faith, Family, Personal Development

The Power Of Addiction | Letters 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. I sure couldn’t have said it better. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

Quitting smoking is easy; I’ve done it hundreds of times.

Mark Twain

But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.—Luke 21:34.

But I’m Not An Addict

I know you are not, but so many are, and like Mark Twain above they deny it or ignore the power of it. Addiction is a growing epidemic among men. I find myself thinking about this on your behalf all the time because men are much more likely to become addicted than women to things like alcohol, pornography, gaming, gambling, smoking, drugs, and later in life work, money, success, and power.

Addiction is an associated learning process. It’s a continuous brain reward and motive rewiring that results in physical, mental, and social dysfunctions and is characterized by an inability to abstain or control. We can be addicted to both a substance or an activity. A substance addiction would be something like nicotine, alcohol, or drugs. An activity addiction would be something like gambling, gaming, or pornography. The power in addiction is the pleasure that is outweighing the harm the substance or activity carries.

Therefore as men, we need to be on the watch for things of this life that attempt to steal our very being in the short time we are given in this life. Jesus himself warned us of this. “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.”—Luke 21:34.

The following are valuable lessons I have learned about addiction that I have learned from others.

Lessons Learned About Addiction

One | Moderation vs. Addiction

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.—1 Corinthians 6:12

Some substances and activities are harmful from day one. It is easy to discern which these are. Many of them are illegal. Consciously we understand this; even basic intuition tells us they are wrong. But then there are those that we need for survival which we must moderate. And I believe learning to moderate the ones that are required helps us to learn moderation. For example, take food. Food is a substance that is necessary for life. Unmoderated food substances and eating activities do become problems for many people.

In the Bible, the first limit, or rule, a man was given was based on eating. God commanded us not to eat of a single tree, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat”—Genesis 2:17. I have always thought this was interesting. God could have chosen anything for a first rule and thus the first sin, and his choice was a particular food and the eating of it. He took a needed activity and was requiring us to moderate it. And thus we can conclude that conscious moderation is not addiction.

Two | You Must Consider The Costs

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?—Luke 14:28

Addiction is defined by the harm it inflicts, but an injury can occur on two levels. There are direct costs of addiction and indirect costs of addiction. For example, a direct cost of addiction to alcohol would be the cost of purchasing the substance and the time allocated to buying and consuming it. The indirect costs are the risks assumed with addiction to alcohol would be the effects on you physically, decreased performance mentally, damage to your reflection of Christ, and the potential impact on others. Most consider the direct costs of addiction, but fail to recognize the indirect costs, because the payoff of the “high” is too rewarding for them.

Considering both of these costs is important because as we make one choice, we must make all the other subsequent choices that go with it. For example, when someone chooses to use illegal performance-enhancing drugs in a sport, they are also giving way to making all the other choices that go with this first choice—including removal from a team, loss of scholarships, and the difficulties that result. These second-tier choices and costs are powerful lessons, and they can be an unfortunate teacher. I would prefer that you not learn this way but instead “count the cost” before.

Three | Loss Of Control

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.—Proverbs 25:28

The definition of addiction infers that addiction only occurs when we demonstrate a “loss of control” with substances and activities, and then bad behaviors begin to pile up. Please note: this is different from a single sin since we are talking about “perpetual sinning pattern.” Also note: this does not mean the substance is wrong; only the activity surrounding the use of the substance is improper. For example, in the Garden of Eden, the fruit of the tree was not “bad,” in fact, the woman in the garden saw that it was “good for food” before she ate it. However, it was the eating of the tree that was bad. Another example, could be alcohol is not wrong in itself, but the pattern of use can be wrong. And the limit is “loss of control.”

Self-control is critical to learn. Self-control is practicing a healthy associated pattern. Each man has his limits, and you need to know yours. I have limits, which are conscious decisions I have made in advance about several things. Alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, relationships, and even who I spend time with in life. These “advance decisions” are a mean of self-control for me, so that when I am in a moment, I am not making a decision. I make decisions before events so that when I am in them, I do not find myself losing control of self. Now, this requires you to both know yourself and know the situation, but over time, you will. We all have moments when the pursuit of a human pleasure will overwhelm us—I get it. I, too, have been here. You will find yourself here also. How you respond to this next time is essential, and you need to learn and build a better “wall” as the Proverb above states. This virtue preserves our character and all the other ramifications that many don’t avoid.

Four | Practical Ideas Using Discipline

The point of all this is to find a better associated-learning process that results in holy rewards, not bad behaviors that pile up. Here are four things I would do to avoid addiction and build discipline.

Great Friends

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.—Proverbs 11:14

We all need relationships. But there are relationships we need to avoid and relationships that we need to develop that by association make us better. I would recommend spending far more time with people that make you better. I am not sure more needs to be said here.

Advanced Decisions

Choose this day whom you will serve…—Joshua 24:15

Making advanced decisions keeps you from having to engage logical decision making in moments we are not thinking. I know it’s laughable to say it that way. But too many times I have been caught, not thinking. You have heard me say when you have one boy; you have one brain. When you have two boys; you have half a brain. When you have three boys; you have a quarter of a brain. And when you have four boys; you have no brain. This is true because sometimes we live only for the moment, ignoring the apparent consequences. At this moment, advanced decision making comes in handy. You don’t have to wait for logic to kick in too late because you have already made in a decision about what to do when the moment arises. This may serve you well in moments with other guys where compromise may be within reach—or even with a woman.

Renewed Thinking

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind—Romans 12:1

As men, we have to be continually renewing our mind. And the only way to “renew your mind” is to keep your mind in front of right thinking. I think some of the best thinking in the Bible, in an easy to read format, is written by King Solomon. His book of Proverbs is a book full of wise sayings that are great for putting a mind that can easily be corrupted in front of great thinking. There are 31 Proverbs, you could read one a day for a month, and this will fill your mind with great thoughts—thoughts that align with God’s will.

Positive Results

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.—1 Corinthians 10:21

A discipline that results in positive behavior is done from the motivation of Godly love ultimately for the glory of God. It’s not just discipline done for a personal reward but an eternal reward. Godly discipline produces positive results and has a multiplying effect. It also results in freedom and joy that addictive behavior does not. The temporary reward of an addictive high is nothing compared to the rewards of spiritual discipline done for the right reason.

Along the way your going to make mistakes, but learn quickly. Remember, I’m here to help when you need direction or when you find yourself stuck. Never be too ashamed to reach out for help.

I love you, 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 DEVO and the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

faith, Family, Personal Development

Moderate Anger | Letters 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. I sure couldn’t have said it better. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

—Aristotle

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.—Ephesians 4:26-27

Prone To Anger?

So many men I know, are prone to anger. And you will be too. Understanding how to respond in these moments are critical as these are moments men are made and revealed for who they are. Understanding what anger is, how you exhibit anger, and the triggers that give way to your anger will be critical for you as you mature. Many men take too long to mature in this area and let their anger lead them with devastating consequences on teams, in relationships, and within the workplace.

Several men of the Bible, in the act of rage, have inflicted grave injury on others. Moses is a prime example. In passion, he stepped up when he saw the mistreatment of his fellow Hebrews—which was a good impulse. However, his untamed anger turned into a physical act of violence that resulted in murder. And later in Moses’ life, we again see him respond poorly in rage. As he was leading the people toward the promised land, he was instructed by God to “speak to a rock,” and God would open a river of water for the thirsty and obstinate nation. However, Moses “struck the rock” in anger, which was a willing act of disobedience over the complaints of the people. Moses was right to be frustrated but was wrong not to manage his holy frustration, which resulted in rebellion to God. Because of that one moment of defiance, God prevented Moses from leading the people into the promised land. Now that’s a bummer all brought about by anger.

So what valuable lessons do you need to learn about managing your anger? Here are a few I have learned the hard way. And I do mean the hard way.

Valuable Lessons About Anger

One | Anger is not wrong

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.—The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:26-27

It’s clear from many biblical texts that anger is not wrong. We know that God expressed anger and revealed his anger through many Old Testament prophets. At times there were significant consequences for angering God—case in point; Sodom and Gomorrah. Or consider the perpetual evil of humanity which resulted in God’s just anger that resulted in a worldwide flood wiping out corruption except for single faithful family—case in point; Noah the great flood. God justly denounces the perpetuation of evil and shuns immoral behavior, and there is just punishment for it. Therefore we can assume being angry is not wrong, or God would not do it. And we should fear God’s just and holy anger.

But as men, we must moderate our anger because we are not like God. Our anger originates most of the time from a place of selfishness and self-centeredness—rarely is it selfless. It’s about me not getting what “I want” or what “I feel I deserve,” and this is the difference between God’s anger and action and our anger and action. God’s wrath stems from righteous anger and has a moral result; ours does not.

But, it’s not righteous anger that will usually get you into trouble. When the male fuse is lit, it has the potential to become a destructive wildfire that is out of control. It’s sparked when a competitor oversteps a boundary. It burns into full-flame when you feel an imminent loss. It rages when a peer takes credit for what you have done. And the problem is that if these moments go unmoderated, our initial anger will burn into full flame with words and actions that seek to inflict harm which will destroy relationships. Hopefully, you see it’s the subsequent responses of the emotion of anger that are wrong.

Based on what I read above from Paul exhortation to the Ephesians, there are a few primary responses to anger.

  1. Sinful angeranger that results in unrighteousness.
  2. Unaddressed angeranger that we suppress or ignore.
  3. Addressed angeranger to which we rightly recognize and respond.

The suggested key to managing your anger is to recognize anger as a signal and respond rightly, not letting irritation result in sinful reactions.

Two | Anger is a signal

And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.—Mark 3:5

Anger is an emotional signal that something is wrong. It signals that a personal value has been offended or that you have experienced or witnessed an injustice. Either way, anger indicates that something is amiss, and it needs to be addressed.

Think of anger as an indicator light on the dashboard of your car. When your vehicle is overheating or low on fluids, the lighted panel will tell you that something is wrong with a warning light before something catastrophic happens. Anger is similar—it’s an emotional indicator light that God gave you. It’s a strong feeling of displeasure. Many ignore this indicator without attempting to understand what this emotion is signaling since diagnosis can be challenging. Or others think expression or suppression of anger is socially acceptable without a need for diagnosing the underlying issue. But the right response to anger is to trace back this signal to the root issue.

The three response to the signal

Anger should warn you to do three things. First, you need to stop and address a problem—which is often relational. This implies metaphorically we need to “stop and pull the car over.” When you get angry you will need time to realize that you are mad—sometimes during the adrenaline rush, you may bypass the recognition of this. Remember it is fine to be angry, but that it’s not fine to act upon anger in the wrong way. So let yourself experience the irritation. Second, anger signals that you need to look “under the hood of the car and identify the issue.” When you get angry, it’s essential to find the source of the anger. Often the cause of aggravation comes from fear, pain, or frustration. At this point, you need to be honest with yourself about the origin of your perceived injustice. Was it something for which you are responsible, or was it something done to you? Identify your responsibility, and the other party as this will be important for taking the next and final step. Third, you need to address the relational issue that is unresolved for you. Usually, this means sitting down face to face with another person—which is hard for some, but it’s the right thing to do. This is where we locate and “repair the issue under the hood.”

The challenge is all this happens very quickly when we experience the emotion of anger. Getting this process to slow down is helpful. Then as you become more proficient, you will be able to speed it up, becoming more effective at understanding your signals—your unique anger.

Three | Know your anger

But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”—Mark 10:14

Your anger is going to be different than anyone else’s. You need to know yourself and how you respond. Psychologists will tell you there are two typical responses: fight or flight. Some people love a good fight others flee from it, but there are plenty of people in between these two extremes. Only you know you. So get to know how you experience anger and either how you express it or how you suppress it. If I were you, I would spend some time thinking about what happens when you get angry. Note your physiological responses like sweating, blushing, and increased heart rate—these are signals. Note other reactions like insomnia, anxiety, headaches, digestive issues, even depression—these are consequential signals. Note your language such as sarcasm, joking, sharp statements, and tones—the are reactionary signals. Note the effects you have on others when you are angry such a tension, confusion, alienation, and frustration—these are relational signals. It might do you well to start noticing the patterns and address them to keep your anger from adversely impacting your relationships with others. In life, we don’t need more opponents, but instead real friends, alliances, brothers, and life-long allies. The way we build these is by responding appropriately and governing our anger because anger can have devastating consequences on relationships.

Four | The consequences of anger

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.—Ephesians 4:31

In this scripture, you will see there are many manifestations of things related to anger. So many that Paul feels inclined to be exhaustive of the consequences on our fellow man. His list is as follows:

  • Bitternesshatred toward another person.
  • Wratha temper that is disorderly and selfish.
  • Angerpassion against an individual.
  • Clamorwild, rough, condescending yelling.
  • Slanderspeaking evil and being judgemental toward another.
  • Malicedeveloped hatred for another human.

Over your lifetime, you will experience these “emotions and actions” either perpetrated by you or by someone else. Everyone one of them has devastating consequences on relationships. They mark actions that cannot be retrieved and leave a permanent mark on us as individuals. Even today, I can recall hurtful words spoken by another human about me (directly and indirectly). I, too, have perpetuated the same. These words and behaviors become scars that are not easy to remove. Be careful son. Remember the wounds inflicted on you by others and do not inflict them on others. This is poison for humanity and a deadly virus to relationships with friends, teammates, and your own family.

Five | Forgiveness is power against anger

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.—Ephesians 4:32

Given these consequences, forgiveness is a powerful healing agent. Learning to forgive others, be forgiven, and live in active forgiveness when it is not deserved is powerful ointment to the burns and scars of anger. Forgiveness addresses deep wounds inflicted. It releases us from unspoken bondage of unforgivable actions. It relieves our mind, soul, and heart of anxiety and stress when we say “forgive me” or “I forgive you,” and we genuinely mean it.

Forgiveness is the basis of our relationship with Christ—in that Christ forgave you and me. Learning to practice forgiveness is the healing salve for your underlying issues that resurrect your anger. It requires far more strength as a man to forgive than it does to live in perpetual anger and replaying the injustice you have unfairly suffered. You are at no point more like Christ than when you forgive someone else of the suffering they have projected onto you.

Sadly, we live in a fallen world. And because of this, we are going to suffer unfairly through evil actions perpetrated by the anger of another. As men, we have a choice—we can contribute and add fuel to the flame of evil and suffering, or we can quench the fire of sin with the spring of forgiveness. Develop the strength to forgive. To forgive others, to forgive self, and to be forgiven by God—be free the bondage of anger.

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 DEVO and the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

faith, Family, Personal Development

Produce Value | Letters 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. I sure couldn’t have said it better. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.”

—Marcus Aurelius

“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.”—1 Timothy 4:8

Everything Has Value—real and ascribed

Value is the belief that something has merit. Therefore the value we ascribe to something grants it its worth—#cha-ching. For example, a $20 bill has a real value of .10 cents, which is the actual cost of the paper, ink, and labor for production. But we ascribe to this debt note value of $20. While in our mind it’s worth 20 dollars, its real value is not 20 dollars—notice the delta between real and ascribe.

Understanding how value works becomes critically important in understanding yourself. This is because value is not just something we ascribe to things; it is something we also ascribe to people—even ourselves.

You may not recognize your value or the values you hold, but you have a unique set of personal values that drive your current behavior. In fact, your current behaviors are evidence of your values. These values can be spoken or unspoken, but either way, they exist. These values are the hidden standards for your judgment and action. For example, I have a few that have been with me most of my life. Words like “integrity, leadership, mentorship, discipline, and faith” are a few deeper values I hold. Sometimes I speak openly about these, and other times they are evidenced by my actions. They make me unique and form if not inform my everyday life. More often than not, we discover them over time through trial and error.

As my son, I see deep, high, and lasting value in you, while you may not be able to recognize and name them all at this point in your life. But over the next few years, you will discover a list that you call your own. Below are a few things to consider as these “themes” rise to the surface.

One | You Have Value As A Male

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”—Genesis 1:27

The world is getting a little strange on the gender issue. For some reason, the mistakes of one person of a particular gender are negative contributions to the whole. In the court of public opinion, our gender is pronounced guilty before a jury of social media predators who are determining constructs for new masculinity and attacking not only the evils of humanity but also the man with his gender. You will hear people, even professors with some worldly clout, proudly proclaim that our gender is “toxic.” In addition, they may also project contributing issues onto you as a man over which you have no control. And because of this, they will presume you should feel regret for being a man.

Do not be confused; humanity needs to repent of both conscious and unconscious sin. Men have made mistakes, except we are all sinful. Male and female. In actuality, humanity is “toxic” but only because the toxic impact of sin impacts it—and it’s not gender-exclusive it gender-inclusive.

But the toxic impact of sin does not mean that you should devalue your gender. Be proud to be a man. The Creator made you this way. You had no control over this. Yes, you are distinctive biologically but don’t live in shame or confusion about this. Your gender is beautiful, and while sexually different from females, males and females are both bearers of God’s image, both heirs of God’s grace, and both called to rule God’s creation. So be God’s man.

Two | Your Male Friendship Have Value

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”—Proverbs 27:17

Every man contributes some form of value to another man. I add value to you, and you add value to me. We are continually exchanging it. It’s like we’re each making deposits and withdrawals with each other.

What’s interesting is that in some relationships you will not experience deposits, rather only withdrawals. Some people will take value, while others will contribute to it. And I would recommend you find a disproportionate number of men that make good, healthy, and rich deposits into your life. You are going to have to seek them out. They are not just going to walk up to you. You are going to have to buy them a coffee, invite them to a meal, or schedule an appointment. You need to find men that have the value that you want—men who are further down the road of life than you in several areas. Business. Marriage. Leadership. Faith. Family. Seek these men out for their value and then be unashamed that you need mentoring from them because of their value. Men will most often willingly give it for free, especially for men passionate about growth and being a “sharper man.”

Three | Discover Your Values Through The Irritations

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”—Jeremiah 29:11

Personal values, like I hold, are essential to identify. It may be too early to know them all, but you’ll discover them in an irritating way. People around you will say or do things that strike a nerve-ending in your heart, soul, and mind. They might say something that offends you, do something that angers you, or unintentionally do something that hurts you. At this moment be alert, because this “internal alarm” will draw attention to the values you hold. It might awaken a passion, a sense of justice, or a holy discontent.

Many of the values I hold I stumbled on because I had moments, experiences, and encounters that awakened them. Moments of dishonesty that led me to value integrity. Experiences with weak leadership that led me to value great leadership. And encounters that lacked discipleship that led me to value mentorship. Embrace these “alarming” moments and recognize the passion that lies within you. Spend less time being irritated and more time concerning your heart with the solutions to the problem around the value they have awakened. Remember these moments, name the value, tell stories about them, and then get some passion for the activation of them.

Four | You Have Value To Extend To Others

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.”—1 Peter 4:10

In the New Testament, a few books reference “spiritual gifts.” These lists are not exhaustive of every form of a spiritual gift, but they teach a profound point—that we each have a contribution to make to the world but also the institution of the church. What’s interesting about our gifts is that they are given to us for the benefit of others, not-self. The selfish use of our gifts is misuse. Therefore you have a contribution to others for their benefit, and others have the same. This is a value exchange of spiritual proportions. This means the world and the church need you and you need them.

Too many bury these “talents” in the ground and fail to experience the multiplying impact of them. I wish I would have learned this lesson much younger than I did. I am just now beginning to see and feel the multiplying effect of my value to the world because I want late in discovering and finding a place to use them—but even more, because I failed to pay attention to them.

If you want to discover your gifts, I would recommend a spiritual gifts assessment like this one—www.beresolute.org/sga. Take it and discuss it with someone who has similar gifts as you and find out how they have used their gifts for the value of multiplying impact in the life of others.

Five | Find a Woman Who Knows Her Value and Shares Yours

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”—Proverbs 31:10

The one thing I am most concerned about for you is finding a woman whose values are shared and complemented by yours. A woman who shares your faith in God and wants to find ways in this worldview to live out your values as they mutually honor God. Don’t settle for physical beauty alone; find the spiritual beauty that accentuates the physical beauty. This woman will be precious and valuable to you. I found this same thing in your mom when we met for the first time—physical attraction and inner beauty. Seek it and don’t settle.

Six | Invest In Things That Have Meaningful Value

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”—Matthew 16:26

Some ventures are profitable, and others not so much. You mom and I have learned the hard way from making poor investments with our time, talent, and treasure. But even more than this is the investment we make that have an eternal impact.

It’s essential to provide, save, spend, and invest financially, but there is one economic engine that you need always to be giving attention to—the investment in spiritual riches that have eternal gain.

Don’t invest so much time in athletic pursuits that you refrain from time with God. Don’t spend too much time in relationships, events, socials, and activities that you avoid weekly church services. Don’t value school, studying, homework, or projects, and then avert spiritual development. In this life, some things hold some value and items that have eternal value. Invest more time, talent, and treasure in the latter.

Seven | God See’s Value In You

“…and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”—2 Corinthians 6:18

You will advertently or inadvertently cheapen your real value, by ascribing to yourself a lower value than you deserve. On the field of play, you’re going to mess up and then privately shame yourself. Don’t shame yourself. In relationships, you’re going to say the wrong thing and then subsequently beat yourself up. Don’t beat yourself up. At work or school, you will blow it, and you will think, “I am not good enough, smart enough, qualified enough,” and nothing is farther from the truth. Don’t believe this. The voice of self-disqualification is powerful; don’t convince yourself to listen.

Instead, remember your identity in Christ gives you value. Son, you are a son of God. Live in this identity; it’s your real identity. You are not defined by the things you do, don’t do, or do wrong. You are not defined by the things you say, don’t say, or say wrong. You are not defined by the things you think, don’t think, or think wrongly. You are only assigned and thus given real value by God based on what He has said and that alone. Live in this. It’s becoming who you already are—valuable.

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 DEVO and the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

faith, Family

7 Ways to Communicate Love

communicating-loveLove is the most important part of life.

We all tend to agree on that, but we can rarely seem to agree on what “love” actually means. 

Here are some of the most famous words ever written about love.

Within in them, God is giving us a timeless road map for building stronger relationships. Below are seven very simple and practical ways to put these words into action in our daily lives and our relationships.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Here’s how we put love into practice (it’s simpler than you might think):

1. Love is patient, so in our rushed world, be patient with people.

2. Love is kind, so in our sarcastic and often rude world, show genuine kindness to people.

3. Love is not jealous or proud, so in our self-focused world, put the needs of others ahead of your own.

4. Love keeps no record of wrongs, so in our world full of grudges and bitterness, choose to offer grace.

5. Love rejoices in the truth, so in our world of dishonesty, always tell the truth and fight for trust in relationships.

6. Love never loses faith, so in our world of skeptics and cynics, choose to believe in the presence of God and the power of love.

7. Love endures through every circumstance, so in our world of quitters, stay committed and never give up on yourself or your loved ones!

 

Dave Willis of Stronger Marriages recently wrote a book called The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships where he started by looking at everything the Bible (the ultimately love and relationship manual) has to say on the subject. He gets full credit for this article. 

faith, Family

Men Matter

dr.-dobson's-june-newsletter
I want to deal with what is happening to men within the culture at large.

Have you noticed that the “women’s movement,” as it is now called, has again declared all-out war on men? It is pervasive and comes in the form of ridicule, resentment, belittlement, hostility and anti-male bias. It is not a new phenomenon, of course, having begun with a vengeance in the late 60s and 70s. It was then called the “women’s liberation movement.” In the present permutation, various organizations and leftist groups are still out there teaching hate and conflict between men and women. They include Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups, the mainstream media, the entertainment industry, gay and lesbian advocates, liberal universities, and a host of other leftist entities.

Several months ago, former candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, said that she lost the election because men had browbeaten their wives by insisting that they vote for her opponent, Donald Trump. Could she really be serious? Do women not have minds of their own?

The contemporary version of the war between the sexes is an effort to make men look like fools. They are depicted as immature, impulsive, selfish, weak, and not very bright. Evidence of that campaign can still be observed in almost every dimension of the culture, especially in the entertainment industry. Television commercials slam the message home night after night.

The tiresome formula involves a beautiful woman who is intelligent, sexy, admirable, self-assured and well dressed. She encounters a man who brags and blusters and says crazy things. He is ignorant, balding, and almost always overweight. The stupid guy, as I will call him, quickly disgraces himself on screen, at which point the woman sneers or walks away. There are hundreds of these ads on TV today and have been out there for many years. Watch for them on the tube. They are constantly changing, but here are some actual commercials that appeared for all the world to see.

1. The stupid guy approaches a gorgeous girl in a bar who is pouring a Heineken beer into a glass (guess what is about to happen). She smiles seductively. He is so flabbergasted by her beauty that he overflows his own glass. The announcer then calls this “a premature pour.” There is little doubt about the nasty meaning of that one.

2. The stupid guy loves driving his Acura so much that he puts lipstick all over his mouth, musses up his hair, and twists his shirt. He is trying to make his wife think he’s been with another woman, but when he gets home, she looks at him scornfully and says, “You’ve been out driving again, haven’t you?” He sighs and looks down, like a little boy caught stealing candy.

3. The stupid guy is too scared to talk to a sexy woman in a bar, so a friend writes inane notes to prompt him. He suggests to the dumb dude that he write unintelligent messages to the woman, such as, “Hi” and “How are you?” Ultimately, the girl leaves with the writer, and the stupid guy is left bewildered and alone at the bar.

4. The stupid guy is a flabby man in his forties who is standing alone in front of his bedroom mirror. He is not wearing a shirt. Then he tentatively tries on his wife’s bra. At that moment, his wife comes through the door. The cross-dresser is caught. She fails to notice the bra and asks him something about sports. Relief spreads across his face. The caption then reads, “Some questions are easier to answer than others.”

5. The stupid guy is trying to impress an attractive girl with his knowledge of professional football, but she corrects his facts at every turn. He then reminds her that he was a “guard” for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The girl says sarcastically, “Larry! You were a parking lot attendant!”

6. Three stupid guys are standing together at a cocktail party when they spot a beautiful woman in red. One of the men identifies her to the others as “the chairman’s wife, Mrs. Robinson.” (The setting recalls a Mrs. Robinson in the movie, The Graduate, who seduced actor Dustin Hoffman.) At that point, the woman sidles over to one of the men and says, “Have you ever seen something and you just knew you wanted it?” The stupid guy swallows hard and trembles. This is his big moment. Then Mrs. Robinson grabs his “Killian’s Irish Red” beer and walks away.

7. This is the most disgusting advertisement I have seen. The stupid guy is a trainer in a gym who is showing a good-looking girl how to toughen her “glutes,” referring to the muscles in her buttocks. He stands before her and begins to grunt and strain, bending slightly forward and grimacing. One wonders if there is something terrible happening in his shorts. Then he reaches behind to retrieve a walnut that he has apparently cracked with his rear end. Somehow that disgusting ad was supposed to make the viewer want to rent a car from Budget. It didn’t work for me, I assure you.

Television commercials are not the only culprit. Today’s sitcoms are downright awful. They blast away at traditional masculinity, much like wrecking balls crashing into a building scheduled for demolition. After taking many direct hits, the structure begins to crumble. As I write, there is not a single example of a healthy family depicted in a sitcom that focuses on a masculine, heterosexual guy who loves his kids and is respected by his wife. Not one!

You’ll note that the polarity of the stupid guy ads is never reversed. Not in a lifetime will viewers see a corpulent, unattractive, sloppy woman lusting after a good looking man in an ad or sitcom, who shows disdain for her as she does something embarrassingly foolish. Men, however, don’t seem to notice that the joke is on them. Perhaps they (we) have been desensitized by fifty years of male bashing.

Agencies conduct exhaustive market research before committing millions of corporate dollars to advertising programs such as these. So, what is going on here? Is it possible that men, especially male beer drinkers and sports car enthusiasts, actually like being depicted as dumb, horny, fat, nerdy, and ugly? Apparently, they do. We also have to assume that guys are not offended when they are made the butt of a thousand jokes. But why? Women would not tolerate that kind of derision.

Are you old enough to remember the sitcom, “All in the Family?” It was based on a redneck clod named Archie Bunker and his mousy wife, Edith. Humor was used to make a fool out of him, and by extension, every conservative man in the country. From there, primetime television programming has evolved into today’s fare, most of which features profane, sexually explicit cohabitants who meander through one outrageous episode after another. The lead characters are usually men with the giddy mentality of fourteen year-old boys. Hollywood writers use these programs to snuff out every vestige of male pride and crush it beyond recognition.

This leads us to ask, why does it matter? Why should we be concerned about the war between the sexes? There are two primary consequences. First, it effectively weakens the family and damages the institution of marriage. Common sense tells us that dividing the population down the middle and pitting one sex against the other couldn’t be healthy for intimate relationships. I am convinced that the war is related to the huge divorce rate in today’s world. Many women are reluctant to marry, or stay married to, sniveling men who lack the confidence to lead or care for their wives and children. That hurts everyone.

The second consequence of the war between the sexes is that it warps the minds of children. Do we not know that kids are capable of noticing that men are often made to look like fools in the wider world? They watch the sitcoms too, after all. I’m convinced that many boys and girls learn to disrespect the men in their lives. They should be taught to look up to their fathers and want to emulate them. Boys, especially, need to learn how to become men by watching strong, loving dads who take the time to mentor them. A high percentage of babies are born out of wedlock and have no masculine influence in the home. History teaches that the young and vulnerable suffer most from the ravages of war. In this case, both boys and girls have been wounded by the ricochet.

Remember that the war is not just being waged between men and woman. It is culture wide. Kathleen Parker wrote, “Today’s boys grow up in a bizarrely hostile environment. They’re told to be tough, not to cry, to be a man. It is an ironic insult in a culture that devalues men and fathers. They’re bullied by schools intolerant of boy behavior, told they’re less special than girls, and left by too-busy parents to the tutelage of peers, media, and superheroes who wreak havoc to settle scores.”

Michael Thompson, coauthor of Raising Cane, said that many women are hoping against hope that their sons won’t turn out like their husbands.

Journalist Megan Rosenfeld said that our sons are seen as politically incorrect. “[They] are universal scapegoats, the clumsy clods with smelly feet who care only about sports and mischief.”

Harvard psychologist William Pollack said women consider boys to be creatures who might “infect girls with some kind of social cooties.”

No discussion of boy-bias would be complete without addressing the discrimination against males evident in American public education. Again, William Pollack said succinctly, “It sounds terrible to say, but coeducational public schools have become the most boy-unfriendly places on earth. It may still be a man’s world. But it certainly isn’t a boy’s world.”
And finally, Christine Hoff Sommers, the most passionate and effective defender of boys, echoed these concerns in her outstanding book, The War Against Boys, How Misguided Feminism is Harming our Young Men. She says this is “a bad time to be a boy in America because of the bias against them in our educational institutions.”

In conclusion, let me acknowledge the obvious. Not all men are worthy of respect. Some are jerks. Some drink heavily and abuse their wives and children. Some are severely into pornography or are inveterate gamblers. Some waste the family’s resources. Some are lazy. Some are unfaithful and chase after other women. Some have other serious faults. I haven’t intended to make excuses in this letter for such individuals. Every situation is unique.

I can tell you this. Women often hold the keys to a man’s confidence, his willingness to work, to live a clean life, and even to influence his commitment to Jesus Christ. If you belittle and disrespect him at home, you and your children could be the losers for it.

If that is your circumstance, please don’t be offended by what I have written. But I urge you not to get carried along by the radical feminist’s universal hostility to men—all men. Their anger is not a good thing. If you join their movement, you might hurt your sons and daughters and destroy your marriage. For all the women out there whose husbands are basically good men, but perhaps they are just not good enough in your eyes, you might want to reexamine the guy you married. He could have some hidden qualities you might have overlooked. Search for the hidden virtues and see what could show up.

Even more to the point, you should never underestimate the power of prayer. My grandmother was married to a man who was not a believer. He told her to do what she wanted with their 6 kids, but to keep him out of spiritual matters. She prayed and fasted for him for more than 40 years without response. Then he became critically ill at 69 and asked his wife specifically to pray for him. He said he wasn’t afraid to die, but it was so dark. She knelt at his bedside and he gave his heart to Jesus Christ. Two weeks later, he died with a testimony on his lips. We are going to see him again on the other side. You have no idea what answers to prayer God might have in store for your wounded marriage. I have seen miracles happen many times.

Be encouraged, fathers. Your children will be impacted by your godly guidance and care if you take the time to invest in their lives. Happy Father’s Day!


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