How do you define yourself?

One of our pastors gave an excellent talk today, and while I can’t possibly recreate it here one thing did stick with me.  He asked how you make yourself stand out, how you define who you are?

This made me think because, I have always made myself stand out by the things that I do. I try to be the man who knows how to do a little of everything.  Someone who does all the cool things, rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, flying rc helicopters, martial arts, etc.  That is how I define myself and how I make myself stand out and get noticed.

What I realized today was that I don’t want to stand out for the hobbies that I do, or the sports that I play.  I want to stand out, to be defined, by being a strong man of God.  By loving my children and my wife in a way that is different from the rest of the world, in God’s way.  What better way to stand out, to be remembered.

I realize that it is not the most PC way to be recognized, and that it probably will not get me into as many circles as the other stuff, but is that so bad?  Is it not a blessing to be excluded from those groups and activities that are not placing a focus on God and a priority on being a godly man?  I think that too often we, myself most definitely included, get so hung up on wanting to fit in that we don’t take a step back and see what we are trying to fit in to.  It feels great to be accepted by a person, or group of people but, if they aren’t accepting you with your faith in Jesus as part of the package do you really want to be accepted by them at all?  Do your close friends, the people you hang out with frequently, even know that you are a Christian?  More importantly, do they truly understand that Jesus is your savior and what that has and does mean in your life?

Think about how you want to be known by others, how you want to be remembered.  Is it for the worldly things that you can do or that you know?  Or is it for being the upright, strong man of God that you are striving to be?  Once you figure that out (and I think we all know that the right choice is an easy one), then figure out how to make the daily choices that will make you stand out for the right reasons!

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Men of God: Joseph

I want to take a look at some of the men in the Bible who were all-in for God.  These men are who you think about when you think of a man of God.  Men like Moses, Joseph, David, and Jesus (ok, so the last one is a bit obvious…).  I want to look at not only what these men did that made them Godly men, but also how they were Godly men despite what they did.

Let’s look first at Joseph.  As the youngest of 10 brothers and the favorite son of his father Joseph was a spoiled little kid.  Just look at his coat, in those days that would be like your dad giving you a Mecedes for your 16th birthday!

Joseph’s arrogance and pride as a young man would be his down fall when his brothers had finally had enough, took his clothes and threw him in a pit (not a good day for anyone!).

This is where I see Joseph’s time as a man of God truly begins.  This is also where we start to see a lesson from Joseph’s life.  Sometimes, even when you feel like you are doing everything right, playing by all the rules; God has another plan for your life that you won’t understand, and that may not seem fair.  From here on out that is pretty much Joseph’s life!  Despite some awful circumstances Joseph makes the best of his situation.

He does the best job that he can for his captor, and Potiphar’s household is blessed because of Joseph.  At this point I am thinking that God will reward Joseph for his positive attitude and hard work.  Does He?  No!  He gets thrown in jail because he won’t sleep with another man’s wife (makes perfect sense…NOT!).

Thrown in jail most of us would give up.  I mean, come on!  He made the right move to not fool around with a married woman right?  A fair and just God would reward him for that, not get him arrested.  Instead God put Joseph in exactly the right place at the right time, even if it was the last place Joseph expected to be.  He became a big shot in the prison, for all intents and purposes he was running the place.  He was perfectly positioned (by God) to interpret the dreams of the cup bearer and the baker, which led to him becoming a trusted confidant of the king.  Going from prisoner to the second most powerful man in Egypt isn’t too shabby!

The thing is he could never have done it if he had given up and walked away from God when things got hard!  We have to always remember that God wants good things for us.  He wants us to prosper and have a good life.  No matter how awful or desperate things seem at the time, God always has a good plan!  That is a truly reassuring thought!

Joseph’s life teaches us that all our actions are important, and all our actions have an affect on those around us.  Joseph’s actions as a young man; an arrogant, spoiled, full of himself young man; caused his brothers to sell him into slavery.  His actions later in his life caused those around him to trust him completely (because wether they knew it or not he had God at his side!) and to give him control of an incredible amount of things (what warden in the world is going to turn the prison over to one of the inmates…it would be suicide!).

I know that I am not the most eloquent and this is just my ramblings, but the take away message is this:  No matter what our situation in life; wether we did something wrong and are in a bad place, or wether we feel like we have done everything right and God is just punishing us for no reason; all we can do it to be humble before God, to thank Him for all that He has done for us, and to do the best we can in whatever situation we find ourselves in.  God always has a plan for us, a good plan, we just have to trust Him enough to follow Him no matter where He takes us!

Resolution

First, I want to appolagize for the lack of post recently.  We have been without internet for the last two weeks or so.  It is amazing how dependent we become on technology (but that is a topic for another post).

I found the resolution from the movie “Courage”.  This is awesome!  I encourage any of you men that have a family to print this out and live it!  There is a version of this that is commercially available that has a place at the bottom for your signature and the signature of two witnesses.  I think that this is an awesome idea, to get with two other men and enter into this resolution together, to keep each other accountable.  Enough talk, here you go:

RESOLUTION

I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.

I will love them, protect them, serve them and teach them the word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.

I will be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her, as Jesus Christ did for me.

I will bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.

I will train them to honor authority and live responsibly.

I will confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.

I will pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect and compassion.

I will work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.

I will forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.

I will learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.

I will seek to honor God, be faithful to his Church, obey His word and do His will.

I will courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life for His glory.

 

Now, tell me that isn’t exactly how Christian men need to be!

Don’t Shy Away from the Fight!

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.”

This quote, often attributed to Martin Luther, has a questionable origin (some background here) but the message is sound regardless of where it came from.  We have to be professing Christ in a relevant way.

If we, as Christian men (and all Christians for that matter) are not willing to step out in faith and support/defend/fight for the things of God; the things that we know to be right; then what are we doing?  If we are not willing to take a stand about relevant issues in the world today how are we fighting for Christ?  It is easy to sit in our church building or small group and talk about the issues facing our world today, about how un-Godly the world has become, about all of the problems out there and that if people would just follow Christ and trust God how much better the world would be.  But when we are faced with a situation in the real world; a potentially charged or confrontational situation with people that don’t share our beliefs or point of view; we back down.  Why?

I think it stems from the fact that many of us do not want to be labeled as a “conservative Christian” with all the stereotypes and pre-conceptions that go along with it.  We want to fit in with the crowd, not make waves, and hopefully someone will ask us to tell them about our faith so we can “spread the gospel”.  Let’s face it, how often does that happen… almost never!  I am the most guilty of this out of anyone I know.  I have been the classic chameleon, always trying to say or do the right thing so that I would fit in and be accepted.  That is a great way to make friends, but is it any way to impact them for God?  If we want to truly impact our community, our friends, our co-workers for Christ then we have to be bold.  We have to step out of our comfort zone and profess the gospel.

Paul had the right idea in Philippians; “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exhaulted in my body, whether by life or by death.”  Philippians 2:20.  Paul was in prison facing possible death for proclaiming Christ and he is asking for more courage to proclaim Christ!  I’m pretty sure that we aren’t going to be in danger of being stoned for speaking out about some hot topic in a Godly way.  That is the beauty of America, freedom of speech.  Yet it also leads to complacency.  Of course we can say what we want, but because we can we often don’t.  We aren’t faced with  possible imprisonment or death and so the stakes don’t feel that high, and if the stakes aren’t high enough then why should I put my comfort on the line?  But let me ask you this, what stakes could possibly be higher than someone’s eternal life?

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:7

We don’t have any reason to be timid in speaking out for God.  Our God is stronger than any person, any movement, any other power and He will walk with us when we walk out in faith for Him.  “The Lord himself goes before you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Don’t be ashamed of your faith.  Don’t be afraid to support what God tells us is right.  Ask God for the courage to speak out for Him and do it!

Man of God Top 10 – #1 Love

The #1 thing that describes a man of God is love.  I’m sure you saw this coming, how could you not.  Love is everywhere in the Bible.  We are told that God is love and that we are made in the image of God, that we are to try to live our life like Jesus (who is God), so how could love not be one of the most important things for a man of God.

I come back to 1 Timothy 6:11 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”  Pursue love.  In other words do everything in love.  Because if we do everything in love how can you go wrong? (Yes, I realize that statement is not entirely accurate or true but you get the idea)

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was he replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  this is the first and greatest commandment.  And second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the law and the Prophets and on these two commandments.”

Love with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  God deserves this kind of love because he is God.  There is nothing that he hasn’t done or won’t do for the goodness of mankind, including punishing us, because he loves us.  We, men of God, should live each day with an awe inspiring view of God and the love that he has for us.  We should do everything with love in our hearts.  Loving our neighbor, co-worker, friend, family, complete stranger, orphan, widow, everyone just as Christ loved us.

And here is a kicker for you.  If you truly love someone would you not want them to know the God that you know, the God that loves them, the God that saves them?  How can you love someone and not share the Gospel with them?  It is all well and good to say that you love someone, to do everything in love, but what are you doing to show God’s love (and yours) for the people that you interact with?  The greatest thing that you can do in love is to share the gospel!

There you go men.  Love.  Do it!

Man of God Top 10 – #2 Walks With God

When I think of an example of a man of God the best examples I can think of, besides Jesus, were the disciples.  They literally walked with God.  I know that we can’t physically walk with God, but we can walk with Him in other ways.  Walk with me now (ok, a little cheesy I know…).

If we want to walk with God it means actively engaging in some of the things that we have already talked about in this top 10 list.  First, we can’t walk with God if we are pursuing the things of the world.  It is hard enough to follow God without the distractions that are out there trying to pull us away from Him.  If you want to really walk with God then you have to make Him your priority.  This may mean giving up some of the things that you have been pursuing.  Don’t divide your attention, this is too important to only do part way.

If you are going to walk with God it will probably be useful to know what direction to walk in!  You are probably saying to yourself, “How am I supposed to know that, I haven’t seen any sign posts lately.”  To answer that I am going to ask you to do something that none of us guys are very good at (me included)… ask for directions!  It’s as simple as that!  If you want to know which direction God wants you to go pray for guidance and direction.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

Trust me, God will give you a sign.  Sometimes you may have to ask for the directions that come with the 2×4 (because let’s face it, we can be pretty slow some days!).

The road that God puts you on is not always going to be smooth.  Spend time in His word so that you will be equipped for those bumps and potholes along the way.  The word of God is an amazing tool, use it!

Finally, if you are truly going to walk with God then you have to trust Him.  You have to trust where he is taking you.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   Romans 8:28  God has a good plan for you, trust Him and walk with him.

 

 

Man of God Top 10 – #3 Keeps the Word

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

I love this verse because it says so much with so few words.  The Word of God, a phrase that we hear all the time but that I think sometimes we take for granted.  The word of God is usually refering to the Bible, a book, but it is so much more!  John 1:1 refers to Jesus as the Word.  Everything God had taught his people, everything he would tell us in the Bible, was wrapped into Jesus.  Jesus was the ultimate man of God and if we want to be men of God we need to be like him.

The Bible is so much more than a book.  Yes, it has a cover and pages and words.  There are paragraphs, themes, stories and puncuation.  But, where the Bible is different from any other book is that it is the word or the living God!  Think about it for a minute.  God speaks to us through the Bible.  He can give you an answer to any question you might have through the Bible.  Everyone always asks for the answers to life’s questions…well here they are!

Being a man of God means keeping His word.  This is another multi-part commandment.  In order to keep the word, you have to know the word.  To know the word you have to spend time reading the word, memorizing the word, meditating on the word.  The great thing about God’s word is that you can read one passage this week, then read the same passage next week and God will reveal something completely new!

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

That is a lot of stuff that one book can do!  Pay attention to verse 17, “…so that the man of God cay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  God gave us the scripture, His word, to equip men of God.  But you can’t be equipped if you don’t spend time in the word!

But there is more… “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.” James 1:22  So we can’t just read the word and study the word we have to live the word!  It is like the Jewish holy men in Jesus’ time.  They would  pride themselves in having the entire old testament memorized – WOW!  But when Jesus came he said that the did not know these men.  It is not enough to memorize bible verses so that you can regurgitate them at cocktail parties (interesting thought!), you have to truly live the word that God has given you.

So make reading the Bible part of your daily routine.  Read with a purpose, to come closer to God, to be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  Read with your wife, read with your children.  Show them that you are keeping the word of God and that it isn’t just words, that it is God speaking to us everyday.