A prayer for spiritual strength

prayer1FOr this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭3‬:‭14-21‬ NIV)

Often I find myself in life’s circumstances that make me question why and how some things seem to be what they really are not.  Some call this spiritual warfare and/0r our spiritual lives in the desert place.

As we read Ephesians 4 we have to realize that Jesus Christ is the center of it all.  Surrendering our will to God and trusting Him is the way we should go!

Lance and I pray this spiritual strength for you!

 

blessings,

Dante

The “g”od complex

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

another-breath_the-god-complexA god complex is an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility. A person with a god complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of complex or intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks, or may regard their personal opinions as unquestionably correct.[1][2] The individual may disregard the rules of society and require special consideration or privileges.[1]

God complex is not a clinical term or diagnosable disorder, and does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The first person to use the term god-complex was Ernest Jones (1913-51).[3] His description, at least in the contents page of Essays in Applied Psycho-Analysis, describes the god complex as belief that one is a god.[4]

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When Jesus referred to Satan, he called him a liar and the Father of all lies.  Satan, the Devil, in his heart was proud and sinned because of it and thought in his heart to set his throne above God’s throne (Read here:  Isaiah 14).  Knowing that the devil (Satan) prowls around like a lion seeking to destroy God’s disciples, we need to be on guard and to be in the word daily to protect ourselves against his evil arrows.  We need to be rooted in the word.  The problem with this “g”od complex is set at the beginning of our lives when we reach cognitive thought, in that, we desire to seek our own kingdoms and sometimes at the expense of God’s Kingdom.  Meaning:  We often find our motives and heart in place of God’s will for our life.

When God spoke to Cain:  Genesis 4:7 (ESV) 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted?[a] And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for[b] you, but you must rule over it.”.  He gave man a clear path on what Sin can do to our lives.  Cain murdered his brother out of jealousy and anger.  Jesus took the 10 commandments in his teaching and expounded the definition even further with us in saying that if we hate our brother(S) then we have already committed murder in our hearts.  In the 10 Commandments, if you are guilty of one, you are guilty of them all.

So where is the hope?  How can we sustain?  How can we overcome?

Constantly the world bombards us with media, advertisement and daily jaunts of how they know what is best for us (pleasing ourselves) instead of pleasing the one who creates us.  This type of rationalization does not please God, it please the god of this world, that great liar and deceiver, the devil.  He is a bitter and evil creature that turned from his Creator.  He was the first in Scripture to turn to self and please himself and to try and overcome his way instead of God’s way.  Often we find when sin tempts us we are given a choice.  Sometimes this sin materializes out of our own desires and greed.  Other times, it is clear that there is likely spiritual warfare and the evil one and his minions tempt (or put situations) in front of us to stumble us.  However, God gives us hope in His Son Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

throneroomImagine for just a moment a throne room in each one of our lives.  Imagine the great royal chamber and what that looks like.  For me, when I think of Jesus and God in all their glory, I see a magnificent throne room with all types of gems and diamonds and brilliant light and rainbows and clouds and thunder.  I imagine what it would be like to try and look upon this throne room and to see the Angels and saints all around praising their names:  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and how awesome and how wonderful and even how terrifying that would be.

Now imagine when sin creeps in each of our lives and for a moment we see a flash and we no longer see God (in three) on that throne, instead we see ourselves for what we are:  A sinner in need of a savior and who is weak and feeble and full of our own pride, insecurity and greed and selfishness.  We need to put ourselves to death daily (our old selves) and too seek God’s will for our life each day.  As one of our readers said recently to me, when I say the phrase “let go and let God” it grate him because he believes that true discipleship is just more than letting go, it is required daily surrender of self and obedience to God’s will for each one of our lives.

It is taking the small “g” out of our lives (for some g = greed,  g = gluttony, g = god complex) and putting God back on that throne and realizing he is in all, through all and above all.

Let go of self, let God in control and trust and obey and surrender to Him each day.

Blessings,

Dante

 

Mini Church: Faith, Family and Friends

FFFFor the past four years I have had a small group that to me, was family, and we used this as a place of prayer, friendship, trust and encouragement.  This group was family.  It was a place to let my proverbial hair down and to be fed instead of pouring into.  Two of the couples felt called to lead in other areas.  This was a group of leaders, not followers and it was really nice to lean on each other during these past few years.

This group helped me through the death of my mother.  They prayed for my wife and me when we needed it most.  And most importantly we didn’t feel judged in this group.  That is not to say that they didn’t hold me accountable, because when they did, I knew it was out of love (and truth).

The beautiful thing about these changes are that they will bless other people (other marriages and individuals) as much as they have blessed my wife and me.  They will comfort and encourage and urge others to live a life worthy of God.

So what about the others that I left with us?  What about the new members in our group?  The more the merrier.  Seriously, these others are still part of our family.  They love me and we will continue to grow and challenge each other, to pray for each other, and to be there for one another.  We just had another family start coming and we have been truly blessed by them.

Faith Mini ChurchSo as I am leading this group, I was praying on what best to talk about:  Marriage?  Stewardship?  Missional? Discipleship?  Of course, I decided on a topic after serious prayer:  Parenting!  We all have kids and we all are our own experts on this subject (not).  The one thing, among many, that we have in common is at times we begrudgingly admit that we do not like bedtime when it is difficult – don’t get me wrong, there are many nights were tickles, snuggles, bedtime pillow fights and songs from the heart ring true to my ears, but then there are those nights (well, you know those nights).

This topic was clearly an answer to my prayers because we have had some honest discussion and really good prayer time with each other.  The thing that I realize is that there are a ton of books about parenting that try to give you cookie cutter solutions on how to raise your kids, but the honest to God conclusion is that not all kids are the same.  Not every child responds to the desires of our hearts that we would like.  Not every child can be disciplined the same.  Not every child, so the list goes on and on and on.

In my opinion, God gives us the privilege of parenting so we can see exactly how much he loves us.  He gives us this blessing to help us understand his mercies are new every day.  He shows us how to love even when we want to scream in frustration and he shows us no matter the good or the bad (the child – each one of us are His) He still loves us.

The Bible has a lot to say about parenting, but there is no clear cut way for each parent to follow.  I will say this, Lance was spot on in his last post, Parents:   You can’t Rush God’s Plan.  Because we cannot.  He is in control even when life seems out of control for us.  He has plans for us, not to harm us, but to give us the abundant life for those who fear and love Him.

God tells us clearly in Scripture to train a child in the way that they should go and that they will never depart from that.  There are a few caveats that we have to apply for this to be the case:

  • Our faith has to be real
  • We have to trust the Lord with all our heart
  • We have to not lean on our own understanding
  • We have to acknowledge God in all our ways
  • And we have to believe that He will make our paths straight
  • We have to stay grounded in the Word (because that word is our lifeline to God)
  • We have to show love, faith and hope to our children

This all sounds like it would be an easy formula to follow, but the problem with this theory is that we are married and there is one man and one woman in this marriage.  The potential problem with this is that we continue to try and fall back to our old selves (the old sin nature) instead of putting on our new self (in Christ Jesus) for those of us who profess the Lord Jesus as Savior.

When we get in the way of ourselves:  To our spouse, to our children, to our church and to our work and community – a whole slew of problems begin to unravel themselves.  So what to do:

Turn ourselves back to God (confess this to him:  our doubts, our fears, our troubles)

Lean on Him (all the time – He is faithful even when we are not)

Let Go and Let God.

As Lance, said, “It’s the difference between living your faith versus knowing about faith.”  Your kids can smell a fake a mile away – so be real, make mistakes, get angry, be sad, cry, love, laugh, and live true faith.  Let your kids know that God is a God of second, third and infinite chances as long as we continue to pursue him, trust him and love him.

What say you?

Blessings,

D

Parents: You Can’t Rush God’s Plan

god-trust

For the past 5 months, I’ve been working in a third world country dealing with violence, malaria and frequent bouts with food poisoning. Skype and texting keeps me connected to my family but I’m not present daily to influence and mentor my children. That being said, my kids have had a remarkable spiritual journey over the past few months even though I was not there guiding them.

One of the parenting principles that I am adamant about is exposing our kids to the gospel and faith but not forcing the timing or fruit of the spirit. I know parents who have walked their kids down the aisle at church when they were 5 years old and asked the little ones to give their hearts to Christ. The kids say yes, of course and the parents rejoice! Only God and the child truly know if they accepted Christ or not but I’m always skeptical. I wonder if the child really understood that they were freely accepting Christ by grace or were they simply trying to make mom, dad, grandma, etc. happy in the excitement of the moment?

As a result of this skepticism and my own false-positive experience, we’ve always made it a point to expose our children to the faith, the gospel, and modeling a walk with Christ but we’ve never asked our kids to give their hearts to Christ or spent a lot of time on Christine doctrine.

To many people, this is backwards approach to faith. Most people learn Christian doctrine through stories, Bible studies, etc. and then come to some sort of faith decision at some point in their lives. My wife and I’s approach to faith with our kids was to model a Christian life, rather than preach or make them study it, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives when they were ready according with God’s plan.

I’ve said in the past that my kids cannot quote you the scripture of the story of the “Good Samaritan” but I’ve seen them many times stop and help those in need, give their own money to the poor or stand up for those being bullied. It’s the difference between living your faith versus knowing about faith.

J.I. Packer puts it eloquently by stating “There’s a difference between knowing God and knowing about God.”

Pastor Andy Stanley writes that many Christians today take an academic approach to faith like it’s a college course you study for and then Christians falsely equate Biblical knowledge with spiritual maturity. Many churches and parents take this approach in assuming that the more head knowledge you have on God, the greater your relationship with Him. I happen to agree more with Stanley, who states that the true measure of spiritual maturity is evidenced in the daily action in one’s life and a person’s trust in God and His plan.

I have a lot of friends who have left the faith with a lot of head knowledge about God, they can quote scripture back and forth, but they never had a relationship with Christ. They learned the stories, doctrine, and practiced the rituals of religion but never experienced authentic faith. As I wrote about before, sadly many Christians today are learning religion not faith.

This summer, both my kids gave their hearts to Christ, of their own free will, and without my wife or I present. They were at summer camp and the Holy Spirit moved in their lives and compelled them. Two weeks later, they were both in the Appalachian Mountains helping those in need on a mission’s trip and again the Spirit moved in their lives. My daughter, who has had some anxiety issues for a few years, learned to take her fear and her weakness and cry out to God for help. She learned the power of prayer and that even when we feel scared and weak; God will protect us and bring us through the storms of life. Both my kids were moved by the trip but my daughter came out of that week with a new-found faith that can only be obtained through experience and trust in God. My son learned this lesson a year earlier in Gettysburg.

As a parent, I’d love to take a victory lap and say it was all those years of hard work and modeling but I know this is false. God had a plan long before I did; God has his own timeline and all my best intentions as a parent cannot override His work.

As parents we need to remember this lesson. We all want our kids to come to know Christ, we all want our kids to experience the fruit of the Spirit but we cannot force it. If you want your children to experience authentic faith in their lives, we cannot rush God’s plan or supersede the work of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer and God’s will

2 Kings 20:1-6English Standard Version (ESV)

Hezekiah’s Illness and Recovery

daniel-was-a-man-of-prayer-with-an-excellent-spirit20 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord, and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.”

—-

When I read this, and many other various passages in Scripture, I find hope and anticipation.  The awesomeness of this Scripture, as believers, is that God does hear our prayers!  He knows our hearts and cares for our well-being.  Many academics may argues as to God being Omniscient and Omnipresence, however, I am choosing not to engage in mortal discussion. I am, however, going to literally take the word of God at its merit.  Does God know our every thoughts?  Of course!  Does God know the outcome of our lives and the actions we take?  Of course He does!  Does God want us to pray to Him?  Yes He does:

  • “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7)
  • “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)
  • “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)
  • “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)
  • “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13)
  • “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)
  • “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23)
  • “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” (Romans 10:12)
  • “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18)

prayer1This past Saturday, in our men’s small group, we challenged each other to read through the Book of James this week (Monday – James 1 through Friday – James -5).  It has never become more clearer to me that God wants us to not only worship Him (as he so deserves) but He wants community with us.  He wants more than just fanfare, he wants a relationship with each and every one of us.

Prayers that benefit us and not His will is not what He is asking for.  True Disciples of Jesus spend their time (and devotion) on the things that matter:  God’s will (not ours).

Share our fears, anger, sadness and needs with Him, but in all we do seek His Kingdom first.

Blessings,

D

Hate versus Love, Anger versus Peace, Jesus versus the world

angerOften you hear the phrase, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”  I think this statement can be watered down to the point that it also becomes a passive aggressive statement.  Let’s be honest, sometimes when we really hear this phrase it is meant to exalt the speaker in the sense that they are righteous and holy while the sin(ner) that they are looking down on is indecent and despicable and unloved.  I mean how can someone be continually involved in sin and not turn and repent and continue to do that over and over.  Are they really saying that?

How about comments like, “I can be mad at you because I have righteous anger.”   Or  how about this, “You know, that person is an EGR” (EGR = extra grace required).  I think if we truly interpreted scripture in the way that Jesus wants us to, after all, He is the Word, wouldn’t we want to hit the very mark that Jesus calls all of His disciples to?  As we read through the New Testament there are a few things that become abundantly clear as we read:  1) Jesus is the Messiah foretold of in the Old Testament 2) Jesus is the Savior 3) Jesus is the Son of God 4) Jesus loves us 5) Jesus is the toughest on the religious leaders of the day.  In some circumstances you could say that he was ruthless with these leaders of the temples.

When these religious leaders were referred to as whitewashed tombs, that pretty much sums up the skinny:  Don’t be religious instead be intentional with what God gives each and every one of us.  To put this in another way, those of us that proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Savior have a duty and a responsibility to use the gifts and talents that God gives each and every one of us for His Kingdom and not our own.  He calls us to be Holy and to be merciful and above all to put on love (not hate) to serve (not to be served) to witness (not to be closed-minded and put off).

anger begetsSome truths:

  • Love your neighbor as yourself (there is no room for hate here)
  • Love your enemies (show them kindness, turn the other cheek)
  • Do not hate your brother/sister(s)
  • In all circumstances, lead on God and not your self or your own ideology
  • Test everything (use Scripture, Prayer as your barometer)
  • In all things, let the word of Christ dwell in your richly and seek the peace of Christ
  • Jesus was radical.
  • Jesus did not mince words
  • Jesus was or was not – you have to make that choice
  • None of us can come to Jesus by ourselves, unless God the Father, wills us to Him (this is hard for some, but biblically true)

Maybe for some of you, you feel convicted by some of these thoughts and words, maybe others feel the effects of being judged and condemned by others.  Whether be it mental health, family issues, or things beyond our control.  May be we are even a product of our upbringing and we want to break these chains and be a new link in a healthy legacy.  A legacy worth Legacydads that we are all striving to become.  It’s never too late and it is never over.  We believe in a God of second, third and infinite chances.  He is patient and kind and He loves us so much that He gave His only Son for us.

This is radical.  This is difficult, but with complete trust and surrender – all things are possible.

What about it?  Can you free yourself to forgive?  Can you free yourself from condemning?

Thoughts,

D

 

 

 

 

Awesome weekend: Joy and Excitement

Dear Legacy Dads,

It has been a while since I posted, not because I do not want to, rather, life has been somewhat busy.  This past weekend was pure excitement and joy for me.  First of all, my son, decided to finally make a profession of Faith and now is a new member at our church.  He really has been saved since about 3 (he truly gets his salvation), but I didn’t want to pressure him, instead I wanted him to own his faith.  So he went through our Church Class to become a member and this weekend he brought me joy.

TreyI am not sure about your goals and dreams, but my wife and I have a top priority and that is leading the type of life where our faith is real and our kids really want to own it.  Our prayers have been that they will all come to know the Lord as Savior.  So far, we are two out of three and I couldn’t be happier.  The youngest is very smart, and may even be able to comprehend her love toward Jesus, but I am waiting on her (not what I want).

The coolest part of this weekend is just how much he internalized the moment.  I was so excited that he was called to be called a son of God and now to have a community of believers walk around him as he grows in wisdom and discernment.  This was a very humble moment for me and I am still so thankful that the first of three has made a profession of Faith.

My in-laws made the trip out to attend this service and I was just so excited by the Legacy of Faith that was present.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law raised girls that love the Lord, love their husbands and teach their children scripture and purity – it is an amazing thing to watch and I am so thankful that God keeps all of his promises (even when we don’t).

He is a God of second and third and so many chances because He loves us so much that He gave us His only Son.  With all this joy in my life that came from this event and the weekend of worship and praise, I didn’t think I could get any more excitement until she walked into my room and I paused and took a picture.

AudreyI am not sure about you (who have daughters) but I can tell you that I would sacrifice my life and for any one of my kids and that I want them to enjoy their lives and to love their spouses and to love the Lord with all their mind, body, soul and strength.  My middle child walked into my room and showed me a glimpse of my future (Excitement) and to be perfectly honest (as a father) some concerns:

  • Am I being the dad/father that I need to be?
  • Am I teaching my girls what to look for in a man?
  • Am I treating them like I should be (the way that I want their husbands to treat them)?
  • How can I be more intentional in my parenting and influence?
  • What else do I need to be doing?
  • Am I giving them enough of my time (hugs, kisses and quantity of time)?
  • Are my wife and I parenting as well as we should be?
  • I only have just under 10 years left to truly parent with 100% influence? What’s next?
    How can I get others to help me along this process?

 

When it is all said and done, I would like to achieve a few things in my life:

  1. To lead a humble and content life
  2. To leave a legacy for my wife and kids and men that follow
  3. To leave a love that can never be replaced (except by my kids spouses and their new lives together)
  4. To have my tombstone say that I did it right
  5. and most important to hear the words from our Lord, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

What about you?
Blessings,

D

 

 

Top 10 things in order to be an effective leader

Top 10 things in order to be an effective leader:

  1. You must have a vision (where are we, where are we going and how do we get there)
  2. You must be able to communicate this vision and convey it to your leaders (if you turnaround and not everyone is following refocus your efforts on communication)
  3. You must encourage those around you
  4. You must listen to those who you empower to carryout your vision
  5. You must often refer to #1 (have a vision) and #2 (communicate this vision)
  6. You must be relational (this means that you should comfort, encourage and urge others around you
  7. You must be open to those who you are empowering (give them a voice, because if they believe that they have value then your vision becomes even more invaluable)
  8. You must continually go through this list in order to make sure that you didn’t stray into your own circle of non-communication to your team
  9. You must be a humble leader
  10. You must be an accountable leader

All of this is only possible when your vision is aligned with God’s truth.  This is not about a man, instead it is about God who became man to save you and me!

Blessings,

Dante