The Struggle to Love

As I turn from my sins and turn closer to God, I see just how evil I truly am. I slowly see the darkness of my own heart and how much I suck at what once seemed simple.

Like love.

I don’t mean the love I show for God or even my wife and daughter.

It is my love for my fellow man and those I spend my time with.

Continue reading “The Struggle to Love”

Are You Sharing Your Load?

“‘Come to me, all of you who are weary…'” – Matthew 11:28a

We are surrounded by the rush of life. We wake up in the morning, and the first thing most of us do is check our phones to see if we missed any texts or if there are any e-mails that require our attention. We’re not even fully awake before we send our first e-mail to our boss or a client or friend.

We scroll through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, catching up on our favorite gossip, seeing what our favorite celebrities are up to, wondering what stupid things our friends did last night while we were at home sleeping.

Life hits us before our feet ever hit the floor.

As a result, we are exhausted. We complain that we can’t sleep right, that we can never seem to rest or relax.

We try yoga and meditation and a lot of other relaxation techniques, but nothing works.

How do we rest? What are we supposed to do?

Continue reading “Are You Sharing Your Load?”

Has God Spoken to You?

“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through His Son.” – Hebrews 1-2a

We all long to hear from God in some shape or form. We want Him to speak to us in our dreams, to answer our prayers audibly, to appear to us like He did to Moses and the prophets, or to give us some sign in the sky, day or night. We want clear cut guidance, sure and positive direction.

Let me ask you, though: has God spoken to you?

Continue reading “Has God Spoken to You?”

Masculinity: How Christianity has missed it: A guest post by Tim Whitaker

Before I begin, a few disclaimers.
1.Just because I’m talking about masculinity does not mean that I am always the shining example of it
2.I by no means am claiming to have the ultimate knowledge on this subject.
3.I’ve been born and raised in the Christian church.

Masculinity, what a word. A word that isn’t used much too often these days. Between the culture and the church there is mass confusion regarding what it actually means to be a man. Culture paints one picture, the church paints another picture, and both have serious flaws. This post is not so much a Biblical study into the meaning of masculinity, rather it’s an opinion on what it seems to me Jesus models for us and how we can apply that here in our culture. Before we get there let me define culture’s view of masculinity and then the church’s view.

First the Culture. If there is one word I can use for the culture’s view of masculinity it is this word. Twisted. Consistently, I see culture shoving a view of masculinity down the throat of men, and what’s worse is that men have bought in to that lie. Culture continually tells us that a true man is tough, has a six pack, drinks beer, sleeps with as many women as he can (especially in his younger years), and has a high paying successful job where he lords over his inferiors. We see glimpses of this in the movies we watch, the advertisements we are shown, and the friends we have. What’s all disturbing is that I think if we are honest with ourselves we are part of this problem at times. Whether it’s engaging in pornography, over indulging at the bar, or finding your identity in your career, we must realize that the twisted view of masculinity culture has showed us has played a part in the wiring of our brains and has affected us. We are constantly being told that real masculinity is doing whatever you want. Being your own man, not letting anyone tell you what to do. Womanize, drink, party, rule over, never cry, always be tough. Yes, this is the message by and large of culture. And my generation has bought in to it. What’s worse is that the generation ahead of me has showed us this twisted view.

Second, the Church – The church has the opposite view in many respects. To the church a man is docile, quiet, never ever drinks alcohol, he is timid, and everything is always great, there is no intimacy with other men (I’m using the word intimacy to explain brotherhood, or close male bonds) to the church man, he is far too busy being a “good” Christian man by working hard and spending time with his family (which might I add is a very good thing). However in church you are hard pressed to find men who are bold, daring, and are willing to take a stand for something. I find many men in the church are passive, not willing to engage in the hard conversations, not willing to open up to other men about things they are really having a hard time with. Instead I find many Sunday morning services full of men who put on the Sunday morning mask where everything is great and happy all the time.

If I may be so bold, I don’t think either of these views are healthy. It’s true they may contain some elements of good things, but by and large they are twisted views of how God designed men. I’m going to point out a few big issues that I see men are missing and then close.

Probably the biggest twisted view many of us men have for one reason or another is the view we have of women and sex. If there is one thing that I think culture has really influenced us in, it is these two things. We are taught from culture early on that it’s ok to look at pornography, it’s ok to masturbate, and it’s ok to sleep with many women throughout your life. Constantly women are put out as objects and we are told from culture that this is good, and that it’s ok for men to use women as objects of pleasure (especially if the women chooses to make herself an object). I’m sure most of you reading this agree with me, and that is good. We realize that there’s a problem, but then what is the solution? The solution starts with us. Men of God must set the example for the respect of woman. Every time we engage in viewing of pornography, or anything else that puts a woman in the position of object, we are telling the culture to keep it up. We are essentially voting for more and more of it. It is interesting that statistically 74% of Americans claim to be Christians, yet pornography is one of the most profitable industries in America. When it comes to sex we must have a proper view of it and treat it as such. Sex is not just physical, it is highly spiritual and ultimately it idolizes the creation not the creator. If you are struggling with something in the sexual realm I suggest you find a close friend and be honest with them about it, seeking help out of the trouble. If we allow the culture to wire our brains view of sex we will have major problems having a healthy proper view of a relationship with a woman. For more on this subject you can check out a post I wrote a few months ago specifically regarding sex. (Sex: Everything we’ve done to destroy it)

The second thing I see men believing is the lie that we are defined by our financial success and career. In America we are defined by what we do, not who we are. This is completely contrary to the Bible. We see themes all in the Old and New testament that we are loved by God regardless of what we do, but we are loved because of who we are. If our identity is in things like our job, career, finances, or anything else other than Jesus, we are doomed to fail. We are human beings, not human doings and there is a difference. God desires relationship with us. Look at Genesis 2, we see that God and Adam walked, talked, had a relationship. God and Adam were friends! God didn’t ask Adam “So uh why aren’t you making a lot of money?” God just wanted to be with Adam. This is true for us as well. When we get to heaven God is not going to ask “So how high did you climb the corporate ladder?” or “Hey you didn’t make as much money as you could have”. Instead God is going to ask, “did you listen to me?” “Did you follow my leading?” “How did you treat your family, the lost, your local church body”. We must sober up to the reality that if we are claiming to be followers of Christ, then as men it is up to us to take the leap in to that life. Do not be sucked in to our culture’s view of what success is.

Finally, do not assume humility is weakness. Far too often we are told in the church that a man can never get angry, that he can’t disagree, that he can’t be loud, and that he must be meek and docile. We forget the stories of Jesus cursing the Pharisees, calling them sons of Hell, we forget the story of Jesus going in to a church and trashing it because of the mockery they’ve made of it. Jesus was not afraid to have righteous anger, we shouldn’t be afraid either. Jesus stood up, He didn’t care what the people thought of Him, they were turning the synagogue in to a market place where the corrupt was making a greedy profit. Jesus was fierce and He was gentle and that’s what we as men are called to. Not compromising, not being afraid to stand up in our churches and culture for what is right, but having a spirit of gentleness, not being unapproachable but doing things with bold humility.

Let me sum this up. This comes back to the issue of identity. As men who are claiming to be followers of Jesus, we must find our identity in Him. Not in women, money, success, fame, or anything else. Only God can validate us as men. Once we turn to other things for our identity we quickly realize how none of the created things can give us our identity, only God can because He created us. Do not be passive spectators in the church, be active participants. Do not be silent on the lies our culture throws at us, rather stand up with bold love. Not out of a heart of anger or bitterness, but out of love for the people who have bought in to the cultures lie.

This is a work in progress, but it must start with your identity as a man resting in the almighty God.

Putting on Christ (Or Pretending)

In what is, in my opinion, one of the most frank and honest books about the Christian faith, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes a very strong point: we are ordered to be like Christ.

He states that in the Lord’s Prayer, we start it simply with the phrase “Our Father”. We refer to God as our Father, our Dad, but when we seriously look at ourselves, we see that we are not worthy to call Him that. As Mr. Lewis states, “You are not a being like The Son of God, whose will and interests are at one with those of the Father: you are a bundle of self-centered fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death.” We know that we are not sons and daughters of God. So, what is the use of pretending to be what we are not? Because eventually, one of two things is bound to happen:

1. We just pretend to be pretending.

2. The pretense becomes the real thing. Or, in more common terms, we fake it til we make it.

This phrase is used in many ways, especially in the area of self-confidence. We fake what we don’t have, we work the muscle group, until eventually the muscle forms, the habit becomes a part of our daily lives. And so it is with becoming Christ-like. Every day, we put on Christ, we pretend to be like Him, we act and think as though we are Him, that we are truly sons and daughters of God. After some time, we begin to see a real change. We start to recognize acts and thoughts that are not fitting for a Child of God, and so you stop those things, or we see that instead of being at our prayers and devotions we should rather be doing helpful things around the house or reaching out to an old friend or someone in need.

We must do what we can, every day, to put on Christ until, eventually, the pretense becomes reality and we are becoming more and more like Christ every single day.