Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just Be A Man

Hello readers. Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

Male insecurity---DUM dum dummm-- I will say is possibly one of the deadliest issues men have to deal with.  This problem is consistently seen throughout all the motives of men.  If you've read my Male Dilemma blog, I've somewhat touched on this subject.  But this blog will be from a different angle. 

God's been dealing with my heart lately on the question, What am I really after?  In my pursuit in growing as a leader at my church and as a man, I've been asking myself what am I really after?  To answer this, I've had to really weigh my heart to be sure I am pursuing godliness and holiness for the sake of possessing it, and not for the sake of popularity and influence in the church.  This is why, I believe that the new age pastor has become the new star quarterback in high school.  Let me explain. 

So, since I've been in the "ministry world", I've noticed this common pursuit of people wanting to be pastors, or they're wanting to be the main guy speaking on stage or have this great influence, but my question is starting to be this, "Do people really know what they're asking for?" 

What I fear is happening is that the pastor is becoming a coveted position in the church.  Men are seeing these guys with great popularity and influence, and they want it.  It's a "honorable" pursuit, because instead of wanting to be the star football player, we want to be a pastor and change the world--so we say.  But deep down we're only looking for our own glory----all because of a male insecurities. 

Here's the dilemma.  Men are still looking for their worth in their popularity and influence rather than in their Creator.  My worth should not be attached to my role at Church of the Highlands, but instead to the fact that I am a son of the living God. Honestly.... to that alone.  And it burdens me when I see men finding their worth in their jobs, in their talents, in their roles on their football teams---- because all of those things are fleeting.  We shouldn't be finding our identities in fleeting things.  Do we ever build things on quick sand?  Or do we prefer to build on solid rock? Can I sum this thing up?

A lot of men look at guys like John MacArthur, or John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Chris Hodges, Steven Furtick, or whoever we idolize in the Christian world, and we want to be like them.  But I guarantee you that many of them will not want to do what it's taking to be guys like them.  Like no one is willing to study how these guys study.  Timeless hours of devotion and dedication to the scriptures. I can sum up this entire blog in this one phrase,

Don't try to be like men of God, BE men of God. Men, let's stop coveting leaders and be leaders.  You don't have to have the influence of these men to feel important. Know that you're a a son of a Holy God.  If you don't understand the weight of that, I beg you to begin to read your word and I pray that the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to you what your Father is saying to you. 

As a leader in my church, I'll admit it feels good to be considered that.  It can easily stroke my ego from time to time.  But when the behind the scenes reality hits me, the men that are in it for the right reasons are discovered.  When the purifying fire begins to burn away those strokes of the ego----in times like when I'm stressed out when 20 extra people shows up for Motion Night unannounced, or the times when I have to go into battle for the students, or the times when I have to address an angry parent, or the times when I have to make an announcement that is bound to cause hysteria------when all the glory falls away, does the man stand? I promise you, in those moments, my ego is not being stroked. 

Guys.  Please hear me.  Let's be willing to do what it takes to be these leaders.  I'm not doubting your calling to be a pastor or whatever.  All I'm saying is be in it for the right reasons.  Let's become these men of influence.  It's a great thing to want the influence, but BE the man of God in the influence.  It's a great thing to want the popularity, but know that once you get it, your walk is no longer just about you, it's about whoever you've impressed with your words of encouragement or the message you've preached.  When you walk up on that stage that you so desperately want to be on, know that the people listening to you is counting on you to be real about what you're saying. 

Before I spoke at our college ministry this past spring, my good friend Jonathan said this statement to me.  "You do know that once you get up on that stage, you have the influence of 600+ people.  It's no longer just the 25 students you've been pouring into, but now, it changes.  And it changes immediately." 

And what was shocking about that statement was that I hadn't even thought about it.  I was so excited to preach that I didn't think of what happens in the hearts of everyone listening in the audience. 

So, men, what I'm saying.  If you want the popularity, BE ready for the influence.  I remember hearing a rapper being blamed of being a reasons in the decay of the urban culture, and his response was, "I didn't start rapping to become anybody's role model."  Well sir, you settled for the half truth of wanting to be that glorified rapper.  You wanted the glory of being a rapper, but you didn't want the responsibility of the influence.  Men, don't want the glory of wanting to be like a man of God and don't want the responsibility of the influence.  LET'S BE MEN OF GOD, and take responsibility of the influence and change the world. 

Just BE a man. 

Oh, and a side note.  Men, you were divinely given great influence by the design order set in place by God.  So...might as well take the responsibility. 

So yeah, this isn't even optional. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Women Say No To Modesty?

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

Haha.  I love having this talk with women.  It's so controversial.  So edgy.  So.....entertaining to watch them deny truth---almost as if I were the one that was asking women to dress modestly. 

This is why I laugh. 

Getting mad at the messenger has never changed the standard.  But however, ladies, don't fret.  This blog isn't really about me explaining why I think you all say no to modesty----but I do know why you do.  Want to know how I know?  Because I'm human.  And because I'm a man with a sinful heart who desires his comfort and his own way over God's.  So ladies, I'll be explaining that.  I'll leave you to compare afterwards.  

So, as men, God is calling us to do a lot of things that culturally are not asked of men.  Culture laughs at incompetent men on TV sitcoms. The lack of fathers being present to raise their families is not a dominating sight anymore.  It's easy for a man to demand a divorce from his wife.  It's become so easy for us to satisfy ourselves sexually.  A cultural definition of success is found in how much we've accumulated, not in our ability to lead.  Our worth is being found in our jobs, not in the identity of being sons of God.  The world worships men of greatness, which is being defined by how high you can jump or how fast you run or how well you can catch a football or what kind of car you drive, how much money you have-----------cultural greatness. 

So, culturally, and the majority of men around us are finding their values and planting their lives and pursuits in these areas and God is asking us to go against the grain?  God is asking us to be different from all the other?  

So God, you mean to tell me that even though our culture laughs and mocks and dishonors authority, you want us to lead in our families and in our churches?  So God, you mean to tell me that men all over the world are seen as jokes for being a father, but you want me to actually love and care for my children? To provide more than financially but also spiritually and emotionally?  So God, you mean to tell me that even though my wife is driving me crazy, you want me to love her how you loved the church? To love and serve her? To forgive and die for her? Even though I know other guys who easily got out of their marriages and are extremely happy?  You mean to tell me that you'd rather me flee sexual immorality, even though pornography and brothels and hookers are right in front of me, and so easily accessible, and can easily satisfy my sexual "needs".  Even though I know tons of guys doing it? So God, you mean to tell me that I should pursue biblical manhood, even though it is not praised at all in our culture?  A football player can walk into our church and he's awed and amazed at, and what I’m trying to do is not even praised and mentioned? And you want me to pursue that?  You want me to pursue being faithful to your Word and ignore the words of the culture? God, are you not seeing that all of your standards are against what the world is telling me I should be? 

And God says, “Yes My Son.  Be holy, because I am holy”.  1 Peter 1:16 

Let me say this, I am not writing this blog to plead with women to focus on modesty because we can't control ourselves.  The truth of the matter is, women can walk around naked and God will still hold us to the standard of honoring them and this one, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt. 5:28". But what I am more so doing is calling for the hearts of women to repent and turn to God's standard of modesty.  There's beauty attached to modesty.  Again, not on a worldly standard, but of a godly standard.  And I'll even admit this, it's taken me a few years to have God open my eyes to the beauty of His standard for women.  Just like many of us, I was trained and programmed that beauty was a tight body and a pretty face.  Up until I gained a few friends who have a beautiful attention to modesty, and it took me interacting with them and seeing this amazing glow that comes from them when God first let me see it. Up until that time, a woman dressed in tight pants and a low cut shirt was still attractive, and now, a woman with a sweet attention to modesty, I honor and praise as much as I can.  Because what I see from a woman with this focus, she's speaking loudly to me this phrase,

"Brother, be holy, for your Father is holy."

Thanks for your encouragement friends. 

I feel the need to say this.  Don’t run out and be legalistic about this. Always remember this, disobedience to God exposes heart issues.  He’s desiring your heart for Him more than your obedience. 

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  John 14:23

So, why do women say no to modesty? 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

There's Still Jesus

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

Since becoming a campus youth leader and being concerned about the youth at our church as a whole, I've quickly learned something----- there's no way I can be everything for everybody. 

I've heard pastors and listened to sermons and heard people who have critically bashed church leaders of large congregations, claiming that they're unable to properly and effectively pastor everyone in their big church.  And now, with the vantage point I have now, I pretty much chuckle at the criticism because sadly, I've found it hard to pastor a little over just 30 students.  For example, I could have to address a text from a student asking about the balance of living in freedom and willingly and fearfully submitting to God, a student opening up about parental issues, a student dealing with depression, a student dealing with boy problems, a student dealing with family problems, also while being responsible to communicate vision to new leaders, continue to serve current leaders, dream up new vision, implement new changes, prepare material, respond to emails, meet parents, problem resolutions, work full time, my own devotional, my own family problems, my own relational baggage, studying scripture, growing in my walk.........


Can we all agree that ALL these things deserves 100% attention?  All these things deserve 100% intentionality and effort in pursuing and is it possible for one person to do? 

Now, if the inadequacy of this being done consistently and well of a man is on himself, I will glady accept that.  When appointed the position I reminded God time and time again that I couldn't get it done, and His grace beautifully and continues to remind me that I can not do it without His assistance and reverent power and grace anyway.  So I quickly remind myself time and time again that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has empowered me enough only by itself, nothing within myself but of what's been given to me because of it, so all of this is able to be done because Jesus is overall the head of the church.  So my focus is to continue to build ALL and EVERYTHING on Jesus so that when my human abilities fails myself and the students, there's still Jesus.

Notice I said, when I fail them----- there's still Jesus.

When I fail, there's still Jesus.  When we fail, there's still Jesus. 

I love my church, Church of the Highlands, because they put such a focus on small groups.  VERY risky methodology.  It's risky because you're basically putting the health of the people God is going to hold you accountable for into their own hands, and asking them to be the church.  You're asking them to be pastors for one another.  The person that's dealing with deep theological questions needs someone to walk through it with him, to dig and study with him.  The person dealing with depression needs consistent love and attention, a friend, a best friend.  The person dealing with family issues needs a new family, a breath of fresh air from people who treat them right and love them unconditionally.  The person dealing with relational issues needs accountability-----all these things ONE MAN cannot do for everybody. 

So the people must become the church.  The people become each others pastors.  And strangely, that's what I see in the early church in Acts is people spreading and sharing the gospel.  Not just showing up to listen to a pastor speak, but the gospel becomes an active part of the lives of the people in the church.  So just as the pastor proclaims the gospel, so should we with each other.  And even when small groups and our friends fail us----

There's still Jesus.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Emmanuel is Lord

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

This isn't a Christmas blog. Lol.  But I do want us to look into the name Immanuel, which means God with us---and let's investigate what that means?
Let's begin with some scripture. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

So, God in His glory, in His holiness, in His perfection, became a man so that we might become the righteousness of Himself. 

Lol. I could seriously end the blog here.  But let's unpack that. 

This is what burdens me about people who has a distaste for Christ.  I feel that they have heard something incorrectly or have experienced something that was associated with Christ but was misrepresented and have turned away from Him.  Because naturally, I'm pretty sure every human is drawn to sacrificial love.  I'm pretty sure every human is drawn to someone doing something nice for someone else.  Never will you see someone giving food to a homeless person and another person rebuking them for doing such a nice and thoughtful thing.  Or when someone out of their own will power decides to help you with something that you didn't not want to do yourself---I'm pretty sure that gesture would move your heart. 

So this is God's love for us, bottled up in that one verse.  That God, who's very nature is holy and separated from anything evil, from anything sinful, entered into the filth-----for you. 

God with us. 

So, if God is willing to go to that extremity to set things right between us and Himself, which first of all flexes His power and His Lordship over everything to be able to do what He wants.  In Ephesians, it reads that God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5. 

So He took pleasure in makes things right.  He took pleasure in stepping into our helpless situation to rescue us.  This further's my confidence that He's always with us---because He's already proven He can be.

I recently read this article about this redeemed bank robber and former prison inmate, and he says that surely Jesus was always with him.  He is able to testify that because he has weighed the truth that grace was so quickly to come upon him when He seeked for it.  He didn't have to work up towards it, it was ready when he became ready to recieve it from Jesus----because He's with us. 

It's easy for us to dismiss that thought because Jesus proclaims and commands to be Lord in our lives.  So we visualize a C.E.O of a company, yes he's a nice boss but we never see him.  Yes we wants us to be proud of our company, but we never see him.   Even when we call God, "The Big Man Upstairs," as if illustrating that God is on the thirty second floor and we're on the first floor.  So the gospel tells us that Jesus is with us.  Instead of being on the top floor, He's sitting in the cubicle-- with us.  He's mopping up the bathroom --- with us.  He's handling the rude customers at the customer service---with us.  He's delivering mail--with us.  He's backing in the delivery truck--with us.  He's WITH US. 

Our Lord, who asks us to submit to Him fully with child-like faith, is with us.  He's not an overbearing presence of authority, but a slow to anger compassionate Father with soverign authority to rule it all---and that is what we have with us.