Category Archives: Blog

When You Have Lost Your Job

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When You Have Lost Your Job

When we have lost our job, we tend to go straight for strategies when this happens. I know I do. And what we need to do is run to God. We need to run to those rhythms where we can talk and hear from God. Prayer and scripture are those rhythms.

So let's see what scripture says, and then let's pray together today. First, God says this:

Matthew 6:34 says, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

And then Lamentations 3:22-24 says this, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore, I will hope in him.'"

I think both these verses provide a great understanding of how the Christian should respond during a job loss, and we know right now there are millions of people affected by what is happening in our country alone. But these verses teach us two vital things.

First | Daily reliance

I think that we love and even worship at times the feeling of long-term security. Don't we? We save. We predict. We plan. And we, at times, construct a reality of the future based on certain expectations in the present. And then one day, the carpet is pulled out from under us. And we take it personally because all our plans come tumbling down.

When this happens, our plans, visions, and hopes move from long-term enthusiasm to short-term survival. And everything shrinks. Our daily provision shrinks. Our plans shrink. Our needs shrink. While one thing becomes far more pronounced, it is our daily need to rely first upon only God—not our plans, and not our job.

This is what Matthew 6:34 and Lamentations 3:22-24 are getting after. They teach us that first, "today has trouble," and yet second, "God has mercy for today." And I love this, while I think we all hate it at the same time. And we hate it because we want to be in control of the future. Yet there is only one who does. And in seasons like this, when everything shrinks to daily reliance, he wants to drive us to trust Him with the future.

But there is a second and needed point these scriptures make; it's this:

Second | Worship only Him

I think where we have been as a country over my lifetime has driven most of us toward self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and selfishness. We are going to watch this change in this season. While millions are out of work today, we have no idea how the dominos of this event will continue to fall. And I wonder if God is trying to get our attention? As a country. As a world.

The end of our Lamentations verse says this, "'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore, I will hope in him.'" In him and nothing else. I just wonder if, in all of our self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and selfishness, we have been worshipping ourselves and even our ability to predict what's around the next corner—rather than really worshipping God. And when we lose our job (please hear this) we, experience often a deep form of attack on our identity and our ability to provide which attacks us. However, for the follower whose trust is in Him, we are not under attack at all because nothing will attack our God and win. With high confidence, we can move forward, one day at a time, tested yes, but in trust that we need not be anxious about anything. Because our God will provide for us, without fail, even when we have to rely on him one day at a time.

So if you are out there today and your job has been affected in any way, and you need prayer, let me know. I would love to pray personally for you. I will add you to my prayer list. I will pray for you.

A Prayer for a Job

But right now, I am going to pray a prayer of hope for those who need a job. So if you need a job this one is for you:

God, you know the people out there today who are jobless and their specific needs. You know their desire for a job, for work that they want and need to do. You even know the next step in their career path. I pray that you would guide them as they continue on this search. May these people focus first on your will for their life, putting your desires and your plan above their own wishes and wants. Open doors to new opportunities that you desire for them and equip him with the skills, knowledge, and wisdom they need to take steps forward in this process. As these people craft resumes, write cover letters, submit applications, connect them with new companies and potential employers. Give them the words to speak and the courage to share who they truly are and what they can do. Give them confidence that can only come from you, and the character that goes with it—Amen.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Quarantined to Listen

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Quarantined to Listen

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Brotherhood From A Distance

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Brotherhood From A Distance

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.—Hebrews 10:24-25

There could not be a couple of verses in the Bible more applicable than these two verses right now. The isolation and "stay at home" mandate is making us all rethink. It's a country-wide cultural challenge causing a shift in thinking. We are rethinking what is essential and non-essential. We are rethinking what is safe and unsafe behavior. And in a season of social distancing, what is community, and how should I engage? 

So how should we respond?

Here is something you can do today to build community during a time of social distancing. Call a brother and ask these questions:

  • Is your family healthy?
  • How has the present situation affected your work and industry?
  • How can I pray for you right now?

I did this over the last week and found it to be life-giving. It brought me closer to a few brothers in a way I was not before. Even though it would have been more enjoyable to sit in front of them over a meal or a drink, it was life-giving in the waiting. And in every situation, I felt better and more hopeful after the call.

So live like a man called to act today—build brotherhood and keep the community alive.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

When Life Is Disrupted

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When Life Is Disrupted

How should I respond in a life that is so disrupted?

Yep, I bet you thought—just like me—that this storm was going to be temporary. I think we all thought this season was going to move through quickly, but now we are facing the understanding it may take longer than we initially thought. Given this, how should we respond?

Here are two optimistic ways we can look at this season.

Disruptions drive us to the essential and fundamental.

Yes, disruptions in our routines are initially annoyances. 

I get it, and I agree with you. 

But sometimes these disruptions force us to ask questions, assess unneeded clutter, and then drive us toward things that have more meaning, value, and purpose in this life.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.—Romans 12:2

As a well-to-do American, I am certainly materialistically wealthy. I have a lot of unneeded clutter and stuff in my life. Subscriptions I don't use. Excess material I don't need. Aimless activity I don't need to do. And as I watch market shelves empty of essential items like bread, rice, and other resources (toilet paper?), this disruption forces me to assess. 

I have noticed over the last few days I have done these things:

  1. I have stayed closer to home.
  2. I have had more conversations with my family that take on a "serious tone," updating them on the events happening in the world (since they are all around 24/7).
  3. I have become more protective of my family and ensure I know where and who they are with at all times.
  4. I have prayed more for my family, country, world, health, and spiritual awareness.
  5. I have discussed human fear in most conversations and tried to pivot them toward spiritual faith.
  6. I have called more people I love and almost immediately ask, "How's your family?".
  7. I have watched my intake of television and media, and am balancing this with more positive messages (like Christian music), to ensure I am not overdosing on fatalistic thinking.
  8. I have spent less money on trivial things, but more on necessities.
  9. I am spending more time in God's Word on thematic subject matter.
  10. I am having more conversations about the future and less about trivial matters (like which team Tom Brady is trading to).

As I read this list, I am amazed at how "fundamental and essential" these activities are for me as a man, husband, father, and leader. I am surprised at how quickly—in days really—some non-essential activities have been assessed and deleted from my life. These new rhythms are not activities that I have necessarily dismissed, but activities that I am now giving more attention to regularly. While I am excited about getting back to life, as usual, this season is forcing me to address the non-essentials and get back to the basics.

Disruption drives us toward answers and power.

During seasons like we are in right now, I think it is easy for us to become myopically (focused in a small and narrow way) on the interruption itself. And then because of our narrow focus, we become fatalistic about the present and the future. While we should not dismiss reality, or trivialize the issue or impact, we should not let our minds become consumed with narrow thinking that leads to fatalistic thoughts. If the present reality is the only thing we are focusing on, we will immerse our minds and imaginations—our soul—in human fears. Pandemics are never good, but what if the present season drove us from powerlessness to real power, healing, and hope?

Here is how the prophet Jeremiah addresses the fears the people of God have during his time.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.—Jeremiah 29:11-14

This moment is a very unsettling moment for the nation of Israel and the holy city of Jerusalem. Most of the nation was carried off into captivity by their Babylonian adversary led by King Nebuchadnezzar, where they would now spend a long unforeseen future (70 years). However, Jeremiah sends a note to the remaining survivors, including the priests, prophets, and a small segment of the people who remained. The letter is positive and hopeful and anchored in a future reality. But the conditions are simple—callcome, and pray to God.

And we should do the same—callcome, and pray to God.

Our power is with God—together. As Christians, we have access to significant power. A God who heals. A God who heals people, nations, and lands. A God who heals disease, pestilence, and infections. A God who is willing to come close and will come to our aid. Should we not as and believers bow before Him and call, come, and pray to the only one who heals body and spirit?

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases."—Psalm 103:2-3

So today, assess the challenge. See the good. And let call, come, and pray for each other and ask God to heal our sick world. He can do it.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Present Your Bodies

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Present Your Bodies

If ever there was abundant evidence of an intelligent Creator and a Designer, it is in the human body. Have you ever given much thought to the beauty of the body’s complexity, with a heart inexplicably beating more than 115,000 times a day to pump life-sustaining blood throughout every cell of this mean machine we inhabit here on earth? It’s a gift from God, for sure. But the body’s real power is not just in any physical strength it might possess. Rather, it’s in the way we employ our bodies in worship. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 12:1.

“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”—Romans 12:1

One | The presented body

This power-packed verse is among one of the very first Bible verses that a new believer, young in his faith, is encouraged to memorize. And with good reason. Old Testament law required a guy to regularly and repeatedly present for sacrifice the best of his best—bull, goat, lamb, dove—in order to be absolved of his sins and be in right standing with God. But when Jesus came along—God's Son—and died on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, He fulfilled that requirement once and for all. So now Paul, writing to the believers in Rome, uses that ritual of sacrifice as a picture of what our response to God’s free gift of grace should look like. Every day we present ourselves, our bodies, to God. “I’m yours,” we say. “God, I am so grateful for your gift of grace, and this is one way that I can give back to you.”

Two | The living sacrifice

This is the ultimate oxymoron. “Sacrifice” implies death. So how can anything be a “living sacrifice”? The answer is pretty straightforward. We serve as living sacrifices whenever we give up our time and direct our activity toward serving the Lord. Brainstorm a list of all the ways you might serve God.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Help a neighbor with a project.
  • Take a meal to a struggling friend.
  • Mentor your son using the scripture.
  • Join other believers in “corporate worship” through song.
  • Carve out time each day to read and ponder God’s Word.
  • Dedicate some vacation time to serve on a mission trip.
  • Take a friend to lunch and ask them if you can pray for something in their life.
  • Tell the story of how you came to know Christ and the difference he has made in your life.
  • Assess your skills and talents and find ways to use them for God’s glory. Love cabinetry? Build a bookcase for a brother. Handy at plumbing? Fix that leak in the church kitchen. Enjoy hiking? Lead a group of kids on a weekend retreat.

Okay, you get the idea. We can serve God with our hands, our bodies, our mouths, our brains—the list of possible “how-to's” is endless. The point is that we intentionally, every day, “sacrifice” our time and effort in ways that serve others and build God’s kingdom.

Three | The holy and acceptable offering

This is a matter of stewardship.

God has given us our bodies and our minds, and so the ball is in our court to take care of them as best we can. In this fallen world we are, of course, subject to all manner of frailties and imperfections. But with a little imagination and creativity, even our weaknesses can be employed to glorify God. But be aware—it’s not enough just to take care of ourselves physically. We also must nurture and care for our hearts and minds, too.

Philippians 4:8 says this:

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

We are responsible to present our best selves to God. All of us. Our hands, feet, eyes, thoughts, actions – everything. And praise God that He has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us, guide us, strengthen us every step of the way.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Epic Friendship

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Epic Friendship

For some reason, it was just easier making friends when we were younger, wasn't it? We were less presumptive and more carefree. We judged people less by their status, accomplishments, and influence. We more readily laughed and were mesmerized by simple activities. Everything was a new adventure, and it was always better with a friend.

Great friendships make children better, but they make men better too. When we are young, we discover this, but as we get older for some reason, we forget.

In the Old Testament, we are very aware that David had at least one very good friend — Jonathan. The decade of David's friendship was perhaps the most challenging, and he needed this friend to help him through. But after Jonathan was killed at war, there was another friend who stepped in — Nathan. Nathan was not so much the confidant with who he had chemistry, like Jonathan. He was more the counselor who held him accountable. But still, this friendship-counselor relationship shaped him during his years as King of Israel.

These two men had three meetings that shaped our understanding of their relationship. Each has a remarkable lesson that led to an astounding impact on the kingdom and these two men.

One | The First Move: Alliance

Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent. (2 Samuel 7:1-2)

Now when David lived in his house, David said to Nathan the prophet, "Behold, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent." And Nathan said to David, "Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you." (1 Chronicles 17:1-2)

This is one of those moments two men of God in two different roles came together for kingdom impact. At the end of it all, we know that David was prevented from building the house of the Lord as his hands were bloodied by war. But this did not stop David from doing everything short of building the temple. He gathered the resources, the plans, the men, and handed the baton to his son, Solomon.

In these verses, two great men, one a king and one a prophet, form an alliance. They are allies of spiritual proportions. David realizes that he has enough. He looks up at his success, security, stock, and says — enough. And David dreams with a Nathan about what should be done solely for the Lord.

This interaction is essential because it teaches us two things. First, the importance of spiritual alliances with other Christian brothers. Second, the power of two men discovering the futility of their fading glory and the importance of seeking God's glory.

Two | The Second Move: Confrontation

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. And the Lord sent Nathan to David. (2 Samuel 11:27-12:1)

Well, friendship is not always easy. There are hard things we face and need to address. This moment has to be one of the top five ultimate friendship confrontations of the Bible, trumped only by Jesus' strong words to Peter — "Get behind me Satan."

The context of this confrontation is the adulterous sin of David with Bethsheba and the consequential cover-up. This one sin led to many others and a massive cover-up that David thought he was beyond. However, he had not pulled one over on God. So God instructs Nathan to confront him about the sin and cover-up.

This is never an easy moment for friends. But this is what great friends do; they care enough to guide us toward Godliness and away from catastrophe. They want what God wants for us and have the courage to tell us "no" and sometimes "get right with God." Nathan does that here in 2 Samuel 12. It's worth reading.

And just when you think David could win any and every battle, this was one he was sure to lose. It's a disappointing moment for David, but one he handles well. His response to Nathan is this — "I have sinned against the LORD." (2 Samuel 12:13)

Friends have power. Never underestimate the importance of the care-frontation.

Three | The Third Move: Counsel

 Then Nathan said to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, "Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king and David our lord does not know it?  Now therefore come, let me give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. (1 Kings 1:11-12)

Toward the latter part of David's life, David's son Adonijah planned to forcibly take the kingdom from his father and set himself up as king. Nathan rushed to David with Bathsheba at his side to inform him of the betrayal and discuss options as his joint counsel.

There is no doubt this is not an easy moment for all three of them — a king and father is betrayed, a wife and mother is at odds, and a friend and a counselor feels concern for the future of the nation. But here is the best part, they are in it together. Seeking God, his wisdom, and the best path forward, they are not alone. The resolution is to appoint Solomon as king and set up him quickly before Adonijah takes his move too far. And the plan works, but the results are still disturbing and heartbreaking. Eventually, Solomon has Adonijah executed.

We all need a man like this in our life. A man with who we have a spiritual alliance, who can confront and counsel us. David was better for this. From this relationship came the Temple of the Lord, the repentance of a King, and the establishment of King Solomon for the next generation. Just consider the impact of not having a Nathan in your life. You might be missing out on something amazing. Don't delay — get spiritual counsel today. Amazing benefits await.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

The Impact of a Biblical Mentor

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The Impact of a Biblical Mentor

Paul and Timothy shared a deep friendship and a productive partnership in the faith. Several passages of Scripture in the New Testament bear witness to the evolution of their relationship. It was a relationship that resulted in significant spiritual impact, one that advanced the gospel from mentor to protege. Here is the progression and impact.

One | Fathering in the Faith

“To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:2)

Timothy’s father was Greek, and his mother, Eunice, was a Jew who later decided to follow Jesus. Her mother Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, also came to know the Lord—scholars believe both women were converted during Paul’s first visit to their home city of Lystra (Acts 14). The influence of these two women in Timothy’s life laid a strong foundation for what was to come later, as Paul himself noted: “…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15)

It was right after he began his second missionary journey that Paul met Timothy and, upon the recommendation of several church leaders in Lystra, invited him to accompany him on his travels. From the very start, Paul is attentively and spiritually “parenting” Timothy. He brought Timothy alongside him to share in his day-to-day experiences; essentially, the two men “did life together” for several years, as Timothy was heavily involved in Paul’s subsequent missionary journeys, as well.

Paul was about 15 years older than Timothy, and it was apparent that he took the responsibility of being a role model of faith for the younger man seriously; but the two men also shared a genuine affection for each other, forged in day-to-day, real events. Timothy was observing Paul’s character and conduct in all kinds of circumstances, and in the process, the seeds his mentor planted began to sprout tangible, valuable fruit. Paul came to trust Timothy implicitly, and would send him as his emissary when needed, confident of the reception he would receive: “But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.” (Philippians 2:22)

Two | Following in the Faith

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.” (2 Timothy 3:10-11)

Throughout the years, as the friendship between Paul and Timothy evolved, the two shared both highs (seeing many come to Christ and the growth of new churches) and lows (illness, physical dangers, persecutions, Paul’s imprisonment). They became partners in sharing the gospel, and God used their collaboration to accomplish much toward building His kingdom. The Bible indicates Timothy was directly involved in the ministry of at least five New Testament churches (I Thessalonians 3; 1 Corinthians 4; Philippians 2; Acts 17; I Timothy 3). Their travels took them far and wide, from Rome, throughout Macedonia, all over Asia, and to Jerusalem.

Three | Fellow-working in the Faith

“Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.” (Romans 16:21)

From son, to student, to peer and fellow laborer in service to the Kingdom, Timothy made measurable, visible progress becoming a strong man of God. But it didn’t just happen. By intentionally pouring time and effort into Timothy, Paul followed the example Jesus modeled with each of His disciples, investing in the relationship with a purpose. Ephesians 4 makes it clear that Jesus always sought to develop the God-given potential of those He was teaching and leading. “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:10-13)

We are called to become more like Jesus – and to encourage others to do the same – that we all will be able to use our God-given gifts and abilities for their God-given purpose. When he saw the end of his life on earth drawing near, Paul “passed his mantle” of ministry on to the person he knew would continue the ministry of the good news of Christ. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2) He had experienced great joy and rewards in helping someone become the person God intended him to be – and so will we if we do the same purposefully.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (I Thess. 5:11)

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Reconciling Friendships

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Reconciling Friendships

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.—2 Corinthians 5:18

You’re getting along just fine with your brother when suddenly you find that you don’t see eye-to-eye on something. And the disagreement escalates a little, then a little more, until your friendship sort of devolves into hurt and frustration. It happens – and that’s just one scenario. There are at least as many ways for friends to fall out as there are friendships. But our God is a God of peace, and He would have us work toward restoring harmony when conflicts arise with people in our lives.

The book of Philemon is a story about just that potential for renewal — an account of reconciliation between Onesimus (whose name means “useless”) to Philemon, a wealthy donor to Paul and leader in the early church. Onesimus was a runaway slave who Paul met in Rome and led to Christ before discovering that he knew Onesimus’ owner, Philemon. Paul then sends Onesimus back to Philemon carrying a letter encouraging reconciliation between the two men. There is much we can take away from Paul’s godly perspective of this age-old issue: rifts in relationships. 

One | You Must Go Back to Go Forward

“I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.” (Philemon 12)

All of our relationships have context and history; we need to remember that matters. Paul reminds Philemon that Onesimus is a person of intrinsic value (he matters to Paul, just as he matters to God). Indeed, every person is important to God; His entire eternal plan was forged to bring His lost and loved people back into relationship with Himself. Jesus is the proof incarnate that “God so loved the world.” Even the most off-course, seemingly hopeless cases – yes, even the criminal hanging on a neighboring cross as Jesus was crucified – He rejoices to save. We have to see the bigger picture, to view people with God’s eyes, not our own, and sometimes that is HARD to do. But praise God, He helps us do it. 

Two | Spiritual Renewal Changes People and Their Relationships

“For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother – especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Philemon 15-16)

Onesimus had been Philemon’s slave, but Paul was not playing “bounty hunter” here. His goal was not to return a slave to the owner. Instead, he hoped to encourage a transformational reconciliation – one in which the restored relationship between two men would reflect a brother-to-brother bond rather than their former slave and owner connection. So, if we are striving to see the people in our lives as God sees them, the nature of our interaction with them will inevitably be changed. Particularly if they are fellow believers – because then, Scripture makes clear, we are bound together by virtue of our shared faith in Jesus Christ. They’re family – so it behooves us to do everything we can to handle those relationships in a way that’s pleasing to the Lord.

Three | Mediation & Bartering May Help

“So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” (Philemon 17-18)

Paul was a friend to both men, and he aimed to bring peace to their relationship. He took the initiative as a sort of mediator, and we can follow his lead by encouraging reconciliation between two feuding friends. But it also follows that if we ourselves are at odds with a brother, we can and often should seek help from a cooler-headed third party. Especially if that third party has a little expertise in the art of conflict resolution. Be careful, though. Make sure your mediator can bring a spiritual viewpoint to the table and maintain a neutral perspective. It’s tempting to engage a go-between who seems to side with you so that together you can present a united front. But that’ll only make your brother feel attacked and distance him even more. Even if you sincerely believe your brother is behaving in a scripturally errant or un-Christlike way, you still want to identify a mediator who can help guide you through the reconciliation process in a thoughtful, sensitive, loving way.

Four | Be Willing to Make Amends

“Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” (Philemon 21)

To restore a relationship is – perhaps first and foremost – an act of obedience. We know that God is a God of reconciliation, so reconciliation is what we seek. But it does come at a cost. It requires that we set aside our ruffled feathers to see things from the other guy’s point of view. It requires that we welcome each other, agreeing to learn whatever hard lessons are necessary, and move on. It requires that we correct any mistakes we’ve made and attempt to put things right. And it requires a decision to forgive – and a commitment to work toward restoring trust.

Our friendships are valuable. You know how it is when you’ve lost something that was important to you, or something you treasure gets broken – and how happy you feel when the lost is found or the broken repaired. Friendships are worth pursuing, and Scripture encourages us to preserve those bonds—“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). After all, as brothers in Christ, we all end up together in heaven – forever! 

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Four Things Friends Do Even When It’s Hard

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Four Things Friends Do Even When It's Hard

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”—Charles Dickens

Son, you are hitting that time in life when you will find some friends, and you are going to go in different directions. While this is going to happen from time to time in your life, we can choose to handle this with relational excellence and process it well. Friendships are destined to change because we are all in process. Our values change over time, and because of this, we undergo detachments that take us each in different directions.

One friendship in the Bible that went through a sudden separation was the friendship between Paul and Barnabas. Readers of the Bible often are saddened by the break up between these two incredible men and friends. The rift, of course, occurred when Barnabas proposed that his cousin Mark accompany them on a journey, but Paul adamantly opposed the idea for his reasons. Their falling out was painful, and significant in part because of how deep their bond had been. They had been the best of friends and Christian brothers.

But even so, here are four things we learn about their friendship that are important for you to hear.

One | Friends champion each other.

And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:26-27)

One can understand why everyone was suspicious of Paul at first. After all, before his conversion, he had been a cruel persecutor of Christ-followers. But Barnabas believed that Paul’s newfound devotion to Jesus and his zeal for the gospel were genuine. So he championed for Paul, and because so many looked up to Barnabas, many Christian men listened. Indeed, through much of Luke’s account in the first half of the Book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas were inseparable. Reading between the lines, it would even seem that Barnabas played a massive role in mentoring Paul and developing his spiritual life as their friendship took root and grew. 

Never forget this. Great friends are great champions of each other. They fight for one another, stand behind them, and advocate for them, especially when it aligns with the values of God.

Two | Friends partner in mission and adventure.

“While they (prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch) were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)

Paul and Barnabas made quite a team during what we have come to call Paul’s first missionary journey, effectively communicating the gospel to audiences from the port city of Antioch, to the island of Cyprus (Barnabas’ home), to Asia Minor and beyond. They complemented each other well, Paul an engaging speaker and Barnabas a born encourager (his name means “exhorter” and “comforter”). They knew each other’s strengths and allowed these strengths to shine. Along the way, they encountered — and by the Holy Spirit’s power defeated — an evil sorcerer, performed miracles of healing, and at one point were even mistaken for Greek gods. The response to their message and their chemistry as friends and colleagues was hugely positive — though some among their Jewish listeners were becoming a bit unnerved.

Find friends that make you better. Guys who bring out what you best bring to the world, and then make it look excellent. Like a role on a team, friends play a position on the team with you. Some play defensive roles. Others play offensive roles. Individually they are nothing, but in partnership and adventure, they can make some great memories and impact the world for the glory of God.

Three | Friends see each other through adversity.

“…it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 15:25-26)

In this excerpt from a letter to Gentile believers from the Jerusalem Council, Paul and Barnabas are acknowledged as “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The duo’s encounters with the opposition during the first missionary journey were sometimes frightening, to say the least — Paul was even stoned and left for dead when they were in Lystra. But in an early demonstration of “no man left behind,” Paul was rescued, and the pair hightailed it to Derbe. The point is, friends have each other’s backs. They’re willing to face risky, even life-threatening, ventures as a team because they know they’re in it together.

See your friends through their challenges, and they will never forget you. Too often, we fail to be this friend. But this is what a great friend does—supports another through the challenges of life. This is the ultimate test of a great friendship, be this friend and others will more likely be this friend to you.

Four | Friends weather their conflicts and move on.

“And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” (Acts 15:36-41)

This is a severe departure. Heartbreaking. But let’s make a couple of critical observations. First, the dispute between Paul and Barnabas was not about doctrine. They remained united on the gospel message and teachings of Christ they shared throughout the land. And second, they did not allow their disagreement to deter them from their mission — both went on to follow through on the work they’d committed themselves to complete. Nor is there any evidence that they bad-mouthed one another after going their separate ways. In fact, there is some indication that they eventually reconciled (see 1 Corinthians 9:6).

The truth is that conflict is inevitable even in the healthiest of relationships. It’s a fact of life and certainly should never deter us from pursuing friendships with other brothers in the Lord. When conflict happens, we should strive not to let our tempers control our speech, and we must always seek reconciliation. In the meantime, let’s take a cue from Paul and Barnabas and cheer each other on, partner with each other for the cause of Christ, and leave no man behind.

I love you, son, Dad.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Isolation Is Our Enemy

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Isolation Is Our Enemy

"After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Get up, take up your bed, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. (John 5:1-9) 

Think about it. For 38 years, this man sat in the same spot, lonely and tired, without a friend to help him. Can you imagine the heap of loneliness and human pain buffeted by the surging tides of thousands of people who failed to see him or reach out to him — for decades? But Jesus singled him out. He connected with him as an individual. He saw his need and met it. 

How often are men isolated in loneliness? 

And how often is it a misery of our own making? 

We do not know how many people must have suffered by the pool of Bethesda. Many of them abandoned by those who should have been there for them. But sometimes we are the ones who isolate ourselves — putting up invisible walls in an effort to maintain a meaningless pretending to the world; or afraid to show any vulnerability that might be perceived as a weakness. This is not how Jesus lived out His humanity. He was authentic, not afraid to be and reveal the man He really was. And though He would at times withdraw from others — most often to be in communion with the Father — He did not neglect to maintain friendship and fellowship with the men He had sought out to be His community. We should follow His example and seek out relationships with other men, for isolation is the enemy of men.

Here are some steps we can take as men.

One | Take a self-assessment

"I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop." (Psalm 102:6-7)

Are you prone to isolation? To being that lone wolf of a man?

I know that even I occasionally need a little solitude — time to rest, regroup, and recharge. But there's a big difference between healthy isolation and intentionally retreating into an abyss of loneliness. Do you have any guy friends you meet with regularly, not just for recreation, but to interact with about things that matter? Not just trivial stuff but some real conversations? As men, we need to strike a balance in this area; otherwise, we will discover one day we have a lot of acquaintances but not a lot of meaningful friends that help us become better men. Take a few minutes to assess your balance between relationship and isolation, and maybe decide what t

Two | Take stock of your current relationships

"Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.'" (1 Corinthians 15:33) 

We tend to subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) adopt many of the attitudes and values of those we spend the most time with — so our choices when it comes to close friends can be more important than we realize. This doesn't mean that we spend time only with those who are "just like us," but rather, that we exercise discernment in the way we invest in relationships with others. We need friendships — but we need to choose wisely. We need to choose friends who will draw us closer to God, not distance us from Him. Take some time to take stock of your relationships. Are they driving you toward good and godly things, or do the lion share drive you away from them?

Three | Take small steps in the right direction

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

This passage is often quoted at weddings, but the context actually refers to all our human relationships; indeed, the verses that precede it talk about a man alone, having "neither son nor brother." God makes it clear to us — we need each other. Not only is there reward in a relationship, but we are all stronger together than we can ever be on our own.

Just as Jesus made the first move when He approached that lonely man at Bethesda, He also has made the first move with us. He lived His life on earth as He would have us live ours, focused on God, while also reaching out to not only heal and teach but also to share life with others; the ultimate act of fellowship. And then He died on the cross in our place. 

May we, as He did, strike a balance between solitude and deep connection with a close, trusted brother in the Lord.

Vince-Miller-Bio-Pic-2019

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

The Model of Friendship David & Jonathan

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The Model of Friendship David & Jonathan

As male friendships go, few can compare to the relationship between David and Jonathan. The emphasis of their relationship was a major recurring theme throughout much of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. The brotherhood they shared was based on love. The Hebrew word for love, which describes a platonic affection with clear political and diplomatic implications, ran deep between them and served as an example of the biblical brand of male bonding that every brother would do well to embrace — and be blessed to experience.

"As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (1 Samuel 18:1)

To love another as one loves himself in the context of the Bible means, of course, that the other person's needs, desires, hopes, and dreams matter to you. You care about the other guy's health and well-being. And though David and Jonathan both led their own lives, they also both served the same king (Jonathan's father Saul), the same army, and the same God. What critical principles of friendship can we learn from this extraordinary "knitting of the souls"?

Personal Sacrifice

"Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants." (1 Samuel 18:3-5)

That Jonathan gave his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt to David not only demonstrates the sacrificial love, Jonathan had for his friend, but it also symbolizes a major component of their covenant: that when David succeeded Jonathan's father Saul as king of Israel, Jonathan would serve as his second in command. This was a symbol of genuine servitude and was a powerful gesture in that the natural line of succession to the throne would have been Jonathan. Real friends are willing to make sacrifices for each other, make plans together, and serve one another with respect and humility.

Unity in Faith

"Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, 'Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.'" (1 Samuel 14:6)

"Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.'" (1 Samuel 17:45)

Both David and Jonathan were motivated by their devotion to God and their commitment to further His kingdom. They were united in their faith and faithful to their callings. As in marriage, shared faith plays a huge role in a successful relationship — and partnership in mission and ministry.

Enduring Loyalty

"Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, 'You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.' Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, 'Why should he be put to death? What has he done?' But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him." (1 Samuel 20:30-34)

The friendship between David and Jonathan had become complicated because Jonathan's father Saul had grown to despise David and for all kinds of reasons. Can you imagine Jonathan's predicament? He was torn between loyalty to his father and loyalty to his friend. But Jonathan sided with David because he knew that his father's position was unjust and influenced by all kinds of wrong motives. At the risk of his own life, Jonathan maintained covert contact with David so that he could warn him of impending danger. Defend and protect — sometimes at great risk, but that's what true friends do for each other.

Emotional Connection

"…David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most." (1 Samuel 20:41)

Things with Saul had deteriorated to the point where David's life was in constant danger. It was time for him to disappear, and when the two friends had to say "goodbye," they didn't know if they'd ever see each other again. One way you know you really love somebody is when it hurts so bad to part ways that the dam breaks and the tears flow. Is it worth it? Absolutely, brother. Don't let anybody tell you differently. 

A friendship between men like the one David and Jonathan shared is all too rare. My prayer, guys, is that the Lord will bless every one of us with such a bond of brotherhood.

Vince-Miller-Bio-Pic-2019

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Man Is Not Meant to Do Life Alone

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Man Is Not Meant to Do Life Alone

Fess up if you're lonely. Really, this is too important to shrug off. Not only is loneliness a significant contributor to depression, but frequently it's a factor in suicides. Did you know that men are nearly four times more likely to die from suicide than women? Shocking. And loneliness also is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, lowered immune rates, and other potentially lethal health issues. One can accurately say that our lack of connection with other guys may be killing us. It is slowly resulting in physical pain and death.

The Power of Two (Or More)

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) 

God never intended for us to go through life or face its challenges by ourselves. Not only does He sustain us by His own power, but He also provides support through the other men He brings into our lives. Numbers 11 recounts how, when Moses found the burden of leading the contentious Israelites became "too heavy" for him, God directed him to gather together some of the elders and leaders so that He could empower them to help Moses as needed.

"They shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone" (Numbers 11:17).

God also surrounded David with mighty warriors whose love, devotion, and help influenced his life in myriad ways (2 Samuel 23).

Cultivate a Few Close Male Friends

"Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul." (1 Samuel 18:3) 

Stories in both the Old and New Testament bear out how vital our human relationships are, and through them we learn much about how God has designed us for fellowship not only with Himself, but also with each other. Jesus understood that every man needs support and friendship with other men — He sought out His disciples with intentionality, quite early in His ministry (Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 5). And Scripture makes it clear that those relationships were personal and vital to Him, not just in the context of teacher and follower. He needed them in His darkest moments in Gethsemane; He shared His heart with them daily; He referred to them not just as brothers, but also as His friends.

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)

Make It a Matter of Prayer

I admit that to find a true friend is not always an easy task, but we owe it to ourselves to make it a priority. Bible scholars tend to single out three from among Jesus' disciples and apostles who were His closest guy friends: Peter, James, and John. Those friendships evolved as they ministered together and endured life together. So pray about it — make it a point to identify one or two guys with whom you can nurture a healthy, biblical friendship. Friendships with other men provide something very different from the connection one might have with a girlfriend or a spouse, and we men can validate each other in ways that the women in our lives cannot. Some activities and experiences can only be shared with other men, a camaraderie that evolves among brothers unique to the bonds of man-to-man relationships.

Brothers, we need to acknowledge that developing friendships with other men is essential —and brings us that much closer to maturing into the men God intends us to be. We need each other. It's how He designed us. It's not a show of weakness. Instead, it's a reflection of the fellowship our triune God enjoys as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And the truth is — our very lives may depend on it!

Vince-Miller-Bio-Pic-2019

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

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