Friday, October 3

Authentic pursuit of manhood

"Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it -he will be blessed in what he does." James 1:22-25

With many different translations, theological writings, scholarly papers, and a host of 'easy of use' tape/CDs/DVDs; reading the Bible is one of the easiest things in the Christian's life to do. And the one thing most neglected. Even I struggle at times to read the Scriptures and the message of hope, the stories of fallen, broken, and sinful men becoming the torchbearers for a gracious and merciful God.

When I attended the weekly Men's group at The River's college street campus, that was one of many of the men's issues with John Eldridge's book which is the course of study, "Wild At Heart". Some didn't have time to read, with schedules and distances that rival my own, and children that are the mortar that fills in the remaining gaps. Some have struggled with the hyperboles, and the antetoces that Eldridge relies heavily upon in his first chapter.

I struggled with the comment in the introduction where Eldridge talks of "permission." A brother in Christ in the group helped me with the possible reasoning behind the word, that Eldridge was saying that men needed to give permission to themselves to be men.

I have seen this series of verses before, maybe even written about it. But, like has happened in the past, several of the devotions I recieve each day just seemed to come together to paint a coherant and loud speaking thought that is God's way (it seems to me) of telling me....Hey, listen up. I've something to say that I want you to chew on.

I started writing about Palin, thinking "gee, with the debate performance, we'll have to extend some grace her way now." But it didn't feel right, going in that direction. I tried writing about McCain and why I felt I wasn't going to vote for him either (a change has happened in the process of researching the man--even among liberal websites), but neither did that have the familiar "AH....this is God's direction" feel to it. So, as I often do in those situations, I just started writing.

I can understand Eldridge's thinking, with a new book out "Walking with God", and why a member of his 'team' would write a comment to my post about the first chapter of the book which seem to be nothing more than a 'sales pitch.' And I appreciated the comment that apparently his group liked my post about his book, but......

It wasn't my intention to sell a book that has already sold over 2 million copies (proudly displayed on the cover of the book itself). Though Eldridge speaks to a matter that is near and dear to my heart, the proper rediscovery and intentional pursuit of 'manhood' as designed and intended by the Creator Himself, I don't think he has the 'corner market' on the whole concept. In fact, Eldridge speaks to what I consider to be the cultural man; an athletic, outdoorsy type who hunts, fishes, and tinkers in automotive pursuits of power and speed.

A man I am nothing about. So, while he speaks a great language and has a high sense of development of the idea of manhood by Godly design....there is a lack of appeal to his form of the message.

Men may need 'permission' to be men; even the manly type of the outdoorsy, wilderness mountain man but men need to understand the idea behind what manhood is. A movement in chaos and destruction deliberately with the intention of protecting beauty and order in the just and righteous use of God-given power. Not to continue the humanistic pattern of destructive use, rather by the intentional service, edification, and adolation of those who men interact with. Maybe the feeling of 'not having permission' is why so many men have impaled themselves on the destructive and dangerous attitude of forced manhood; being against the grain of what society says a man is and what God intended man to be---living a life in the middle, where the use of their power is destroying the very things they were meant to protect, grow, and enjoy.

Men need to be in the Word, not as a casual reader...a 'weekend warrior' (not disrespect intended to my brethren National Guard)...but in an intense and personal pursuit of God.

"We are often ungrateful and even more often selfish and weak. When you truly start seeking for a deep faith you will begin to see the length, depth and breadth of His love and you will find the courage to stand firm in the face of adversity." Carolyn Baker reflects in her devotional from, "You will become a person of integrity that cannot be shaken and He will use You in a way You have not even begun to imagine. It’s worth it to pay the price necessary to fully surrender your heart, mind and spirit to His control - the alternative is to continue wandering in circles of your own making."

We have been wandering in circles for years, and the reaping of the generations of broken, lied to, and destructive improper use of a man's power has given rise to a broken, immoral society who has unjustly imposed an humanistic and feministic limitation on all men because of the injustice of a few men. We, as men, can spend our time crying over the 'spilled milk' of the application of an attempt to correct, in a human way, the imbalance that men themselves imposed upon others. Women are equals, partners in this journey and only want to be included, and valued as such 'helpmates'. The one thing I've heard that 'best' explains what the 'submission' clause of Ephesians means...."a equal and intelligent person voluntarily placing themselves under the authority of another."

Yet, society has claimed that such 'submission' degrades and misaligns women. And, because men haven't stood up and declared the biblical design for THEIR lives, countless generations of women have been forced to become what they are not, dealing with feminized men, and generations lie broken, confused, gender lost, and angry. The rise of the lesbian, gay, transgender, and sexually abused people is in direct proportion to the mislabeling, misdirecting, and silence of men.

Harsh, true.

You may not agree with me. There are plenty of men that are outwardly strong, financially stable, and engaged with other men in friendly relationships. There is nothing outwardly wrong with any of these men, yet most would admit to a quiet fear that permeates their being. They are 'good' husbands, fathers, and friends...helping their buddies work on their homes and cars, watching the football games, and being involved in some form within the communities of their church. Yet, something is missing.

It is the deeper relationship with God, something that men will never truly fully experience, that is missing. Many of these 'strong, financially independent, and healthy' men are struggling with past wounds and losses that further excabate themselves in their struggle with a personal relationship with the Creator. The logic of a need for a Savior has been seen, understood, and declared and the salvation is obtained. But, beyond that, there is nothing growing...beyond a widening disconnect between what the Bible says men are and what society still declares to be 'true.'

We understand, as men, that sometimes the world isn't fair and although we feel entitled to some fair treatment, we don't understand why there is nothing forthcoming from the very people we serve; our wives, our children, and our friends. Why, if we are good men....are we still struggling with a personal, deep relationship with God?

We are afraid of further abuses; of more 'feminization' because of a pursuit and dealing with such woundedness and gentliness. We keep our male friends at a distance because we don't want to 'act like women.' The problem isn't having an indepth and personal relationship, it is being personally invovled and intimate with other men; so involved with them that you can tell when accountability is required, grace is sufficent, and mercy is always revelent in expressing the love of the Heavenly Father to a beloved son. In a way, we want what we feel is fair, and we miss out on the deeper understanding of grace, by which we were saved.

"Fair is about what is due me, either by my merit or another's obligation. Grace, on the other hand, is not about what I deserve; it's about what I need. And what I need, what I really need, I have no rightful claim to, nor can I earn; it is a gift I can either accept or reject." Regis Nicoll, Centurion of Prison Fellowship Ministries Wilberforce Forum, says in his thinking Christianly post "Irksome Grace."

"We imagine grace as a heavenly life-line that follows a "grace-plus-works-equals-eternal life" formula, such that the further we ascend the spiritual escalator by our own effort, the shorter the line God needs to cut us." Nicoll continues, "Against that notion Paul wrote, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." And if that doesn't settle the matter, Paul wrote elsewhere that if God's favor could be earned by human effort, "Christ died for nothing.""

We want to move under our own power, either real or perceived. We want to serve, as we want to serve, and not in ways that force us to reach into uncomfortable areas. We want fairness between the sexes, between our friends, and from our families. We reject grace as a one-time thing, We 'once were lost, but now am found' and 'blind but now we see.' We forget the part of grace, that teaches our hearts to fear and is, in itself, the agent of the relief from that fear. And, it is that very grace that is leading us home.

As Nicoll said, that grace is nothing we were entitled to, deserving of, and is unearnable through any human means. And it is grace that enables us to return to a godly manhood, and defend in righteousness born of the Holy Spirit that to which men have been neglectful for far too long. It is grace that brings us into painful, uncomfortable and undesirable (at least at first) relationships with other men on the same journey and makes this Proverb mean something real....

"Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend's counsel that comes from the heart." Proverbs 27:9 (Amplified Bible)

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that; "You are not your own; you were bought at a price” and that price was the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, where He exchanged His perfect life for our sin and made us new creations in Him" The price paid wasn't so that we could live according to our own desires, claiming power and authority through an attained kinship to Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior.

Our lives belong to God, and through such, the body of Christ and should be used in the pursuit of willingly giving our own sinful, selfish, and human desires up for the sake of the Kingdom, others, and the eventual achievement of eternal joy. Releasing our lives, clinging to Christ instead of it, frees us from improper movement into the chaos we were designed to move in.

Movement by design, free from the fear and crushing abuse of power, as God designed. We aren't to use our freedom to pursue selfish gains, but rather to forego our comforts to reach out in love to God and through His understanding, the hearts of men, women, and children that come into our lives.

We live in intimate relationships with each; not using the cultural justification to be in sinful use of power. But, to edify, hold accountable, and to serve others to walk and endeavour to hold the goodness of things clearly stated in the Bible as good and to ahbor the things it shows as evil. Men aren't called to continue living by the American standard of 'what is good must be good,' but to hold our use of power to the standards to which God set forth in His Word.

A man truly in pursuit of God, living the experience and moving in the authority given to him in the proper use of his power, becomes a clear and shining beacon in the world of confused gender, immoral sexuality, and broken generations. A man who moves in this way finds happiness is an emotion that is fleeting at best, and easily overwhelmed at worst. He learns that joy, born of the Holy Spirit, is the source of spiritual contentment and a pleasure that is eternal.

And it is that joy that helps him move in choas and destruction in a reclaiming, restoring, and uplifting manner to return beauty and order to the broken creation. It is that journey that a man partakes upon, under godly manhood, that enables him to mentor the younger generation to true manhood, inspiring those who have been accepted into the brotherhood of men and wish to journey on the quest to which God calls them through the encouragement of 'You are God's beloved son, you can DO THIS!"

It is those mentored knights, in their quests, that identify and encourage those younger warriors in the justified and god-honoring use of power, teaching the codes of honor and service.

And it is those warriors who train under the watchful gaze of those pages who watch the representation of justified and honoring god-given manly power.

The call to move in the wilderness, holding the beauty and order, is not a journey we were meant to do alone, to do blinded by a society who has forgotten how to raise man. It is not one that we will do perfectly, because our bodies are of flesh and we will always battle the flesh. We were meant to do this journey in the company of men, in fellowship of brotherhood, and under the intimate authority of God.

If we want a intimate relationship with God, we have to have intimate relationship with men, women, and children; family and friends, that allows us to correctly use our power under the nurturing of women to project to the generations up and coming how to move manly and womanly into the world and live according to God's design.
It isn't based on fairness, it is based on grace. When a man realizes grace and its power, he realizes the high cost paid and what his responsibility is.

"I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought." Galatians 2:21(ASV)

To move in grace into the lives of other broken, sinful men and bring them through the glory and power given us through the Holy Spirit to restoration and intimate relationship with God.

This can only be done if you are personally invested and deeply into another man's life. It is through that journey that we return manhood to a righteous and God-honoring design as it was intended and save the generations lost.

(Note: I would highly recommend reading Regis Nicoll's postings. You can sign up for them free via email @

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