What’s Unpacked Sometimes Unravels


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Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Imagine coming home one night and your wife of 20 years says she’d like for the two of you to get a prenuptial agreement. How would you react? “What’s going on?” “Is she getting ready to leave?” “Does she think I’m ready to hit the door?” Would be pretty tough wouldn’t it? Eventually, you could probably sort out the money and property . . . the ‘who brought what’ of the marriage. You might figure out what to do with the stuff you’ve bought together. And you might even be able to agree on how you’d manage your future finances, probably with separate accounts and a huge helping of complexity.

But the damage to the relationship would be done. Your trust would forever have an asterisk.

I’m a big believer in being transparent and dealing in facts. Don’t deceive me and if you really love me, don’t let me deceive myself. But there are some questions better left unasked once you’re married. The value of the answer is far less than the impact of asking the question. A few come to mind . . .

  • If I die first, will you remarry? Nobody can answer that question until they get there.
  • Tell me about your sex life before we were married? Nothing good comes from talking about sins of the distant past after you’re married.
  • Prove to me you’re a Christian. No one can prove their faith to another person. But putting them in this spot is like telling them to stand in the corner of a round room.

What’s my point here?

Big questions need to be asked early in relationships. My friend Dennis says, “Mist from the pulpit yields fog in the pews.” Clarity is critical before you get too involved.

Discussing how to handle your money and property should be done way before you get married! If we don’t share our pasts with our girlfriends and boyfriends before we get serious, we’ll always wear masks and have secrets to keep. If the person we’re interested in can’t do the same . . . can’t forgive and give grace, then they’re probably not who God wants for you anyway. On asking someone to prove they’re a Christian, it’s better to observe than to question someone’s faith. And those discussions need to happen well before there are entanglements of romantic love or business partnership.

My dad always told me, “curiosity killed the cat.” Sometimes it’s better to leave things alone.

Scripture: Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:28

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Why Does a Man Need a Mentor


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

  1. Courage – Most of the time, men know the right things to do. Call it conscience, call it intuition, call it whatever . . . more often than not our challenge isn’t knowing what to do as it is mustering the courage to do it and live with the consequences. Which is why a man needs a mentor to stand behind him and say, “Hey, you’ve made a good decision. You’re on the right track!” “I’m proud of you.” “I love the Godly man you’re becoming.” This kind of encouragement propels a man who’s on the right track to stay on it . . . to go farther faster.
  2. Wisdom – Many of the decisions men wrangle with don’t have right or wrong answers. Some of them have consequences that will be felt by your children and your children’s children. Questions around marital fidelity and divorce, financial responsibility and debt, parents, in-laws, your children’s education, career progression and relocation of your family . . . ‘big stuff’ issues. A mentor, because of his age and experience, provides a source of wisdom that can’t be found anywhere else because he knows you. And he’s already made most of the decisions you’ll face himself at an earlier time in his life. Sometimes he made them well, sometimes he didn’t. But he has experience and that’s an important source of wisdom.
  3. Objectivity – We men get so intense, so proud, so focused, so “caught up” in what we’re doing, we lose sight of the bigger picture. When we have problems; at work, at home, at church, with the kids, with our siblings or in-laws, we sometimes struggle to see things clearly. A mentor offers a safe place to air it out . . . where we can unload and not be afraid of having things thrown back in our face. A mentor is someone who can listen, empathize, relate and commiserate with you. He’s going to ask you the questions you were too emotional to ask. He’ll ‘play the tape’ back to you, helping you sort out what’s important and what’s not, what’s fact vs. what’s emotion, and what are the likely outcomes of different decision alternatives.
  4. His network – As we make our way through life, we meet people from all kinds of industries, from all levels within the hierarchies of organizations, and people who perform all kinds of services. But it takes years for networks to become robust. Mentors enjoy tapping into their relationships to help the younger guys they mentor. It only cost them a little time . . . a quick email or phone call and a door is opened. And as the younger guy’s network gets wider and deeper faster, that empowers him to be a more helpful mentor as he starts to pay it forward.
  5. Loneliness – No matter how many golfing buddies, hunting buddies, or bowling buddies, when we get down to it, men are sort of lonely. When a man has a mentor, he’s got someone who has perspective on life’s questions. Mentors don’t have all the answers . . . no one does. And loneliness isn’t solved by countless hours of two humans being physically together. But it’s greatly relieved when a man knows that he has a mentor who cares about him. Knowing that his mentor is accessible; that he’s “safe” to talk with, and just knowing that someone is there who understands the deal makes the loneliness less lonely.

Scripture: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

Moving Forward in Christ


Reposted from The Rugged Historian

Too many times we look back at our past mistakes, failures, and sins, which, in turn, causes us to be held captive by our past.  We must focus on who we are in Christ and the journey that He has put on while working to become who we know that we need to be.  Self improvement is viewed as a bad thing in some Christian circles, but there is nothing wrong with casting off our yesterday and desiring to be more Christ like while fighting to walk the narrow road.  Don’t let others who don’t have the strength or faith in the life changing power of the Lord Jesus Christ hold you back.  They want to do so because it is true, misery does love company.  Look to Christ continually because in Him you will find the strength to not only walk the narrow road, but to run it with purpose and courage while being everyday rugged.

I Just Want to be Happy


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

How many times have you heard someone say, “But I just want to be happy!” Or even said it yourself?

“I’d be happy if I could lose another 10 pounds, but I hate starving all the time!”

“I love the people I work with, but I’m so unhappy with my job.”

“I can’t stand this apartment anymore . . . I want a house!”

“I’ll never be happy here. Don’t you see how people look at me?”

“I don’t get squat from attending my church, but I’m not going through ripping my wife away from her Bible study friends. I just want her to be happy!”

It’s like happiness is something we trade for. “I’ll give up (fill in the blank) in return for being happy.” But it never seems to work out, does it?

Three things make us unhappy . . .

  1. Not getting something we want
  2. Not getting to do what we want to do
  3. Not having people think what we want them to think

Anxiety comes from unmet expectations, and all three of these ‘unhappies’ start with expectations . . . for ourselves, other people or God. We, humans, create a never-ending stream of expectations.

Even when we get what we think we want, we’re not happy for long. Or down deep. No sooner than we get the ‘thing’ we want, we want something else. The thing we want to do might make us happy for a little while, but stuff changes, something new appears, and happiness fades. And getting people’s approval is never certain and as fickle as a housefly. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.

Happy is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” It comes from the same root word as ‘haphazard.’ It connotes random. Spurious. Here and there. Unpredictable.

But the word ‘joy’ . . . which comes from the word ‘rejoice,’ means “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.” Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words ‘happy’ and ‘happiness’ about 30 times, while ‘joy’ and ‘rejoice’ appear over 300 times.

For me, joy rides on two things: love and hope. It first came when I grasped that I was loved . . . like really loved . . . by my Heavenly Father. And it hasn’t left since. I have an irrevocable hope because I know that I will always be loved. Personally. By the God of the universe. He knows my name! And He loves me. Individually. Amazing, huh?

The only sure cure for anxiety is a grateful heart. And for the Jesus-follower who ‘gets it,’ gratitude is the default setting of the heart. Grasping how much God loves us, how He forgives us, how He’s always there for us . . . that’s the source of real joy. And that joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances. It’s available 24/7/365. Not haphazard. It’s there for every Jesus-follower.

Scripture: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13.

The Death of Delayed Gratification


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

As a culture, we’re killing the idea of suffering now for the good stuff later. We want the new car and the newest, coolest stuff, but we don’t want to save for them. We want them now. The result? Car loans, credit card payments, and oppressive debt.

We want happiness, and we want it now. The idea of waiting for your mate to mature seems ridiculous. What if she doesn’t? What if she stays the spoiled “Daddy’s girl” until she dies? What if she never changes her attitude about sex? Are you ready to wait around till the kids leave home, so maybe she’ll become your lover again?

And she’s probably got the same questions about you. Will he ever grow up? Will his relentless pursuit of getting in my pants ever subside? Will he ever care as much about me as he does about his job? Will I ever get as much attention as the TV? Or the ballgame? Will there ever be a time when he’ll hang out with me as much as he plays golf? Will he ever learn to listen to me? Value what I value? Truly be my friend?

The answer is yes. It can happen. All of this is possible.

But it won’t be overnight. It will take time, effort, and a lot of patience. It’s a long-term deal.

Right now is not all there is.

“Live for today, for tomorrow never comes” is a lie.

Tomorrow will come. You will get older. Your wife will change. You will qualify for Social Security, unless the grim reaper snags you early.

Impatience is what gets a marriage in trouble. You want what you want, and you want it now. Same with your wife. Little by little, one of you loses hope that things will change and the result is a mess of a marriage that hangs by a thread.

I want to challenge you to take a minute and think long-term. Really think.

Scripture: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

A Faith of your Own


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

I’ve had a burr in my saddle for a while. I feel it every time a church service ends with an altar call . . . when folks are asked to become Christians. The words flow with passion . . . “Give your life to Jesus.” “Get saved today.” “Surrender to Christ.”

What do these words mean to an unbeliever? Even more, what do they mean to the guy or gal who went through confirmation as a kid and hasn’t thought seriously about their faith since? (See how hard it is to talk about Christian stuff without using ‘church words’?)

Watching videos of middle schoolers share their stories before being baptized, I was stopped in my tracks by these words . . .

“I now have a faith of my own.”

That’s it! These young people have moved beyond the faith of their parents and decided to believe independently. But I think the message is even bigger. Serious Jesus-followers have faith in God and live a faith-filled life! That’s the end game. “Giving your life to Jesus,” “Getting saved,” etc. are a means. The end is a life of faith in God . . . a life lived with God.

Everyone has faith . . . in a job, a savings account, a boss, a spouse, a doctor, a pension plan, a best friend. These days, we’re told to have faith in ourselves. So the idea of ‘having faith’ isn’t new. It’s about who or what we have faith in. Everything I just listed falls short at some point. The job goes away, the doctor can’t heal you, the pension plan is underfunded, the friend moves away, the spouse dies. Now what? Faith in a God who loves me . . . who never leaves, never dies, never moves away, never implodes, never turns his back on you . . . that’s what we all want.

Three things are necessary to have faith in someone or something . . .

  1. You have to believe it exists – You won’t squat in a chair if you don’t believe it’s there. You won’t have faith in an imaginary friend. You won’t put your faith in Jesus unless you believe He’s real.
  2. You have to have access to it – You might believe God exists, but if you can’t get to Him (or He can’t get to you), then you won’t have faith. He’ll be a concept, maybe a nice idea, but not someone you have faith in.
  3. You have to trust it to do what it’s supposed to do – You have faith in your car to get you from point A to point B. You have faith in your stove to cook your food, not wash your clothes. When we start asking people and things (and God) to do things they aren’t supposed to do, we lose faith in them. That’s why so many people lose faith in God and walk away . . . because God didn’t do what they thought He was supposed to do.

Are you struggling with your faith? Can you trace it back to one of these three issues? Pray right now and ask God to give you more faith.

Scripture: The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5)

Why The Bible Matters


bibleReposted from Radical Mentoring

Why do so few people read the Bible?

I’m not talking about a random verse pulled out to make a point, I’m talking about the book itself . . . the entity . . . this thing that’s integral to our faith. It’s one of the most important topics!

God’s Word is eternal . . . it’ll last beyond the internet, the Super Bowl, the iPhone, the Final Four . . . everything. In heaven, we’ll recognize the words, the wisdom, and the authors, and we’ll never tire of learning what it all means.

So why bother now? Why not wait until heaven when we’ll have all the time in the world? (. . . or out of the world?) Besides, is this stuff really important? Is it really true? Why do we struggle to ‘get into it’?

There’s the fact that God’s Word has been around . . . unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and almost half the world’s population believe its essence. A friend of mine was ready to commit his life to the nine ‘insights’ spelled out in The Celestine Prophecy. I asked, “Wow, what if the author changes his mind, or discovers some new truth?” Shortly after, he published The Tenth Insight. My friend later became a Jesus-follower.

Isn’t it smarter to build your life on a time-tested plan?  The New Testament approach to life is wise, effective, stable, practical, and true.

“But isn’t the Bible just a compendium of stories and folklore, pieced together by church people with a motive?”

Sounds convincing, until you try to explain how the Dead Sea Scrolls perfectly matched earlier manuscripts and were untouched by church people from their recording until their discovery in the 1950’s. The Bible is true. You can depend on it.

“But is it relevant?” You bet it is! Here’s just one example . . .

You get a new job or have your first child or move to a new church. You’re scared out of your skin! But when you read 2 Timothy 1:7, God reminds you “the spirit of fear is not of God, but God is love, power and a sound mind.” Suddenly, you realize “Hey, I can do this! God loves me! This fear I’m feeling isn’t coming from Him . . . I have His power within me . . . I can discipline myself . . . I have a sound mind . . . let’s get on with it!” You’re no longer afraid.

And one more point . . . the Bible is supernatural! I’m not kidding.

Remember Hebrews 4:12? For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Paraphrase: God will use His Word to help you sort out your thoughts and attitudes regarding what you want (i.e., your “heart”).

I take that to mean when I read the Bible and ask, “God, what are you teaching me here?” or “Lord, what would you have me do?” He’ll often give me wisdom I’m not smart enough to discover on my own.

And then I try to obey. I also write it down in my journal, because I don’t want to forget. I’ve unearthed much of what’s written in my blog posts this way.

So . . . read your Bible. And chat with the Author as you read. Pray. Ask questions. Listen to His answers and instructions.