Category Archives: Holidays

All podcasts on special days.

4 Prayers of Thanksgiving

Thankfulness a daily devotional by Vince Miller

4 Prayers of Thanksgiving

Here are four prayers of thanksgiving for Thanksgiving Day as the family gathers dinner. Don't miss a moment to carve out a memory that can last forever.

One time a year our nation celebrates a day of thanksgiving. This day, which in attitude we should celebrate every day, is observed on the fourth Thursday of November. While it holds historical significance (read more here) the general theme is a day set aside for us to reflect beyond our selfish needs and turn our attention to God and what he has done in our lives by enjoying a day of celebration and rest. While this day is often commemorated with a meal that results in a food coma bookended with couch time watching the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys take on opponents thanksgiving is much more than this - or is it.

During days like this, I often recall two classic movie moments.

National Lampoon Christmas Vacation

Who can forget the prayer of Aunt Bethany in National Lampoon Christmas Vacation?

Clark: Since this is Aunt Bethany's 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.
Aunt Bethany: [turns to Lewis] What, dear?
Nora Griswold: Grace!
Aunt Bethany: Grace? She passed away thirty years ago.
Uncle Lewis: They want you to say, Grace.
Uncle Lewis: The BLESSING!
Aunt Bethany: [they all fold their hands for prayer] "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Clark: Amen.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

Or how about the sacrilegious prayer of Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Rick Bobby?

Ricky Bobby: Dear 8 pounds 6 ounce... newborn infant Jesus, don't even know a word yet.

Why Not Make Thanksgiving Day Special With A Great Prayer?

Why not this Thanksgiving Day invest a few more minutes of time in making this day special by setting a family and spiritual tone with a great pre-meal prayer?

So here are a few prayers you could pray before the meal that might give a little focus to this event and spiritual tone of the day. They might not be as entertaining as Ricky and Aunt Bethany's, but they may set a tone for the day that might bring spiritual meaning back to this great day.

ONE | A Prayer For Relationships/Togetherness
Thanks for bringing us together today. While it's sometimes hard to make time to be together, we pray you will help us to enjoy these next few hours together. We are reminded that today is about relationships, not just a meal, but the people (the friends and family) you have gathered here. Help us to enjoy the laughter, conversations, and the memories we make on this day. Thank you for the holiday that makes this day possible. Thank you also for the hands that have prepared the meal, and we pray the energy we receive from it will empower us to do what is pleasing to you and speak your love, grace, and mercy to others. Amen.

THREE | A Prayer For Thanks In A Hard Year
God, this year has been hard for many of us at this table. While this is a sweet moment, it's also hard. The challenges we have faced this year have been overwhelming, and as we gather today, we cannot ignore the fact that these feelings still linger as does the pain. But for these next few hours, we remember that you are a God who loves us, cares for us, heals us, and forgives us. Help us to enjoy this time. In the lingering bitterness give us peace. We thank you for this meal and pray a blessing for our strength. Amen.

TWO | A Prayer For Those Who Cannot Be With Us
God, today we gather in a way that others may not be able. We enjoy the blessings of warmth, shelter, and provision. Thanks for giving us this time and this meal. You are The Provider, so we give you first thanks. And God thank you for the family and the friends who are joining us today. May our conversations be bright, may we be grateful for each other, and give us the courage to be appreciative of each other. For those who cannot be with us today, we remember them and celebrate them in their absence. Bless this meal to our bodies. Amen.

FOUR | A Prayer Of Thanks In Loss
God, we are thankful for this time and this meal. While one who was among us this year is not with us today, we know you have welcomed them into a heavenly home. It's hard to be here and be thankful without them today. A chair is empty this year. But we know you save a seat at a heavenly meal today. That they are dining at a heavenly feast. And while our meal might not match with theirs, we miss them at this table and are yet still jealous for them. God thank you that we will meet them again in heaven at the same feast. So, God, we thank you today not only for this great meal but for salvation and the opportunity for eternity together - until we meet one day again. Amen

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Thankful

Thankfulness a daily devotional by Vince Miller

Thankful

"For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:15-18

Can you remember the first time you realized just how much God had forgiven you? I bet if you've been a follower of Jesus Christ for any length of time, you may have had this moment more than one time. But can you remember the first time? That first moment where you were filled with thankfulness for his undeserving gift of "grace?" And in return, the only thing you could offer God was an attitude of "thanksgiving?"

The more time you invest in regular thanksgiving to God, the more vibrant your relationship with him will be. You'll notice you'll be more focused on "unseen and eternal matters" and less focused on an "outer self that is wasting away." You'll also end up being less concerned about "momentary" issues and more on issues of "transient" concern. Regardless of what you currently have or don't have God's "grace extends" to you. And His grace cannot and will not be taken from you. As a result, finding your contentment in this position is to be genuinely thankful. So today enrichen your attitude and relationships with a great measure of thanksgiving.

DO THIS: Be thankful for something, and someone today by telling them "thanks."

PRAYER: God, thank you for what you have done and are doing in my life, but especially for the grace you have extended to me - a sinner.

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Observing Memorial Day

I Lift My Eyes Up a blog by Vince Miller at Resolute Mens Ministry

SUMMARY: In our country, we have opposing views on the use of violence as Christians when we observe Memorial Day. How is a Christian to respond? And how does God respond? In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller gives us something special to remember as he reflects on his father’s battle in Vietnam and God’s ultimate victory.

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The Case For Easter

SUMMARY: Is it possible to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Well, many men have tried and failed at this task. Some have even been swayed by the overwhelming mound of evidence. In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller shares the evidence as presented by Lee Strobel, author of Case for Christ.

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Today I had the opportunity to hear Lee Strobel, author of the classic book “Case for Christ” speak at a local church. He told the story of his conversion to faith as a self-absorbed skeptic who was a cynic of all things spiritual as a former editor at the Chicago Tribune. As a serious skeptic to the faith, he watched as his wife made a profession of faith soon after they were married. And in response to her decision, he set out to disprove the decision she had made by presenting evidence against the myth of Jesus Christ. Sounds like a wonderful person to be married to!

As a reporter, he focused his task focused on researching the evidence that focused on the single linchpin of the Christian faith – and of course, this is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He understood, as many do, that the pivotal point of Christianity lies not in the life and death of Jesus Christ; but solely his resurrection. And he believed that if he could reasonably disprove this, he would be able to disapprove Christianity and perhaps sway his wife. Of course as many of us do know the end of the story, not only did he come to discover the overwhelming facts behind the resurrection, but he also came to discover that he himself must answer the most important question he would ever answer – Given the evidence, what do you, Lee Strobel do with Jesus Christ. What Strobel failed to realize is that many before him have followed the evidence trail in the same way and they too have come to the same conclusion. That Jesus Christ lived, died, and was resurrected from death. And as we know this attempt to disprove the resurrection, led to his own profession of faith and to major transformation for his family.

After many years of study, Strobel has reduced the case for Christ down to four convincing points. I thought his points were simple and logical and great for any young apologist that wants to explain the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He presented four pieces of evidence with words that begin with the letter “E” which makes them easy to remember. So here are his four pieces of evidence:

1.     EVIDENCE ONE – Execution. So as we know you have to have died before you can have a resurrection. I know shocking! But Strobel made the point, that in regard to the death of Jesus Christ we have tons of evidence about his execution. We have evidence not only within the Bible about his death, but this is also testified by numerous outside ancient sources. Notable extra-biblical historians, like Josephus and Tacitus, write about the execution of Jesus Christ. We have descriptions of the death of Jesus also in the Talmud, which is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism, who are devote followers of God who do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. And as a punctuation point even renown atheists, like Gerd Ludemann, agree that the evidence about the fact that Jesus Christ died by crucifixion is unanimous. So we have a mound of evidence for the execution.

2.     EVIDENCE TWO – Early accounts. Next Strobel noted that there are numerous early accounts that prove that the resurrection is not simply a legend. Strobel said that the sheer volume of early accounts decimate the claim that resurrection was a lie or that his followers were lunatics. He points to the early Christian creed as significant public evidence that cannot be ignored. Just like we cooperate with witnesses to an event, we cannot ignore the incredible volume of early accounts. He stated that early accounts include opponents of the faith who testify to Jesus Christ. Perhaps the most formidable being Saul of Tarsus, who was not only a verbal opponent as a devout Jew and Roman, but that he murdered Jews for their profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Roman, Jews, and Christ followers knew him as one of the most vindictive opponents of the faith of course until he witnesses the resurrection of Jesus Christ for himself on the road to Damascus. Why else would a man of this high standing, notoriety, wealth and education leave his life of ease to follow the faith of what some call “common and unintelligible” people? Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle, and this man who was the greatest opponent of Jesus Christin became one of the most formidable proponents of the faith. Strobel specifically pointed out to us the obvious, which is why would Saul make this change unless of course, this was true? And to further substantiate this point, Strobel pointed out that most of these early accounts arise between the first 6 years of the resurrection. Which is further proof that this was not a later manufactured legend, but an event that was witnessed by real people? Strobel called this as a professional editor “historical gold.” He also added that “sometimes this is known to happen within two generations but never months unless of course, it is true.”

3.     EVIDENCE THREE – Empty Tomb. Strobel next point is that what we have on Easter morning is an empty tomb. It is sealed and guarded yet found empty. He notes that even the enemies of Jesus attest to the fact that the tomb was empty. The real question is how did it become empty? And keep in mind both Roman officials and Jewish officials would want to ensure that it was always guarded and occupied. He also stated that the disciples did not have a motive, means or opportunity and most of them were scared that the same would happen to them, so they hid out. So the big issue is that the tomb is empty and no one would want it otherwise nor have the means to do this. Also, it is important to note that nobody was ever recovered! This is serious evidence. So the questions will always remain because it was empty, and therefore we have to wrestle with never finding evidence that this who want to disprove Christianity desperately want.

4.     EVIDENCE FOUR – Eyewitnesses. In the end, Jesus appears in resurrected form on more than a dozen occasions and to over 515 people. He ate with, walked with, and talked with these people. Strobel stated we have about  9 sources of eye witness proof from inside and outside of the Bible. In addition to this, he said that 7 sources outside of the Bible accent the fact that disciples lived in deprivation and suffering because they had witnessed and pronounced this belief. And why? Well because gentlemen, they believed what they had seen. And these eyewitnesses are incredible proof. And remember do not be so quick to disprove these eyewitnesses, because if you do you will also disprove all of history which is corroborated by the same methodology even today.

So the big question then becomes what will you do with these pieces of evidence. I think the question that Strobel was forced to answer is the same that we all must face. It is the greatest question of all time. If Jesus was in fact raised from the dead, “What will you do with the culpable knowledge you now possess?” Or in more pastoral language, “What will you do with Jesus?”

Strobel’s response was to kneel privately and quietly on his bedroom floor after two years of searching for evidence against the resurrection and give his will and life to Jesus Christ. What is interesting is that we will answer this question. We can choose to answer it now or answer it later. But men we will all answer this question, and as we wrestle through the story of Easter we have to either choose to believe or choose to disbelieve. It is a choice we all have to make but a choice with eternal consequence.

The Power Of Generosity – Wednesday of Holy Week

SUMMARY: John Bunyan once said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” And today in history the generosity of a lone woman would become one of the great stories of all time. Discover the power of generosity as we dive into Wednesday of Holy Week.

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Today is Wednesday of Holy Week and I think is a noble task to spend time this week reflecting on the Passion of Christ and the final events of Christ’s life.

This week I want to guide you through a few thoughts as we head into Sunday. You know I think we often unintentionally cheapen resurrection Sunday when we don’t take the time to reflect on the events of this week. This year I want to challenge you with a short thought each day, as we travel the passion week with Christ. Now I am going to be drawing attention to a few details of Jesus’ last week, but I especially want to consider how Jesus might have felt this week. I wanted to do this with you so we can create a rich spiritual connection to resurrection Sunday.

Each of the coming days I want to give you a short thought that will give you something to reflect on and act on each day. And it is my hope that you might also share these thoughts with a friend or family members to influence their experience this year as well.

Today is Wednesday. There were only a couple of occurrences on this day in Jesus’ life. Today:

  • Jesus predominantly stayed in the town of Bethany
  • The disciples prepared for the Passover meal, which was the final meal of Jesus.
  • Mary anointed Jesus.

With I want to focus our attention today on the anointing of Jesus. It is one of the rare stories that we find in all four gospels, and there is a reason for this, which you will see in a moment. Here is how the text reads in Matthew chapter 26 verses 6-13.

“6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

What I love about this story is the symbolism of this moment. Mary Magdalene, a known prostitute, has a personal saving. It is a small jar made of alabaster stone containing a very expensive oil-based perfume. Often this little jar would be worn around the neck for carrying and the contents, although small in weight, were very expensive. Well over one year’s wages. In today’s commodity, this would be around $50,000 in priceless perfume. Mary takes this and anoints Jesus with it, as was a regular custom.

Since this story appears in all the other gospels, we learn a few other details. But the essence of the story is here.

What has always captivated me in this story is three items.

First, the symbolism in the pouring out of something to Mary that was valued, onto someone of greater value. Mary, who was known for being a woman who lived a sinful life, at this moment takes everything that was once valuable to her and pours it out onto Jesus. And while I do not want to allegorize this text, how can we miss the picture of Mary surrendering her occupational earnings and the scent of allurement from her former life completely before Jesus. This is a sign of deep generosity but also one of gratitude.

Second, we must see the contrast in the disciple’s response to the action. What the disciples perceive in this act is solely the monetary value of the contents, not the reason for and in the act. To them, it is value wasted. And because they have a confirmation bias around money (as we know for sure Judas does), they miss the incredible beauty of Mary’s gesture.

Third, there is another story unfolding that is not yet realized by any observer, and it is how this sacrificial act connects with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In just hours Jesus would make a far valuable sacrifice, that would spill out his blood on the cross — which was also misunderstood by the disciples. I am sure later they would all look back on both these sacrificial acts with prophetic gratitude at the extent of the generosity.

Men, please do not miss the point. It is that we often have no idea how powerful our sincere, willing, and sacrificial generosity will play a role in the kingdom.

In 2002, as I was working as an area director for Young Life. Young Life is a community outreach ministry that seeks to share Christ with junior high and high school students. I had planted a branch in the southeast metro of the Twin Cities, and our program was flying. Within a couple of years, we were experiencing significant success. Hundreds of kids were coming to the weekly gatherings, and we were looking to expand. Everything we did seemed to succeed; hundreds went to our camps and ski- trips and new campuses were experiencing youth ministry, some for the first time. There was only one thing that wasn’t working: the financial support.

Money was slim for everyone due to events on September 11, 2001, which led to an economic standstill. It took time for this economic slowdown to catch up to us, but when it did, it was painful. Before we knew it, we were $18,000 in debt as a ministry, yet with a booming ministry. It was not a small undertaking to try to raise money for this deficit plus what was needed to begin operating in the black again; therefore, it was time for a radical decision. And since I was the only paid staff person, the only option to deal with the cascading deficit was to eliminate my salary.

This period was a difficult time for my wife and me. We were a one-income family, and taking this type of financial leave was going to be painful for us. In leaving, I would be putting the ministry I loved on hold, and since I was the only fundraising agent at the time, this looked like an impossible situation. We had two young children, and my wife was pregnant with our third; it was a moment full of anxiety and fear.

It is hard to explain the fear that was present in that moment; everything was racing through our heads. Finances. Bills. Health coverage. The future. Debt. Work. Children. And a child on the way. We had never experienced a moment like that before. Our fears were numerous, and these often led to disagreements in our marriage and with God.

After difficult discussions, my wife and I decided to make a change. I would take three months off and work labor on a construction team, and then evaluate the future of the ministry if the money came in.

Those three months were painful on our marriage. To hold the income level I had been making, I had to manage long and physically exhausting days working on a demolition crew. Even though I was thankful for the job, I went to work early and came home late in the evening and often exhausted from the day. I usually would jump right into the shower and then head off to bed. I felt like I missed three months of time with my wife and kids during, which took my anxiety to a new level—anger.

Since my anxiety was high, this led to some bizarre conversations with God. For example, one day I was driving home from work so tired, so worn out, that I had an out-loud discussion with God about the current situation. I am not quite sure how this looked as I made the drive, but I didn’t care at that point. I remember ending one of my sentences with God with a grievance, “After all, I have done for you, this is how you treat me!” After verbalizing my grievance to God, I did not feel much better—in fact, I felt a little convicted and concerned that God might strike me dead.

Well, on the way home, I decided to stop by the ministry office. I had not been to the office in weeks and figured it was at least time to pick up the mail and pay the bills if need be with whatever money we had in the cash account. When I got there, I made a phone call to a friend on the cell and began riffling through the mail. Most of the mail was insignificant, except for one letter that I almost tossed in the garbage. But since I was stuck at the desk anyway for the duration of the phone call, I decided to kill a few seconds and open the letter.

The letter was from a local law office and looked inconsequential. As I talked on the phone, I opened the envelope and found a formal letter neatly folded inside. I removed the letter, and a check from inside the envelope fluttered out and landed face-down on the ground.

Getting a check in the mail was not unusual. Sometimes dozens of small checks would come to the office each week from local donors, and I assumed this one was the same.

So instead of bending down to get the check, I read the letter I was holding in my hand. As I unfolded it there was a very brief note on it with just two lines.

Dear Mr. Miller,

Clients of mine wish to make an anonymous donation to your ministry. Enclosed you will find a check for $18,000.

Well, this sure was a jolt. In shock, I hung up the phone with my friend mid-sentence. I am certain I did not say goodbye. I then reached down and picked up the check and just looked at it. And then I re-read the letter again. And again and again while looking back and forth between the letter and the check.

My first thought was who did this? But after the desire to know who is was from fleeted, my second thought was even more troubling:

“Uh, God, about the conversation on the way here…”

Talk about feeling stupid.

In one swift moment, God had me right where he wanted me. At that moment, he taught me a great lesson. I think it is the same lesson that the disciples would have to learn here. It is that God uses our generosity, to draw attention to his.

To this day I have no idea whose generous gift this was, but the effects of this jolt have yet to wear off. The change in my outlook has been different after this day. Through this, my wife and I found hope again, found peace again, and grew to trust God even more than before with our time and money. All this resulted from a simple act of another person’s generosity that was impeccably and supernaturally timed in our life. All I had to do was receive it.

But no-one outgives God’s generosity. While we don’t always recognize it because of our biases, or understand it because we are short-sighted God’s generosity is extravagant. Mary’s small act is nothing compared to Christ’s. However, when we are generous, motivated by the right reasons, and out of the right identity, we reflect the extravagant generosity of Jesus Christ.

So today my challenge for you today is this. Be generous. Be generous with your time and your money. Maybe give sacrificially, by buying someone lunch, sharing a gift, writing a thoughtful letter. You know this morning my neighbor called me because they were both out of town on business trips and they needed someone to take their trash out to the curb. Why not? I would love to… and why? Because these small acts of generosity are just manifestations of love that resemble the beauty in what Christ has done for us.

The Feeling of Betrayal – Tuesday of Holy Week

SUMMARY: On this day in history, the betrayer Judas sells out his master out for a small payment of silver. And it is no doubt that we have all lived in some moment of betrayal. Today discover the incredible beauty of a man who endured betrayal and left us an example of want it means to be a resolute man.

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Today is Tuesday of Holy Week and I think is a noble task to spend time this week reflecting on the Passion of Christ and the final events of Christ’s life. This week I want to guide you through a few thoughts as we head into Sunday. You know I think we often unintentionally cheapen resurrection Sunday when we don’t take the time to reflect on the events of this week. This year I want to challenge you with a short thought each day, as we travel the passion week with Christ. Now I am going to be drawing attention to a few details of Jesus’ last week, but I especially want to consider how Jesus might have felt this week. I wanted to do this with you so we can create a rich spiritual connection to resurrection Sunday. Each of the coming days I want to give you a short thought that will give you something to reflect on and act on each day. And it is my hope that this will bless you spiritually. You might also share these thoughts with a friend or family members to influence their experience this year as well. Today is Tuesday. There were a few occurrences on this day in Jesus’ life. These include:

• His departure from Bethany and return to Jerusalem which was a short distance from this neighboring town.
• They pass the fig tree that Jesus cursed that is now dead.
• Jesus takes the temple grounds and pronounces woes on his enemies.
• Jesus leaves the city and gives the Olivet Discourse.
• Judas bargains with the chief priests for the betrayal of Jesus’ life
• Jesus spends the night in Bethany again.

With all these happening I just want to focus our attention on one of these incidents. It is the occurrence of Judas’ betrayal. Here is how the text reads in Matthew chapter 26 verses 1-5 and 14-16.

1 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” 14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

I meet with men and their spouses quite frequently on the topic of marital betrayal. Often this involves men who have betrayed the covenant of marriage and damaged their relationship with their spouse either sexually or emotionally with another woman. A betrayal that was motivated by the loss of control that ignites a need for a momentary empowerment which triggers a violation of godly values, – for example, the purity of our marriage. This disastrous attempt to seek empowerment is very short-lived and results in a continued emptiness which leaves a man feeling a mild emotional low causing the desire for more empowerment that only intensifies. And once we start feeding this evil cycle, each time it increases our need and frequency for more betrayal. And like any addictive cycle, we keep coming back for more until we have the courage to break the cycle or until we finally get caught. And what both parties must decide at this point, is if they are willing to invest the time and energy to push through the event, the underlying issues, and the energy and effort required to develop new patterns that will lead to healing down the road. In some cases, some do, and in some cases, other don’t. Either way, betrayal leads to the long road of healing. As there are men listening today who have for certain lived through betrayal, or maybe currently are, we learn that when our unspoken and unmet needs in our relationships are allowed to incubate they will spread like a deadly virus in our life. This progression will continue as we stop caring for, giving attention to, and fighting for what is righteous and godly. And for the men who have been through this, it is at this moment we have to choose to fight and push through. Not with the person we have betrayed or has betrayed us, but we have to fight the urge to quit, give up, and throw in the towel. Becuase at this instance, we have a choice to betray again. And this time it is not others — but ourselves. And this is a profound form of betrayal; it is self-betrayal. As we look back to Jesus on this day in his life, we see that one man’s unmet needs and human desires for empowerment led to betrayal. All instigated by feelings that cascaded out of control. And you know, we have all been betrayed by someone. That someone for you could be a spouse, a friend, a peer, or a family member. And the feelings that come with this are never good. A sense of shock, numbness, disbelief, confusion, reflection, anger, shame and regret typically accompany this experience. And this can result in sleepless nights that often physically exhausted and discouraged. But there is good news. If you are feeling betrayed today, then you are not as alone. Your Savior knows what this feels like and to a far greater degree. It must be a desolate feeling to have divine knowledge that a trusted friend has arranged to violate your confidence with events that will lead to your death. And what is unique about Jesus’ situation is that he has divine knowledge of all it, and we do not. Jesus knows what Judas was planning as he left the group and what he was saying as he met with the high officials. Jesus is so knowledgeable of this betrayal that he even calls Judas out at the last meal. In knowing all this Jesus continues to experience the full ramifications of betrayal when he could have intervened at any time. With full knowledge of this event, he remains faithful to his mission. Betrayal was only a small setback for the moment that would not deter our Savior from his ultimate goal. And what were his goals, to be faithfulness to his call as a man of God, so that he might save the world from the ramification of sin and the root issues of betrayal?

So today my challenge for you today is this. Remain resolute even in betrayal. But there will two types of men hearing this. First is the man who feels betrayed. Maybe today you feel betrayed at work, home or with a friend. Take emotional inventory and get in touch in with your feelings, why you feel this way, and what you need through the betrayal, but never, never, never compromise the higher mission and calling of your life. Continue to love those who persecute you, those that hurl insults at you, and even those that despise you. Love them and Christ loved you. Second are the men who are betrayers. For you, you need to seek repentance and reconciliation. Take strong action against your sin and lean into the individual issues that are eating away at your soul. Deal with it before it finds you out and summon the courage to be the man that God wants you to be. You have two choices; you can take the path of Judas or take the path of Peter. Both live in some form of denial about Jesus, but only one leans into his denial to come out on the other side a greater man for enduring the pain and discovering the spiritual healing that leads to life.

Deep Empathy – Monday of Holy Week

SUMMARY: Today is Monday of Holy Week. Discover the incredible beauty of Christ’s love for you as we journey through this day in history with the greatest man who ever lived. In today’s Resolute Podcast, discover the deep empathy of God.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Today is Monday of Holy Week and I think is a noble task to spend time this week reflecting on the Passion of Christ and the final events of Christ’s life. This week I want to guide you through a few thoughts as we head into Sunday. You know I think we often unintentionally cheapen resurrection Sunday when we don’t take the time to reflect on the events of this week. This year I want to challenge you with a short thought each day, as we travel the passion week with Christ. Now I am going to be drawing attention to a few details of Jesus’ last week, but I especially want to consider how Jesus might have felt this week. I am setting out with this goal so we can deeply connect with Sunday and celebrate not only the even of being with family, putting on Sunday’s best, and heading to church for an event but in hopes of creating a spiritual connection to this, incredible day. Each of the coming days I want to give you a five-minute thought that will give you something to reflect on and act on as we head into Sunday. And it is my hope that this will bless you spiritually. You might also share these thoughts with a friend or family members as a way to influence their experience on Sunday. Today is Monday. There were a few occurrences on this day in Jesus’ life. These include: • His departure from Bethany and return to Jerusalem which was a short distance from this neighboring town. • On his was Jesus curses a fig tree which was fruitless. • Jesus then weeps over Jerusalem. • As he enters the temple grounds, Jesus scolds the temple of the money changers that were charging extraordinarily high exchange rates for temple offerings. • Before he leaves the city, he peeks into the Temple area. • And then heads back to Bethany for the evening to stay with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. With all these happening I just want to focus our attention on one of these incidents. It is the occurrence of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Here is how the text reads in Luke chapter 19 verses 41-44. 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” We probably recall two moments in Jesus’s life that he wept. One was here, and the other one is at Lazarus’ grave. There is a unique similarity in the purpose of Jesus’ weeping in both situations. His heart breaks for our lack of belief and faith in God. And for me, this is a moment we get to see into the heart of our God for us. I have had a few times in my life that has brought deep sadness and uncontrollable weeping. For sure one of these moments was the moment I began my search for God. It was 1990, and I was living a few hours from home. At this point in life, I had made numerous bad decisions that led me to a crisis in my life that was continuing to worsen. My life was a mess at this point, and I felt I was going nowhere fast. On this day, I made a decision to return home to my grandparent’s house, who were the people who raised me. At the time, I owned a 1957 Volkswagen Truck, that had transmission problems and was jammed into second gear. So here I am, driving down the freeway, with a transmission that was failing, a song by an old poet came on the transistor radio in my vehicle. It was a man named Bob Dylan singing a song entitled “Like a Rolling Stone.” The words of this song brought me too weeping. Here is the chorus from the song. “How does it feel, how does it feel? To be without a home. Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone.” At this moment – uncontrollable weeping. I mean the full-fledged eye swelling, dripping nose kind of weeping. I will never forget this moment. Crawling down the freeway at 30mph with cars flying by at 70mph, wind blowing in my hair, eye’s swelling, and tears falling. And I didn’t care as passersby witnessed the moment. My heart was broke over decisions I had made, and I was in search for a different way of life because none of my choices were working. Which led to a decision to follow Christ in the months that followed. While some may see this as a moment of weakness, I look back on this as a great moment of strength. Slightly embarrassing, maybe, but it was honest, and what I felt at this time in my life. Sorrow from my lostness. As I look back at this time, I was sad because I was lost. I was confused about the present and was very unsure of the future. I felt the impact of numerous poor decisions, which left me feeling empty. And the same of heading home to ask forgiveness and pursue a new life was not exciting. However, I had no other choice. Much like the prodigal son, I was feeling the shame and regret of numerous decisions and looking for a better path in the future. Now I must clarify my weeping, and Jesus’ weeping is very different. And here is the difference. While I was weeping for myself, Jesus was not. Jesus was crying for God’s people. For the hope of this great city, the people of Israel, and for the future of God’s people. Jesus’ reason for weeping is unique. He never saw his situation as something to weep about, he understood it as his path. Was drove him to cry was his love for God’s people, and specifically, their lack of trust in God that impacted their eternity. Now that is deep empathy. Only in recent years would I say that I am coming to know this type of empathy. The class of deep empathy that breaks for the people around me and their eternities. The man who heart breaks for my wife, children, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers and how they will spend their eternity. A constant focus on eternal matters that drives the core of my being in the direction of a greater place of higher value. So today my challenge for you is this. Empathize with those around you. The people we know are not just employees, neighbors, friends, or relatives. The people around you are spiritual beings with an eternal destination that awaits them. Love them, pray for them, and weep for them. And do this knowing that on this day in history Christ wept for you!

Inauguration Day 2017

SUMMARY: Over the last few months we have heard tempers flare, and watched as riots broke out in our streets, over polarizing political opinions. This has awakened my heart as a spiritual leader and man to dig deep into God’s Word for real answers. In this short podcast, I share the one good thing about today – Inauguration Day.

PODCAST:

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