The Big One

Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. – Ezekiel 38:7

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St. Augustine defined peace as “the tranquility of order.” At the highest level, Jesus Christ’s return will bring peace through the restoration of order lost in Eden. And the truth is: peace cannot co-exist with chaos.

How much order do you have in your life? However much, my hunch is that it’s directly proportionate to the levels of tranquility and peace in your life as well. Is your desk and garage kept in such a way that you’re able to find what you need when you need it? How about those drawers and closets?

If you can never find what you thought you filed, you’re much less efficient. If you can’t find a tool when you need it and have to buy another, you’re much less profitable. If you have to spend time hunting for your keys, your wallet, or your mail, you’re much more frustrated. And if you can’t find the things you need when you need them, you’re much less prepared and confident.

Be prepared.” These are words used by military leaders, coaches, athletes, musicians, and others whose lives demand excellence. Order puts us at peace, brings tranquility, and readies us for service.

– Steve Arterburn

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, please help me to bring order to the areas in my life that are chaotic. Amen.

Self-Centered Anger

Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. – Titus 1:7

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A good deal of human anger springs from selfishness. A man may get angry with his father for not including him in the business; with his wife for not serving the dinner he expected; with his daughter for telephoning in at midnight for a ride home from a party; or with his son for not weeding the garden when he wanted it done.

In the book entitled, Caring Enough to Confront, David Augsburger describes this self-centered anger as “a demand that also demands others meet your demands.” Simply put, self-centered anger erupts when you don’t get what you want, when you want it.

Self-centered anger isn’t what Jesus expressed. He didn’t get angry when someone snubbed Him, but he did when someone cast a slur on His Father or treated others unjustly. He wasn’t ticked at the money-changers for offending Him but for desecrating His Father’s house and disrupting the worship of His people. Jesus never got angry at the wrongs done to Him—including the ultimate wrong—His crucifixion. Instead, He forgave.

We all struggle with self-centered anger. And when we compare ourselves to Jesus, we must learn to call this type of anger what it is: sin. (Remember though, not all anger is sin.) Ask God for forgiveness and ask Him to help you to practice the habit of examining your motives when you become angry so that you can discern self-centeredness from God-centeredness.

– Steve Arterburn

Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind. – Robert G. Ingersoll

Marriage

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

Marriage

How can a stranger tell if two people are married? When eight-year old Derrick was asked this question he stopped to think for a minute. Then he replied most seriously, “You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.”

Kids really have a way of making us laugh, reflect, and, yes. . . sometimes yell, don’t they? But young Derrick hit upon a very important fact: marriage can be tough and that’s true regardless of whether or not you have kids.

Finances, communication, intimacy, and sometimes-even kids can become sources of tension in your relationship with your spouse. Nevertheless, God’s intention for marriage is that it be a source of joy, encouragement, comfort, and grace that gives richness to life.

– Steve Arterburn

Marriage is the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two. – Ambrose Bierce

True Forgiveness

God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. – Acts 5:31

True Forgiveness

Without true forgiveness, bitterness will inevitably tear our relationships apart. No relationship or family will hold together for long if the people involved are unable to grant forgiveness. I don’t just mean saying the words “I forgive you” but actually relating to your spouse, child, parent, or friend with your actions that display forgiveness. Giving voice to forgiveness might create peace temporarily, but when that forgiveness isn’t evidenced by the way you live, true reconciliation will never result.

Let’s learn from a man who went before us. Absalom, the third son of King David, suffered much and also caused much suffering because forgiveness wasn’t a part of his life. When Absalom discovered that his sister had been raped by his half brother, anger and hatred built up in him for two years until he finally killed him.  Then to avoid the wrath of his father, he was on the run for a period of three years. And even after he returned he and his father, David, didn’t speak to one another for two more years. And you thought your family had issues!

Well, Absalom never regained the love he had for his father. In fact, Absalom spent the rest of his life scheming against his father, King David. His life ended while he led a rebellion against his father. Absalom is an example of the wasted years and broken hearts that can result when we harbor bitterness and are unwilling to forgive.

– Steve Arterburn

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness. – Robert Muller

Forgiveness liberates the soul, that is why it is such a powerful weapon. – Nelson Mandela

Prayer

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. – Luke 22:42-3

Prayer

Have you ever heard someone say, ‘If you had your act together, you wouldn’t be struggling with knowing or following God’s will.‘ Don’t believe it! It’s a common, mistaken belief, and Jesus’ own actions teach that this isn’t so.

Jesus’ final moments before his crucifixion were spent in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he prayed three times. Each prayer was a step in letting go of things that would hold him back so that he could take hold of God’s will. The first prayer was an outburst of grief. Jesus shuddered at the chill of death’s dark shadow. Prayer seemed his only refuge.

The second prayer was one of release. Jesus was faced with two choices: If he saved his life, he would lose us. But if he lost his life, he would save us. Christ desired to do the will of his Father, and so he accepted his calling to die for us.

The third prayer strengthened his resolve. It was like the tempering of steel, in which the refined metal is reheated a second time to increase its strength. As a soldier readies himself for battle or a patient prepares himself for a difficult surgery, so Jesus gathered strength from his Father for the task and left all his anxiety with him.

If Jesus can struggle, then I guess it’s o.k. if I do, too.

– Steve Arterburn

Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan. – John Bunyan 

Honestly Admitting Our Needs

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. – Matthew 7:9-11

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Are you reluctant to ask for help? You’re definitely not alone. Too many of us are unwilling to admit we need help. We think it’s a sign of weakness. But it’s really a sign of pride and self-sufficiency, both which go against the grain of a healthy dependence upon God and the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives.

God wants to give you good things. He’s hoping you’ll humbly admit that you have needs. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.  Remember, God made us to relate to one another, to love one another. We weren’t made to live life alone. If you’re “the strong” one that is always lending a hand and seeing to it that others are taken care of, it’s hard for you to let someone know you need help, but it’s important that you do. We need more two way streets in our Christian community.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this, be smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it.

– Steve Arterburn

Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful. – Ric Ocasek

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

A Daddy Vacuum

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God – Psalm 68:5

A Daddy Vacuum

I grew up in a family where my father was always there for me. He was a good man. A funny man. A bedrock of faith with a compassionate heart. I was truly blessed to be born into his family. Some of you weren’t so fortunate. Your father wasn’t a positive role model for you. Or, your father deserted your family or died young. You grew up without a father, and just hearing someone refer to “dad” or “daddy” is painful for you. The absence of that all important person in your life left an insatiable void within you.

The role of your father is so important that it can affect how you perceive God as your heavenly father. I hope that no matter how bad your experience was with your father, that you won’t be afraid to see God as your father. Consider and take solace in the words of Psalm 68 promising that God will be a father to the fatherless.

A friend of mine who grew up without a dad describes it as having a daddy vacuum. Is that where you are today? Do you have a vacuum of your dad, or your mom, or maybe your entire family? If so, cling to God’s promise that he’ll be a father to the fatherless. How that looks will be different in each situation. Some of you will take solace directly in and with your heavenly father. To others, God will bring a father-figure into your life to begin to fill that void.

If you have a daddy vacuum, pray for God to fill that void within you, however He chooses. If you don’t have that vacuum, and you’re a man who was blessed like I was to have a dad that loved me and was there for me, look to see if God might be calling you to be a father to the fatherless on His behalf.

– Steve Arterburn

It is much easier to become a father than to be one. – Kent Nerburn

A Father’s Affirmation

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Romans 15:30

A Father's Affirmation

One priceless gift my dad gave me was confidence. He convinced me to pursue my interests and develop my talents—to find and follow my calling. When I’d fail in my efforts, he was there encouraging me to pick up the pieces and keep moving ahead.

The refrain that plays in my mind to this day is: “Steve, I’m proud of you.” In fact, I can’t remember ever leaving him when he didn’t tell me how proud of me he was.

Looking back, I hadn’t done a whole lot to take pride in. Yet he piled on his affirmation anyway. Having finally accomplished a few things I believe he would’ve been proud of, it saddens me that he isn’t here to see them. But, I’m certain he would’ve affirmed me.

Is there someone you can affirm more often than you do? A child? A spouse? A parent? A co-worker? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be an affirming influence.

– Steve Arterburn

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” – John Andrew Holmes (1904–1962)

He Is Sufficient

And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ – 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

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Learning to depend upon God will help you build character. And of this you can be certain: God is sufficient to meet your needs. Period.

Do the demands of life seem overwhelming at times? If so, you must learn to rely not only upon your own resources, but also upon the promises of your Father in heaven. God will hold your hand and walk with you and your family if you let Him. So even if your circumstances are difficult, trust the Father.

The Psalmist writes, ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning‘ (Psalm 30:5 NKJV). But when we are suffering, the morning may seem very far away. It is not. God promises that He is ‘near to those who have a broken heart‘ (Psalm 34:18 NKJV). When we are troubled, we must turn to Him, and we must encourage our friends and family members to do likewise.

If you are discouraged by the inevitable demands of life here on earth, be mindful of this fact: the loving heart of God is sufficient to meet any challenge . . . including yours.

Yes, God’s grace is always sufficient, and His arms are always open to give it. But, will our arms be open to receive it? –  Beth Moore

I grew up learning to be self-reliant, but now, to grow up in Christ, I must unlearn self-reliance and learn self-distrust in light of his all-sufficiency. – Mary Morrison Suggs

God’s saints in all ages have realized that God was enough for them. God is enough for time; God is enough for eternity. God is enough! –Hannah Whitall Smith

Today’s Prayer
Dear Lord, I thank you that in You I have infinite protection, because You are an infinitive God. Help me to live in the center of Your will, I know that in the center of Your will, your protection will always be available for me. Amen

 

Family Influence

All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. – Isaiah 54:13

Family Influence

Our ideas about God are first shaped—and very powerfully so—by our families. So it’s little wonder that as relationships within the family have declined, so has the understanding of what it means to have and maintain a relationship with God.

As divorced and overworked parents spend less time with their kids, the concept of a personal God and Savior becomes less clear and less meaningful. An absent father sets the framework for a child who views God as absent too. And a passive father leaves his children wondering if God can or will become involved in their problems and day-to-day struggles.

I’m pointing to the men for two reasons. The first reason is so you men can begin to identify how your family environment growing up has subtly shaped your thoughts and beliefs about God. If your experience has been positive, great! If it hasn’t, please let the present, active, loving Father correct your thinking and heal your heart. Turn to Him and see that He is good.

The second reason is that many of you are fathers yourselves or will be. Your children are watching and listening to you more than you think. And you influence them—and their thinking about God—more than you know. I want to encourage you, men, to walk with Jesus Christ! For those of you who’ve had the blessing of good parenting: pass it on. For those of you who haven’t: let the wreckage stop with you!

Steve Arterburn

“Our children give us the opportunity to become the parents we always wished we’d had.” – Louise Hart (1881–1950)