faith, Family

A Marriage Prayer

A while ago I wrote the following notes in my journal. I am compelled to share it with you in hopes that it will encourage you as it does me. Marriage is hard work and we desperately need the Lord’s help to love well.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for loving me with an everlasting love. Thank you for displaying that love to me long before I did anything in response to it. Teach me to love like this. Teach me to love like Jesus. My wife is a gift from you and I will love her as the best gift I have ever received. Give me creativity in the ways I can pursue her romantically. Give me strength to hold her up when she is tired. Give me eyes to see when she needs my attention. Give me ears to hear her heart. Give me the words to speak life into her. Help me to choose love even when things get hard. In Jesus name Amen.

What follows is my personal, raw commentary on the work of loving like Jesus in marriage. Where I use Angie in the text, please insert your spouse’s name and see if it makes the notes more personal to you.

Loving Angie will at times be inconvenient to my flesh. Love her anyways. Loving Angie will at times not make sense because she hurt me. Love her anyways. Loving Angie will at times be a challenge because she does not respond to it the way I expect. Love her anyways. When my marriage feels broken, love her anyways.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:25-33

Only God can give me the strength to love Angie unconditionally. My motivation to love must come from an intimate relationship with God. My love for Angie is motivated by His love for me.

When I find myself struggling to love and care for Angie, it should raise a red flag in my mind to take a sober self-assessment. I bet that my struggle is more about me than her. I have taken my eye off Jesus and his incredible love for me. Jesus’s kind of love has given me literally everything while still being a wretched sinner in desperate need of a savior.

When I put into perspective how Jesus loves me, how he willingly sacrificed himself by violent death on a Roman cross while I literally spit in his face with my selfishness, pride, and sinful rebellion, and how he continues to bless me though I can do nothing to deserve his favor, I find that when I actually receive that love from Jesus I am compelled to love in return. Not because I feel duty or obligation, but because my soul is filled to overflowing. Out of the abundance of love I have received I give to others. I can patiently and graciously endure rejection, stubbornness, harsh words, etc. and truly give without expecting anything in return. All that to say, and I don’t mean to simplify the key to loving relationship, but the truth is that when we can see Jesus, ourselves, and our life circumstances like this, we can love others well.

The bottom line is that when I’m not feeling like loving well, or I feel like I’m not being loved by others so I can’t love in return, I really need to take a breath, search my heart, and refocus from me to Jesus. Simple, but really hard sometimes. This is a mental and spiritual exercise that is strengthened with practice and perfected only after death. We are all a work in progress, but if we can wrap our minds around these ideas, we will gain traction in our relationships.

Another way to say it is that when I think another is unlovable because of their behavior, I should be very careful that I’m not judging them more harshly than I want God to judge me. In comparison to God’s holy perfection, I am a terrible wretch. If I do not see myself this way, I am deceived and my self-righteousness is sin proving my need for a savior. Jesus is our example we are called to follow. He loves despite my fears, faults, and failures, so I can do the same for others.

Not seeing the enormous gap between my depravity and God’s holiness is making God too small. Yet despite this gap, Jesus bridges it with his own sacrifice for our sake. He makes us saints before the almighty, holy God of the universe. That’s pretty cool. This is why we should preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. It keeps the focus on Jesus and not ourselves, enabling us to love others well. So there you have it, the solution to loving relationships is to simply preach the gospel to yourself.

faith, Personal Development

When Decisions Disappoint | 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.

Son, there will be times in your life that you will make decisions that will bring on some unfortunate consequences. These consequences are going to be of various levels of consequence. Some will have little pain like a prick to the finger that throbs and bleeds for a moment, but healing comes quickly. Other decisions, however, will not. These are the decisions that most concern this letter. They are the ones that feel more like you have broken a bone or even worse severed a limb, that can never be perfectly reset or used perhaps used like it once was. It results in permanent damage that cannot be undone. These are the decisions I am writing to you about today.

So I pray as you read this letter, you will remember these things, and without hesitation, you will recall them when you are presented with decisions in your life.

First | The Consequence of Choice

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

We often don’t think about the consequence of our decisions. We just make a choice, thinking we are invincible in our younger years to pain and seek the adventure of a thing. And adventure is a delight to a man when he considers beforehand the inevitable consequences.

In this verse, there are consequences. The writer calls them wages. They are things we earn. Like earning a wage at work—you will deserve it, even demand it when you don’t get it because you feel it is deserving. But it plays out for both the good and bad choices—even the consequences you don’t feel you deserve. The wrong choices in this text deserve death, the excellent choice results in life. While this is commonly a noble life principle, in this text, the writer is talking about the ultimate decision we all make about God and our eternity.

Son, this lesson is so important. And why? Because you have to start seeing the consequences (the wages) of your decisions a little earlier. You need to play the tapes forward and foresee the consequences of a wrong decision that could result in wages you don’t want to pay and halt the process before it results in permanent limping in your life—things that can never be undone. We men tend to only learn from pain, but a little proactive processing can stop years of limping that you will regret. Ask any man who has limped along in life—even me.

Second | Your Bad Choices Crush Me

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

Psalm 127:3-4

I have this deep sense of great pride in you, merely because you are my child. You are my heritage. As my son, there is something about you that makes me stand proud of you. When I see you lead your friends. When you play a sport with excellence. When you serve at home. When people flock to your call. There are so many moments, many that go unspoken, where I puff my chest in pride at the things you do.

But there are times my soul is crushed. It is the only way I know to explain it. I feel a caving in of my chest. My breath is taken from me. Anger wells up in me, and disappointment strikes. And this crushing is not because I am disappointed in you, but instead for what it reveals. Here is what I mean. 

I, and you, are of the age today where I cannot tend to your every choice. You must make choices of your own free will, independent of me. And as a father, I want you to make the very best decisions. But let’s be honest; neither of us always do. And now your choices are a reflection on you—not me. While every right decision reflects on you, the wrong ones do as well. And both the bad and good choices reveal your character—who you are. They will reveal if you are full of integrity or rather if you lack it. They will reveal if you are compassionate and kind or if you lack it. They will reveal if you are truthful, honest, and pure, or not. And this is what crushes me. It’s what your choices reveal.

The verse above says it all for me. You are an arrow in my hand. Like a warrior, I must shoot you out. But I want you to know, I stand proud and pull back hard on my bow as I do. But only you can determine the flight of your arrow’s trajectory, speed, arch, and trueness. I have the highest hopes that your flight will be long and perfect, hitting the mark in this life.

Third | Seek Forgiveness and Reconciliation

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

When men sin, they seek forgiveness. There could not be a more masculine thing to do. Yet some believe confession and forgiveness is a sign of weakness—it is not. The man who seeks forgiveness is strong among men. Only great men do it because they realize that they are not perfect and never will be. Godly men understand this unalterable principle.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

Son, we are both men who sin, and the first person we must seek forgiveness from is God. In this life, as children of God, we will desire independence from God, displayed in our disobedience to him. We sin, or make bad choices, because we want to be our own god—do things our own way without giving attention to God. This is rebellion against God—to sin. Therefore we must run to God and seek his forgiveness primarily (not to mention those we have hurt). You will find that God is loving, caring, gracious, merciful, and forgiving and that he is the perfect Father—I am not. He will listen and accept you just as you are, and will welcome you back into his arms with a loving embrace. I know this is true as I have experienced this time and time again. Listen to this interaction of a lost son who has come home to God his Father in the greatest story ever told by Jesus. The story of the Prodigal Son.

And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:21-24

God loves you. He is ready to accept you. He welcomes you home and is prepared to celebrate. So run to him and seek his forgiveness. Fall in love with this Father. He is the best of all.

Son, I love you, your human 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 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, 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.