Magnify

mag·ni·fy  verb  “extol; glorify.” “praise the Lord and magnify Him”

Psalm 34: English Standard Version (ESV)

3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

If you were to examine your life (your walk) this past week, ask yourself to take inventory in all that you do.  That is, to say, when you wake, work, eat, play, sleep and interact with others where does the Lord stand in your life?  Is God the Father, The Son and The Spirit the authority in your life, in all that you do?  Are you using your time, your talent and your treasure that you have been given by God in ways to honor Him?  Are you focusing more on what you want and how you want to promote your Kingdom instead of God’s Kingdom.

For me, this is a daily struggle.  If I am brutally honest, there are days when I wake that I want to just roll over and sleep all day.  Or there are days that I just want to do life for me and my indulgences.  There are days that I just want to be selfish and not look out for others that God has given me to steward over.  

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What is truth?

John 8:31-32New International Version (NIV)

31 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He said that no one will come to His Father, but through Him.

If you do no know Jesus as Lord, as Savior and as your redeemer, then the truth is not in you


If you do not know truth (the Lord Jesus), then when you die, you will be asked if you know the Lord, Jesus Christ as Savior.  If you do, then your name will be written in the Book of Life.  If you do not, then you will be thrown into the Lake of Fire that was intended for the Devil and his angels.

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What you permit, you promote

What you promote, you permit

Matthew 12:33-37New International Version (NIV)

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

This past Saturday, I led our men’s group (Men of Faith) and focused on the question of what matters to God.  I read some scripture in the Book of Psalms and the Book of Job.  Over the past week and a half, I attended two funeral services.  One was for an Uncle and the other was for the father of my Senior Pastor.  I was impressed by the legacy that these men lead both in their families and in their community.  The eulogies among friend and family in both services were very touching and from the heart.  These men said words that they believed and were true about these men who are in Heaven today.

The other two things that I talked about was when my wife was really sick 8 years ago and we almost lost her as her body was approaching renal failure.  I had very young kids at the time and couldn’t believe what was happening to me and asked God if this was His plan for me?  I prayed, I cried and I wrestled in confession and prayer to our Heavenly Father.  After several days (5 days) in all, the night before my wife would come back home to me and my kids, I finally prayed in a pool of tears that I trust God and that if His will was for Him to take my wife home to Him, then I trust Him and His will.  I let go of my wife and gave her to Him.  She’s your’s Lord – your will be done.  The very next morning, the prayer team called and my mother-in-law and I both had this unbelievable peace – the Peace of Christ.

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Reshaping Manhood: Strength

5 Traits That Develop Strength

Strength is one of the main biological differences between males and females and throughout history, strength has defined great men. Strength obviously differentiates men and women but strength also differentiates among men. Historically, men who were physically stronger often did better in battle, agriculture, and were seen as more desirable by women and there is no known culture in which weaker men were considered more valuable than stronger men.

Strength is the ability to exert force in accordance with ones will and while history favored physical strength, modern society also leans towards mental strength. Based on the same definition, mental strength could be seen as the ability to carry out tasks or goals based on ones will power and self-discipline. Being a good husband, father, leader, and Christian all requires mental strength, will power, and self-discipline. We all know men who lack these traits and have made their marriages, families, careers, or walks with Christ a train wreck because they lacked the mental strength, will power, or self-discipline required in these areas.

Mental strength, just like physical strength, is an aptitude that can be developed and increased through practice. Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, studies achievement. She tracked 2,441 West Point cadets spread across two entering classes. She recorded their high school grades, SAT scores, leadership potential scores, physical aptitude and a number of other variables to determine what develops a great leader. She discovered that it wasn’t grades, IQ, or leadership potential that accurately predicted whether a cadet would be successful. Instead, it was mental grit, perseverance, and self-determination to achieve long–term goals that made the difference.

5 Traits for Mental Strength

Set Goals to Improve. Step one is seeing that you need improvement in whatever area in your life you are lacking. Compare yourself to the best not the mediocre and set achievable goals to improve. According to neuroscientists studying Nay SEAL trainees, they found that trainees who were able to pass the most rigorous tests are the ones who set many goals. Not just any goals but very specific goals with short, mid, and long-term milestones.

Segmentation. Segmentation is the process of blocking out distractions and focusing on accomplishing one task at a time to accomplish something. First, you slowly divide tasks, goals, or objectives in small parts then take on your challenge one small step at a time. You focus on the next immediate objective and accomplish that objective without letting your mind worry about the other tasks or the entire magnitude of your goal.

Visualization and Self-Talk – Performance coaches have long used visualization techniques with Olympic athletes and top performers. One study showed that subjects simply visualizing the successfully completion of a task had almost as much success as those who practiced actually doing the physical task. The process involves vividly visualizing yourself successfully completing a goal, task, or a habit that you want to obtain. Each day, you visualize incorporating all the five senses, what it would be like when you accomplish your goals. Another aspect of visualization is positive self-talk. Top performers “talk” to themselves with positive words to keep their spirits up. They are actively aware of negative or self-defeating thoughts and constantly remind themselves that no matter how tough the situation is…it will always end.

Consistency – Mentally tough athletes, performers, and leaders are also more consistent than others. They don’t miss workouts, they don’t miss assignments, and they always have their teammates back. They don’t let short–term distractions, negative feedback, or hectic schedules prevent them from continuing their actions towards their goal or vision. In addition, they make a habit of building up the people around them repeatedly and sharing in victories rather than touting their own contributions and wins or claiming sole responsibility.

Emotional Control – Controlling your mental state is another very crucial skill in mental strength. Most people commonly have erratic or knee-jerk reactions to stressful situations or circumstances. They react out of emotion or the fight or flight response rather than in a calm, methodical manner. The other common reaction people have is the opposite, indecision or freezing up, they cannot make timely decisions and therefore do not act at all. These responses are not unique to high stress situations but even to everyday decision-making. Some people react emotionally or cannot make a decision and fall into “analysis paralysis” but we have more control over our reactions than we think. We often can’t control people or what happens in our outside world, but we can control our interpretation of it and our decision making process in light of it. In high stress situations, top performers breathe deeply and make decisive actions based on logic rather than emotion.

Mental strength isn’t about getting an incredible dose of inspiration or courage from an event; this is why retreats and resolutions usually fall short. Mental Strength is more about building daily habits that allow you to stick to a routine, control your emotions, and overcome challenges and distractions on a consistent basis. This could be with your family, your career, or in your spiritual life.

Throughout the Bible, we find numerous stories of men with mental strength. Many did not start out with mental strength but through the course of their lives and with a trust and faith in God, they developed many of the traits for mental strength. Not only did God use these men to build his kingdom but they also now serve as examples for us to emulate.  If mental strength is about building daily habits and consistency, I challenge you to apply these five traits each day this next week while also reading some of your favorite stories of men in the Bible who exhibit these traits or simply repeat the following verse 10 times throughout each day.

The next characteristic is Courage.

Reshaping Manhood: Intro

Imagine you were called upon to travel to a foreign country, in a harsh climate, and lead the fight against ISIL/ISIS.  You had to pick a team of five men you know and these men would travel with you and help you accomplish this task.  What attributes would you use to evaluate the men you would choose?  What character traits would you value over others?  Which men would you eliminate from your pool because they lacked the strength, courage, mental fortitude, or trust needed to complete this task?

Masculinity is the opposite of femininity yet over the past 30 years; certain segments of our culture to include academia, media, and the social sciences have implied and tried to get men to think and act more feminine.  Masculinity is also not chauvinism, dominance, sexism, or denigrating femininity.  In a Biblical context, men and women are equal but have separate and distinct roles in relationships, the family, and society.  Even in a non-Biblical context, such as same-sex relationships, each partner assumes one role or the other almost as a basic human relational instinct.

However, as previously stated, over the past 30 years there has been confusion and mixed messages over the role of men and often when I have witnessed anger, resentment, passivity, or unhealthy traits in men and marriages, it often stems from these mixed messages or reversed roles in a marriage.

Manhood is a way to be, a path to follow, and a way to walk in life.  Humans are social creatures and prone to tribal/community living.  Therefore, who we are as men has a lot to do with how we see ourselves in relationship to other males.  If we begin viewing and shaping ourselves through the lens of our culture or through the lens of our wives or other women, this is where men can stray from our identities.  It is not that the culture or women are wrong but they often try to change or “improve” men based on what women or our culture wants from men rather than our unique and separate roles and identities.

Therefore, men should be centering our way to be, our path to follow, and our walk in life based on a Biblical context and from the reinforcement of other strong, Biblical men.  Until a hundred years ago, men banded together in small tribes and communities where their distinct roles were taught from a young age and then reinforced by other men throughout their lives.

Again, imagine you and a small group of men have brought your families to an isolated frontier outpost in the Western United States in the mid 1800’s.  Lurking beyond the perimeter of your outpost are predators, hostile and friendly natives, and other food sources.  Given that all you love is within your outpost, which men would you choose to stand beside you and protect your family?  Which men are willing to fight for what you believe in and hold sacred?  Which men can act decisively and remain calm under distress?  Which men will act selflessly and place the group’s wellbeing above his own?  Again, what character, mental, and emotional traits would you value over others?

While you might never be charged with leading other men in the fight against terrorists or living in a remote outpost in the 1800’s, God has charged every man to lead his family, serve in God’s church, and stand for righteousness and justice.  Over the course of these next few posts, I am going to highlight some distinct, universal characteristics of masculinity throughout history and their Biblical context in relation to God’s plan.  I challenge you to reflect on your own life and walk in relation to these characteristics and with the men you currently associate with on a daily basis.  Not only will you be able to decide which men to choose to stand with you but you will also see if you would be chosen by others to stand with them.

The first characteristic is Strength.

Our Story is meant for God’s Glory

James 1English Standard Version (ESV)

Greeting
1 James, a servant[a] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

Greetings.

Testing of Your Faith
2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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The Unholy trinity

(Me, Myself and I)

Left to our own devices, what hope of eternity with God do we have?  Left by ourselves, what is the likelihood that we may slip?  Left by ourselves, what could possibly go wrong?  In Romans we read that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  In Psalms we read that we were brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.  In Mark, we read Jesus telling us that from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, fornication, thefts, murders and adulteries.  In Jeremiah, we read that the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.  Who can understand it?

2 Timothy 3:2-4
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

In all that we do, we have to acknowledge that we were built and made for community.  The Holy Trinity is the perfect and flawless example of this:  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  They are the perfect community.  They gave us an example of what perfect community is like.

 

 

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Sensei

(One Who Has Gone Before)

Everyone once in a while, you may find yourself in the presence of great men.  Whether they are merchants, cowboys or warriors – you will know that they are great men because of the way they carry themselves.  Usually you will note authority, humility, integrity, character and you will find yourself walking away from them being a better person for the moments that you spent with them.  This is a person that I want to be.  I want to be a great husband, a really good father (a legacy dad) and someone who when others talk to me that they walk away from our conversation feeling comforted, encouraged and urged to live a life worthy of God.

For the past three years, I have been taking Kempo Jui Jitsui with my son.  I love martial arts for so many reasons.  This form of martial arts is literally warrior combat.  They do not use this style or allow it in UFC fighting because the opponent would not fare well.  I love this art because, for me, it truly relates to me in the sense of discipleship.  There is so much correlation to it that it makes me giddy just thinking about it and our men’s ministry called Men of Faith.

First of all, the term (title) Sensei, literally means, “one who has gone before.”  Each of us are on our own journey.  Each of us have purpose and a reason to be than rather to seem (Lance will love this sentence).  For those of  us that are in Christ, each of us have been given gifts and are called to be stewards of what God has given us.  If you are fortunate to have spent time (or are currently spending time) with these great men, then you will reflect on what they have shown you.  Where they are guiding you and what their hope for you is in your walk.

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