Anointed Man

How to get practical, nine-to-five anointing

Read Time: 4 minutes

Anointing is a big word. A black hole even. It’s elusive, powerful, and hard to put your finger on. But it exists. And everyone else seems to know what it looks like.

Most of the time those people are on stages. They sound good. They look sharp. They’re separated from the common man too. Which makes “it” seem even harder to nail down. But the truth is, anointing is useful, practical and needed to do your daily work effectively.

So what is anointing? And what effect, if any, does it have on a Christian man during the day?

Let’s start with the origin.

Anointing was first and foremost, used by shepherds to protect their sheep. Similar to Jesus with you.

Historically, the shepherd would pour olive oil over a sheep’s head and around their ears. This protected the animal from bugs and outside elements that could harm – or even kill it. So it was protection and provision; provided by the sheep’s master. An outcome of association.

Fast forward, and many ancient cultures would use anointing as a way of saying that a leader was set apart for a particular type of work. A king would be anointed with oil on his head. A priest might be as well. It was a sign that God was with a person for doing a holy task.

So anointing is both a sign and a signature. A mark of acceptance as well as a unique event. It is designed to support a leader and the things he needs to do.

Enter Christ.

“The Anointed One.” in literal translation.

He is a person – not a magic potion.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

You are already anointed, as it stands, but it is an outcome, or a foundation rather, of the presence of Jesus in your life.

This presence has a unique effect on your life – if you abide in it.

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.
1 John 2:27

Anointing signifies calling. It’s a pretty simple litmus test. Ask yourself: Would you believe someone is “called” if nothing set them apart? Doubtful.

Which is why you’ve been given a deposit.

First Christ sets you apart. Then capability.

They’re linked; joined at the triune hip.

So your growth then, within the work you do during the day, is a matter of priorities.

Not putting the cart making before the horse maker, so to speak.

This priority is for a good reason.

“…as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real…” scripture says.

His anointing will give you what you need to both remain in him and deliver the work you do during the day.

Take Bezalel, for example. This guy had talent for days.

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you…”
Exodus 31:1-6

Ol’ Bezzy was filled with the spirit. For what? Not songs on Sunday morning. Not Bible Study on Wednesday. Not even a mission trip to Beliz.

He was given intelligence, and knowledge for craftsmanship (widdling included? Some questions only Jesus knows…).

These practical and creative assets were a gift. Given to him for the purpose of giving glory to God through every kind of hands-on work you can imagine. How cool?

So to recap…

You, yes you, are already anointed because you abide in Christ, and because he has his “seal of ownership” on you. That’s good news. From here, you only have to worry about your own conformity getting in the way.

Conformity kills anointing.

Simply because docility exalts another God. When you react to the day, instead of resurrecting it, work ends up worshiping the wrong God. So conform to Christ. He holds the task at hand.

The best way to get out of the habit of doing reactive work is by asking the Lord for wisdom. His anointing will teach you about all things.

Check.

Although to be fair, the context of 1 John 2:27’s verse could be understood as only what it means to live out a transformed life. No problem, that’s also true.

There is an additional promise which you can take ahold of since you are, in fact, “sealed.” as the Bible says.

If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them.
James 1:5

If you need to be equipped to do more, see more, or be more (insert thing) God will generously give you what you need to accomplish the work. He is for you, after all.

So the difference then, between you and the guy on the TV, is likely very simple. He is in the habit of asking.​

What is the best audiobook devotional for Christian men?

Read Time: 4 minutes

What is the best audiobook devotional for Christian men?

Well…not many exist.

Which makes the good Christian audio devotionals for men all the harder to find.

Especially for biblical study.

You see, with an audiobook, you get a voice recording of devotional text that you listen to – rather than read. And since it is a word-for-word version of the written devotional, you engage your mind – and spirit, in a new way. First there’s scripture, then meditation.

You also get the benefit of being able to listen to an audiobook on a MP3 player, smartphone, or in your car (if it streams audio)

…which is what sets this new men’s devotional study apart in a big way.

Personally, I think it’s important that the narrator is a Christian and professes their faith in Christ as well.

Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I think those things make a difference in the genuineness of the content.

Some things you can “sense,” if you know what I mean…

Why have an audiobook devotional study for men?

These days many men live from their cars, work from their phone, and learn from other types of media such as podcasts and sermons. Which is why the audiobook format is so popular. It is a portable way to learn and grow spiritually through hearing the Bible.

No doubt, traditional Christian devotionals are a great way to grow closer to God and learn about specific a Bible topic. But sometimes it’s hard to stop and read a paper book.

And not just because life is busy either.

What is the best audiobook devotional for Christian men?

Bestselling Christian Mens Devotional
Power Love Sound Mind Ranking

So yes, I am partial. Power Love Sound Mind has been fun to create. And it’s been humbling to watch the ebook version achieve a nice ranking as well. It has ministered to many men. Which, to be honest, was a big reason why we created the audiobook. I wanted to make the Mind of Christ as approachable as possible.

A lot of hard work and production detail went into creating this devotional as an audiobook version. Philip Andrew Hodges, the audiobook’s narrator (not to mention Ted Dekker’s and twenty other books), has a fantastic voice, and his conviction comes through crystal clear in the stereo audio.

In fact, one of the unseen details that makes this devotional audio quality SO GOOD is the equipment he used in production. This ain’t your grandma’s bible study mic set up. No tin-can preaching here.

All fifty-two weeks of this men’s devotional were recorded on a Heil PR40 microphone and PreSonus AR8 board.

Sound like techy-talk? In simple terms, it’s best-in-class audio sound.

The Heil PR 40 has a new dynamic microphone technology which is designed for sophisticated recording and commercial broadcasts. It actually produces the widest frequency range available in a dynamic microphone, which you’ll appreciate in the way it captures Phillip’s voice.

“But what about the content?” you may ask.

Great question. I’d be asking the same thing.

The audiobook follows the same content structure and framework that the ebook version does (you can still get it FREE btw). There is a reason it’s been so well received. Power, Love, Sound Mind is a biblical study about the Mind of Christ. And it’s designed, written, and organized for men.

What makes it a “Christian” Men’s Devotional?

Well, I’m kind of partial to the term “soul strategy.” I think it gets to the heart of the matter. Plus, the book is written (and narrated) in “Manguage.” Brass-tacks, black-coffee-and-no-cream, practical language.

So, here is how it works:

Power. Love. Soundness of mind. These three pillars build up the “Mind of Christ” within you.

When one of them is weak, your spirit man suffers. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

This devotional will help you grow in spiritual strength by doing one (and only one) power-packed excerpt per week. Each one focus on one of these pillars. With the new, one-of-a-kind framework, you’ll make progress by covering your bases once a month.

A month? Yes, a month. In a month, you will cover all three pillars. You’ll do this 52 times. At the end of a year, you’ll be a stronger Christian man. But best of all, you’ll recognize the Mind of Christ within you.

What version of the Bible does this study use?

Four. The NIV is referenced in the majority, but so is the ESV, and the KJV. The Message is used once. I know…”it’s a paraphrase.”

I don’t disagree, but it broke down a hard topic towards the middle of the book.

I’m sure you can appreciate that. At the end of the day, I like to get out of the way, and let the scripture do the heavy lifting.

How long does it take to listen to each devotional audiobook track?

Not long. It’s made for guys on the go. No Kumbaya’s are included. Most weeks take about two minutes a listen. The Weekly Application is the hard part. After all, what good is hearing the word and doing nothing about it?

Here is a sample of Week 13. There are fifty-two more just like it (minus the music).

Ready to get your copy of the audiobook?

Hop over to Audible and get it today!

A Leadership Principle From King Jehoshaphat

Read Time: 4 minutes

Kings and careers and leaders and jobs are all appointed. Every role at work is a gift from God as well. Which means, when a situation at work arises that feels foreign, stressful, or threatening, we do not have to worry. There is a good outcome waiting for us. There is an invitation to experience the Almighty too. This was certainly true in the life of King Jehoshaphat.

Jehoshaphat (Yehoshafat in Hebrew. Pronounced yo-so-fat….awkward), was one of Israel’s greatest leaders, reigning from 873 – 848 BC. He was king under a divided monarchy and constantly had to balance his leadership role with the pressures of outside influence. His work began at the ripe old age of 35.

His legacy of leadership, is perhaps most notable, when he, and the rest of Judah, are about to be put under siege. Long story short, an entire alliance of foreign nations had plotted against him. The plan was to conquer Judah in all-out war. If we haven’t all been there before…

There are a few things a smart-and-savvy king might do with this information.

He might increase military spending.

He might try and out-strategize the opponent.

He might draft a larger army, to have more people on his side.

Jehoshaphat did none of these things.

Instead, he worships.

Directly in conflict, in the valley of the battle – where anyone else would be mentally preparing to fight. He worships. The cojones on this guy…

…you know the rest of the story.

These rogue nations, on the way to take him out, disagree and destroy each other instead. They didn’t even “run it by the board members.” They march to their own demise instead, killing each other along the way.

In the aftermath, Jehoshaphat is left with only one job.

He has to pick up the plunder.

A far cry from what the nation had expected earlier that day.

After this “battle,” the valley is also given a new name. The Valley of Beracah. Which translates to: the valley of blessing.

Incredible.

The battlefield had become a blessing. The hindrance was now holy.

In Christ, there is a blessing in the valley. A means in a meaningless situation.

In Christ, there is a blessing in the valley. A means in a meaningless situation. In this account, the benefit nearly overwhelmed the soldiers. After the battle, It took three days for Judah’s army to pick up the “equipment, clothing, and items of value” that were left over. Which is important. The ground of war was covered in the gratitude of worship.

Now, remember, this whole thing started with leadership. Humility in the heat of battle. Jehoshaphat’s original prayer was “…we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” How familiar that prayer sounds. Many of us do not know what to do either when we’re backed into a corner.

There is good news though.

God does not need your equipment, clothes, or valuable talent – the things that you might think would accomplish a good outcome. When He steps into a situation, be it an office argument, a delayed project, or some stressful work environment, He will provide the practical means to move forward. He’ll fill your valley. You may not even want to leave.

So then, there is a principle for all of us. Leaders know their marching orders. They understand that their position, whether high or low, is a matter of inheritance. There are no kings which the Lord does not appoint, after all.

This is true for your job and the role within it as well. Whether you think that you are well equipped, or have no idea what to do, the posture, for you, remains the same.

Worship is the tip of the spear. It’s what you lead with. It’s how you face the work and obstacles ahead of you. Jehoshaphat knew this too. Consider his sergeant-level-strategy, right before battle:

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 20:21

Why did he praise the Lord for love? Why not strength, authority, or power?

One reason.

The Lord’s love is practical.

It has a goal in mind.

Love is the best weapon of war there is. Every battle can be won by it. Every situation will conform to it. It’s your best bet when you do not know what to do. But you’ll have a hard time recognizing it if you aren’t already worshiping him.

Consider this truth in the context of Psalms:

“He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:50‬ 

“He gives his king.” Note the “his king” part. Why is this important? Roles, especially leadership roles, belong to God. Your role, in Christ, is anointed. It belongs to him. Which means, the Lord will look after you. He will give you great victories during the day. You’ll be left with nothing to do – except pick up the plunder of his provision. A very good place to be.

By the by, that phrase translates the same whether you read this translation, this translation, or…even…this translation.

So next time, when you do not know what to do, or you feel the world (or even just the nine-to-five) is against you, use worship as your primary tool to overcome conflict. It sets your sights on the right authority and reminds you that your position is inherited. You might be surprised by how situations change as they react to the Lord’s love.

The Theology of Thought Leadership

Read Time: 2 minutes

There are many types of thought leaders in the world.

…Oprah

…Deepak Chopra

…the guy at the gym who just discovered plant-based protein.

Just to name a few.

And no matter your knowledge niche, there is always someone ready to give you their two cents, regardless of whether it pays to heed it.

Which leaves us with a question: In all of the noise, how do you sift out the good advice from the bad?

For leaders, this is an especially important question. Namely because whatever we consume, we clone in others.

Hebrews, the Bible’s big book on faith, gets us started. The crux of the principle we’ll look at is in verse twenty-four:

and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:24

It’s a bit of an odd verse. But here’s the meat (without the Matt Redman):

Two men died.

And both in a similiar way.

Violently. Unjustly.

The difference, however, between these two men, was in their nature.

Abel’s death, as tragic as it was, could only speak to humanity’s fallen nature. There was nothing redeemable about him dying. It was evidence of eternity without God. But that’s about it.

Christ’s death, on the other hand, proclaimed the power of God. His blood (Jesus’), had better things to say about life (spoiler alert).

His blood backed him up. It gave His words weight.

Once, before his crucifixion, Jesus had this to say about it:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Up until His resurrection, people had to take this kind of statement on faith. It was an extension of experiencing Him in the streets and synagogues. After the grave, however, His blood spoke a better word.

In other words, His resurrection had rhetoric. Because He spoke to what He knew.

This is important. People speak to what they know.

A person may be a bright speaker, and educated on many things, but if they don’t have or know the nature of Christ, they can only speak from a human hope. Nothing else.

You cannot speak to that which you do not know. You cannot guide where you have not gone.

In life, there will be many thought leaders, videos, and podcasts…a plethora of all kinds of content available for you to consume. Many of which are worldy, wise and well-meaning. But if their nature is that of a dead man, be prudent. They may be an expert on every kind of “dead work” under the sun…their advice will not benefit a man in the land of the living.

There is a better word. But you can work on yours here.

Did you enjoy this post? Learn more about what it means to live with Power, Love and Soundness of Mind by getting this once-per-week devotional study:

Four Steps - Christian Integrity for Men

Nonnegotiable ~ The 4 Daily Principles Every Man Needs To Be Successful

Read Time: 4 minutes

Integrity is a target. Our principles, the arrows.

Integrity tends to be one of those things we think about after we’ve done something wrong. The absence of air. We know we need it. And we know great leaders have it. But for most of us, integrity is in the ether.

In Church, we’ve limited it to lying, timeliness and being responsible.

As an example, If a guy returns a library book before it’s past due while going the speed limit on the highway and also listens to Bethel Worship (radio version), we’d say he has integrity. If he goes 75 in a 65, well…we have issues.

Which isn’t wrong, per say, but there is a better question to ask. Our beliefs shape our behaviors, after all.

In order to shape our behavior, we can ask ourselves:

What principles govern my behavior?

It’s an important question because it’s different for every guy.

When you know which behaviors behoove your success, you’re more likely to stick to them where you’re at a crossroads. It also means your name will carry value. Because it’s backed by something concrete.

Proverbs says it like this:

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18

When you have a set of standards, you are, in reality, creating a vision for your future. You are also, by definition, saying no to any alternate realities that present themselves for your approval.

So, are you living in reality? If so, which one?

Every man needs non-negotiables; A set of standards that he will not move on.

I call these standards “Tenants”. They change with my season in life and they keep me centered throughout the day.

Here are the ones I have now:

Here’s how it works. There are four parts:

1. My Daily Question
2. My Tenants
3. My Truth
4. My Verses

Decisions of character, should always be made in advance.

Together, they keep my decisions centered throughout the day. And in effect, my name has value because of the things I value.

First, I have a daily question. Right now, I want to know whether I’m practicing righteousness.

Righteousness is a weird word.

You either think of the 80s or the Old Testament. So I did a study and saw that it’s both a position of my relationship in Christ, and an aspect of Christlikeness that I should practice. So, I’m working on it. The question was different a few months back, when I was aiming for maturity in a different topic.

If I have an opportunity to go against the standard I’ve set for myself, the question comes up quickly in my mind and reinforces my behavior. I ask myself the question nearly every day.

Next are My Tenants. Right now I have three. I could have more – if I have a specific goal, for instance. But I like to keep it lean.

I’ll speak to the last one, “I want to be a faithful husband.”

My wife and I recently bought a new car. I’d been in need of a new one for awhile and it was a long-anticipated purchase. So I was starry-eyed about the different options I had available to me.

At the dealership, we picked a car and sat down for financing.

When they presented the monthly payment, it was fair, but $75 dollars higher than we’d decided on earlier. In reality, we could’ve afforded a car payment that was twice as expensive. But as a team, we decide where our money is best spent. So I said “No” to their terms and explained to the dealer what our priorities were.

He pushed. I stayed non-negotiable.

He asked if I could meet in the middle. I said no.

And they met my terms. Which was great. What made me the happiest though, was that I stuck to my tenant “I want to be a faithful husband.”

In a different reality, I could’ve left her out of the decision – or justified the purchase because “I earned it” or any other selfish ideal. But she and I are one now. We make decisions together and I’m better for it. Having that tenant in my head meant that I felt no pressure from the sales guy in that moment.

My word to myself, is my bond.

Last, I have “My Truth.” And no, I don’t mean some absence of the absolute.
My Truth is a point of personal integrity. A fact that is true of me.

In this case, it’s:

“I am a man, who if on a stage, has no hidden sin habit.”

This is something I’m personally sensitive to. I enjoy public speaking and I want to do more of it. I’ve also known a few men that have fallen hard because they had a public platform and private pain-point. Eventually, the two collided. To support me, I have a friend that calls me regularly to ask how things are. I think of it as an oil change. Regularly maintenance (accountability) keep the engine running well and issue free.

I also have a verse or two that support my tenants. They glue my goals and God together. You don’t necessarily need one of these, but I think scripture is wonderfully practical.

Tenants are a powerful way of deciding what kind of man you want to be. They help you lead yourself. They also make decisions easy when you’re presented with a reality that is an alternative to what you’ve already said is most important to you. Consider making a list today of your own tenants. You’ll be happy you did.

do who christians commit suicide go to hell?

Do Christians who commit suicide go to hell?

Read Time: 7 minutes

I hadn’t planned on writing about suicide this week. There are a number of things on my heart and mind that I would like to take priority. But because of the heightened reality of it in the news, and some not too distance Christian examples, I wanted to spend some time on the topic. If only because it’s good for us to understand what the Bible says about the subject. “Study to show yourself approved” as we’re told.

The Bible sets a bar:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

That bar, for everyone, is high.

This is true in the past. This is true in the future. Even a virtuous man, by virtue of not being God, would fall short of God’s glory. He’s not God. How could he share in something that doesn’t belong to him?

Which is where the concept of sin comes from.

Sin, in shorthand, is anything that cools the kiss of freedom in our lives. The size of the sin is not significant. Each one separates us from our Maker in similar ways.

So a gift was given to mend separated souls. And it’s free. It always has been. It always will be.

Most of the time, we call it Salvation. It’s the name given to God’s good gift, through his son, Jesus.

We could talk a lot about how wonderful it is. But the heart of it is “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.”

Full Verse Here

Some things simply can’t be earned by a Human. We call one of those things “Grace.” It’s one of the favorable conditions of Christ’s contract with us. “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” as the Good Book says.

But let’s be clear…

If I never got frustrated in traffic again. If I never lied again. If I never did another bad thing. Again. It would remove no less doubt in God’s mind about the lack of His glory I possess.

At best, I’m drowning in my own dogma.

But to God’s credit, we’ve been given a life raft called “Love.”

“God is Love” as scripture says. Subject and verb.

Dog paddling in an ocean is only impressive if it gets me to shore. In the same way, I don’t argue my goodness with God based on my ability to swim around sin. I enjoy the raft for what it is. Love.

In the same way, we don’t measure sin.

We’re awash in it without Him.

We could. We could say that one bad thing is worse than another. But what good would that do? If we do believe the Genesis story, then we know that eating the wrong fruit was enough to condemn a man and wife to hell. So if we do want to compare apples to oranges, it’s best not measure the fruit of our own lives.

The bar, my friend, is high. Most High.

So on to the subject of Suicide.

There is one sin that the Bible says is different. Just one.

Not murder. Not sex. Not stealing.

Jesus tells us about it in the books of Mathew, Mark and Luke.

We’ll stick with Matthew for now.

For sure, I tell you, all sins will be forgiven people, and bad things they speak against God. But if anyone speaks bad things against the Holy Spirit, he will never be forgiven. He is guilty of a sin that lasts forever.” Jesus told them this because they said, “He has a demon.”

Mathew 3:28-30

If I’m in the raft, there is only one thing that pokes a hole in it.

But let’s say, as some do, that suicide is murder. And that you can’t say “I’m sorry.” in the act of doing it (since no one ever has mixed emotions about things).

Which by the way, is saying that correlation is causation. Which we would never say. But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the cause is correlated correctly.

It’s a jump. But who doesn’t like a trampoline?

Moving on.

What then, is the biblical definition of murder?

Jesus had some thoughts:

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:15

I’m no gymnast, but that bar seems really high.

Does that mean that gossip is attempted murder?

By His measurement, I’d say so. But I’m not a Levitical-law-lawyer. That’s a different bar exam.

Someone who was, however, is King David. David “a man after God’s own heart,” who gave Christ the honorary name Son of David, killed a man in order to sleep with his wife. And he lied about it. But we’ll just ignore this elephant in the room.

No wait. Let’s go a step further.

Let’s say that two people, in full knowledge and belief of the gospel, died. One committed murdercide. The other gossiped, and was hit by a bus. Neither one had a chance to apologize for their actions. Is Saint Peter turning both of them away at heaven’s gates? (Since when is Peter a lobby boy anyway?)

Since we aren’t measuring the amount of wild oats someone sowed, I’ll let you answer the question for yourself.

New question.

Which verses say that I have to name every sin before I die in order to be saved? Which amendment to the Christ-constitution do I need to be aware of? Also, what does it imply for people who died in a coma, or who were medically sedated when they passed? Is Alzheimer’s capable of undoing the Almighty’s work? Does being scared while I drown mean I’m without faith?

Should we write new sin rules for every edge case? There are…lots of them.

Where then, do we draw the line? Jesus, if you’re interested, did draw a few in this account.

But I digress…

We are told God never “leaves us or forsakes us” here. And here. I don’t think we need a verse to know that, but it’s nice of scripture to say so nonetheless. Is there another lost gospel where I can find an exception? Perhaps the Q Document or some lost Dead Sea Scroll?

We could just take this from an entirely different angle too and look at the verses that cover the sin of suicide. But…there are….zero.

Zero verses on the topic.

Zero ancient laws for it.

Zero Sermon-on-the-Mounts about the magnitude of the subject.
Which is probably by design.

In fairness, the Bible does tell us a few stories where suicide is mentioned.

One with a King named Saul. One with Judas Iscariot. The Bible never positions their behavior though.

Saul killed himself because he was about to be killed. Judas, after he realized what he had done to Jesus, gave back his blood money and killed himself in sorrow. Which no one would ever say is appropriate except for the fact that some do because of what he did.

So. That’s awkward.

Last, but certainly not least, we have Samson. Samson killed himself.

He intentionally made a building fall as a last-ditch effort to settle the score with some Pagans. He killed himself on purpose – with the purpose of killing other people. We could argue that he was forcibly blind and imprisoned so it was justified- but we won’t. We could also say he was a kamikaze. But we won’t say that either.

Hebrews 11, The famous Hall of Faith chapter of the Bible, mentions Samson as one of the great people who model faith in action. Because he was. Also awkward. When Romans says that “neither life nor death” can separate us from the love of God I guess it applies to him too.

So where does this idea that suicide is the Chutes-and-Ladders of Hell (horrible game idea) come from?

Since it’s not in the Bible, we have to look somewhere else.

Specifically, Augustinian and medieval theology. Which is a mix of superstition, Greek and Roman ideas neatly packaged into something we call cultural bias.

But there is one thing we know about it. Suicide is a tragedy. A tragedy that happens to 34,000 people a year. *Nearly* once every 15 minutes.

Like you, I would forgive my friends of any tragedy – whether they caused it or not. I’m sure I speak for most when I say that you would likely do the same. So then, are we more forgiving than God? Or is God a calculator – continually moving numbers to settle our balance sheet? If God is a calculator, then so is Salvation. And everything is a game to get on God’s good side.

Which as we know, is the opposite of what scripture says:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

So how should Christian’s approach suicide, and it’s predecessor, depression?

Julie Cerel, a board chair of the American Association of Suicidology and a psychologist told USA today:

“Having depression and being in a suicidal state twists reality. It doesn’t matter if someone has a wife or is well loved, they get so consumed by the depression and by the feelings of not being worthy that they forget all the wonderful things in their lives.”

The Bible has two thoughts regarding how we should act. One in the New Testament. One in the Old.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15

You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

​Leviticus, if you’re curious, is not being literal. Israel didn’t have a problem with people cursing other people who had Otosclerosis. They also didn’t put Stumble BlocksTM in front of the blind. The Bible does, however, ask us to have a practical empathy for each other; to make an effort to understand the pain and depression others feel.

For the person who struggles with severe depression, they are in many ways blinded by the way they feel. They are also, in many ways, lied to by the enemy. It is not something they move away from on their own.

The position of the Christian, is always to try and be the hands and feet of Jesus. This doesn’t change, if heaven forbid, someone passes from this life by their own hand. At the very least, we don’t speak ill of them. At best, we pray for and support their families in the wake of their absence. Mourning with those who mourn.

The Almighty knows those who know Him. If ever there was a time when someone needed a loving God, you can imagine it would be in their darkest moment. Much like many of us.

If you or someone you know struggles with thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

what is christian masculinity?

Christian Masculinity and David’s Mighty Men

Read Time: 4 minutes

Masculinity is the possession of qualities traditionally associated with men. Which begs the question, what qualities should a Christian man consider?

I remember the first time I read about David’s mighty men. One killed a lion with his bare hands; in a pit, in the snow. Another killed a giant. Another killed 800 men with one spear. Another fought so hard, his sword became glued to his hand.

Regular guys. Typical nine-to-five stuff.

Out of the 30-plus mighty men that King David did employ, the Bible never mentioned an accountant or architect. Not even a middle-manager. Although Abishai, his commander, may have come close.
Some answers…..only Jesus knows.

As fun as these stories are, scripture makes the actions of these men seem kind of commonplace. Sure, it mentions the men are “mighty” but when everyone is slaying giants and lions and bears, Oh my! (JK… no bears), it can set the bar pretty high for anyone who is trying to understand what biblical, and dare I say “Christian” masculinity should look like.

It also doesn’t help that every other definition tends to come from advertising. So, we have our options to look up to: Advertising, advent calendars or “Other.” Check.

For my part, I’d like to propose one trait that makes a man genuinely masculine. It starts in Solomon’s book of Proverbs. Chapter 22.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
Proverbs 22:1

A good name.

If you could afford it, it couldn’t be bought.

Your reputation cannot be purchased. It is earned with every “next” action. This is good news. You don’t have to have an excellent name to start working towards one. Each step you take towards integrity is a step in the right direction.

Jesus expands on this idea, by telling us where to start:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew 5:33-37

 

James, Jesus’ earthly brother, seconded his sovereign bro:

 

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

James 5:12

 

“Anything more than this comes from evil.” Wow.

That’s heavy stuff.

Let’s start with the “Yes.”

More specifically, what you say “Yes” to. Your reputation and the integrity it’s known for is a string of yes’s on which you’ve followed through. The opposite is also true. Every time you refrain your “yes,” you make a statement about what you’ve said yes to as well. Confused yet?

The best way to keep your word is to know what it stands for. Ahead of time.

So, here’s a question:

Do you know where you stand on hard issues? Do you know what you’d do if you were alone in the room?

Do you even know if you’ll go to that party next Thursday?

Yes or no.

Life is full of follow-through.

The decisions we make, make us; so we owe it to ourselves to be self-aware of our choices. Fun fact: putting off a decision is still a decision by omission.

So here’s a good principal you can follow. You can call it a barometer of masculinity (or don’t).

Your knee-jerk responses should be pre-meditated. Made on your knees.

Put another way:

If prayer makes the person, meditation makes the man.
(No, not yoga. ……but no judgment. Nameste, bro.)

Prayer and meditation on the Word are how we understand our position to Christ, and in direct correlation, our position(s) towards other people. It’s how our go-to-responses are made. So we study to “show ourselves approved” as Timothy says. If you know someone that has a reputation for good decisions you can guarantee they’ve spent time pre-mediating those choices. More than likely, they’ve studied scripture too.

Other than knowing where you stand on issues, there are other benefits as well.

When a name has a reputation, it also has influence. In my opinion, it’s the only way to gain influence in the long run. But many men would try other ways…the world is full of guys that lift weights till the cows come home, who try and manipulate women or earn more at any cost. Men who lie to get what they want. Men that…you get the picture.

Guys who are true to themselves, but not true to their word.

So let’s be clear, getting what you want in life does not earn you a Man Card. And if you’re religious, there is no credit score for Christendom either. “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” a wise Rabbi once said.

You could have everything, and have nothing to lean on. Which, by the way, is what happens when we don’t have a reputation for keeping our word.

You could be the poorest man on the planet, but if people count on you, you'd have more influence than most. Click to Tweet

So let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No,” be “No.”
And know what your “No” stands for.

It’s how mighty men are made.

How to find purpose and fulfillment through work and job

How to find purpose and fulfillment in your job

Read Time: 4 minutes

Jobs can be draining. I’m sure that’s no surprise to you.

They take up a third of our day (if not more) and require our constant effort to keep. No doubt, if you’re reading this, you are grateful for your work, but perhaps you never saw yourself working the grind you have. Or at least, not for so long. If this sounds like you, you’d be in the majority. Nearly 53% of gainfully employed guys (and girls) wish they had a different hustle.

The struggle, my brother, is real.

To this point, many men wonder if jumping ship on a job and moving to the wilderness would require more faith.

Not you of course…but other guys.

And it’s a fair question. Wouldn’t a more unique life provide a greater sense of adventure than a cubicle or hardhat would? Perhaps becoming a missionary in Mozambique or some other far away place would do the trick.

But adventure is not a calling. And neither is “the struggle.”

Said another way: flight and faith never produce the same outcomes. Even though at times, they may appear to contain the same amount of risk.

This begs the question:

“What is our purpose in life?”

It’s a simple question. But it can be especially uncomfortable if you don’t enjoy where you work. Can someone really know their purpose (or experience it) within the working day?

Yes, they can. But it will require an attitude adjustment. Career-chiropractry is in order.

Our purpose, or the reason for which we exist, is separate from what we do. Mutually exclusive, even.

Often times, we try to find identity in what we do, but that makes the “purpose question” all the harder to answer. Especially if the glove doesn’t fit in our current career path…no offense if you wear gloves for a living.

Our reason for being is singular. It is to know the Lord.

In His goodness. In His grandeur. In His love.

Now, one of the many ways we get to know him is through our career. What we do during the day. In this sense, our work and our job is the manual labor of communion. It is our “Yes!” to His invitation of doing “all things unto the Lord.”

Finding fulfillment, on the other hand, is not the same as having a purpose.

Fulfillment, both the feeling and acquiring of it, move from season to season. So does our relationship with the Lord. Ideally, it will grow richer and more nuanced throughout the years.

When we look back through our lives, we want to be able to say “That was the Lord.” Or “Lord! look what we did together.”

These are the markers of fulfillment. The notches in our purpose post.

If you ask a man who has walked with Christ a long time, what the most fulfilling parts of his life have been, he will recall times when “He felt close to the Lord” or had personal stories of the provision or miracles God had provided to him. He both walked and worked with his Creator.

Similarly, there is a correlation between, Christ, career, and calling.

When we “get saved,” our affections change. Which is to say, we have a new north star to follow. If we feel fulfilled and are satisfied with where we are, it is because we have markers of relationship in our past. Memories with our Maker.

Many men feel unfulfilled, though they would never say it, because they are waiting for five o’ clock. Their time with the Lord is outside of working hours. Segregated to Sunday. They’ve made have no memories with Him within the working day.

Since this practical communion is absent from the day, so is the feeling of fulfillment.

So, I’ll just say it:

We’ve all been told a lie.

The lie says we must enjoy every aspect of what we do in order to feel connected to it. Like a holy grail grind…Grail of the Grind. Er, perfect job. You get the point. Of course, it is not true.

Fulfillment is a bi-product of relationship. Specifically, with Jesus.

Work is a social experience. It’s meant to be done with the one who invented it, to begin with.

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Paul said.

Paul learned the benefit of working with the Lord. In his case, he’d learned it while in custody. He took initiative under imprisonment.

But we see evidence of this attitude throughout his whole life. Whether he was making tents, lecturing, in prison, or preaching the gospel, his fulfillment was connected to his faith. He knew that if he showed up, he could expect to see the Lord there as well.

We can always expect to see God “punch in” before we start the day. It’s one of his many promises.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” Jesus said. This abundance that He brings is a reality that is larger than the job we hold or the amount of money we get paid. It’s true, you should work together with him on the dreams he’s given you. That is part of it.

But fulfillment is by no means linked to what it is you do. Life is the container of our affections, desires, and promises. So long as we desire to keep Him involved, then we will see our dreams, and the promises He’s made become a reality in our lives.

“Seek first the Kingdom” someone once said.

King Solomon on mens leadership

What was Solomon’s smartest decision?

Read Time: 3 minutes

Solomon was a smart guy. He built Jerusalem’s first temple. He wrote three books of the Bible (this one, this one, and this one). He was also the wisest and wealthiest (up to $2.1 trillion) King in the Old Testament. Solomon, by all accounts, was a capable decision maker. He was a guy who knew how to get things done.

But he didn’t start out that way. He was a man that grew like the rest of us. He had to lean on the Lord and others throughout his life in order to be effective.

Which is why I like him.

I’m a big believer in stewarding the small stuff. Sweeping the edges of the floor as much as the center. If I can’t be accountable to myself for small things, then the big dreams are just that. Dreams.

Solomon started with a similar posture. At the beginning of his king-career, he asked the Lord for wisdom instead of wealth. He stewarded a “step-one” decision.

“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” said Solomon.

His request set him up for a lot of success in life – and some very surprising decisions too.

One we’ll look at now.

As wise as Solomon was, there is one particular trait of his that outshone the rest. If you were to ask me, it held all the rest of His wisdom together. A “one ring to rule them all” situation.

It starts in the Sheba story – when a foreign Queen decides to see for herself just how smart of a guy Solomon actually is. A fair question between royalty, I’m sure you’d agree.

Let’s start here:

“And when queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.”

1 Kings 10:4-5

We could spend hours talking about someone’s breath being taken away based on food and clothing. I was at Walmart the other day and I had a similar reaction. The jury is out on whether it was the Holy Spirit.

But let’s focus on the list. The Queen of Sheba, “Shelby” for short, was most affected by the way he managed his house. Out of all the ways he did this, the most surprising one was that he had officials.

Question. Why does the smartest, wealthiest, wisest man in the world need advice?

He was literally the “smartest guy in the room.”

It’s fascinating. But there is a very good and profound reason.

Regardless of our role, we are all in need of good counsel. It’s true whether we are owners of a business, entry-level employees or executives in ivory towers. Placing ourselves under authority, under someone’s else’s oversight, is the quickest way to promotion, protection, and long-term success.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Proverbs tell us. These could very well be the words of Solomon – echoing his life to us in the pages of his personal experience.

Solomon’s posture towards people and the authority they could lend him was what made him wise. He knew what he didn’t know. Not only that, he also had the humility to let others inform his ignorance.

His posture towards authority is what made him the wisest man on earth.

There is a myth that promotion equals less oversight – that the higher we go up a ladder, the more decisions we can make in isolation.

This is how great men fall.

If you’re a manager, if you own your means of income, or if you oversee a venture of any size, you must seek out authority. Even if you simply lead yourself – a profound urgency should rest in you until you’ve found the right counsel to place yourself under.

If you haven’t yet, start building a master list now – an inner circle of confidants that can support you spiritually and practically.

Find other men that can Father you and inform your decisions making process. Ideally, find one man for each type of authority you have over others. If you shepherd people, find someone to shepherd you. If you lead in business, place yourself under the counsel of someone that knows the market better than you do. It doesn’t matter what you do…

Do not rest until you find good counsel.

It’s the reason some men’s blessings become Basheba’s. Case and point.

We all need someone who can tell us “no.” A person who can call our bluff and inform our ignorance. This side of heaven, no one outgrows the need for it. It’s truer the more successful we become.

The ability to accomplish a job is not the same as walking in humility. But the inverse is true. Walking in humility is what makes us capable of capacity.

The more we understand, and the better we are at what we do, the lower we must become.

Make a list of men you can trust today.

Yanny vs Laurel - Leadership Principle

Yanny or Laurel – A *secret* leadership principle

Read Time: 3 minutes

Like many of you, I’d rest my laurels on “yanny” not being the word said in the latest video craze. But some people would disagree. They’d disagree with me three times, in fact. Which is odd because we both heard the same message – and came to widely different conclusions.

Case and point:

Teams do this every day. They have the same leader but hear different stories. So, everyone draws their own conclusions about how to act. Inevitably, this means that a team will review their goals regularly to see just how wrong everyone’s assumptions were. Not your team of course…but other teams, for sure.

The accountable leader, on the other hand, is told to improve their communication skills. A slap on the wrist.

…a repercussion for a rebuttal. Ha.

Who hasn’t seen a job description with “excellent communication skills required” written somewhere in the list of desired traits for a new hire? Do these people exist or is it just a copy-paste reaction that is supposed to accommodate a certain role? Who knows. Needless to say, we have an enunciation epidemic.

There is something we can do it about it though. We can shift the skill we lead with.

Communication is a secondary leadership trait. Not a primary one.

Let me explain. I like you, have been around accomplished “leaders” who were fantastic communicators. They were more polished than President Macron in a congressional curfuffle. But their actions sucked(pardon my French).

There was no spit to their shine.

Good communication with a bad outcome will leave a team confused and untrusting. Said enough way: Passion, that’s not linked with productivity, will have diminished returns for each and every misspoken word. You can count on it.

So what is someone in leadership to do?

The pressure to communicate meaningfully can be enormous. And without a doubt, it is important. The good news is there is a leadership trait that is better than communication…and (believe it or not) it’s better at communicating too.

It’s initiative.

Initiative trumps communication. #leadership Click to Tweet

It trumps good communication. Bad communication. Somewhere-in-betweenication.

Which is good to hear.

If you don’t feel your grammar or gabble skills are up to par, you’re in luck. People watch what you do more than what you say. Teams that are unsure of what to do will look to you to take the first step in what to do. So take the first step. It says more.

Think of it this way:

Communication is a tactic.

Initiative is an outcome.

Initiative is a line drawn in the sand. You can’t talk your way out of it.

It says more than a speech ever could about the problems, challenges (and adventures) you think a team should care for.

Taking initiative, for that matter, is much harder. You can’t hide behind a decision like you can with good diction. Which is why we have weak leaders.

I love what James, the brother of Jesus, has to say:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 1:22

and this:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

James 3:1

If we really want to lead well, and we really want to be accountable for good outcomes, we have to take the first step.

We are the first out of the boat. Not the first to talk about it (High five to my buddy Peter).

Take some time today to reflect on the grey areas of communication in your family, church team or work environment. What actions can you take to clear up the confusion? The benefit for you is better outcomes. The advantage to those you serve is a better understanding of what actually matters.

On other note, which word did you hear? There are, by this time, millions of different answers.

Tell me yours (and the reason why) below.

I don't like "pop ups" without a purpose.

But this has a great one!

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