Tag Archives: Love

Reality Check

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

I recently went to a training course through my work to determine my social style. This is a fancy way of saying, “how I behave and communicate with others.” It helps to determine what are my natural tendencies in those interactions and how versatile I am at working through the other styles to ensure all of my communication is as effective as it can be. Even though I was not excited to go at first, it turns out that it was a great course to provide some feedback as well as confirm some things that I already knew.  For instance, I am analytical analytical. This means my primary and secondary behaviors are both analytical. Now I could bore you with what all that means, but the part that is most important in the results is this sentence: “The analytical style person appears to live life according to the facts, principles, logic, and consistency that one can find in reality.”

This was a very intense statement for me as that is honestly exactly what I pray for…REALITY.  I pray that I would see things through Christ’s eyes for what they really are and not for what I want them to be.  I want to see my marriage, my children, my own personal walk where they truly are and not allow Satan to blind me to reality.  I want my connection to God to be as authentic and full as possible and for that to occur I have to see honestly where my heart and my life are.  I believe that far to often we as believers, parents, and spouses willingly believe the lies of Satan because that is easier than dealing with the reality of where our heart truly is.

For example, I often see parents that will allow sin to occur in their home without addressing it and will be shocked by the results that it harvests later in life.  And I believe that is because it is easier to say “Well you know how teenagers are”, or “1,2,3…don’t make me count again” than it is to sacrifice your time and energy to carry out punishments that are needed.  Reality is exhausting as well as acoustic at times, but if we are to truly grow then we must pursue the realness of our Christian faith.  We must not let tradition or customs dictate our beliefs as we must allow scripture to do that.  Of course, with any conversation the pendulum can swing to far the other way as well.  We can attempt to use rigid rules that are so strict that we believe the lie from Satan that tough rules will result in strong character and maturity.  This is not reality either as this can grieve the relationship thereby exasperating the child which causes more sin and destruction leading to the opposite desired results.

So my cry out to God almost nightly is that I don’t miss anything in my home, marriage, children, or personal walk.  That all sin would be exposed,  so that I can truly live my life in a manner that is worthy of God’s sacrifice on the cross.  I know that I will never truly be worthy,  but if I live as Paul instructed us to live in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, I may at least hear “Well done.”

So men of God , I challenge you to be a Reality Warrior.  This means that you must “BE Watchful” for all sin in your life and that of your families.  You must be willing to “STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH” and address all aspects of evil without wilting to the cultural pressure or the lies of Satan.  We must “ACT LIKE MEN” and put away laziness so that we can overcome the hard aspects of life,  so that we can love our wife irregardless of the amount of respect she shows, raise our children to understand that no sin is okay,  and that God cares about every word, thought, and action we take.  We must “BE STRONG” enough to let go of pride and get transparent with our lives and get on our knees and ask for help from the Lord to lead our homes and to keep our eyes in reality.  And we must “LET ALL WE DO BE DONE IN LOVE” so that we are not hypocritical and judging others with the judgment of God and judging ourselves with the grace of God.

Please take a moment to watch this video on Google’s newest product.  It should make you smile as you think about looking at your life desiring to see reality.

God Bless,
PT

Exhaustion

As always we at ITG have wanted to use our writings for truth, confession, healing and hopefully to minister to others so that as Paul says in Ephesians 4:15, “we will in all things grow up in Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” So in that thought I have a confession to make:

I am EXHAUSTED

I am EXHAUSTED from my calendar which has more things on it than hours in the day and more events that one human can do at one time.  I am EXHAUSTED from work; the demands that a full-time, short-handed; on call rotation, doesn’t ever quite leave the brain type work.  I am EXHAUSTED from what it takes to raise a family the right way with constant interaction, complete never lacking diligence in protection, spiritual guidance, supervision, provision, and being the Dad that I hope to be.  I am EXHAUSTED from trying to maintain the proper health and lose weight by eating right and exercising and oh yea I already mentioned the part about trying to find time to do that.  I am EXHAUSTED from the energy that a great marriage takes in sacrifice, communication, trying to date, trying to have a moment to talk without a kid climbing, running, upset, or needing.  I am EXHAUSTED from constantly fighting Satan and his demons from their attacks of my own sin, this fallen world and its desires, and the constant pull of my flesh to flee from the things of God.

Again I am EXHAUSTED

However as I was reading my Bible this morning I received an email from a gentlemen that referenced a verse so I looked it up.

Nehemiah 4:14 (ESV)
14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

Could that be anymore of a charge, directive, command (or whatever word you want) from God?  We are to FIGHT through exhaustion because the LORD is great and awesome not because it is easy or not because we wont fail at times but because He simply IS.   So, today I am here to do as King Nebuchadnezzar did in the Book of Daniel.  In chapter 4 after he witnessed the LORD deliver Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego he said this:

King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.

How great are his signs,
    how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

So in my exhaustion I proclaim this:  God is great and because of HIM, I have a beautiful wife, 4 amazing kids, my health to be able to exercise, a job so that I can provide, and a CREATOR that loves me enough to go to the cross despite my sin, failures, and times that I simply want to give up.

Thank you and Praise you GOD!  You are “I AM”

Memories and Scars

What are some of the most memorable times in your life? Your wedding day, maybe the day a child was born? The day that you graduated from College or High School?

All of these are big days and will be a memory that I’m sure you will try to keep in your mind, but I bet even details from these big days might begin to fade a little over time. For example, on my Wedding day there are some details that no matter how hard I try I cannot remember. What food was served? Who was there? What time was it at? No matter how hard I try I just cannot remember those details, all I remember is the church bell ringing the doors opening and the most beautiful creation God ever created walking down the aisle to me and standing in front of me. I don’t remember what was said or if I even knew my name but I guess I did because there are not any stories of it going badly. My point is this: the most glorious day of my life and after almost 16 years there are certain memories that have faded and I just cannot remember.

The interesting thing to me about that is that I have a scar from the 3rd grade that I can tell you every detail about. To include how I received it, who was involved what my parents were doing at the time and I remember it vividly. To be completely honest I remember every scar that I have and how I got it. And I am positive that the four new scars that I have from my latest hospital stay will be forever embedded in my mind and a daily reminder of pneumonia and great infected lung incident of 2014.

Why do we remember the bad and horrible things so easily and on the opposite side of that coin have such troubles remembering the details from days that brought us so much joy? I am afraid that this trend follows us into our spiritual walk all to easily. We are so quick to forget what God has done in our lives but are able to so easily remember the sin that has either been done by us or to us all to well. Of course this is not an uncommon theme from scripture either as we see the Children of Israel are in a constant state of forgetfulness.

So I had to examine this and by no means is this exhaustive but I do after some reading feel this is an example of God’s light and Satan’s deception.

The simple fact is this: anything that impacts us is going to leave a mark. How bad of a mark depends on the object and the force that carries as it impacts us. An example would be a dodge ball and a bullet. The dodge ball may bruise us but after a couple of days you will not be able to tell where it hit, you might remember two weeks later but a year later is very unlikely. On the other hand a bullet will leave a scar that you will have for the rest of your life and I doubt that you will ever forget it.

Now take this analogy to sin. All sin has an impact! It may be like the dodge ball, it might just leave a little mark on your soul that no one can see and is very easily forgotten and reasoned out. Then there are some that are very public and will scar you forever. Scripture tells us in Numbers 32:23 that our sin is against the Lord and it will find us out. That means that it will be exposed and that even if no one on this planet ever finds it out it still leaves a mark. If you do not think that it does remember the beating and crucifixion that Christ experienced for your sin (Luke 22). All sin impacts someone!

And this is where the true battle of memories and scars comes into play. Everyone on this planet has a dark side that is constantly flirting with emotions and feelings and trying to lead you away from God’s path and desires. This “nature” is filled with demons and discouragement that will try to draw you into bad decisions with lies that it is harmless and even comical at times. But this darkness does nothing but promise happiness and freedom only to deliver bondage, death and scars. And for believers this darkness will hound you until you get to heaven so that leaves us with only one choice.

We have to live in the light. We must expose our darkness to the light of Christ if we want it to recoil. We must live in the light of accountability of other believers so that we can have boundaries from the darkness that prevails over this world. When we live in this light we have other believers that can pray for us, we have inspired scripture in the Word that can give us His wisdom and perspectives. We will have fellowship from other scarred believers that can encourage and give us the love we need from our Christian community. The Apostle John says it best this way in 1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

John tells us that the enemy of sin and darkness is the light of Christ. This means that if we will walk away from the dangers of the darkness, if we will live in the light we will also be able to avoid the scars and consequences of the darkness.

We can only gain true joy and authentic relationships by living in the light of Christ and exposing our darkness to one another. This means ripping the band-aid off and allowing the light to heal those wounds. Some will scar and scar not only you but others as well.  However if the purifying light of Christ reaches that scar and exposes your soul to the God of this universe, that scar will be a tool that He uses to glorify His name.  Allowing the creation a joyful memory out of that scar, instead of a festered bitter infectious cancerous diseased sore.

Alone, even the strongest Christian will backslide into their darkness. We must surround ourselves with lovers of the light that will help us expose our darkness so that the scars and memories become more than just a symbol of pain and impact. They become a mark of freedom and in that God’s Kingdom is glorified and Christians all around can rejoice.

TR

Rules of Engagement Make Men Cry pt.2

If you missed the first part of this blog please go here and read first to ensure that you have the proper context for this post.  As with scripture sometimes having the proper context when reading really plays a part in our ability to understand the writing.

So, my first question has to be:  Did you answer the questions?  And did you ask your spouse to provide her insight?  I feel it only right that if I am going to write these words that I expose my own failures and sins so to be honest I asked the questions and felt confident that I was right as to what she would say.  I knew that she was in Ephesians during her quiet time.  I stated it confidently and a little pridefully.  I was WRONG!  It was James,  so don’t feel bad if you were not on the side of the questions that you wanted to be or hoped that you would be.  The point is to take an assessment so that afterwards a plan of attack can be designed and then implemented.

And that is where we are now.  What should that plan look like?  Well to be honest I can’t tell you that here specifically because I believe that it is going to be different for every home in the logistics and actions.  But what I can give you is what the Holy Spirit gave me as a guide and a few that I got from guys like MacArthur, Piper, Grudem, Chandler, Chan, Jarmon, & Harrison (That is Phil, not Tyler).

I believe before we discuss the guide that we must set an understood baseline for our topic.  Meaning there are several truths that are transcendent in regards to your home, personality, number of children, background, etc.  The first is this:  You must be a man of the Word.  You may ask well that sounds great but what does that mean?  It means that you are diligently and almost as a man in the desert would drink water studying the Word.  Not as a chore or as in a ritual but out of pure desire and need.  I have reached a place in my walk that if I do not read my Bible in the morning and have that time with God I will struggle throughout the day with my whole day.  And that is not to say there aren’t struggles in the days that I do read.  But the way that I address those struggles, my clarity and insight into God’s direction for those struggles, my attitude during and after those struggles bare direct correlation to my closeness to the Word.  The way that I address my Wife, children, and co-workers all have a direct correlation to that time that I spend in the morning.

The second is this:  You must be a man of Action. There is no place in God’s Kingdom work for lazy and unmotivated husbands and dads.  Now keep perspective that you may work 15 hour days and still be a lazy husband and dad.

Now, hold tight and get ready for the Rules of Engagement.  Before I give them to you I want to give an easy generic definition of what those are for those that were not in the military.  The Rules of Engagement are the guidelines that are given to all troops when they go into a battlefield that outlines what conduct is acceptable, required, and expected.

Here are the official ITG Rules of Engagement:

1.  We must be men that develop a wartime mentality and lifestyle.
This means you must understand that life is short and that Heaven and Hell hang in the balance for your family.  That the love of your job, money, hunting, sports, cars, etc. is spiritual suicide for your family.

2.  We as husbands must love our wife the way that scripture instructs: “As Christ loved the Church”.
This means being sacrificial of our wants, desires, time, money and life.  This requires us to be humble, upbuilding, self-denying, and a happy willing spiritual leader.  All of these require that we are constantly growing in our knowledge of God and willing to cultivate a continual conversation so that we can show tenderness and strength to our helper.  And finally that we accept the responsibility of protection and provision for our families.

3.  We as men must accept that we have the primary responsibility to raise up children that are disciplined not only in life but most importantly in the Word.
We should develop a method of life that does not depend on the church or the schools to impart wisdom to our children.  Remember that you children are being taught by someone something!

4.  We as men must be men of prayer.
We have to understand that through prayer several things will and must happen for us to successful as men.  Through prayer we must ask that the Word of God be opened to our understanding.   And that God’s holiness and power will descend upon us that the we can be the primary spiritual influence in our homes.

5.  We as men must also have a deep understanding of God’s Sovereign Grace.
We have to allow the promises of Christ to be so fully trusted that His peace, joy, and strength overflow our souls.  And that our understandings and motivations will be with the clear defined purpose that God is in control.  This has to undergird every aspect of our lives.

6.  We as men must also develop a plan for life ministry.
We have to understand that God is never done with us and expects us as believers to have a ministry.  We should remember that life is divided into chapters by age, singleness, marriage, employment, children at home, children in college, grandchildren, retirement, etc.  We must understand that not one chapter of life contains all of the joys or the sorrows.  And that what determines the success of these chapters, is did we find God’s will and live it for His glory?

Basically all of this boils down to the command that Christ gave us in Luke 10:27

27 And He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, …” ESV

The reason that I titled this the “Rules of Engagement Make Men Cry” is because they do just that.  When we are young  and trying to figure all of this out the pain from failure and learning can cause tears.  It is not easy to maintain these rules or to put them into action, hence tears of pain, frustration, and complete and udder exhaustion.  But hopefully if executed properly and with God’s grace, there will be tears of joy as we see our sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters seeking after Christ and trying to live this Godly legacy that they were taught.  And at the end, it will be tears of joy as we go home to see our Lord and to worship Him who preserved us  through life’s trials.

God Bless. TR

Shadows

Psalm 57:1 ESV

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

As I stood outside of my house letting my dog run through the woods I noticed my shadow in the light that was cascading down from the flood light above me.  I also couldn’t help but notice due to my curiosity of life and how things work that the more and more that I moved and put myself in the direct light the darker and more significant my shadow was.

This moved my brain to quickly chasing several squirrels in that I contemplated the scientific weight of my shadow (no jokes).  As well as what must that look like from an ants perspective, that at some moment the entire light could be blotted out.  I wonder if some ants begin to scream about the apocalypse only to have the crisis adverted when I moved.

But most importantly it brought me to the realization that unlike the ant I should not be afraid of a shadow as it could be my refuge. As demonstrated in the verse above the shadow mentioned made  a very clear image in my mind of a huge bird spreading it’s wings over its young and shielding them from harm. What a beautiful thought to know that the God of the universe is so merciful that He would spread His “wings” to protect me from the storms of life and will stay with me through the entirety of the ordeal.

However this imagery was fleeting as my mind is so quick to move to another.  For this imagery of wings spread out in a defensive & protective manner struck me in the depths of my spirit in that He has already done this once and it was for eternity.  My Savior spread his arms out in this manner on the cross the day He was crucified.  This obedient act of love saved me not from the storms of life but from the depths of Hell and a separation from God that is unimaginable.

What a shadow that cross must of cast that day on that hill.  What an impact that single act has had on this world.  Do we ever consider if the impact could be more and if so could we play a part in that impact?  I venture to ask if we stood in “The Light” more could our shadows impact those around us?  As I noticed that night standing in the light of a 70 watt flood light off the back of my house that the more I focused on the light the easier it was for me to be in the center of it.  The more that I was in the center of it the darker my shadow became and the greater my shadow impacted the ground beneath it.

Do we focus on getting in “The Light”?  I believe if we really did each day God could use our shadows in ways to impact those around us that we could not fathom.  And just think, if He could our shadows what could He do with our hands?