Leadership

What's my Hill?

As I was perusing Facebook this morning and catching up with some work emails, I noticed this commencement speech from Matthew McConaughey and liked what he was saying to the graduating class at the University of Houston and say that "life should not be a popularity contest.  Be brave, take the Hill, but first ask 'What's my Hill?  So me, how do I define success?  For me it is a measurement of 5 things: 1) Fatherhood, 2) Being a good husband, 3) Health (mind, body and spirit), 4) Career and 5) Friendships.  These are what is important in my life right now." Everything in culture talks about self and what is best for me and how I express myself and my identity in such a narcissistic society that the world is spinning further and further away from biblical truth:

  • 1 John 2:15-17 ESV Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
  • Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
  • Ephesians 5:11 ESV / Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
  • James 4:4 ESV / You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
  • Titus 2:11-12 ESV / For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

So let's test what Matthew said to Scripture:

Being a good father:

  • Psalm 127:5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
  • Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
  • Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
  • Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.
  • Psalm 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
  • Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Being a good husband:

  • Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
  • 1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
  • 1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  • Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.
  • Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
  • Ephesians 5:21-32 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. read more.

Having good Health (body, mind and spirit)

  • Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
  • And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
  • Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. This is true and everyone should accept it.” 1 Timothy 4:7-9 (NLT)
  • A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)
  • Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. Proverbs 3: 7-8 (NLT)
  • Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)
  • You satisfy me more than the richest of foods. Psalms 63:5 (NLT)
  • He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers yeah strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will fall give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31 (NLT)
  • Don’t be impressed with your all wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn your back on evil. Then you’ll gain renewed health and vitality. Proverbs 3:7-8 (NLT)
  • Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink-even if you have no money! Take your choice of wine or milk-it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul! Isaiah 55: 1-2 (NLT)
  • The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well watered garden like an ever-flowing spring.Isaiah 58:11 (NLT)
  • You must serve only the Lord your God. If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness. Exodus 23:25 (NLT)
  • A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick. Proverbs 17:22 (TLB)
  • As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Psalms 119:143 (NLT)
  • Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25 (NAS)
  • Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NAS)
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NAS)
  • So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

Having a good career:

  • Colossians 3:23 ESV / Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
  • Proverbs 13:4 ESV / The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 ESV / For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
  • Philippians 4:13 ESV / I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
  • Proverbs 14:23 ESV / In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
  • Philippians 2:14-15 ESV / Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
  • Proverbs 16:3 ESV / Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Having good friends:

  • John 15:12-15 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
  • James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
  • Proverbs 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
  • Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
  • Proverbs 14:6-7 A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding. Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
  • Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
  • Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
  • Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.
  • Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
  • Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
  • Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
  • Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
  • Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Being a legacy dad and the process therein is never about being and living a perfect life because we could not and that would be really worldly instead of godly.  Being a legacy dad means that you are not walking this walk alone by just talking about it to others, it means that you are choosing the pathway that God calls you to take.  A legacy dad yields and subjects himself to the authority of scripture at all times (even when we blow it).  A legacy doesn't just remorse his sin and moves in, that is, feels bad about his sin and/or mistakes and keeps on doing it.  Rather, a legacy dad finds true repentance, that is, he feels the conviction of the Holy Spirit (your words, actions and/or deeds are contrary to scripture - acknowledge them before God) and make amends with those who you have wronged.  True repentance is acknowledging and confessing your sin to God and going the opposite way of that sin.  By having others who walk with us in community we put that sin in the light and the darkness can not exist in the light.  Being a legacy dad is setting a course for your family to follow and to show them Christ everyday in your actions, words and deeds.  When you screw up (sin) and when you do not show legacy dad traits, this doesn't disqualify you from being that legacy dad, rather, by acknowledging your wrongdoing or wrong path, it provides a true biblical guide in showing your kids true repentance, the act of reconciliation and restoration.  These are good things to model for your wife and kids and grandkids and to others within your everyday influences.

Let us take inventory of our lives.  If we could go back to our boyhood self and speak to that boy what words would you give him?  What pitfalls would you tell him to avoid?  What friendships would you tell him to run from?  What would you tell him about faith, church, wisdom, biblical application for him to follow?  What does that look like?  Maybe we need to write that to our boy hood self.  In doing so, take inventory as to where you are as a man.  Confess what needs confessing.  Change what needs changing.  Give to God what belongs to God.  In all that you do, acknowledge God and He will make your paths straight.

You and I can do this!  We can do this because we are not alone.  God gave each of us that profess and bear the name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior His Spirit.  Even when we don't know what to say or do, Pray!  Pray for God and His Son and His Spirit to guide us and instruct us in the way that would should go!  This means that if you are not reading the bible daily how can you find the true path of biblical leadership in your home, church, work and community?  You cannot!

Blessings, D

 

 

The Gospel Offends

Maybe I am a skeptic and maybe I suffer from critical thinking, but I have to say that I have come to a point in my life when I have to take the words of Popeye when he eloquently says, "that's all I can stands, cause I can't stands no more!".   Everywhere we turn, everything we read and listen to has been moderately changing from being able to be different and to have a difference of opinion and to even argue and debate on those opinions to an era where we are told that we cannot offend, we cannot insult, we cannot be different because that would not be acceptable to cultural terms.  If we look different and act different and do not like the way others carry themselves and have an opinion as such you will no longer be posed as a dissenter, rather, you will be classified as insensitive, a hater, someone who is prejudice and if you turn on the media something much worse. Do not misunderstand where I am going with this, because you will not read what you are expecting to read.

Here are some questions for you:

  • Does the Gospel offend?
  • If you call someone a sinner are you a hater?
  • If you try to live by biblical standards to your everyday life, will culture deem you as someone who is intolerant?
  • If you are preaching the gospel, are you prepared to offend?

Ephesians 6:12English Standard Version (ESV)

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Why would society want everyone to view and think the same way?  Why would culture want everyone to think and reason the same way instead of to celebrate the cultural differences that we have been given?  Why would the world want us to believe that everyone has their own way to self actualization and salvation?  Seriously, you think that this may not be the case? Then word the word of God in a public place and on topics that will call people out in their sin (not you, but the word of God) and see if you don't get a reaction.

Tell the world that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to Heaven and that without the knowledge of the Son then there is no way to the Father.  See if that offends!

I don't want you to take this as a green light to be a hypocrite nor do I give my blessing to thumb your nose at those who do not know the Lord.  Rather, in love, reach out to those who are lost (do not know the Lord) and are in a proverbial burning building and on their way to Hell if you do not share God's love with them.

The Gospel does offend.  It is ridiculous to tell the World that Jesus is the only way and not to offend.

Let's stop with the all inclusive, one religion (of self) and be true to God's word.

Let's do this in love and not being spiteful in how we serve the Lost.

Instead of trying to be right, let the Word of God rule in your life and let it lead you in how God wants us to serve those who do not know Him as Savior.

Colossians 3:15-17English Standard Version (ESV)

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

How would you share the gospel if you could no longer offend by just merely speaking the words of God?  Do you think that we are not that far away from this from happening?

Thoughts?

 

Blessings, D

 

 

 

Top 10 Ways to build a healthy marriage

We live in a world that is defiled with consumerism.  We live in a culture that says you deserve and you need to be served and you, you, you are the focus.  When we put this toward God's word and test society by the truth in the power of the word - we see truth and honor and integrity and the ways in which we should go.  Maybe you find yourself reading this to say what am I missing, or just maybe you are in a small minority of men and you are thinking what is this guy missing? Let's be real!

 

 

 

 

Top 12 ways to build a healthy marriage

  1. Get right with God - don't just have remorse for sin in your life - be repentant of it - that is turn and go the opposite way.  If you are in unappropraite relationships whether physical or mental (pornography) - flee from this sin - put it to death daily.
  2. Study His word daily - His Word never return empty
  3. Pray continuously - Pray for your spouse, your marriage, your future wife (if you are single hoping to get married)
  4. Serve your spouse tirelessly - don't make your marriage about what you can get out of it or what your spouse can do for you - make it about serving your wife and family
  5. Give 100% instead of 50% - don't keep score - give all of yourself to that marriage
  6. Don't keep record of right and wrong - Read 1 Corinthians 13
  7. When you forgive the wrong, don't keep bringing it up to them - this is not biblical to keep bringing up past sins if they have been repented of
  8. Invest your time, talent and treasure in them - God tells us to
  9. Die to self - The Word of God tells us to
  10. Be honest - need I say more?
  11. Be true - do I really need to say more?
  12. Be faithful - this goes without saying

Give these steps some time to let the Holy Spirit move each other.

Blessings,

Dante

 

 

 

When a boy turns thirteen....

This past February, my oldest son turned 13.  I only really have 5 more critical years to pass the torch of boyhood to manhood.  When Lance and I and Gary first met face to face many years ago we had in depth conversations about this very thing.  Going back there, in my mind, recently reminded me at that time how ill-equipped that I was for this journey with my son and my wife and I with our daughters.Don't get me wrong, my wife and I are equally yoked and we are doing a lot of things that are good and godly and teaching accountability and responsibility, but I think that I was out of my league when I listened to Gary and Lance talk about this plan and path that they had for their grandsons and son, respectively.  Needless to say, I did a lot of soul searching and planning for this with my son during that trip and the time since.

Anyway, my son and I had the first, of what I pray is many, a conversation about this journey from boyhood to manhood and what are some things that are to come.  From reading some books, to watching some movies, to taking some trips and facing some fears along the way, I cannot wait to see how he responds and for what God has planned for him.

I am so thankful that I do not have to do this alone.  I am thankful for Lance and Gary and for men of faith that I can walk with and talk to and lean on God and not my own understanding in all this.  If you scour this website you can see stages and even find Lance's plan with his son along the way.

Dennis Rainey, of Famly Life, posted this picture on Facebook and just hit such a positive emotion in me.  It is scary, as a parent, to realize that age 13 that you only have 5 years left before they are off on their own for college, manhood and the rest of their life.  Don't get me wrong, my wife and I will always be a part of our kids life.

Proverbs 22:6English Standard Version (ESV)

6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

This Scripture does not mean that your child will not face trial and tribulation, because if they are a follower of Jesus, then they will face trial and they will face tribulation.

I am excited to take this journey with my boy.  I am excited for the journey that my wife will have with our daughters.

God is good, all the time, God is good.

Blessings,

Dante

 

What I know I should do, I do not

Romans 8:12-17English Standard Version (ESV) Heirs with Christ 12 So then, brothers,[a] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[b] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Colossians 3:5-8English Standard Version (ESV)

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[a] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Why is it so hard to understand some of the things of God?  Why do people try to dilute the Gospel to please the ways of men?  I guess when it is all said and done, I struggle with my sin that God has saved me from.  I know I am a sinner.  I know that my sins have separated me from the love of God.  That is, to say, until I came to know Jesus Christ as Lord.  I was once lost, but now I am found through Christ Jesus who died brutally on a cross for my sin and for your if you confess His name and believe that he was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died on a cross and rose again from the dead you will be saved.  Confession is good for the soul.  The hardest thing to wrap my head around is that I still struggle with my fleshly desires.  The difference is that I no longer desire to please my selfish flesh, but to try to please God.  Yet I still succumb to pride and to sin.  I confess this sin to God and to my brothers (Men of Faith) and know that God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, has given me the perfect sacrifice for my soul and my sins of the past, present and future are covered by Him.

This being said, I still wonder and test and seek the truth that is found in Scripture.  For instance, why does it tell us, who are saved and covered forever by the Blood of Jesus Christ, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?  Why does it say in the New Testament that those of us who give in to the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God?  Why does it tell me to put to death the earthly desires of the flesh?  Does the Gospel offend?  Are we to call out sin or just always show grace?  Where is the balance in this?

Why does Scripture tell us to renew our mind?  Why does it tell us to pursue holiness?  Why does Scripture tell us to repent?  Why does the cross have to be so violent?  Why did God have to send His only Son to die for our sins and to be beaten and tortured and crucified for our sins?  Does God hate sin that much?

These are things that I wrestle with.  These are some of the things that I am diligently searching God's word for and looking for his direction of which way to go in the leadership of my family and His ministry.

Repent!  For the Kingdom of God is at hand!

Examine yourselves to see if you are still in the faith?

Pursue holiness and flee any form of sexual immorality.

Pray for me,

 

D

 

 

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.  

I was talking to our Care Pastor after Men of Faith yesterday, we both went out for breakfast yesterday and instead of the whole group of guys, it was just him and I.  It was really a great conversation and I truly enjoy this man of God who has been serving God's Kingdom since 1983.  When you meet him and his wife you truly see two servants that understand what it means to turn it back toward God.  They serve not to "check boxes" rather they do it to magnify God's glory.  So I was telling him that sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by what God has done for us, sending his Son to die on a cross to cover all of my sins.  I told him that I feel a deep sorrow and compassion for those who do not know him on their day of judgement and that their names that will not be written in God's Book of Life.

I also talked about the other question that we, who are truly Christ-Followers, will have to give an account:  What did we do with all the things that God has given us (His Time, His treasure and His talent).  Did our lives magnify His Glory.  Please don't take this as a condemnation or as a blog where Lance and I are trying to condemn you, the reader.  Quite the contrary.  This is an indictment toward us more than you.  I am an Elder of our Church, the leader of our Men's Group and Family Man that is given the charge to rear my children in the ways of the Lord.  I do not take this question toward you, rather, toward my daily walk.

There are days, months and even seasons where I can honestly tell you that I do get it and that I do magnify God.  But if I am really honest with you, then I feel like I have to share that I feel that there are more days were I am losing the battle against my old sin nature and the ways of the Evil One, who is a liar, and who is seeking to destroy everything good in my life.  He would love nothing more than for me to exist and to gratify my earthly desires - he wins over my life when I do this.  Or to fall in temptation and give in to it - he wins over my life.  Or to self-indulge in my old sin nature - he wins over my life.  A lot of times I hear this silent voice in my life that would say words like, "you hypocrite"  "you fake"  "you're a liar" and "nice CHRISTian example - way to lead your life and your family".  Over the younger years of my life, I would cave and retreat and fall back into that wretched part of my life.  These days, God has given me a stronger understanding of His Word and His love for me that is unmatched by anyone in this Universe.  I say to this silent voice, "Guilty!  Guilty of all that you are accusing me of, BUT I am covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

That means that all of my sins of my past, my present and my future are covered by His Blood.  That means oh silent voice and accuser of my sins in my life that God has won, death no longer has victory over my life.  Sin no longer can hold me because Jesus has paid for it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I wrestle with today is whether my life is magnifying the Lord in all that I do.  Am I being a good steward with all that I do?  I find consolation in that most of the time, I am broken and that I am a sinner and am broken and need daily repentance in my life to continue to make God the authority in my life that I know He is.  I have to ask for wisdom and guidance in all that I do.  Yes, I can be selfish and sinful, but I can ask brothers that I am walking with and my best friend (my wife) to hold me accountable:  Are my actions meeting my daily walk required by God.

Where do I find this in Scripture you ask:

Examine yourself:  2 Corinthians 13:5(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!

Renew yourself:  Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) A Living Sacrifice 12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

Pursue God's Holy Living (only capable thru complete trust and obedience in Him and His Word):  Colossians 3 (ESV) Put On the New Self 3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[c] 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[e] free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 34: English Standard Version (ESV)

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

Let us come together and reason with one another.  This life is but a vapor?  What do you want to echo in eternity:  Did I live for my self or for a higher purpose (God's will)?

Blessings,

D

 

 

 

 

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.


If you know the Lord as Savior and Friend and as your redeemer, then you will be asked another question....

 

I believe it will be asked like this:  What did you do with the things that I gave you?  The time, the talent and the treasure that God gave you?  Were you a good steward?  Did you spend it wisely, stewardship His Kingdom.  Was His will done?

Truth - Being in God's Will!

Blessings, D

 

 

What you permit, you promote

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.

The other eternity thinking event that happened in my life was when I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma twelve years ago.  I have been cancer free since that day, but my doctor is quick to point out that I am in the 5% chance camp of this type of cancer rearing its ugly head through my eyes and or my brain - meaning that it has 5% chance to come back this way to me.  Both this cancer and my wife and her health issues many years ago has kept an eternal grasp about how quick our lives will be.

I then asked the Men of Faith:  "For those of us in this room that will die we will have two questions to ask:

Question #1 - Do we know God's Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, as our Savior (is our name written in the Book of Life).  Have we truly surrendered to God's will and turned away from our sins?  Have we put the old self to death (this is a daily battle) and put on our new self.  Scripture tells us to examine ourselves closely to make sure that we are still in the Faith.  The beginning of Wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Question #2 - What have we, those of us who are saved, done with what God has given us?   Have we been good stewards of His time, His talent that He gave us and His treasure that He has given us stewardship over.

  • Scripture on Time:  Psalm 90:12 ESV "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."
  • Scripture on Talent: 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV) 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
  • Scripture on Treasure:  Malachi 3:6-10New International Version (NIV) Breaking Covenant by Withholding Tithes 6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.  “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.    Mark 12:41-44New International Version (NIV) The Widow’s Offering 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

After we die, we will have a judgement of our souls.  Those of us that know the Lord as Savior will have his sacrifice and his blood poured over our life.  His perfect life, his righteousness will be imputed onto us.   Scripture tells us that God will remember our sins no more because they have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.  What GRACE (God's Riches at Christ's Expense) and what Mercy God has given each of us.  If you do not know God's Son as Lord and Savior then every word, every deed and every action has been recorded and will be used to condemn those who do not know Jesus as Lord.  This makes my heart sad.  This will be a grave day for the lost, the Athiest and hater of good.

The second question will be good for some, okay for others and a day of regret for those of us who are saved, but know we can do more.  Job in his prime of life did these things for the Lord:

Job 29New International Version (NIV)

Job’s Final Defense 29 Job continued his discourse:

2 “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil. 7 “When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, 8 the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet; 9 the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands; 10 the voices of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. 11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, 12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. 13 The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. 17 I broke the fangs of the wicked  and snatched the victims from their teeth. 18 “I thought, ‘I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of sand. 19 My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches. 20 My glory will not fade; the bow will be ever new in my hand.’ 21 “People listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. 22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. 23 They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. 24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.[a] 25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners."

2 questions for you:

Question #1 - Do we know God's Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, as our Savior (is our name written in the Book of Life).  Have we truly surrendered to God's will and turned away from our sins?  Have we put the old self to death (this is a daily battle) and put on our new self.  Scripture tells us to examine ourselves closely to make sure that we are still in the Faith.  The beginning of Wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Is your life bearing the fruit of the Spirit?

Question #2 - What have we, those of us who are saved, done with what God has given us?   Have we been good stewards of His time, His talent that He gave us and His treasure that He has given us stewardship over.

Blessings, Dante

 

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.

James 5:14-20English Standard Version (ESV)

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[a] 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


The past 40 days I have been reading a book with 5 other men.  A book that would bring us together to discuss, text and especially to be in community with each other.  The ages of these 5 men ranged from 25 to 60 and I am in the 2nd oldest range of all 5 of us.  My Elder Brother and I were the oldest and two Elders that are equally yoked in Ministry and God's story.  It has been both humbling and challenging to listen to, watch and see these brothers walk out their salvation with fear and trembling.

I am amazed at how each of us has our own story to tell and if we are really open about the power of God in our lives, just how amazing it is to watch His Spirit move through our lives and see Jesus through the love of others.  The thing about these 4 brothers - they challenge me in being honest, being truthful and confessing when things don't always add up.  It is not about a checklist or doing the things that make us look good and then deep down inside missing the whole point of God's Glory - The Word of God Changes Lives.

When we sit honestly and meditate on His Word then we realize that we are free - free indeed to be the me that God intended for each of our lives.  I can never do good enough to earn the Salvation that Jesus gave us by His death and resurrection.  God, our Father, gave His only Son to die for our sins - WOW!  Let that marinate in your brain for a while!  Think on that, pray on that and rest in his loving Grace.

The Word of God changes lives.  What is your fruit.  When others see you, hear you, listen to you and do community of you - when they are left to reflect on you - do they see Jesus in your life?

Our story is meant for God's Glory.

I was once lost, but now am found.

I was once dead (to sin) and now am a new creation in Jesus (i have been given a new life)

I am now adopted into his glorious family.

That is love.

That is something that I can wrap my head around and praise Him, serve Him and thank Him for all that is in my life - both the good and the bad.  The trials and the tribulations.  The pain and the suffering.  Whether I know the reason this side of earth is not up to me to judge.  There is only one great Judge!

Blessings,

Dante

PS - I was so moved by this 40 day process that I bought 3 more books and gave them to the men in my small group (come Holy Spirit come)

 

 

 

The Unholy trinity

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.

 

 

So many men go the opposite ways of what God intended for us:

  • Samson - he was one of the judges that God set forth for Israel.  The only community that he had been those that opposed God's will around him  He did not listen to his parents on who he should marry.  He hung out with the wrong crowds who wanted to use him and others in his life to find the very essence of his strength.  He never reasoned to common sense or to God's will for our life.  Instead he reasoned with himself and what he wanted in that of immediate gratification.  It was not until he was stripped of everything, eyes dug out from his head and chained to the enemy's pillars, did he realize how much he needed God for his strength.   Imagine if Samson was surrounded by friends who were truly in community with him  Telling him the way that it really is and being able to have permission to speak truth into his life when he veered to places he had no business going.  Imagine if his parents rebuked and corrected his waywardness.  What more do you think God would have done in this man's life.
  • King David:   We read early of a shepherd boy who has the heart of God.  We read of a boy challenging a giant of the enemy who profaned the name of the Lord.  We read about a boy (who would be anointed King) that began a friendship with the existing king's son (named Jonathon who was the rightful heir to the throne, but he was a prince that honored God's will instead of man).  Jonathon was more than a fried to David, he was a brother.  He kept him safe and alive when David wandered from the truth.  He saved David from his own father, King Saul, and hid him from this danger.   He gave David whatever needed.  When this friend died with his dad in battle, David never found this accountability with other men (Yes, he did have the 400 might men of valor and they kept him somewhat accountable, but not in the way of biblical community and accountability that we need).  We read at one point when Kings should be off to war, that David wasn't and because of that, he wondered from God and lusted for a woman on the rooftop and his life changed forever more.  There was a great sin that kept getting worse and worse until God sent Nathan to call him out.  Can you imagine being Nathan?  Whoa, that would not be my first choice.  All this to be said, what if Jonathon were still there or a brother (in Christ) that was there?  Do you think David would be left behind or would he be in community with this trusted friend(s) and off to battle with them to where God wanted him to be?
  • Job- was a man who God told Satan that there was no other man like this man of faith in all the earth.  Job was a mighty man who prayed for his kids diligently and did all that was right in the eyes of the Lord.  When he was tested and tried by the Devil we find that he lacked true community.  His friends were not there for him in the way that God intends us to be with our brothers in Christ.  They did the first thing right with him in that they sat quietly beside them.  But then, like many of us, they tried to find all the "specks in Job's eyes" that had to be there for all these terrible things that happened to Job.  Instead of treating him like he needed to be treated:  To comfort, encourage and urge him to life a life worthy of God.  Can you imagine with me if he had friends that sat beside him, allowed him to mourn the loss and didn't judge him.  Can you imagine if he was surrounded by men of faith that truly cared for him and could not explain God to him, but instead trusted that God would see him through this and that they would be there through thick and thin because they loved him without condition?  I mean, his own wife said to him, "why don't you curse God and die!"  Really?  Just imagine if they all said, "we are not sure why this is happening to you and I but come let us pray to God and seek his answers and know that we got your back?"

We all need to take a hard look at our lives and pray for God to reveal the logs in our own eyes before we try to point to the speck in our brothers eye.  We need to seek purity and righteousness and try to be the men that God calls us to be.

We need to take an honest inventory of our life and write down the fruit of the Spirit that is evident in our life and if not that fruit, then we need to confess the sinful nature stuff in our life and ask God to remove that from us.

We need to put a brotherhood of community in our lives:

  • Pray with others
  • Be honest with others (that we can trust)
  • If we don't have that or are not sure where to look (then we need to pray to God for him to bring them into our lives)
  • We need to find a bible study of men where this is going on.
  • We need to trust God by being in community with others.

We need to realize that the unholy trinity in our lives (me, myself and I) is not what God has intended for us, but what the enemy of our souls intends for us to do- to gratify our desires by the desires of the flesh and to turn away from God's Truth - HIS WORD!

Repent, confess and go the other way - for there is no other way but to trust and obey!

Blessings,

D

 

 

 

Sensei

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.

The comparison to martial arts to being a disciple of God, for me, have so many similarities that it is amazing to me in my walk as a disciple and my path to be a black belt in martial arts.  That is, a lot of intentional training are required to achieve these aspirations.  Training (practicing martial arts, learning the flow and motion of the body and the range of motion in movement).  For a disciple (reading God's word, being in the word, committed to the word and to prayer and to walking with other men).  The key to both of these aspirations of mine is that I am not doing this alone.  God never intended that for us to be alone.  When His Son, Jesus Christ, sent the 70 disciples out to share the Gospel, He sent them two by two.

When you practice a sport, and art, a walk with God, there is always a cost = TIME.   There is always a continue flow of motion and body movement - you have to be committed to the practice and training and commitment of time, talent and treasure to be who God wants you to be.  We are called to be stewards of what He has given you and me.

We can try to make martial arts about "me" or "you".  We can try to make discipleship about "me" or "you" or you can watch these sensei' in our lives (Great men) who have gone before us and who are there not to detract us from learning and growing, but to guide us in the path that we should take.

When we commit our ways to these paths, then you can be certain that things will change.  A life that is worth living will be clear and evident in your path.  There will be purpose because you will learn that God calls men to do His will.  You can choose to be a part of it or you can choose to be left alone.

Don't be fooled into thinking that life and training gives you a shortcut (a way to cheat).  After running three marathons, several half marathons and a Super Spartan Race along with training to be an effective martial artist and a legacy dad (a man of God), I can tell you that there is no easy way.  There is a cost - a time commitment and a willingness to go deeper in training and in relationship and in friendship.

We have to let go of old ways, stubborn ways.  We have to destroy pride and lust for what we want and learn from these men who have gone before and are willing to show us the way, the truth and the life found in Jesus Christ.

Each and every one of us will have a time and a place that our lives will come to an end.  Whether through natural causes, or through war, or through other events that take us to meet our Creator, there will be two questions that we have to answer at this Judgement Seat of Christ:

  1. Do we know God's Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior
  2. What did we do with the things that God gave us to steward

If you do not know the answer without certainty for question one (please email Lance or myself now - or ask a pastor at a bible believing/preaching church) and if you are not sure what a steward is or what God has planned and calls for each one of us to do with our time, talent and treasure, then seek the answers through this blog and the Word of God.  I am not going to give them to you right now, remember there is a cost.

Esse Quam Videri - to be rather than to seem!

Blessings,

D

 

 

Men of Faith

I have been leading our Men's Ministry, called Men of Faith, since 2007.  I continue to learn and continue to be amazed at what the Word of God can do to a group of men.  I can watch someone who is raw and beginning in their faith (regardless of age) or talk to someone who has been walking many years with God and in either find myself amazed at God's good, good Grace.

God is patient and kind and full of mercy, love and grace.  He is a good, good Father.  Who is man, oh God, that you are so mindful of Him?  You are perfect in all of your ways to us, dear Lord.

James 5:16-20English Standard Version (ESV)

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[a] 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.  19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

One of our worship leaders, Dan, took this picture this morning and tagged myself and another brother who leads worship in Men of Faith.  I love this picture.  I love this picture because when I continue to look on it, reflect on it and pray for these men, I am left with the sense and truth that the Word of God changes men's lives.  The Word of God is powerful and it is truth.

Years ago, this worship leader named Jim, told me that we needed more than just a boom box and some songs that men try to sing to, he said that we needed live worship.  At that time, he was already leading another ministry called Celebrate Recovery.  I know this leader and I know that he wanted to take the lead on this and I gave it to him.  He has blessed me in this in so many ways.  For one, I get to sing with them every Saturday.  Secondly, I get the privilege to look at all the men facing us and watching them sing (not to us) but to God in worship!  I also get to watch this leader bring in other leaders and band members and singers and coordinate a really good morning of prayer and worship.

  • Our morning is really simple:Band members show up at 5:30am to set up and practice until 6:25am
  • TAG Team gets everything up and running
  • Facilitators (those who lead each week in our large group make the coffee)
  • Donuts and Coffee are made (donuts bought - we make the coffee)
  • 6:30am begins worship
  • 6:50am to 7:20 am - is a large group.  Facilitator leads the large group in discussion.  This could be what he is reading in Scripture, a thought, a theme, even a testimony and then some challenge questions for our small group.
  • 7:20am to 8:30am - small groups break out and go to their designated spots around our church.  We share and we talk about our daily lives.  Our struggles and sometimes are victories.  There is no one who is a know it all.  There is no one who shows others up on being a know-it-all.  There is truth and there is honesty.  There is prayer.  There is a community of brothers who truly care for others and our willing to share their life experiences (failures, successes and often our trials and tribulations with each other.
  • 8:30am to 9:45am - some of us go out for breakfast.  Some go to work.  The key for all of us is not to detract from the family, but to build the family up.

We have one rule and only one rule in small group:  What's said in there, STAYS in there!  There is no discussion outside of Men of Faith that is to be shared with anyone else UNLESS the brother who is sharing gives us permission to share with the world.

My prayer for you who are reading this is that each and every one of you have the opportunity to be in such a special group.   My prayer is that if you don't have this group, then you make a commitment to God to be intentional in His Word.  To be intentional in prayer and in your spiritual growth.  If you don't have a special group like this, then my prayer is that you will grab a couple other men in your church who are committed to going deeper.  Whether it's through a wide gate (planning activities to congregate with other men:  Hunting, Fishing, Shooting, Archery, Sporting Games and the like) or whether it is truly a commitment to wrap yourself with other men in the Word and in prayer and to be real with each other.

Don't make the group about numbers, never do that.  Make the group a commitment with a few other brothers to grow, to share, to be accountable (not just a pat on the back, but to go deeper in your walk with where you are, where you come from and where you want to go in your walk.  Be honest, be real.  Have these guidelines to help you in your men's group:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not sure where you are at today, in your walks, but trust me and make a commitment to get in a group of men like this - IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.  Don't wait, don't over think it.  If you cannot find one, then ask an Elder in your church or a spiritually mature man to walk with you and begin one.  Read Colossians 3 and Romans 12 and talk about real life with real men.

You will not be let down, regardless of how other men respond.  The Word of God never returns empty - it changes lives.

Blessings,

Dante

 

 

 

Why do we need the church? Part 1

need the churchMy friend, Lance (founder of Legacy dad), penned this blog post, "Dear Church, Are We Off Course?" in which he spoke from the heart and from some frustration and pure honesty with issues in today's church in the free world, The United States of America.  If you haven't read it or have, I encourage you to read it again and then ponder to yourself to ask what you see in your church and where are we going. In Ephesians 5:25 we read are "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her", which applies to those whom Christ died for.  In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said that "I will build my church."  In the Old Testament they reference to an assembly of people who worshiped God.  The Greek word, Ekklesia, is a term that is translated as church, which simply means assembly.  The Church is both local and universal.  The church is both visible and invisible.  It is not defined as brick and mortar.  In metaphors in the New Testament, the Church is referenced as "an olive tree (Romans 11:17-24), a field of crops (1 Corinthians 3:6-9), a building (1 Cor. 3:9) and a harvest (Matthew 13:1-30 and John 4:35).  The Church is a group of new priests, holy believers (that is you and I who are set apart for Him).

Some reasons why we need the church (found in Scripture):

  • The church is for a community of believers (others known as a family) that come together to worship God
  • The church is there to nurture its members.  In Colossians 1:28 we are to understand that the church is there to "present every man mature in Christ".
  • The church is there for evangelism and Mercy - we are to go unto all the earth and make disciples (not just fans) of Jesus Christ
  • The church is called to remember and practice the Sacraments (Baptism and Communion)
  • The church is there to preach the Word (hear it and listen to it and to live it).  There is reference to this with Jesus talking to Peter in Matthew 18 (bind and loosen).
  • In practical terms, the church should be a hospital (always there to help, that is, to comfort and encourage and urge each of its members to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ)
  • The church is there to discipline  (Matthew 18)

I was very moved by this post from Lance that I started asking fellow Elders to read it and to comment back to me on it.  I asked some of my Pastors' their thoughts on this and to give us feedback on it.  One Pastor actually wrote back to me in regards to Lance's post.  This pastor has been both an encouragement to me (as he officiated my father's funeral) and a mentor.  In replying back to me he said that Lance has asked some great questions that we need to continue to ask ourselves and we should always be evaluating.

When we appoint Elders and Deacons we should be selecting leaders based on gifting and their fruit (reference Galatians 5).  However, the Pastor told me, that we need to be careful in making broad assumptions - meaning sometimes a person's profession/generosity are examples of gifting that need to be included in leadership.

Lance is spot on in discipleship.  I will go onto to say that if a church's discipleship "program" (or model or way whatever you call it) is not built upon the word in creating overseers/leaders/lay leaders, then I would be confident to say that church's model is flawed both Biblically and internally.  I would go further to say that we have a lot of "head knowledge" in the American church but not all have connected the head to the heart.  There are too many religious (theologians) and not enough disciples!

tonyevansOne caution for us to be quick to judge the Church is to look all over and make broad brush assumptions about the whole.  The real life changes happen in a man/woman or child's life when they let go to self and let God and His Spirit move us to where He wants us to be.  The old saying applies, "Don't be quick to judge a man, until you walk a mile in that man's shoes."  This could mean that maybe he is right where God wants him to be.  The other side of this coin is that maybe, just maybe, a lot of these men have never been mentored or discipled the way that God calls us to disciple.  In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, you read that our job is to plant seeds and water seeds, after that, it's God's job to grow and by how much He grows each of them.  We should be careful to deceive ourselves that every person is going to reach the level of sanctification continuum that we think is appropriate.  The Church's economy is to take care of those in need from within and to reach outward to those who do not know Christ and to grow those who come to know Him.

As far as those of us that are in the church versus those of us that are out of the church, the Pastor friend of mine and I would both agree that there are two scales of economy here to consider:  1) Those of us that are in Christ have a different understanding - a biblical economy and understanding then those who are outside the church and have a completely different set of economies.  The world's view versus the Christian view.

The "American" church compared to all other churches in the world will not always look the same.  There are some non-negotiable qualities that should be identified in God's  Pure Church:

  • Solo Scriptura
  • Biblical Doctrine (the right preaching of the Word)
  • The Church preaches the Word
  • The Church is accountable the Word
  • The Right use of Church Discipline
  • Genuine Worship (Lyrics that point and are based on the Word)
  • Effective Prayer
  • Effective Witness
  • Effective Fellowship
  • Biblical Church Government
  • Spiritual power in Ministry (being the hands and feet the body of believers and to the world around it)
  • Personal holiness of life among its members
  • Care for the poor
  • Love for Christ

The "American" church does come under fire because, at times, we can make it about ourselves and our legacy instead of pointing those from within and from the outside to Christ (this needs to be repented of).  Also, climate can play a big deal in this.  For instance, as I am writing this in the Midwest there is rain and freezing rain and then there is cold temps and in climate weather, whereas in other places of the world they are not bound by this.  In other places of the world, Christianity is illegal and a crime which is punishable by death so they need to be hidden in home churches and the like.  For instance, my Pastor friend says that you have a church building in Ethiopia but no heat (obviously not needed) but if you go to the same building in the Midwest during the dead of winter - it would not be that ideal to hear God's word under such harsh circumstances.

Lance said in this his post, "It’s not that I’m angry or even frustrated, I just long in my heart to find Christian leaders and other men who actually live their lives both in public and in private – congruent with the faith they profess."  My pastor's comment to this was "Amen. When our actions match our beliefs, we have integrity."

For me, it is tough, because one of my gifting's is discernment.  For someone like me, this is not always a good thing, because I can be very direct and shoot straight from the hip.  That being said, I need to continually pray for wisdom in when to act on this discernment or when to wait on God to act or to find that He may have someone else in mind to act.  This brings me to the point that I can find myself being very critical of church pastors and leaders and overseers, including myself.  That is, to say, that I am a church leader (both an Elder and leader of Men's Ministries).  Do I always get it right?  The answer is clearly no, because I am a sinner.

Here is a clue for you, believer, to use.  When finding a church or if you are currently in your church and Lance's post has hit a nerve or is causing you discomfort in that some of his talking points have hit the mark, then my encouragement to you is to do some things about it:

  • Read God's Word
  • Pray
  • Fast
  • Walk with other men (and if you are a woman walk with other women) and be open, honest and transparent and definitely in the Word.
  • Humbly talk to your leaders - that is, don't tell them the way that you want it to be, ask them what they think Scripture says on this matter
  • Don't panic - God's got this - Each one of your leaders will give an account and will be responsible for what they have done, are doing and will continue to do.  We read this in Hebrews 13:17:  "Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?"

My church is a hospital, a place to grow and a place to learn.  My church is full of sinners that are saved by grace.  I am not sure if all of its members (or attenders) are truly born again Christians.  That is up to our leaders to discern and to pray through and to comfort, encourage and urge the body to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ.  All this being said, does my church and its leaders make mistakes?  The answer is yes (remember that we are all sinners).  BUT when we error on the side of grace and love and mercy, that is, forgive as we have been forgiven, we can come together and reason and in a humble and biblical approach we can see God's will reign in all that we do.

Why do we need the Church?  Because we are a family of believers.  Each of us that are born again ,whether we like it or not, are now brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are called to love one another.  To encourage each other, to comfort each other and to urge each other to live a life worthy of Christ.  We need the Church because we need to worship God together and hear His word together and to be the hands and feet together.  We are family!

Blessings,

D

Sources:  The Bible.  Systematic Theology (Wayne Grudem).

 

 

 

 

 

Test God?

First of all,  let me premise this blog by saying that I do not believe in man's definition of "Prosperity Gospel" as defined as "Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success) [A] is a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. It is based on interpretations of the Bible that are traditional to Judaism (with respect to the Hebrew Bible),[1] though less so in Christianity. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity." (Wikipedia). test-in-progressTo be a true disciple of God you have to be careful with your exegesis (defined as critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture).  That is, to say, that when you read and interpret Scripture, you are to study it well and true and to understand contextual what the Scripture is saying.  It is important to read the whole text to understand the text completely.  Is it relevant to me now, is it for the time and place that it is written, does the passage transcend time?  All of these things have to carefully weighed and meditated on.  When you read God's word in the way that it is intended to be read, then you will have a humble heart when reading this book.  Let me clear, when this book "reads" you.  The word is active and alive and it is sharper than any two-edged sword.  It is the inerrant word of God.  For a believer, in biblical inerrancy, Holy Scripture is the Word of God, and carries the full authority of God. Every single statement of the Bible calls for instant and unqualified acceptance. Every doctrine of the Bible is the teaching of God and therefore requires a full agreement.


So where does Scripture ever tell us that we can test God?

Answer, in the only "Italian" Book of the Bible (pronounced "Mell" "Lotch" "Ee")

ESV Version:

Malachi 3:10-11English Standard Version (ESV)

10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.

NIV Version

Malachi 3:10-11New International Version (NIV)

10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.

NLT Version

Malachi 3:10-11New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.[a] Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Please note that this text tells us a few things:

  • We are to Tithe to God (through our church)
  • Stop robbing God, by not tithing
  • We are to trust God (who He puts in place as leaders of our church) with the tithe that they are doing God's will
  • If we trust him completely with our first fruits he will bless us
  • He will open the storehouses of blessing

Many take this blessing and have turned it into a sort of religious (man-made) prosperity gospel and try to make it financial blessing (does it say that anywhere in the text?).   This is an abomination and should not be tolerated at all.  If we are to humbly understand the text, then we realize that God says that he wants us to test him.  He wants us to try and out give him and to see if we can match His blessing (note:  We never can, it's not about that, it is about our heart).  When God says that He will open the storehouses of blessing for us what does that mean?  To me, it means different blessings for different people.  (Think of the parable of the talents.  Think of the fruit of the Spirit and think of how each one of God's family members has their own gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit).  All this to be said that it starts with complete trust and faith in God.

He has plans for you and I.  He loves you and I and wants us to rely on Him completely.  It doesn't meant that He doesn't want us to work (Look at Adam and Eve - He gave them work from the beginning).  To each of us, there are things to do, people to serve and a call for purity and for us to seek His righteousness.

He has a plan for each and every one of us.

Do you trust Him?

Do you have complete and child-like faith in Him?

Do you love Him?

Do you call yourself just a fan or are you a true friend to Him?

Then trust Him, by testing Him.

My wife and I (along with training our kids in stewardship) live by the 10/10/80 rule.  That is, that we tithe 10% of our income, we save 10% of our income and we live off 80%.  It's not always easy and when we first began this journey of complete trust and faith in Him, we (I) was not in a position to tithe 10% because of debt and school loans.  That being said, my wife and I made a commitment to each other and to God that we wanted to honor Him with our first fruits and we no longer wanted to be bad stewards (my wife was a good steward - I wasn't) and to honor Him in all that we do.  The first year was tough and we took a financial class at our church.  We read a few books on this (The road map to financial freedom along with Dave Ramsey material) and we got there.  Within the first 3 years of our marriage, we were completely debt free (other than mortgage) and we were tithing God on what rightfully belonged to Him.

Since my wife and I put complete trust in God with our money, my life is completely different.  Please note that I didn't say perfect because it isn't and it never will be until Christ's return.  Occasionally, I have those moments of earthly desires (mine mine mine and want versus need).  But I confess and I turnaround and we move toward what He calls us to do.  I will confess to you that I still struggle with time (The Stewardship of Time).  It is rough and I am a fast brain and active person - I need help and wisdom in this area.

Test God!  See what He has planned for you and your life.

 

Blessings,

D

 

 

Hate your brother?

1_john_title1 John 4:7-21New International Version (NIV) God’s Love and Ours 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

1 John 3:11-24New International Version (NIV)

More on Love and Hatred 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.


First, let me be perfectly honest here and say that I thank God for His faithfulness, love, grace and mercy.  Because without it, I would be a lost cause.  However, because of the gift of His Son, I have hope eternal.

I would be a liar if I told you that I didn't struggle with pride and lust and anger.  I would be lying to you if I told you that I didn't struggle with Anger and wrath driving every day to and from the city and/or looking at social media and seeing the venom that people put forth on both sides of the aisle.  All this to bring up our walk as a Christ follower.  The Scripture above is very clear on anyone who hates a brother or sister is not only a liar, but a murderer.

Scripture tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  After re-reading these two Scriptures in 1 John, it can be very sobering truth for us to work this out.  It is not only a warning but a stark reality that we have to remove and put to death our old ways.

Soul Searching exercises:

  • Read the book of 1st John
  • Pray to God (ask him to reveal to you things that you have to let go of, people that you have to forgive and even people who you have to ask for forgiveness from).
  • Look at Social Media differently (if it causes you to sin - remove it from your daily life)
  • Pray for those who afflict you
  • Set healthy boundaries around those you know who are always angry
  • Forgive as you have been forgiven.

Blessings,

D

 

 

Family Devotion Time

This morning I found myself for the third morning in a row waking up an hour before my morning alarm (which is early, really early).   Needless to say, the night before I just simply prayed in my bed and managed to fall asleep for whatever remaining time I had until my morning routine, but this morning was different.  This morning, I jumped up and started the coffee pot before it's early preset time.  I let the dog out.  I read my Bible.  I journaled and I even spent more time in prayer than I normally do.  family-hands-and-home

As I drove to work, I listened to worship music and prayed for more.   I prayed for the 4 guys that I am walking with.  I prayed for the prayer list that I have been in need to get to.  For some unknown reason, it is 8:00pm and I am still wide awake.  I even went to the dentist this afternoon and had time to finish my afternoon work from home.  Please note: None of this was possible on my time.  Left to my own devices, this day would have been an epic fail.  I even had time to work out for the second day in a row before family time.

Next, family devotion.

My wife and son called me to dinner.  My wife made this excellent chicken stir fry and even my most finicky of children enjoyed the meal.  Therefore, I decided that it was time to kick up another family devotion.  The questions at hand were as follows:

Question #1:  Dad, "What do you think a disicple of Jesus Christ Is? "  (Instruct them to answer youngest to oldest)

Answer:  youngest, "a disciple is someone who doesn't whine and has their own way, but does what is required of them by Jesus"

Answer2:  middle child, "a disciple is someone who is not just a fan of Jesus but a follower, that is, someone who does Jesus' will.

Answer3:  oldest child, "a disciple is someone who follows God's word and does what it says in their entire life"

Answer4:  the wife, "a disciple is a student (a lerner) who follows their teacher"  (note this answerer asked me why I didn't answer.

The next questions was, what did Jesus mean when he said:

Luke 14:25-27New International Version (NIV)

The Cost of Being a Disciple 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."

This time I asked them to go from oldest child to youngest child and then wife:

Answer1:  Oldest Child, "it means not to put any one first"

Answer2:  Middle Child, "it means that God doesn't want us to choose anyone or any thing before Him.  He wants to be first in everything we do and how we do it"

Answer3:  Youngest Child, "to me, it means that we have to seek what God wants first and then follow His will first"

Answer4:  Wife, "it means that God doesn't want us to choose anyone before choosing Him."


As a father, this was both humbling and exciting to watch and listen and see my family respond accurately to the Word of God.

I told them that as parents, their mom and dad want nothing more than for them to have a relationship (a friendship with God).  And that when each of them met their spouse, that our hope and prayer is that they will meet someone who loves Jesus more than them.  Because if they find that spouse, then that spouse will love them how God loves them.

I am not sure what you are thinking or what you think about my family and I at this juncture.  Maybe you are saying, "yeah, that's so nice to read and blog about, but that's not me"  Or maybe you are saying, "Not my family....not my friends".

My answer to you all, is why not?  You only miss 100% of the shots you never take (thank you Wayne Gretzky).

Trust in the Lord in all that you do....

 

Blessings,

Dante

 

 

 

The marks of a disicple

dareOften you have read and heard from Lance and I not to just be a follower of Jesus, but to dare to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Some may say, "Are you saying that if I am saved then I am not automatically a disciple of Jesus Christ?"  or some say, "If I am saved then I am already a disciple of Christ", while others say, "to be a disciple, your life has to bear the marks of a disciple."  So you find yourself asking where does Legacy Dad stand on this.  My answer is:  Look to the New Testament!  If you read and reread and study and meditate on the Word of God, then you cannot help but understand what a disciple of Christ must do,  must look like and what fruit he/she should be bearing. Jesus, in Matthew 7, tells us what disciples look like:

True and False Disciples 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Jesus in Matthew 28 doesn't just tell us to go out and reach the lost and save them.  He takes it one step further:

The Great Commission 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus also goes on to say that if you hold onto (never let go of) his teaching, then you are a disciple.  If you follow him (that is, to say, not just believing in Him), If you teach the truths to other trustworthy people so that they can multiply God's plan for His believers.  In Luke 6:40, "A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher."  Luke 9:23 says, "whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."  Jesus and His New Testament have so much to say on what a disciple must be, must do and must follow in order to be called His disciple.

Marks of A Disciple

A disciple must(s):

  • Know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior:  Romans 10:9-11 "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[a]
  • Renew his mind:  Romans 12: A Living Sacrifice 12:  1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
  • Knows and Studies God's Word:  1 John 2:3-11 - "Love and Hatred for Fellow Believers, 3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them."
  • Let the Word have authority over their lives:  Colossians 3:15-17 "15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
  • Be Humble:  James 4:10, "10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."
  • Be not just hearers of the word BUT doers:  James 1:22, "22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
  • Bear God's Fruit (you simply cannot help but bear His fruit if you are his disciple):  Galatians 5:22-26, "22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."
  • Die to self:  Romans 6:8, "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."  This simply means let go and let God in all that you do.
  • Be a good steward:  A good steward is someone who understands that God is all, above all and over all.  That is, to say, that God has dominion over my finances, my choices, my daily life and my gifts.  All that I do should point others to Christ.

There is so much more to say on being and daring to be a disciple of Jesus Christ (more to follow on this topic).  That being said, understand that none of us are perfect nor could ever be.  We are called to live content and humble lives.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and understand God's call to worship together in community, in family.  To lift each other up and to supply the needs of the body.  In doing so, you will lay up treasure in Heaven where it is so much more important than the matters of a life down here on earth.  For we are but a mist and before we know it, our lives will be ending and our eternity approaching.

What are you going to choose to do?  Serve yourself?  Or serve God?

Blessings,

D

 

 

The only way to find your life is to lay your own life life down

discipledockAndrew Peterson is one of my favorite songwriters who was actually introduced to me by my brother, Lance, who posted a video with the song "Family Man".  I also learned and went to see Andrew and met him with the Director of Worship from our church who is a big fan of Andrew's.  This morning I woke up and was listening to a collection of songs from Andrew and he has this one song, Dancing in the Minefields (lyrics here) and the line, "'Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down, and I believe it's an easy price for the life that we have found."  That is a profound statement and we know that resembles the Truth because we read something like this in Scripture, "13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13, NIV). Jesus turned the religious world upside down when He came to this earth to serve instead of being served.  He exemplifies this when He washes his disciples' feet.  We read so much truth in Scripture about marriage and how we are to serve one another:

  • Ephesians 5:  " 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
  • 1 Peter 3:  "7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:  "4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Marriage done God's way is not a 50/50 relationship.  That is, to say, that you don't just give 50% and wait for your spouse to give 50% and believe that equals 100%, because this is not God's math this is the world's view - What's in it for me?  When we put Jesus at the center, where He belongs, then the true equation equals 100%.  Regardless of good or bad, sickness and in health, seasons of trials and tribulations - I am going to give 100%!  When I don't I am going to express my true feelings and no matter what, I will not hold back love.

Love is patient - it waits and it does not hold back.

Love is kind - don't be rude

It does not envy - trust implicitly

It does not boast - it is given without holding back and it is humble

It is not easily angered - think about this one (take the "I" out of "we" because there is no "I" in "We"

It keeps no record of wrongs - stop keeping score - forgive as you have been forgiven.

Love always protects!  Always trusts! Always hopes and no matter what - it does not quit - it always perseveres!!!

What's holding you back from trusting God and getting the "I" out of your relationship:  1 John 2: "On Not Loving the World -'15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[d] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever."

Look back at your life and your relationships and refer to Galatians 5 and ask yourself which fruit is more evident in my life:  The Fruit of the Spirit or the Fruit of the Sinful Nature?  If there is more Sinful Nature stuff, then repent and serve 100% in those that God called you to love.  Don't hold back!  Pray continually and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in those broken and/or fractured relationships.  Some of us may need professional biblical counseling.  All of us need accountability partners and groups (Community) to walk with us and love on us and to comfort, encourage and urge us to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ did not come to be served, but to serve.  Jesus tells us to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Can you truly call yourself a CHRISTian if you hold back love and forgiveness.  Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!

What's holding you back from God's love and plan for your marriage, your relationships, your friendships that need love?

You can do this!  You can do this because when you let go and let God, then you can be sure that He has got this!

Blessings, Dante

 

 

 

 

Discipleship

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.

We believe in order to be an effective disciple you have to be serious about biblical purity and biblical stewardship in order to be the disciple that God wants us to be.  That being said, we are not saying that you have to be perfect in purity and stewardship - because we cannot.  But we are saying that you can no longer be the authority in your life if you call yourself a true Christian.  God is the ultimate authority!  We have to be in submission to Him.  When we begin our walk humbling ourselves before a Holy God, then we began to understand Proverbs when it says the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Biblical purity is abstaining from any sexual immorality outside God's covenant of marriage between one man and one woman.  1 Corinthians 6 puts it this way:

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

Flee Sexual Immorality 12 “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.

Biblical Stewardship is taking care of what belongs to God.  In this stewardship we have to understand that this means that we have to give God an account of our time, talent and treasure. Effective stewardship is working to effectively manage your time, to share your talent in serving God and giving account and tithing on the treasure that God has given you.

Whether we like it or not, the world is watching.  Social media is ruthless and unforgiving as individuals (behind closed doors) can say whatever they want in the confines of closed doors.  They have no authority in their life, because if they did, they would realize that their words will be used against them in God's judgement.  We, as Christians, have to realize that our words and deeds are being watched not just by men, but by Angels.

I think in order for you and I to be an effective disciple, we have to submit to God's will in our lives.  We have to submit to his call for us to be pure and to live a life of good stewardship with our time, our talent and our treasure.  Because when you and I do this - the World is watching and God's changes lives!

To be an effective disciple you have to be rooted in God's word daily.  You have to pray continually and your have to strive to be pure, to be a good steward and then, only then, can you be an effective disciple of Jesus Christ.  Honestly, when you live like that, others will no longer see you - they will see Jesus!

Blessings,

Dante

 

 

 

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.


I find it funny that I meet men and women that can justify "social norms" (sexual immorality) that is contrary to God's word.  I think the hardest thing to grasp and to understand for the Christian today is that in order for one to justify any sexual immorality outside the confines of marriage is to justify sin to a Holy God.  You simply cannot be immoral and walk with God!  Sin is sin!  When you read this, though, and study the Scripture, you realize that sexual sin is against God's temple and is deemed a higher sin.

For those of us that call Christ our Savior, then you should hear that ever so quiet voice in our life that calls us to purity, to holiness and to stewardship which leads to God's discipleship.

If you are that person that is currently acting or engaging in any or every sexual sin outside the covenant of marriage (God's biblical plan for man and woman to become one flesh), then you are out of bounds in God's plan - REPENT!

Read Colossians 3 and Romans 12

Pray

As for Forgiveness

Be accountable to a men's group.

 

YOU CAN DO THIS (Through God's Holy Spirit)

 

Blessings, D