Devotional Tuesday! It’s Worth the Fight!

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Today’s devotional comes to us courtesy of C3 Journey.  Hope you enjoy!

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

I know that Jesus has already done it. He won which means we won but yet, there is still a fight and the fight is worth it.

    • We don’t fight with words of arguments but words of faith built upon the word of God.
    • We don’t fight with physical effort but with actions of faith for “faith without works is useless.”
    • We don’t fight with hidden manipulation but speak the truth IN truth.
    • We don’t fight with judgement against others for as we judge, we are judged.

We fight with our faith and stand on God’s word. His word separates bone from marrow…actions from intentions…our heart from our weaknesses. God’s word, that says we are forgiven and embraced as His child, tells us that nothing can separate us from His love. And through His love, our prayers are heard.

So, our faith walk IS the walk of a warrior and requires a warrior’s garb and a warrior’s heart.

When a warrior sees others who are wounded, he takes the time to bring the source of healing to their lives. In the taking, there can be a fight. The fight is worth it.

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Ephesians 6:10-12

Soon to Be a Father

Happy Friday Gents!

Well I have some amazing news for you all: I am going to be a FATHER!!!  Holy shit I know, right?!  My wife and I found out we would be parents at the end of June.  We were traveling to Minnesota to visit family (I had been in MN for a few days before Sharlay arrived) and were so anxious for confirmation we didn’t wait to even leave the airport before taking the test!

Only recently has she passed her first trimester so we are now officially telling everyone!  Words certainly do not adequately express how excited we both are!

I have certainly gone through seasons in my life where I didn’t want to have kids and I made that painfully obvious to anyone around me.  However, most of my life I have always wanted to be a father and over the last several years I started to wonder if that would actually happen or not.  But it did!

I am sure I will be writing more about my journey as a father as we progress through this new stage in life.  I am certain to make mistakes and have the occasional success and I wouldn’t be bashful about sharing either of those on this blog.

The wife and I are going on vacation starting tomorrow so the blog might be sparse the next week or so.  I hope you are all having amazing summers!

Well I need to run, the wife is craving pickles and ice cream…

Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

Andrew

Black-Baby-Crying

Tips to Help People Who Are Grieving

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The following advice comes from Howard Whitman and was part of an anthology that came out in 1954.  It maybe be old advice but it is still solid.  I recently realized that sometimes when someone close to you has lost a loved one it can be difficult to know what to say, do or even how to act properly.

Here is hoping you never have to need this kind of advice.  However, as men we are generally seen as a person of strength and toughness.  At times we need to reach out to those people who are hurting to try and help ease their anguish.

I hope you find these tips helpful.

“How to Help Someone in Sorrow”
By Howard Whitman

Most of us want to be helpful when grief strikes a friend, but often we don’t know how. We may end up doing nothing because we don’t know the right — and helpful — things to say and do. Because that was my own experience recently, I resolved to gather pointers which might be useful to others as well as myself.

Ministers, priests, and rabbis deal with such situations every day. I went to scores of them, of all faiths, in all parts of the country.

Here are some specific suggestions they made:

1. Don’t try to “buck them up.” This surprised me when the Rev. Arthur E. Wilson of Providence, RI mentioned it. But the others concurred. It only makes your friend feel worse when you say, “Come now, buck up. Don’t take it so hard.”

A man who has lost his wife must take it hard (if he loved her). “Bucking him up” sounds as though you are minimizing his loss. But the honest attitude, “Yes, it’s tough, and I sure know it is,” makes your friend feel free to express grief and recover from it. The “don’t take it so hard” approach deprives him of the natural emotion of grief.

2. Don’t try to divert them. Rabbi Martin B. Ryback of Norwalk, Conn., pointed out that many people making condolence calls purposely veer away from the subject. They make small talk about football, fishing, the weather — anything but the reason for their visit.

The rabbi calls this “trying to camouflage death.” The task of the mourner, difficult as it is, is to face the fact of death, and go on from there. “It would be far better,” Rabbi Ryback suggested, “to sit silently and say nothing than to make obvious attempts to distract. The sorrowing friend sees through the effort to divert him. When the visitor leaves, reality hits him all the harder.”

3. Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who has passed away. Well-intentioned friends often shy away from mentioning the deceased. The implication is that the whole thing is too terrible to mention.

“The helpful thing,” advised Rabbi Henry E. Kagan of Mount Vernon, N.Y., “is to talk about the person as you knew him in the fullness of life, to recreate a living picture to replace the picture of death.”

Once Rabbi Kagan called on a woman who had lost her brother. “I didn’t know your brother too well,” he said. “Tell me about him.” The woman started talking and they discussed her brother for an hour. Afterward she said, “I feel relieved now for the first time since he died.”

4. Don’t be afraid of causing tears. When a good friend of mine lost a child I said something which made his eyes fill up. “I put my foot in it,” I said, in relating the incident to the Rev. D. Russell Hetsler of Brazil, Ind. “No, you didn’t,” he replied. “You helped your friend to express grief in a normal, healthy way. That is far better than to stifle grief when friends are present, only to have it descend more crushingly when one is all alone.”

Fear of causing tears, probably more than anything else, makes people stiff and ineffective. Visiting a friend who has lost his wife, they may be about to mention a ride in the country when they remember the man’s wife used to love rides in the country. They don’t dare speak of peonies because they were her favorite flower. So they freeze up.

“They really are depriving their friend of probably the greatest help they could give him,” Pastor Hetsler commented. “That is, to help him experience grief in a normal way and get over it.” Medical and psychological studies back up the pastor’s contention that expressing grief is good and repressing it is bad. “If a comment of yours brings tears,” he concluded, “remember — they are healthy tears.”

5. Let them talk. “Sorrowing people need to talk,” explained the Rev. Vern Swartsfager of San Francisco. “Friends worry about their ability to say the right things. They ought to be worrying about their ability to listen.

If the warmth of your presence can get your friend to start talking, keep quiet and listen — even though he repeats the same things a dozen times. He is not telling you news but expressing feelings that need repetition. Pastor Swartsfager suggested a measuring stick for the success of your visit: “If your friend said a hundred words to your one, you’ve helped a lot.”

6. Reassure — don’t argue. “Everybody who loses a loved one has guilt feelings — they may not be justified but they’re natural,” Rabbi Joseph R. Narot of Miami pointed out. A husband feels he should have been more considerate of his wife; a parent feels he should have spent more time with his child; a wife feels she should have made fewer demands on her husband. The yearning, “If only I had not done this, or done that — if only I had a chance to do it now,” is a hallmark of grieving.

These feelings must work their way out. You can give reassurance. Your friend must slowly come to the realization that he or she was, in all probability, a pretty good husband, wife, or parent.

7. Communicate — don’t isolate. Too often a person who has lost a loved one is overwhelmed with visitors for a week or so; then the house is empty. Even good friends sometimes stay away, believing that people in sorrow “like to be alone.”

“That’s the ‘silent treatment,’” remarked Father Thomas Bresnahan of Detroit. “There’s nothing worse.” Our friend has not only lost his loved one — he has lost us too.

It is in the after-period, when all the letters of sympathy have been read and acknowledged and people have swung back into daily routine, that friends are needed most.

Keep in touch, Father Bresnahan urges. See your friends more often than you did before. See him for any purpose — for lunch, for a drive in the country, for shopping, for an evening visit. He has suffered a deep loss. Your job is to show him, by implication, how much he still has left. Your being with him is a proof to him that he still has resources.

8. Perform some concrete act. The Rev. William B. Ayers of Wollaston, MA told me of a sorrowing husband who lost all interest in food until a friend brought over his favorite dish and simply left it there at suppertime. “That’s a wonderful way to help, by a concrete deed which in itself may be small yet carried the immense implication that you care,” Pastor Ayers declared.

We should make it our business, when a friend is in sorrow, to do at least one practical, tangible act of kindness. Here are some to choose from: run errands with your car, take the children to school, bring in a meal, do the dishes, make necessary phone calls, pick up mail at the office, help acknowledge condolence notes, shop for the groceries.

9. Swing into action. Action is the symbol of going on living.

By swinging into action with your friend, whether at his hobby or his work, you help build a bridge into the future. Perhaps it means painting the garage with him, or hoeing the garden

In St. Paul, Minn., the Rev. J.T. Morrow told me of a man who had lost a son. The man’s hobby had been refinishing furniture. When he called on him, Pastor Morrow said, “Come on, let’s go down to the basement.” They sanded a table together. When Pastor Morrow left, the man said, “This is the first time I’ve felt I could go on living.”

Sorrowing people, Pastor Morrow pointed out, tend to drop out of things. They’re a little like the rider who has been thrown from a horse. If they are to ride again, better get them back on the horse quickly.

10. “Get them out of themselves,” advised Father James Keller, leader of the Christophers. Once you have your friend doing things for himself, his grief is nearly cured. Once you have him doing things for others, it is cured.

Grief runs a natural course. It will pass. But if there is only a vacuum behind it, self-pity will rush to fill it. To help your friend along the normal course of recovery, guide him to a new interest.

Volunteer work for charity, enrollment in a community group to help youngsters, committee work at church or temple are ways of getting people “out of themselves.”

If you and I, when sorrow strikes our friends, follow even a few of these pointers, we will be helpful.

Until tomorrow make it a better day!

Andrew

Devotional Tuesday – Two Are Better Than One

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“Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecc. 4:9-12

This is one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible.  There are a lot of people who will tell you the Bible is total B.S. and you shouldn’t believe anything contained in it.  I often feel bad for those people.  Even if you don’t believe in God or Jesus the wisdom contained in this book is quite remarkable.  This verse is no different.

One of the dangers we men face day in and day out is isolation.  We are notorious for going off alone to deal with our problems, doubts, fears and struggles.  This is a recipe for disaster.  As men we are not built to take this journey alone.  In order to be successful we have to have other men in our lives we can count on to be there for good times and for bad.

We men tend to follow a pattern of behavior when things in life are not going the way we planned.  We hide.  We don’t return calls, texts, emails etc.  We “go off into the weeds” as a mentor of mine used to say.

Over the course of my time ministering to men the first real sign that a guy is having a problem is when no one has seen or heard from him in several days.  This is never a good sign.

The only way to really prevent this from happening is by having a few strong male friendships in your life.  Men who will realize they haven’t seen you in a day or two and will “come get you” if they have to.  These kinds of friendships are not for the faint of heart.  You will be challenged – physically, mentally and emotionally.  There will be verbal disagreements and heated words exchanged.  Yet in the end that friendship will have grown stronger because of it.

Your wife, kids, co-workers and anyone else connected to you will be grateful for these kinds of relationships.  This kind of friendship sticks by you no matter what.  It doesn’t matter what kind of stupid mistakes you make, friends that are described in Ecclesiastes will always be there for you.

If you don’t have this kind of friendship I suggest you go out immediately and try and build a few.  However, you will need to be the same kind of friend you are seeking.  male-friendsIf you act like a flake you can’t expect to have strong friendships with responsible men.  Get your crap together first and then start working on your relationships.  Don’t be afraid, this is one really simple way you can change your life, your marriage and your career.

God speed!

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Devotional Tuesday – Believe Despite Your Doubts!

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Today’s devotional comes courtesy of C3 Journey and Jim Crumbley.  Enjoy!

“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22b-24

The father looked to the disciples for help in casting out a demon who was attacking his son. The disciples failed…

The prayers of the disciples…the hope of the boy’s father…their collective faith ALL FAILED. The boy’s father asked Jesus to take PITY and help “…if you can.”

There are no IF’s in the kingdom of God. IF HE CAN becomes HE CAN when we drop the “if.”

There is no doubt that Jesus had compassion for the human condition and yet he was not moved by the father’s plea for mercy. The child’s father begged for pity and Jesus did not even acknowledge the plea. Instead, Jesus laid out a corrective CHALLENGE.

Jesus moves not out of the weakness of pity but the strength of belief.

But how do we overcome our weak faith when previous prayers have failed? The father’s response give us two keys…

  1. He prophesied over the situation – “I do believe…”
  2. He asked for help with his doubts – “…help me overcome my unbelief.”

When you pray, prophesy your belief. Speak it in faith even if you don’t see it/feel it. Then, ask Jesus for help with your unbelief. He understands that we all need help on occasion with the building of our faith.

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