A Good Man. How to Become One.

You decide what kind of man you are going to be. When the ink dries on the story of your life, it is going to reveal that you were the one behind the wheel. You were the one making all the choices and determining the direction in your life. The important thing for you to realize while your story is still being written, is that the tools are in your hands to build yourself into the man you should be. You’re going to have to be intentional about your life though. You must decide for yourself what you will allow and what you will deny to exist inside of you. These choices are yours alone. As Jesus said – A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good things; an evil man out of the evil treasure in his heart will bring forth evil things. It therefore becomes very important for us to examine what we’re allowing to get inside us.

When I was in what was then called Jr. High School, a new kid started mid year. I realized that he was walking home the same way I did, so we began to talk and I found out that he lived less than a block away from me. As I began to spend more time with him, I learned that he was one of five kids. His family had four boys and a sister who was the eldest. I didn’t see his mom very often because she was always working, but I did see his dad all the time because he wasn’t. As I think back on it, all the years I knew my friend, his dad never worked. He just smoked cigarettes, drank beer & watched TV. My friend and his brothers didn’t have a very good example of how to be a man…and it showed. While it could be said that they were not the best boys, it could be said that none of us were the best boys. We were all ornery and sometimes it seemed like we were the poster children for really bad ideas.

Shaping pottery

Around the same time, I had another friend that I hung around with. His dad was an executive in a large manufacturing company and his mom was a home-maker. They lived in a pretty nice house and he had all of the things that he needed to be comfortable. As I think about it now, his parents really cared about him and it seemed that they did a lot for him. He was the middle child and the youngest of two sons. This kid was the crowned prince of trouble though. He was constantly rebelling and doing his absolute best to ruin his own future. The thing is, as far as I could tell, he had a great example in his dad. His dad got up everyday and took care of business. I looked up to his dad and respected him.

Years later when I was in Bible School, one of my instructors said that it didn’t matter if you came from a broken home, or if your dad had abandon you, if you fully trust God to make up the difference, you will not be deficient. The second he finished that statement, the young man next to me spun around in his desk, looked right at me and declared, I want to say it again, he declared it to me. “I am not deficient!”. I believe this was a defining moment in this young man’s life. Hearing what the instructor said really ministered to his heart and it was apparent that most of his life, he lived with the believe that because his dad had left him, he was in fact deficient. I immediately identified with him because for years and years I too felt deficient. I felt like I was disadvantaged and because of my station, I was less than everyone else.

There are so many things that are directly affected by an absentee father. There are so many dysfunctions that usually arise in the lives of children who’s fathers have kicked them to the curb. As they grow up, many will use this as their primary excuse to act pitiful and not try to better themselves.

Truth Bomb Dead Ahead!

I DO NOT BELIEVE that failure in life can be completely blamed on a poor or absentee father. There is more at work here than the example your dad gave you, and I am living proof that you don’t have to be deficient. You don’t have to stay down. The quality of a man can not be fully attributed to whether or not he has a good, bad, present or missing father.

The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that the truly healthy family is the exception and not the rule. There’s drama and weirdness in every family. In some cases, people are just downright bizarre. If this were a good excuse to live a pathetic life, most of us could use it. But it’s not. So many people have allowed situation, station and circumstance to define who they are. I have seen young men time and again blaming dad, mom, girlfriend, company, economy, government for their unhappy life. They see themselves being held down and just not being able to land a break.

“Take a good look at where you are. If you don’t like where you are and want things to change, you are going to have to do something different.”

Others have refused to be held back. They did not allow circumstances, station or an absentee father to define them. They reserved the right to choose their path for themselves. You can think like this too. I know because I used to think like a victim. Everything was beyond my control. I just had to play the cards I was dealt. One day I looked back at all of the “breaks” people had given me that I didn’t value. Time and time again, people would do little things to help me out. Things like setting up an interview or hiring me for temporary work. I was ashamed when I realized that I was to blame for not valuing the things people were doing to help me. This is when I changed my mind and took responsibility for myself. I began to realize that God had created me on purpose and for a purpose. He has great things in store for me.

Yes, your dad may have kicked you to the curb. Yes, it may have left a world class hole in your heart. Yes, it may have taken away some of the things that would have otherwise made things easier.

Truth Bomb Dead Ahead!

It doesn’t have to define you. It doesn’t have to limit you.

You decide what kind of man you are going to be. I encourage you today to step out from behind all of the reasons you’ve been hiding behind, that have held you back. Decide today to put away victim thinking and take responsibility for your future.

Take a good look at where you. If you don’t like where you are and want things to change, you are going to have to do something different. There’s a saying attributed to Albert Einstein that says “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Jesus is the perfect man. To find a perfect example of how we should be, we need to just look at His example. In Ephesians 4:13 we see God’s plan for us. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:”

God’s plan for each of us is to first of all, submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus, and then to grow up on Him. We are to grow and mature until we take on the very measure, stature and fullness of Him. Verse 15 says of us, “But speaking the truth in Love, may grow up in Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

Ephesians 2:10 says that each of us has a part, a function, a calling, a divinely ordained purpose and place.

You decide what kind of man you’re going to be.

Be a good one.

Start today!

Here’s How To Get Important Things Done!

Last week I was listening to a leadership podcast & the guy who produces this particular podcast began to share how he had become stuck. He talked about his difficulty producing the podcast because of both personal & professional challenges, as well as other difficulties that had arisen and were stealing his attention. I went back to check and this man had only produced two podcasts the entire summer. He really was struggling.

Clock image

I can relate to his issues. There are many things out there that will steal our time, energy and even our enthusiasm. If we let them, they can distract us from giving our attention and energy to the things that are the most important to us. If not dealt with, they could lead to a life where we can never seem to get traction.  We get derailed by things that don’t really matter and fail to accomplish things that do.  Goals that we hold dear are left undone.

I have noticed that, at least for me, it has been challenging in two main areas. Time & motivation.

When it comes to time, we all have the same amount. I heard Rev. Keith Moore say in a recent message that the Lord had been dealing with him to do a certain thing, and he was resisting. He felt that he didn’t have enough time. The Lord showed him that if he didn’t have enough time to do God’s will for his life, he was wasting time. The Lord knows how much time we have and would not ask us to do something that we simply could not do. If God has the plan, He also has the schedule. We just simply need to be led.

For me it seemed for quite a while that I didn’t have time for the things that were important to me because I was too busy doing all of the regular maintenance things. Things like mowing the grass or changing the oil.  I believe this blog is one of the most important things that I do, but it has been hard to keep up with because of all of the “urgent” demands on my time. I want to stay in shape and it seemed like the optimum time for me to work out was right after work. The gym that I go to is right off of a highway that I am already driving so it is easy to get to. The problem was that commitments, errands & the mundane every day stuff kept demanding my time right after work and it became difficult to be consistent with my workouts.  It also became difficult finding the time to be consistent creating good content for the blog.

Consider this. One of the most important assets you have is your time. It’s what your employer is paying you money for. Why is he or she paying you for your time? Because they have too much to do and don’t have enough time of their own, so they buy yours. It’s interesting to me that even though our time is so precious, we often treat it like it’s trivial and meaningless. Have you ever heard the expression Just wasting time or Killing time? If we would only realized how valuable and limited our time is, I think we would be “like a man on fire” trying to spend it in meaningful ways, and strive not be wasteful of even one precious moment.

We all have the same amount of time. We all have 168 hours per week to work with. So how do we make these hours work for us? What can we do different that would make the difference?

I just finished reading a book called Born To Win by Zig Ziglar & his son Tom Ziglar. This was the last book Zig wrote before he went to Heaven in 2012. Zig related a story about his mentor P.C. Merrill who told the young Zig Ziglar that while he thought Zig had great potential, he was currently a waste. He then said that if Zig would just believe in himself and have what he (Merrill) called an organized work schedule, he could go straight to the top. Zig believed him and this turned out to be a defining moment in Zig’s life. If you have followed or read after Zig Ziglar even a little bit, what becomes apparent was his passion for helping people and that he talked a lot about goals & getting things done. Without doubt we can see what he accomplished in his life and I believe it came from seeing himself as God sees him – a success, and learning the secret of setting goals & working to a schedule.

I have heard it said that if you don’t have a plan for your time, someone else will, and their plan will not be to your benefit. We need to take some time and observe where our time is leaking away and fix the leaks. This may involve saying no to people. For me this required making some decisions. First, I didn’t know that much about time management but I found help. Michael Hyatt offers a free e-book when you subscribe to his email list to receive his blog posts. The book is called “Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek”. You can find more about it at michaelhyatt.com. Also, I had to make some decisions about how I spent my time. I needed to cut back on television. The New York Times reported that the average American watches about 5 hours of TV a day. Wow! I made some solid decisions concerning TV. I no longer have any shows that I HAVE TO watch. I also try to schedule my TV time so that I can spend it with my family. I have also realized that the hour or two right after work need to be “wild card” hours. There are too many variables that can change my schedule in that time. I also started getting up at 4:30 AM to spend quality time with God and to work out. No one else wants my 4:30 AM so it’s all mine. I spend the first 3-1/2 hours each day with prayer, Bible reading, working out & reading. I don’t stay up as late these days but I’ve discovered that staying up late doesn’t translate into hours of productivity. It usually translated into hours wasted on Netflix. For me the hours in the morning are far more productive.

If you don’t have a plan for your time, someone else will, and their plan will not be to your benefit.

Dr. Stephen Covey, author of the book Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People had an illustration that spoke volumes about time management. He told the story of a Business School instructor who presented to his class a one gallon mason jar and three bowls. The first bowl was filled with sand. The second bowl was filled with what looked gravel. The third bowl was filled with seven large rocks. He would have a student fill the container from the three bowls assuring them that all of the contents would fit. The student started by pouring in the sand, followed by the gravel and then finally the 7 large rocks. They quickly discovered that most of the big rocks would not fit. He then demonstrated that by putting in the 7 big rocks first, then pouring in the gravel around them and then the sand which filled up ever available space, the container held everything.

The secret to this illustration was simple. Put in the big rocks first. There are an unending supply of trivial, meaningless details in our lives that steal our time and rob us of our goals. If we allow them, they keep us from doing the things we truly care about. We need to schedule our priorities to do the important things first. You define what the big rocks mean. Do you want to help others? Do you want more time with your kids? Focus more on your faith? It’s important to keep in mind that we need to do the important things first or we will never get them done at all.

What tips do you use to keep yourself on track & moving forward? I would love to hear from you. Please join the conversation by leaving a comment.

Are Your Wounds Not Healing As Fast As You Want Them To?

I like to work with wood. Many of the tools I use in woodworking are used for cutting and so they need to be sharp. That includes hand tools. While I usually clamp my projects in a vise, sometimes, if they are too large or oddly shaped, I have to hold them while working on them. Because I’m right handed, I’m usually holding the board or project with my left hand and because of that, my left hand ends up with all of the scars from the various accidents I’ve had over the years. My left hand has quite a few. Anyway, I have had a few cuts that probably should have had stitches but I didn’t get any. Because I didn’t though, the wound kept re-opening when I would move my hand a certain way. I used butterfly band-aids & all kinds of dressing, but certain movements would still open up the wound. Because of that, it took these cuts far longer to heal and the scar may be more visible because of it.

3 hand planes

When I close my eyes and think back to when I was a little boy, I can see my mom scolding me because I wouldn’t leave my scabbed knee alone. I would scratch and pick at it until sometimes I would cause it to start bleeding all over again. As adults, sometimes we are like that with emotional wounds. We won’t leave them alone to heal. We keep ripping the scab off of the wound. We do it with our words. We keep bringing up a hurt and rehearsing it. With someone who has hurt us in the past, all that has to happen is that their name comes up in conversation, and then so does the past and that time when they did that thing that you just can’t seem to get over. The wound starts to seep again because you couldn’t leave it alone for some reason. What’s the answer?

Scripture gives us a clear road to recovery.

  1. Love. Jesus said to His disciples in John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you.” This is a specific Love to a specific group. As we follow Him, we are to love one another as He has loved us. There is no greater expression of His love toward us than that He has forgiven us. The Bible says in 2 Cor 5:19 that God was not and is not imputing our trespasses against us. God’s not holding your past against you but has in Christ completely forgiven you so that if you have received Christ as your Lord, you can stand before Him as if you have never done anything wrong. That is complete forgiveness.
  2. Forgive. Jesus said in Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it, so that your Father in Heaven may also forgive your deviations” LITV. The word forgive here in scripture literally means to send forth, to forsake, lay aside or yield up. You probably have heard people say “I forgive them but I can never forget” but that can not be true. To truly forgive means that when those thoughts come up, not only do you not talk them out but you intentionally cast them down and purposefully not think on them. You choose to forsake the hurt. You choose to lay aside the injury. You choose to forgive
  3. Turn your mouth around. Instead of rehearsing the past hurts, next time the opportunity arises to talk about the hurt, don’t do it! Make a decision that you will not continue to rehearse the past and scratch the wound back open. Instead, choose words of love, kindness and forgiveness. Intentionally say good things about the person who hurt you. Ask God to guide you. He will give you words to say.
  4. Walk in wisdom. Just like in woodworking, I learned the hard way that I need to pay attention to my actions and the potential for accidents and trouble. I need to look down the road and consider the results of my actions and words. If I don’t want people to be offended, then I need to make sure I’m not offensive. The easiest way to get past a physical or emotional injury is to simply not have one.


“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” 
 Mark Twain

 

When you find yourself in the thick of it though, remember, walk in love, walk in forgiveness, turn your mouth around and finally, walk in wisdom to avoid trouble in the future.

When true forgiveness is present, it shows us that real love is also present because love is shown in forgiveness. It is the hallmark that God is on the scene.

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr.

I want to encourage you this week to examine yourself & look for pockets of unforgiveness in your heart. Don’t be easy on yourself. Are you holding a grudge? Are there things that you haven’t let go of? Make the choice this week to forgive. Don’t let your hurt contaminate any more of your future. Choose freedom.

Marriage. Thriving, not just Surviving.

This last week my lovely wife Ann and I celebrated 25 years of marriage together. It’s hard to believe that it’s been one quarter of a century. Neither of us look like we could be more than just a couple of years out of high school. Well…at least that is true for her. I have a little too much gray in my beard. Anyway, We now have two adult daughters, 25 years full of memories and in some cases, hard learned lessons to show for it.

 Please join the discussion by leaving a comment.  Also, please share if you think this can help anyone else. I appreciate you!

Here’s One Big Reason Why I’ve Made It This Far.

Joe: “Bill, why did they bury your mother in law so deep? 10 feet is a little much don’t you think?”

Bill: “Well, deep down she’s a pretty good lady”.

A lot of people do not like their mother in law. While searching the Internet for information and statistics about this subject, it became pretty clear that many people struggle with the In-Law relationship. The mother in law has become the brunt of a lot of jokes. By far, the majority of the information indicates that the daughter in law / mother in law relationship is the more contentious relationship in comparison to the son in law / mother in law relationship.

My Mother in Law is Awesome and a Half!

My mother in law’s name is Mary. I just want to say right away that I love Mary very much. She’s awesome and a half!

Mary has been a constant source of support and encouragement for as long as I’ve known her. When you meet her, it becomes evident early on that she puts high value on people and relationships. She has a big heart that’s full of compassion for people in need.

I’ve seen her bring people into her home and make them feel like they were part of the family again and again. She’s quick to invite people to dinner who are new in town and don’t know anyone, inviting some to spend the holidays with our family and even buying them gifts so that they will have something to open when we all open gifts.

Mary has a heart for God. Her heart’s desire is to please Him and be used by Him. She is committed to personal study and prayer. She’s always ready with an encouraging word and publishes her own inspirational blog. I encourage you to check it out. Just click this ridiculously huge blue button.

Huge blue button

https://maryruwe.wordpress.com

 

On more than one occasion Mary has put an arm around me and just said “We’re glad you’re a part of our family”. She has helped me build my faith through some of our long phone conversations, and she’s helped me build my library over the years with many faith building books and tapes. She has also been an enthusiastic supporter as I have stepped out to fulfill my calling.

The book of Ruth in the Old Testament is a small book. It’s only four chapters long and it tells us about a woman named Naomi and her daughter in law Ruth. Naomi’s family moved to the land of Moab for better opportunity. While there the two sons married two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. As time went by, Naomi’s husband died and then a while later both sons also died. Naomi determined to go back to her home town and told the daughters in law to return to their father’s house because there was no benefit for them to stay. While Orpah was sad, she kissed her mother in law and then returned to her father’s house. Ruth however, would not leave Naomi’s side. Because of that relationship, they both were ultimately blessed and Ruth turned out to be King David’s great grandmother. None of that would have happened without that powerful relationship between Ruth and her mother in law.

This relationship does not have to be a rocky one. It can instead be a relationship that God can use to make a difference in the lives of all it touches.

Mary, you have been a source of strength, support and encouragement to all of us. I am glad to be a part of your family.

Mary celebrated a birthday last week and I intended to publish this post then. Stuff got in the way. Don’t forget to check out Mary’s inspirational blog for yourself.  Just Click Here – https://maryruwe.wordpress.com/

Undermining Your Own Credibility

We’ve all done it.  Limited ourselves by our words.  Today I share insight in the video below on how word choice can cost you in influence.

 

I would love to hear what you think about this.  Have you ever noticed where someone was destroying their own credibility?  Please join the conversation and leave a comment.  If this is helpful to you and you think it can help someone else, please consider sharing.

Excellence or Mediocrity in 2015. Here’s the Difference.

I play guitar. Eric Clapton also plays guitar. I have eight fingers and two thumbs. Eric Clapton has eight fingers and two thumbs. We both have shoulders where we can sling a guitar, we both are right handed and we both have Fender Stratocasters and we are both uncommonly good looking.  🙂  So why is he renowned for his playing and I am not?

playing guitar_800

There are two significant differences between him and me.

  • One very obvious difference is that he’s considerably older than I am. That leads to a far more important difference that’s not easy to see at a glance.
  • It’s what’s between his ears. The difference between a novice and a professional is mental. Literally! He knows the fret board, notes, chords & keys and so do I. The difference is that he paid the price in countless hours to learn, try, test, perform & practice way more than I did. He knows things that I don’t know.

Eric Clapton

I’ve heard it said that the expertise in nearly any field is 90% mental. There are strong, fast athletes out there that are not famous or well-known. Why, because the difference between mediocre and exceptional is found in the thinking. Lets use football players for an example. Let’s say you have two football players that have identical stats in every category, they are the same age, height, weight and strength. They both run at the same speed, catch the ball with the same regularity and hit with the same force. They appear to be identical in every way. However, one of them has been playing since he was 7 years old while the other one started last year. For the one, his training, drills, practices and the many games he has played since he was a little boy have given him the mental advantage. He can read, understand and anticipated his the opponent’s moves quicker and more accurately than the guy who started last year. That gives him a tremendous advantage over the other.  In war, being able to read and anticipate your enemies movements is an extremely valuable asset.  Which football player has the better chance of reaching excellence? They both do, but one can have it soon while the other has some training and development to do.

It comes down to situational wisdom.  Each of us has expertise in some area where we have tripped over the same stuff so often that when it shows up now, we see it coming a long way off and can take steps to avoid mistakes and problems.  Situational wisdom – that’s what practice and experience bring, and situational wisdom is the difference maker.

Ed Van Halen

Eric Clapton has practices certain things on his guitar so often that his mind is able to conduct his fingers with what to him probably seems like an afterthought. Do you know why Edward Van Halen is where he is today? It’s because when everyone else was out on dates, Edward was sitting on the edge of his bed practicing scales, tapping & flamenco style hammer-ons and pull-offs.  There are great herds of guitarists that have all tried to copy or at least borrow from Edward’s style. That’s influence! All because he paid the price others would not pay.

I heard Seth Godin tell a story once about when he worked for a toy company. One Christmas day he decided to go into work for about 4 hours and just answer the phones. No one told him to or knew he was going to do it but he just decided to go in and try to help the customer with questions. Some time later while in a meeting with other company managers and executives, the question came up about

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

what the customer might think about a product that they sold. Seth spoke up and said “When I was in here answering phones on Christmas day, this is what the parents and kids were saying”.  All voices immediately fell quiet. Seth had just become the expert in the room. What did it cost him? 4 hours on Christmas day. What really happened though, was that he went further than the other people in the room were willing to go to be better at his craft. Because of that, he became the “Go to” guy for customer feedback.

My pastor, Kenneth W. Hagin says it this way, “If you want to get ahead in your job. Learn all that you can possibly learn about your job. Go farther than everyone else is willing to go. Then you will be qualified for future promotion”.

As we launch into 2015, what are some things we can do to help us move forward?  Are there areas in your private or professional life where you can learn more and increase your expertise? Take some time this week and identify three areas where you can “amp it up” and make yourself more valuable to your company, customer, church or volunteer group.  Write them down and use them to set your goals for the coming year.

If you want to get ahead in your job. Learn all that you can possibly learn about your job. Go farther than everyone else is willing to go. Then you will be qualified for future promotion.     Kenneth W. Hagin

What do you want to become better at?  I would love to hear your comments.  Also, please feel free to share this with others that you think might benefit from it.

My prayer is that artmills.org has helped and encouraged you this year.  I want to invite you to drop me an email at contact@artmills.org and let me know how I’m doing.  Also, that would be the perfect time for you to let me know what other things you would like me to touch on and write about.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  Have a Happy New Year!  See you in 2015!

This Is What I would Tell Myself If I Could Go Back In Time!

hand in handWhen I look back at my days as a young man, I realize that I didn’t know jack. The sad part was that I had wonderful people in my life who knew a lot. The problem was that I wasn’t teachable. I was a hard headed young man who was too concerned with showing people what I knew. Because of that, I had little concern with and didn’t see the value in truly being teachable.

Being teachable is really just a matter of being humble. Most people cringe at the sound of that word. Many equate being humble with being poor or being weak. The truth is that walking in true humility takes real strength and maturity. Traits that are rarely found in young men. I like the way Rev. Keith Moore defines it. He says “Humility is reality”. So I say, How many breaths can you really take credit for? How many heartbeats did you give yourself? The truth is that none of us are self made and if it were not for the grace and mercy of God, and the favor we have with others, many of us would not have made it this far. To know that is reality. To live with this understanding is humility. The humble person is pliable and teachable because they recognize and acknowledge the truth about themselves; that they don’t know everything.

 

The opposite is pride. Pride is having an unrealistic view of yourself. Pride is not reality. It’s being deceived that you are more than you really are. We all deal with it. Have you ever had someone do or say something and you just “stiffened”. I’ve heard it called several things, bowing your back, sticking your chest out, hardening your heart. It’s all the same. It’s all a lack of humility. It’s all a manifestation of pride. The Lord in referring to his people in the Old Testament sometimes referred to them as a stiff necked and hard hearted people. This condition blinds us into thinking that those around us don’t know as much as we do, they are not experts like we are and therefore we shouldn’t have to stoop to hear their input.

“If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be. ”
Dale Carnegie

The owner of my company has repeatedly started and grown business after business into success and profitability. He said at a Christmas party a few years ago that his daughter asked him one day what he did. He had to think about it for a while but eventually defined himself as a Serial Entrepreneur. He was not bragging when he said that.  I don’t get many chances to be around him but when I am, I don’t do all the talking. I listen. He knows stuff I don’t know but want to know. When I’m around people like him, it’s not the time to start talking about how much I know and try to impress, it’s time to shut up and learn, glean, get some understanding. When I was young, I did the opposite. I would chatter constantly in an effort to impress. I seriously doubt that anyone was impressed.

If I could go back in time and give myself some advice, I would tell myself this. Walk in humility & become teachable. Become a learner. Everything changed for me when I learned the importance of true humility. It did three notable things:

  1. It opened up the flow of grace in my life. The Bible says in James 4:6 and in 1 Peter 5:5 that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Grace is the gifts, equipping and power of God for you that was bought by the Blood of Jesus. These grace gifts enable us to walk out the will of God for our lives. Humility opens up the flow of grace but when we walk in pride, it actually causes God to resist us. Who needs that?!
  2. I began to get wisdom. I began to listen to those who knew more than me. This goes back to a previous post. I began to see that I didn’t need to take the beating for myself in order to learn the lessons. I could learn from the suffering of others with out having to bleed for myself.
  3. Humility and honor are constant companions. They travel together. When you humble yourself, GOD lifts you up! (Mat 23:12) When you humble yourself, HE exalts you.  He will cause you to have favor with those around you.

So what’s our next move?

This is a fight that we will all need to fight as long as we are on earth. No one “arrives” in the fight against pride. Lets take some time this week to really examine ourselves. Where do we stand with humility and being teachable? Do we think more highly of ourselves than we aught to think? (Rom 12:3). Ask God to show you where you’ve been missing it in this area. When He does, take steps to fix it. Remember, humbling yourself takes maturity and self control. Weak people don’t do it. The best way to deal with areas where you need to grow is to remind yourself of the price that Jesus paid for you and to realize that God wants to help you, but you have to humble yourself in order for His grace to flow.

Dear young man, there’s more to you than your penis!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Here are some phrases I keep hearing from young men in our modern culture. “Gonna hit that!”, “Gonna get wit that!”, or “Gonna nail it!”. While it’s not always men saying this stuff, it’s men that I’m thinking about when I’m writing this post. I’m a man and I believe I am qualified to speak to men in this area. The men who live like this have no honor. Notice how the phrases objectify the subject, usually a woman by reducing them to “That” or “It”. The kind of man that would use those phrases above would be a man who’s predominantly driven by conquest. He’s a predator. His goal is the score. He’s not looking beyond it. What he expects after his little victorious moment is for everything to go back to the way it was before the score. Go hang out with friends and maybe talk about the conquest. Get up. Live life. Nothing changed. Just a hit; just a score; just another notch. No real consequences, at least not for him. No honor. Of course the deception is that you can do the sin and not get the death. Death always rides with sin. As I was thinking on this I wrote down some characteristics of a guy like this. The dishonorable man.

  • His friends are probably not real friends. The friends that push you toward these things does not have your best interest at heart. Some may even try to shame you when your hunt is unsuccessful. These are not real friends. You can’t trust these guys to have your back in a time of trouble.
  • His life will be full of shallow relationships. He will not have many, if any, deep meaningful relationships because his priority will be the physical. He comes around usually for only one reason. He has a wandering eye and is always pursuing the next conquest.
  • He’s a man of no restraint. He may think he’s a tough guy but he’s not. Where it matters, he’s absolutely weak. Every time a temptation or an urge comes up, he caves under it’s weight. He doesn’t exercise any discipline over himself. He’s also prone to losing his temper. When it comes to his feelings and his urges, he just gives in.
  • He leaves blood & guts in his wake. Many, many, many times I’ve seen it where there are young mothers toughing it out on their own because some carnal boy in a man-suit doesn’t have the real honest strength to stand up and be a man. I’m not just talking about standing by your mistake. I’m talking about not making mistakes. Using wisdom. Not taking chances when you are not ready for the result. Let me just say that I believe with all of my heart that God’s grace is there for the single parent. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is the difference maker and where He’s involved, a single parent family can come through lacking nothing. It’s just not the best way. It’s gonna be a rougher road.

By contrast, the man of honor looks a little different.

  • He is humble. According to Proverbs 22:4, Honor comes by humility and the fear of the Lord (KJV). An honorable man has an honest estimation of himself. He doesn’t think more highly of himself than he aught to think.
  • He follows after what is right. Provers 21:21 (KJV) He that follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor. A man of honor will do what’s right even if it costs him. A man of honor understands that there are things more important than money or being liked and accepted and he values justice and mercy.
  • He avoids strife. Proverbs 20:3 (BBE) It is an honor for a man to keep from fighting, but the foolish are ever at war. A man of honor isn’t out there trying to prove how tough he is.
  • He listens to instruction. Prov 13:18 (BBE) Need and shame will be the fate of him who is uncontrolled by training; but he who takes note of teaching will be honored. I can’t stress this enough. The problem with so many is that they can’t receive correction. It’s sad because many times you have to let them learn through “Hard Knocks University”. They have to take the beating for themselves. It’s foolish to think that we don’t need correction. If that were the case, we would be perfect. That is NOT the case though. When we know we’re not perfect, why do we resist instruction and correction?
  • He pursues wisdom. Prov 4:7-8 says to get wisdom with everything you have. Lift wisdom up and she will promote you. Embrace her and she will bring you honor. Wisdom, the skillful application of knowledge, should be a life-long pursuit. Wisdom sees down the road and makes adjustments for what is coming. A man of honor looks down the road to see the eventual end of his actions. This keeps him from getting girls pregnant. This keeps him out of jail. This keeps him from losing his job. A man of honor pursues wisdom. Wisdom for every area of his life. God has made wisdom available for you to know the next step. Wisdom to resist in areas where you keep falling. Wisdom to rebuild broken relationships. The wisdom is there and the man of honor will seek it out.

Are you in an affair with your problem…or are you in a covenant with your solution? Stir up the gift!  -(AJRK) From Coy Wade.

These are things that are close to my heart. I strive to be a man of honor everyday. It really is a better life. If you have been struggling with the stuff I’ve talked about here, there’s still hope. You can get there. The first thing is that you need a “Want to”. Nothing in your life changes until you are properly motivated to want it. Nothing. How do you make the change? Here are a few short steps to get you moving in the right direction.

  1. Ask for forgiveness. (Click here for more information).  Ask God and if there’s another person, ask them too.
  2. Humble yourself to ask for help. The bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6 & 1 Pet 5:5). Grace is the unearned power of God. He wants to give it to you. By humility you recognize that you need His help and then just ask. Jesus said “Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full”.
  3. Trust Him. Believe that He’s on the case. Mark 11: 24.
  4. Let peace rule in your heart and be thankful that He’s helping you. Col 3:15.

If this post has helped you or you believe it could help someone else, please consider sharing. If you are reading this anywhere besides artmills.org, please head over there and leave a comment. I welcome your participation and discussion. While you’re there, check the place out. If you would like to receive the posts directly to your email, you can sign up for it there too. Have a blessed week.

Parenting Guidelines that Made the Difference for Me.

Father Kissing NewbornI have always tried to tow the line when it came to my kids.  If my kids were not allowed somewhere, I didn’t go either.  It was always important to me to not be false or hypocritical to them.  I wasn’t perfect at this but I really tried.  My thinking was that if they couldn’t do it, then I couldn’t either.  As it turned out, this was much easier for me than it was for them.  In a recent conversation that I had with my daughters, they confessed that in school, they often felt like the “weirdoes” because they were not allowed to do and see what many of their friends were allowed to do and see.  While some may see me as too strict, I see me as a parent.  When my children were born, I made a commitment in my heart to be the best dad that I could be.  I decided that it was one of my primary purposes to get them to self sufficient adulthood in the best shape that I could.  For me that meant that I needed to be present in their lives.  I needed to know what they were facing and struggling with.  I needed to hear what they were hearing and see what they were seeing and help them get perspective.

 

Some parents may argue that I should have let them find their own way and let them decipher the world for themselves.  For a parent to just allow their child to “find their own way” indicates that the parent hasn’t found any truth for themselves that they thought was worthy to be passed on or to be taught to their children.  I have found profound truth in my own life and journey that has made me a new man and shaped my life for the best.  I think that is very worthy to pass on to my children.  I’m not interested in leaving them twisting in the wind, grasping for direction with out my help or guidance.

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”  ― W.E.B. Du Bois

When God chose Abraham, He (God) said “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him” Gen 18:19 (KJV).  God chose Abraham specifically because of this.  He knew Abraham would pass it on.  God is looking for parents to pass on the truths that they know to their children. God loves your kids as much as He loves you.  He doesn’t want them hurt & struggling either.  You are in their life to instruct, correct, guide and help them.  Don’t be slack about it.  They need you.

“One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be.”  – Carol B. Hillman

Deuteronomy 6:6 & 7 (BBE) “Keep these words, which I say to you this day, deep in your hearts; Teach them to your children with all care, talking of them when you are at rest in your house or walking by the way, when you go to sleep and when you get up”.
It’s interesting to me that the Hebrew word for Teach used here means to sharpen, or to whet.  That implies repetitiveness.  When you sharpen a blade, you grind it against a whet stone over and over until you get the keenest edge possible on your blade.  When you’re teaching your children, it involves correction and instruction, over and over, hearing and hearing. This is how confidence comes (see Rom 10:17).

What is the promise for children who hear and follow the Godly instruction of their parents?  Ephesians 6:1-3 tells us. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with you , and that you may life long on the earth”.
Who doesn’t want that for their children?

What’s the take-away here?  Parents, don’t be afraid to be parents.  Take time to pray for your kids and/or grandkids. Ask God to give you the wisdom and influence to have the maximum impact on their lives for good.  He loves them and has put you in their lives to help them.  That is His will.  He loves you too and He wants to help you be all you can be to your children.

Bill Cosby QuoteI also can’t overstate the importance of being led by the Lord when it comes to being a good parent.  There have been times where I wanted to be corrective to my daughters but sensed a little “check” down in my heart that now was not the time to be corrective.  There have been times when I sensed that I needed to be tougher then I would normally be.  The Lord knows the situation and will steer us.  Dads in particular run the risk of being too heavy handed and can leave their children feeling like they can’t do anything right.  The Lord will help you to know what to do and how to read your situation.

I am not your friend. I am your parent.  I will stalk you, flip out on you. Lecture, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare and hunt you down when needed. Because I Love You. – Seen on a wall hanging.

What has helped you to be a better parent?  What tips can you share that would help other readers in our community?  Please leave your comments and advice.  If this has helped you and you think it can help others, please help spread the word about artmills.org and also share this post.  Thank you all.  I appreciate you!