Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #15

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Dear Son, Your reputation is priceless. Protect it!
Love, Dad

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.”  Proverbs 22:1 (NKJV)

Your reputation and name are inseparable. A short list of names demonstrates this fact, both good and bad: Ronald Reagan, Anthony Weiner, Tim Tebow, Aaron Hernandez, Paula Dean, Abraham Lincoln, Hitler, and Jesus. Each name conjures images of either a sterling or tarnished reputation.

A reputation takes a lifetime to build, but it can be destroyed in seconds. Therefore, you must protect it with vigilance. In recent years, one’s reputation is growing more difficult to protect due to two factors: increasing temptations and social media. You are not only being bombarded by an increasing assortment and access to temptations, it is also easier to get caught and published for the world to see for all digital eternity.

Reputation Protection Plan

  • Surround yourself with good people.
  • Be careful where you are. If you find yourself in a compromising situation, look for the escape and go. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
  • Be careful what you are looking at and filling your mind with. Images lead to thoughts and thoughts can lead to actions.

If you fall, seek the forgiveness of God and any others involved. Remember, God will forgive, but people will find it difficult to forget.

If you damage your reputation, repair it with humility and diligence.

What do you want people to think when they hear your name?

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #14

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Dear Son,
“Thank You” are two of the most powerful words you can say.
Love, Dad

“Say thank you,” were words your heard from your mother and I many times while you were growing up. We were especially vigilant around Christmas and Birthdays. We reminded you several times before we arrived at the gift exchange. You ripped open the colorful paper, full of anticipation to see what amazing wonders awaited, only to be greeted by a 3-pack of underwear. We gave you the look. You took a deep breath and somewhat convincingly said, ‘Thank you.”

Saying “Thank You” is not always natural or easy – but it is always powerful. Showing gratitude has a deep impact on the receiver of the “Thank You”. They feel appreciated, loved, respected – and they will be twice as likely to continue the activity that prompted the “Thank You”. Being grateful is also very beneficial to your own health and well being. Psychological studies have demonstrated this “Gratitude Effect”.  Click here to watch an enlightening video by Derek Halpern about the power of “Thank You”

pt thank youHere is a super powerful secret:  “Thank You” notes are like a “Thank You” on steroids with lasers strapped to its back. It is a vanishing art that will not go unnoticed. In fact, I have a “Thank You” note you gave me on a special shelf in my office.

Thank God
Also remember to thank God for all of the blessings in your life. God is the true source. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” James 1:17(NIV)

What would today look like if you only had what you thanked God for yesterday?

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #12

seek truth speak truth

Dear Son,
Seek truth. Speak truth. Love, Dad

In a world filled with lies and spin, the value of truth is ever increasing. David described our society well when he wrote, “You love evil more than good and lies more than truth.”(Psalms 52:3)

Your mother and I have made truth a high priority in our home. We also placed you in a classical, Christian school with the mission of teaching you to seek God’s truth. As you grow older, it will be up to you to put this into practice.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Truth leads to freedom. Lies and spin lead to a lack of trust, confusion, complications, fear and bondage.

Seek truth about God, yourself and others.  

Truth about God is found in the Bible and in the world around us. Read the Bible and pray the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.

Examine yourself. Self-deception is an easy trap. As St. Augustine wrote in Confessions, “Man’s love of truth is such that when he loves something that is not the truth, he pretends to himself that what he loves is the truth, and because he hates to be wrong, he will not allow himself to be convinced that he is deceiving himself. So he hates the real truth for the sake of what he takes to his heart in its place.”

Seek truth about others. Do not form an opinion about others to quickly. Do not automatically believe the word of others without proper investigation and consideration. Things are not always as they seem.

Speak truth.

God has a very high opinion of speaking truth and a very low opinion of lying. Proverbs 12:19 reads, “Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.” Proverbs 6 is a list of seven things God hates and two of them are speaking lies.

Speaking truth is practical and leads to success. I have seen many lives destroyed through the lies they have told. As Sir Walter Scott wrote, “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Make a practice of speaking truth. It may not seem to be the easiest choice at the moment, but truth wins in the end.

In a world suffocating in lies, truth will breathe life and freedom. Be a leader who seeks truth and speaks truth.

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10-Minute Bible Storyline

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God spoke all things into existence: light, water, sky, land, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, animals, and humans. God made it all, and it was good.

God created Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and gave them responsibility over all created things. God gave them one rule: do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would die. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit.

Paradise was lost as sin and death entered the world.  God’s children no longer had a perfect relationship with their Creator, but God showed grace and love in the midst of judgment. God made a promise of a future rescuer who would come and crush the head of evil.

Adam and Eve had children. One of their sons, Cain, continued the downward spiral of sin by murdering his brother Abel. Over time, people began to multiply and spread across the earth. The only problem was as people multiplied, so did sin and evil.

God decided the earth needed a fresh start. He would send a flood to wipe out all living creatures, but God chose Noah, the only righteous man, to build a large boat to rescue his family and a pair of all the animals and birds. God protected them through the flood and showed His grace and love by making a covenant (promise) with Noah and all future living creatures not to destroy the earth by flood.

People and the land began to grow and flourish again. Humanity started to forget about God and trust in themselves. Many people gathered in a city named Babel and constructed a tower to bring glory to themselves. God confused their languages and caused them to scatter and spread across the earth.

The time came for God to build a nation. God wanted a group of people to show His love and power to all the inhabitants of the earth. God made His choice and it started with an unlikely couple named Abraham and Sarah. God promised to give them many decedents, land, and to bless the world through them. God fulfilled His covenant and started to build His nation through Abraham’s son, Isaac.

The nation grew as Isaac and his wife Rebekah gave birth to Jacob and Esau. They were not the kindest of brothers, and Jacob tricked his brother into selling his favored birthright for a bowl of soup. Jacob went on to trick his father, Isaac, into giving him his final blessing. Regardless of these poor choices, God showed favor on Jacob and continued His covenant made with Abraham. Jacob had 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. One of these sons was Joseph.

Through the cruelty of his brothers and the blessing of God, Joseph was brought into a position of power in Egypt to rescue his family. God brought His people to safety and provision in Egypt, but things did not continue to go well for the people of Israel after Joseph died.

The people of Israel spent 400 years of hard slavery in Egypt. God heard their cries and sent a reluctant prince named Moses to the rescue. Moses confronted the Egyptian Pharaoh and demanded that he let the people go. God sent a series of plagues leading to their release.

God guided and protected His people through the Red Sea and into the wilderness. God gave commandments and taught His people how to worship Him through a series of instructions and the building of a Tabernacle. God led the people with a cloud by day and fire by night to begin the journey to claim the Promised Land.

Moses sent spies into the Promised Land (Canaan). Most of the spies said the land was amazing and fruitful but the people would be impossible to defeat. The people became fearful and did not trust that God could bring them the victory. God grew weary of their lack of faith and complaining and said they would have to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Only the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, would enter the Promised Land with the children. Even Moses lost the right to enter the Promised Land because he failed to give God the proper credit for providing water in the wilderness.

After the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader, and led the Israelites to take the Promised Land. This was not an easy task, but God was with them. Israel was faithful to God under the leadership of Joshua.

Following the death of Joshua and his fellow leaders, Israel became rebellious against God. They served idols and lived lives of sin. God stopped protecting them, and they fell into the hands of their enemies. They were not able to conquer the entire Promised Land.

In the midst of this judgment, God showed grace and love and empowered judges to free His people from the oppressive enemy. These judges included Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, Eli and Samuel.

The time of the judges over Israel came to an end. The final judge of Israel was Samuel. Samuel called the people back to God and to defeat the Philistines. The Israelites lost the battle and lost the Ark of God. This was devastating to the people of God.

The people of Israel demanded that they have a king to lead them like the nations around them. God was disappointed by this rejection of His leadership but honored their request. The first king, Saul, started well but stopped following and trusting God.

David was Israel’s second king. He was a mighty warrior and poet with a true heart for God. David united the people and established the capitol city in Jerusalem. Even though David made some bad decisions, he was humble and returned to God.

Because of David’s faithfulness, God continued the line of kings with David’s son, Solomon. God visited Solomon in a dream and offered him anything he wanted. Solomon requested wisdom to lead the people. God granted Solomon’s request for wisdom, and Solomon was respected as the wisest man. Solomon built a magnificent temple for God. Israel experienced a golden age a peace and prosperity during the reign of Solomon.

Later in life, Solomon married foreign wives, turned from God, and followed foreign gods. After Solomon’s death, Israel was torn into two kingdoms. A series of bad kings led the people of Israel far from God.

God sent messengers (prophets) including Elijah, Elisha, Amos and Hosea to warn His people and try to bring them back to God. The Israelites continued to rebel against God and the kingdoms fell. God’s people again became slaves and exiles in foreign lands.

God was faithful to His people through the time of Exile. God told His people, through messengers including Isaiah and Jeremiah, of His love and promised that they would return to the Promised Land. As the messengers predicted, Babylon fell, and Cyrus, king of Persia, proclaimed that the Israelites could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Isaiah also told of a great Messiah (King) that would set them free.

Haggai and Zechariah helped lead many of the Israelites back and encouraged them through the difficult and dangerous rebuilding project. Ezra led another group of Israelites back to Jerusalem and called the people to follow God. Nehemiah then returned with a group with the task of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. This was a dangerous task because surrounding nations were determined to keep them from completing the project.

The temple and the wall were completed, but the people were still not focused on God. Ezra decided that the best way to bring back the worship of God was to read the Book of the Law to all of the people. The people listened and returned to God.

The people of God continued to go through political and moral unrest. They waited in great expectation for the promised Messiah to come and rescue them. In God’s perfect timing, this promise was fulfilled.

God was changing everything. God with us. He would no longer visit through dreams, visions and pillars of smoke. God would walk with His people. He would teach them face-to-face. He would touch them and heal their sickness and pain. He would set them free from sin and shame.

In the beginning, God spoke the universe into existence with a word. Now God was speaking complete salvation into existence through the Word, Jesus the Son of the living God.

God changed everything through the miraculous birth of Jesus. The birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary fulfilled many of the amazing details predicted in the past by God’s messengers. God sent the Messiah into the world on a mission to bring final and complete salvation to all who believe and place their faith in Him.

Jesus started His mission as he walked the streets of Israel. Now the people walked and talked with God through Jesus. Now the people learned how to live as they listened to Jesus’ teaching and watched Him relate to those around Him. Now they were being set free from sickness, pain and evil influences in their lives. Jesus chose 12 of His followers to be apostles: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Thaddaeus, Simon and Judas.

Jesus’ time of teaching and walking with His followers on earth was ending. It was time for Jesus to complete God’s mission and become the sacrifice that would cover and forgive the sins of all who believe and have faith in Him. Jesus was betrayed, crucified, and buried in a tomb. On the third day Jesus was raised to life. Jesus visited his followers and other people before ascending to heaven.

Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection were the rescue plan God lovingly crafted before the world was created. We see God’s amazing love, judgment and grace demonstrated in this supreme sacrificial act.

Jesus may have left His followers on earth, but He was not going to leave them alone. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit. Now God, through the Holy Spirit, would be with every follower of Jesus. The Holy Spirit would bring comfort, knowledge and power to help the early Christians spread the Good News of Jesus. The task of spreading the Good News to the whole world would not be easy. With the power of the Holy Spirit, the mission began.

Peter, Paul and most of the other apostles were killed for their beliefs and preaching about Jesus. One of the last remaining disciples was John. He was held prisoner on the island of Patmos. While there, God gave him an amazing vision of Jesus and revelation of things to come.

It was revealed that God will pour out a final judgment on the world. The world will follow an evil beast and false prophet empowered by Satan. Jesus will then return to earth to conquer the beast and Satan. God will hold the Great White Throne of judgment and throw Satan, the beast, the false prophet and all those not written in the Book of Life into the lake of fire.

Then God will make an amazing new heaven and new earth for His people. There will be no more sickness, tears or death. God will reign with His people forever.

Now it is your turn to take part in the story of God and His people. The same God that did all these amazing things is alive and active today. What will your story be?

To continue your journey to discover the Bible, read the 3-Hour Bible: The Fastest Way to Read and Understand the Bible. Available exclusively at amazon.com.

Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #9

ask note

Dear Son,
If you don’t know…ask.
Love, Dad

Asking questions is a very important skill that will lead to success or at least survival.

When I was in college, I spent a summer working and living in a funeral home. I learned many lessons about work, life and death. One day I learned the importance of asking questions.

The funeral director asked me to cut down some dead trees along the edge of the property. He said they had planted some new trees and wanted the dead ones removed.  It seemed like a simple task and I was ready to do some “manly” work. I found some tools and headed out.
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As I approached the tree line, I encountered a dilemma.  The trees were lined up two-by-two. One new tree and one dead tree side by side. I was not sure which tree to remove. I made a decision not to go back and bother anyone with such an ignorant, non-manly questions. I was a 21-year-old man and surely I could tell the difference. So I decided to cut down the smaller, feeble trees that had no leaves. I proceeded to cut down the 20 sad-looking trees in record time.

I made my way back to the funeral home as a heroic lumberjack ready to receive accolades and another assignment.

“That was quick, let’s go take a look” said the funeral director as we walked outside.  Then he stopped in his tracks and stood silently as his face turned pale. “What did you do with all of my new trees?” he said after what seemed an eternity. “You cut down the wrong trees. What were you thinking?” I did not have an answer accept to ask for forgiveness.  I ended the day embarrassed but thankful that I did not loose my job and learned a valuable lesson.

Throughout life, I have missed many great things and made many mistakes by not asking.  But I have also opened many doors by asking. Learn to ask.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”   Jesus in Luke 11:9

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #8

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Dear Son,
Read Proverbs once a year. Read one chapter a day each day of the month. Start on April Fools Day.
Love, Dad

The book of Proverbs is the greatest collection of wisdom on earth. It is a collection of wisdom by Solomon, son of King David.  God gifted Solomon with wisdom above all others.

Wisdom is the art of living well. Skillfully handling what life brings you. Not acting a fool in a world filled with lunacy and traps.

The book of Proverbs is full of real life. It addresses the things in life that can be so attractive yet so dangerous: money, fame, power, wild women, wine, beer, laziness, and lying. The words of Solomon help us learn to live with justice, loyalty, love, leadership, health, prosperity, and peace. In Proverbs, we learn to live a life honoring to God.

The book of Proverbs has 31 chapters and is broken down perfectly for daily reading over a period of a month.  I suggest starting with April Fools Day…because it is so ironic. It will also make it easy to remember each year. It has not escaped me that there are only 30 days in April and there are 31 chapters in Proverbs.  I am sure you can figure out how to handle this dilemma. Whatever you do, do not miss chapter 31 especially as you search for the woman you will spend the rest of your life with. It has paid off for me.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #5

Dear Son 5Dear Son,
Read the Bible. God’s Word will be a constant source of guidance, comfort, and strength.
Love, Dad

Nothing has made a greater impact in my life than reading the Bible. Your mother and I have made the Bible a high priority in our home and in your education. We do this because we can’t imagine what your life would be without it.

Over the next few years, you will think more about God’s will and direction for your life than you will for the rest of your life. Go to God and the Bible as a source of guidance in these times of great opportunity. I can remember being dropped off at Liberty University full of hopes, fears, and questions. I turned to the Bible in those days of growth and decision, and it made all the difference. As David said in the Psalms 119, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Sometimes life will be dark. Times of questions and disappointment. I can remember when mom was in the hospital for a few weeks. I was not sure what was going to happen as time and answers slipped away. In the Bible, I found a God who comforts and heals. I found much comfort in reading Isaiah 41:13, “I am the Lord your God who takes you by your hand and says, Do not fear, I will help you.”

As a leader, you will become painfully aware of your weakness, but you are not alone. Our strength and wits will fail us, but God will never fail us. Turn to the stories of the great leaders in the Bible: Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus and Paul to discover how God gives them strength and comes along their sides to fight their battles and make things right. Also read the Psalms for a behind the scenes look as David finds strength through fear, attack, sickness, victory and defeat.

As you journey through life, remember to turn to God and the Bible to find guidance, comfort and strength. You will not be disappointed.

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