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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Losing Hope? Keep Calm…

calm

I saw this everywhere in London a few years ago. It was designed by the Minister of Information in 1939 to encourage folks at the beginning of WWII.

After the war, the phrase was forgotten. A bookseller found a small paper poster like this, framed it, and put it in his bookshop. Customers started requesting it, so he printed some.

Then in 2008, with the economic downturn, this picture became famous. You can buy mugs, t-shirts, tea towels, and phone covers. The BBC, in a news story, posed the question “is this the greatest motivational poster ever?

I think right now…those are pretty good words.

There many good reasons to need a good word right now:

  • ISIS
  • Terrorists all over the world (latest in Germany today)
  • Energy jobs on the line
  • The full force of federal power used to force states to allow men to use women’s restrooms
  • The government forcing an Illinois high school to let high school boys use the girl’s locker rooms
  • A presidential election that includes a socialist, a candidate under federal investigation, and a bully who calls everyone names who opposes him. And the socialist is the most honest of the three (completely wrong but honest)!

All legitimate reasons to be concerned for the future of our world.

Keep Calm and Carry On

In the Christian life, those are great words. When we are anxious, upset, worried, panicked – we begin to wring our hands mentally if not physically. And when we wring our hands mentally, we often make emotional decisions, we get sidetracked in our walk of faith, we major on the minors and minor on the majors… and our hand-wringing demonstrates our lack of trust in God.

But we can Keep Calm and Carry On because…because…because…

God is still God. 

And He makes a lot of promises to you and me in His book (you know He wrote a book right?).

1 Peter 5:7 says, Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. On the cross, God put your sin on Jesus and put on you His righteousness. And in life, His command is to put on Him, your anxiety. Your anxiety will be IN you, or ON Him. So…

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm. Don’t fret, don’t panic, even if the world is going crazy (it is)  – God is here. Don’t get sidetracked, don’t take side roads – No! No! No! Carry On. Persist in this belief that God is great and God is good and He is taking care of business. Keep Calm and Carry On.

Maybe your problem isn’t with the world out there, but you’ve lost hope in yourself, in your marriage, in your competence, in your kids, maybe you’re even doubting God.

You don’t know HOW you’re going to make it.
You don’t know IF you’re going to make it.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Phil. 1:6 says, He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.

You say, “I can’t ever change! I keep failing again and again!” Abraham and Sarah – considered HEROES of the faith in Hebrews 11, TWICE posed as brother and sister – to the point that two kings almost took Sarah as their own! Not believing God for a son, Sarah sent Abraham to have sex with Hagar and he did it!  Royally messed up people.

But they persisted in walking with God…even through their failure. They persisted.

Your life will never be about perfection – not till heaven…it’s about persisting in the belief that Christ is king and He is great and He is good and He will be faithful to complete in you…the good work…He began.

God really has it under control…so you Keep Calm and Carry On.

Keep Calm. Don’t fret, don’t panic, even if the world is going crazy (it is)  – God is here. Don’t get sidetracked, don’t take side roads – No! No! No! Carry On. Don’t lose hope, don’t lose faith, don’t quit walking with God, even if you fail again and again (you will). Persist in this belief that God is great and God is good and He is taking care of you to the end.

Keep Calm and Carry On.

 

Share this with someone who needs it. And comment. Blessings…

God’s Strength in the Dark of Night

Paul and Silas found themselves in a deep dark dungeon. The two had been beaten. So with bloodied backs, they were stuck in a tiny cell, not enough room to stretch out, feet in stocks so they couldn’t even try to find relief from the pain of the scourging.

It’s the the middle of the night, dark as pitch outside, even darker inside, and even darker down in a dungeon – the only sounds are rats or roaches scurrying and the occasional groan of a beaten prisoner.
 And the oddest thing happens. In the dark of the dungeon, the most hopeless of places, two voices ring out.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, 
and the prisoners were listening to them.  
Acts 16:25

This is a secret that will save your sanity my friend. Because you see, Eph. 6:12 We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  And one thing that drives Satan from our presence is the worship of Christ. The Bible says God inhabits the praises of His people.

Paul and Silas are in the worst of circumstances, and they praise God.
             
You want to see God’s power in your life when you’re under pressure? Call on the name of Christ, and worship God. 

Old saying: when God is small, problems are big. When God is big, problems are small. Paul and Silas are worshiping a big, big God – in the most desperate of situations they are worshiping God. Worship magnifies our image of God.

I love Joshua 6 – Jericho is surrounded by a wall and locked up tight. God says walk around the city 6 days and on the 7th shout a great shout and the walls will fall down flat. And so for 6 days they walked around the city, and on the 7th day – the people shouted,  and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout…
they shouted in victory 
they shouted in faith 
they shouted in power and might
they shouted because they believed that God’s Word was true,
and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. Joshua 6:20

When you are faced with walls that won’t come down, when bound by shackles that won’t fall off, when in a prison of doubt and despair, when it’s midnight and sleep won’t come – praise the Lord in victory and praise the Lord in triumph cry out to Him declaring His greatness and power.

When you awake in the middle of the night with fear and worry, or are hit by anxiety in the middle of the day, call on Christ and worship Him.

God Speed.
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