Monday, January 11, 2016

Being a Man of Conviction: Who am I? What do I stand for?

Who am I?  What do I stand for?  Today it seems like people have been brainwashed by consumerism.  People don't necessarily have faiths they defend or causes they believe in anymore, they more so have favorite sports teams, favorite movies, and favorite foods.  Young people are obsessed with rappers, pop stars, video games, fancy new products, smart phones, tablets, and funny Youtube videos.  But what about things that really matter?  We have communities around us that are struggling.  We have a crisis of depression and suicide in young people.  We have a crippling national debt.  We have corruption growing in business, culture, academia, and government.  

When will we decide that it's time to take a stand?  Today, right now is our chance.  Now is the time for good men to stand  But how do we go about it?

Assuming I'm looking to start to take a stand on issues, how do I develop my beliefs?  How do I learn, grow, and progress toward goals and causes?  I had to ask myself those questions after years of confusion, addiction, and hedonism in my life.  

Just over three years ago a savior changed my world forever.  Soon I discovered with my new eyes, that I could change the world.  I discovered that I could step up and make a difference.  My pessimism slowly faded away.  But I was left with a conundrum: What should I stand for?  What do I believe?  And what are the practical action steps to become who I ought to be?  And once I recognize who I am, how do I take action?

I'd like to walk you briefly through how I discovered who I am and what I stand for.  I hope these practical actions and areas of inquiry will help you to break free from the matrix of materialism and selfishness, so you can start to make a difference in the world.  Be the change you wish to see in the world, pull your eyes off the television box and the consumerism attitude of "what next to titillate my senses" and instead wake up to the spiritual battle raging all around you.  You can change things, you can make a difference.  Stop believing the cynics, and believe in the power of truth in the world.  

1. Family Heritage - After being freed from slavery to sin by the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ I realized that I'm part of a family.  I had lost touch with my parents, with my sister, with my grandparents, aunts, and uncles and so on.  Part of becoming a man of honor meant connecting with my family.  I asked my Grandpa about our heritage.  I listened to stories of his time in the Korean War.  I learned my family on my mom's side is Polish.  I began to study the history of Poland, from the Protestant wars to the battle of Warsaw during World War II.  I began to take pride in my Polish and Germany heritage.  My heritage slowly and effectively became a part of my own personal identity.  And I draw strength from that heritage. 

2. Country - I'm a citizen of the United States of America.  In the past I used to mock and criticize the United States.  Mainly I did that because all my hip college buddies routinely did the same.  But I began to realize that the United States was my home.  I began to realize that the United States is really an incredible nation, made up of many different peoples from all over the world who believe in personal freedom, religious liberty, free markets, due process, and limited government.  I began to learn more about the USA.  I watched the John Adams miniseries (very historically accurate).  I watched presentations by Dinesh D'Souza on America.  I read several books like Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin and 1776 by David McCullough. I learned about the founding fathers.  I studied the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  I began to realize how amazing the history of the USA is.  

My identity began to grow. I started to take a certain pride in being a citizen of the United States, a Christian nation.  I made American values like liberty, justice, personal responsibility, and free speech part of my own identity.

3. State - I was born and raised in Central Wisconsin.  This part of the state is beautiful.  It's also very cold.  The area is made up of mainly Polish, German, and Asian immigrants.  I grew up being out in the woods almost everyday.  I grew up 3-wheeling, fishing, hiking, and snowmobiling.  I began to integrate my local heritage into my identity.  I'm a Packer fan and a Badger fan.  I'm a strong north-woodsmen who can endure harsh winters.  I'm part of a state with a rich political and social history. 

4. Heroes - Who do I admire?  What people in history or in present times inspire me?  For me, I read a lot of biographies and I watched evangelical leaders.  I watched political speeches and debates.  I began to admire people like Ravi Zacharias, Ron Paul, George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and many others.  I read their works, listened to their speeches, and began to develop my character based on many of their beliefs and visions for the world.  I encourage you to do the same.

5. The Bible - These categories are not in any order.  If they were, the Bible would be listed first.  Ultimately the Bible, God's word tells me who I am.  In Jesus Christ I learn everything there is to know about my identity.  My identity as a "Christian" represents 100% of who I am.  My family, country, state, and heroes are all interpreted through the lenses of my Christian identity.  

The Bible tells me a great deal about who I am as a man.  The scriptures tell me that I'm not a randomly evolved goo-man.  Instead I'm a being who is designed, by God, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  For those of us who belong to Jesus Christ, we have wonderful promises.  We have a rock solid identity that can't be crushed.  1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) says "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."The Bible tells me I have a redeemer named Jesus Christ.  The Bible tells me I have a destiny.  The Bible tells me I'm meant to stand for goodness, righteousness and justice in the world.  The Bible tells me I need to love others.  The Bible tells me I'm a warrior of God, meant to stand for the light in the darkness of this world by donning my spiritual armor.  

Now that I understand more about who I am as a man, next I have to ask myself: What do I stand for?  When I take a stand on issues it will usually involve looking at my core values, my convictions, then through those values moving toward political action and christian action that I feel a passion for.  I have to look at my convictions and where those convictions draw my desire to serve.

1. Core Convictions - What are my convictions?  What am I willing to stand for?  What if necessary am I willing to die for?  Martin Luther King Jr. said you aren't really a man until you've found what you're willing to die for.  I think he's right.  Would you step in front of a bullet to protect your girlfriend?  If you recall the shooting at the movie theater a few years ago, a terrible tragedy; but the silver lining around that tragedy is that three guys stepped in front of their girlfriends to protect them from the flying bullets!  Chivalry isn't dead, it's just been forced from the mainstream.  It still exists, but now only as a resistance movement.  

From all my core convictions come my political, social, and Christian action.  I test all my decisions by my core convictions, which are all based on my Christian worldview.  It's my conviction that people should be treated with dignity.  It's my conviction that I ought to love others.  It's my conviction that I ought to forgive others.  It's my conviction that I need to stand against abortion, gay marriage, political corruption, and many other injustices.  It's my conviction that Jesus Christ is God, and my life needs to be a reflection of his purposes.  It's my conviction that I would rather die then turn against my savior Jesus Christ.

2. Political Action - "I don't do politics" is not an acceptable attitude in our case.  You have to do politics.  Why?  Because you need to stand for something in a world full of men that stand for nothing but alcohol, parties, bars, and sex.  The world needs you, and it needs you in the realm of politics desperately.  If good men refuse to participate, then we're screwed.  I'm a firm Christian conservative, and I believe in the Constitution of the United States.  Get involved with your local political party.  Get involved with an action organization like The Heritage Foundation, the Tea Party, Students for Liberty, or a dozen other political movements.  Get involved, participate on social media, in person, and stay active.  The world of politics is starving for good men who will stick to their guns (stick to their principles).  

3. Christian Action - Be a Christian in more than words, but in actions.  The churches in the U.S.A. are 60% women and only 40% men.  It's your lucky day single guys coming into the church.  But all kidding aside, the body of Christ needs men.  Men are suppose to be the leaders of the household. Men of honor are needed in ministry, to serve those in need.  Here are some suggestions for getting involved in Christian Action: 
a) Start a Christian blog and/or share your faith regularly on Facebook and Twitter.  This is the easiest way to start getting active.  Pray for willingness, and pray for zeal for the lost.  Use your creativity and your skills to stand for the cause of Christ.
b) Volunteer 1-5 hours a week at your local hospital, nursing home, food pantry, or charity (like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul.)
c) Join ministries at your local church and serve regularly.  Or join a small group at your church.
d) Share your faith at your work place.  Yes, you heard me right. Do it!
e) Share your faith with your family and friends.  Engage in morning devotionals with your wife and/or children.  Make Christian rituals a part of your holiday celebrations.
f) Participate with Christian causes like Abolish Human Abortion, Alliance defending Freedom, Liberty Institute, the Friedman Foundation, Discovery Institute, Value Voters Summit, Students for Life, Compassion International, and others.

Being a man of honor in a troubled world means knowing who you are and what you stand for.  Being a man of honor means being unshakable in your convictions, and dogged in your action.  Please take a stand, because as Mark Driscoll said,"Godly men are an endangered species."  It's true.  We are in desperate need of Godly men.  And of course godly women too!  Please be the change, today.  Let's do it and let's do it together.  

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