As the saying goes, “The only thing constant is change.” That has been especially true for my family over the past year. See, we don’t just do things halfway or in moderation. Of course I’m kidding…kind of. So where am I going with this you ask? While in prayer this morning, God laid it on me, in a good way. I have been feeling so tired lately, a little distant and just worn out by many large “life changes” here recently. So why was this a good thing; God disrupts our lives via these “life changes” to draw us near to him and father us. Let me give you the quick background.

Not quite ten months ago, God blessed me with a bold plan he laid out to me in prayer. Disruption #1: I was to get out of my comfort zone, change jobs and accept a major challenge. It required me being bold in a way I never have been before and this was going to be a big step for me. But it was clear God was leading this and this was a blessing he wanted to bestow on me. I obeyed and we went on the journey together. It was tough and a major disruption. So, I leaned in with a lot of prayer, faith and strength through the Father. After a few months, I was starting to feel somewhat comfortable. You know, typical new job stuff. Getting to know the team, how to lead and manage people and situations, office politics, policies, etc. I knew it was God’s plan and I certainly needed him to get through this phase of change.

After being in the new job for six months, the company was approached to be acquired. Another major disruption. A deal was quickly struck which was something I’d never worked through before, let alone at that speed. It was a learning experience for sure. Once the acquisition was nearly complete, the enemy began to pounce and lay the lie that my job was in jeopardy. I went straight to the Father in prayer. I knew he’d brought me to this journey for a reason, after all it was a blessing. But what did all this mean? God showed up and told me that this too was part of his blessing. I was so confused but trusted his words to me. God worked on my behalf the entire time of acquisition. Once the acquisition was complete, I had been blessed in numerous ways. I was asked to further expand my role within the new company and many of the obstacles to do so which were in my path previously were removed. I can’t fully convey to you what a blessing this was. It required a lot of energy and faith but God delivered in a big way as it was another major disruption.

So, two big disruptions by God’s design in less than seven months. So, I thought, “we did it,” now we can coast a bit; right? My family and I were so thankful to God but certainly felt some fatigue. That’s when the Father said, “I’m not done with you yet, Son.” This time it was leadership in the home. My wife was presented with a similar situation. A new opportunity to advance in her work but another big disruption. So, there it was disruption #3, all within 10 months. We leaned into this again with the Father to make sure it was his blessing. He was adamant and as a family we embraced the blessing and the Father. This would require strength through him. So, a few weeks ago, my wife entered her new journey with the Father. We continue to lean on him in prayer and he is so faithful.

I share this for two reasons. God is faithful, loving and will bring you blessings you didn’t even know were possible. Secondly, God wants us to embrace the disruptions and lean into him. Our intimacy with the Father opens up so many blessings, gives us so much strength in the process and radically changes our perspective in this broken world. Too many times we step away from God instead leaning into him in these situations. Even when we know the disruption is of him. This is where he shows us his magnificent love for us as his Sons. His disruptions are good and necessary. So lean in, Brothers! He’s a good, good Father!

Leadership; bringing it home

What does it really mean to be a leader of your family? Have you ever really thought about it at a deeper level? Often leadership is confused with completing the most tasks, getting the kids to their next event, or securing a home via a stable career. You know, the provider role. As men, we get stuck in this way of thinking. While these things no doubt have an importance, and are part of being a good spouse or father; it’s by no means the most important duty of a husband and/or father. Being a spiritual leader of the home is the single most important role a man plays in the home but it often gets put off or pushed off on others.

I was tested in this recently. Our family very recently took a vacation to the mountains. As most do this time of year we planned on skiing as a family. The challenge was that three of the four of us had never skied before so lessons would be required and fears were there to overcome. As we embarked on this fun family adventure (think Griswold Family Vacation… a fair comparison) we were filled with excitement and anticipation. That excitement and anticipation turned to fear for some. Those that have skied can easily identify the intimidating factor the mountains play for a new skier. This was the case here. The fear of being out of control was real and terrifying, almost paralyzing. The enemy capitalized on this little opportunity, as he always does, and was working toward stealing the joy of our adventure as a family. It was in this moment that I felt the Holy Spirit come over me and I knew I had a battle to fight for my family.

I began to pray fervently over my family. Praying for God’s protection over them while skiing, for the blood of Jesus to cleanse them of the fear instilled by the enemy, for the enemy to be cast out in the name of Jesus and under God’s authority. It was a powerful moment and God showed up. The fear began to subside, the peace of the Father began to ease the intimidation and restore the joy we’d originally felt. This was a “stepping up” moment where it required some spiritual leadership for the family. I invited God into our adventure and made it clear the enemy was not welcome. This changed the trajectory of our trip, allowed us to fully enjoy God’s creation and beauty in the mountains and find joy in our time together as a family on a fun adventure.

The trip could have easily been derailed by frustration and fear. We would have missed an opportunity together and a foothold for the enemy could have been created. All it took was some quiet time with the Father, passionate prayer and full faith that God would deliver. I’ll be honest with you, this hasn’t always been the chosen practice for me. I’ve fallen into the trap of allowing frustration to cloud my mind, resentment of those that the enemy falsely presents as a hindrance; a full-fledged lie to steal the joy. This is how he operates. We as men have got to identify this and stand up for our families. Step into that spiritual leader role and fight the battle. That’s our God given role and we come to it from a place of victory. So let’s get after it men; and lead the way the Father designed us to lead. We’ve all got it in us!

Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

Restoration & Reality

Restoration… What does that truly mean to us in today’s world? What’ s required in restoration? With the ever-increasing popularity of the “reality” home improvement shows, in varying platforms, we continually see a house or property transformed or “restored” to its full potential and beauty. Believe me I’ve seen many of these shows as my beautiful wife absolutely loves these shows. The excitement of seeing the personal stories, design, but most importantly the final product in all its glory. They’re certainly entertaining, and as a person who enjoys the results of hard work, I can appreciate the final product and truly enjoy seeing the reactions of the homeowners as the “reveal” occurs. I mean seriously, these are feel good stories. But the one thing I always struggle with is how easy they make the transformation process look. We’re talking about renovating complete basket cases of houses here. Not simply cosmetic work like paint and windows, but structural changes, wall removal, complete re-wires, etc. But that’s how everything is presented in “reality” TV right? Instant gratification with minimal effort.

So, do we apply this same expectation to our personal restoration? I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I know I absolutely did and still do at times. I don’t think I’m unique in that either. I remember early in my walk with the Father, I expected an immediate transformation and full restoration. All the trials and tribulations would be wiped away and my thought process would immediately offer clarity and understanding of how life works. Things would be easier, or so I thought. Well, I think we as men tend to treat our own lives like a “reality” TV home improvement show that is cleaned up, reconstructed and fully restored in 30 minutes to an hour. The struggles conveniently edited out of the final production.

In true reality, our restoration process is just that… a process. One that requires reliance on God to father us through our challenges and seasons of life. The enemy wants us to believe when the process takes longer than we expect that we’re not restorable or we’re damaged goods. But the Father wants us to have a restored heart and that can only be achieved through the healing and love of the Father. That is where the true restoration begins and continues in us through our relationship with him. Too often we get taken out by the enemy way to easily because our earthly impatience gets in the way and we want the results but don’t know the process behind it. Much like those that decide they’re going to buy a house and restore it based solely on the knowledge they gained from watching these shows… They don’t have a full understanding because they didn’t see or get educated on the full process to restoration.

In our spiritual restoration, God is our answer at every turn. He knows our hearts and has the full set of blueprints to bring the full potential he created us to achieve. We just need to rely on him, trust him and lean in to him so he can reveal these truths. In turn he exposes the enemy’s attacks and we can fully resist the lies and agreements that keep us distracted and in some cases completely taken out. As we continue in our faithfulness God, restores us through his unconditional love and healing. Now that’s a “reality” I can relate to. As we continue on our personal walks remember we’re in the middle of an epic story filled with war. And In war there are constant battles being fought. The same goes for restoration. The enemy will lie, cheat and steal to prevent restoration. He’s a sore loser, but we have been given the ultimate advantage through Jesus Christ’s victory on the cross. Always, remember that we come to battle from a position of victory. Fight on Brothers!

Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you”

Validation… Is it an endless search?

Have you ever sat and thought about what motivates men to do some of the things men do? I mean, think about it. Some men (ok, most men) spend a large part of their time trying to impress people they don’t even like! How insane does that sound? 

Seriously, we buy the latest and greatest to keep up with our neighbor or a coworker just because we don’t want to be seen as a lesser man. Or, we try to one up those same people by having a bigger better vacation experience with tons of pictures to prove it. Believe me, I fell into this trap, and still catch these tendencies coming back into my thought process. But have you ever really spent some time thinking about why men do these things? We’re seeking validation from other people or through the collection of things, which is an endless task without the desired results. In fact, many times this cycle can prove destructive, financially or otherwise.

So why do we put so much emphasis on other people’s opinions of us? That’s what the enemy or the “world” tell us success is, right? To paraphrase a quote that’s been widely used, “he who dies with the most toys, wins.” Really? This is the motto of men in our world. Well, truth be told, this is the work of the enemy in the world. 1 John 2:16 says, “For everything in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not of the Father but from the world.” The enemy’s lies seek to destroy us and steal our joy. This is where Satan can get to men the easiest… pride.

This was a serious battle for me before I began my walk in faith with the Father. That’s when true growth and maturity was able to take hold. Andyou know what? All that anxiety and pressure I felt by trying to get validation from other people (again, people I didn’t even care for in most cases) began to fade. How you ask? By the grace and love of the Father, who showed me where my true validation comes from. I began to aspire to please God the Father and glorify him and him only. The same is true for you. He loves us unconditionally, with no strings attached. We don’t need the latest and greatest technology, car, or job title to earn his love and validation. All we have to do is seek him, surrender to him, and we’re free. 

Wow, what a powerful feeling… freedom, validation, and love from the Father! We are son’s of God, validated by Him, successful because of Him, and all we are and have is because of Him. It’s that easy, the search for true validation is over. It’s not endless.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a work in progress, but I pray to the Father daily and seek him constantly to continue to fight. His validation, grace, and mercy are beautiful and I love the words he bestowed upon his son Jesus as recorded in 2 Peter 1:17, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” This is the one and only true validation that we as men need. He loves us, cheers for us, and is faithful to us… unconditionally. It only takes us walking with him, trusting in him and seeking him. 

The “world” is a bottomless pit that only provides endless longing. The Father quenches our thirst and gives us endurance. Seek him and experience true validation and freedom. I promise you, it’s the freedom you seek!

Have a great week, Brothers! Stand strong.