Last week, I wrote about the power of God’s love to set us free from the Law, from sin, and to give us the ability to pour out grace and love others. This week, I want to take it to another level, with the intention of helping clarify what God is doing in our lives.
I have probably written more blogs about the grace of God than anything else, and I know I preach on it more than anything else. I am consumed with God’s grace. It has the power to change me. Before I knew about the awesome grace of God, I was bound in my feelings, emotions, temptations, and struggles.
This week, I have been meditating on a passage in Titus. Paul writes this letter with the intention to remind Titus what to teach the people he has been called to shepherd. So Paul writes to teach men to be temperate, self-controlled, filled with love and patience, and to teach the women to be reverent, not gossipers or slanderers. The young women should be filled with love, self-controlled, and kind. Young men should be examples of all things good, filled with integrity, and self-controlled. And then Paul writes a strong passage to Titus:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say, ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”- Titus 2:11-12
Do you see it? Paul writes about what the grace of God does. The grace of God doesn’t teach us to sin and get away with it. In fact, it teaches us to say no to sin, to selfish desires, to worldly passions, and to the desire to reject God. I believe this clarifies the why, as to “Why must we teach the grace of God so strongly?” Man’s thoughts are not God’s thoughts, clearly, and man thinks that rules, boundaries, and limitations help us to manage our selfish desires, passions, and sins. However, God says He created Grace to do that.
To God, the law was given in order to enslave us to those things, therefor, the rules and limitations that we so greatly value actually bind us to the things we think they will help us to stay away from. For example, if I lived in a house with 30 rooms, but every time I entered 1 room I felt fear, I would choose to never enter that room. I would limit myself to 29 rooms. That seems great, but what happens if in another room I began to feel lustful? I would have to stop going in that room, and I would be limited to 28. And what if every time I entered a certain room I remembered a fight I had with someone, and it made me mad? I would then be limited to 27 rooms. Soon, I would find myself bound to a single room, afraid to leave it… Rules, boundaries, and limitations don’t set us free. They enslave us to a lifestyle that is quite the opposite. I’m not free at all. I would own a house with 30 rooms, but be forced to only live in the 1 (and actually be filled with fear to ever leave).
The grace of God is the complete opposite. It shows us our value, which is: God sent His only Son to die for us, to pay for all of our sins, both past and future, so that we could be free. The grace of God also shows God’s love for us. It doesn’t lead us from one fear to another, His love sets us free from fear by literally casting all fear out of us. His grace demonstrates the power of His love. As we learn and grow in our understanding of the power of His grace, we become motivated to honor Him, and so we change our desires, from selfish passions to selfless- godly passions. We become obsessed with advancing the Kingdom. We become obsessed with helping people get free from their sins and backwards thinking. We become obsessed with helping Christians that don’t understand God’s grace, by teaching them and showing them what Holy Spirit can do.
The more we pursue His grace, the knowledge of it, the experience of it, the depth of it… the more free we become, and thusly the more determined we desire to share it with others. This is the power of God’s grace. It doesn’t just cover up sin. It gives us the ability to live truly godly lives. We can live in our 30 room house without fear, enjoying the entire house, oblivious to the temptations, fears, and struggles that used to dominate our lives. Are those things gone completely? No. But they no longer dominate us. Instead, they only serve as a reminder to who we used to be, to who we’ve become because of the wonderful grace of God.
God’s grace is more than just an idea or theory. It is the power of God to bring transformation, and it sets us free from everything else. It’s easy to say no to something you don’t want. The only way to change your desires is to find something better. There is nothing better than the grace of God. Bless you…
I have had a single verse resonating in my mind all week, and it feels a bit cliché since this week, we in the US celebrated July 4th, but the more I meditate on this verse the more it resonates within me. Not only so, but the more I have read it, the more I have realized the necessity to read the whole chapter and the need for us to be aware of this critical passage.
I have long believed that Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians with a singular purpose in mind, and I have found that many pastors and teachers of the Bible disagree with me. I fundamentally believe Paul’s purpose was to address people’s predisposition to long for rules to follow. I believe Galatians pivots on 1 verse (not the verse I have had resonating inside me all week long), and have taught that in the past. Galatians 5:9 says, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough,” and I believe he was saying the Law of Moses, the little particulars people were getting hung up on (and still are), is the yeast. In Galatians 2:16, as well as 2:18-21, Paul made the case that you cannot live by the law and also live in grace. He says we must set aside one or the other (21). We either set aside the law, or we set aside the grace of God…
As clear as that is (Hebrews 8 presents an equally clear case of removing the law and living in the grace of God), I find many pastors try to teach both, often stating things like, “Paul wasn’t referring to the Law of Moses, but to the other laws the Pharisees had added and enforced at the time.” I cannot see how this is remotely possible, since the Galatians were not a people immersed in Pharisee doctrine (these were Jews and Gentiles living in Greece). I find it heartbreaking when I read or hear about pastors who teach their members to live by the law while preaching about the grace of God. Galatians 3:17 says, “Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always…” and then he presents his case in 3:21-31. The Law creates slaves to sin and a need for a Savior. To live by it AFTER the Savior has come is to deny the work of the Savior all together. Galatians 5:4 says, “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
Isn’t this crazy? Christianity has often had a real struggle with freedom, often choosing to focus on each person’s individual behavior, instead of focusing on the finished work of Christ. Let me be clear: you cannot save yourself. Your efforts to be pure will never work. No one is righteous, not even one. But thanks be to God our Father, who has given us a new righteousness, that comes apart from the Law, that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely through His grace. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law (I just quoted a few verses from Romans 3).
This leads me to the verse I have been meditating on: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1
God wanted us free. The Law created slaves to sin (Galatians 3:23). Its purpose was to point us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). And now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law (Galatians 3:25). God wanted us free. It’s a beautiful reality, and very difficult for us to fully comprehend. I don’t always feel free… I’m sure you are the same. And the devil doesn’t seem to understand I am free. Sometimes, I feel like I am in a war that I cannot win. You know what’s beautiful? You can’t win. You’re not supposed to win a war against the devil. Jesus already won! Your job, according to Galatians 5:1 is to stand firm (Romans 5:2 tells us we stand on the grace of God), and to not allow the burden of guilt to bring you back into slavery. We don’t have to defeat the devil, only resist his ploys with the knowledge that Jesus has made you free.
Lastly, Galatians 5:13 tells us, “You were called, dear brothers, to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love.” Paul is being very thorough in this letter. When we participate in backbiting and devouring each other with gossip, resentment, jealousy, anger, malice, and the like we are not loving each other.
God has called us to be free. But He has also paid for us to be free. He has done everything He can. It’s up to us to live freely, and the only way to do that is to love God, love ourselves, and love others. And what would that look like? What would it look like to actually be a people who love each other so much that we pour out grace when others wrong us, make mistakes, and disappoint us? What if we loved each other the way God loves us? And herein lies the point of this blog…
You are free to love people, to live free, and to give grace. It’s up to you. Bless you…
Each time I begin to write a new blog in this current series of messages intended to address what a godly man must be, I wrestle with the approach: whether it should be critical or constructive in nature. Should I address the problems or the answer? There are many issues that plague mankind today, and honestly, the biggest I see is we, as a society, are almost intentionally attacking everything good. It feels as if we are identifying anything God desires, and teach our children the opposite. And I struggle with how to address it in a blog, because I don’t want this to come across as a blog only for men. This blog is intended for everyone. Women need godly men. Too often, I find videos, blogs, articles, and books asking the question, “Where have all the men gone?” Our churches are void of truly godly men. Many Christians know and are aware of the problem, but I find that in addition to identifying it, we are actually contributing by not changing, not standing apart from our culture/society.
Biblically, it is mostly the mother’s role to nurture and guide children, but it isn’t only the mother who is responsible to raise godly men, just like it isn’t just the father’s role. Both must work together. In order to work together, both the mother and the father must be on the same page, defining together what a godly man and what a godly woman is. Clearly, that is the first step: identify what kind of person we want to raise. The world does this (I hope you understand when I say “the world” I am referring to those outside of God. We are in the world, but not of it) more and more unified every day. For example, there are some in the trans community that intentionally raise their children to be trans. We have all heard the stories of one parent intentionally raising their boy as a girl, while the father is locked in court being tried for being a bad parent. Clearly, step one is getting both parents on the same page. How can a man become a man of God if he isn’t being intentionally guided towards being a man of God? How can a woman raise up a man of God if she doesn’t clearly know her objective? This is why this blog is so essential. Even though I am not the best writer, most educated, most qualified to teach on this subject, and even though this blog is meant to be a small, brief message with the intentions to get you thinking, I am determined to (in my own way) do my part in helping change the culture around me.
With that said, a huge part of being a godly man is the role of leadership. I’m not saying women aren’t leaders, because you clearly are. Deborah was the leader of Israel, and without her Israel would have been destroyed. There are multiple women in the bible that led, but only when there wasn’t a man to lead. I don’t want this to come across the wrong way. Women are able to lead, just like men are, and I need that to be clear. However, leadership is the role of man, and not woman. There are quite a few passages of scripture which explain how and why men are supposed to lead. You can find them in Geneses 3:16-20, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, or multiple times in Titus and 1 Peter. The role of men is to lead. Any time there is a void in responsibility, something will fill it. If the man doesn’t lead, another man will. If there is no man willing/able to lead, then the woman is. It isn’t about capability, it’s about the role/responsibility. When men become complacent and apathetic enough to stop leading, and begin to look for others to lead so they don’t have to, the culture falls apart and that nation is destroyed. Israel did that very thing in the book of Amos. Ezekiel mentions it as well. Men become lazy, hope others will take responsibility, and begin to have a desire to play. They lounge around all day, find ways to make passive income so they don’t have to work, and never realize they are both contributing to and becoming victim of an anti-God culture. God warns us to not be idle (some 70 times in the bible), to enjoy hard work, and to help people. That is the role of a leader.
Men, God desires us to be Alert* of what the devil is doing. Do your best to destroy the sin around you. Don’t be silent. Ephesians 6:18 says, “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” We must be Firm* in our faith. We cannot compromise. Today’s culture is always talking about being inclusive. “We need to be inclusive. We don’t want to offend anyone, or cause anyone harm.” Okay, I get it. It sounds pretty good. But we don’t include water with our oil. We don’t include dirt with our food. We don’t include the fork when we reheat food in a microwave… not everything should be included. Sin should never be included, and as men, we must be Firm in our faith. We must be Active* and filled with courage. Leadership must use its influence for God, not for self. And again, we cannot be lazy. Men of God should be Strong*. Ephesians 6:10 and Deuteronomy 20:8 are great scriptures for you. And in being strong, I’m referring to “strong in the faith” and not just physically strong. Attempting the impossible in Faith insures the resources of God for you. Lastly, men of God do everything in Love*.
There is so much to say about leadership and the children of God. If you are someone who is reading this and thinking something like, “Yeah, that all sounds good, but I’m not qualified or ready,” well, I have a reply for you: God doesn’t call the qualified. No one who answers the call is greatly qualified. We are all learning as we go, making mistakes all the time. We just pursue Him with all we can, and His grace covers up the mistakes. Don’t waste any more time. Start leading. Stop making excuses. Stop waiting for someone else to lead. Be the change you want to see. Show others what you need, what you desire. Start a small group. Call up your friends and invite them all over, telling them what you are about and what you want. Call people out, hold them accountable, and be a blessing. Challenge them to be better, too. It’s time we make a difference, and stop just being comfortable in our little bubbles when everything around us is falling apart. If you do it for the Lord, if you truly do this, God will be with you, that I have no doubt. It’s definitely time. Bless you…
The more I think about the role of men, how the current culture we live in is impacting the development of men, and compare it to what God desires for us, the more I realize there are some critical issues that we must address. This week, I want to talk to you about ownership.
Genesis 3 is a tough chapter on the evidence of the problem mankind has. If you are unable to recall what happens in Genesis 3, just think of Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The serpent tempts Eve, she eats the fruit and then shares it with Adam, causing them to suddenly become aware they are naked and hide from God. Afterwards, God comes to visit them and finds them hiding. He calls out to them, and Adam comes out of hiding, apologizing for their nakedness. God responds with, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat?” Adam responds with, “It was the woman you put here with me. She gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” God shifts His attention to Eve, and asked her, “What have you done?” She responded with, “It was the serpent (the devil). He deceived me, and I ate it.”
It’s a true tragedy of a story. God was desiring to have a pure relationship with them, but they decided to give their trust to the devil, they followed his words, and found themselves in sin. Meanwhile, God was still faithful with them. He didn’t call out their sin, they did. They were suddenly aware they had not done good, but had done evil. They tried to cover up their wrong, but in their attempts, all they did was prove to God that they had not only done evil, but they were aware of it. Their desire to cover up their wrong doing caused God to address it. He didn’t address the sin first, they did. When God gave them the chance to accept responsibility, they blamed Him and the devil.
I am fascinated by this story. There are so many ways to talk about it, so many lessons to be learned, but today we are addressing ownership. Now, when I say “ownership” I am not talking about money, as in owning a car or a house. I am talking about taking responsibility for your actions. Every time I think about taking responsibility, the struggles with our culture, and how people don’t want to take ownership for what they do, I am reminded of one person. When I was a youth minister, some 15 years ago, we had a young boy- maybe 8 years old that never took responsibility for his mistakes. He would hit another kid, I would catch him, and I would pull him to the side and ask him something like, “What were you thinking? Why did you do that?” and he would answer me, “Because they did…”, or “It was them!” He always had a reason, most didn’t make any sense, and he definitely took things too far. Anyone who has worked with kids knows a kid like this one. They are everywhere. They over react, and justify their actions based on what has happened to them. They don’t understand grace, always responding with an eye for an eye.
But there is an equal-level problem with not taking responsibility for actions that doesn’t involve an eye for an eye. This one blames others for their problems. They always have an excuse. If you teach them Truth, they always have an idea to make an exception to try to justify why they shouldn’t act the way you teach them. They typically think, “Yeah, what you are saying sounds good right now, but that don’t work in the real world.” Can I just say, “Absolutely! It doesn’t work in the real world!”? I mean, really. We are in the world, but not of the world. God is calling us to rise above the world, to be noticeably different, to behave different, to respond different, to act different, to want what’s different, to think different, to desire different, to create different. As Christians, we are not supposed to be like the world. The world changes the subject, gives excuses, justifies itself. We don’t.
We take ownership for our mistakes. Adam and Eve didn’t. When God talked to Adam, Adam blamed God for making Eve. When God talked to Eve, she blamed the devil.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…” Don’t hide your sins. Don’t be like Adam and Eve, hiding in the bushes, wearing fig leaves, trying to cover up your mistakes, and then blaming others for your choices.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
Lastly, owning up to our mistakes doesn’t just mean to confess to them. It means we have to renounce them, as in, “That was a mistake, I have learned from it, and I will never do it again.” And this is not a lesson just for men. Eve made the same mistake as Adam. Neither one wanted to own up to their bad choices. This is truly something that everyone does, the temptations are for all of us to cover up, misdirect, or run away from our problems. But as children of God, we can’t do that. We need to be people who own up to our mistakes, no matter how big or how small. Set the example, don’t wait for everyone else to start doing this. It’s impossible for us to be children of God, to be men and women of God, when we are covering up bad choices. No man wants to be wrong, but when we are, we need to be humble enough to admit it, correct it, and lead others forward. Bless you…
Last week, I wrote a pretty serious indictment against men and our current culture, and I
want to try to expand on it, offering answers and encouragement. So, hopefully, over the next few weeks,I am able to post a few blogs about this, addressing the issues and answers I briefly addressed in last week’s post. Before I do, allow me to take a moment to preface this blog with this: Everything I wrote last week, as well as what I will be writing today and throughout the next few weeks, are just the problems Isee today. This is in no way an exhaustive list, or even the result of deep, conclusive research. It is only a
list of obvious things I have observed over the past few weeks. I would like to address individual issues throughout the next few blogs.
Today, I would like to address Idleness.
Ecclesiastes 10:18 says, “Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.”
This passage tells us that when we choose to be idle, things that need to be done don’t get done. The example used is the roof of a house. A diligent man would not wait and react to a leaky roof- taking for granted that the roof will never leak. He will check before the rainy seasons come, to ensure the roof is solid and prepared for the rains. This is why his roof doesn’t have a leak. But the idle man is one who takes it for granted, ignores the fact that the rainy season is approaching, and never thinks about the fact that a leaky roof is a problem. We, as Christians, can’t be waiting for problems to occur. We can’t be reacting to sudden problems… we have too many problems as it is, as Jesus said, “…today has enough problems of its own.” If I don’t prepare and limit the dangers and issues of tomorrow before they come (If I don’t prepare for the future in the present, then I won’t be prepared to handle the problems of the present), I will be drowning in the flood waters when they arrive.
This is a huge problem in today’s culture (men and women both). We don’t prepare for tomorrow. Even worse, too many of us have leaky roofs and we are okay with it. We aren’t even taking care of the problems we have, choosing to deal and manage our lives around the “leaky roofs” when it rains. We just put a bucket under the spot where it leaks and maybe put a tarp on the roof in an attempt to manage the depth of the situation, in hopes that we can fix it when the rains stop. I get that. We can’t be prepared for everything, and too often we don’t know of potential problems until they occur. But we can’t live as if that is the rule. It must only be a small exception. God is calling on all of His children to be people that seek to
be like Him, to imitate God, and as men (specifically), we must be a people who understand this. God does not “react” to anything. Nothing shocks God. He is always prepared. How, then, can we as the men who represent the Father, be a people who expect to be successful reacting to problems, never prepared to handle tough problems. We need to be a people who learn to investigate prior to potential problems, dealing with issues before they manifest. After all, it is the glory of kings to seek a matter out (Proverbs 25:2). Of course there will always be grace when we overlook or miss some details. We will make mistakes. But to sit back and be idle and say, “What’s the point? I’ll just deal with whatever comes” is backwards to what God wants for us. And how can we say we are godly, His children, if we intentionally ignore His call?
Another level of idleness is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
“ In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching [a] you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer".
This passage tells us the lazy/idle people are not just hurting themselves or barely getting by, but if their lifestyle becomes habit and is not dealt with, their idleness progresses to another level: busybodies and gossipers. According to this scripture passage, these people actually hurt people and hurt the whole Body of Christ. Instead of being a people who build others up, they become people who tear others down. By spending time doing things which don’t matter, they actually hurt people, and thusly become people who (hopefully) unknowingly serve Satan more than God. As I read through this passage over and over again, I began to notice the effects of idleness. First, no one can stay idle, but if you aren’t working on Kingdom things, then you will fill up your time with just being busy. From there, if still not dealt with, the fact that you remain busy doing the wrong things will result in you hearing about other people, because let’s face it, we surround ourselves with people who are like us. If you are a busybody, then you will surround yourself with other busy bodies. If you are a hard, diligent worker you will surround yourself with other hard and diligent workers. So when we surround ourselves with gossip and busybodies, trying to appear to be who you are supposed to be without the character to truly be growing, the result is you tear others down. This results in burnout and discouragement (I don’t believe burnout or discouragement are always the result of gossip, but definitely the result of constantly appearing to be busy in order to not appear idle). The passage says, “…never tire of doing what is good.” It’s all too common today to hear of people burning out. That is a sign that our motivation is wrong, that we are doing things out of obligation or fear of being judged. No, our motivation is the love of God. “Freely you have received, freely you give.” If your motivation isn’t the Grace of God, you will burnout. And the result of burnout is selfishness. Selfishness produces greed. These things all quench the fire of God and shut down the work of the Kingdom.
Just look at what Proverbs 21:25 says,
The craving of the idle will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
God desires for His children to look like Him .It’s important to note that God isn’t just sitting on His throne being completely idle and enjoying life in luxury. God is diligently working. He is constantly singing over you and thinking about you. Jesus is constantly interceding on your behalf. Holy Spirit is diligently working with and for you, in an effort to help you grow in the Lord, for the Kingdom of God. We, must learn from God. As men of God, as women of God, we MUST work hard.
If you have read this far and think I am only talking to men, you are wrong. This is equally important for all of God’s children. Age and Gender are not important when it comes to the topic of idleness. As a matter of fact, idleness is addressed in Proverbs 31 (the godly woman chapter) when it tells of all she does:
She brings her husband good all of her days, she selects wool and flax and works with eager hands, she brings her food from far away, she gets up before the sun comes up, she plants the vineyard, she works vigorously, she trades in order to make money, she spins thread, she helps the needy, she makes the bedding for the family, makes linen garments, supplies merchants with sashes, watches over the affairs of the house, raises the children, makes the food, and fears the Lord.
In closing, I want to encourage each of you, to be the best you can be. Don’t be idle. Don’t pretend to be busy. Build the body of Christ up, serve people, work hard- not just for yourself or your family, but for God. Bless you…
If you’ve been around me lately, you know that God has been really hammering me about being a godly man. Honestly, it feels as if He has relentlessly been putting convicting materials around me about what He wants from men, specifically. Whether it be from the Word of God, movies, interviews, or articles, everything I see seems to be pointing to this overwhelming need for men to be men of God. I am aware, more than ever, of our culture here in the 21 st century and its lack of emphasis on raising up true
men. Instead, we are (as a whole) suppressing true manhood, calling it “toxic”, and the results are many of the males 50 and under do not know what it truly means to be a man.
I have been looking in the churches, and this is such a problem now that no one even blinks twice about the reality that it is common, extremely common, for there to be more women than men in attendance. Men seem to have been given a slide, an unholy grace to skip church because of work, or even worse, for pleasure. Men go to games, go fishing, etc. instead of making time for God. Just as prevalent, is the idea that “we can go out on Saturday night and have a good time, and still go to church on Sunday
morning” even though experience dictates that Saturday night has Sunday morning affects that prevent church attendance… even if you aren’t drinking or partying, just staying up late on Saturday night is going to result in an inability to wake up on time. Too many of today’s men don’t have their priorities in the right place.
Our culture today is so upside down that it promotes boys staying boys emotionally, instead of emphasizing the role of men. The longer I pastor, the more I realize the gravity of the injustice that is being done to young males. We just want to play, and have an intense desire to not carry any responsibility, constantly hoping for someone else to step up so we don’t have to. We neglect responsibility, and dare I say we actually run from it… it truly grieves me to admit it, to face this truth. On Wednesdays nights, here at the church, we have been reading from the book of Amos, and as I have been
studying it, I have found a subtle, yet constant theme of God calling the men out for their lack of leadership and not meeting their purpose. When a culture develops to this place, a place where we are currently, it is headed down a very short road to destruction.
There is so much to address, it’s hard to form a plan on how to approach it. Before we can even get to what God desires or the how to get there, we need to address the problems specifically (I need to preface this with a confession that most of this has been hard for me to wrestle with, since it applies to me just as much as it would to anyone else). This culture we are in is just like the one in Israel at the time of Amos. In Amos 3-6 (specifically, I am thinking of 6:4), where it talks about men avoiding responsibilities, letting others lead, putting off the requirements of the day and choosing to be idle, by
laying around and lounging all day on their couches (yes, it literally says that one of the problems that caused Israel to be destroyed was the fact that men “lie on beds… and lounge on your couches”).
The first problem with men to address is IDLENESS, because I find many of our young men don’t work. Let me be clear, I’m not necessarily talking about making money. I am very aware that you can potentially make a lot of money today without ever leaving home. That isn’t the problem. The problem is we don’t leave our homes. We stay inside with no real human interaction, only talking through devices, whether they are cell phones or headphones. God gave man the job of working the earth, sweating, breaking ground, taking care of nature, pruning trees, planting fields, running government, protecting people, serving people, etc. These things cannot be done in the living room, or on your cell phone. God made us to be in nature, and as uncomfortable as that can be, we need to make time for it. By the way, every man knows how they feel after a long day outside, cutting brush, mowing grass, weed eating, or anything else you can think of that involves a hard day’s work in the back yard. For me, I feel absolutely exhausted, yet overwhelmingly accomplished. It surely beats any day sitting at a desk, typing out blogs or curriculum. Also, I must add how amazing it is to have another guy around to do it with you. We all know how special fellowship is, but when men are being men, doing manly things, the fellowship takes on a whole new level.
The second problem I see in our culture, which is preventing men from becoming truly godly men is there is not a true sense of OWNERSHIP. Every male I know over 60 seems to have an identity most of the younger men lack. They know who they are, what they can offer, and are readily available to meet the needs around them. They don’t wait to see who will step up, they just see a need and fill it. Sadly, many of our younger men see the same needs and hope someone else will step up before they have to, even though they may be the best person for the job. I must admit, I am being very general at the moment, but I’m doing that intentionally in order to grab as many readers as possible. Often times, I will have a young man see a need and approach me ready to volunteer. As I encourage them and tell them what all needs to be done, what I have experienced is I can actually see them realize what they are getting into and already retreating, not wanting to commit and take ownership. They say things like, “I’m not sure how much I can do, but I’m willing to do… (usually about half of the load).” I appreciate that, because if they didn’t do half, that means I am typically left to do all of it, so if they do half, they are helping me out. But the truth is, if I asked one of our older men to do it, they would do it all, and typically do it better and faster than our younger men, because they own their work. In short, men these days seem to have the thought process of , “I don’t need to because someone else will do it.”
Another issue with men today is we don’t think things apply to us. So often, I find that guys have an excuse for everything. We have a million ways to get out of any responsibility, and even worse if we can’t get out of it reasonably, we just don’t show up at all. Way too often, I find that guys just skip out on something they signed up for, with no explanation at all. They just disappear for a few days, and when they come back they try to act as if nothing happened, as if everything is great. The reality is this behavior
comes at a great cost, as it has proven to be true that these guys never change, and only get worse when it comes to commitment and responsibility.
The next indictment against the men of today is the video game culture they carry. I’m not sure if video games are a bad thing in and of themselves, but the culture of gaming is a serious problem. The reason for this is because it has become a constant desire for an escape from reality. Instead of being the men we are called to be, we are enthralled with pretending to be heroes. It’s the works of men without the character or responsibilities required, and its consequences are outrageously destructive. Guys today are constantly dreaming about being somewhere else, anywhere else, always wanting to get away, go on vacation, avoiding responsibilities, not wanting to work, dreaming about quitting their job and just enjoying life without work. Even if we do work, it’s only in order to save enough money so we won’t have to work. We don’t want to work anymore. Work is dreaded, and the escape from our realities is a constant desire. This goes against everything God has designed and created us for. Now I know some of you might be thinking something like, “Geeze, are you saying wanting a vacation is bad?” NO. There is a huge difference from needing a break or using vacation to reset, versus hating work and having the heart posture that detests life while entertaining the thought of, “If only I had a better job (or past, or life, etc) then I wouldn’t have to do this, and I could be happy.” Escape from reality is not what godly men do, it’s what boys do.
So that’s my indictment and case against men today.
So what does God want from us?
God desires for men to be leaders. Leaders are people who encourage others when no one else can. Leaders build up everyone around them, and see the value of pouring themselves out for the benefit of the next guy. Godly men are also providers, not just in monetary means, but in all ways. They provide hope, energy, focus, and help just as much as anything else. Godly men are protectors, too. They are courageous- not fearless, but bold and filled with courage. They overcome their fears, tackling them with
full force. Godly men are guides through life. And just as important (and probably most lacking in men) is that godly men must be affectionate.
When I think of the men who fought in WWII, that is exactly what they did. They led from the front, encouraging each other, building each other, and pouring themselves out for each other. They provided hope, energy, and focus while helping each other to stand, even when they were wounded or exhausted from weeks of fighting. They protected each other. They were surrounded by fears, but never gave in. Their love for each other pushed them forward. After the war, these men were guides for everyone for the next 50 to 70 years. The culture they built was the strongest time in American history. And again, these men were affectionate men. I am reminded of a letter I read of a man who died on D-Day (June 6, 1944), who wrote to his wife, “Soon, I will land in Europe with the greatest group of men ever assembled. Strangely, I am not consumed with fear, although it is definitely with me. No, I instead am consumed with the greatest desire I have ever had to simply hold you in my arms again. I love you always,…” Lt. Meehan is clearly a man I aspire to be like. You can see his courage, leadership qualities, and affections clearly in this short letter. He doesn’t shrink back from his responsibilities. It is heartbreaking to know his boots never hit the ground, as his plane was destroyed and he was one of the first men to die.
It is important for men to pursue righteousness. And I’m not talking about a light, fluffy, idea of righteousness. I know God has made us righteous, but that is no excuse for us to then relax and defend our sins saying, “But God made me righteous! I can’t be unrighteous!” Yes, that is all very true, but at the same time, if you really know and understand what it means to be made righteous by God, you would honor that, becoming the best version of yourself you could possibly be, with the understanding that you are always working towards being MORE. Keep your righteousness practical, with God and man. Obviously, godly men must pursue godliness, but what does that mean? I believe it impossible to be godly without being a true worshipper of God. You must live a life of worship. I’m not talking about singing all the time, or only singing Christian songs, but I am talking about your life. A true worshipper loves God with all they have, not just in word or deed. Love that doesn’t involve sacrifice of some kind is only an emotional idea. Most important, a worshipper of God, a lover of God, a man pursuing godliness MUST destroy all sin around him. Sin cannot be tolerated. No one who calls themselves a true man can tolerate sin in their life, or even around them, especially a man of God. Unfortunately, too many “men of God” don’t just tolerate sin around them, they encourage and allow it.
A godly man must also be a man of faith. I think it goes without saying that a man of faith lives by faith, but even more I’m referring to the fact that godly men are always desperate for a move of God, don’t you agree? Can you imagine a man of God saying, “It’d be nice if God moved and did something awesome, but either way, we will be fine”? It’s utterly ridiculous, and we know it. However, too many men aren’t desperate for God to move. The only move of God they want is to be rescued from this life (which means
they are wanting to be rescued from their responsibilities. A godly man will also LOVE, and by that I referring more to the fact that too many guys today are constantly bickering, impatient, and wanting to fight. That is what children do. Men don’t bicker. The men of WWII didn’t complain when they didn’t agree with what was being done. They knew when to be quiet, just as much as when to speak. When a WWII veteran entered a room, you knew it because they carried a presence that was respected and honored by all. Bickering, complaining, being impatient, and fighting are not what godly men do.
Godly men must be steadfast, never wavering and always able to persevere. They understand their role as men is to lead from the front, not to stand in the back and hide. They are always active, because they know that idleness is a problem. Today, we think these people are crazy, like something is wrong with them. They can’t sit still, always working, always finding something to do. The reality is, our culture has slid so far back from where God wants us that we think this is a bad characteristic, and the reason
why is their lack of idleness bothers us because it convicts us. Godly men are also gentle. I know, I know, gentle isn’t the word you think of when thinking of David and his mighty men, or Paul, or a WWII veteran… But think about it. What does it mean to be gentle? Is gentleness the same as being soft? No. Gentleness is best described as “Strength under control.” Men should be extremely dangerous, able to clear a room, but must have the ability to control themselves. That is what my grandfather had, and so many of the older men I was surrounded by as a child. The presence they carried that we all recognized
was actually their gentleness. They were able to think during trials. They were slow to react, quick to think, slow to speak, quick to listen. They weren’t busting at the seams, ready to explode, and they didn’t need to be treated with kid gloves. They were gentle. We didn’t have to tread lightly around them. Godly men, true men are gentle.
Lastly, and maybe the most profound thing I can pinpoint as a quality of the men God is looking for is that men should Pursue Holiness before preaching holiness. Our lives and actions speak way louder than our words.
It is truly time for us to become the men God desires. This isn’t toxic masculinity. This is godly masculinity. And God is waiting for us… Bless you
There are days when my past haunts me… from the moment I wake up, every regret of my past seemingly
pops up and I cannot seem to shake the memories. The insecurities, regrets, and emotions come back, too.
Am I the only one?
Depending on my mood or even my current circumstances/situations, I react differently. Sometimes, I
react with a thought like, “I’m glad that I’m not that person anymore,” and other times I respond with
feelings of deep shame and condemnation.
Today, as it felt like someone was somehow following me around, reminding me of every terrible things
I’ve ever done, I began to panic a little. I thought to myself, “God, how could you ever choose to use me?
You know all of these things…” It was there, in that moment, I heard a small voice say, “Stop listening to
that. I don’t condemn you. I paid for that.”
The Lord is wanting to bring our past regrets to an end. We have been redeemed by Jesus at great cost.
Colossians 1:13-14 says,
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he
loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
We don’t have to be the sum of our past mistakes and choices. Jesus paid for us to be free, rescuing us
from the darkness we lived in, and He brought us into the light, the Kingdom of the Son. He redeemed us,
He forgave us. Our past should not have a say in what or who we are now. The only past that should have
any say is His past. He died for us to be free.
But sometimes we have these moments in our past that were so powerfully impactful against us that they
prevent us from experiencing the Grace and Love of God, what He has personally done for us, and it feels
like if we would acknowledge God, we would have to somehow pretend our past didn’t happen.
I know your past happened because I know all too well that my past happened. It sometimes feels like if
people knew my past, I would be devoured and destroyed for it. Maybe it’s true. I have seen Christians do
that to other Christians… But I have never seen God do it.
More than that, I believe with all I am that pretending is a terrible thing, and God doesn’t want us to
pretend that everything is great, that our past wasn’t full of darkness. On the contrary, I believe God
wants the darkest parts of our past to linger a little in order for us to realize how amazing His love truly
is. After all, I’ve never seen a diamond put on display with a white background. It’s only when we hold
that diamond on a black, velvet background and shine the purest light on it from above that we can see
the flawless beauty.
We don’t pretend everything is perfect. That’s what the world thinks we do. No. We are all way too well
aware of our pasts, aren’t we? Instead of pretending, God wants us to realize that He loves us more than
the sum of our past, to the point where we realize in the midst of those darkest moments God was right
there with us. He never hid His face in shame. There is no shame (guilt or condemnation) in the Kingdom
of God, anyway (Romans 8:1).
Your darkest days are legitimate. But if we would allow the Love of God to come into our hearts, His love
wouldn’t cover up the wounds. No, He would HEAL our wounds. He would Heal your scars. He doesn’t
erase them, He heals them. We always remember, but more than that, we remember His love supersedes
our sins and past mistakes.
The tragedies of our past become these beautiful moments where we experience God’s love and grace,
and it’s where we get strengthened to help others who haven’t quite learned His love or experienced the
depth of His love and Grace. Those dark moments become places of strength. Yes, there are moments or
days where the haunting realities seem to attack us (I already said God doesn’t erase them), but then we
remember how wonderful God is. The past doesn’t go away. But it does lose its impact over your present
and future, so that you walk freely towards the person He made you to be.
Isn’t it amazing to know this side of God?
So the next time you are reminded of your past, and shame, guilt, or condemnation settle in, don’t beat
yourself up over it. Instead, realize what God has done with you since then. See the difference in who
you’ve become. Look how far you’ve come with Him. Don’t let your past define you.
After all… Jesus paid for your past so you could be His future. Bless you…