Tag Archives: Christians

Values of Manhood Defined


Growing up I had a father, but he was not around and when he was, he was not interested in me.  Conversations around becoming a man didn’t occur in my home.  The only nugget of wisdom passed onto me was if I wanted a large family I better get a good job to support them.  The concept and ideas of what it meant to be a real man were somewhat foreign to me.  I really had no good male role models; those around me did not discuss it or consistently demonstrated through their actions and words how something I would not describe as being manly.  The small country town, white is right, there is only one-way to do it culture I lived it shoved worldly ideas in my face about being a man and I was repeatedly reminded of how I never measured up.

As I left my family, began establishing who I am as a man and what I was about, I began looking at the world around me, observing the ideas and concepts that most men used to define themselves as men – someone who does it all on his own, has no need for anyone else and lives a life filled with money, cars and women. Many of the men I knew were not living their lives the way I thought it would look like.  I observed men not discussing their thoughts or feelings, used women in unhealthy ways and could only relate to one another through sports or drinking.  None of which appealed to me and it certainly was not how I was going to define myself as a man.

As someone who has been a follower of Jesus since I was 7 years old. I began looking at examples in the church of what it meant to be a man.  I discovered morals preached and rigid guidelines followed. Few men in the church discussed what it meant to be a real man.  Most of the men I saw in church did not want to be there, were unhappy and appeared to be living their lives,  just existing, but never having much passion or desire.  Once again, I found it hard to find what it meant to be a real man.  There are plenty of examples in the Bible of regular men who God has used to do amazing things.  For myself the one person I most admire and look towards in being a man is Jesus.  Granted I am by no means Jesus, but his life and how he lived it demonstrates so many characteristics of what a man can and should do.

When my wife and I got married the first things that actually made me feel like a man was finding out I was going to be a father.  When it was confirmed, something inside of me said, “You’re the man.”  Prior to that, every time I looked in the mirror all I could see was a 16-year-old boy who was lost and had no clue what it meant to be a man.  Finally, I felt like I was joining the ranks of others and becoming an official man.

As I closed out my 30’s and start my 40’s I finally am beginning to feel like I am fully a man.  My journey into this has been a long and difficult one.  It has taken me going from not allowing other guys to be a part of my life to finding amazing men who have spoken volumes into my life.  Evaluating events that have shaped who I am today, seeking out, and understanding God’s purpose in my life.  I can tell you as someone who is a deep processor and thinker; there have been many days where my brain just never turned off.

A few years ago after reading a couple of books and completing some profile tests I took a week and came up with what I believe defines me as a man.  To me a real man means you are honest and true about who you are and where you have come from.  A man is not afraid to share his feelings, admits when he needs help and someone who takes care of his family and not just through monetary means.  It also includes spending time with each person, getting to know who they are and what you can do to build them up and influence their lives. Having other men in your life you can go to and talk with, men who will hold you accountable.

For myself being a real man is defined by my core values:

Knowledgecontinually striving to be better than I am, through various means, which allows my words to be honest and wise, and my actions filled with insight and discernment

Honorliving a loyal life of commitment to God, my wife, kids, family and friends that includes faithfulness, commitment, responsibility and integrity

Fulfillmentliving a courageous life filled with passion that allows me to serve others out of love and devotion

Impact all that I do I do for the legacy I will be leaving behind me

Truth seeking to live a life that stands up for what is right and just and using my voice to silence injustice, evil and wickedness in the world

For whatever reason men still today do not feel the need to talk about this.  It greatly saddens me to see men in church who are walled off, hurting and do not know who they are or what they are about.  Men who have been so wounded and hurt they do not even know which way to turn.  It is for this very reason I write about these things and use the gifts I have been given to try to build relationships with other men.  For me I strive to live an authentic life, which includes being a real man to everyone I meet.  Pouring my life into other men and asking the questions that need to be asked.  In doing this I hope I not only will be the example but it will help other men in their own journey.

What about yourself, what values define you as a person?  How long has it taken you to feel like a fully grown man?  How do you see yourself today?


Designed by God to connect


I have been likened to George Washington, Mike Wallace and Vince Lombardi.  I have also been told I resemble Joseph in the Bible.  You could also characterize me as being a lion.  I am an activist, caregiver, naturalist and sensate.  After taking a test I was told I was ESTJ (extroverted, sensing, thinking and judging).  Where am I going with this, what does this have to do with anything? 

Psalm 139:113-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

As reflected in this passage I believe God created each one of us uniquely and only he knows the specifics.  He didn’t make a mistake when he created us and I would be bold to say anything God makes should never be considered garbage.  Look around and take a look at the beauty all around.  Now go take a look in the mirror, you are truly an amazing work of the master craftsman.

In creating us he designed us all with gifts, if you want to read more about our gifting I suggest reading 1 Corinthians 12.   In these passages of scripture it talks about the gifts he has placed in us.  Our purpose is to take these gifts and use them to bring him glory. 

I also believe in creating us differently we relate back to God in different ways.  I love taking  various kinds of personality tests.  As a supervisor at work, leader in church and working with different groups of people it fascinates me how putting people together, the dynamics play out in that.  When you put a group of folks together you never know what is going to happen.  Sometimes everyone clicks and things go smoothly, other times folks don’t jive and it can be difficult to work together.  Personality tests are a great tool to use in understanding and relating to one another. 

A few years back I went through leadership training at church and we went through a session on discovering your spiritual temperaments.  As I went through the class it helped me understand more of how I was wired and how God has designed me.  For years I had been told just read your Bible and pray and you will connect with God.  Maybe I wasn’t going about it correctly, but I felt like it was forced and didn’t come naturally.  Through this class I discovered  I best connect with God when I was outdoors.  Since I was a boy growing up out in the country I always loved looking around and marveling at God’s creation.  I have always had deeper and significant God experiences when I am outdoors.  Taking this class helped me see that while I can grow and develop and incorporate other aspects into my life, there are very clear ways I draw nearer to him.

Here are the examples:

Activist – Loving God through confrontation with evil

Ascetic – Loving God through solitude and simplicity

Caregiver – Loving God through serving others

Contemplative – Loving God through adoration

Enthusiast – Loving God through mystery and Celebration

Intellectual – Loving God through the Mind

Naturalist – Loving God through experiencing him in nature

Sensate – Loving God through the senses

Traditionalist – Living God through ritual and symbol

So what about you – where would you fall under these categories and if you have taken a personality test, what were you told about yourself?


In search of a Pearls


Today I am very excited.  This is the first time someone has ever done a guest post on my blog.  Today’s post if from Seiji Yamashita.  He and his wife are expecting their first child and currently in the process of purchasing a house.   Please say some prayers for them.

I encourage you to follow him on Twitter @JustaPen and definitely check out his Blog – The Ignition Point – http://justapen.wordpress.com/

 

My favorite line from Star Trek: Generations is early on in the movie before Captain Kirk “dies” for the first time.  He has just found out that his pilot, Hikaru Sulu, had a family and a daughter who was now serving in Starfleet.  For all you non-nerd types out there, let me translate: a career military man had a family.

Kirk is astonished of course and asks “when did he have time?”  Now the smart aleck in me has to try really hard to keep my mouth shut on that one but the script writers put in a very good answer here.  “You told us Captain, that if something is important, you make time for it.”

I like that.  I can handle that.  I can take that and put it into my context and understanding of the world and apply it to my life.  Family is important therefore I make time for it.  Relationships are important so I make time for it.  Career is…reasonably important so I’ll make time for that too.

Lucky for me however, or maybe unlucky depending on your perspective, I don’t model my life after James Tiberius Kirk.  I model my life after Jesus.  And Jesus said something very different.

Matthew 6:33 “First seek the Kingdom of God in all its righteousness.”

Ok, so instead of family and relationships the Kingdom of God comes first and I make time for that. Ok I can still handle that.

Matthew 13:45-46 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls.  When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.”

This one makes me stop.  This is like Elisha burning his plow and sacrificing his oxen to follow Elijah.  This is the moment where the disciples dropped everything without a thought to follow Jesus.  This is what Jesus means when he says “follow me.” He’s saying, forget all that stupid stuff you think is important, because here is the pearl of great price, and it’s worth everything.

Even my dreams, Jesus?

Even my hopes?

John Wimber tells the story of how he first heard this parable and what it meant to him.  Arguably one can say that the Christian must be WILLING to give up everything for the sake of the Kingdom, but what happens on D-day when you have to get out of the boat and leave it all behind you?

Could you do it?

I’m not sure I could.  Jesus has been talking to me, some days more sternly than others, about my dreams and visions and I’m having a really hard time with it.  These are dreams I’ve had since I was a kid and they’re really all I can hold onto when things get tough and I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  On those days when I’m just tired of the people I deal with on a daily basis, when I don’t want to think about the next bill coming in, or someone else putting more demands on my time, I can carve out a couple of hours for me and my dream.

And now I’m supposed to give it up not because I’m supposed to, but because the Kingdom is worth it.

If God asked you to give it up, could you do it?

 


The thing about being a Christian


If someone says to you they are a Christian, what usually comes to your mind?  (Hypocrites, religious freaks, Jesus lovers, fakes, phonies, intolerant, haters or bashers) I’ve had some of these thrown my way in my time.

The one thing I want more than anything else is to realize that I am real.  I to do not like what many people who call themselves Christians do in the name of Jesus.  There are radicals everywhere in every type of religion and they all bring the name down of those that really, truly want to follow what they believe is true.

First and foremost I am not perfect, I will freely admit that to you.  I absolutely do not have my life all together or have everything figured out.  I am a sinner, I mess up and make mistakes every day of my life.  Most of the 10 commandments I have broken. I am broken person, I am messed up and make a mess of my life.

I try hard to do the right thing most of the time.  I pray for wisdom every day to make good choices.  However I lose my temper, I say things I don’t mean, I hurt others and I make people mad.  I don’t set out to do this, really I don’t.  I lust, I curse, I struggle with addictions, I am impatient, I want my way to be right, I want to be loved, accepted and get recognition.  I drink and have in excess, I dance in fact I love to dance, I listen to all types of music, (Soul and RnB are my favorite). I go to bars, I watch R rated movies, and I tell jokes that are colorful.

Does any of this surprise you?  Do you find it hard to believe?  Maybe you do, but this is actually how many of my friends who absolutely love Jesus and follow him live daily.  If you were to attend my church you would see people with different colored hair, piercings and tattoos.  They come in all shapes and sizes, they are all seeking God and to have him at work in their lives.  They are passionate about him, yet are real and attempt to live that out authentically in their lives.

I also pray daily, read a bible, go to church, lead a group of people in my home every week.  As a family we pray at the dinner table, pray with our kids before they go to bed and I pray with other guys and for people without them even knowing.  I read the bible, but haven’t read it all the way through yet.

I don’t care what your sexual preference, skin color, if you’re a man or a woman. I don’t care what cultural heritage or background you have. I love and accept everyone where they are at in their life.  I don’t think my way is the right way or that it’s the way you have to do it.  I am not going to tell you that you can or can’t do something.  I believe you have the right to choose what is best for you.  I believe that God designed all of us uniquely and that he gifted us all differently and it is to bring glory and honor to his name.  Our gifts and talents are to be used to help other and in doing so, we demonstrate God’s love to them.

I believe what the bible says is true, I also believe that it’s God’s words not mine and I am just trying to figure out how his words fit into my life.  I believe there are some hard lines that have to be drawn and that I have to take a stand for them because it is what I follow and believe and even though you may disagree with me, we can still talk through it and I can still be your friend.  I believe the Bible is full of so many great principles, it’s how we take those and apply them to our lives and the culture we live in.

I believe in community and that by going to church I get to interact with other broken people.  The church I attend is not perfect nor are the people who attend.  I get to hear people share and open up about their lives and realize I am not alone.  I get to sing songs that make me cry and see how broken I am and in need of God to get me through another day as well as all that he’s done for me.  I get to hear the Pastors talk about real issues that impact our lives today and how God fits into this.  I’ve heard amazing stories about people who have been involved in drugs, sexual addictions, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, homelessness, anger, bitterness, abuse and so much more.  To see where they are at and what has happened in their lives can only help me believe that God is very much, real alive and at work today just as he has been all along.

Because of others who claim to be Christians and what they have done, a few years ago I stopped calling myself a Christian and began identifying myself as a follower of Jesus.  I’ve been following him since I was 7 years old.  I’ve had a hard difficult life; I’ve done some really horrible things that essentially I deserve to die for.  However I have been extended grace by God and through others.

A quote I really identify with comes from Gandhi “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” To me to follow Christ means you read, study, interact and really live out what he came to do and that was to serve others and not be served. I ultimately believe that love is the answer.  Loving people where they are at, not judging, accepting and hearing people’s stories of where they have been.

I know that I have done things that bring shame to the name of Jesus.  I really don’t want to live my life that way.  I hope that when people see me, interact with me they will have a glimpse of Jesus.  My journey isn’t over and someday I do believe that I will stand before God and I will have a conversation with him and my greatest hope is to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.