Whether God’s man likes it or not, we live in “glass houses,” meaning people are watching our behavior to see if we live consistent with our words, beliefs and reputations. A little Google search will lead you to find several “Christian” men giving our faith a bad name because they were involved in scandals and doing mental and theological gymnastics to justify what they were doing with the Bible. Evil loves that kind of self deception and encourages it.
Just like in war where you learn from the classic strategic blunders in history so your side doesn’t repeat them, I think there’s a lesson here for God’s man. It’s this: God’s plan to have Jesus sacrificed on the cross for our sin and rise again sets you and me “free” from sin. But just like a prisoner who has his sentence commuted must learn to live as a free man and not return to his old life so must God’s man. We too have to learn how to live in our spiritual freedom.
If a prisoner has not been ‘rehabilitated’ (or know how to live like a free man), then he will be tempted to make bad decisions, reunite with old friends, re-engage in old habits, and ultimately cause even more damage to himself and loved ones. He may, in fact, prefer to end up back to jail, where there’s safety in the boundaries, parameters and limited freedom.
As children move though the teen years they desire to pole vault into independence. This, mixed with a bubbling set of hormones and an ever-expanding understanding of society, can make fathering teens one of the hardest, emotionally charged tasks for God’s man. Yet, it’s critical to “lean into” these years versus withdraw and not allow the pace of life or teenage attitudes to create detachment. Here’s why: this is when your children are in the “red zone” of identity and it is your responsibility to bring them into the end zone of adulthood.
Unfortunately, reading between the lines of the following news reports, many teens suffer from a lack of fathers leaning in and taking their roles seriously resulting in unintended but very real suffering. Check out these national headlines from the last year, along with “My between the lines” take:
Teen charged, second sought in beating death of WWII vet, 88, in Spokane
-- My between the lines -- Two young men unleashed pent up anger to express machismo, perhaps copying what they experienced at home by their own fathers.
Teens charged after allegedly killing Australian student in Oklahoma for the 'fun of it'
-- My between the lines -- Fatherlessness is creating these types of boys by the millions with multiplied billions of their social interactions creating a titanic wave of injustice for innocent people. Emotionally unaware and socially detached, these boys cannot connect their actions with the feelings of others.
Father and son behind bars for shooting near Purdue North Central
-- My between the lines -- Sadly, the teenage son is following the example set by his drug-dealing father, learning how to execute “justice” when a deal goes wrong.
While these examples don’t paint fatherhood masterpieces, teenagers can also be wonderful, loving -- even surprising -- young men and women who grow by leaps and bounds right in front of our eyes. Fathering a teen can be challenging, but equally rewarding. Here are a few tips I’ve used and picked up over the years from experts:
Every January, millions of people resolve to lose weight. And every February, millions of people forget, ignore or give up on their resolution. Dreams of a smaller waistline, broader chest, defined muscles and a healthy heart get swallowed by lack of energy, lack of motivation and too many desserts.
With 35% of Americans ages 20 and up being obese or overweight, according to the Center for Disease Control, clearly our society is losing the battle of the bulge.
Why? How come men can’t -- or won’t -- shed the flab that holds them back? Why do men prefer to be fat than fit?
I believe it’s a spiritual battle played in the arena of our physical mind and body.
As we plow forward into 2014, here’s God’s Affordable Healthcare Plan so we can augment the new Affordable Care Act that will surely affect our ability to obtain medical care. Here it is, ready?
- Just say “No” to bad habits.
- Just say “Yes” to good ones.
Easy right? We all “know” how to be healthy...eat more vegetable, less junk food, and exercise regularly. It’s not that hard. So, what holds us back? The answer may not be found in a health food store near you, or in a health magazine. The answer is ironically much more inward:
Selfishness. It’s selfish not to be healthy.
I believe the enemy literally wants to weigh us down, and he uses our own selfish desires for large portions, sweet treats, fast foods and lazy living because we’re tricked into believing “we deserve it.” Bag the discipline. Grab the donuts. Self trickery always works because the person asking and answering the question is YOU.
WAKE UP MEN! The enemy is counting on us to make selfish, entitled decisions so that you lose your long-term dreams. What dreams are those? Time! Time with your spouse. Time making memories with your children. Time for vacations. Time to provide for your life, family and future. And, most importantly, time to grow a relationship with God and share His hope and love with others.
Today’s broken culture leaves many men in a desperate fight for their lives during the holidays. When there’s supposed to be cheer in the air, warmth in our hearts and glad tidings on our lips, unfortunately the holidays also usher in the most dangerous time of the year.
Holidays can bring cherished moments with loved ones, special traditions and memories that last a lifetime. Holidays also bring an opportunity to bring hope to the hurting, love to the loveless and compassion to the lonely.
As we enter the holiday season, keep your eyes and heart open to the fact that many men need help, and need Jesus. Broken families can lead to feelings of shame and guilt. Financial pressures can undo our facades. Failed marriages and relationships can create discomfort and loneliness despite being surrounded by people. Men are like icebergs – you only see the tip. Below the waterlines this Holiday season are some sharks of the season that seek to devour them.
Although depression may occur at any time of the year, the stress and anxiety of the holiday season—from November through Valentine’s Day—may exacerbate a lack of fulfillment. One study showed the most common stressors were feelings of loneliness and "being without a family."
For many people, holidays are a painful reminder of what once was. This is especially true for people who have experienced a significant loss such as the death of a spouse or a break-up.
After spending a decade on the phones counseling depressed, down, and suicidal people I have come to the conclusion that suicide (in some form) is a thought all men have pondered. From “I wish I wasn’t here” to “everybody would be better off without me” to “I want the pain to end”, all men have wanted dramatic relief at some time in their lives. Unfortunately, while more women attempt suicide, it’s men who are more successful taking their own lives. It’s the final step in the plan for destruction, set in motion by our enemy. All too often, the thoughts, circumstances, sadness or brain trauma that lead up to suicide, get suppressed momentarily, only to be resurfaced more effectively.
Hope gets lost. The decision of self-demolition ensues. Yet…There is hope, and there is life. It’s just one call away. And, it comes with a promise. The key word to remember is “yet…”
The Bible, and the entire book of Lamentations, includes many true stories about being in distress. One Lament, in chapter 3 verses 19-20, provides context we can relate to: Feelings of affliction, aimless wandering, bitterness, and a downcast soul. But in verse 21, we find the key word to remember.
- “Yet, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” — Lamentations 3: 21-26
Spend any time in the book of Psalms, and you will read songs that share a depressing soul only to follow with a surrendering “yet God”-type of acknowledgement. While we wrestle with thoughts of suicide, we have to remember “yet God.”Yet God is with you. Yet God is able. Yet God wants to save you. Yet God promises to answer your call.
It’s like picking up an emergency hotline to God. While the prophet Jonah was in the depth of the sea, inside a fish, he prayed a “yet God”prayer:
- “I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.” — Jonah 2:2
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promises to answer your “yet”call:
- “(God said) Call to Me and I will answer you.” — Jeremiah 33:3
Better yet, God says he will save you when you call on him:
- “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” — Acts 2:21
Still, making that call may seem like an open-ended proposition.
Avoid Toxic Traps