Archive for the ‘Hardcore Christian Men’ Category

In our Church. At bible study. In our homes. In our bible colleges and Seminaries. A word has come into our prayer. 

While scripture describes the Son as “the Word”, I’m not talking about Jesus, he is and will forever be in our worship. I’m talking about a different word. “Just” 

Now… “just” should be used as a describing quality of God. God is just and loving. He is righteous. He is holy. This is how it should be spoken in our Christian lives, but somewhere in the last 10 years, “just” became a way to soften our prayers. 

Many believe that to be “meek” or “humble”, we must become soft and near grove long before God, our King and Lord. Who are we to come in front of God telling him what we want? What we need? What we desire? How could we be so prideful that we would stand and tell God what to give us? So we pray like this:

Lord, we just want to pray that you would give us peace. Just that we would feel your love, Lord. And Lord, that you would just give us our needs, and just help us be happy. Just be with us in our time of need, Lord. In Jesus name we pray, Lord. Amen. 

The author of Hebrews gives us a different command, he tells us to be bold before God. 

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Heb 4:16)

It is with boldness that we are called to approach His throne. With confidence we are to call out to Him. If we are in His will, not only will He answer what we ask for, but we will ask for what He wants us to have. If we are in His will, there is no need to soften our prayer with words like “just”. (We also use “Lord” every few words, softening our impact and taking away from our conversation) Instead, we should boldly stand before God, witnessing our confidence in His greatness and his provision. There is nothing that He will deny us in His will. 

Let’s look at that prayer from before again, without the softening:

Lord, we pray that you would give us peace and that we would feel your love. Give us our needs, and help us be in your will. Be with us in our time of need. In Jesus name we pray. Amen. 

How does that sound? Does that bring a boldness to your Christian walk? Do you feel more in touch with God when praying like the first? Or the second? Does the first or second more closely resemble the prayer we were taught by Jesus? 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 

Men, stand up and lead your families boldly, in your homes, in your church, and in your community. 

Until the whole world knows,

Paul

Men,

I’ve been away for a while and I’ll give a full accounting of that time later, but let me just say that you can blame this guy:

ConnorWell, not completely him, some of the blame goes to work, seminary, and my ministry here in Dallas. Sorry for the absence!

 

Now for the reason I’ve returned. Hardcore Christian Men will be going through some growth in the coming weeks and months. At Seminary, I have learned to interpret scripture more completely and accurately. I have learned to use observation, interpretation, correlation, and application to gain a full understanding of the word, and this method is what I will be using moving forward.

I encourage all of you to spend time digging deeper into the word when you study. Look for what the author what saying, not what we want it to say. Keep the text in context, rejecting the trend in our culture to use pick and choose scripture. God calls us to abide in Him and in His Word. This is what I am encouraging you to do. I won’t be walking through scripture here with an exegetical comb, but I am in my daily reading.

See you all soon!

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

Dad-Son

A careful man I want to be –
a little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
for fear he’ll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes.
Whatever he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be –
that little chap who follows me…
He knows that I am big and fine –
And believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see –
that little chap who follows me…
But after all it’s easier,
that brighter road to climb,
With little hands behind me –
to push me all the time.
And I reckon I’m a better man
than what I used to be…
Because I have this lad at home
who thinks the world of me.

~Anonymous

Read this in one of Paul Asay’s books and thought I would just leave it right here.

“Why am I Christian? Because I believe I was built to adore and obey. Because when I stray from that state of adoration, I feel the conflict in my soul. Because when I finally, sometimes painfully, submit to God, I feel the joy of his love and grace in the pit of my gut. Because when I curl up in the cup of God’s hand, I want to smile. Because when I sense His presence in the world around me, I want to sing. Because when I do what I was meant to do, I feel not just my joy, but His flowing though my arteries like quicksilver.
I am a Christian because even though I’m not a very good Christian at times, I can’t imagine life any other way.”

Kinda make you think, doesn’t it?

Until the While World Knows,
Paul

Men,

Have you ever had something that you have prayed and worked for come true? For the last 5 years, Laura (my wife) and I have fought one of the hardest battles a couple can fight, infertility. We’ve been to doctors. We’ve tried diets. We’ve had all the tests. Most of all, we have prayed and had friends and family praying. Yet we had had no breakthroughs. After five years, we had no progress to show. Last February, we were on the verge of quitting. We were war weary. We were tired of the fight, tired of counting days and taking temperatures. We were tired of sex being a chore instead of a bonding joy. To put it simply, we just took some time off. We stopped worrying about when things were happening or what we needed to be doing. We stopped trying to take everything into our own hands.

For those of you who have been in this same battle, know that I pray for you daily. Know that God is faithful and you will experience His plan for you, even if it’s not your plan for you. Don’t read this as me promising He will give you children according to your prayers, but if He wants you to have children, He will bring them to you. This could be biological. Or he could use adoption. Who knows? He does.

On April 1st, Laura and I found out that she is pregnant. We found out that she got pregnant about the time when we just took a break from the fight. God stepped up when we stepped aside. I have been overjoyed, but we had decided not to tell anyone. Because of this, I stepped back from writing because everything I wanted to write revealed this amazing news. I hope you all understand.

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

 

Oh, and here’s one of Connor’s first pictures! This is 12wks5days and is about a week ago. We learned that he is a boy on Saturday.

200Baby12w5d

If you are battling with or have battled with infertility, please leave a comment or send me an email so I can be praying for you. paul@hardcore-christian.com

 

In the third chapter of Genesis, things get a little dicey. Different interpreters will say different things about the different characters, so I’m going to keep it simple and just go with the specifics that scripture does give us without looking at any cultural input that may have existed when Moses penned this God inspired book. Chapter 3 starts out telling us about the serpent, telling us that he was crafty, it does not tell us this was Satan, but some believe it was, in any case, the serpent was the one who brought Eve’s attention to the temptation presented by the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent is able to take the words that Adam shared with Eve, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, nether shall you touch it, lest you die” (Gen 3:3, ESV) and twist them. He convinces Eve to try the fruit and then she shares it with Adam, “who was with her” (Gen 3:6, ESV).

adam-and-eve

Here we are, not even halfway through the third chapter of the first book of God’s book, and we find Adam sinning. Many of you may be asking what I mean, it was Eve that sinned, right? Actually, if you believe as I do, you see that it was not Eve’s sin that caused the fall, but Adam’s. Adam was with her when the serpent tempted her. Adam was hanging out, but he wasn’t grabbing the serpent and killing it. Adam was present, but he wasn’t standing between Eve and the tree. Adam was passive.

It was not Eve that God had commanded not eat of the tree, it was Adam. Look at Gen 2:16-17, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (ESV) God spoke this command to the man, not to the woman. It was after this command that God created Eve, trusting Adam to lead her, as she was created as His helper or “ezer”.

So Adam messed up, but God is a forgiving God, right? The first thing that Adam and Eve do after eating the fruit is run to create clothes. As God is all knowing and all present, he knew that they had eaten of the fruit, but he gave them time. Even when he entered the garden, he gave Adam a chance to step forward and confess, but instead Adam and Eve hid from God. When God calls them out, Adam tried the old deflection method (or really the new one as he was the first to use it) and blames the woman that God gave him, thus blaming God for Adam’s failure. Eve is a little more straightforward with it, stating that the serpent deceived her and she ate.

It is here that the curse is laid out. I’ll sum it up quickly here.

1: Serpents will crawl on their belly, and there will be enmity between serpent and woman. (a little more depth but I’ll touch that in a second)

2: Childbirth will be extremely painful, women will desire to control their husband, but will be ruled by them instead.

3: Man will have to work for his food, working the field by the sweat of his brow until he dies and is returned to it.

After this in verse 21, we see the first death. God made garments for them of skins, killing the animals to do this. and then he casts man and woman from the garden.

Whew! Rough chapter! But we also see the first prophecy of Jesus. Look again at the curse to the serpent: Gen 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Many theologians believe that this references Satan and Jesus. Mark Driscoll shares this “This is the first intimation at a virgin birth. This passage says that the foretold male child would come and battle Satan and that Satan would harm and wound him, but the child ultimately would defeat and crush Satan” (found here). God knew when he created Adam that Adam would fall, but He also planned for the fall and made a way for us to be redeemed, through the blood of Christ, who was crucified on the cross, descended into Hell and defeated Satan, rising on the 3rd day.

So here’s the challenge we face from this passage:

Lead faithfully, not passively. Stand up and defend our family as we lead them on His path.

 

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

Two men talkingI believe we are called to live in our brokenness and not hide from it. Yet it is far to common to act like we have it altogether.  We project images of a great life; we set the stage and tone for others to believe that our life has no flaws.  Our biggest fear lies in others finding out all those secrets we keep hidden about who we really are inside.  The tape plays over and over inside our head – “If anyone really knew these things about you, they would want nothing to do with you.  You are the worst sinner.  You are despicable.  What you deal with, no one else is.  Your just a mess.”  Sadly we believe that tape speaks the truth.

I let that tape play out far to long.  I was not shy about letting others know I followed Christ. I wore t-shirts, listened to the music and bought all the paraphernalia, proudly shoving it in their face.  I made it look good all around.  Yet what was happening at home was a different story.  I lived a very different life, one I was not proud of and kept hidden from others.

I lied, cheated and stole. I downloaded images into my brain that may never leave.  I used others for my own selfish gain.  I spewed words from my mouth I can never take back.  I wished people were dead and I treated some like they were.  I cut ties with people out of frustration and anger.  I enjoyed sabotaging others and talking badly about them.  All of my teens and most of my adult life has been about making really horrible choices.  The worst part being I professed living a Christian life, serving as a leader in church and what I told demonstrated and told others didn’t speak of God changing my heart.  At least not for a very long, long time.

It came to a head when all of my choices now meant I risk losing my family or deal with an addiction out of control.  I began admitting I was tired, worn out and couldn’t keep up the image anymore.  I was mentally and physically exhausted from trying so hard to pretend.  I found some guys, started peeling back the layers and being brutally honest about all I was thinking and dealing with.  It was in those moments amidst anger and tears where I discovered these guys weren’t going to leave me. They didn’t kick me to the curb; instead they loved me in spite of myself.  They loved me, despite all the garbage I shared and stuck beside me as I walked me to a place of healing I had never experienced.

I remember how love in the form of others changed me.  It was through those men that I was able to begin putting words to my story, sharing how I was broken and I saw God working through it.  It gave me the courage to begin sharing my story with others, accepting I was broken and couldn’t do it on my own.  I needed others to walk alongside me.

Since that time I have attempted to live a life of transparency.  Being honest about my struggles and the questions that swim around inside my head.  I still make mistakes and I sill mess up, sadly more than I wish.  I have continued to pray and seek out other guys I can share life with, making ourselves available night or day.

As I continue to pursue relationships where I bare my soul and go deep I often get to a place where I believe they don’t see me as having struggles any longer.  I have somehow gotten past it and have moved forward deepening my walk with Christ.  When I have set backs and I go back to some of my old ways it is then, that I often feel like I can’t be honest and say, you know what, I messed up again. I think to myself, just keep quiet.  You don’t want to look like you are going backwards.  They think you are doing well and you don’t want to prove them wrong.  Just stay quiet and unless someone asks don’t share what’s going on. Meanwhile I pull back, continue to suffer silently once again.

THAT IS RIDICULOUS THINKING

I was having a conversation this past week with a friend who asked why I had been so quiet as of late and why we hadn’t talked.  It was in that discussion where I realized the truth of what I just explained. We both admitted we were guilty of the same conclusion.

I needed that conversation, it was a great reminder – pulling away and masking it, never has and never will work.  We need each other. We are broken, that won’t change this side of heaven.  We need others who are willing to walk through life with us and help us up when we fall down.  We need community where we can share and be ok with our messy lives.

We need to stop pretending, admit when we are failing and be ok with that.  If I have to call my brothers a hundred times and tell them I am struggling, so be it.  The burden falls on the rest of us to help carry those who are weaker and sometimes that means a lot of carrying.

The conversation I had with my friend was also a good reminder of how I want to be living my life.  How I want to set the tone and stage to make it easier for others.  Those are the conversations that remind me of why I need you.

Sometimes things are going well and I feel lime my life is in order.  I am going about my day moving, getting things accomplished, checking off the to do list, engaging well with others and pursuing God with all of my heart.  From the outside looking at me I’ve been told I come across as being organized, structured, disciplined and determined.

Often it feels as though it was more just an outward appearance than what was really going on internally.  I was a wreck – angry, bitter, feeling alone and all I could do to keep it together.  I was going to explode if the right person said or did that one thing to set me off.  I chose to let it all come out at home with my wife and kids.  Unfairly, they are the ones who received the brunt of my release. Adding to my personal frustration was now that I needed to go and apologize once again and make things right.

The more I have pursued wanting nothing but Jesus, the more it seems like I fall into various temptations and trials.  The more I practice surrendering each and every day, the harder it becomes.  Nevertheless my heart is still wanting and desirous of communing with God.  At times I do well battling the war, other times I fall flat on my face and give into temptations.  It’s in giving into those temptations where much of my anger and frustration comes from and really geared towards myself, for my choices and failures to follow God the way I know I should.

When it comes down to it, at the core it is rebellion, plain and simple.  I am making a choice to believe the lies and go against what I know God does not want me to take part in.  I’ve made that choice and know I have distanced myself from God.  I know that I need to run back to him. Grace is there, but often I have used it to excuses and justify my actions. True repentance must occur and I need to go back to putting God first.

I have begun to realize I lack in a lot of disciplines I used to make a regular practice.  Reading my Bible and praying I do almost every day.  Things such as fasting, being quiet and listening for God to speak, Sabbath, tithing and earnestly praying are not things I have done inconsistently.  While I have done many of them often times I do it just to go through the motions.  It is not really a discipline or practice, it’s just an activity.

I have failed to do many of those things more times than I can count.  It comes down to taking my eyes of Jesus, allowing other things to become more important than him.  Despite my best efforts, when I don’t seek him first in all I do, I get lazy, apathetic and chose not to practice the very things that are essential to my spiritual health, which in turn affects all other areas of my health – mentally and physically.

The distractions of this world will always remain and I can easily get caught up in them.  When I chose to put God back in the place he belongs my heart softens, my body relaxes, the tension releases and joy is restored to my life.  I have nothing to be ashamed of or hide and I don’t have to carry around the weight of my sin.  God does offer that when we come to him.

Trials are always going to be there.  It doesn’t get easier, but I know that I have made a lot of it harder because I chose to fill my life with things that took me away from God instead of drawing close and clinging to him.  As I move forward my choice to fully surrender and fully give myself to him is what I want more than anything else.  Everything else has left me empty and drained and that is not the life I want.

Creation-hands-L

After completing the first telling of Creation, Genesis grows more specific. The second creation tale is God’s creation of man. In Genesis 2:7 we read that “The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,and the man became a living being.” This creation is an even more hotly debated topic than the creation of the earth, with many, believers and non-believers alike, arguing for evolution. My argument here is and will always be that God is all powerful. I don’t know the exacts of man’s creation, but I do know that God created man, not random chance. I don’t pretend to know the science of it, but I do know that arguing anything else doesn’t win believers, it simply causes arguments.

After creating Adam, God placed him in an orchard that He created, a place called Eden.In Eden, God gave Adam a job to care for an maintain the garden, giving him freedom to eat of every plant except one, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Of this tree, God commanded that Adam was not to eat. He also saw Adam and said “It is not good for the man to be alone.I will make a companionfor him who corresponds to him.” Bringing each of the animals he had created, God had Adam name them, but he found no suitable companion for man. At this God forced Adam to fall asleep and he created Eve from Adam’s rib. On waking, Adam was pleased, and scripture tells us the we are to leave our family and join with our wife, becoming a new family.

So what does this mean to you and me, the Christian man? God stated that it is not good for man to be alone. This tells us that we are not meant to be loners, but we are meant to live in community with others. It is also in this passage that marriage is defined, a man joins with a woman and becomes a new family. While these are important, I believe the most important is what is meant by companion. Different translations use “helper”, “partner”, or “companion” here, but the original Hebrew uses ‘ezer. Throughout scripture, ‘ezer is most often translated as “helper”, but the English word is very limited in it’s meaning. The Hebrew word means much more that a person who helps, it is the person to turn to in times of need, the partner in good things, and the companion in the calm.

Men sometimes take the word helper (in addition to some other scriptures) to mean that he is supposed to dominate his wife and all women. Some even go so far as to declare that no woman deserves anything apart from her husband or father. This is seen outside of the church as well, in our culture and in others. But that is a violation of scripture’s meaning. God wanted a companion for Adam, not a slave or servant. He could find those in the animals. What could not be found was a companion.

So here is my challenge to you men. If you do not already, treat your wife as a companion. Put her in front of your friends and in front of yourself. Love her as Christ loves the Church, don’t rule her like a slave holder.

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.

creationAnd the arguments began.

So, the first chapter of Genesis, the first chapter of scripture, was written by Moses and inspired by God. What does that mean for us? What can Moses, a man who was born so long before modern scientific methods, tell us about the creation of everything? To tell the truth, I’m not sure that Moses could tell us much. If we look at his writings, they describe events at least 1000 years before he lived. But God on the other hand; God can tell us a lot. And that is what I believe he does in Genesis.

So what does Genesis 1 tell us? God tells us that the earth and everything on it was created in 6 days, but modern science tells us that isn’t possible. So is Genesis 1 wrong? I don’t believe so. When we examine God’s qualities, we see Him as omnipotent. This means He is all powerful. He can do anything, so He can create the Heavens and the Earth in 6 days. He can do it in a second if he wants. Or He can do it in billions (or more) of years. So is Genesis possible, sure, and God could even make it so we couldn’t tell that it was done this way. I’m not saying He did, but I am saying God is all powerful. So the timeline is an argument point.

Most religions believe in a creation story, and most line up pretty well with what we read in Genesis 1, but they differ in a few key points, one of these is who was the creator. Even Atheists have theories on this, ranging from random chance to an alien race (but who created them I ask). So who is the creator? I believe that this is the question that Genesis 1 is answering, not the how, but the who. And I believe that the who is God. We see reference to all three persons of God being involved in the creation:

Father: Gen 1:1 In the beginningGodcreatedthe heavens and the earth.

Son: John 1:1-5 In the beginningwas the Word, and the Word was with God,and the Word was fully God.The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were createdby him, and apart from him not one thing was createdthat has been created.In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.  And the light shines on in the darkness,but the darkness has not mastered it.

Holy Ghost: Gen 1:2 Nowthe earthwas without shape and empty,and darknesswas over the surface of the watery deep,but the Spirit of Godwas movingover the surfaceof the water.

So the who is answered here. Now let me hit the big one for us here at Hardcore Christian Men. What does this mean for a God’s man?

Gen 1: 26-30 Then God said, “Let us makehumankindin our image, after our likeness,so they may ruleover the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth,and over all the creatures that moveon the earth.” God created humankindin his own image, in the image of God he created them,male and female he created them.God blessedthem and saidto them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.”Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I giveevery green plant for food.” It was so.

In this passage, God gives us a job. We were created in His image, and we were created to rule over the world. We were created to multiply and fill the earth. We were created to eat and enjoy the earth. The things that stand out to me in this section is that we were created in His image (both man and woman) and that we are to rule over everything on the earth. So what does this mean? If we look at how we’ve lived here so far, it does seem that we’ve subdued it, but I question if we’ve ruled it as scripture teaches us to.

Throughout the Bible, we are given examples of good rulers and bad. From David to Herod, we are shown different styles of rule, but all fall short of the example God showed in His Son, Jesus. So what is the example the Jesus shows us? I’ve hit on this topic many times, but this question is one that theologians have been studying and discussing since he walked the earth. The key to the discussion is love. Jesus showed us how to be a leader by being a servant. That is what we must do.

Genesis 1 teaches me that we as God’s men are called to rule the earth through servant leadership and love. Are you up to the challenge?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul