Steadfast Provider – Rock in the Storm – Faithful Father Series

Steadfast Provider

As a father we provide for our children in many ways. It is east to think, ‘Well they have a roof over their head, food in their belly, and clothes on their bodies. I’m doing alright.’ and to a certain extent that is true but the logic is flawed. We provide more than tangible things for our children and must do so in a steadfast manner. Consider Matthew 7:9-11 where Jesus is speaking about how a father would not callously mistreat his children. A child asking for bread would get such, and not a stone in its place! Jesus confronts the iniquity of man directly in Matthew 7:11 where he is speaking to his following including the apostles and calls them evil, he does not mean this harshly but that in comparison to the perfection of the Father, man is evil. Yet he is not berating them but cautioning them out of love. Telling them that even an evil man knows how to do good  for his children because he has the child’s best interest at heart sometimes at least. Finally Jesus compares this action to God and how we should be like him giving in abundance to our children in a loving manner and not one done in anger.

The Christian who is steadfast, unmovable in the Word, goes forward to a discharge of his known duties, no matter what his feelings may be.

C.E. Orr

Jesus showed us that God wants us to be givers, not takers. This is important because a steadfast provider is not one that gives to get something in return. They give freely, with no expectation or reward. Christ laid down his live, giving an ultimate sacrifice so that humanity could take the chance to redeem through salvation and living as Jesus did. In 1 Timothy 5:8 Paul is writing to Timothy about his ministry at the church in Ephesus and cautions the church about the treatment of their relatives especially household members. Paul states it outright and it is true, to not provide for your relatives, especially members in your home is a blatant denial of the faith you profess. Paul goes on to say that this violation of duty is worse than an unbeliever of Christ, and I agree!

Being a parent is a lot of work. I’ve come to know this over the time that I met my wife and her children. It’s been four years and I have had ups and downs learning to be a father and that the world is not black and white but full of many gray areas. It is our duty to educate our children about these things in life so that they are not easily swayed by duplicitous individuals. The call for steadfastness does go beyond provisions and lessons you actively teach because children are super observant. How many times have you used a bad habit and your children have emulated it? Yeah, me too. It does happen and so it is clear that how you act in times of difficulty also teaches them good and bad behaviors. Living as Christ did is hard and does require a steadfast will to continue on in the face of adversity.

I posted recently about spending a month or more in prayer because I was trying to create a better connection with God. Not because I was afraid that God was not listening or had forgotten about me. It was because I wanted my kids to understand several important things about prayer. First, prayer is nothing you should be embarrassed about. Second, prayer works, it is that simple. Next, prayer can be done any where, any time. Last, and most importantly, it provides a direct communication to God which is so very key to being a Christian. My family has reaped the rewards of that, my children make no fuss about praying at a restaurant and do so loudly…I am sure some patrons would say too loudly but hey, my kids love Jesus and that is what matters. They pray at night and we read stories from the Bible every night.

I don’t always feel like doing those things, praying, reading Bible stories or even reading the Bible on a personal level. That is a flaw of mine and it is because of the same reason others give, I don’t feel like I have enough time to get things done. It is often said Satan’s greatest victory is convincing man he does not exist. I would argue his second greatest victory especially in the modern world, is preying on humanities drive to be greater as a means to disconnect Christians from God for worldly pursuits. The world moves fast and we may feel like we do not have the time but we have to be intentional in creating the time. This behavior, this intenationalist attitude, is the point, being steadfast in spite of my feelings and emotions. My desire to be this way is directly influenced by Jesus, consider, he knew he would be beaten and betrayed, he knew he would be disgraced and he knew that he would be crucified and slain for being a dissident. Yet he was not swayed and carried through with his Father’s design.

Steadfast Providing is more than food and a roof over your families head. It is cultivating a relationship with and teaching about Jesus with your family. Steadfastness is continuing to do these things and intentionally laying out lessons even if life just seems to suck sometimes, it can and it will. Jesus didn’t give up, to live like him means you should not either. Lean on your spouse and support one another. Marriage was designed to be a mutually beneficial connection that is blessed by God, use that grace to your advantage.

This is the last portion of the Faithful Father Series and I hope that it has touched you positively in some way and had encouraged you to a father who is a living example of Christ, that teaches the truth to your children while guarding them and leading them in a manner that raises them to respect authority instead of hate it. All of that has to come with being a compassionate friend to your spouse and children. Fulfilling those duties will go a long way to ensuring you have been a steadfast provider of your family. Times will be difficult but hold fast to the confession of your faith and the rewards you receive would humble any earthly king.

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Compassionate Friendship – Benevolent Bonding – Faithful Father Series

Compassion = Benevolent

Bonding with our children is so important that the Bible made sure we understood the need to provide benevolent bonding for our children. Proverbs 22:6 tells us what that bonding can lead to.

I consider my home an institution and I think that men should look at their own home that way as well. Consider the children you are raising and that they learn from you and your wife. Together you are forming who they are, what they value and how they interact with the world more than any other persons God has put in their life. This foundation, this institution, should be a benevolent one that aims to guide our children in God first. Way easier said then done man.

You have to be intentional about it, this whole series is built on the hope that as someone comes across me sharing my life, they find inspiration that is the catalyst for improving their relationship with God, wife, children, family, and friends. On one hand you have authority and discipline but you must also be compassionate with those same people. Especially your wife and children, I mean, you don’t have them except by God’s grace. That is the way we need to approach this series. We are not seeking to judge how lucky those are around us but the reverse. How lucky are we to be surrounded by those we love because God placed their paths and our paths together?

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

George Washington Carver

Compassion is Not a Weakness

We live in a world that views aggressiveness as strength and compassion as a weakness but I tell you it is not. The expression of either of those traits is entirely situational and my belief that compassion is a strength almost always comes from a singular Biblical reference. In Psalms 103:13 fathers are called to show compassion to their children just as God does to those who fear Him. There is a reason why God uses compassion so often in the Bible. Even when Jesus gave the Pharisees a good tongue lashing over their lofty perch in Matthew 23 he wept for Jerusalem in the last three verses of the same chapter (Matthew 23:37-39).

Compassion is an inspirational emotion that can drive us towards goals. It can help us recover from being distraught and it makes us better people. Francis Schaeffer said, ‘Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.’ He is completely justified in that statement, there are groups that exist, specifically the Westboro Baptist Church who we are just going to call a hate group, use the Bible to treat people as if they were so far from God’s forgiveness that they have no hope and will burn in Hell. Now does that sound like Jesus? The man sat with whores and outcasts throughout His ministry. He was compassionate in all things he did and that is part of why the disciples followed Him. He was strong and meek, authoritative and compassionate.

Compassion = Benevolent Bonding

We cannot spend all of our time critiquing and correcting our children. They are kids who will make mistakes just like adults do. I lose sight of that sometimes on days I feel like they are testing all the barriers at once. At 5 and 7 that can seem like it is every day but I know that is not true, we just have a tendency to focus on the short intense spurts instead of viewing the overall picture.

Bonding with your children is an intentional activity and not something you can assume will happen because you are a parent of that child. We are always so busy, doing what? Work? Personal interest? Just not wanting to do anything because we just need a break. I’m guilty of this, and trying to change it but how often has your child wanted you to do something and you make an excuse? It’s so easy to say later or anything that puts it off until they forget or give up.

Sometimes the things our kids want us to do are just plain boring. Sometimes it is messy (a lot of times at our house!). We are missing out on a critical time with our children when we do this. They thrive and learn and grow every single time we set aside other things and make intentional bonding experiences with them. You’re going to make memories that to you may seem small but to them it will be profound. That reminder you get from them when they say “Hey Daddy, remember when…” is humbling and something we overlook in our daily parenting routines. We sabotage our change for benevolent bonding.

Parent and Friend

We can be our child’s parent and we can be their friend. We may not be their best friend but we have a compassionate friendship and a benevolent bond that even their very best friend has. We just need to continually pour in to our children the love Christ has shown us. The poor outlook of a parent being a friend to their child comes from the parent enabling irresponsibility. You’re 50, you don’t need to go to the club so you can watch women twerk.You also shouldn’t be operating on the premise that your child is going to be drinking or smoking weed so why not do it with them when you can control it. That control is illusory, a powerful tool of the enemy. All you are doing is saying those behaviors are okay.

If we want long-term healthy relationships with our children it spring from intentional time spent with them each, intentional time spent with the family. It does not come from giving them gifts and condoning their poor behavior. As a father my goal is to teach, love, sometimes discipline but mostly love. We wear many hats as parents. Sometimes we even have to wear birthday hats on your forehead and pretend to be a unicorn.

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Racism: Religion and Science Agree, It’s Wrong

Racism

This is a bit of an armchair article so you are welcome to take it with a grain of salt, or a mountain. I can not in good conscience write for a site that believes 100% in God and all he is then ignore the injustice that has occurred in Charlottesville. I’ll approach this from a Biblical point of view and from a scientific one. I think that addressing both is important because there are people in the world that base their racism on religion and those that do so with science.

Defining Race

The best way to define race is to look at a dictionary isn’t it? The dictionary breaks the word ‘race’ in to different parts since it is a word that has multiple uses. Race from an anthropological standpoint is a socially constructed category of identification based on physical characteristics, ancestry, historical affiliation, or shared culture:

Defining Racism

The word racism is a two-part word. The first is race as listed above and then an ‘ism’ which is a distinctive philosophy. To practice racism is to have a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

Religion and Racism

God hates racism. Why? It is a sin and God hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Let’s address something up front because I’ve read and saw videos of racial supremacists using the Bible as a means to justify racism. There is a belief that Jews in the Bible were placed above other groups of people by God and that God has then created racism so that means racism is righteous. So how did that belief get started? Glad you asked.

In the Bible the line of Seth can be traced entirely from Adam to Seth to Noah (Genesis 5:1-32) and then from Noah to Abraham (Genesis 11:1-32). We know that God had saved Noah to save humanity. Then Abraham was to be the father of nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham was the father of Jacob who God called Israel (Genesis 32:38). The nation of Israel were from the sons of Jacob which numbered 12. Whew!

I know that is a lot of ancestry condensed but at this point God declares the nation of Israel as his chosen nation. So if God has chosen ‘us’ it must mean we are ‘better’ than others right? They couldn’t be more wrong. God’s selection of Israel was a call to evangelize the world. To take a nation of faithful people and place them in service to the world. To bring that world closer to God. God did not elevate Jews above Gentiles, instead they were called in to his service so that Gentiles could find redemption with God.

It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ve said it before, man really knows how to choke on important things. Over and over we are given great gifts by God and we have a tendency to pervert it. Over time the nation of Israel became elitist and instead of spreading God’s word it began to harbor it. So God did something incredibly selfless and sent Jesus, his Son to spread the truth of his desire for humanity. In Acts 17:26 there is no clearer statement than “He made from one man every nation of mankind” to signify God’s view that race classification is a man-made mechanism to deny others equality.

Jesus came to speak to the heart of the Jews and show them that God wanted every person to be part of his kingdom. Not just the descendants of the twelve tribes but all the people that spread across the world regardless of their language, skin color or other physical traits. That was the message Christ gave to his apostles, it was the great commission, and you know what? Humanity understood it more, not perfectly obviously but it took the death of Christ to get the point across.

You cannot call yourself a Christian and oppress people because they are darker or lighter than you, or if they have almond-shaped eyes versus round. It literally goes against what Jesus says Christianity is about. Racism is wrong from a non-secular standpoint. What does science say?

Science and Racism

The science part I will keep brief if only because we are still exploring our genetic heritage through the Human Genome Project but we have made some headway in to what makes us who we are on a micro-level. We know from school that humans have 46 chromosomes which is 23 from each parent. How many of those chromosomes are different between each race? None. Not a single one.

Guess how much of those 46 chromosomes make up your outward appearance? It’s about .01 or 1% of your makeup. That’s right. We fight about 1% of who we are.

Race is a social concept, not a scientific one

Dr.J. Craig Venter, head of the Celera Genomics Corporation

Race is such a terrible means to classify humans that on a geneticists level they don’t use it. They did at one time because we did not understand genetics the way we do now. It’s just like the belief that certain parts of our tongue can only taste different things. For a long time this was taught in schools in fact the image below shows exactly what I am describing. What we found out is we were wrong and that the tongue tastes all types in all parts of it. There are no hot spots for taste and textbooks changed. Kids are educated based on new knowledge and adults find out their world has been altered.

Taste

The difference is that we can see the things we classify as racial traits such as high cheekbones in Native Americans, Wide noses in Aboriginals, Almond shaped eyes in Asians and so on. That 1% that we can visualize matters to us so much we are willing to incite rage, kill, burn and loot clusters of people who share the same heritage. Yet science has proven we are all the same race, human. Where we come from doesn’t matter. We are all still human.

Conclusion

I think we slayed two dangerous dragons here today or at least made a good foundation to help others combat it. Racism is not Biblical. In fact it is the complete opposite. God created man and from him, man has grown and spread across the world. Man caused the idea of elevation of one people over another because their heritage was different. Society created a label called ‘race’ to categorize this belief that there was a difference between these groups of people.

Science has done the ‘evidence’ part of our equation and provided us concrete evidence that genetically we are 99% the same. If we can accept the world is round, the tongue is all one taster and that the Baltimore Ravens are the best football team ever (okay maybe not the last one) I wholeheartedly feel we can do away with the term race and start appreciating others for their heritage.

So you know who I am? I’m God’s child. I’m human. I’m a mutt and happy to be one. I am content to serve humanity and share what God does want and that is everyone. Hold Fast Christian and weather the storms that small groups claiming our faith cause. Ignore the slights and instead purposefully seek to help anyone in need of God’s love.

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Faithful Father Series: Introduction

Faithful Father

There are no more terrifying roles in a man’s life than those of husband and father. I mean let’s be honest, we can really make life difficult for the ones closest to us if we do not guard ourselves against the enemy. In fact, we can make their life suck by not being a faithful father and devoted husband. As a step-parent I am constantly guessing myself on how I am raising my children. It is not because I feel that I am a bad parent or that my heart is not in the right spot. It is a huge responsibility to raise children while dealing with my own issues of being a “step” parent.

I will be honest, I have no love for that term and it stems from overhearing people say things like, “Well that isn’t his dad anyway, he’s just a step-parent.” or any other derivative that attempts to sabotage the place a man has in his family. God put him there, not you. God is you father, and let’s be clear, He adopted us as Paul clearly tells us in Ephesians 1:5 “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ.”

God has been good to me, I have not had to hear that towards me personally and pray I never do. I was raised calling my step-father “Dad” and not anything else. My kids call me “Scott” or “Scotty” and I hope one day that it gets replaced with “Dad” because I am that for them. I get it here and there when they are in bouts of excitement and it makes my heart swell.

Small rant aside, my heart is not to say that biological father’s are not to be given their due because they should. The purpose of this series is to empower Christian fathers to be faithful to the duties God has spoken of, for them to strive for. This series addresses the fact that it doesn’t matter if you came from a split home, an abusive father, a father you don’t even know, or a well-meaning Christian father who may have failed at God’s will for that position in his life; all of those circumstances shaped you today but they are not who you have to be. You can build your family legacy apart from that and be the faithful father God has called you to be.

It takes work, lots of hard, self-less, prayerful, self-sacrificing work but at the end the legacy you can leave is a family full of God and love.

Characteristics of a Faithful Father

So what does it take to be that man God calls you to be for your children? Over the next seven weeks we will discuss the characteristics of a faithful father highlighting each one. A preview of what God wants from a father figure is;

All of those things combined is a tall order but God wants his children to not only love him but to love others and to spread His message. That cannot be done without all of these things together. We like to use the phrase “Great Risk for Great Rewards” and I cannot think of a greater reward than being a faithful father who has raised God loving children who have a desire to seek Him and spread His work to the world.

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Teaching Forgiveness

Teaching Forgiveness

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. – Colossians 3:13

Kids ask the darnedest things. Sometimes I don’t even know how to answer them in a kid like manner. I was talking to Bethany about that on the way home from a coffee run to Dunkin’ Donuts. While we were driving Elijah asks out of the blue, “Scott, Why did they kill Jesus?” He is deep like that. The death of Christ was terrible and every martyr since has died because people fear the truth and have lived a life of lies. It is one of many reasons that Jesus was slain. So how do you answer that for a child who is only 3 but asks about God and loves God in the way only children can? How do you go about teaching forgiveness in a way that glorifies God without losing the message that Jesus came to give?

Don’t be a Pharisee. You tell them the truth and you live it. You go about teaching forgiveness as Christ does. I struggle with how to answer some of his questions. Not out of lack of knowledge but in how to share it in a way he can comprehend but I think I did alright. He is at that stage where lying is commonplace unfortunately. So why not use that? I told him that people killed Jesus because they were strong and had lots of power . They gained that power by lying about God’s word and using it to make people believe something they couldn’t live themselves. I would be remiss to admit there was an ulterior motive there to teach him not to lie.

I went on to tell him how lying hurts people and that Jesus was killed out of fear. Fear that all the things those powerful people had won falsely would be taken from them. Jesus was teaching us to love one another above all things because God had sent Him out of love to save us. Which led to another question, “Did Jesus love the soldiers who kilt him?” This kid…

He did (Luke 23:34), He asked for their forgiveness even while they slew Him. I still saw no reason to not tell him that. I explained to him that Jesus forgave them for hurting Him, for not knowing what they were doing. Jesus came to save the world, not the Jews, not the believers, everyone (1 John 2:2). We in many ways teach this kind of forgiveness to our kids, or we should. Children are ignorant to the world, many of the things they do and we teach them by forgiving them and telling them why it was wrong.

We have no desire to brag, teaching forgiveness is a cornerstone of rearing Christian children. My children know about the forgiveness of the prodigal son, they know about the parable of the unforgiving servant but most importantly we make sure they know about the forgiveness of Christ.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

This should be a pretty familiar pair of passages for all of us. Galatians is an important part of how Christianity evolved after Christ ascended. Paul had visited the churches in Galatia (potentially founded many of them, it is uncertain) and after he left he received word that some individuals had begun teaching an alternate gospel to the newly converted pagans. Paul’s gospel was based on Jesus’ ministry while these individuals were saying that the gentile Christians must conform to Mosaic law. Even while rebuking them he always does this in love. Paul boils down how Christians should act in to the fruit of the spirit.

Fruit, not Fruits

I do feel that it is important to highlight that Paul signifies that all of the fruit of the Spirit is singular. The word used in Greek was ‘karpos’ a word that meant fruit but also meant ‘that which comes from something’ or an ‘effect’. This is significant because we as humans produce sinful things. We produce works of the flesh. Paul is clear in saying ‘works’ of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 but when it comes to the Holy Spirit it is singular. There is one Holy Spirit, there are many humans therefore only the Spirit can produce the nine traits that are the fruit of it’s presence in us. Humans can produce all the works of the flesh but the traits of the Spirit are the result of it’s effect on us. I hope I made sense there!

Final Thoughts

The fruit of the Spirit are things we as Christians need to pray for. Those traits are how Jesus lives. Jesus instructs us to abide in Him because we cannot bear fruit without the vine (John 15:1-11). Jesus is the embodiment of those traits and the way we learn to bear the fruit we are commanded to is by seeking strength in God when we face adversity. I would be a liar to say I got this on lock, I don’t. I get irritated over small and likely trivial things. I feel terrible about it because I feel like a backsliding serpent of a man. Maybe it is all the noise in the house and I snap and yell at my kids. I shouldn’t do that but I have. It’s those things I ask God for strength so that I can work on them. He’s a good father and listens when I call out to Him. It takes more effort to be mean to someone than it does to be kind. I pray every day that God gives me strength to not get irritated at my co-workers and to show His Son through me. I talk openly about church and God because we should never fear offending someone just because we are Christian. My hope is that I represent a child of His kingdom in the most honorable manner I can and produce fruit for God’s will.

Daily Devotional – Remain in the Vine

Fruit of the Vine

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. – John 15:4

When I first started doing this I had talked about the farmer and the ways it relates to the types of people we encounter in our lives.While I haven’t been the stony or the thorny seed I certainly have been the man tossing seeds upon the wayside where I was not bearing fruit at all. I knew the Lord but I was apart from Him. This verse in John is exactly something I needed back then and sometimes even now. We all wander a little or a lot, doesn’t matter the distance because God tells us that He will meet us wherever we are. I was unplugged, separated, away from God for a decade almost. I was off of the vine.

Life off of the Vine

Have you ever plucked a grape from a vine and let it sit there? It doesn’t instantly turn rotten and it doesn’t wither and dry up right away either. That is how life is when we are away from God. At first anyways, because we have that prior nourishment to sustain us just like the grape did. What happens eventually? The grape begins to rot and ultimately dies because it is not being renewed. That is exactly how I was, exactly how it is for any one away from God. It doesn’t mean you have become an unbeliever. On the contrary, I grew up going to church a lot and while I did not follow what God wanted me to, I knew God existed and never denied it. How long can the fruit survive away from the vine? It doesn’t matter, eternity is still longer.

Plugging In

This is where the church comes in because we need to help one another. Can you put a grape back on the vine and it will thrive again? No, once you pull the grape off a tear in the skin happens and it begins losing all of it’s nourishment. That is the good news, you my friends, are not grapes. God is a master gardener with His vine. He can plug that hole and fill that fruit with nourishment. The church is there to help lead the wandering fruit back to the vine so that they do not wither and die.  This is why we speak life to the lost and even to ourselves because it is a chaste reminder that we can still fall off the vine if we are negligent and allow the enemy to pull at us.

Final Thoughts

I’d like to go back to the grape for a minute and just explain why staying on the vine is important to me. See, when you hold a grape up you see light pass through it. When you break the skin it is sweet and juicy. It is refreshing! That’s how we should live our lives as Christians. We should have a skin so thin that the sweet good news of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is ready to burst forth and refresh the dying fruit so that God can mend them and bring them back in to the vine. You want to be a seedless grape ultimately because who wants a bitter seed while enjoying the richness of God? The best grapes are seedless because then they are full of the nourishment from the vine. Do we really want the lost spitting out a bitter pit because they recognized that we have some harbored doubt in our hearts?

I know that all sounds very highfalutin but it is the truth. We are called to invigorate others and bring them to Christ. That is what I am trying to do here because I know my talents in this season are in writing and in technical knowledge to run a website. Who knows where God is going to take me but I can assure you I’m going to cling to the vine for all it’s worth. Cling to it for life. God is life.

Daily Devotional – The Person in the Mirror

Person in the Mirror

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. – James 1:23-24

When we exercise spiritually we are practicing for the potential spiritual threats we may experience in life. I say may because we have been guaranteed to face hardships but I do not wish to come across as a person speaking hopelessness! I speak life! It is why I started this, I want anyone who comes across this to get something spiritually from it. We may be focused on the Christian male but that does not mean we exclude anyone. Spiritual fitness is not like riding a bike you can lose your agility to combat the enemy if you do not keep in touch with God. When we look at ourselves in the mirror do we confront the person we are or do we look and see a person we are pretending to be and live in denial?

Fearing the Mirror

A person who looks in the mirror and sees a person they have fooled themselves in to thinking they are is a person that is spiritually shallow. I in no way mean this to be condemnation because a whole chapter of Romans was dedicated to why we should not condemn anyone (Romans 2:1-29). The first part (Romans 2:1-4) deals with the hypocrisy of the Christians in Rome against the Gentiles. In many ways these Christians were not looking in the mirror  because ultimately the saying, “we’re all human” applies to this so much. The new covenant dissolved the idea that only the Israelites were God’s only people. Sometimes, we as Christians get so caught up in the righteousness that we have through Christ that we also forget that the very righteousness we have is given through faith and that it doesn’t matter who you are (Romans 3:22). We should not be hiding ourselves or trying to because fact is, God sees us even in our hidden place.

Owning the Mirror

I can’t even remember this guy right here. Not who he was but that I looked like that.

Scott - Freshman Football

When I look in the mirror every day, and let’s be honest, I got to keep my hair looking good, I mean look at the brillo pad I have.  When I look at myself I want to be happy with the man I see because ultimately I represent my faith. Am I happy spiritually with who I am, with how I lead my life, my family? If I can say yes to that then I am owning the mirror. Whether it is at work or home take a minute to look at yourself. Not your physical shape, you have the ability to change that just as much as you do your spirituality. Can you say you’re leading a life that represents Jesus to the best of your ability? Maybe you don’t realize the full potential you have for being a disciple. Don’t fret, we all don’t know that. Only God does. We can however ask Him to help us understanding or guide our decisions to be His will. That is why praying is important. how can we ask God to help us if we don’t talk to Him? Own the mirror. You’ll see a happier person.

Final Thoughts

We need to own the mirror every day and we can only do that by diving deep in to the waters of faith. It is a great unknown but He walks beside us. Reading the Bible every day is a great way to start. Do a daily devotional and you’ll start hungering for me. Who was Jesus? Who can I help see Jesus in me? The Bible is God’s word put to ink by men that He breathed words in to. Read, Pray and then get rid of that fear of the mirror and own it. Be what God wants not only in public but in private. He sees it all. Since the beginning he has watched man sin and then try to hide it. Since the beginning He has called man out for those sins and their desire to keep it hidden. When we look in that mirror what do we see? A paper Christian or a man who wears the armor of God and is ready to do battle with hell wherever it is at?

Daily Devotional – Milk or Solid Food

Milk or Solid Food

Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! – Hebrews 5:12

In the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews we find some of the most important advice that is given in this book. The purpose of the book of Hebrews was an exhortation to those who began to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah. In many ways it rebukes the claim that he was simply a man who was devoted to God and ultimately crucified for those beliefs. The reference of milk relies on some of the other verses in the chapter that speak of infancy and maturity.

Milk in Infancy

As a newborn we are fed milk because we are not ready for solid foods. Even as we gradually grow our diets begin with liquids then mushy food and finally real food. Milk is the most easily digestible sustenance we can stand until we grow. If we apply this to our spiritual life we can see why this was spoken of in Hebrews. The newly saved individual is in spiritual infancy and they need to be spoon-fed information and shown how to enjoy God more. How many babies learn to eat filet mignon immediately? You’ll find that it is none. They just can’t understand the food at the time so they cannot consume it and gain nourishment from it. Some people never leave this stage of spiritual development and that’s fine but God really wants us to grow and enjoy solid food.

Enjoying Solid Food

So how do we get to enjoy solid food? By becoming spiritually fit! We do that by practice. I cannot stress enough how important it is to reach out to God daily and talk to Him. Pray, worship, walk, serve and do all those things in Christ. Become kingdom minded (Matthew 6:33)! Solid food is for the mature who have trained themselves (Hebrews 5:13-15) and as stewards who are mature we must also be disciples and spoon-feed the new brethren because they don’t know the good from the evil and they will have questions. Lots of them! We enjoy solid food through those acts that are Christ-centered. We get nourishment from nourishing.

Final Thoughts

The book of Hebrews is one of the meatiest books in the Bible because it covers a multitude of concerns including the validity of Christ as Messiah, the refutation that a believer must convert to Judaism to be saved (this is not in any way a condemnation of Jewish beliefs but it is the purpose of the book), to show that we must nurture those who are young in their spiritual walk and more. How can I speak life if I doubt it myself? How can I profess my love of Christ if I question if I really love Him? Deep questions that I examined myself before I even considered beginning this journey of wanting to help other men. Not because I struggled with those specific questions but because I wanted to take a long hard look at who I am, who I was and who God wanted me to be. When we take another person’s potential salvation into our hands we are making ourselves a target for the enemy. Did I want to wage that war? It hasn’t been a battle yet but I am preparing myself spiritually by doing these devotionals and reaching out to men. By praying and worshiping God so that I can put on His armor and protect myself and those I love. That is why the soldiers of Christ need solid food and not just milk.

Daily Devotional – Grow in Faith

Grow

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15

If God has truly made an impact in your life because you have truthfully made the commitment to trust Jesus Christ as your savior then you will grow. To give the reference verse some back story, Paul is writing to Timothy whom he asked to go to the church in Ephesus because it was a mess. A mess because while they loved God they had forgotten how much God loved them. They were a church on autopilot. In Revelations 2:1-4 Jesus tells them directly that while they profess in faith and show a walk in faith for anyone to see they do not grow in faith because they have left their first love by putting their devotion in to the church and not the people of the church.

Faltering in the First Love

Remember the butterflies that you had when you accepted Jesus for what He is? Son of God, the Lion, the Lamb and more. I would be lying if I said that it did not wax and wane for me. I’m human and broken. Sometimes I don’t like what God is putting in front of me, but I still love Him. Those times when I am listening to the enemy and not to God is when that First Love falters. Maybe it is getting caught up in the trappings of portraying what a Christian should be like the church at Ephesus was. Their biggest transgression was forgetting how much Christ loved everyone, including the unbelievers. When we as a church, I say that meaning the people of God, attack unbelievers by slander, action or denial of even acknowledging their existence we are showing we have let our First Love go. How can we grow in Christ when we are doing exactly the opposite of what Christ did?

How to Grow our First Love

To have your First Love is to be like Christ. One way to be like Jesus it is to serve others. He did this exceptionally well, perfectly actually. Why did he come to Earth and die? In service to us so that we may find a path to Heaven. When we lose that love we lose our desire to serve others including the lost, and even our brother and sisters in Christ. God has breathed words in to the Bible, in to our hearts and it will help us combat losing our love. We need to do everything we can for God. He has done enough for us. We grow our love by doing just that, loving others and not loving what we think the church represents.

Instead of calling people freaks or perverts or assuming they are terrorists because their faith is different (Ephesians 4:29), we should be trying to understand why they feel the way they do and reaching out to them in love as Jesus did. When we reach out in anger we condemn them in a way Christ never intended. As Christians we understand what judgment is because all will be judged. It is not the act of judgment, which is the formation of an opinion, that is a problem. It is how we express that judgment that is the problem. If we express that opinion in anger or fear then what have we done? We have taken away from how we should present ourselves as Christians. We have robbed ourselves and others of that First Love.

Final Thoughts

To nurture our first love we must nurture our faith. It is a synergy that is necessary for us to grow. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord and to not lean on our own understanding of things. Our understanding is often flawed with emotions of anger, fear etc. These things are where we are following our heart and not our faith. Worship God with all of your being, Pray to Him all the time, Serve others in everything that you do, Give all that you can muster to Him and then dig deeper and give more of yourself. There is no depth to which we can go that God doesn’t get. When we think that God just won’t understand we are wrong. He is God and He knew us before we were born and will know us long after we are gone. Plan seeds of faith, goodwill and love and water them to grow. Ignore the seeds of doubt the enemy tries to sow in your field of works.

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