Discipleship

A legacy dad approach

dareAs you have read many posts and listened to both Lance and I blog about various topics ranging from modern day issues to relational topics through a biblical lens, we hope that you realize our heart is that you grow in your faith, strengthen your walks (and relationships) and be able to call God your true friend.  All that being said, leads me to this post in building true discipleship in your life.

Job 28:28 “The fear of the Lord –that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding”. 1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

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My body is a temple

1 Corinthians 6:12-20English Standard Version (ESV)

Flee Sexual Immorality
photogrid_140581942836912 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined[a] to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[b] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

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What is God’s will for my life

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Dear Legacy Dads,

understanding-gods-will-for-our-lives-custom-672x372I want to apologize to all of you for being absent these past several weeks.  As life would have it, my father passed away at the end of September and we have been in all out take care of family and finalize details for his burial and add to that fall break vacation with the wife and kids.

This is a bitterly sweet moment for me in that my dad is no longer in pain, no longer suffering and with Jesus and my mom.  The bitter part is that I don’t get to see him or talk to him until I see him in Heaven.

All this being said, brings me to this blog post, “What is God’s will for my life?”

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10 Books That Changed My Life

I’ve read and listened to hundreds of books over the years, some better than others.  Some are written like a thesis paper and are hard to get through and others are written in a common vernacular that seems to speak like a wise friend giving advice.  While many of the books I’ve read have provided insight, learning, and growth – I tried to narrow a list down to ten books that I know have had a profound impact on my life (besides the Bible of course.)

10 Books

Some of these were just timing, the age I was at or the season of life I was in, while others have proven to be timeless classics that I often re-read.  It was difficult to narrow the list down to ten but these are the ten, for me personally, that influenced me at various times in my life.  They are listed in no particular order.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

I was blessed to be able to attend a conference by John Maxwell on this book back in 1999.  I was in my mid 20’s then and just starting to take on real leadership roles.  Maxwell uses these 21 “Laws” to illustrate attributes of successful leaders.  Maxwell helps the reader understand that leadership is a privilege and should be used to help others, build teams, and advance the organizational goals. Maxwell uses the idea of Servant Leadership, casting a vision, and influencing others to follow you not because of your position or title but because they believe in you as a leader and the cause you are working towards. Now, I often give this book to leaders as they start out in life or when starting a new venture.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

People either love this book or hate it.  Manning was a former Franciscan Priest turned alcoholic who very openly and transparently explains his discover of God’s redeeming Grace.  Manning rejects the idea of earning salvation or Christians who try to grade others by a list of Do’s and Don’ts.  He uses powerful literary illustrations to show the reader our own personal biases and paints the picture that Christ died for all of us, even those we may detest.  Coming from a conservative Christian or Catholic background, this book opens the reader up to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrine that we are saved by grace, through faith alone.  “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” 

Twelve Ordinary Men by John F. MacArthur

On my bookshelf, I have an original copy of the 1871 book The Training of the Twelve which is one of the most in-depth books on how Christ discipled His chosen 12. Twelve Ordinary Men was originally a sermon series by MacArthur that finally became a book. This is probably the most in-depth study of the 12 original apostles of Christ taken from Scripture and known church history, to include their final fates. This book truly illustrated to me how Christ chose (and still chooses) ordinary people to fulfill His mission.  Christ did not choose religious scholars but men from varying backgrounds and even some with questionable pasts, to ultimately lead his Church after he was gone.  Not only is this a great historical account of the apostles, but it may also spark a fire in you that God can use you right now, where you are, to fulfill His Great Commission.

Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith by Henri Nouwen

This book was given to me by a Chaplain as I prepared to go to combat for the 4th time. I was initially skeptical as Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest but within the first few pages, I realized that this book not only had solid theology, but was a lifetime of wisdom and obedience wrapped up in an easy to read few hundred pages.  Nouwen touches on Christian community, accountability, and realizing our limitations and boundaries.  In the ultimate act of a servant of God, Nouwen left a prestigious position at Harvard and ended up ministering to a handful of mentally challenged individuals. He left prestige for obedience. This book is for those who are still searching, still wanting to grow and mature in the faith.  However, if you tend to compartmentalize your faith and not live it out openly on a daily basis, this book will be difficult for you.  However, if you are ready to get a healthy dose of what sanctification truly looks like, read this book a few times through and soak up the wisdom.

Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

I’ve read countless books on marriage, been to many marriage retreats, and even attended marriage counseling during some rough patches in the early years of my marriage. However, Love and Respect was when the idea of unconditional love finally sank into my thick skull.  Although we don’t want to admit it, often times we hold back in our marriages, we keep a count of the times we were wronged by our spouse, and we argue with our spouse to win the debate rather than trying to seek understanding and maintain the peace. This books taught me that no matter what my spouse does, my job is to love and support her unconditionally, with 100% of my effort, at all times. Even if my needs are not being met, even if she is not intimate with me, even if she is mean or disrespectfully to me – I will love her and show her my love every single day.

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Most Christians have read this classic apologetic on the Christian faith.  While John Stott, N.T. Wright, Tim Keller, and Wayne Grudem have probably provided a more elaborate and in-depth examination of the Christian faith, Lewis is still a master at rhetorical argument for and depiction of the Christian faith. Lewis asserted that he was not a theologian, although he was trained in philosophy, therefore Mere Christianity reads as a “common persons” thoughts on faith. It’s not going to convince the skeptic to jump on the Christian ship, but instead lays out the basic tenants of the Christian faith in easily understandable terms.

The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley

In the Spring of 2000, I saw this book on a display at a local bookstore. Being young and thinking that money will solve all my problems and make me happy, I bought the book hoping to learn the unknown secrets of millionaires. Instead, I was introduced to Stanley’s research and interviews with “real millionaires” (not people who buy expensive cars and big houses on credit to look wealthy) but people with 7-8 figures or more in semi-liquid assets. What I learned from this book is that the average million doesn’t “make it rain”, vacation on exotic, private islands nor did they go to Ivy League schools. The average millionaire lives below their means, buys quality or second hand, and invests their income in their own businesses or assets that put money in their pockets.  They are normally B and C students with a strong work ethic, high integrity, but they are willing to take calculated risks like starting their own business.  Stanley’s research in this book will flip your ideas (and hopefully your habits) into what it takes to actually become a real millionaire.

The Christ Files by John Dickson

As a former atheist, I really loved this book. The Christ Files goes a step further than Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ by illustrating the peer-reviewed academic, scientific, and anthropological evidence for the New Testament and Jesus Christ.  What I love is that Dickson draws his research from unbiased historians who have little interest in debunking or defending Christ or Christianity. These researchers are interested in historical accuracy and treat the writings of the New Testament as they would any other historical documents. Dickson also explains some of the tools historians use when authenticating historical documents such as coherence, dissimilarity, and multiple attestation.  Dickson covers dating the Gospels and the New Testament, the accuracy of oral tradition in anthropology, why the Gnostic gospels and other early church writings were not included in the final Canon. Dickson also introduces other historical writings of the time, outside of Christianity, that write and speak of Jesus and his following.  This book is a great primer for historical accuracy and authenticity of the Bible.

Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel

I discovered this book when my kids were almost school age, after reading it, the book changed my entire parenting philosophy.  Kimmel highlights two popular extremes in parenting—legalism and permissiveness.  Kimmel also discusses many popular parenting fads – micromanaging children’s lives, focusing too much on academics and sports – and teaches readers about the three driving inner needs of every child, how to develop character in children, and how our parenting practices need to be Biblically balanced between truth and grace. Grace Based Parenting uses the example of Jesus and how He discipled others as the primer for this parenting philosophy.  Grace Based Parenting focuses on an overall parenting philosophy not necessarily a step-by-step formula.  I highly recommend parents combine this book with Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and Parenting by Paul David Tripp for a well rounded parenting strategy.

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg

I read this book while I was in Europe in 2006 and it uses the story of Peter walking on the water with Christ to illustrate how God can use us if we trust in Him and get outside of our comfort zones. Far too often Christians “stay in the boat” and play it safe in life rather than answering the call to advance God’s Kingdom and fulfill the Great Commission. God has repeatedly asks ordinary people to engage in acts of extraordinary trust for the glory of His Kingdom, this is getting out of the boat and walking towards Jesus. This book highlights that you don’t always need to have all the answers or need to have a 5 year plan in place, often we need just enough faith to walk towards Jesus. Ortberg notes that the water was scary, getting out of the boat took courage and faith but the water is where Jesus is and Peter was the only one who walked with Christ on the water. Jesus is waiting to meet you in ways that will change your life forever, deepening your character and your trust in God…You just have to get out of your boat.

One of the greatest plays in baseball

(Where is your citizenship)

 

Philippians 3:20New International Version (NIV)

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Some questions for us to ponder:

  • How important is God’s word to us?
  • How important is God’s truth to us?
  • How important is our sanctification to God?
  • What’s holding you back from taking your citizenship seriously?

Blessings,
Dante

What is God’s will in your life

Proverbs-Main-Title-Slide-400x300Proverbs 1:1-7New International Version (NIV)

Purpose and Theme

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,[a]
knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.[b]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools[c] despise wisdom and instruction.

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Guys, is your marriage in trouble, stagnant or on its way toward divorce

10 ways to turn things around

considering-divorce1-578x295I read a story a while back (not sure of source) but it goes something like this:  A couple, who was hell-bent on getting a divorce came in to their Pastor’s office.  They had both agreed that they wanted to continue to come to that particular church and they both wanted their pastor to approve their divorce.  They were a bitter couple who both made years of mistakes and were tired of each other and the pain that they caused each other.  They were angry, bitter and maligned and neither one could be in a room for longer than 20 minutes before a massive shouting match would ensue. So in walks the Pastor into his office and before he could begin the meeting they turned that bitterness toward willful demand and both insisted that the Pastor grant them a divorce and to keep their membership in good standing.  Each spouse, for the first time in 10 years, were perfectly aligned in their case in granting their divorce.  The Pastor tried every angle in counseling that he could and had used before even in the most difficult of situations and even this well-seasoned Pastor could not budge this couple.  So finally, he interrupted and spoke boldly and with authority to this rancid couple.  “Okay,” he said, “I will grant both of your requests on one and only one condition…” the pastor said.  The couple was astonished and both shocked and looking back at each other said they would.  The condition was that for three months they had to live together amicably.  They had to turn insult into compliment, selfishness into serving and anger into gentleness.  They had to live gently and lovingly with each other.  They had to give it their most honest try to the pastor knew enough about this couple and their friends that he knew that they could not hide from doing that.  “Three months?,” they both said.  Both of them expecting the pastor would have asked for a year and both were happy to honestly oblige.

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What really matters?

A story of two men.  One man who lacked nothing and another man who had to work for everything.  The Rich Man for all intents and purposes was all that the world would define as successful.  His retirement account was fully funded  at the age of 30 had 8 zeroes attached to it and his kids and grand kids (future children) and wife were fully funded as well.  He drove an Audi, a Porsche and a Range Rover along with an Indian Motor-cycle.  He had a condo in Vail, Colorado, a summer home in the Hampton’s and a Penthouse in Chicago.  Everything that he touched whether good or bad seemed to always work out in his favor.  There was even one year where he had a bad year in investing in the stock market and bought property instead only to find out that he bought the bottom of the real estate market and doubled his investment in less than one year.  His parents were divorced as their parents were divorced as well.  He was a trust fund kid and never really appreciated anything that he earned or was given.  This man was very agnostic.  He knew that there was some superior being, because to say that there wasn’t would be foolish.  But he lacked any positive legacy in faith and or mentoring in the way that God would call us to do so.

The other man had a decent job by worldly standards.  He wasn’t rich, by US standards, but he wasn’t poor either.  If you were to mark him down based on income tax he would fall in the upper middle-class.  He had a wife and three kids and a family that he looked forward to getting home to every day.  He was by far not the smartest nor was he the dumbest.  He was average to above average in all that he did.  The difference is that he had to work hard for everything.  His dad instilled in him a work ethic that could be rivaled by few.  His mom gave him the importance of relationships and to treat the least of these with the utmost respect whether they deserved it or not.  His mom had a faith that was unending and yet realistic to know that she was a sinner that was in constant need of God’s grace and forgiveness.  This man’s relationship with God was the knowledge of Jesus Christ as his Savior, but to say that he was truly a friend of Jesus would be a stretch. That is, until a men’s conference that challenged the very core of his being.  One speaker in particular asked him what legacy would his life leave?  That question haunted him and the other 40 men that went to this conference.  Ten of the men (including this man) pledged to take this further, to be real with each other and to confess their sins together.  They were not going to do fluff or pat each other on the back, but they were going to get real and get accountability and to start a regular men’s group at their church.  So that very night six months before his big work trip came about these ten men confessed to each other.

All of these 10 men did not hold back nor hide anything.  One shared some infidelity, six shared pornography, one shared anger and two shared addictions.  All shared that they loved Jesus and they no longer wanted to just follow him, they all wanted to befriend Him and be His disciples.  So the journey began.

Six months later these two men, unbeknownst to them, met on their way to South America.  As God would have it, their paths crossed on first class.  The Rich man always flew first-class, but the other man was traveling for work and both of these men were going to somewhere in South America.  Both flew 11 hours to their destinations and both coincidentally sat next to each other on the flight down.  Out came the nuts, and the drinks and the dinner and dessert.  They both sat next to each other and both started a conversation about life and what really matters.  The man (who was in his 40’s) respected the Rich young man because he was both astute and very well-educated.  Even though he exuded money and privilege, he didn’t flaunt it in public, which was contradictory to what was written earlier about him.

The Rich young man envied this other man because something was different from any other man that he met or chatted with on long flights.  This man had contentment in a way that surprised this Rich young man.  He loved his family and he could tell there was something different so he asked.  And Faith was the topic of the remaining few hours and couple of glasses of red wine.  They talked about faith, about religion, and about this man’s faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ.  At one point, the Rich Young Man asked if the other man was trying to convert him.  Of which, nothing was said either way, just what this men’s group and God’s word was doing in his life.  The conversation was riveting and neither man slept through this flight as both were intrigued by the other’s lifestyle.

As they landed, both were shocked to find that they were staying at the same South American hotel.  The Rich Young Man offered the other man a ride in his arranged car to the hotel, of which the other man willingly said yes.  As they grabbed their luggage and found their driver they both were given water from the driver.  Only something was desperately wrong.  There was a woman in the front seat (the driver said it was his niece and he was going to give her a ride to the city after these men were dropped off.)  The Rich Young man said that would not be a problem and to bill his card for both of the men.  As there was long conversation on the flight and more than two glasses of wine, both men willingly drank the water and both did not realize that the water was drugged.  Hours later they both woke up somewhere in the rain forest and both were in shock as they were locked in separate rooms next to each other.  Drugged and tied and being held for ransom.  These men were the victim of kidnapping and the other man was at the wrong place at the wrong time given the Rich Young Man’s status.

They were held for ransom and the ransom was huge.  The older man’s company was working with the Rich Young Man’s corporation on trying to negotiate for these men’s lives.  Months had passed and the camps that held them were moved every 3 weeks.  A trust and friendship began between these men and the only thing they were allowed to have with them were the Bible that the older man had.  As his men’s group was working on Scripture memory he gave the Rich Young Man his copy of the Bible.

And so they read – through the entire Bible.  Focusing on Romans, on James and on John.  Not really sure of the date, as either men weren’t sure of how much time that had passed, these men both discovered God in a whole new way – one had a new Savior (Jesus Christ) and the other had two new best friends (Jesus and the Rich Young Man).  Through this conversation and conversion there was a guard in the camp that took a liking to these two men and took more of a liking to what was being shared between them – the Word of God.  This guard also came to know the Lord and just one week before these men were going to be either negotiated for ransom or killed for lack of payment, the guard freed them late at night and drove them across the border to the US Embassy.  These men were able to call their work and families before a ransom was paid out and the Rich Young Man chartered a plane to take them both back to Chicago.

They made the local newspapers and then the national news papers and then the talk shows and then more and more kept coming.  They both had their “10 minutes of fame” but neither used this for their own kingdom – instead they used it for God’s kingdom.

Both were asked what really mattered when they were being held prisoner and both said the same – their faith in God, in His Word and their relationship with Jesus Christ.  They both left the US wanting and both came back completely content.  Their lives were forever changed and from that moment of conversion for the Rich Young Man and the other man was life-changing.  Their wishes and desires were no longer what they wanted, but instead was replaced by what God wanted from their lives.

“When it is all said and done”, they said in their last television interview, “and we are kneeling at the judgement seat of Christ, we only want to hear two things:  1) Our names read in the Book of Life and 2) Well done my good and faithful servants”.


what really mattersWhat really matters to you?

The world’s view:

  • Riches
  • Wealth
  • Retirement
  • Popularity
  • Fame

God’s view:

  • His Word
  • A relationship with His Son Jesus Christ
  • To be his disciples
  • To love the Lord God with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves
  • To finish well

Blessings,

Dante