Category Archives: Letters To My Son

When You Feel Far From God

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When You Feel Far From God

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.—Ephesians 3:6

Son, at some point, we are all going to feel a little far from God. We will. This will happen in some season of your spiritual life, and these moments we will feel alone, lonely, and uncertain.

This year has been one of those years for me. I, like many men, have felt this increasing distance with God. Covid has created so much separation and division that I feel lonely somedays. I used to travel, hang with men, visit groups, speak at events, and now most days, my days are just like yours. I get up, shower, walk to the office, do some administrative work, write, have online meetings all day, and then walk back down the hall to bed. I have tried to keep the spirits high by sheer positive talk, but I feel like a huge part of my work, and recreational life is missing.

And what I am experiencing is nothing compared to what some men have experienced.

Some have lost jobs, careers, and income. Some have gone through marital challenges, failure, and divorce. Some have been deathly ill or have loved ones who died. We have also been exposed to a world that is divided and polarized by news, politics, economics, and health issues. And places we used to go to get away from this all, like the church, are now just reminders of our world's division.

For some men, this is driving them to God, and still, for others, this is causing them to feel far from God.

Yet this is why chapter three of Ephesians is so critical. In this chapter, and actually in this entire book, Paul is fighting for those who feel far. He is presenting a compelling case for why God loves those who are far off. Specifically, he addresses non-Jewish believers that some Jewish believers would not legitimize, thus who were made to feel far off. So if you have ever felt far from God, this chapter is the chapter for you.

Here are two things Paul communicates to these people made to feel far off.

First | You Are an Heir
Recently I was reading a story about a wealthy entrepreneur that died. After his death, he invited his entire family to a reading of his last will. As the lawyer was reading, they came to discover that he changed his will and left his entire inheritance and estate to a young girl that attended to him in the last years of his life. When no one else was there for him, this young girl cared for and attended to him, and thus he left her everything. Can you imagine that? A windfall for a young lady who was not expecting it, and she was treated as a close child.

Well, that's what Paul is suggesting in this chapter. He is clarifying that we are that heir: us, the people who were once far off. But in the book of Ephesians, he's explicitly referencing a group of people called Gentiles. Now this designation was a general term used to define any one of a non-Jewish heritage. And in this letter, Paul is presenting the case that every one of non-Jewish origin that at one time was not a rightful heir to God is now an heir. They are heirs of the inheritance and riches of God.

Listen to what he says in verses 6-8:

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. — Ephesians 3:6-8

When I read this, I feel like Paul is defending me that he is defending the simple fact that someone is trying to disqualify me from receiving my inheritance. That there are opponents excluding me from knowing or experiencing the inheritance that God has for me.

But here's the deal. The riches of God's inheritance have already been given. That's a fact. The reason we often feel far from God is not that God is far from us. Nothing is further from the truth. God has already come close in his Son and lives within us in the Spirit. What convinces us today that we are far from God is ourselves and the voice of self-disqualification. We are our own worst enemy and believe the lie—that God is far from us.

I have seen evidence of this in every Christian man. We can even know this truth, but when we encounter challenges, obstacles, or even our failings, we will convince ourselves that we are no longer heirs of the inheritance because of these events. That God has somehow taken them away, and thus removed us as heirs. But it's here that Paul accents something so important when we feel far.

Paul shows us how to rediscover the closeness we long for.

Second | Come Close by Knowing His Riches
Listen to this statement from Paul:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.—Ephesians 3:14-19

When I feel far from God, I have discovered that what I long for more than anything is to be loved. And God's love is limitless to those of us who are heirs. While we try to talk ourselves out of this, Paul here is literally on his knees, praying for our strength and that we may comprehend and know his love surpasses our voice of self-disqualification. That we would know God's love and be filled with this love.

When you were very young, I remember putting you to bed at night. And you were insistent that I lie with you till you were entirely asleep. While I tried to be sneaky about my departure, you could sense when I was about to slip out, and you would grab for me. I can remember, on many occasions, unsuccessfully trying to slip out from under the covers. And all you wanted from me at that moment was closeness. To fall to sleep next to a loving and protecting father (that's me by the way).

And that's our God. But for some reason, the voice of self-disqualification wants to convince us he's going to slip out of the room. And this is not the case at all.

These verses here are the truth. They are the fact. God has come close. God remains close. God's love has a grip on you. And your untrue and disqualifying thoughts do not have an impact on this inheritance.

Here's your challenge.

Stop disputing God's, indisputable love.

Just stop it. Let God love you. Let him snuggle up right next to you. As Paul said, "know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

So today, maybe say this out loud:
"God, you said you love me. You showed me you love me. You have come close to love me. Help me to stop disputing your indisputable love."

I love you, son—it's indisputable.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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The Danger of Ambition

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The Danger of Ambition

Son, most men learn about the dangers of ambition the hard way. 

We never intend to slowly distance ourselves from God, family, or meaningful relationships. We never aim to become evil, manipulative, or narcissistic. We never plan to commit adultery, get divorced, be prosecuted, get fired, or be canceled on social media. But ambition has led to all these results and more.

And for those who have been down these roads and experienced these results, we know the hidden dangers. For some, it begins with seeking a competitive edge. Or for others, begins with a desire to please others who are never satisfied. And others get caught in its trappings by the promise of achievements, notoriety, and prosperity.

So, son, in guarding and forewarning yourself of these dangers, here are some things you must know.

One | Ambition Feeds on Selfishness

"as to zeal, a persecutor of the church..."—Paul commenting on his past as the man formerly known as Saul, in Philippians 3:6

These short words are how Paul identified his former behavior. His zeal was second to none. He was known for his ambition. This was so widely known that his conversion to faith was unbelievable for many Christians.

And when [Saul] 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.—Acts 9:26

What's interesting about a man's ambition is not that it's all bad. Ambition, zeal, and industry are good, as long the object of ambition is not the self. When the ambition focuses on the self, a man will ultimately use others around him to accomplish his own end. They become his means to elevate himself, which has now become his central focus. This is tough to see when at first, but as selfish ambition grows, the effects are far-reaching. And as we discover in Saul's life, he began using people for his personal advancement. And this process can become so self-serving and devious that deviation from this path can seem unbelievable and impossible to observers.

The dilemma is that there is no end to this progression until the pain of necessary change confronts a man. And depending on how callous and impervious to the pain we've become, it might require tremendous pain. Or, like in Saul's case, we finally have a confrontation with Jesus Christ that knocks us off our feet and onto our knees.

Two | Ambition is Aimless Enticement

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.—King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:14

Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest man to ever live, has something significant to teach us about the path of ambition. Money. Fame. Success. They are all attractive. Many a man will pursue them. The reason why men seek them is positive short-term gains. But the problem is that the short term gains always fall short. Moreover, the short-lived gains lead to aimless running. Therefore men from one temporary gain to the next. Before long, we look up and see we have been running after purposelessness and aimlessness.

No man wants this. We want the exact opposite—purpose and meaning. And as Solomon discovered, there was only one to find it. And in the final sentences of the book of Ecclesiastes, he tells us how to find purpose and meaning. The path to discovering it is not through human ambition but holy fear. Fear of the One who provides purpose to a man. And this is not aimlessness—this is our aim!

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.—Ecclesiastes 12:13

Three | Ambition Compromises Character

And he told her all his heart, and said to her, "A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man."—Samson's confession to Deliah in Judges 16:17

This confession led to Samson's fall. But he did not arrive at this moment suddenly. He got there one small decision at a time. His selfish ambition eventually caused him to get closer and closer to the edge of compromise. Until finally, he thought he was impervious to failing. Thus, his ambition clouded his wisdom and exposed his character and, therefore, his life's mission and purpose.

All human ambition will lead a man to do something that seems stupid. What's interesting is that at the moment they do it, they don't think it's stupid. It's just another choice in a series of choices that lead to a final and foolish decision. But what this decision reveals is their character. Therefore most men look back at this, realizing how stupid one decision was and the series of smaller decisions that led up to it—that can never be undone but can only be done differently from that point forward.

So what can we do?

Overcoming Ambition

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.—Ezekiel 36:26

Instead of surrendering to ambition, great men surrender ambition itself. In the act of surrender, we loosen our grip on what has a hold on us. And we offer it to God. We submit everything our ambitions have been focused on, which is the self, and we give our ambitions and the self to a holy and willing God. Then God, who we now worship—not the self—guides us down a new path focused only on him. 

And the best part is that God does something in this exchange that reignites the male ambition with a twist—it becomes holy ambition. Ambition focused solely on him and his purposes. And in this, we discover that God has a purpose for us and that he wants us to live in out in his character and in his way.

Son, be ambitious. But do not fall for the trappings of human ambition. They are, but folly, and many a man has fallen to its trapping. I love you—Dad.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Letters to My Son

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Letters To My Son

Why I've Written These Letters

Over the months, I have been writing letters to my boys. One is in high school, and one is in college. The reason I started writing them was two-fold. First, I felt that writing them would demonstrate thoughtful love and care. I have hoped that the occasional text with a meaningful and personal letter from Dad would pique their interest. As a father, I feel a deep desire to disciple them. Yet at their present stage, I know friends, teachers, and coaches will get more face time and, therefore, will end up discipling them more than I. Thus, these letters are an attempt to get in front of them spiritually on meaningful subject matters.

But I also have a secondary reason for writing. I plan on my sons outliving me, or at least I pray they will. And if I do pass from the land of the dying into the land of the living before them, I hope these letters will become a meaningful part of the memory that they have of me and my beliefs and values—Letters from Dad from the beyond. They are words that I hope outlive me, and maybe to the third and fourth generation.

In the process, I have also discovered that many of Dad's out there have appreciated reading them. Dad's young and old. Dad's to be, and Dad's who were. But I have also discovered that many read them for themselves as well.

So men, enjoy it! These are my letters to my son. I will keep writing, and I pray you will share them generously.

All The Letters I Have Written To My Son

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Respect Authority | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

Respect Authority | Letters To My Son READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”—Jesus, Luke 22:42 “Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority.”—The legendary coach, Vince Lombardi […] respect-authority-a-blog-written-by-Vince-Miller-of-Mens-Ministry

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Love Women | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

Love Women | Letters To My Son READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”—Genesis 1:27 “Marriage is a lot of give and take. You take a lot, and you give a lot.”—Verna Mae […] Love-Women-a-blog-by-Vince-Miller-of-Resolute-Mens-Ministry

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Produce Value | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

Produce Value | Letters To My Son READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE “I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.”—Marcus Aurelius “For while bodily training […] Produce-Value-a-blog-by-Vince-Miller

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Moderate Anger | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

Moderate Anger | Letters To My Son READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within […] Regret-a-blog-by-Vince-Miller-of-Resolute-Mens-Ministry

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The Power Of Addiction | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

The Power Of Addiction | Letters To My Son READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Quitting smoking is easy; I’ve done it hundreds of times.—Mark Twain But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.—Luke 21:34. But I’m Not An […] The-Power-of-Addiction-a-blog-by-Vince-Miller-at-Resolute-Mens-Ministry

Im Proud of You a daily devotional by Vince Miller

The Pride Problem | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

The Pride Problem READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin. — John Stott He must increase, but I must decrease. — John the Baptizer, in John 3:30 Your Pride is Always Going to Be a Problem […] Im Proud of You a daily devotional by Vince Miller

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Find Great Mentors | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

Find Great Mentors READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Everything I’ve learned I have learned from someone else. —John Wooden And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. —2 Timothy 2:2 Why You Should Find a Mentor […] Find-Great-Mentors-a-blog-by-Vince-Miller-of-Resolute-Mens-Ministry

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Be Offensive

By Vince Miller

Be Offensive READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE 15 Ways To Be On Your Best Offense As A Man Of God We live in a world where people are being trained to be offended. It appears we live in a time when it’s nearly heroic for people to point out the offenses of another. […] Be-Offensive-a-daily-devotional-by-Vince-Miller

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Build Great Friendships | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

Build Great Friendships READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE The secrets to building great friendships with others. A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.—Proverbs 18:24 It Was Easier When You Were Younger It was a lot easier when you were a […] Build-Great-Friendships-a-letter-to-my-son-by-Vince-Miller

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In Your Singleness

By Vince Miller

In Your Singleness READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”—Ephesians 5:25 Companionship is a Worthy Desire If you are looking for companionship, friendship, and a relationship with a woman, know that this is a worthy desire. And having the aspiration […] Be-Courageous-a-daily-devotional-by-Vince-Miller

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The 5 Voices Men Hear | Letters To My Son

By Vince Miller

The 5 Voices Men Hear READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other.—Douglas MacArthur My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and […] 5-Voices-Men-Hear-a-blog-by-Vince-Miller

The Answer a daily devotional by Vince Miller

God Is Man’s Provider

By Vince Miller

God Is Man’s Provider READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE God is the source of all things. Many men of the Old Testament were remarkable leaders, pioneers, and patriarchs in our early faith. One of these men was Abraham. He is known by many as the “father of faith.” And he bears this title […] The Answer a daily devotional by Vince Miller

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Get Good Counsel On Money

By Vince Miller

Get Good Counsel on Money READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.—Proverbs 15:22 There are certain areas of a man’s life where the counsel of others is necessary, but where I have found it hard to ask for help. One of these areas is money. […] Poverty-benefit-a-daily-devotional-by-Vince-Miller

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Four Things Friends Do Even When It’s Hard

By Vince Miller

Four Things Friends Do Even When It’s Hard READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE “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 […] The-Power-of-Connection-a-Daily-Devotional-by-Vince-Miller-mens-author-and-speaker

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Physical Stewardship | A Letter To My Son

By Vince Miller

Physical Stewardship READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE I think permitting the game to become too physical takes away a little bit of the beauty.—John Wooden For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life […] Physcial-Stewardship-a-letter-to-my-son-by-Vince-Miller

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When Decisions Disappoint | A Letter To My Son

By Vince Miller

When Decisions Disappoint READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Son, there will be times in your life that you will make decisions that will bring on some unfortunate consequences. These consequences are going to be of various levels of consequence. Some will have little pain like a prick to the finger that throbs and […] Letter-to-my-Son-by-Vince-Miller

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Sex Porn & Desire | A Letter To My Son

By Vince Miller

Sex, Porn, & Desire READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Son, I have met so many men who are compulsively viewing pornography that I must write this letter. While many of the notes I write to you, I look forward to writing; this one was difficult to write as the subject matter is sexual, […] Letter-to-my-Son-by-Vince-Miller

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You Are Not A Failure | A Letter To My Son

By Vince Miller

You Are Not A Failure READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be “—John Wooden. “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t […] Letter-to-my-Son-by-Vince-Miller

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You Are A Part Of Something Big

By Vince Miller

You Are A Part Of Something Big READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.—Dwight L. Moody Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it […] Letter-to-my-Son-Header

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Lured By Sin

By Vince Miller

Lured By Sin READ OTHER LETTERS TO MY SON HERE Knowledge of God’s Word is a bulwark against deception, temptation, accusation, even persecution.—Ed Cole Son, at some point, you are going to become aware of the deceptiveness of sin. You will be lured in by it. It will hook you, and you will be held […] A-letter-to-my-son-by-Vince-Miller

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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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Live Beyond The Shame

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Live Beyond The Shame

Son, there are points in every man's life when he feels like he is not good enough. This is common to every man. Most bounce back from these momentary struggles with guilt, shame, and regret, but some will not. Some men will allow the quiet voice of self-criticism to take them to self-hatred and a lingering feeling of disappointment, discouragement, and disapproval that seeks to alter their identity. For some men, this will become paralyzing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

A popular solution for those living in shame is focused self-improvement that strives to boost self-esteem. Coaching in this manner seeks to improve skills, competencies, mindsets, attitudes, perseverance, and endurance with the hope of seeing worth in yourself that dig you out of your self-criticism. But as you will learn, this is an insufficient solution. If this solution were sufficient for men, there would be no one living in perpetual and private shame. Yet men still do. And solutions of this sort ignore the fact that shame is rooted in a spiritual problem, needs a spiritual solution, and a renewed spiritual reality that is not manufactured merely by our mind.

So if you are dealing with shame, here is what you need to know about shame and how to live shamelessly.

There Was A Time Before Shame

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.—Genesis 2:25

Can you imagine this utopia? A time before shame? 

It must have been a beautiful state of freedom. Yet not long after this moment, sin came and shame and then a lot of blame. And ever since the fall of man, the same cycle continues. Sin, then shame, and then blame.

But can we attain what was lost in the garden?

The answer is yes, but we have to understand where shame gets its power.

Shame's Power Comes From Sin

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.—Romans 6:6

There is nothing more the Accuser, that's Satan, would love than for a redeemed man to live in a state of self-criticism rather than in God's true joy and freedom. 

"We know," the writer confidently states, but do men act as they know when they live in self-criticism and shame? 

We might say we know, but if we don't also behave and believe as we know, then do we know? And what is it that we should know—that we were crucified—notice the use of the past tense. This infers that the spiritual penance paid by Christ on the cross was good enough, even though we were not. His penance in the past alters our present state. This crucifixion nailed our body of sin, freeing us from the slavery of sin. If this is the case, then why do so many men act and believe they are enslaved? Why do we choose to believe our sin enslaves us when the present reality is so different?

This is where shame gets its power. It convinces redeemed men that God's gift on the cross was not enough. It convinces redeemed men that they are never going to be enough. In our disbelief of God and his act on the cross, we choose to believe more in the voice of shame. No longer does the cross have power, but rather our shame.

But here is the truth.

You Are Not Put To Shame

For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."—Romans 10:11

Sin and shame have no power over the regenerate believer. If Scripture is true—then shame was put off not put on. And while we did formerly live in a perpetual state of sin and thus shame, this is no longer the case. While as men, we occasionally sin, this is vastly different from the life of sin we once lived. Our spiritual state is changed, and we as men will spend the rest of our lives, realizing, understanding, and knowing this renewed state. Thus scripture is needed desperately to retrain a mind that believes the past more than the present. Our old ways, attitudes, and beliefs tend to persuade us to believe in old beliefs and belief systems. While some guilt and regret are good in moments of sin, they should drive us toward reconciliation and restoration, not to a state of shame that paralyzes us.

Our Present Reality Is Saved Not Shamed

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.—Galatians 2:20

The truth of these words are power to a man who lives in shame. The writer proclaims, "It is no longer I who live." And this is not positive self-talk aimed at boosting a man's self-esteem. It is embracing a belief in a new spiritual reality. Remember, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth is merely human effort that is futile. The death and resurrection of Christ for mankind's sin is not human effort—it's divine salvation from the futile attempts of human effort. It is the redemption of sin that breaks the bondage of sin and the cycle of shame and blame.

Christ's sacrifice was enough, but now we have a choice—to believe in Christ who lives within us or believe in the shame that so easily imprisons us.

If you are a follower of Christ, live free from shame, enjoy your freedom, and find joy in Christ's life. Why live in self-condemnation, as a man set free? Don't condemn yourself—God doesn't when you are in Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.—Romans 8:1

I love you, son—Dad.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Your Beliefs Are Powerful

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Your Beliefs Are Powerful

The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will let our minds dwell upon.— Dallas Willard

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.—Philippians 4:8

Son, it matters what we think. It affects everything about us as men. When I was younger, I didn't think it mattered, but with years comes wisdom, and I have come to discover that every thought that spins around in our head has consequences. The music you sing along with, the language you hear, the media you read, the marketing you believe, and even the thoughts you have about yourself all affect you. They alter your feelings, beliefs, and attitudes that, as a result, change your behavior sometimes a little at a time and other times drastically.

So let me illustrate. When I was 12 years old, I remember standing on the basketball court with a group of other young men during a gym class. I vividly recall another friend coming up and bursting into our conversation, and he began to share with the four of us about Tony's first sexual encounter over the weekend. He spared no detail. Then he closed off the conversation with this statement, "Guys, I guess Tony became a man. Tony became a man." And then he dropped the mic and walked away. And even though a 12-year-old boy does not understand what it means to be a man, this thought was compelling to me about manhood. At this moment, a belief and belief system were forming in my mind, and it was perhaps one of the most potent ideas I heard at age 12. And you should know this influenced my thinking for several years. I fell for this false belief because I did not have a father present or a Christian voice in my life. And I clung to this belief, and the supporting system of belief as my hope for manhood—resulting in several bad decisions.

The following are my thoughts on our beliefs as men. I pray this serves you well in life as you make decisions about what you choose to believe.

One | We Construct Beliefs and Belief Systems

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD."—Isaiah 55:8

So we are thinking and believing beings. This is what makes us human. In basic philosophy, we learn that the one thing that distinguishes us from all other creatures is that we do not act on instinct alone. Human beings can think and construct systems of belief about life. This means that as we are exposed to inputs of data, we make judgments, develop concepts, and inferences about life that result in ideas and images that make up our beliefs. These ideas and images are compelling.

Beliefs require two things to become a belief: first, a believer (that's you), and second, an object or proposition (that's something you believe in). You are a believer who comes in contact with objects and propositions every day. Over time, you construct beliefs, and a cluster of these beliefs results in what we call a belief system. When we strip this down, a belief system is simply ideas and images about various parts of our life. And they influence how we view family, work, education, money, politics, and our faith. A true belief system is a good thing, and false belief system is bad—thus the words from the apostle Paul to the Philippians above. When you think about things that are honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent, you get better inputs and thus better outputs. The point being you construct them, good and bad.

Two | You Are Controlled by Your Belief Systems

"For as he thinks within himself, so he is."—Proverbs 23:7

This principle is probably not a shocker. 

This is why a beautiful woman thinks she is ugly, or a skinny woman thinks she is obese. Her self-perceptions and the ideas and image she has constructed are now controlling her believing process and her actions.

There is evidence of this rule throughout the Bible. Take the David and Goliath story. Why did Israel not send a man out fight with Goliath? Because they were being controlled by the belief that they could not defeat Goliath. Goliath's challenge was too outrageous for them—then along came David. And here, we see a teenager with a different belief and belief system. He believed that God could defeat Goliath—and that if God was going to use someone, it was him! This radical belief uprooted everyone's belief system, and it defied human logic, but it was spot on.

Therefore we can conclude that even though belief systems are what make us human, and what we use to make sense of the world around us, they are not always correct. They can be repetitively wrong and therefore control us. And as we know, these belief systems have power and direct how we think (our thoughts) and what we do (our behaviors). This is why men hesitate to act out in faith; they have human beliefs and human belief systems that compete with God's system of faith. This is also why many men get stuck in repetitive cycles of sins; they have a belief or belief system that is entirely inaccurate.

This leads to the third point.

Three | We Have Corrupt Belief Systems

"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."—Genesis 6:5

Yes, not only corrupt beliefs but also corrupt belief systems. We have corrupt belief systems at the core. Note that the writer above states our intentions are the real problem. It's not just our thoughts or behaviors, but the aim of our thoughts and behaviors. This is the nature of human corruption at the deepest level.

So we can conclude that corrupt belief systems distort everything, including how we view God, spirit, soul, mind, and body. They corrupt our entire being.

And remember what is pervasive about these corrupt belief systems is that they are not uniform. They are different for every person. So this means my corrupt beliefs may be different from yours, yet still corrupt. And this corruption is profoundly personal and can involve long heritage, and when we combine this long heritage with a deep personal commitment, it can be hard to break. That is why battling repetitive sin or breaking a long-term habit is laborious; it's because we have years of corrupt patterns that are rewarding us in some way, and it's hard to destroy old beliefs, systems, and the powerful rewards and patterns that go with them.

Overcoming corrupt belief systems can feel like asking someone to jump into deep-water, without a life vest when they don't know how to swim. For many, this is a paralyzing look over the bow of a great ship. This is why beginning a personal relationship with Christ is often challenging and simultaneously stimulating. The experience is eye-opening.

And this leads to the final principle.

Four | God must Reveal The Belief System

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."—John 14:6

This is why Jesus came to our world. He came to reveal the only way, the truthful way, and the one that leads to life as it was intended to be lived. God saw that our beliefs and belief systems were corrupt, and because we could not find the way on our own, God had to reveal the way. And he does this—in the person of Jesus Christ.

This bold and often divisive statement by Jesus is the revelation of a new way to believe. And every time we discover another truth about his way, God opens our mind to another reality.

I have had many moments in my life where God has revealed the truth to me. Moments where I have discovered the power of his grace over the law of my sin, the impact of what Christ did in the resurrection versus what I could do on my own, and the infinite power of a relationship with God over my religious activity. And these moments are revealing in fresh new ways every day, as long as I am keeping myself close to the truth in God's Word. God reveals something to me every single day. And it has been an "awakening."

Son, we live in times that are changing. You will be exposed to thoughts and beliefs through friends, teachers, coaches, supervisors, famous stars, and even pastors and leaders that are opposed to God's Truth. I pray that you will test these thoughts and beliefs and compare them to the truth in God's Word. His truth is good, search for it, and hold fast!

But test everything; hold fast what is good.—1 Thessalonians 5:21

I love you, son, Dad.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Lured By Sin

A-letter-to-my-son-by-Vince-Miller

Lured By Sin

Knowledge of God's Word is a bulwark against deception, temptation, accusation, even persecution.—Ed Cole

Son, at some point, you are going to become aware of the deceptiveness of sin. You will be lured in by it. It will hook you, and you will be held captive in its clutches.

Think about the process of deception like a fisherman thinks about the sport of fishing. His aim—to deceive a fish by baiting and hooking it, to eventually filet, cook, and feast on it. Regardless of how poorly I do this, the same principle applies to the enticement, baiting, and hooking that men encounter daily when it comes to sin. The taste of the bait is different based on the sin, but the bait is presented the same way in every instance. If you learn how we are enticed by sin, you will be better prepared to resist the temptation, and even make better decisions to avoid temptation when sin seeks to lure and reel you in. The following three baits should empower you to make better advanced decisions. All three are observed in the first temptation in the Bible. And remember this is an interaction the serpent has with the woman who is baiting her to act in disobedience to God.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."—Genesis 3:1-5

BAIT ONE | God Doesn't Let You Do Anything

Did God actually say, "You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?"—Genesis 3:2

So what's happening here? It's cunning if you read it carefully.

The serpent is inviting the woman to question the one moral rule of God. And man was given this rule long before the woman was created. And it was a single moral command. Not two. Not even ten—that was later. Just one. Here is how God communicated the original command:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."—Genesis 2:16-17

If you read it carefully a few times, you will notice some differences between God's original declaration and the serpent's statement. While God said "every tree" was permissible except one, the serpent presented an interesting spin; that they were not allowed to eat from "any tree." Thus, we see the first bait is presented, which leads to an enticing exchange of questioning God's truth.

Now note; when it comes to life, we should ask great questions. Dialogue is necessary. But when these dialogues lead us down the stream of questioning truth, we need to examine the process and even consider the potential consequence. Please always go back to the truth, in God's Word, and do what God instructs, staying close to God's original intent and meaning. Since we are innately sinful, selfish desires will kick in, and they will entice us with questions that attempt to blur the lines between obedience and disobedience. This is a dangerous and sometimes fatal first step that leads to many others. Be careful to search for the truth, not your version of the truth, that causes you to question the truth of God.

Now had this been the only bait set, perhaps the woman would not have sinned? But there is another powerbait presented.

BAIT TWO | God Is Lying To You

"You will not surely die."—Genesis 3:4

You have to remember that our enemy knows the truth, and he knows it well. And because he knows the truth so well, even better than some Christians, he presents the truth and leaves most of it intact to only hook you with falsehood. Note the statement of the serpent. He proclaims a partial truth and therefore suggests that God is lying and concealing something from her. He could have said it this way. 

"You will not surely die, today but die you will. And by the way, the bonus is spiritual death and separation from God."

But in your life, the voice of the serpent sounds a lot like you! It's after all the voice of your private desires.

The seductive voice of self-rationalization is powerful bait because you know what you want more than anyone else. And sometimes you'll want something so badly you will convince yourself that a small diversion is okay. This will come in self-talk that sounds like this:

  • "I'll do it just once."
  • "No one will ever know."
  • "I won't get caught."
  • "It's not that wrong."
  • "You will not surely die."

The sound of this voice should bring a pause in your life. Justification and self-rationalization should signal that the hook is about to be set. At all costs, stop the process immediately. Get counsel from Christian men and instruction from God's Word. Do not continue! For once the third bait is presented, it's hard to turn and swim away.

BAIT THREE | God's A Deceiver

"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."—Genesis 3:5

Now, this is insidious. The serpent wants the woman to believe that God is a selfish concealer, which is downright deceit. But he has brought the woman a long way down the road of temptation. First, he gets her to question the truth; then, he spins the truth, now he feeds her the ultimate untruth—God knows and deceiving you. And concurrently, there is also the chance to become something greater—you can be "like God."

Son, this is the penultimate bait. We want to be like God. We desire power, knowledge, and control. This man and woman did have their eyes opened, but with it, it did not produce the intended result—instead, it resulted in separation from God.

Now, you may think you have no desire to be like God, but all men do. Just get a small taste of power, and you'll want more like every man. It's simply unquenchable. And it's this drive for power, knowledge, and control that takes men downstream into hideous sin.

So, son, you will sin. You've probably already done so today. But remember these baits, they are unchanging. And when you are baited by temptation and sin, get back up again, lean on God's grace, and keep moving as a man of God, till the Day sin is no more.

I love you sin and all, but live in the truth and grace of God—Dad.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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You Are A Part Of Something Big

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You Are A Part Of Something Big

Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.—Dwight L. Moody

Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults.—John Calvin.

I think it's essential for you to hear this, but did you know you are a part of something big that some Christians believe is unnecessary. You are a member of a worldwide, and local body of believers called the church. While your personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential, it was never intended to be private. Therefore participation in the body of Christ by joining a local church is not just nice; it's necessary. I often worry about you not attending a local church regularly, and that you might dismiss it as irrelevant. But here are a few reasons I believe it's important and the ways it has blessed me in my journey with Christ.

One | Man Was Created For Relationship

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."—Genesis 1:26

Notice the text above. God creates man us not just in "his" image but in "our" image. The use of the plural personal pronouns "us" and "our" is significant. And just like the Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit) is in relationship, we were created with the same need, not only for a relationship with God but others.

But you intuitively know this. You would otherwise experience loneliness and aloneness without meaningful relationships. You have been aware of this your whole life. You are reminded of this immense value often—every time someone includes you or leaves you out. Every time a friend comes to rescue or leaves you hanging. Every time a girl takes an interest in you or, in some cases, ignores you. We desire relationship, and we cannot do without it. God sketched it into the very fabric of our being.

Yet the relationships that fill this void have the potential to move us in two directions. Either they move us toward God or away from God. They thus make us better or worse. You have heard these words from me many times, but these two scriptures capture this truth. "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.'" (1 Corinthians 15:33) And at the same time, here is another important scripture, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)

You know both your mother and I have always been concerned about the relationships you have. The reason being is that we know that relationships have great power to either corrupt you or make you sharper. At this point in your life, you get to make your own choices about the friends you will spend your time with, but I hope you'll spend more time with those in the latter category—men, and women, that make you sharper.

Most of my longest-lasting friendships and relationships have been forged in the church. In fact, in the church, I have found lifelong friends whose character, skill, and influence is still having an impact on me. Their voices echo in the chambers of my heart and mind whether or not I still see them regularly—some have passed on, some have moved, and some I still see, but they speak truth to me. And because we have shared in worship and sought God's way together, they have made me the man I am today. This is just one of the many reasons I think it's vital to attend a local church. 

So go to church! Build some friendships and pursue God with others, even when it feels a little awkward for a while.

Two | You Need the Church and The Church Needs You

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.—1 Corinthians 12:17-18

In these verses, Paul, the author, is comparing the church to a body. A living system of people that work together and therefore rely on each other as they rely on God. And while many believe you can be a Christian without going to church, nothing could be further from the truth—the reason being—you are the church!

Choosing not to attend because the church is full of sinful people, you don't like its style, or think it's not necessary to be called a follower of Christ is entirely mistaken. God never intended Christians to function independently from the Christian community. It's simply impossible. This would be like saying you're a soccer player when you don't play on a team. Or suggesting you are a leader when no one is following you.

And here is the great part about being a part of church or body—you need them, and they need you. In reality, the church has gifts and resources that you need, and at the same time, you have gifts and resources that the church needs. Being a part of a body has numerous mutual benefits. Plus, you gather with people that share a common vision, mission, and values regarding life and godliness, and all this results in the biggest reason we go to church—to worship God together. Weekly we gather underneath the Lordship of Jesus Christ and worship him. As the author of Hebrews said, we must "not neglect 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 10:25)

Three | Men Need Regular Positive Accountability

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.—Galatians 6:1-2

Accountability is something many men run from simply because we think of it only as something that occurs when we do something wrong. But accountability can be positive as well. It can be something that pushes and drives us to be better men, leaders, husbands, and fathers. I know without positive accountability as a man, I am destined for negative accountability—which is how most men learn through failure. But it doesn't have to be this way. You can be a little more proactive.

You need to start building relationships with some Christian men you trust and with whom you can confide. Men that love Christ and will propel you to be better. They will help you to become the man that God wants you to be and offer you encouragement in the temptations and burdens of life.

While I am present for you now, there will be a day I am not, and I hope that you will always be connected to a church because it's essential to your ongoing growth and faith development. Act upon this immediately, and it will bless your life along our long journey toward our eternal home—together.

I love you, son, Dad.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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You Are Not A Failure | A Letter To My Son

Letter-to-my-Son-Header-by-Vince-Miller

You Are Not A Failure

"Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be "—John Wooden.

"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space."—Johnny Cash

Son, you will fail; this happens. But this does not mean you are a failure. The assumption that "you are a failure" is a powerful and defeating thought that can paralyze a man. It's a recording that sometimes plays in the mind that men struggle to silence. It's one of the five powerful voices I believe all men hear (if you remember my previous letter on this subject). I think this is partially because many men falsely believe that to be a man, we must "man-up" by appearing strong, confident, and courageous, even when we feel weak, confused, and lost. This false belief thus devastates men in moments of failure. Which is why when we fail, we sometimes believe we are a failure.

Please note, experiencing failure and feeling the impact is a good thing for all men. The last thing we need is insensitivity to this pain. Appropriate levels of pain, in the form of regret and guilt, are good for all men. And why? Well, because pain is an indication of pending danger. Insensitivity to pain will only lead to callousness and other, more harmful decisions to self and others. Yet, inflicting needless suffering on ourselves by allowing a failure to convince us that we are a failure is also not helpful. While you and I are both sinners, we are redeemed by Christ and given a new identity as sons of God. Your identity is marked permanently not by your failure but by His grace, and your identity is forever changed. Accepting this is sometimes too good to be true, so it's easy for men to go back to the perpetual failure of the former life and the old yoke of slavery.

"...and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."—Galatians 5:1

As men, we live in this great tension, and here is how I describe it. First, our former identity is marked entirely by sin. In fact, the Bible calls us "sinners." Yes, God's Word is clear; our identities before Christ are marked by perpetual sin. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) So in one sense, and at one time, all men were perpetual failures. We were, (notice the use of the past tense of the verb,) a complete and total failure. Second, yet we also know that "the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) And this gift results in us having the opportunity to believe in his name, giving us "the right to become children of God." (John 1:12) Jesus also says, "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) So your identity has changed from sinner to son, from failure to friend. Third, we must choose to live in this new identity as sons and friends. Yet we know, the voice of the past will call to us. In moments of failure, we will be tempted to listen to the voice of the former man and the old identity. It will call to you and say, "I am a failure." Its call will be compelling and clear because only you will hear its voice within your mind. This voice will present evidence to you from your own life to support your incorrect perceptions. Do not doubt my words, son, the courtroom of your mind will offer a convincing case. And yet, the tension between a former identity and your new identity has a present reality. 

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.—2 Corinthians 5:21

Think about that and ponder on it for a second—you are the "righteousness of God." Let that set in. That's your identity. You are not a failure. You are instead a son of righteousness

So the next time you fail your response should be to understand the pain, accept it, learn from it, and then before the failure begins to poison your thinking about your identity, bring to mind that Scripture says, you a "son of righteousness" saved by God's grace. You are not a failure. Do not let that thought preach to you, rather let the truth preach to you. And why should you do this? Because the most important thought about you is not what others think about you, what you think about you, but what God thinks about you. This is the only thought that matters.

As you learn to do this, you will discover something about the fails in your life—that God is up to something. That he is working out something magnificent in you every time you fail. He is teaching you to trust more and more in him. Notice what the apostle Paul says about his perpetual failing.

But [God] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.—2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Do you see it? Failure gives way to opportunity—the opportunity to trust less in self and more in God. With failure, we encounter grace, discover perfect power, contentment, and the paradox of strength in weakness. For the man who is strong in himself is not strong; he is only pretending to be strong. Instead, the man who embraces his weakness (through failure) is genuinely strong because he is strong in God.

I love you, son, and remember you are not a failure. Dad.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Sex Porn & Desire | A Letter To My Son

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Sex, Porn, & Desire

Son, I have met so many men who are compulsively viewing pornography that I must write this letter. While many of the notes I write to you, I look forward to writing; this one was difficult to write as the subject matter is sexual, and the challenge for men is hard to describe.

You already know much of this, but I think it is essential that you hear it from me, your father—not your friends and not a teacher—but from me, as I see the world through the lens of God's Word. The reality is that most young men have viewed pornography by the age of 13, if not younger. And about 60% of students will use porn to learn more about sex and fill in the gaps in their sex education. And I get it—it's everywhere. But pornography is not an instruction for your sex education, and there are a plethora of reasons why. But in this letter, I want to focus on what I believe is important for you to know.

We have to be honest. Honest with ourselves as men. Men look at porn for five basic reasons, and sometimes for all of them. We desire arousal, education, companionship, entertainment, or we feel pressured by peers. That's it! But this is nothing new. Every man has these desires, but often they don't admit it. I mean, think about it, when is the last time some guy admitted to you that he watches porn to learn more about sex? Or when is the last time a guy confessed to you that he goes to porn because he is in desperate need of companionship? Men don't do that. At least I have never met a man who has, probably because many men have trouble being honest with themselves and even more about the feelings and desires they have. But let's face it, men have these desires. And men turn to porn because it is both a prolific and private delivery system to explore those five things: physical arousal, visual education, fantasy companionship, personal entertainment in moments they feel pressured to participate. So men think, why confess them to another man when I can figure it out on my own? And this thinking is fatal for a follower of Christ. Getting our desires fulfilled in this way, gives our desires to vices that are evil and insidious. We could spend all day talking about the ills of the pornography industry, and yet we would only touch the surface of the depth of the evils. There are better people with which to discuss sex and better ways to understand our male desires.

I believe the best place to go to for a great understanding of this subject is God's Word. And why? God is the designer of man, sex, and desire. And since he is the designer of all this, why not turn to him?

If I were were to pick from only a few verses in the bible on this topic, I would go straight to Jesus's teaching. In the New Testament, Jesus addresses these topics in the greatest sermon ever preached the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to what Jesus says:

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.—Matthew 5:27-30

Now stay with me. There are a few things we can learn from this text.

First, Jesus knows that sex is not the issue. Sex is something God created for us, and he wants us to enjoy it, but it should be done in a way that aligns with his moral will. (I am not going to address all that here maybe in another letter). Second, Jesus teaches that the act of adultery, (sex outside of marriage with another woman,) while wrong is not where the line is drawn on biblical infidelity. Third, Jesus teaches that adultery is a manifestation of the core issue. And what is the core issue? It is what Jesus calls the "lustful intent." The core problem is what happens in our hearts before we act. Now please note, the action is wrong, but it's the misguided desire in a man that leads to misdirected action. And we discover that we are perpetually fulfilling our desires our way to feed our selfishness. And all mankind must come to terms with the fact that our desires are perpetually misaligned and we need Jesus Christ, his grace, and His Spirit to redeem, restore, and realign them.

Do you know what real men do—men of God? They understand that the desires of their heart only find the satisfaction they desire in God alone. Men who submit their desires to God and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and daily respond to the conviction of God by redirecting their desires toward something more holy—these men are real men. However, men who are led about by their wild desires controlled by visual stimulation combined with a physical release are not real men. Great men recognize their desires, confess them to trusted brothers, and attempt to find practical ways to find satisfaction in God on a daily basis when those desires, urges, and compulsions arise. If you can start now, while you are still young, to address these desires you may keep yourself from unhealthy compulsions that could lead to a life of relational devastation.

There are three things I want you to hear today, and this is not exhaustive on this subject. First, get to know what triggers your wayward desires. Only you will know this. Is it loneliness? Need for arousal? Desperation to understand? Lack of companionship? A need to fit in? And know the trigger specifically. What triggers my desires will differ from yours, but nonetheless, get to know them. Second, when this trigger strikes decide in advance what you need to do to act in a way that is honoring to God. While the desire is wrong, you do not have to feed the desire with a wrong action. Halt the process. If you act, you will only reward the desire. For example, if in loneliness you go to porn you are rewarding your loneliness. If you couple this with masturbation, you are only feeding the process with a more powerful reward. So decide now what you will do when the ungodly desire arises. Third, feed the desire something more satisfying. For example, if you feel lonely, find another means of companionship. If you feel a need to understand, find another way to discuss your curiosity. But don't feed the core desire with actions that are not honoring that lead to compulsions that dishonor God.

I believe one of the great responsibilities that we have as men of God is the stewardship and leadership of our desires. While this is impossible for man, the Holy Spirit can convict and guide. 

Let me know if you want to talk about this more. I love you son, Dad.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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When Decisions Disappoint | A Letter To My Son

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When Decisions Disappoint

Son, there will be times in your life that you will make decisions that will bring on some unfortunate consequences. These consequences are going to be of various levels of consequence. Some will have little pain like a prick to the finger that throbs and bleeds for a moment, but healing comes quickly. Other decisions, however, will not. These are the decisions that most concern this letter. They are the ones that feel more like you have broken a bone or even worse severed a limb, that can never be perfectly reset or used perhaps used like it once was. It results in permanent damage that cannot be undone. These are the decisions I am writing to you about today.

So I pray as you read this letter, you will remember these things, and without hesitation, you will recall them when you are presented with decisions in your life.

First | The Consequence of Choice

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.—Romans 6:23

We often don't think about the consequence of our decisions. We just make a choice, thinking we are invincible in our younger years to pain and seek the adventure of a thing. And adventure is a delight to a man when he considers beforehand the inevitable consequences.

In this verse, there are consequences. The writer calls them wages. They are things we earn. Like earning a wage at work—you will deserve it, even demand it when you don't get it because you feel it is deserving. But it plays out for both the good and bad choices—even the consequences you don't feel you deserve. The wrong choices in this text deserve death, the excellent choice results in life. While this is commonly a noble life principle, in this text, the writer is talking about the ultimate decision we all make about God and our eternity.

Son, this lesson is so important. And why? Because you have to start seeing the consequences (the wages) of your decisions a little earlier. You need to play the tapes forward and foresee the consequences of a wrong decision that could result in wages you don't want to pay and halt the process before it results in permanent limping in your life—things that can never be undone. We men tend to only learn from pain, but a little proactive processing can stop years of limping that you will regret. Ask any man who has limped along in life—even me.

Second | Your Bad Choices Crush Me

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.—Psalm 127:3-4

I have this deep sense of great pride in you, merely because you are my child. You are my heritage. As my son, there is something about you that makes me stand proud of you. When I see you lead your friends. When you play a sport with excellence. When you serve at home. When people flock to your call. There are so many moments, many that go unspoken, where I puff my chest in pride at the things you do.

But there are times my soul is crushed. It is the only way I know to explain it. I feel a caving in of my chest. My breath is taken from me. Anger wells up in me, and disappointment strikes. And this crushing is not because I am disappointed in you, but instead for what it reveals. Here is what I mean. 

I, and you, are of the age today where I cannot tend to your every choice. You must make choices of your own free will, independent of me. And as a father, I want you to make the very best decisions. But let's be honest; neither of us always do. And now your choices are a reflection on you—not me. While every right decision reflects on you, the wrong ones do as well. And both the bad and good choices reveal your character—who you are. They will reveal if you are full of integrity or rather if you lack it. They will reveal if you are compassionate and kind or if you lack it. They will reveal if you are truthful, honest, and pure, or not. And this is what crushes me. It's what your choices reveal.

The verse above says it all for me. You are an arrow in my hand. Like a warrior, I must shoot you out. But I want you to know, I stand proud and pull back hard on my bow as I do. But only you can determine the flight of your arrow's trajectory, speed, arch, and trueness. I have the highest hopes that your flight will be long and perfect, hitting the mark in this life.

Third | Seek Forgiveness and Reconciliation

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.—1 John 1:9

When men sin, they seek forgiveness. There could not be a more masculine thing to do. Yet some believe confession and forgiveness is a sign of weakness—it is not. The man who seeks forgiveness is strong among men. Only great men do it because they realize that they are not perfect and never will be. Godly men understand this unalterable principle.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Roman 3:23)

Son, we are both men who sin, and the first person we must seek forgiveness from is God. In this life, as children of God, we will desire independence from God, displayed in our disobedience to him. We sin, or make bad choices, because we want to be our own god—do things our own way without giving attention to God. This is rebellion against God—to sin. Therefore we must run to God and seek his forgiveness primarily (not to mention those we have hurt). You will find that God is loving, caring, gracious, merciful, and forgiving and that he is the perfect Father—I am not. He will listen and accept you just as you are, and will welcome you back into his arms with a loving embrace. I know this is true as I have experienced this time and time again. Listen to this interaction of a lost son who has come home to God his Father in the greatest story ever told by Jesus. The story of the Prodigal Son.

And the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."—Luke 15:21-24

God loves you. He is ready to accept you. He welcomes you home and is prepared to celebrate. So run to him and seek his forgiveness. Fall in love with this Father. He is the best of all.

Son, I love you, your human, Dad.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Physical Stewardship | A Letter To My Son

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Physical Stewardship

I think permitting the game to become too physical takes away a little bit of the beauty.—John Wooden

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.—1 Timothy 4:8

Son I think today most would agree we worship sports and athletic accomplishments based on how much money we spend on the pursuit of these things. But it is fascinating because, amidst our attraction, many nevertheless miss seeing and understanding the value of bodily stewardship. We, by far, enjoy the drama, the competition, or discussion but sometimes fail to see the great life lessons in fitness, exercise, coaching, and athletic pursuit.

I wish that many years ago when I was a teen and young adult that someone would have reinforced to me that I only get one body—a single physical machine—for an entire lifetime and that I must care for it for a lifetime. While we might think this is intuitive, my younger mind always thought I was invincible and unbreakable, and what I put into it and got out of it could be pushed to the limits every day without consequence. Yet this state of mind overlooks the importance of stewarding the physical machine we are given.

Here are a few essential thoughts on good physical stewardship.

Essential Thoughts on Physical Stewardship

One | Physical care is good stewardship

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.—1 Thessalonians 5:23

In this life, we are called to steward many things as men. One of the things we often default to thinking about is the stewardship of money. But there are a lot of other things we steward—one we often overlook is our body. The "machine" God gave to each of us during our lifetime is important. It serves an essential purpose, and we must steward it with care. This means we should understand physical care and exercise as needed, and not something we should neglect. We are only given one biological machine for carrying around our spirit and soul, and therefore, we must steward it with excellence. Notice Jesus's remarks in the Book of Luke:

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?—Luke 16:10-12

The life principle is this: how we steward the small things, wealth, or otherwise matters—this is true of anything, including the body. Our body is our means of human existence, interaction, witness, and communication with others. We feed it so that we can have the energy we need to be faithful and fulfill our responsibilities in living out the good news as a witness to the world. This machine needs quality inputs and outputs to ignite strength and vitality to do God's daily work. And it's our individual responsibility to care for it.

Two | God cares about your physical body

And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.—Matthew 8:3

If Jesus didn't care about our bodies, he would not have healed people. But he did so frequently and for many reasons. With renewed energy, men and women who were healed by Jesus went on their way, praising God and telling the world about the One who heals not only the spiritual afflictions but physical ailments. These men and women went forward in life, walking again, seeing again, and experiencing community again. If they were hungry, Jesus fed them. If they were bleeding, Jesus touched them. If they were dying, Jesus saved them. Jesus did these things for people who wanted healed machines, and these people went forward, knowing that they should care for their bodies, stewarding them, because God values spirit and body.

Three | God cares primarily about your eternity

And when he saw their faith, he said [to the paralyzed man], "Man, your sins are forgiven you."

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he said to the man who was paralyzed—"I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home."—Luke 5:20, 24

This instance is interesting. Jesus heals both the paralyzed man's spiritual and physical needs, but notice that Jesus addressed his spiritual needs first. Which if you read the story, you'll discover created an interesting moment of tension and controversy for a few religious leaders. But this is Jesus, always stirring up controversy by ordering things precisely and correctly.

The general principle is we discover from the order that Jesus performed this healing is "stewardship of the body," not the "worship of the body." And we know that we can overdo anything—including how we care and tend to the body. While care for the machine we are given, we should be careful about giving our bodies, sports, or even athletic pursuits priority over God—to the point they become God. Our bodies are the means of worship, not what we worship. Our primary need is for a relationship with God through the forgiveness that God provides, which is why Jesus does this first in the case of this paralyzed man. And at this moment, Jesus puts a big punctuation mark on its importance by doing it first.

So the lesson is this son—steward with care what God has given to you. And steward it in such a way it gives glory to God, not yourself. The body God gave you is your means of witness to the greatness of God. So run this life with endurance and do so with the health and physical stamina God gave you and so run the race with endurance.

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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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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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.

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 book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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