Devotional Tuesday – “Be it so” versus Being Liked

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Throw off everything that hinders us from standing for Christ. (Hebrews 12:1)

If you are a real Christian, living with Christian convictions, then you know how dangerous of a time we are currently living in.  Every where you look we are being assailed for our own religious convictions.  If you voted for Trump (I didn’t) you are called a racist, bigot and sexists, regardless if you are any of those things.  If you stick to your conviction that homosexuality is a sin, you are called a fascist, intolerant, backwards, ignorant and hateful.  As a matter of fact any conviction you have that doesn’t match up to popular culture turns you (and me) into a target to be lampooned.

It is a tough time for us to be Christians and to be vocal about it, especially when we find ourselves having to stand up for our beliefs. I am so saddened to see many of my Christian friends backing down from Christ’s teachings and God’s word simply because it isn’t popular today.

The words Christ spoke to the Twelve when he sent them out are even more powerful today and I highly recommend you read Matthew chapter 10.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:21-22

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.  Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
  a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Matthew 10:32-36

Those might be strong words but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a healthy fear of what it would mean for us not to stand by Christ’s teachings.  This isn’t a flexible, “do what your feel” kind of faith.  The Word of God contains plenty of warnings about failing to honor and acknowledge our faith in God.  I don’t ever want to be found wanting when my time comes.  I would much rather be on the wrong side of history than the wrong side of hell.  My life on earth is short but eternity is forever.

Being a Christian, a true Christian who refuses to back down from our believes, is not an easy decision nor is it an easy life.  It will only get more difficult for us as time goes by which is why the words of Ignatuis, “Be it so” are both comforting, encouraging and powerful.

The statement that peels off and thunders strongly down the centuries is “Be it so.” This was the constitution of Ignatius.  The prospect of visual torture? Be it so.  The invisible mental and emotional torture? Be it so. Death by fire? Be it so.  Death by crucifixion? Be it so.  Lion’s jaws? Same.  Broken and torn limbs? Yep.  The worst the devil can dish out? Bring it on.

“Be it so” are the words of a man who has stopped caring about what men think — especially powerful men like the emperor Trajan.  If Ignatius were living among us in the digital age, he would never, like many men today, tremble at the thought of disappointing people, bosses, friends, peers, neighbors, or the guy in seat 22A next to him. Instead of being incapable of direct and strong speech about his Savior, he would tell his story and leave the results in God’s hands.

He would not hedge, waffle, or procrastinate in declaring his faith in order to play to people.  He would not be scared silent by the simple threat of rejection.  He wouldn’t fear being abandoned, losing support, or not being able to cope with disapproval of his faith.  “Be it so” are the words of a God’s man whose personal commitments, actions, and words have zilch to do with living up to the expectations or standards of other people.  Being faithful to Christ replaces being liked by people.

During the fourth great persecution (AD 162-180), cruelties against Christians were so horrific that onlookers were astonished that followers would not turn from Christ. One man on the wanted list was a friend and disciple of the apostle John named Polycarp. His death and capture were recorded in history and are relayed in The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

 Father, thank you that you have promised to provide what I need.

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Devotional Tuesday – The Sword of God’s Man

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“The word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to diving soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitude of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

The heart of God’s man is one huge scabbard loaded with the Word of God.  His tongue represents the sure and confident grip of a strong hand in the hilt, ready to unsheathe it at a moment’s notice and thrust it into any situation warring against him, his faith, and his commitment to God’s purposes.  This is our culture as God’s men and men of spiritual war.  We make sure we are locked and loaded, full of the Word.

Job is a picture of the priority and proximity of the Word of God to a soldier of God – Job 22:2; 23:12 talks about this.  Just like a SEAL’s best friend in a fight of his life, the best companion of a God’s man in a fight is the Word of God.  We cannot live without it, and we cannot fight without it.

In our contest against evil, Satan tries to get us sloppy with our sword by manipulating or twisting the Scripture to fit his objectives.  It’s subtle but effective disinformation the Bible calls “doctrines of the demons” (Timothy 4:1).

The sword of God’s Word in hands carrying a strong sense of identity in Christ, aware of their authority in Christ, and intent on the Holy Spirit are more than fit to fight evil.

Thank you Father for equipping me with the sword of the Word, may I use it honorably.

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Fashion Friday – The Outerwear Guide

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I have to admit it is hard for me to even think about outerwear right now.  It has been in the mid and high 80’s here in Nashville for the last two or three weeks and it is getting a bit ridiculous.  I have to keep reminding myself that it is November!  Being from Minnesota and having lived in New York for over eight years this is certainly not the normal kind of fall I am used to!  However, I am sure what passes for “cold” weather here will be upon us like an unsuspecting fart on a first date, thus I suppose this post is timely regardless of where you live.

Don’t let other people talk you out of the importance of outerwear. Yes it is certainly used for keeping you warm and dry.  But, just like the right pair of shoes, the right jacket can put the finishing touch on any look.  Depending on where you live (L.A. vs Alaska) you may not need to consider all six (i.e. the parka for example) but it is a good refresher for every man, especially for those of us who travel for work!

The Bomber

While it’s been around since the ’50s, the bomber happens to be this season’s must-have jacket. We love it because it’s cool, classic, and, because of its trimmer fit, suitable to be worn indoors—meaning you can skip the coat-check line.  You can find these in any price range including at Sak’s ($$$$) at H & M ($) and everywhere in between.

A.P.C Black Bomber Jacket

The Topcoat

Because of its similar structure—lapels, button closure, and besom pockets—the topcoat serves as the perfect complement to a suit, sport coat, or blazer. That said, you don’t always need to dress it up.

Camel Topcoat

The Performance Jacket

A jacket like this will get the job done if you need something to block the rain or wind. Plus, performance outerwear has come a long way in the style department, so feel free to wear yours even when the elements don’t require it.

Aether Jacket Blue

The Vest

Down vests are now offered in refined fabrics and streamlined silhouettes, making them far more fashionable (yet just as comfortable) as the ones you remember from college.

Vince Vest

The Utility Jacket

Built for function, utility jackets (sometimes called field jackets) provide a thin layer of warmth and wind resistance that’s perfect for a crisp fall or winter day. They also typically feature enough pockets to carry anything from a cell phone to a pheasant.

Ralph Lauren Field Jacket

The Parka

Anticipating a tough winter? Then a parka with enough insulation to heat a small house is what you need. And, while they’re typically thought to be casual, don’t be afraid to wear yours over a suit when commuting through the Arctic.

Ralph Lauren Parka

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If God is Good, Why is There Evil and Suffering

**I am sharing this post from one of my favorite websites: Stand To Reason (www.str.org)**

The topic of evil and suffering is something we all, eventually, will face and must deal with—and I don’t mean merely intellectually; I mean personally. When real suffering finally hits you, you will either run to God or run away from Him. What you decide to do will depend on the theological understanding of God—who He is, what His purpose is for us, what we should expect from Him—that you develop now, before your crisis hits.

If God really is good, if He loves us, if He knows everything and is powerful enough to prevent any harm from coming to us, why do we suffer?

Below is a talk I gave at a Thinking Matters apologetics conference in New Zealand a few years ago that addresses this question. For more on this topic, see my review of Randy Alcorn’s If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil.

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Devotional Tuesday – Fit to Fight

Image result for Fit to fightLet him who desires peace, prepare for war.” — Flavius Vegetius Renatus–

One of the main goals in being fit to fight is to deepen our sensitivity to one profound fact:  weapons are only as good as our training. By now, I sense you feel in your gut, like I do, this inherent responsibility to train with your weapons — to train up, load up, suit up, and show up.  And yes I think we can safely say it’s a kindred spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ moving inside.  It’s a spiritual reality, a brotherhood born of battle and blood, steeped in a proud tradition, and forged from one Man’s willingness to lay down His life for us.

We can’t explain this connection fully, but what we do know is this: every God’s man gets Jesus as a man.  This means you long to fight the way Jesus fought, to sacrifice the way He sacrificed, and to win liberation for someone else the way he liberated you.  “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exits, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.  Both the one which makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:10-11).

Women can appreciate this sentiment, even applaud it.  But they can’t sense the male bonding and our shared responsibility as men. It is the stuff of brothers. That’s why, as fighting God’s men, we live the language of weapons, demolitions, and one-on-one struggles with our enemy.  Not because we’re armchair navy SEALSs, but because all of these concepts are in the training manual.  We are identity-and duty-bound to be proficient with them in all forms.

Father, you have given me the tools, the training and clearly identified the battle. Thank you for trusting me.

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