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 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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Enough of the God Talk

The Apostle Paul would have probably had a good, good life if he just engaged in what I call “god talk.”

If Paul just talked about God (not Jesus), he never would have been:

  • Whipped with FORTY lashes on FIVE different occasions
  • Beaten with rods on THREE different occasions
  • Had men throw large rocks at him until they thought he was dead
  • Been shipwrecked THREE different times
  • Been adrift in the open sea for a night and day
  • In danger from rivers and robbers
  • In danger from his own people, at times taking oaths not to eat until they could murder Paul
  • At times starving, at times freezing sleeping in the countryside
  • And ultimately, tradition tells us, had his head cut off by Rome.

IF Paul just talked about God, his life would have been the comfortable life of middle class, well educated Jew.

But all of the above happened because Paul just could not shut up about Jesus. Paul should have known better! Jesus said “ALL men will HATE you because Me.” Matt. 10:22  Not ambivalent towards you, not luke warm about you, but they would HATE you. Not the best recruiting sales pitch ever. “Become loathsome – join the team Jesus!”

Forewarned, everywhere Paul went, no matter what the cost, no matter how much it hurt, no matter what the danger, no matter how unpopular, no matter how loathed, no matter what….Paul talked about Jesus.

He could have talked about God all day long and everyone would have been happy. The Jews would be happy because they worshipped God. The Greeks and Romans would have been happy because they worshipped lots of gods.

But Paul was one of those intolerant and narrow minded types that had to preach Jesus.

It’s the same today. If you talk about a generic “God”, you will be OK. The Hindu will be alright because they have 600 gods, the Muslim will be alright because they worship a god. The Jew will be alright because they worship a god.  Even Oprah will be OK because she says “there are many paths to what you call God”. If you stick with “God talk” everyone will be OK because “god” comes in all sizes and shapes and can molded into whatever shape the listener wants.

But if you want to cause a stir, mention Jesus. Because that narrows it down quite a bit. That’s the 2nd person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the Christian God. That’s the One who died and rose and again. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 1:8). And that’s the intolerant One who declared of Himself, “no one comes to the Father, except through Me,” John 14:6.

But even more, He’s the welcoming One, who says:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:28-29.

Paul couldn’t be quiet about this great Jesus. Why? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  Romans 1:16.

As sinful human beings prone to wander, we must always be ready to apologize quickly when needed. But there is at least one thing we should be completely unapologetic about in this life, and that is the name of Jesus. Enough of the generic “god talk”. Let’s lift up the name of Jesus.