faith, Fitness

Physical Stewardship | Letter To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

 I think permitting the game to become too physical takes away a little bit of the beauty.

-John Wooden

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

I Timothy 4:8

Son I think today most would agree we worship sports and athletic accomplishments based on how much money we spend on the pursuit of these things. But it is fascinating because, amidst our attraction, many nevertheless miss seeing and understanding the value of bodily stewardship. We, by far, enjoy the drama, the competition, or discussion but sometimes fail to see the great life lessons in fitness, exercise, coaching, and athletic pursuit.

I wish that many years ago when I was a teen and young adult that someone would have reinforced to me that I only get one body—a single physical machine—for an entire lifetime and that I must care for it for a lifetime. While we might think this is intuitive, my younger mind always thought I was invincible and unbreakable, and what I put into it and got out of it could be pushed to the limits every day without consequence. Yet this state of mind overlooks the importance of stewarding the physical machine we are given.

Here are a few essential thoughts on good physical stewardship.

One | Physical care is good stewardship

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23

In this life, we are called to steward many things as men. One of the things we often default to thinking about is the stewardship of money. But there are a lot of other things we steward—one we often overlook is our body. The “machine” God gave to each of us during our lifetime is important. It serves an essential purpose, and we must steward it with care. This means we should understand physical care and exercise as needed, and not something we should neglect. We are only given one biological machine for carrying around our spirit and soul, and therefore, we must steward it with excellence. Notice Jesus’s remarks in the Book of Luke:

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

Luke 16:10-12

The life principle is this: how we steward the small things, wealth, or otherwise matters—this is true of anything, including the body. Our body is our means of human existence, interaction, witness, and communication with others. We feed it so that we can have the energy we need to be faithful and fulfill our responsibilities in living out the good news as a witness to the world. This machine needs quality inputs and outputs to ignite strength and vitality to do God’s daily work. And it’s our individual responsibility to care for it.

Two | God cares about your physical body

And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 8:3

If Jesus didn’t care about our bodies, he would not have healed people. But he did so frequently and for many reasons. With renewed energy, men and women who were healed by Jesus went on their way, praising God and telling the world about the One who heals not only the spiritual afflictions but physical ailments. These men and women went forward in life, walking again, seeing again, and experiencing community again. If they were hungry, Jesus fed them. If they were bleeding, Jesus touched them. If they were dying, Jesus saved them. Jesus did these things for people who wanted healed machines, and these people went forward, knowing that they should care for their bodies, stewarding them, because God values spirit and body.

Three | God cares primarily about your eternity

And when he saw their faith, he said [to the paralyzed man], “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—”I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”—Luke 5:20, 24

This instance is interesting. Jesus heals both the paralyzed man’s spiritual and physical needs, but notice that Jesus addressed his spiritual needs first. Which if you read the story, you’ll discover created an interesting moment of tension and controversy for a few religious leaders. But this is Jesus, always stirring up controversy by ordering things precisely and correctly.

The general principle is we discover from the order that Jesus performed this healing is “stewardship of the body,” not the “worship of the body.” And we know that we can overdo anything—including how we care and tend to the body. While care for the machine we are given, we should be careful about giving our bodies, sports, or even athletic pursuits priority over God—to the point they become God. Our bodies are the means of worship, not what we worship. Our primary need is for a relationship with God through the forgiveness that God provides, which is why Jesus does this first in the case of this paralyzed man. And at this moment, Jesus puts a big punctuation mark on its importance by doing it first.

So the lesson is this son—steward with care what God has given to you. And steward it in such a way it gives glory to God, not yourself. The body God gave you is your means of witness to the greatness of God. So run this life with endurance and do so with the health and physical stamina God gave you and so run the race with endurance.

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

faith, Family

God Is Man's Provider | A Letter To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

God is the source of all things.

Many men of the Old Testament were remarkable leaders, pioneers, and patriarchs in our early faith. One of these men was Abraham. He is known by many as the “father of faith.” And he bears this title because he was a man that was willing to adventure into the great unknown, taking one step at a time with God regardless of the human and natural consequences. When God invited Abraham to depart his hometown of Ur to go to a land he had never seen, he simply trusted God and launched out into the great venture of his life. He had no road map or awareness of the obstacles he would encounter along the way, but he understood that if God asked something of him that He would also provide for him. And God did, time after time.

Thus it was no different when God told him to adventure into the unthinkable—a human sacrifice of his only son Isaac on the Mountain of the Lord. Yet, strangely enough, Abraham did the unthinkable; he quickly obeyed. He took his son and the wood they needed and climbed the mountain immediately. Along the way, Isaac’s inquiry on the way up the mountain still startles mothers and fathers today.

And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

—Genesis 22:7-8

God is The Provider—not us

Abraham walked into a teachable moment that men need to learn. God is the original and only Provider. God is the one who provides for the needs of all mankind. He owns all things. He knows all things. He sees the future of all things. So he provides exactly what we need to be given and when since he owns, knows, and sees all things from beginning to end. He can provide all that we need at the given moment we need it, which is why Jesus instructs us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It is through a daily and regular provision that God keeps us reliant on Him and from becoming reliant on self.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

—Jeremiah 17:7-8

Every man has needs. The question is whether we look to ourselves as the source of those needs or trust God for them. Wise men understand that it is God who provides. But often we believe we, “the man, the leader, the husband, the father” are the provider. Are we called to be responsible? Yes. Are we called to act like men? Yes. Are we the original provider? No.

Self-reliant men do not stand for long before the Lord, and Abraham was the father of faith because he understood there was one who provided, and he, Abraham, was not it. Yet Abraham was a virtuous, strong, wealthy man of God who understood this one thing; God is the source of all things. He is Lord of my life; therefore, I must quickly obey.

Here are three things a great man remembers.

One | God provides to faithful men.

I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

—Jeremiah 17:10

God loves to provide. It’s His great joy. And God is generous in the way he provides—love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness come in endless quantities because his supply is unlimited. However, in light of this, our response should be the free sharing of his riches with the world. But often, we selfishly withhold these resources. And God never entrusts a man who withholds his free and generous resources. Instead, he seeks men who can steward them appropriately, and he searches their hearts, even tests them along the path of life, and gives according to their ability. While God loves us regardless of our conduct, He provides to those who conduct themselves rightly—these are his faithful men.

Two | God provides what brings Him glory.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

—2 Corinthians 12:9

Man exists to bring glory to God. As a result, God provides for us in ways that give us more opportunity to draw attention to his glory. This may well mean that He will choose to provide for our needs in ways that we don’t expect. The Apostle Paul lived with a deficiency that he asked God to remove. God declined because He wanted Paul and those around him to know that God’s “grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I [Paul] will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.—2 Corinthians 12:9.

As God’s man, Paul understood that God’s strength came not from his power but the Father in, through, and by his weakness. This is counterintuitive for most men, but Paul accepted God’s decline because he knew that God provides what brings Him glory. And God is not looking for self-reliant men that want to bring glory to themselves. Instead, God is seeking God-reliant men in whom our weaknesses bring attention to God’s ever-expanding glory. This is a hard-learned lesson for many men because we misunderstand the grit and gumption that God seeks.

Three | God is the provider, and the means of provision, man must trust.

God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.

—Genesis 22:8

Whatever needs you may have, God is the source of satisfaction for those needs and the means of meeting those needs. We as men need to invest a whole life in trusting Him to do this perpetually. And for many men, this is challenging, humbling, and often does not work the way we want. Yet we must learn to pray for His provision, and trust He is listening. We must learn to wait for His response, and trust His timing. We must learn to not play the follower and let him provide to bring glory to His name and not ours. God is the only reliable provider we have, and as we do this, those around us learn the character of a God who provides for us and can provide for their needs as well. As Abraham said, walking up a mountain where human sacrifice plagued his mind, “God will provide for himself.

Son, we live in an uncertain world. Our source of income could end tomorrow. Our investments could take a catastrophic dive. Our health could change in an instant, and one day I will not be with you. While life looks secure today, tomorrow might be different. Whether secure or insecure, we have a God who provides. Whatever your need, trust him, and He will be faithful to you.

I love you, son, Dad.

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 16 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org

faith, Personal Development

4 Self-Defeating Thoughts Many Men Have

Men need encouragement. If it’s not the popular culture, media, or even people close to us that are knocking us down, it’s the negative thoughts we carry around in our own head. So take some encouragement from Vince Miller who shares some insight on what we can do about self-defeating thoughts.

“I will never be good enough so why try?”

Core Issues: Fear, shame, and guilt that stem from sin and ongoing repetitive failure.

Your action plan:

Avoid cycling in secret self-pity. No one knows you are doing this to yourself and it’s not helpful.

Own your problems. Yet remember you are not the cause of all your problem(s).

Move through emotional gridlock. Name the emotions you feel stuck on and mature through them.

Live in your new identity in Christ. You are a new man even though you still make mistakes once in a while.

Memorize this: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.—2 Corinthians 5:17

“I am tired and confused, I just don’t know what to do.”

The Core Issues: Confusion based on the need for knowledge and clarity combined with feelings of incompetence.

Your action plan:

Clarify the capability gap that you think you have.

Ask someone to mentor you in the desired knowledge and capabilities you need.

Define simple and measurable goals toward reaching the needed capability.

Mark progress toward the goals.

Make adjustments and trust God’s sovereignty.

Memorize this: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.—Proverbs 1:7

“I am too overwhelmed, I’ll address it later.”

The Core Issues: Procrastination that stems from being irritated or overwhelmed.

Your action plan:

Just start doing something, even a small step. The right moment may never come.

Go public with your decision to do something, it compels action.

Be willing to get accountability or invite to help, it ensures forward movement.

Be transparent with others about how you feel or why you are putting it off.

Memorize this: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.—Ephesians 5:15

“I hope this will go away, so I don’t have to deal with it.”

The Core Issues: Failure to take responsibility, lean into challenges, avoidance, and fear of change.

Your action plan:

Identify what you are avoiding and why you are avoiding it.

Write down the future ramifications of non-responsibility.

Use the phrase “I’m Sorry” or “I’m Angry” and open up the dialogue.

Seek reconciliation in relationships, and invite the benefits of healing.

Take one step at a time don’t worry about all the steps, just the next right one.

Memorize this: Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.—Ephesians 4:27

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

faith, Family

Four Things Friends Do Even When It's Hard

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”

—Charles Dickens

Son, you are hitting that time in life when you will find some friends, and you are going to go in different directions. While this is going to happen from time to time in your life, we can choose to handle this with relational excellence and process it well. Friendships are destined to change because we are all in process. Our values change over time, and because of this, we undergo detachments that take us each in different directions.

One friendship in the Bible that went through a sudden separation was the friendship between Paul and Barnabas. Readers of the Bible often are saddened by the break up between these two incredible men and friends. The rift, of course, occurred when Barnabas proposed that his cousin Mark accompany them on a journey, but Paul adamantly opposed the idea for his reasons. Their falling out was painful, and significant in part because of how deep their bond had been. They had been the best of friends and Christian brothers.

But even so, here are four things we learn about their friendship that are important for you to hear.

One | Friends champion each other.

And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.”

(Acts 9:26-27)

One can understand why everyone was suspicious of Paul at first. After all, before his conversion, he had been a cruel persecutor of Christ-followers. But Barnabas believed that Paul’s newfound devotion to Jesus and his zeal for the gospel were genuine. So he championed for Paul, and because so many looked up to Barnabas, many Christian men listened. Indeed, through much of Luke’s account in the first half of the Book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas were inseparable. Reading between the lines, it would even seem that Barnabas played a massive role in mentoring Paul and developing his spiritual life as their friendship took root and grew. 

Never forget this. Great friends are great champions of each other. They fight for one another, stand behind them, and advocate for them, especially when it aligns with the values of God.

Two | Friends partner in mission and adventure.

“While they (prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch) were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

(Acts 13:2-3)

Paul and Barnabas made quite a team during what we have come to call Paul’s first missionary journey, effectively communicating the gospel to audiences from the port city of Antioch, to the island of Cyprus (Barnabas’ home), to Asia Minor and beyond. They complemented each other well, Paul an engaging speaker and Barnabas a born encourager (his name means “exhorter” and “comforter”). They knew each other’s strengths and allowed these strengths to shine. Along the way, they encountered — and by the Holy Spirit’s power defeated — an evil sorcerer, performed miracles of healing, and at one point were even mistaken for Greek gods. The response to their message and their chemistry as friends and colleagues was hugely positive — though some among their Jewish listeners were becoming a bit unnerved.

Find friends that make you better. Guys who bring out what you best bring to the world, and then make it look excellent. Like a role on a team, friends play a position on the team with you. Some play defensive roles. Others play offensive roles. Individually they are nothing, but in partnership and adventure, they can make some great memories and impact the world for the glory of God.

Three | Friends see each other through adversity.

“…it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Acts 15:25-26)

In this excerpt from a letter to Gentile believers from the Jerusalem Council, Paul and Barnabas are acknowledged as “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The duo’s encounters with the opposition during the first missionary journey were sometimes frightening, to say the least — Paul was even stoned and left for dead when they were in Lystra. But in an early demonstration of “no man left behind,” Paul was rescued, and the pair hightailed it to Derbe. The point is, friends have each other’s backs. They’re willing to face risky, even life-threatening, ventures as a team because they know they’re in it together.

See your friends through their challenges, and they will never forget you. Too often, we fail to be this friend. But this is what a great friend does—supports another through the challenges of life. This is the ultimate test of a great friendship, be this friend and others will more likely be this friend to you.

Four | Friends weather their conflicts and move on.

“And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”

(Acts 15:36-41)

This is a severe departure. Heartbreaking. But let’s make a couple of critical observations. First, the dispute between Paul and Barnabas was not about doctrine. They remained united on the gospel message and teachings of Christ they shared throughout the land. And second, they did not allow their disagreement to deter them from their mission — both went on to follow through on the work they’d committed themselves to complete. Nor is there any evidence that they bad-mouthed one another after going their separate ways. In fact, there is some indication that they eventually reconciled (see 1 Corinthians 9:6).

The truth is that conflict is inevitable even in the healthiest of relationships. It’s a fact of life and certainly should never deter us from pursuing friendships with other brothers in the Lord. When conflict happens, we should strive not to let our tempers control our speech, and we must always seek reconciliation. In the meantime, let’s take a cue from Paul and Barnabas and cheer each other on, partner with each other for the cause of Christ, and leave no man behind.

I love you, son, Dad.

After serving in notable ministry organizations for over 25 years (including Young Life, InterVarsity, TCU Football, and Eagle Brook Church), Vince founded Resolute, a non-profit organization focused on providing men with tools for discipleship and mentorship. He’s written 13 books and handbooks, along with small group videos that are resources for mentorship. He also produces THE MEN’S DAILY DEVOand the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

faith, Fortitude, Personal Development

We Are All Addicts

Everyone is addicted to something. It’s human nature. That’s right. You are an addict. I am an addict.

Popular cultural defines an addict as someone addicted to illegal drugs or alcohol. But an addict is simply someone who is unable to stop some harmful or negative behavior.

Whoa.

Not only does that cover everything from gambling to porn, but also gossip/ drama, food, shopping, sex, TV/ gaming, risky behavior (aka adrenaline junkie), physical appearance/ vanity, internet & social media, your phone, etc. There is also addiction to comfort, control, safety, power, self-righteousness, self-loathing, the list goes on. You can fill in the blank with any negative behavior. It’s really anything that you “must have/ be/ do” so much that if something gets in the way, you will become upset and frustrated. What is the draw for you to engage in any of these activities or behaviors? What “need” does it seem to fill for you?

Maybe you identify some of the items above as being part of your life, but you don’t believe you are actually addicted to it, or you could stop if you wanted to. So what’s the big deal? Geez Chad, leave me alone already!

The big deal is that if you can muster the self-awareness that your behavior includes some addictions that are not healthy, you are already on the way to overcoming those addictions and being the person you were made to be. Free. Free to love, give, serve. Free to have, be, and do what really satisfies. Free from the slavery your addiction held you in. Free to be your very best self – for yourself and those you care about most. And maybe calling your “thing” an addiction may inspire action to change, because you don’t like to be called an addict, right?

In my personal experience, I realized something about my “things,” my addictions, that help me to see them for what they really are. One is feeling like I have to justify or defend my behavior – even if only to myself. Saying to myself things like, “What’s the big deal?” or “It’s not that bad.” or “Others do much worse than me.” If I need to justify (even to myself) that what I’m doing is fine or “not that bad,” then that’s a red flag to dig a little deeper into my motives. Time to ask some questions: What is the draw to engage in any of these activities or behaviors? What “need” does it seem to fill? Is this “thing” what I really want to be about- is it REALLY that important to me? Why?

The second is the truth that people spend the most time, energy, and money on the things that matter the most to them. In addiction, we find hypocrisy. What we SAY is the most important to us is often not supported by how we spend our time and energy. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, so I take a hard look in the mirror and reevaluate myself. Regularly.

I promise that if you take a sober self-assessment you can identify some negative behavior in your life that you really struggle with. I’m here to tell you that you (and I) have an addiction that keeps us from being our very best and we can beat it. But how?

There is a simple process to follow, outlined below. Simple, but not easy.

1. Decide

“I can’t tolerate it anymore.” Whatever is the “thing,” you’ve finally come to the end of your rope. It’s not serving you anymore, but rather enslaving you. You will never slay your addiction without this deep conviction that enough is enough. Find your personal compelling reason WHY you can’t tolerate it anymore and lean into it when temptation strikes.

2. Describe & Identify

This is about the trigger. The emotions or circumstances that precede the behavior or activity. It’s usually some form of stressor. For example, you realize that you go to the pantry for comfort when something stressful happens and you overeat junk food to cope. Name your trigger.

3. Make Advanced Decision

This is where it gets real. Ultimately you need to choose your next move the next time the trigger hits. It’s not enough to say, “NO, I won’t go to the pantry when I’m stressed.” Try replacing the action of eating with another positive action, such as going for a walk, or munching on some baby carrots. Having decided your course of action BEFORE the trigger strikes makes it way easier to choose well in the heat of the battle. Best option ever: PRAY! Tell God you are triggered and you need his help to choose well. God loves to hear such prayers, and will be happy to help you if you will trust him to do so.

4. New Reward

Recognize the many benefits of your good choice. You become closer to God having trusted him for help. You made another key step towards your healthy habit, which boosts esteem and confidence. You can do it!

Here are some excellent verses to remember about temptation:

Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself (Jesus) suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

I realize this is a heavy topic. Much more can be written for sure. My hope is to have provided a mental exercise for you to consider to help you be your very best. We don’t want to be addicts or hypocrites, so let’s do the hard work to slay our “thing.”