Thursday, September 11, 2014

Be a Man

I'd like to address the topic of what it means to "be a man" in society today.  It's hard to know today, just what being a man means!  I see a consumer culture out there, lots of places to spend money, plenty of jobs to be worked, but was there ever something more than all that?  Are there objective mannerisms for the creature of the male gender they call "man"?  

Well, let's see.  A man is a hard worker.  That's a good one.  A man is a father if he has children.  But he may choose not to.  And if he wants to be a mother, well "tolerance."  And if his wife wants to be the father, well, more "tolerance."  You see how it starts to get confusing when we ask the world around us what it means to be a man?  It gets very confusing very quickly.  What's really at the core of the drives within the male creature according to the world around us?

Sex.  Sex right?  Lots of sex.  Sex is god for the post-modern man!  And money.  Lots of money, the god of money of course as well.  Toys too.  Car, truck, boat, van, guns, power and the powerful strength of the man.  The third god, self satisfaction rooted in self deification.  And the three make up a disturbing little trinity for the man of today.

That's some of it.  What about men my age?  21-35?  Well, college of course.  Debt, and more debt.  Girls, girls, girls.  Maybe guys too?  Tolerance. 

And we like to pretend we're immortal.  Death?  I've never heard of that.  I think it's something little people do. I was once immortal in my own mind.  

Rap music, parties, bars and drinking, an open mind toward experimenting and a closed mind toward values of any kind.  Today I see so many men that have no idea how to be men.  Really, they're boys.  Just beneath an exterior of arrogant sarcasm and judgement is a lot of confusion, sadness, and fear.  

We're interested in.. what?  Trucks, cars, motor parts?  Live music?  Beer bashes?  Bieber worship?  The passion of Kanye West?  Pills and playing tough?  Gang banging?  Social media obsession?  Party life?  Raves?  Techno trance scene?  World of Warcraft day and night?  Shows?  Heavy metal?  Mudding?  Twerking?  NFL, NHL, NBA, NCAA?   

Chronic masturbation as well.  Lots of that.  Internet.  Lots of screens, computer screen, cell phone screen, tablet screen, car DVD player screen, mp3 player screen, plugs in the ears, nose and mouth and now we're not far from a chip in the right arm, or maybe forehead.  

 All of these things.. just so much stuff!  Is there a definition of what it means to be a man somewhere in there?  No, I don't think so.  Just a lot of taking dressed up as rewards and fun.  A lot of things being sold to me and you as satisfaction in life, but really what's being done here is a bait and switch.  

Ten thousand different companies, groups, sellers, advertisers all asking for your money in exchange for what they say is wealth, fun, satisfaction, appeal, power, and stature.  But once the money is out of your hand, and the product is in, it's like a Trojan horse.  Out of the product comes addiction, obsession, and hidden underneath, vast disappointment.  Unquenchable disappointment I remember so often.  Being so excited for Christmas morning, for birthday gifts, for the next drug, the next party, the girl I really liked, the Xbox, the Playstation, the new car, and always, every time, disappointment once having it. 

Who talks about values, morals, and truth in all this?  Nobody!  There are just no outlets that can speak through all the noise!  Between television, the internet, college campus, bars, parties, and work hours, there is no time left.  There is so much to do there is nothing of value done!  

But there are some people talking about morals, values, and truth.  Thank God for those heroes of mine.  Heroes like you.  And that my friend, is what it is to be a man today.  It's to be a hero.  Because we're fresh out of heroes.  No one is stepping up.  Too many are asleep.  You're the man.  And if you won't be a man, there are not ten others to stand up and be the man for you.  Just you.  Today.  Make a choice.  You've always got the choice.  

Let all the noise fade away.  Let all the addictions, desires, stresses, fears, worries, and obsessions drift off.  What does it really mean to be a man?  

Let me tell a bit about what I believe and know it means to be a man.  

The Bible provides the objective truth I need to learn how to be a man.  Atheists and agnostics can talk about morals and values all they want, but often on inspection those lives are found to be hedonistic and depraved.    Of course the great terror is apathy.  It's not that any man or woman is necessarily a staunch atheist or agnostic, it's that they just don't care.  Apathy is the illness of this age.

So here is the plan, the formula, some pieces of the puzzle that weave into the fabric of what "being a man" means.  

You could really pull truth from so many chapters, sections, and verses of the Bible to discover these truth statements, but these are some that seem to speak really well on the truth.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14  Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.  

Men are watchers, guards, defenders of the faith.  They defend their families, they defend their countries, and they defend the truth.  Men care for their families, their parents, their children, their wives financially, and emotionally.  Many might do verse 13 but fail to do verse 14: do it all in love.  That's the tough one for a lot of guys.  Then there are other guys who are great lovers, but have a hard time acting like men and being strong.  They get the bad rap in our society, but the idiots who do everything without any love are just as bad, if not worse.  

Men are watchers, they observe the times and politics and issues of the day, and take a stand for their country politically, socially, and spiritually whenever need be.  

Men are faithful.  They're faithful to their God, their wife, and their families.  They provide for their families (1 Timothy 5:8).

Psalm 119:9-16 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 

Men, especially young men are being pulled in a thousand different directions.  In general young men seem guided by their own appetites and nothing more.  That is not the way of the man of God.  Guard yourself.  Once again the language of a soldier, a watchman, a defender.  There have never been so many delicious enticements screaming from every corner of the culture.  Begin to weed out those negative influences and fill them with positive ones.  Me personally, I no longer have a television.  The furniture in my living room is no longer all pointed directly at the giant screen.  Instead it's arranged in a fellowship circle, with two bookshelves along the sides.  Television is an endless assault of pushing want, buy this, buy that, you're hungry for this, if you drink this you'll get this woman, sex, sex, sex, if you think that's not affecting your hungers, you're a fool.  Magazines, music, advertisements, venues, people, what weeds need to be pulled in your life?

1 Timothy 6:11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 

Continuing on, for a man of God, his pursuits are vital to his health and power and ability to lead and stand against tyranny.  Prescription medications for anxiety, depression, sleep, pain?  Alcohol, beer, cigarettes?  What am I in pursuit of?  What are my goals?  There is always another day ahead to begin changing all my pursuits from foolishness, to the most vital things in life, faith, love, godliness, righteousness.  Keep in mind, what am I going after?  

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. 

Real men love Jesus, and they have friends who love Jesus.  And those friends who love Jesus function as iron sharpening the man to become a better weapon for truth.  

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 

At some point it is time to stop being a boy, and start being a man.  I was able to tell myself I was just being young from about age 17 to 22.  But once I turned 23,24,25, I realized I was just being a man-boy idiot.  I was a joke.  Thank God for Jesus Christ and the Bible, helping me to become a real man.

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 

There will be friends of yours, as they see you changing, becoming a real man, serving God and caring for those you love who will brutally mock you, ridicule you, and just straight up laugh in your face.  That's because they are man-boys, and your attempts to grow and change are making them feel guilty about being so pathetic.  Don't let them dissuade you.  Tell them to grow up, invite them on the path with you, maybe they'll join you, maybe you'll have to tell them to get lost.  

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? 

Do justice.  Be kind.  Walk humbly.  Incredibly amazing advice from the book of Micah.  We all love justice.  I know I love it.  My name "Justin" means "justice."  It's a word I love.  It means people are treated fairly, they aren't unjustly abused or let off entirely.  Justice is done.  Be kind, very simple.  Be nice to people.  Is that tough or something?  But definitely be real at the same time.  Walk humbly is a keystone, it's vital.  If I start to get all proud and prideful I'm in trouble.  I've gotta stay humble or I may lose all I've gained.  

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way

Don't worry when you don't know what to do next:  God has your back.  He'll help you out, and he knows your future.  

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” 

And one last life verse, be strong and courageous!  Real men are strong and courageous people of faith.  Do not be afraid, don't dread anyone or anything.  God is with you.  Now go, mighty men, and be heroes in this age.  Because we're in desperate need of real men today.  Amen.

“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”  -Judges 6:12