Dec 19, 2018

Cool Spirit

A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.            ~ Proverbs 11:12 

Every man has a weakness—an Achilles Heel that might ruin him without the support of others. Every man must discover his weakness and rally support from those who care about him. Men need other men to watch their blind spots. I am convinced that men must lock arms with other men to become their best version. 
          Let me share a personal example. My greatest strength is the ability to see a problem, strategize, and react. I have tremendous natural intuition when it comes to people and obstacles.
          Conversely, one of my greatest weaknesses (I have many) is to overreact without thinking through a situation before opening my big mouth. In response to this Achilles Heel, I’ve rallied men to my side who are even-keeled and calm. These elite men have the permission to call me out. They have locked arms with my weaknesses. 
           Here’s what I am learning about holding my tongue, thanks to one of these men. First, remain calm. Pray. Stop. Hold your tongue, and think about your next response. Second, don’t react (or overreact in my case). Anxious people under high alert look for any reason to go off. Refusing to react is a calming force to potentially volatile people. Third, don’t react to other people’s reactions. Remain calm when others have lost control. One’s stress doesn’t need to be your stressor. Use restraint and hold your tongue. Pray for a calm response. Fourth, define yourself, and the person you are with, saying something like, “Hey Mike, that’s not who you are. Knowing what you believe I am surprised to hear that from you.” Lastly, keep your eyes on Jesus. He defined, made, and commissioned us who believe.  
          Who is strong where you are weak? Who is calm when you are about to lose it? Who has locked arms with you as you seek to become your best version in Jesus? Better yet, who have you locked arms with?

Dec 11, 2018

The Boys Grew Up

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. ~ Genesis 25:27 

As a new believer, fresh from college and seeking to obey Jesus’ command to “love one another” (John 13:34), I moved home and immediately found a church to attend. I joined the first available home group, the church’s softball team, and rubbed shoulders with men I would have never associated with prior to Christ.
          From those early days of faith, I learned that men come in all shapes and sizes. One may be a rugged man’s man, and another slightly effeminate. A man can be an athlete or a computer geek—or both! He may be into the outdoors or into the arts. He may be a hearty meat eater or be a conscientious vegan. He may own a Toyota Prius or a lifted 4x4 truck. He may be built like a body-builder or shaped like a tomato.
          Men come in all shapes and sizes but one thing is true—a man is as a man does. 
          From Genesis 25:27 most would agree on which brother would win a fight, but God chose Jacob to receive His blessing, not Esau. It’s clear that a man is not identified by his hobbies or career choices. What you do is not who you are. A carnivorous professional football player is no more of a man than a city dwelling key cruncher. 
          In fact, many times the one who looks like a man is less of a man! What determines manhood is simply found in the phrase, “the boys grew up.” 
          A man is not defined by his age, what he does, how he looks, or how much money he makes. He’s defined by that intangible moment he transitions from boyhood to manhood. 
          “The boys grew up.”  A man is as a man does.
          They learned to put away boyish behaviors and picked up the mantle of manhood. 
          Where do you need to do the same? 

Dec 4, 2018

A Battle Rant Day

So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.)”                              ~ Daniel 10:20-21 
Some songs are timeless. One of those is Toby Keith’s Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American), written in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Listen to the emotion in these words: 
“Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack, a mighty sucker punch came flying in from somewhere in the back. Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye, man, we lit up your world like the 4th of July!” 
          Studying the word fight in Scripture it becomes clear that there’s a vicious spiritual war in the heavenly realms (Daniel 10:20-21). Jesus alluded to it when he said, “The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12). 
          Valiant soldiers bled for this country to protect American lands. Except for a few instances, American soil has experienced peace for more than a hundred and fifty years. But to believe peace will last forever simply reveals our blessed American attitudes. But blessedness has led to entitlement and entitlement to masculine impotence.
          Listen to what author, Veteran and Ex-Green Beret Stu Weber had to say about it, “We live in the era of the soft male.” It’s easy to say you’re anti-war, holding posters on street corners during times of peace. It is much different when that peace is threatened and it’s either fight or die a coward’s death. 
          Be ready (and willing) to receive persecution even unto death for your faith as a badge of honor (2 Timothy 3:12). In other words, be joyfully willing to be martyred in the name of Jesus should that day come. 
          But it’s the Christian man’s duty to fight and defend the weak, powerless, and those being violated by the hubris of others. To that end, I say fight to the death in Jesus’ name.

Nov 27, 2018

Brown Bagging It

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”                                   ~ Mark 1:16-17 

Typically in Little League tryouts, the better you do the worse team you’re on because teams draft players based on the previous years' record. The worse you were the better your draft order. During Little League tryouts I hit every pitch, caught every fly, and fielded every grounder throwing the ball accurately to first base. A few days later my nightmare came true when, Coach Whiteford knocked on my front door holding a brown paper bag, and informed me that I was officially a San Luis Obispo Met. 
Then, he did something I’ll never forget. He handed me the brown paper bag he’d been holding. I reached into the bag and pulled out a plastic, pear-shaped object like nothing I’d ever seen. 
As I stared at this strange plastic pear Coach Whiteford smiled and said, “Your dad will know what this means when he gets home.” 
Hours later Dad arrived from work and I handed him the bag with the plastic pear inside wondering at its significance. Dad laughed and said, “Son, you’re going to be a catcher!” 
I didn’t realize then what an important role that plastic pear, or “cup”, would play in my career. With that plastic pear in its proper place, I played catcher through Little League, Babe Ruth, and high school, earning high accolades as a catcher thanks to the covering of that strange plastic pear. 
But what does that have to do with anything?
Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (NASB). Jesus saw potential in his men just as Coach Whiteford saw something in a husky eight-year-old. Figuratively, Jesus held the brown paper bag with its potential to change the world. 
That potential, however, was contingent upon the words “follow me.” Jesus knew those common fishermen could become world-changers if they made the choice to come under His protection—his covering (ah, now you get it). 
Jesus holds out the same offer to us. 
His plan is for you to become something you never dreamed possible. He sees you as your best version before you see it yourself. He believes in you more than you can ever imagine. But we must trust Him with abandon first. Our lives must be fully surrendered to His will.
Where have you stepped outside His covering in your life to trust in lesser things?