And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them - Genesis 11-6 ESV
I grew up in one of the larger cities in the state of South Carolina. My wife grew up in a farming community in west central Illinois.
To say that we were different would be an understatement. By the way, did I mention that we come from 2 different ethnic backgrounds? In other words, she is white and I am black.
There were times early in our relationship where we would be talking with one another and I would use a term that I was familiar with growing up. She would give me a look of utter confusion and I would have to explain it to her.
I then discovered something that made both of our lives easier. There is an online resource called the "Urban Dictionary." The Urban Dictionary gave the definition of the word in addition to using it in a sentence (be forewarned, they are some pretty graphic descriptions contained within the website).
After reviewing and understanding some of the terms that I used, she was able to communicate more effectively with me. Of course, there were figures of speech that she used that also had me scratching my head and she would have to explain them to me.
Surprisingly enough, after more than 15 years of marriage, we now incorporate figures of speech from both of our backgrounds during our conversations with one another. As a result, we are able to have more productive conversations.
My brothers, how is your conversation with your family and friends? Do you speak the same language? Are you communicating more effectively with each other on a consistent basis?
If not, what can you do have more fruitful communication?
One great starting point (and one that's worked for us) is to make an honest attempt to understand each other. If you observe that what you are saying doesn't resonate with the person you're trying to communicate with, make a good faith effort to explain it in a more effective manner.
What is the benefit of engaging in this exercise to better understand each other?
An examination of today's scripture provides insight of the power of speaking the same language. The people assembled in the plains of Shinar and formed an organized society, and began to establish the foundations of one universal empire. Their power was augmented by their ability to communicate their sentiments and designs easily and freely in a language universally intelligible.
Ultimately, the power that was derived from their ability to communicate with one another was channeled in a negative fashion (pride and glory that led to start of construction of the tower of Babel). As a result, God "came" down and confused their speech and threw their efforts into chaos. Even though the people of Shinar fell victim to pride and glory, the result of speaking the same language cannot be overstated.
Resolve today to begin the process of speaking the same language with those in your circle of influence. You will be surprised and pleased with the result.
I would love to hear from you about your efforts to speak the same language with others. Please comment below.
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you - John 13:15 ESV
This week we had some really inclement weather here in northern Kentucky. One morning, the storms in the area were really nasty. The tornado sirens went off and the buses had to pull over and the occupants needed to take cover.
School eventually was cancelled to my sons delight. Now they had a free day to do whatever they pleased.
My wife and I did not have that luxury. She was in the office working (she gets to work from home) and I was getting started with my day. Abbey then calls me into the office to voice some frustration that she is having in regard to work.
I listened patiently to her as she talked about the item that had her frustrated. After she finished, I left the office and noticed that my youngest son Connor was eating breakfast in the kitchen.
He has this look on his face (for those of you that know Connor, he has a number of looks that you have to decipher). I came into the kitchen and asked him what he was thinking.
He looked at me and said that "I was observing how you listened to Mom when she was having problems." I sat down at the table and he continued with "I get to learn from the best and hope that I will do that with my wife."
I was humbled and blown away by his comments. By no means am I writing this post to "puff myself up". I, like a number of people, struggle with slowing down and listening to others because I tend to focus on "my" problems. My brothers, I am posting this to show that you never know who in your sphere of influence is watching your actions.
We always have the opportunity to influence those around us either in a positive or negative fashion. Connor provided a reminder to me that my behavior is always on display for others to observe. As one that follows Christ, we are called to be a light in the world.
We are to let that light shine to those that may not believe and assist them in coming out of the darkness. We do that by following the example that the scripture above is referencing. Christ has provided the blueprint that we can follow.
So resolve to teach by example. Fix your eyes on Jesus who is the ultimate role model.
I would love to hear your feedback on being a role model. Please comment below.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you - Proverbs 4:25 ESV
I was channel surfing the other day and came upon a show that discussed how service dogs are trained. It was amazing to watch the process of the trainers taking a puppy and teaching them to ignore all distractions that most dogs would engage in.
There was one scene where the dogs were in a room and the trainers were throwing balls at the dogs in an attempt to get them to chase it. The dogs remained perfectly still and showed no interest in the balls at all.
The big test came when they brought ferrets into the room and let them loose. The ferrets climbed over the dogs and literally walked under the noses of the dogs with no response. The dogs remained focused and were able to resist the urge to engage with the ferrets. The trainers explained that this was an important part of training since the ability of the dogs to remain focused would minimize the chances of their owners being hurt.
I wonder how more effective we men would be if we had the focus exhibited by the dogs described above? Would we be able to achieve greater levels of success in the way of discipleship or leading our families? I, like many of you, am unable to remain focused for extended periods of time.
The result of this inability to focus renders us helpless when it comes to maximizing our potential as children of God. I have seen others with less talent achieve more because of their ability to focus.
Joe Girard, who has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's greatest salesman was asked his secret of success. He stated: "When I eat, I eat. When I sleep, I sleep. When I play, I play. When I work, I work." What Joe was saying is that whatever he's doing, he's fully engaged.
The fully engaged and focused person is not looking at Facebook when his spouse is trying to have a conversation with him. Nor is the focused person thinking about what's the time of the big game while he's playing catch with his kid.
The man that's focused is engaged on the task at hand. This is the type of man that Proverbs discusses in today's scripture. It speaks about a man's eyes being fixated upon the right objects.
The scripture further states 2 important points: 1) forget all things when seeing Christ and 2) take care that you continue gazing upon Christ until you have faith in Him.
Men, imagine what we could accomplish by adopting the mindset that this scripture espouses! The changes that would occur in our communities would be nothing short of amazing. I firmly believe that all of us have the ability to harness this power of focus.
Let me caution you. Once you start moving in the direction of living a focused life, the enemy will present himself. You'll find yourself looking at circumstances and begin to doubt yourself (Peter was an excellent example of this when he walked on the water). When this happens, remind yourself to fix your gaze on those things that are worthy.
Are you having success with living a focused life? Why or why not? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them - Ephesians 2:10 ESV
All of us know that we created by our Heavenly Father to accomplish a specific purpose here on earth. We all have unique talents that were given to us that need to be used to glorify our Father.
I, after a number of frustrating attempts, I have starting walking in that path of my God given purpose (I will admit that the path is a little rocky at times). Here are the 3 benefits that I have realized in walking in the path of my God given purpose.
1. Your relationships become stronger
I have found that when I am on the path to fulfilling my purpose here on earth, my relationship with God is stronger and effective. I am more attuned to listening to what He has to say to me and I am more aware of His presence.
Secondly, my relationship with my family, church and friends has grown more powerful. When you are operating with purpose, you are more able to withstand the schemes of the evil one designed to negatively impact your relationships. Although there will still be instances in which you will get frustrated with others in your life, I have found that I'm better equipped to handle these situations.
2. You become healthier
No, you won't be able to jump right in and participate in a Cross fit class (there may be some of you that can. If so, my hat's off to you). I have found that my frame of mind has become sharper and I am able to eliminate mental obstacles that would have normally paralyzed me in the past.
The improvement of my mental fitness has also had a positive effect on my physical health. My level of stress has decreased since I have identified and start operating in my God given purpose. My number of stress related headaches, aches and pains have become fewer in number. My workouts have also increase in intensity as well (I think the wife likes that!) since I want to ensure that I have the energy level to accomplish the purpose that God has designed for me.
3. You become a role model for others
When you are operating on the path of accomplishing your purpose, people will notice a difference about you. The way that you carry yourself and reflect the light that should be in each of us is on display. You become a walking testimony of what God can do. This provides you with an opportunity to share with others the change that you have experienced as a result of being in tune with your talents and using them for God's glory.
For those of you that are walking along the path of God's purpose, what benefits have you noticed in your life? I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.
Whatever Saul gave David to do, he did it—and did it well. So well that Saul put him in charge of his military operations. Everybody, both the people in general and Saul’s servants, approved of and admired David’s leadership - 1 Samuel 18:5 (MSG)
We came back from our annual Christmas vacation and returned to a cold home. I noticed it immediately when I walked in. The first thing that I did was to go over and look at the thermometer in the home.
51 degrees! I called one of my friends who referred me to a heating and air conditioning guy that he knew. He came over and diagnosed the problem: the thermostat was not working properly. As a result, the furnace was not communicating with the thermostat to adequately heat the home.
Once the thermostat was fixed, it was able to communicate to the furnace the correct temperature and our heating problem was solved.
I often see the parallels between the problem that I had with my thermostat and the leadership that we men are providing to our families.
Men, I have a question for you: What type of leader are you? Are you a thermostat or thermometer leader?
Randy Conley, Vice President of Client Services & Trust Practice Leader for the Ken Blanchard Companies, addressed this question on his website at www.leadingwithtrust.com. His explanation for the differences is detailed below:
A thermometer reflects the temperature of the environment. It simply reacts to what’s happening around it. If the temperature is hot, it tells you so. If it’s cold, the thermometer reflects that reality as well. It’s a dumb instrument in the sense it doesn’t contain intelligent, multipurpose functionality. It has one purpose and one purpose only.
A thermostat, on the other hand, regulates the environment. It sets the desired temperature of the room and actively works to maintain it within a given range. If the temperature rises above the goal, the thermostat signals the air conditioner to crank up and cool the room down. If the temperature falls below the goal, the thermostat causes the heater to turn on in order to warm the room up. The thermostat is intelligent in the sense it’s always monitoring the environment, and if the temperature gets too hot or cold, it decides what to do to correct the situation.
A person that's a thermometer leader let's his environment dictate his mood and how he responds to things. A thermometer leader does not inspire a level of commitment in his people.
If you are a thermostat leader, you will instill confidence and trust within your family. They will emulate you as instill in them the importance of following God and obeying His commands.
David was a thermostat leader as evidenced by the opinion held by the servants in Saul's household. Because of David's leadership qualities, he was able to win over those that would have normally viewed him as a threat and been jealous of his ascent as a military leader.
We would be wise to adopt the leadership style exhibited by David as we attempt to lead our families.
So how are you going to respond to this question? Are you are a thermostat or thermometer leader? I would love to hear your responses. Please comment below.
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them - Matthew 18:19-20 ESV
In 2007, Zack Snyder produced a film named 300. It was based on the Battle of Thermopylae and centered primarily on the role of the Spartans in this famous battle.
Several years earlier, the Persians under king Darius I had invaded Greece, primarily in order to punish the city-states of Athens and Eretria. These city states had supported the cities of Ionia during their revolt against Persian rule. The invasion ended with the decisive Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
King Darius began raising a huge new army with which he intended to return with full force, to obtain revenge for his devastating defeat.
Darius was killed in battle and his son Xerxes ascended to the throne. Xerxes, determined to avenge his father's defeat, launched his offensive upon Greece in what is now known as the Battle of Thermopylae with an army of some one hundred and fifty thousand men and a navy of six hundred ships..
The Battle of Thermopylae took place over a three day period. The Greeks were able to hold their position against the Persians over the first two days.
The tide turned when a member of a Greek tribe showed the Persians an alternative route that would take them behind the Greek force. This gave the Persians a competitive advantage.
Once King Leonidas (the commander of the Spartans) realized what had been done, he made a monumental decision – rather than abandon their position and withdraw to the south before the Persians arrived, Leonidas relieved the majority of his army.
The only ones left to fight were the 300 Spartans (the main focus of the film), 700 Thespians, and 400 Thebans.
Of course, we know the battle ended with the total annihilation of the remaining force. The defeat of the Spartans at this battle served two purposes. The first was that it gave the army that Leonidas had dismissed an opportunity to escape. Secondly, and more importantly, their heroism boosted the morale of the surviving soldiers .
The remainder of the Greek army went on to defeat the Persians in the Battles of Salamis and Plataea, which effectively ended the Second Persian Invasion.
My brothers, there is a lot that can we learn from the efforts of the King Leonidas and his allies.
A group of like minded men that are united by a common goal can change the world!
This has been proven over and over again throughout the ages. Take a look at scripture and examine the efforts of Paul, Mark and Barnabas as they spread the gospel during the early stages of Christianity.
Look at God's handiwork in the 7th chapter of Judges where Gideon's army of 32,000 was reduced to 300 men and the Midianites were delivered into their hands.
Of course, there is the widely known example of Jesus and the 12 disciples.
Men, I challenge you today to pray to God for His wisdom and guidance to identify a group of men that will be willing to come together for the purpose of changing the world.
As scripture promises, where there are two or three that are gathered in His name, He will be there among them.
Has God been tugging on your heart to start or be a part of a group of men committed to make a change? Let's start a conversation below.
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted - Job 42:2 ESV
On February 1, 1960 four young black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (now known as North Carolina A & T State University) walked into a Woolworth's in downtown Greensboro, NC.
At this time, they were denied service because the official policy was to refuse service to anyone except whites. These four students- Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil sat quietly at the lunch counter even though they were not served.
The police were called, but did not take any action since the four did not provoke anyone during their protest. The four students stayed at the counter for the entire day until the store closed.
The students, now known as the Greensboro 4, returned the next day with even more students that they had recruited from local colleges. Despite the increased number of participants, Woolworth stated that they would maintain their segregated policy.
By February 5th, approximately 300 students had joined in the protest at Woolworth's. This action paralyzed the business of Woolworth's along with those of other local businesses. In order to keep the protest going, the students organized their schedules so that someone would always be there to occupy the counter.
The momentum generated by the Greensboro 4 spread to 55 cities in 13 states. As a result of their efforts, many dining facilities across the South started integrating by the summer of 1960.
The success of the movement was rooted in the fact that the students persisted in their efforts until they reached their goal. They had a purpose and focused on attaining it.
Men, what is it in our lives are we called to do? What is our God given purpose that we are called to fulfill? If you have a purpose that God has called you to do, rest assured that it will happen. How do I know? Let's look at what Job experienced.
Job knew that God, with his unlimited power, knowledge and dominion provides man with all that he needs to accomplish His will. Job knew of God's power beforehand, but could attest to this power even more after his experiences.
My brothers, this power is available to you as well. I think of times that I was truly convinced of what my purpose was, but shrank from the challenge because of my perceived inability to accomplish it. It was only when I realized where my true source of power originated from, was I able to start moving toward my purpose.
It's not easy to maintain the focus of accomplishing your purpose. I admittedly veer off of the path to living out my purpose from time to time. It is during these times, that I have to recalibrate and tap into the power that God provides for you to persevere.
Like the Greensboro 4, you have the ability to focus your efforts on a worthwhile purpose and make lasting change.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are a number of you reading this that are sitting on the sidelines. You possess the ability to make positive change in this world if you start living out your purpose.
Have you identified your purpose? If so, are you living it out? If not, what's keeping you from doing so? Please engage in the conversation by commenting below.
If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment - Job 36:11 NIV
We recently went on a vacation to New Orleans (if you haven't been, I highly recommend it!). During our time there, we sampled some of the finest cuisine New Orleans had to offer.
One of our favorite visits was to District Donuts (we went twice). On an average day, they offer a selection of simple, fancy and extra fancy donuts to choose from. As I sat there and enjoyed my fancy donuts, I remembered a question that one of my sons asked me when he was smaller about donuts.
"Why do they have a hole in the middle?" I didn't have an answer beyond that's how they've always been made.
Reflecting back on that question led me to ponder other questions that day in the shop. Why do a majority of men's lives resemble that of a donut? Why do we have a hole in the middle of our lives that can't be filled? Why do we try to fill it with things of this world?
I will admit that there are times that I am been a "doughnut" man as well. I have tried to fill that emptiness in my life with temporal things that won't satisfy. Some of them include: pursuit of money, sex and power. None of these things filled the hole.
What can be done to adequately fill that void in our life? For me, the answer was giving myself over to God and serving Him. What does this mean?
Giving yourself over to serving and obeying God means becoming obedient to His will. Once you align your life with His will, you find yourself operating according to the purpose that you were designed for. Once you live your life with purpose, the hole in the middle slowly fills.
As Elihu noted in today's scripture, God fills men's heart with contentment when they seek and serve Him. Whatever their circumstances, if a man's heart is dedicated to our Father, he becomes spiritually filled.
Men, when that happens, you start to live a life that provides the blueprint for those in your circle of influence to follow. You began to participate in what I call "generational living." Generational living has the ability to positively impact future generations.
How do you start becoming obedient? It's an evolving process. It begins when you realize that you have a void in your life that you have been trying to fill with worldly things. Once you come to that realization, you can start with determining God's will for your life.
This step requires time apart where you place yourself in position to listen to His voice. That can come from God directly speaking to you or through someone else. Once that happens, you start on the path to living that life God has called us to live.
There are times that you are going to deviate from that path. When that happens, it is of great benefit to have an accountability partner to communicate with. This, in addition to continued study of scripture, will assist in the discipline of obeying and serving God.
Don't let trying to fill that hole in the middle with worldly things prevent you from a gratifying relationship with your Father. Fill that void by obeying and serving Him.
How have you been trying to fill the void in your life? Engage in the conversation by placing your comment below. I would love to hear from you.
But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:30-31 ESV
While waiting for our turn to see the optometrist, Trey and I decided to see who had the better vision. We stood in front of the eye chart and took turns reading the lines. I got to line 4 or 5 and had trouble clearly seeing the letters (Yes, I need glasses). Trey, on the other hand, was able to see the letters located on line 8 and 9.
Isn't it amazing how many of us experience the same thing that I did during my vision competition with Trey? Two individuals can look at a situation and see or interpret it in two entirely different ways.
I looked at one line and said what I thought the letters were, while Trey looked at the same line and saw the actual letters. His vision was better than mine.
This situation plays every day with people in all walks of life. How many times have you observed individuals from similar backgrounds that have experienced different levels of success? I see this often in the areas of athletics, academics and the work place.
Did one person have an advantage over another? Both came from the same neighborhood and circumstances, but one made it and the other didn't. Why is that? Why was one person able to look at their conditions and see one thing, while the other saw something totally different?
The difference is that the one that succeeds has tapped into a power that is available to all of us.
The person that sees a situation clearly and has confidence is the one that believes that they are doing God's will and He is providing everything that they need to succeed.
Let's look at the today's scripture as evidence of this at work. Caleb was sent along with other spies to
survey the land that was promised to them. After the completion of the mission, they returned with the report. Notice the difference in the reports. Keep in mind that Caleb saw the same thing that the other spies "saw".
Caleb instructed the people to "go up at once and occupy the land." There was no hesitation on his part because he knew 2 things: God had told them the land was theirs (belief) and God had equipped them for the task at hand (faith). That was all that they needed to occupy the land despite the obstacles before them.
The "other" spies saw that the land was flowing with milk and honey, but focused on the giants, walls and castles. As a result, they felt that they would not be able to overcome these hurdles.
What group of "spies" are you in? Do you look at an opportunity and see all of the obstacles and decide not to proceed? Or do you view that same opportunity as Caleb and know that if it's within God's will, you have everything needed to succeed?
What is facing you today that require the faith and belief that Caleb possessed? Will you "go and occupy the land at once" or will the circumstances cause you to focus on the obstacles?
I invite you to look at whatever that situation is and "see" it with the help of God's power. You'll be amazed at what you'll see with that new vision.
For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them - Acts 28:27 ESV
Everywhere the family and I go for vacation, we drive. I don't like to fly. Some of the trips are longer than others so we may take 2 days to reach our destination.
I've grown accustomed to driving long distances for our vacations and I enjoy driving, it's not a problem for me . Despite the long distances we sometimes travel for our vacations, nothing compares to the long journey that took over 15 years to complete.
That journey consisted of 18 inches.
Doctors say that it is about 18 inches from your brain to your heart. To some of you reading this, that doesn't seem like a long way. To others, it represents an enormous distance.
I fall in the second group. For a long time, I was ashamed to admit it. I hid the fact that I could not navigate that 18 inches. Every time I attempted to travel those 18 inches between my head and my heart, I gave up.
The reason? I was afraid. I was terrified to give into my heart and do what God had wired me to do. I used my brain to rationalize all the reasons why I couldn't do what my heart knew I was designed to do.
There are those of you reading this that can identify with me. You know in your heart what your purpose and passion is. You know the things that provide you with that indescribable feeling of excitement. Despite knowing all of that, your mind is able to convince you otherwise.
How was I able to overcome this? First of all, let me state that it's not easy. It took me over 15 years to finally arrive at writing on a consistent basis. I realized that the uncomfortable feeling I experienced daily would not go away until I listened to my heart.
Once that happened, everything changed. That doesn't mean that I don't struggle with the negative thoughts. I am better equipped to handle those situations because I've learned to listen to my heart.
You have the ability to do the same.
Take a look in the Book of Acts. The children of Israel hearts had grown callused and hardened against the message of God. Furthermore, their ears stopped hearing and the eyes stopped seeing. Men, that's what happened to me.
Fortunately, our merciful God gave the children of Israel an opportunity. If they would see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, He would heal them.
My brothers, that's what happened to me. I started listening to my heart. As a result my thinking became clearer and I was able to hear and see more effectively.
I was able to navigate the 18 inches between my head and my heart. It took some time, but I did it.
So can you! The formula has been laid out for you. The only thing that you need to do is to apply it.
Do it today! Do it now!
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.