I also read Scripture everyday.  I try to be humble and I work on my walk (almost daily), but as I returned home from my week up in Michigan, I realized that connecting with God is not His issue, but mine.  He is faithful and he is always there, but I am weak and am lazy and have turned more “religious” in routine rather than pursuing a relationship with Him.

I turned my daily walk into a religious routine instead of a relationship.  Wake up at 4:00am and check the internet (for work) read scripture for me and pray (not like I used to).  Drive to work, pray periodically throughout the day (more for me instead of His will) and I am holding and walking with others and focusing more on them and how to challenge their walk instead of taking the challenges that they present me daily.  Don’t get me wrong, we do have brutal accountability and we have seen each other’s walks improve.  However, each day that I have made this more clinical instead of relational I have slid into a spiritual desert.  I need to have some honest conversations with three people this week and to tell them about this heart check of mine.

 

 

 

What I am struggling with most this season:

  • Workload and industry challenges
  • To much focus on work and “to-do” lists instead of the correct priorities
  • Me instead of God’s will for me
  • Not hearing from Him like I used to
  • My prayer life
  • My journal life
  • And lack of song writing (I believe this is hand in hand with the previous two on this list)
  • Some of my old struggles have re-surfaced

What am I going to do about this:

Prayer (more of intentional prayer) and confession

Confess to my brothers (true accountability)

More journal time

More prayer journal time

More intentional reading of the Bible

Using my gifts for God’s will and not mine

What do you struggle with right now?  I “googled” the top 10 things that people struggle with most and was not surprised by the lists and lists of things that we struggle with daily:  Bills (money), Relationships (or lack thereof), terrorism, rogue nations, corrupt politicians, spending, anxiety, healthcare, retirement, family and so so much more.  I think Romans 8 is the place that all of us need to turn to in times such as these – God is in control!!!

God's lightRomans 8: 22 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j] 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus…”

dearWhat do you need to give to the Lord this week?  What do you need to confess?  Who do you need to be honest with?  Who do you need to forgive?  Who do you need to apologize to?  What do you need to ask God for?  What is God’s will for your life?

Ask Him, Pray to Him and trust in His will for your life!

To God be the Glory for ever and ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessings,

D

 

Show me how to…

downloadMathew West wrote this song about a women who sent her story to him.  The woman’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver and this woman had started a ministry across the country talking to people about the cause and effects of drinking and driving and why we shouldn’t do this.  As she kept traveling the Lord slowly revealed that something was truly missing from her life.  She had the compassion and the boldness to speak truth in love to those who could devastate their lives by poor decisions – but the Lord revealed to her that something true was missing:  Forgiveness.

 

 

Matthew wrote this song:

“Forgiveness”

It’s the hardest thing to give away

And the last thing on your mind today

It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel

When the pain they caused is just too real

It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride

It moves away the mad inside

It’s always anger’s own worst enemy

Even when the jury and the judge

Say you gotta right to hold a grudge

It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable

Show me how to reach the unreachable

Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away

It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what it’s power can do

So, let it go and be amazed

By what you see through eyes of grace

The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable

Show me how to reach the unreachable

Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free

So show me how to see what Your mercy sees

Help me now to give what You gave to me

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

For those of us who don’t struggle with anger, we think that it is not a struggle to forgive (or fill in the things that you don’t struggle with here _______).  But if you are like me, then you are a realist.  I used to be annoyed and unforgiving of the Apostle Peter, but then the Lord revealed to me that I was so much worse than he was .  I was judge-mental prideful and arrogant.  I was unforgiving and rude and sometimes just down right ridiculous in my thought processes.  I mean, think about it, sometimes (if we are really honest) the things that we don’t like about others really are things that we don’t like about ourselves (or things that we struggle with and try not to do).

If we are true disciples of Jesus Christ THEN we have to forgive like He has forgiven us.  We have to love, like He loves us and we have to do to others as He has done for us.

When it is all said and done, Matthew West is right when he sings that  when we don’t forgive we end up putting ourselves in a prison of unforgiveness.  Think about it?

Forgive, and find God’s blessings in your life when you move closer to His will.

Blessings,

D