Posts Tagged ‘manhood’

On Thursday, I got to have a pretty cool experience with my brother and Dad. We went to the movies…for 14 hrs! What I’m talking about is the “Ultimate Marvel Marathon”. This was a “debriefing” hosted by “Agent Coulson” of all of the Avengers related movies, ending with “The Avengers”. Here’s a pic of us at it:

Dean, Paul, and Russ at The Marvel Marathon

Watching these movies, the geek in me was in paradise! And the Christian in me was searching. I was searching for Christian imagery. The minister in me was searching for stories to share. There are always great stories of sacrifice, betrayal, and brotherhood. Iron Man gives us a great “prodigal son.” But there are very few, if any, direct statements of support for God or Christianity in any of the back story movies leading up to Thursday’s midnight release. With our culture’s hesitancy to show any support for God, I had lost hope of seeing any in “The Avengers.”

The Joss Whedon amazed me. He wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. He was the one that added a small mention, even if it was only for the character, the statement was true. (Trying to avoid spoilers, but there is some I have to say) As the team is being assembled, there is a fight between Loki and Thor. As he is preparing to jump into the fray, Black Widow warns Captain America, “Might want to sit this one out, they are gods.” In response, Cap states,

“There’s only one God ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

This one statement made me smile, and if you look at my twitter, I stepped off to the side at that moment and tweeted that quote. I’m not sure what Joss Whedon believes, but we know that Steve Rogers (Captain America’s “real” name) is a believer. Throughout the movies, Captain America/Steve Rogers gives Christian Men a great example. Here’s a guy who started out as a 90 pound weakling who wouldn’t back down from a bully and became the symbol behind which a country can fight. Almost 70 years after being lost in WWII, he is found, and he is refitted and sent back out. WHen hearing of his new uniform, he asks “Aren’t the stars and stripes a little old fashioned?” To which he is told, “some of us could use a little old fashioned.”

Think about the things that America has forgotten since WWII. Men were chivilrous then. Pornography was not an ever present thing. Divorce was rare. God was still welcome in our schools and society. Sure, some of the bad was present, and I won’t say that life is not better now that it was then in many ways, but in our properity, God and the teachings of God have been forgotten. Captain America can remind us of these things. Seems to me that he is a faint echo of The Man, but he is still an echo.

Here’s a challenge to each of you, follow Captain America’s example and remember, “There’s only one God.” Find a way to show that in your life this week, and think on ot often.

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

P.S. The Avengers was a great movie!

Happy Thanksgiving! We hare at Hardcore Christian Men are thankful for you, our readers. I hope that you are thankful for something or someone in your life. Why don’t you let us know what you are thankful for?

So whether you are having dinner with a big family

or a small one

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving! We will see you again soon.

If you’ve been reading for a while then you may have noticed that I am a bit of a fan of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. To me, these men show the works what it means to be a man when under fire. They did not falter or waver in their faith, in fact they declared it even more clearly. The statement that stands out to me is this one, from Daniel 3:17-18: “Ifour God whom we are serving exists, he is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he will rescue us, O king, from your power as well. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we don’t serve your gods, and we will not pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.” In reading through Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has built a golden statue that all are required to bow down and worship when the music plays. Nebuchadnezzar includes a punishment if anyone refuses, to be immediately cast into the fiery furnace.

When Daniel talks about a “fiery furnace,” it is referring to a kiln for firing of ceramics like bricks. These kilns were upwards of 1000° C. Because of the urgency of Nebuchadnezzar’s order to burn these three, the guards turned the fire up so high that when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were escorted to the kiln, the guards burst into flame themselves. I imagine these kilns, or furnaces, were emitting heat at near 2000° C. Yet even with the heat killing the Babylonian guards, our three Israelites stood in the flames and came to no harm, even having a fourth being join them in the fires.

There are many guesses who this fourth being was. Some scholars say that it was Michael, the Archangel, others say Gabriel, and some say that Nebuchadnezzar’s own words may tell us. He described “the appearance of the fourth is like that of a god!” I wonder if it’s too much to believe the fourth figure that Nebuchadnezzar saw was the Son of God, or even the Father himself? Scripture tells us the Jesus was there in the beginning, why could he not have appeared to protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

Lets look back at that statement that was made by our three heroes before being cast into the fire. To sum it up into a short statement: God can save us, but if he chooses not to, we still follow him. God did save them, but the fact that the belief of these three men was fully independent of what God did or did not do is what makes this story most powerful. When faced with a choice of death or leaving God, they chose death. Would you?

Would you step into the fire…

or will you turn from God?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

Last night was my first rugby practice since my surgery Friday. The doctors told me they don’t want me playing until next week, so I’m on the “injured reserve.” By this, I mean that I am there at practice. I’m walking up and down the sidelines and watching the plays. I’m there as moral support, but I’m really not benefiting the team at all.

Have you ever been in this kind of position in your Christian walk? As we walk the path that God laid before us, do we find ourselves on the sidelines, only watching as others are doing the work of God? This is a position none of us can ever be in. It does not matter what has happened. It doesn’t matter what we have faced or how tired we are. We as Christian men must continue to work for God’s kingdom.

This has been forgotten. Too many men have put work and secular concerns in front of spreading Jesus’ teaching. Too many of us have set back on “injured reserve” after something didn’t work out the way we planned it. This is one of the reasons that it is so hard for us to find brothers who are willing to stand up as men in the Church, not the pale echoes in the shells of manhood that make up the less than 30% male presence in most church bodies. Too many men who we would call brother have turned away from the soft and sensitive Church of today.

Instead of sitting on the bench because God’s will and your’s didn’t line up, try thinking to some examples given to us in scripture. Look to Daniel 3:16-18, ” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar,  “We do not need to give you a reply concerning this. If  our God whom we are serving exists,he is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he will rescue us, O king, from your power as well. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we don’t serve your gods, and we will not pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.”  Another great example is Jesus’ own statements in the Garden of Gethsemane as seen in Mat 26:42 “He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done.’ ” These are 2 examples of men standing up and saying: “I’ll accept your choice for my life and act on your choice of me, even if it does not line up with my own choice” Are you daring enough to do the same? Are you willing to stand up and be a man? Or will you choose to remain part of… the injured reserve?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

I’ve just started playing rugby… or should I say, learning rugby. I’m not 100% sure why I am doing it, but I made some cool contacts last night at practice. It was strange to be asked what I do and to say that I am looking entering ministry. The guys who play rugby are often the most rough and tumble guys I’ve ever met, and I wasn’t sure how welcome they’d make me after finding out I’m a Christian and going to be a pastor. Surprisingly, they took one look at the Army shirt I was wearing and told me it was great to have me there.

Over the next hour and a half, I started to learn the game. I learned that rugby uses “laws” instead of rules. The art of passing and making a “back line” are things that I will be learning for quite a while. The interesting thing about rugby is that play never stops. Unlike most American sports which are broken up by down-times, huddles, and time-outs, a game of rugby is either an 80 minute game of “15’s”  or a 14 minute game of “7’s”. Both of these types are divided into two halves. During these halves, the play only stops in case of injury. As long as there is not an injury, movement on the pitch (the rugby name for field) never stops. During play, the players will be involved in scrums, mauls, and rucks, as well as hits as hard as football but without the pads. It is a chaos of controlled violence, and the violence stays on the pitch, often punctuated by a few pints at a pub after the game.

I keep thinking that if we think of our lives like a rugby game, and this world we are living in as the pitch, we might approach our Christian walk with more vigor and passion. Instead of setting aside just one or two plays for God, why don’t we keep moving the ball down the field the whole game? God doesn’t teach us to use a play and then take the bench. Jesus didn’t do this. Why should we? Where are the “time-outs” in scripture?

If I was Shadrach, Meshach or Abednego, I would have been calling for a “time-out” when I got locked in the furnace. Think about it, when the temperature started rising, wouldn’t you raise up your hands and make a “T” to step off the field? What about when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Or when the rain started falling on Noah? What about when Stephen was taken to be stoned? It was his first public play, and here we was getting taken out of the game. I would have been calling for a time-out, wanted a chat with the coach, even asked for a substitution. These biblical men did not take time-outs, why should we?

As you go through your days, why should you be using one playbook or another? Instead, why don’t you look at it as a game of rugby on the pitch of the fallen world we live in. Let’s run some patterns together. We’ll all take some hits and be tackled a lot of times, but think about how much more progress we can make down the pitch if we don’t take the time-outs and step away from God.

The ball is to you, if you’ll pick it up.

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

How do we know when we achieve the title of “man”?

I’ve heard it said that you are a man when you don’t have to ask if you are a “man”?

That might be true, but it might not. I’ve said before that I believe the journey to manhood is a lifelong journey. I’m not saying that we aren’t men before we die, but that we continue on the journey throughout life. The reason for this belief goes back to where I find the example of manhood. The Bible. Primarily the Gospel, but also in the Old Testament and the Epistles. In most of the books of scripture, we are given examples of men whom we can live like. Men with sin and failure as part of thier lives, but also with success and faith in God leading to salvation. In four books, the Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; we are shown an example that none of us can achieve, the example of Jesus Christ. We are also shown 12 men who try to live up this his example and fail.

In mentioning Jesus, I want to point out that here is a man, sinless and pure, who was sacrificed for the sins of all mankind. Obviously, you and I can’t match this example. What we can do is work toward this example. This journey is one that we will never get 100% right, but its also one that we can follow. So here’s my challenge to you:

Will you stand up and follow The Man, Jesus Christ? Will you spend time studying his walk and learning how to follow him? Will you make every effort to follow him, and when you fail, be honest with yourself and your brothers? Will you pick yourself up and continue down the road He has led you down?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

I recently finished No More  Christian Nice Guy by Paul Coughlin. This is an excellent book for the modern Christian man. Coughlin’s book has a forward by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dr. Laura, she’s a radio talkshow psych who pushes tough love and esposes many of the viewpoints that we talk about here. The thing that made me pay attention to her is the fact that she is Jewish, and she gave a great forward for a book written to Christian Men.

In No More Christian Nice Guy, Coughlin uses a systematic approach to the “Nice Guy” problem. In 13 chapters and just over 220 pages, Coughlin first shows the damage that the Church is causing by raising boys to be Christian Nice Guys (CNGs) and a way to reverse this damage. By examining the causes of this phenomenon, Coughlin helps the reader to understand the mistakes in the ways Christian boys are raised. One of the chapters which stood out to me quickly was “We’re Men, Not Eunuchs.” Overall, the message of this book is that Christian Men have been warped and twisted from the image that Jesus shows us in scripture into weak echoes of what God intends. We as men must stand up and reverse this trend.

Reading this book helped me to better understand the hurdles that I face as a man in the Church today. THere are two main types of men in the Church today, the weak CNGs, and the manipulative ones that aren’t so easy to identify. As we teach our boys to avoid conflict and run from confrontation, the manipulators move in to take over. The CNGs overwhelming need to avoid problems and be nice means that they won’t stand up for themselves, thier families, or thier beliefs. You and I both know the feeling, and I’ve been the CNG. It’s the reason I left the Church. I returned because I learned the Jesus was not the bearded woman that I was taught about as a kid, but that Jesus is The Man that I want to follow. Paul Coughlin tackles this very subject. He gives guidance on how to escape the CNG mold and become the powerful and assertive man of God that you were created to be.

Coughlin’s in depth exploration of the subject helps shed light on the subject that many have avoided. I encourage No More Christian Nice Guy to anyone who battles with being a Christian Nice Guy or anyone who wants to help break the mold.

http://www.amazon.com/No-More-Christian-Nice-Guy/dp/B0013L4DP8

One of the questions I get asked is what I do to releve my stress. Working with my hands is an amazing stress relief.

Have you ever swung a hammer just for the pleasure of swinging it? What about running a whetstone down the blade of a knife, or drawing a sawblade across a board? The feel of working with my hands is one of those pure pleasures that I retreat to from time to time.

It’s not just the product of the work that relieves me either. It’s the smell of sawdust, the sound of the saw cutting through the wood, and the feeling of rough lumber becoming smooth. I love knowing that not only is the tension between my shoulders being relieved, the stress is being used to create something that I can look at for years to come. If you look at the things I have built, you can tell if it was a stress relief or just because we needed it. Nails or screws tell you this. If I want to relieve stress, I’ll use nails. There is just something about feeling the impact of the hammer on the nail head as the sharp ping cries out. I use screws when something needs to be done quickly.

Here’s the question for you to think about. What do you do to relieve stress? As men, we need stress relief. While we don’t run and hide from conflict like the modern Church often teaches, we also don’t seek it out. Because of this, we must be ready for the stress that comes from conflict, and also the stress when we actively seek to mollify instead of defeat a conflict. There are times when we will delay a conflict in order to protect someone, and this causes stress. There are also times when we are unable to reach a result that we find satisfactory. So what do we do with the stress from these events?

I’ve already told you one of the things I do, woodwork. Another thing I do is climb on my Harley for a ride. I also write. Each of these gives me a different kind of relief. A long ride on the Harley is great to leave my stress behind. It gives me time to release my thoughts and enter a world that is just me, the bike, and the road. Writing lets me put my stress or the things that cause the stress down on paper. Sometimes this can lead to a post here, or simply an entry in my personal writings, but it always leads to relief. Woodwork though, it allows me to combine pleasure with the work of relieving the stress while producing something.

Here’s my challenge to you, find something that relieves your stress that gives you a permanent product. Let me know how it works for you.

Oh…And Jesus swung a hammer for quite a few years, and we don’t read about him having any stress issues, do we?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

A few days ago I posted this: Men Wanted and promised more info. Here it is!

Ernest Shackleton was looking for 27 men, what he got was 5000 applicants. In 1914, 5000 men were so tired of the life that they had been living that they applied for Shakleton’s journey. These men were so hungry for a challenge that scientists, sailors, and tradesmen alike applied.

What is the challenge that would activate this kind of masculinity in today’s Christian Man?

Shakleton knew not only how to speak to a man’s need for challenge and adventure, but also how to lead his men.

“Shackleton’s first thought was for the men under him. He didn’t care if he went without a shirt on his back so long as the men he was leading had sufficient clothing.” –Lionel Greenstreet, First Officer

This is the leadership that we as Hardcore Christian Men must show. This is the challenge we must rise to. God calls us to be men and lead our families and the Church.

What areas do you see in your local church that need leadership?

Let me give you a string of questions I have asked myself multiple times.

What was it that God made you for?

Are you doing it?

Why not?

Too much of a risk? Too set in your ways? Too comfortable where you are?

Why?

Do you not trust God’s guidance?

Has he not shown you that he has your best interest in his heart?

Has he not sacrificed enough for you?

It’s a bit of a wake up call to myself. Even as I get closer to fulfilling the goals that I feel he has set for me, I ask these questions. I know some of the answers now, others are changed as time and people change my views, but to evaluate my life from God’s calling, not my own goals, makes me realize that I’m missing the mark he has set for me. If you approach your life from the same point, you may find that you have steps to take that you didn’t know were in front of you.

My next step is to find opportunities to work in men’s ministry and learn from those with more experience. So what is your next step? What can you do to work toward God’s calling?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul