Archive for the ‘Production Values’ Category

Jesus explained in Matthew 20:21-28 and again in Mark 10:35-45 that anyone wanting to be great would have to be the least.  Jesus did not come to be served but to serve.  Jesus modeled this in all he did.  Eventually he did so by dying the horrible death of crucifixion to endure the weight of our sins.

When Jesus walked the earth he didn’t do it in grand splendor we would think deserving of a king.  He hung around prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers and various other folks who no one wanted anything to do with.  He ate with them, spent time engaging with them.

Jesus wasn’t troubled with looks or acquiring status.  He was comfortable in his own skin and knew what mattered was what goes on inside our hearts.  One of the supreme examples of serving someone can be found at the last supper.  Jesus washes the disciple’s feet.  He gets down on his hands and knees and washes their feet.  To me that is exceptionally humbling.  I don’t care for feet and the last thing I want to do is touch someone’s feet.  To lower myself and wash someone’s feet would be a big deal.  I’ve been on a retreat before where I actually washed another person’s feet.  At one point during one of my wife’s pregnancies I washed her feet, rubbed lotion on them and massaged them.  For me to move past my intense dislike of feet and actually do this was truly done out of love.

Leadership is something we strive for.  To lead, reign or rule means one way or another you have established you have what it takes to lead others.  Many get into positions of power because all they can see is a title or a position with the ability to command others.  This goes entirely against the model Jesus presents for us.  He came to serve others without expecting anything in return.

I believe as men we are called to lead through serving.  We are to be an example with our words and actions of what it means to serve others.  This means serving the needs of my wife and kids.  Often I have to check my motives.  I come home from work and find the house isn’t cleaned the way I expected.  Chores haven’t been done, laundry needs to be folded, dinner still needs to be made and a kid needs someone to hear what they have to say.  I can come in and start demanding things get done right away and begin telling everyone what needs to be done.  I can complain, roll my eyes and sigh loudly.  OR – I can walk in, lovingly greet everyone and begin tackling what needs to be done.

I sit in positions of leadership in other areas of my life.  I have stepped into those roles with the mindset of serving others.  My mindset is when I have it in my ability to do good; I will do just that.  I want others to feel like they are seen and heard, hear beyond the words they speak and catch a glimpse into their heart.  Part of my belief is also reminding myself that in order to serve others I must never think highly of myself.

Serving others may mean I have to dust, mop and put laundry away.  It may mean I have to pick up the trash lying around my neighborhood, spending time talking to someone when I have something else I need to do.  There are so many ways in which serving others allows us to disregard our egos, humble ourselves and do what is needed with a positive attitude.  When we serve the needs of others, we begin to demonstrate the love Jesus has for all of us.  Serving others with no expectations may not make you the ruler of an empire, but it will be the place in which your actions back up your words and you set an example that is contagious.

1 Timothy 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength,t hat he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We are our own worst critics.  We set standards for ourselves and then are disgusted when we don’t even measure up to them.  Often many of us have a poor image of ourselves and consider ourselves failures.  Some just give up, while others keep pushing forward.

When we fail to see ourselves in view of how God see’s us, we can become perfectionists, not able to accept love from others and compare ourselves to others.  We continue to strive to be something or someone we believe we are supposed to be.  It is hard to accept positive feedback from others because we somehow have decided it still isn’t acceptable.  In order to satisfy our own desire to be better we can never rest, we are always trying to do and be better.  When we make mistakes, mess up or sin, you might as well just shoot us dead.

Satan is very clever and he has a way of warping our views.  We fail to see ourselves in the view of God.  We are not perfect and we never will be.  We all have sin in our lives and we will until the end of time.  Jesus understand us better than we think we understand ourselves.  We are loved and accepted by God just as we are.  The standards in which we place ourselves are not the standards for which God looks at us. God loves us and he doesn’t keep his love from us until we reach a certain level.  As we walk through life, God continues to meet us where we are at and love us despite ourselves.

Maybe today is the day you need to stop with the way you have been doing things and begin believing these words.  Maybe today is the day you view yourself just as God sees you.  Is that a step you are willing to take?

Today’s post is one I am writing from personal experience.  I along with countless other men, struggle with a daily battle.  Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

At what cost are you willing to lose everything in your life.  Are you willing to risk losing your career, your reputation, your wife and kids?  To what lengths are you willing to continue down the path until you lose everything God has given you?

We are visually stimulated.  We look and notice, things catch our eyes and are engrained in our memories.  It only takes a couple of looks to have it last a lifetime.  There are pictures indelibly etched in my mind from when I was 7 years old.

Lust, pornography, sexual impurity, adultery – those words should ring loud and clear.  We have heard them, spoken of them and perhaps been involved in serious discussions about them.  They are the very things which most of us as men struggle with and for some our struggle never ends.To look at someone and fixate on them, to begin to fantasize and think of them is where we begin to forget this is a person and they become our object of lust.  James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. We reduce the created into an object, a body part or piece rather than a whole.  What the creator intended has now been reduced to nothing but fulfilling our desires.  Instead of worshiping the creator, we chose to worship the created or at least part of them.  How many people have to be used to understand the cost?

We engage in selfishness and the only concern is getting my needs met.  We no longer see this person as a whole, rather as a means of me getting my own selfish needs met.  I don’t really care about this person, what I care about is that my desires are fulfilled.  I have no interest in having a real relationship with you, just come, let me do what I want and let me move on.

Access to fulfill our wildest fantasies is easily done at a bookstore, computer and now within the palm of our hand.  We can see whatever we want, watch movies, engage in flirting and sexual texts, swap pictures, or even engage in activities through webcams.  There’s an app for everything and there’s plenty of apps which will fill your mind with images and acts you won’t ever forget.  We can do all of this while at work, home or on our commute.  It’s easy, simple and no one ever has to see or know.  How convenient, but at what cost?

So what happens to those of us who struggle.  We get lost in our own worlds, we know what we are doing is wrong and so many times we just can’t stop.  We keep returning to our own filth.  It’s a sick and twisted wound that never seems to heal. It calls to us and many times we answer the call time and time again.  Moments later we see just how wretched we have become.  We are lost and see no possible way out of this.

Some are man enough to ask and obtain help.  They are willing to bare their souls, to expose the lies for truth, to find healing and to walk in the light.  True freedom becomes theirs.

Some seek help, go to counseling, practice what they have learned and return to where they once came from.  The return back to the cesspool and return to a life they never wanted.  They go back to it all as it is all to familiar. Proverbs 26:11 – As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. They wonder where is their success, where is their help?  Where is their freedom?  Back to the  place, but at what cost?  What are they willing to lose, how many times are they willing to be in this place again before they have thrown it all away and have only God to turn to.

Men, if you are struggling, be a man and admit it.  Seek out someone you can trust, another brother who will walk with you through it.  Who is willing to fight the fight with you.  Find a brother who is willing to ask the tough questions, to challenge you, question you and despite all of it walk you back to the healing Jesus offers.  Does that mean your problems will disappear – NOPE, does it mean it’s an automatic fix to years of damage – NOPE.  What it does mean is you get to start over and begin again.  Work has to be done, changes have to be made and you have to be ready to fight.  It’s a tough and long battle, but through daily submitting our will to God’s we begin to view life through a different lens.

I speak from experience, when I made the choice to let go of those things, surrender to Jesus, focus on obedience to him and tell the truth, I felt more freedom than all the years of shame and guilt I had experienced.  The cost of what I had to lose was far greater than what I was getting.  The cost of sin will always be far greater, but at what cost are you willing to continue?

We live in a land of optimal wealth.  We have more than most of the world.  If you have ever been to a third world country your eyes will be opened to just how much we really have.  Not only do we have more than we need, but we have an over abundance.  Most of us don’t have to worry about where our next meal is coming from, what clothes we are going to wear tomorrow or what we are going to do this weekend.  We have a multitude of choices and are never at a loss for things to do.

All that we possess and have been given is a gift from God.  The food, home, cars and clothing, trinkets, books and games all have been provided to you as gifts from God.   God has placed us in this time and place for his purpose.  That his glory may shine through us.  That we may demonstrate him to those around us and be a reflection of him.  All that we have has been provided by him for this very purpose.

1 Timothy 6:6-10 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Often times we get caught up in thinking and believing this is my stuff.  I own it, I worked hard for it and it belongs to me.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  We need to be wise and take care of this things God has entrusted us with.  I look around my house and realize that my 6 kids are very spoiled.  They have more than they need and often times that is a problem.  They have too much and in doing so, don’t take care of what they have.  I often find toys, books and games scattered around our house and no one wants to be responsible for picking them up.  It gets to the point where I end up giving things away because my kids won’t be responsible with what they have despite how much we talk about it.

Since I grew up poor, everything I planned or dreamed of centered around making a lot of money and doing whatever I wanted. When I was in my 20’s I was all about spending money right and left and acquiring things to make me feel good.  To feel like I belonged and was important.  My wife and I fell into this trap early on in our marriage and I continued to do this well into my 30’s until one day God convicted me that none of it belonged to me.  Everything I had was his and I needed to change my focus and attitude.

1 Timothy 6:17-19Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Since God has convicted me it has completely changed my view and how I live.  In all honesty I still have moments where I can be selfish and not want to share; God’s still working on me.  However, for the most part I prefer to live a simple life, with minimal “things”, but want to be able to provide for anyone who has a need that I can help with.  My wife and I have made it a policy to have an open home and allow most anyone to stay with us, use our things, ask for money or whatever need you have that we can assist with we will provide and we expect nothing in return.  I continually want to be a blessing to others and be able to use my time, money and talents to bless those around me.  I believe this is what God has called us to do. When all is said and done and our time on earth is over, those things we have accumulated will fade and eventually turn to dust and ultimately be destroyed.

When you are asked by someone else to use something of yours, how is your attitude? Are you willing to freely let them use it or are you stingy?

The culture in which we live continually entices us to engage in activities that as they claim will fulfill us.  Test, take, eat, drive and just do it.  Everywhere you turn ads. Commercials and merchandising are specifically designed to  target and speak to the person inside.  The person we could or should be.  That fun, exciting, happy person who is just waiting to get out and take part in all the world has to offer.

Satan lies and I believe these messages are meant to distract us from the truth.  Christ has called us to die to ourselves in Luke 9:23 – And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

To die to ourselves means to come before Christ, surrender and admit we need him to take the reigns, guide and direct our steps.  To take our life and allow him to change it.  Is it easy, maybe for some, but for most of us, it’s a daily battle.  To surrender daily and allow Christ to take over is difficult.  We think we have it all figured out and can manage on our own.  The truth is, when we die to ourselves and God begins to reveal what’s really going on inside you begin to see just how selfish you really are.  You begin to see how much of what we do is focused and centered on self.

Philippians 2: 1-3 – So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, …

Having our cake and eating it too is more of a practice in gluttony and self-indulgence.  Consuming all that you want, doing whatever you want so that you can be happy.   Using others for our own gain at not point does it stop to put the needs of someone else before yours.

Jesus came to serve the needs of others, he spent his life on earth living for something more than himself.  He was in constant contact with his father.  He was obedient to death upon a cross.  As I look at myself and countless others we fall short of this.  So much of my life has been taken up by consuming other(s) and things, which makes me incredibly sad.  It has not been the life God has called me to.

When we begin to die to ourselves daily and conform to the image of Christ, we begin to have the same mindset and view life from a larger perspective. We begin to see that God offers us something much sweeter.   In what ways do you need to stop having your cake and eating it too?

 

Engagement with others means our brokenness is going to class with their brokenness.  Life is indeed quite messy and until we are reunited with Christ in heaven life will continue to be messy.  We hope and watch with great anticipation for the day of Christ’s return when justice will prevail and order will be restored where chaos has taken over.

We were meant to live in relationship with one another.  Jesus did life with others and in fact spent the last years of his life traveling around with other men.  Eating, sleeping and sharing life together.  I am positive it was not without conflict.  Jesus modeled what we should be doing; he came to serve others, to forego his own rights to ensure the needs of others were met.

We spend a lot of our time being me focused; concern and frustration arise when we don’t get what we believe we are entitled to.  We are creatures of habit and routine.  When those are disrupted, we get upset, frustrated and angry.  We become rude even spiteful, our actions and words demonstrate that and we no longer reflect Christ.

My wife and I have an open door policy in our house.  We welcome and invite friends, neighbors and others into our house at any time, you don’t have to make an appointment, you can show up at any time and you will be welcomed in with love.  In raising kids, we want to be the house all the neighborhood kids come, the safe place where we know no harm will take place.  That prayer has been answered, since moving into the neighborhood 5 years ago; our house continues to be the central point where all the kids come to hang out.

Now here is the place where this clashes with my own entitlements.  I long to come home and be welcomed by my family.  To have my wife and kids smile, kiss and hug me and welcome me home when my day is done.  More times than not, it is not my family who greet me at the door, instead a neighborhood kid.  There are times I walk through my yard and see wrappers and other remnants kids have left behind and I become frustrated and upset and wish they weren’t around.  As soon as I think those thought I quickly am reminded of how this is what my wife and I have wanted and prayed would happen and I stuck in the crossroad.

How about the neighbor that asks you to help move.  The woman holding the sign asking for spare change.  The solicitor who shows up and wants to talk with you.  The friend who’s always wanting to do something with you. How about your wife asking you to do the dishes tonight.  Your child asking to be read a story or have you go for a walk.  You planned to come home and watch the game, mow the grass, read a book or just be in your zone.

This is where living and serving the needs of others gets messy.  We have to be willing to lay down our own plans and needs to readily serve those around us.  If we long to be in relationships with others as we should it means we often have to get dirty and do without.

On the other side of this is Jesus also demonstrating to us that taking a break, recharging and refreshing our soul is needed.  He spent time away praying and talking with God.  He moved away from crowds to times of being alone.  He was able to balance it out as we should also, that is practicing good healthy choices.

When it comes down to it, how much of your own entitlements are you willing to lay aside so that you can do life with others?

Men you are being lied to.  You are being fed one lie after another and you probably don’t even realize it.  Satan is the master deceiver and if we do not know where our true identity comes from we will continue to believe the lies we are fed.

In order to separate truth from the lies, we must be grounded in scripture.  We must know how God sees us.  When you begin to compare what you believe with his truth, you will begin to see and expose the lies.  As I was reading back through highlighted sections of my Bible I came across these verses that I take comfort in regards to that truth.

 

John 1:12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

1 Corinthians 6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from ]God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God,  who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

Ephesians 1:3-8 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,  to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. InHim we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Colossians 2:9-10For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  and in Him you have been made]complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

 

The lies are everywhere and if you are a part of this world you are fed them every day and they have been deeply engrained into your soul.  We believe that our career/job defines us as men.  Being a doctor, writer, artist, producer, manager, cook, garbage collector and mill worker are WHO we are.  That is a lie, while God has given us those jobs and allowed us to use the gifts he has given us, we are much more than a title in some job.  Yet we spend so much of our time being caught up in those things that we lose sight of who and what we really are.

Another important aspect I have learned in regards to my identity is surrounding myself with other men who know truth and who are grounded in it.  Having these men in my life allows me to stay in check.  They have the ability to call me out when I allow my head to swell.  They have the right and ability to ask me how my walk with God is, where’s he at work in my life and what am I doing to grow in him.  The best gift I have is men who will walk alongside me as I maneuver my way through life and continue to point me towards God.

What are you doing in your life to combat the lies with truth?

How much time do we spend really thinking about our lives and how that matches up with Christ?  How much of our lives are we really willing to allow Christ full access and completely transform them?  We attend church on Sunday, maybe involved in a small group or study once in the week and that’s it.  For most people we forget what we heard on Sunday within hours after leaving church and once we are done with our group study we don’t think twice about it.  Does this really work to transform your life?

So much of what we, do, see and hear is based on self.  We are supposed to be self-made men.  Just do it – or we can do it? We can do whatever we put our minds to.  You control your destiny.  You are made for more.  You, you, you.  We are fed and told over and over that we can do it. We have no need for God, we can do it all. Quite the contrary, those are in fact the lies we have been fed our entire life.  We see in scripture quite the opposite –

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Luke 9:23-24 – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!

Rom 12:1-2 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

We are called to die to ourself and become born again. To let go of our selfish desires, wants and needs.  To rid ourselves of the thinking, beliefs and lies this world tells us.  We are to be transformed by Christ and allow him to give us new life. –

John 3:30 – He must become greater; I must become less.

Rom 8:12-13 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me

Galatians 5:24 – Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 

I can do nothing apart from Christ, he is what I need.  Unfortunately we rely on ourselves to do it all because that is what we are told and that is engrained in our brains from the day we are born. It’s only natural we do it this way.  I can completely relate to this.  If I see something is wrong within me I than try to fix myself.  I begin reading, studying and looking for ways in which I can better myself.  While God has given us tools, the unfortunate part is we forget to include him in the process, we immediately go into a fix it mode instead of coming before him and submitting ourselves to him.  We leave God completely out of the picture and go about it on our own.

What is needed is for me to admit I am helpless and I am in need of God.  I need to give up, go before God, pray, seek his will and then follow his leading.  As I surrender and submit to him I will then begin to be transformed and move in the direction God wants for me.  If I really want to fully be alive in Christ, than I forget the lies the world feeds me and accept the truth of God.  I begin to believe and understand how God sees me.  I trust in him to guide and direct me and for him to change me internally beginning with my heart.  While I can know, understand and believe all of scripture in my head, it’s my heart where it really needs to sink in.

Today is the day you can start new, to stop believing the lies this world tells you, which essentially are lies Satan feeds us and begin believing the truth about who you are.  This very moment you can talk to God.  Allow him to begin transforming all the lies and begin revealing his truth to you.  Today is the day you can really begin to free yourself and live a new life in Christ, no matter where you are at right now.  There is a greater life waiting for you in Christ.  Are you willing to go that route?

I made a decision to follow Christ when I was 7 years old while attending VBS at an old country church.   Something inside of me always knew and believed there was a God.  I wasn’t raised in a Christian home and my Dad wasn’t around to teach me what it meant to be a man.  During high school I started attending a church that I walked a mile to.  It was during these walks that I really drew close to God.  I poured out my heart to him, began reading his word and felt him at work in my life.

During college I had some God moments where I felt his very presence.  Despite living a fairly rebellious life, I continued to draw close to him and he revealed himself to me.  In those moments where I really experienced him it locked in my belief that God really did exist.  Despite what friends might say, I knew God was true and so was his word.  Prior to moving away,  I had spent a year praying that God would breathe new life into me.

So I moved to Portland I was lonely, missing my friends and family.  I began listening to Christian music for the first time and it spoke to me.  I once again drew close to God and spent many hours just talking to him.  I began dating my wife and found a church I could call home.  It was here that I began feeling like I really needed to grow up and mature.  I knew if I was going to start a family I needed to make some changes in my life.  Those changes included getting serious about becoming a man and growing in ways I knew needed to happen.

We got married, were part of a church, I began leading a small group and began allowing other men into my life.  I began reading the Bible and studying it.  It changed the way I viewed life, it opened my eyes to things I never had thought of.  I developed a prayer life and my life began to shift in how I viewed God.  I again experienced God in moments unlike I had never experienced.  I felt him in my life.  He spoke to me.  It is unlike anything I can really express in words.  I do know that time and time again I experienced God and it continued to solidify he was indeed real.

For over 15 years I spent pursuing God.  I served him in various ways as well as spent years leading others.  God continued to speak loud and clear what I was called to do.  He showed me the man I was to be.  It was as if I was in a race and I was sprinting towards the finish line to be the first to cross it.  Just over a year ago all of it stopped.

I got to a place where I was just tired of all of it.  I was worn out and honestly, just plain burned out on God, religion, the church and doing all that I had done.  I tried to force it; the practices I had once used weren’t doing it for me.  It just seemed to make it worse.  There were times where I began even wondering if all that I belied was really true, or was I just being foolish.

It’s taken a while but I realized, the sprinting I had done was not what I needed to sustain me for the long haul.  I needed to take a step back, re-examine my life and figure out how I was going to pursue my faith and belief in God for the duration of my existence.   I realized many times my problems have been me.  I have gone about following him in the wrong way.  I have made it difficult and complicated things.  I’ve put unrealistic expectations and conditions on it.  As I looked back I began to see repeated patterns where God showed up in my life.  He was real, his words were true and he has and will always be there for me.

I’m currently working through how this is supposed to look and feel, but I’m taking my time.  I’m going back through his word and allowing it to sink in.  The spiritual growth I had in my 20’s and 30’s was fantastic, it cemented principles and truths I needed.  Walking with God is not a spring to the finish line.  It’s a journey, one that will take years and one I am looking forward to.

Are you sprinting or pacing yourself?

I’ve been in some great conversations this week about our roles as men and our perception of ourselves vs. how God views us.  I have to say these conversations spoke were some of the best raw and real conversations I have had with men in a quite some time.

As men we grow up in a society that uses men like John Wayne, the Marlboro Man, Joe Montana or 007 to epitomize what men are supposed t o be.  There is this standard that is reinforced over and over and it saturates our culture.  If you are growing up to be a real man you must possess certain characteristics and qualities to be considered a “real man”.   I know this all too well growing up in a small country town and never fitting in.

As men growing up in this mind-set, what happens when you decide to follow Christ?  The Bible doesn’t speak directly to what it means to be a man.  It does give us an example in Jesus of what it means to be a Godly man.  Jesus speaks and demonstrates qualities to us that bump up against what society dictates.  For men who are sold out for Jesus and dedicate their lives to following him you have to realign your life with him and sometimes that can be incredibly difficult.  It’s counteractive to what we have been taught our whole lives.

Yet even in the church many of the activities we do are things that the world defines as being manly.  Men go hunting, shoot guns, play sports and poker games.  For many men, it again reinforces how we don’t fit in even at church and we feel less as men.  We question our abilities as men.  The questions run through our minds – What is wrong with me?  I not a real man.  I am not wanted here.  I will never fit in.  I ‘m not good enough to be a real man.  I don’t fit in the real world and I don’t fit in here at church.  The recorded message plays over and over in our head.

What we need to realize and understand is that God made each and every one of us.  God created us as men with gifts and talents, each unique and individual as we are.  As men we do have what it takes.  We have so much to offer.  We all play a part in the body of Christ.  Just because I don’t hunt or play sports, does not make me any less a man.  I can use my gifts and talents to glorify God.   There is nothing wrong with hunting, shooting guns or playing sports, they are activities that many men connect and enjoy and they should.  While those may not be the things you are interested in, why not take your likes and interests and use those to connect with similar guys.

When we get caught up in the lies we are less as men, doubt ourselves and our abilities. We become numb and immobilized.  God created us to take our place in his family and remain active.  Remember, God never once made a mistake in anything he has done.  His plan and ways are perfect and what you see vs. what he sees is so vastly different.  Anytime you begin doubting yourself, go back and read through stories of men in the Bible.  Many of them couldn’t understand why God would use them to accomplish his work.  You are a man; you have what it takes to be a man.  You are what God created you to be.  Any time you begin doubting that, stop that cycle and start telling yourself the truth.  You are all the man God wants you to be and he will continue to refine you as you grow, but you are all the man he created.