Be Grateful! Today is Especially Delicious.

Great wisdom from Nacho Libre!

ec5a0-nacho
“Be grateful, Juan Pablo, today is especially delicious.

“Today is especially delicious.”

Nacho is talking about food – but you can apply that attitude to life.

In spite of Thanksgiving being a favorite of many, we often don’t “get it.” It’s all about gratitude.

God’s will (or a major part of it) is pretty simple. You get this one concept, then you are on your way.

The concept is…gratitude.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thess 5.18

See that “will of God” part there? It’s like it came from an instruction manual or something. Crazy.

 

Dennis Prager wrote the most insightful thing:

“There is a secret to happiness, and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person.”

He speaks in terms of happiness – I’m going to speak in terms of joy – meaning the result of trusting the God who is OVER the circumstances.

All joyful people are grateful people.
No exceptions.

You meet someone with a bounce in their step, a smile on their face, a cheer in their voice – you’ve just met someone who is grateful.

All ungrateful people…are joyless.
No exceptions.

You meet someone who is bitter, hardened, down all the time (no joy) – you’ve just met someone who is ungrateful. Every. Single. Time.

Joy and gratitude – always, always, always together. Joy and ingratitude – cannot fit together in the same body. Ingratitude is like a pushy fat kid that forces joy out of your body. Joy and gratitude are polar opposites.

Want more joy? Easy. Practice gratitude.

“But David – gratitude is HAAARRRRDDDD!!”
That’s ridiculous. Here’s me being ridiculous:

I remember trying to send a picture on my iPhone, and it wouldn’t send.

It made me angry.

Embarrassingly angry. Like “poking the touch screen furiously trying to make it go” kind of angry (makes me laugh as I type it’s so ridiculous).

Now really…how dim is that? I have a phone that transmits messages…like magic…through the AIR!!!!No wires!! No carrier pigeons!! No note tied to a rock and thrown through a window like Ernest T. Bass! I just type words onto the magic mystical glass andee832-bass my words fly…they FLY through the air to another person who then reads my notes – sometimes half way around the world!!!

I’m like Aladdin with my magic lamp (only it’s a phone), I personally know people in other parts of the world who walk a mile three times a day for water, but I’m incensed because I can’t send a picture right at the moment I want to. Silly.

 

Be thankful.

You have a brain, breath in your lungs, a beat in your heart. Today is especially delicious.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thess 5.18

 

Amen amen.

 

 

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I’d be ever so thankful and full of gratitude if you’d share this post (click that little share button below!). Post. Repost. Comment! 

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Is Diversity Our Strength?

Diversity can good. Or bad. It’s so simple even a monkey gets it! Don’t believe me?

Just watched War for the Planet of the Apes. Why? Because apparently, I’ve got more time than sense.

BUT…Caeser, the chief monkey – he says that holy monkey mantra that keeps them all going:

Apes together…strong. 

Very powerful, poetic. So moving.  I’m getting misty as I type.

But notice what he doesn’t say! He doesn’t say diversity is their strength! It’s their “together” that makes them strong.

Now, even though it’s so simple a monkey gets it, the left (religious left, political left, social left…take your pick), doesn’t know it.

Diversity, like abortion, is the Holy Grail for some in our society.

Because diversity is just super fabulous you see. In fact, Senator Schumer of New York sponsored a bill many years ago that created a “Diversity Visa Lottery Program.” The name of that makes me think, “I can’t brain today…I have the dumb.”  It’s how the most recent terrorist got to our country (Schumer has praised the program for its “diversity” in recent years but did agree to replace it with a massive increase in immigration/diversity).

Us:  You won the lottery! You get to be an American! Yayyyy you!
Terrorist: But I have no job, no education, I don’t speak English and hate America.
Us: Even better! You’re SO diverse!

The oft-repeated mantra, “diversity is our strength” is just false.

Diversity can be “a” strength. Or diversity can be a destructive force.

Diversity amongst a people who are ferociously committed to shared values and vision and goals can enhance their ability to achieve their goals. But their strength is their unity.

In the first book of the Bible, there is great homogeneity as the people began to construct a tower to the heavens to make a name for themselves. And God gives them “diversity of language.”

Diversity causes them to give up. 

All of a sudden the people have tremendous diversity. Wonderful diversity. They speak many beautiful and wonderful languages. And they can’t understand a doggone thing anybody is saying. So they give up on the tower and go their separate ways…all over the world.

Diversity was their weakness.

Jump ahead to Acts 2, and there is great diversity among a group of people (about 15 groups are named). They all speak different languages. Beautiful diversity. A rich tapestry of differences (you always score diversity points if you can say “rich tapestry” and kind of swoon when you say it).

What does God do? He makes them MORE diverse right? Because He wants them to be STRONG and diversity is STRENGTH.

NO. He makes them LESS diverse. 

He makes them the same – in the sense that they are all speaking different languages but they hear in their own language.  Miraculously for a bit, they have no diversity of language, added to the fact that they have no diversity of values, and they are ferociously unified in their commitment to Jesus.

They have absolute homogeneity in their language and their worship of Christ, the risen Savior (seriously – every time I say, “homogeneity” you cringe don’t you? Because the left would say it’s like a dog whistle to white supremacists and KKKers (which are wicked people so no, I’m not dog whistling)).

And their unity (not their diversity) is so SO strong and their ferocious commitment to Jesus so SO strong, that, led by the Holy Spirit, Christianity spread all over the known world. Their UNITY is their strength.

Diversity Can Destroy Us

Diversity for diversity’s sake will destroy us. Because it leads to importing people like Sayfullo Saipov. He added diversity. Consider how diverse he is compared to the majority population of the US even today:

  • He hates Western values (free speech, religion, and all that stuff).
  • He loves ISIS.
  • He loves shariah.
  • He wants Americans dead.
  • He wants a worldwide caliphate.

But he’s the wrong kind of diverse. The outcome of diversity, in this case, is easily predictable and was on display for all the world to see as he murdered people on Oct. 31st, yelling, “Allahu akbar.”

E Pluribus Unum is power.

E Pluribus Unum is the motto of the United States, adopted in 1776. It means, “Out of many, one.”

Yes, there is diversity in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12-14), but it is absolutely subservient to unity or “oneness” in the essentials of the faith and allegiance to God’s Word and the supremacy of following Jesus. Diversity ONLY adds strength when it advances Christ’s Kingdom. The strength comes from our shared commitment to Jesus.

And it’s the same in our country. Diversity can add strength as long as it is subservient to a “oneness” of values and vision. In World War II, the United States was able to mobilize as a nation from coast to coast precisely because we were unified, not diversified.

There was no diversity of language, no diversity of vision – we wanted to destroy the Axis powers, there was no diversity of values – we were committed to the Western values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience. Even in our alliance with Russia – our differences became subservient to our unifying goal of defeating Germany.

Oh, also note that both the Japanese and the Germans were completely and utterly lacking in diversity of language, race, values, and vision. They even looked the same and insisted on looking the same (you better be Aryan or Japanese, or you die)! NO diversity! And yet these small nations nearly took over the world. Their unity of purpose was their power.

Our unity is our power. 

When the United States is united around and fiercely committed to protecting the God-given rights expressed in our Constitution, it is a beacon of hope to the world.

And when the local church is united around allegiance to God’s Word and knowing Him and making Him known, the local church is the absolute hope of the world.

 

Amen amen.

 

 

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Sexual Schizophrenia

So the Boy Scouts (which I love) have decided the word “boy” in their name is the negotiable part of their endeavor. The Girls Scouts of America are furious (battle for market share). Many others are too, citing this as one more example of gender-bending in our culture. Used to be, everyone (even five-year-olds!) understood that girls and boys were different, and both could benefit from same-sex role models and mentors.

But we are suffering a sexual schizophrenia.

The sexual mores of the day are schizophrenic, contradictory and irrational. Consider the following, and then I’ll tell you WHY they are that way:

This: Mike Pence is a FREAK and TALIBAN for setting boundaries with women to make sure he never pulls a Weinstein (abuses or is accused of abusing or being inappropriate with a woman).
But also this: Harvey Weinstein is HORRIBLE and AWFUL for doing the exact OPPOSITE of Pence.

This: Weinstein must be run out of Hollywood because he is the devil!
But also this: He was excellent as long as his letching was secret. His board, his company, and enough others knew about it that it made it into the script for 30 Rock, with that part written by Tina Fey. And everyone was ok with it.

This: Meryl Streep is HORRIFIED by Weinstein (although she called him “God” a few years ago at an awards ceremony.
But also this: Meryl Streep LED a standing ovation at the 2003 Academy Awards for Roman Polanski, even though everyone knows that he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl, then fled the country. So she and Hollywood are on record as applauding a pedophile fugitive from justice.

This: Hillary Clinton on Weinstein: “I was just sick. I was shocked! I was appalled. It was something that was just…intolerable.” And to be fair, she’s echoing what many on the left are saying about Harvey Weinstein. That is excellent.
But also this: Hillary Clinton on Bill Clinton (Harvey’s twin brother from a different mother-done all the Harvey stuff): the man I call husband, my lover, icon of the Democratic Party and the best President ever (not direct quote- just an innocent assumption since their marriage has lasted so long). And to be fair, she’s echoing what many on the left are saying about Bill – “best President ever.” Conspicuously missing? The word “intolerable.”

This: The Feminist Movement: “I am woman, hear me roar! In numbers too big to ignore! Keep your hands off our bodies!”
But also this: The Feminist Movement: “Hey brother, give me some cash for my birth control pills! Pay for my abortions! I can’t pay! I’m just a woman!”

This: Hollywood and the literary world love Stephen King and have made two movies based on his book, It. Super popular. And King is praised for tweeting that the President has a “severely *** ******* mind.” Yayyy Stephen! He’s a literary genius AND he’s talking truth to power!
But also this: In King’s book, It, SIX 11-YEAR-OLD BOYS HAVE SEX WITH AN 11-YEAR-OLD GIRL to defeat the evil (all caps means I’m yelling)! And apparently, it goes on for pages! It’s fair to say King really is something of a pedophile. And apparently, child rape, sexual abuse, and sexual violence is common in King’s writings.

This: Christians are flat-earthers and anti-science.
But this: California passed a law saying there are three genders.
AND ALSO THIS: Everyone knows the number of gender is like…382. Or 63. Or 23. Depends on which of the 695 million google results you click on. Which is insane and unscientific.

LAST ONE:

This: If you BELIEVE you’re a pirate, want your eye gouged out so you can wear a patch, want your leg amputated so you can wear a peg leg, AND 50% people with your condition attempt suicide, everyone agrees you have a mental disorder. Even in today’s PC culture, you’d be called crazy. Sympathy worthy. But still crazy.
But this: If you’re a man and BELIEVE you’re a woman, AND 50% of the people with your condition attempt suicide, real doctors – not mad scientists will happily amputate the male part of your body and pump you so full of hormones no one will ever accuse you of being “hormone free” or “NON-GMO” or “organic.”
AND ALSO THIS: People will be outraged that you can’t compete against women in sports. Or serve in the military. And people will demand the military pay for your amputation.

______________________________________

The list of conflicting and irrational beliefs about sexuality and sexual morality is never-ending. But the question that screams to be answered (at least in my head) is:

WHY IS IT LIKE THIS?

Simple. We have an enemy. And Jesus said he seeks to, “steal, kill, and destroy.” And he loves to use sex to do all three. Why does he use sex?

SEX IS THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE.

Not everyone finds some form of murder enjoyable. Not everyone finds some form of lying tempting. Not everyone finds cursing God, rebelling against parents or stealing desirable. So Satan’s reach on those things is somewhat limited.

BUT EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON…had their start as the result of a man and a woman (no other genders involved) engaging in sex (invitro is still the joining together male/female genetic material). It’s 100% universal! And God designed it to be awesome, to cause a man to “leave father and mother and cleave to his wife” in a physical and spiritual union called “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:15). There’s no other relationship on the planet like it. And it’s excellent.

So just like hacking a program which is in every computer, Satan can hack into the God-designed sexuality that is part of EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON, and wreak horrific havoc on…anyone.

Women and children carry the carry the brunt of the physical, emotional and economic destruction. I’ve never heard of a female Bill Clinton or Harvey Weinstein. 99% of rapists are men (important-only a small percentage of men commit rape so don’t fear all men. But it’s almost exclusively a male club). Vast majority of pedophiles? Men. When men become predators instead of protectors, they inflict much more damage to women and children than vice versa.

But men are destroyed too. Satan leverages them so that they give their most productive selves to wicked evil like predation, trafficking, pornography, adultery, pedophilia and slowly die in dissipation.

The Answer

There’s only one answer, which drives most crazy. The only solution that fixes everything? Embrace God’s design for sexuality. 100%. And like abstinence before marriage, it works every time it’s tried. Here it is:

Celibacy (meaning singleness and abstinence).

Or one man plus one woman, in marriage, for a lifetime.

Giving themselves entirely to each other. And giving themselves to no one else – not physically, emotionally, not spiritually. Not abusively, not violently, not in power plays, not in any way.

That’s the design. It’s bad (but accurate) math, because One plus One equals One flesh. And it works beautifully. It fulfills wonderfully. It protects innocence, love, men, women, children, and society. It protects the innocent and defends the defenseless.

God’s design won’t be embraced by society any time soon – and everyone struggles with it. But just remember if every man and women did it, there would be no Weinsteins, no battered and abused women. No broken families.

So protect your sexuality. Give it to God. And refuse to be part of the craziness.

 

 

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It’s NOT the Wind and Waves that will Sink Me (and how NOT to sink)

We often think it’s the wind and waves that will sink us. Or the hurricanes or the floods. Or the disease and destruction.

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Follow me here (Reader’s Digest version):

Matthew 14, Jesus walks up to the disciples on a boat. In the middle of the rough sea.
Disciples: “It’s a ghost! Run away run away run away! No, wait – we’re in a tiny boat! Nowhere to run!!”
Jesus: “Nope. It’s Me. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter: “Let me walk on the water too!”
Jesus: “Come on.”

Peter does. Peter is EPIC– out of the boat going to Jesus walking on the water (obviously not as epic as Jesus…don’t have a cow).

Since Adam and Eve, nobody had ever walked on water, and nobody has done it since. ONLY Peter! And ONLY because he took a great step of faith. I want to be Peter!

 

But Peter, walking on water – begins to sink. One second he’s strolling across the water like it’s nothing, the next second he’s about to drown. Between those two events, only one thing happened: Peter saw the wind and the waves. He focused on the wind and the waves.

This is so significant! Consider: 

  • Jesus didn’t disappear. He’s still right there. In front of Peter.
  • Jesus didn’t lose His divine power to sustain Peter. He’s still God the Son.
  • The wind and waves didn’t, “just appear.” They were there all along.
  • The wind and waves didn’t, “all of a sudden obtain destructive powers.” The power was there all along.
  • The wind and waves didn’t even increase in intensity.

The only thing that changed? Peter’s focus.

Peter quit seeing Jesus, and he began seeing the wind and the waves.
He begins to fear the wind and waves more than he trusts Jesus.

And he sank.

Which leads to a powerful truth:

It’s not the wind and the waves that will sink me, it’s how I THINK about the wind and the waves.

In this life, it’s not the flood that will sink you, or the destruction, or the job loss, or the bad circumstance, it’s how you think about that thing.

“That’s not true David! There are things you can’t control – like storms and floods and hurricanes and disease! And they WILL sink you!”

Wrong. 

Even death can’t sink the person who has put their faith in Christ. Because they know that death is not the end.

That’s why Paul, when dragged out of town, beaten and left for dead, got back up the next morning and went right back into town. That’s why (according to tradition) Peter when faced with crucifixion, instead of losing all hope, or begging for mercy, or crying like a four-year-old, asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t consider himself worthy to die like Jesus.

At some point, both Peter and Paul realized that a beating or even death could not sink them – because they were consumed with Christ. They knew that Jesus would sustain them – even through death – and greet them on the other side.

So whether you are taking a giant leap of faith for Jesus, or encountering the wind and waves that we all face living in this world, the goal is to be so caught up in Christ, with eyes so fixed on Him, that…

We

don’t

sink.

We keep walking on the water…with Him.

So get out of the boat, walk on the water, and always always always – keep your eyes focused on Jesus. He will never let you let you down and never let you sink.

Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Amen amen.

 

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Focused

 

When Your Soul Is Crushed

What do you do when life threatens to crush your very soul? All along the Texas Gulf Coast, people are dealing with the some of the most heart-wrenching pain imaginable….losing everything, unable to even go to work, losing loved ones in the hurricane and flooding. And Florida may be in for the same kind of heartache.

When devastation hits you it’s sometimes easy to turn from God – and that’s precisely the wrong place to be.  I have no magic words or simple answers for what folks are going through, but these four things might be of help – be sure and read to number four:

#1. Remember God is good. 

He created everything, and He created it good. Why? Because He is good.

Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, and that corrupted EVERYTHING. Even creation.

Right there in Romans 8, God says all of creation groans to be set free from the corruption. 

Jesus gave Himself to make us good again. Because He is good.

Think sin is no big deal? Get a grip on this:

IF there were no sin in the world, there would NEVER be a hurricane, a flood, or death. All is a result of sin corrupting God’s good and excellent creation.

Every time you see a horrific death, a terrifying flood, or a powerful hurricane, stop and think, “God is good, and sin is horrible.”

#2. Remember God is near.

Phil 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” That was the whole point of my last post here.

God is near, and He knows WHAT is around the corner, but even more than that – HE is around the corner, around the bend, up there in the future in that land we call “uncertainty.“ And He is always able to take care of business.

Where you are right now,

God was here yesterday.

Where you will be tomorrow,

God will be there. He is good, and He is near.

But I get it.

Some days you get up and think, “I don’t have the emotional, physical or spiritual strength to make it through today!” And I’m sure there are folks all along the Gulf Coast and in Florida right now who feel that way. So you have to understand…

#3. God will provide as you go

Most often God does not provide before we go, but as we go.

The Red Sea is a perfect example: the sea didn’t part until they got there. I’m sure they felt great stress with the Egyptian army bearing down on them. “What will we do? We are going to die!” No – when they got to the Red Sea, God used Moses to part it, and they walked across on dry ground.

Same thing happens Luke 17. Ten lepers cry out to Jesus for healing. Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priests who served as the health inspector and could declare them healed.

But they weren’t healed at all. They STILL had leprosy!

Why go the priest? They’ll just be told, “You’re going to die!”

But they went. And the Scripture says as they went, not before, and not until, but AS they went, they were healed.

In the same way, God who is good and near will provide for you in

good days,

bad days,

hard days

and disastrous days –

as you go.

HE will provide the emotional, physical or spiritual strength to make it through today, the help you need…along the way.


But I understand…

it’s still hard to believe this information when your heart is breaking and your soul is crushed, and you really are in a bottomless pit. And so do this…

#4. Preach it.

But I’m not a preacher!

Sure you are. Everyone preaches. The question is, what is your sermon? God preached a sermon in the garden, and so did Satan.

You preach to yourself all the time. But what is your message?

David preached to his own soul: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5 (ESV)

I heard Steffany Gretzinger say, “Sometimes we sing something because we believe it because we’re sure. And sometimes we sing UNTIL we’re sure.”

Sometimes we sing until we’re sure. 

That may be a word from the Lord for you today.

Maybe the devastation is strong in your life, and you want to believe that God is good and God is near, and God is powerful, and He is going to provide for all the uncertainty in your life right now – you WANT to believe that…

…but it’s not your experience right now.

Preach it to yourself! Cry out, “My soul – why are you cast down. Hope in God – ever will I praise Him! Ever will He be good to me! Ever will He be my salvation. God, You are my rock and my salvation and my strong tower in the storm!”

Maybe you’ve been singing the wrong song, preaching the wrong sermon, thinking the wrong thoughts…change your tune!

Sing it and speak it and preach it and keep on until…you believe it.

And then keep on declaring His goodness and nearness and provision to yourself over and over and over again and don’t quit doing it. Ever.

And the day will come when He will wipe every tear from your eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. Forever.

Amen amen amen amen.

 

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The Secret to Brave

(Misleading title alert! It’s not a secret. It’s on the pages of the best selling book of all time.)

It’s a dog eat dog world.

Get all you can, can all you get, and poison the rest.

Look out for #1.

Power up.

Take no prisoners.


All true statements. That is, they are true if God is not near. 

  • If He’s not near, I can’t afford to be gentle, and neither can you. Because you HAVE to look out for yourself.
  • If He’s not near and everyone’s wringing their hands, so am I.
  • If He’s not near and I fear, I get emotionally hijacked and run…or power up.
  • If He’s not near and things are getting dicey – take control! Take control and run over anyone in your way.
  • If He’s not near, in marriage, there is one goal -victory.
  • If He’s not near – His promises all through Scripture? Just words on a page.
  • If He’s not near – my prayers? Talking to the ceiling.
  • If He’s not near – my emotions – probably intense in areas like anger and anxiety. Probably limited in areas like love and peace.

If God’s not near, 
                          my universe is small, 
                                                          I’m at the center, 
                                                                                  and it’s all about control.

But What If God IS Near?

Most folks who memorize the Bible memorize Phil 4:6 – “Don’t be anxious about anything…” We love that… that’s a great command from God with a great promise.

Great verse – great verse. Known it since I was in high school.

But right before it…equally excellent. Phil 4:5:

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”  

Catch that?

“The Lord IS near.” As in Matthew 1:23, “…they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

HE is NEAR. 

That means I can AFFORD to be gentle. Gentle flows out of brave. Here’s why:

 If the Lord is really loving and compassionate and He really has this whole thing under control and He really really knows the number of hairs on your head and He really really knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, and all that knowledge and attention to detail is directed at you – and He’s near…then brave is in the bag, and gentle flows out of brave.

Be brave

The Lord is near.
So brave is in the bag.
And gentleness flows out of brave.

But what in the world does it mean to be gentle? Can be confusing. If I just do a simple word association – when I think of gentle I think of:

  • A lamb. I don’t want to be a lamb.
  • A stuffed animal. Like that creepy talking bear (click link) on the fabric softener commercial.That’s not good.
  • A door mat? No.
  • A wimp? I don’t think so.
  • A picture of a mother cuddling her new born baby taken with one of the soft glow filters so the picture looks slightly out of focus. I’m just not sure how I’m going to pull that off.

Here’s gentleness (male perspective – most get the female 
perspective on gentleness):

  • When everyone is wringing their hands in panic – the gentle man is calm.
  • When everyone is about to come to blows, the gentle man is calm but strong.
  • When the walls are caving in and the storm is blowing and it’s time for action the gentle man is in control of his emotions, confident, ready for action… and still gentle.
A gentle man is safe. Not safe and defenseless.
But safe for his wife, his kids, his friends, his coworkers.
Safe because he’s brave.
Brave because he knows that God has got his back.
He knows that the Lord is near.

 

A gentle woman is safe. Not safe and defenseless.
But safe for her husband, her kids, her friends, her coworkers.
Safe because she’s brave.
She’s brave because she knows that God has got her back.
She knows that the Lord is near.

 

Here’s what nails it for me (mentioned in previous post): 
Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
You can afford to speak softly when you have that big stick and you know how to use it.

How much better to speak softly because you walk with a big God? 

You can be a brave man or woman, who is safe and gentle for others to be around, because a BIG God has got your back.

So let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord really is near.

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Man Up!

Lots of confusion about what it means to be a man these days (and at least since the 1970’s). A few years back a political campaign thought the “pajama boy” ad lead_largewould really get men psyched up about discussing health insurance (this ad brought to you courtesy of estrogen!).

Hot chocolate or pajamas are fine but what Einstein thought THAT would inspire men? It was immediately ridiculed to death (a sign of some sanity out there).

And maybe in part, a reaction to the pajama man-child culture, “Duck Dynasty” beards Untitledhave become all the rage. Add military service, and a sleeve of tattoos…you look like you eat nails for breakfast!

I saw a guy with a fierce beard at the gym. For three weeks I thought he was completely jacked! Then realized he was actually skinny to moderate. But the aura of that beard just shown around him like some testosterone infused cloud.

But I’ve been around long enough to know that while looking manly is excellent, it is in no way indicative of “manliness,” or “maturity (see Anthony Scaramucci’s recent gutter tirade).” You really don’t know if you’re looking at a man or a scared self-centered child trapped inside man’s body.

So what is a man?

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV)

WHOA! Now that is a manly verse. And God used Paul to write it.

Paul was an epic man:

  • First century Jew = epic beard.
  • Rugged to the core. Beaten for preaching and left for dead outside of town. Got up and went back into town. Kept preaching. Who does that??
  • Viper latches onto his arm. “Shakes it off” Taylor Swift style, right into the fire.
  • No use for quitters. Canned John Mark for quitting.
  • Didn’t run from fights. Instead preached radical (and true) stuff that caused riots.
  • No fear.
  • NEVER had a cat. Look it up. 2 Hesitations 2:6

Paul had all outward trappings of virility. But what are some of the things he would say are “manly?” I’m gonna give you two that might not often come to mind.

A real man:

1. Embraces his insufficiency. Even boasts about it.

“But I’m bad to the bone! I’m tough as nails! I have muscles, and my muscles have muscles! I post fitness selfies of my muscles all…day…long.”

Are you badder than prostate cancer? All the muscle tone in the world won’t stop it pajama-boy-3from killing you.

“But I meant mentally tough, David. I’m mentally tough! GRRRRRRRR!”

Really. Will your “mental toughness” keep Alzheimer’s at bay? No. In fact, it can steal every ounce of mental fortitude you possess, until you have no mind at all.

Undeniable truth of life:

there is no such thing as a bullet proof man (or woman).

You are NOT the biggest and baddest. God is.

After God told him His power works best in weakness, Paul of the awesome beard said quite famously:

I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

Paul was a survivor who cheated death over and over again. But his success came from43766371_ml knowing he was weak and ordinary, empowered by a God who was strong and extraordinary.

Any man that recognizes his insufficiency and relies on the limitless power of the all sufficient Master of the Universe…is on his way to being a real man.

And a real man…

2. Can afford to be gentle.

I rarely hear that “real men” are gentle. Because it is a dog-eat-dog world! If it’s all on me, I cannot afford to be gentle. I’ve got to use all weapons at my disposal to get my way. I’ve just GOT to:

  • Get all I can.
  • Can all I get.
  • Sit on the lid.
  • Poison the rest. 

And of course, the natural extension of that attitude is sometimes a man becomes a human-hand-grenade-with-the-pin-pulled-out-ready-to-go-off-at-the-drop-of-a-hat. And NOT safe to be around. Never know when they’ll just…BOOM.

But Paul the riot-starting-viper-burner (Acts 28:5) says:

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Phil. 4:5

If God is near, has my back, really REALLY means things like Romans 8:28 He’ll-work-all-things-together-for-my-good-and-really-cares-about-me…

I can afford to be gentle.

I can afford to be gentle at work, with my family, with others. I can be safe for others to be around.

NOT passive. NOT defenseless. Willing to bring the heat when appropriate. But safe.

atticus_scout
Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird – gentle, proactive, strong, epic.

 Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

How much better to speak softly because you have a big God? You can afford to be gentle because you’ve got a God who is bigger than any stick.

So grow a massive beard if you want! Get ripped from head to toe! Shake off vipers! Do NOT under ANY circumstances take a picture in a flannel onesie whilst drinking hot chocolate! Good Grief!

And take these two truths on as your motto:

  • I’m insufficient but filled with a limitless all-sufficient God.
  • I can afford to be gentle because my limitless God…is near.

That’s the goal. Amen amen.

 

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