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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Winning Gone Wild

Winning isn’t everything, winning is the only thing.   Vince Lombardi

AS a young kid our house was on a street half way up a hill. At the bottom of the hill, water would collect after rain. Often the water would sit for days or weeks and grow green algae in it. The water was so dirty that as a kid, I kind of assumed it was sewer water (it wasn’t).

About fourth grade, a buddy of mine (we’ll call him Mortimer) and I came up with a great game. We had an empty Coke can. This was when Coke cans were still made of tin. Pretty hard and impossible for a kid to crush.

To win, you had to hit your opponent in the head with a water filled Coke can, as he flew by on his bike as fast as his legs could go. Best game ever.

First up! Mortimer, standing on the curb, throwing that can at my head as I flew by on my bicycle!

It’s a miss. Nothing but air! My turn.

Mortimer rode by as fast as the wind. I hurled that can of sewer water with all my might!

Rats. Clear miss. His turn.

This went back and forth for a while with no winner. We were either a) really fast bike riders or b) kind of uncoordinated. You decide.

Then it was my turn to throw again. I reared back that tin Coke can filled with vile liquid. Mortimer flew by, his skinny legs pumping that bike as fast as it would go. I threw as hard as I could. Mortimer ducked. But not far enough.

14747486 - bam. comic book explosion.

I HIT HIM! I HIT HIM! SMACKED HIM IN THE SIDE OF THE HEAD I DID!

Oh, glorious day! I hit him! Praise the Lord! The victory was mine! I was the triumphant champion of the sewer water throwing competition!

What happened next was quite shocking.

Little Mortimer fell off his bike and lay in the street with a bloody head. He seemed to be hurt. Who would’ve EVER seen THAT coming??????? Not us! You’d have to be a fortune-teller, witch doctor or clairvoyant to guess that outcome.

Young broken-headed Mortimer was whisked off to the emergency room by his parents, and the fun was all over for that day (never fear – he was fine the next day but for some strange reason not in the mood for another round Coke-Can-Smash-To-The-Head).

We were so stupid 🙂

WINNING ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST THING

Every day people go out into the world to win, without thinking through the consequences of winning. What will you win? What is the prize?

Wins the girl! Uh oh. The prize is losing his family, estranged from his kids because he happened to be married to another.

Wins the deal! Bad news. The prize is jail and/or the destruction of the company because the deal included normal business stuff you “just gotta do” to succeed (Enron, Arthur Andersen, Worldcom,  the list is endless).

Wins the job! Oops! The prize is kids losing the kids because the hours are not compatible with familial interaction.

Wins the promotion! Wow! The prize is a spiritual train wreck because there’s just no time for trivial and frivolous pursuits like Christ’s church or Christian community in a small group or Sunday school because this particular promotion requires you sacrifice everything for the company.

Wins the guy or girl’s hand in marriage! Yayyyy! Except the prize is a marriage that careens off into spiritual nothingness because the thought was, “they’ll join me in spiritual pursuits AFTER we get married!” They rarely do.

Wins fame and fortune! Uh oh. The prize is a string of marriages, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, craziness and sadness (read biography of any number of superstars).

Winning isn’t everything. It all depends on what you win.

It’s been said that you can climb the ladder of success only to find that your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall. 

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO WIN?

You SHOULD run to win. You SHOULD live to win. But ask yourself, “Win what?”

Mortimer and I could’ve saved ourselves some pain and blood (his blood not mine) if we’d just thought things through BEFORE we tried to smash each other’s cranium with a can.

The Apostle Paul was all about winning. All of his life he pursued “the win.” But it wasn’t the right win until Jesus grabbed hold of him. Then, his race became very specific. He said,

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:25

There’s only ONE race that matters and ONE win that completely satisfies and blesses. And that’s the race of following Jesus with all our heart soul mind and strength. Loving Him, blessing Him, following Him. And He gives to all who run His race the prize that never fades, never flounders, never falters – the prize of life forever and ever with Him.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion
Hebrews 12:1-2a (NLT)

The way to win…is to run the race God has given you, and run it with your eyes always always always on Jesus.

 

 

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