Jun 19, 2018

Be a Man #3: Act Like Men

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
                                                                       ~1 Corinthians 16:13

A while back a good and godly friend—man’s man—posted a video on Facebook called, “The three most damaging words you can tell your son”. Once I learned those three horribly damaging words were, be a man I responded that I was shocked he would post such a toxic video. After a quite heated online discussion between he, his sons, and myself, his wife and a wonderful Christian woman who raised three sons entered the conversation.
          I laughed out loud at her response, “Okay guys, calm down, I’m the one who posted that video on my husband’s account!”
          Soon after, I spoke to another man who was confused by this culture’s message for males too, “Man Up!” After considerable thought on these two stories, I had an epiphany.
          It’s confusing when the males telling younger guys to “Man up!” aren’t men at all, but adult children in fully developed bodies. Those three words were “Be a man!” damage younger males when the message they receive comes through a father figure who’s lives less than a man.
          A man is as a man does. He doesn’t have to order others to “Man up!” or “Be a man!” He simply lives a manly life. Manhood is about—being a real man— "protecting integrity, fighting apathy, pursuing God passionately, leading courageously, and finishing strong.”
          A real man calls others into manhood because he is one. He’s a man.
          To be called a man is a great compliment, possibly the greatest compliment a man can give to another.
          “Son, that guy—right there—is a man. Listen to him!”
          Be cautious about referring to males as men. They aren’t the same. I can act like a man today and backslide into maleness tomorrow when my choices reflect a child more than the man God ordained me to be. Younger men are confused enough without impish—impotent males—pulling them into culture’s sorry excuse for a man by a lifestyle that doesn’t match their macho man words.
          Younger males navigating the murky waters of manhood need real men who know the way, go the way, and show the way to guide them. Only men can impart manhood. Only a man can call a male into the awesome responsibility and elite group to be proudly called “a man”.
          Stop talking like a man, and start acting like one.

Jun 12, 2018

Be a Man #2: Stand firm in the Faith

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
                                                                          ~1 Corinthians 16:13

My friend Vince Miller is the founder and president of an organization called, Resolute for Men out of St. Paul Minnesota. To name an organization Resolute piqued my curiosity so I did what any good leader would do—I Googled it!
            Once I read the online definition of resolute I wholeheartedly agreed. Resolute is an adjective meaning, “admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.”            Purposeful.
            I bet the Apostle Paul would agree when he penned, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you” (1 Corinthians 15:58—NIV).
            A male’s faith ebbs and flows with the latest trends, and cultural norms, and relevant church ideals. Not a man. A man stands firmly on his faith. He is rock solid is what he believes and lives it out boldly. Males stand on shifting sand. Men stand on the rock.
            He challenges modern thought with a resolute faith in Jesus. He stands firm because he’s never dug in trying to defend his faith. No, he stands his ground because his life is committed to pushing back the darkness, and the only way to do so is one life at a time. You can’t beat him. He’ll die before he surrenders.
            Where some oscillate he is resolute.
            If you read, “stand firm” in this passage as a defensive posture, then you’re reading it all wrong. In Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Leon Morris writes, “The words ‘stand firm in the faith’ point to the stability of the Christian firmly grounded in Christ.”
            I once had a three-hour meeting with a very broken man who later confessed that he came to impress me with a lot of Bible verses, but his life and faith spoke contradictory to his Bible knowledge. We cut through that real quick and got the heart of the matter—his oscillating faith.
            He left on solid ground.
            What is your faith posture? Would those you love say it is solid, immovable, and resolute? Or is your faith soft, weak, and oscillating? Step into the best version of you. Dig your feet in, draw a line in the sand and start taking ground now.

May 22, 2018

Be a Man #4: Be Strong

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
                                                                     ~1 Corinthians 16:13

          I wish I had a dollar for every time a man asked, “How much do you bench, man?” They say it in reference to my large chest, which isn’t the result heavy of heavy workouts in the weight room, but what of I joke is a birth defect. You see, I inherited an oversized chest from my Italian great-grandfather, which was a problem for my mother when she gave birth to me. Normally a baby’s head is larger than the rest of its body at birth. I’m told that once the head comes out, the rest of the baby easily follows.
          Not so with me. To quote my mother every year on December 14 as she recounts my birth story: “Oh Jimmy (my Mom calls me Jimmy), it was like giving birth to twins!” At birth, as she tells it, I was bloody and bruised because of the forceps clamped around my head in order to pull my chest out. When poor Mom saw my bruised and bleeding face she literally started crying, “He’s so ugly. He’s so ugly! My baby is so ugly!”
          True story.
          But even with my large-chest birth defect, it took many years in the weight room to get strong. Manhood is similar.
          Males are born. But men are made. Men are forged by their daily choices compounded over time. The man you shaved with this morning is one poor decision away from reverting to a male.
          A man is made strong over time.
          The phrase in 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be strong”, is mentioned over thirty times in the Bible. But a more literal translation for the verb, according to Leon Morris in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries is, “be made strong.”
          Do you get it? Are you starting to understand manhood?
          Manhood-strength is not something you are born with. It’s not a spiritual gift. It’s not a fruit of the Spirit. It’s a choice. Just as childishness is a choice, so is manhood. Which path do you choose for those who love you and depend on you to be a man?

May 15, 2018

Be a Man #1: Be on the Alert

“Live in the Yellow”

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
 ~1 Corinthians 16:13

Jeff Cooper (1920 –2006) was a United States Marine who served in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Cooper taught that the most important means of surviving a lethal confrontation was neither the weapon nor skills. In his book, Principles of Personal Defense, Copper argued that the combat mindset was the primary tool of survival.
            Copper developed Cooper’s color codes of tactical alertness, but it had nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels, but rather with one's state of mind. As taught by Cooper, it relates to the degree of peril you are willing to do something about and which allows you to move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle a given situation. Cooper did not claim to have invented anything in particular with the color code, but he was apparently the first to use it as an indication of mental state.
            Here they are.
            White: Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be "Oh my God! This can't be happening to me."
            Yellow: Relaxed yet alert. No specific threat situation. In “yellow: you’ re simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place and that you are prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.
            Orange: Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert. In Condition Orange, you set a mental trigger. 
            Red: Condition Red is Fight. Your mental trigger has been tripped and the fight is on.
Men live in the yellow. They’re in a constant state of relaxed alertness— watching over the unsuspecting, those they love, and any temptation threatening him towards sin. 
A man is keenly aware of the enemy’s strategy; Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). 
The temptation is to live in the white but not for a man He is different than his counterpart males. He lives in the yellow. He is watching and aware of his surroundings at all times.
He strategically places himself between his family, those he loves, and their enemies—especially the invisible ones. He stands in the gap in prayer. He sees the big picture developing. He watches over his marriage. He plays out the decisions of his children. He navigates the way because he lives in the yellow.