Monday, November 22, 2010

Prophets, Priests & Kings

Defining Manhood, Part IV
My brothers,
Your Creator has called you to leadership.  In fact, you are called to lead courageously.
You were made in the image of God.  You were designed and commanded to be productive, to increase and to subdue the wild.  You were made to rule in a way that brings the best out in others.
When humanity fell into sin, we fell away from our Creator and even from each other.  The image of God was broken and with it our original design.  But the spiritual darkness has been penetrated by the light of the world; Jesus Christ.  In Christ we are new creations.  We are born again by the incorruptible Word.  We have the Spirit of Prophecy.
Who said you weren’t meant for greatness?  Who said you weren’t designed for leadership?  Guess what?  God the Father has called you to lead just like His Son.  Jesus Christ was and is the complete fulfillment of the three Old Testament roles of Prophet, Priest and King.  And because He is all three, I want to share briefly with you how you are called to do the same.  This is part of what it means to lead courageously.
First, be prophetic.  This means becoming at home with the Scriptures.  Speak life over your situation!  I’m not talking about being bubble headed or ignoring your troubles.  But cursing, complaining and a negative attitude only worsen your situation.  The greatest spiritual gift you can share with yourself, your family and others is to speak prophetically.  What do I mean?  Words of encouragement, strength and comfort should flow from your lips!  There is enough negativity in the world!  Be a son of light by speaking light!
If you are a single man, learn to speak life in the midst of your storms...
If you are a married man, speak God’s Word over your wife and words that will demonstrate her uniqueness, beauty and your love...
If you have a son then call forth his masculinity, bless him and help him to picture a special future...
If you have a daughter, then bless her femininity and speak to her inner and outer beauty and her bright future...
Second, be a priest like Jesus.  This means becoming a man of prayer.  Understand that your source is in God.  Men should be bold before the Enemy of our souls but humbly dependent on God.  Do you realize that God has given you authority over spiritual snakes and scorpions?  Brother do you know that our Father wants to help you with the Holy Spirit so you can know and choose what is best for yourself, for your family, and even on the job?  Don’t grieve the Spirit by thinking you can rely on your own wisdom and strength!
If you are single then begin now to live a life of service and generosity toward others...
If you are married then actively pray for and with your spouse...
If you are a father then pray for your children, hug them, carry them and tuck them in at night...
Finally, be a King.  No matter what it looks like around you or what you see in the mirror.  King’s have vision.  Walk by faith and not by sight.   Let the Spirit help you study the Word to renew the way you think about yourself; moving you from the negative to the positive!  In Christ you are called to have a rich and satisfying life!  Kings live with a purpose greater than themselves, subdue their desires through spiritual disciplines and look to bring the best out in others.
Are you single; now is the time to develop your gifts, talents and abilities so you can lead your future family with a vision big enough for their happiness...
Are you married; it means carrying yourself in a way that is worthy of your wife’s respect...
Are you a father; then learn how to bring the best out in your children...
God has called us to lead courageously.
Lead my brothers by making the life of Jesus Christ a study.
I have taken a bold step and made a bold claim.  Some theologians might say that I’ve minimized the role of Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest and King by connecting it with our day to day life as men.
But He is the blueprint.  Jesus is the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King.  But because of Him we are the sons of God.  And by the Spirit we can pattern our lives after His.  We can love our wives the way Jesus loves his bride, the church.  He is our High Priest and we are a royal priesthood.  Every knee will bow before Jesus and one day we will be given new authority in the Kingdom.
And so, as men we are called to be prophets, priests and kings!
Your brother,
Minister Onorio

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Defining a Man's Responsibilities

Defining Manhood, Part III
Last time I shared a little bit concerning the first principle; that men are called to reject passivity.
In this post I want to speak on the second principle; that men are called to accept responsibility.
Christian manhood rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously and expects a great reward from our Heavenly Father (please remember that I am tweaking how Robert Lewis defines manhood and expounding on some of his points in the book Raising a Modern Day Knight).

I agree with the statement that maturity comes with the acceptance of responsibility.
What are we to take responsibility for? 
Looking at Jesus Christ as the blueprint for our manhood we find that “Our Lord was entrusted with a will to obey (His Father’s), a work to do (redeem the lost), and a ‘woman’ to love (the church).” 
There is so much “meat” here to unpack!  But in a post like this I can only provide appetizers.  Let me try to be brief.
First, just like Jesus the Christ, we are called to obey the will of the Father.  How do we know the will of the Father?  Through the Word of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments by the Holy Spirit. 
How do we sum up 66 books? 
Based on Micah 6:8 Pastor AR Bernard said, “When you are motivated by love, your actions are tempered with justice, mercy and humility.”  Our Lord summed it up in Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Quote from the NIV)
What’s the will of our Father?  To love neighbor, enemy, rich, poor, relative or stranger, and most of all, the body of Christ, as God loves.  This isn’t a soft flowery love but the rugged, sacrificial, no-nonsense, rugged, bloody love of Jesus Christ!  The kind of love that never gives up, always looks for the best, never looks back and keeps going to the end! (1 Corinthians 13)
“IMPOSSIBLE!” you say.  You betcha!  Without the Spirit of the Father in us it is impossible to love like He loved and continues to love.
Second, our Father gave us work to do.
What is this work?
The Gospel of John records this conversation between the crowd and Jesus in chapter 6 verses 28-29.  The NIV reads; “Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’  Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’”
Whatever we think to do rises and falls on our faith in Jesus the Christ.  It is His finished work that makes life worth living and gives us access to the “bigger picture” of what life is all about.
It is easier to have a relationship with our jobs than it is with God.  It is easier to have a relationship with principles, virtues and values than to surrender, trust and adapt our lives to the call of following Christ. 
My brothers, I want to encourage you to develop your gifts, make vision and purpose a study, and live life with passion.  This is part of the work God has given us. 
But there is something more needful.  As Paul put it when he said “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13 NIV
Can it be said that we are working out our salvation or simply keeping busy in the hustle and bustle of life?
Finally, Robert Lewis says we take responsibility for a woman to love. 
Men ought to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  And His love is sacrificial, redemptive and unconditional.  Ed Cole used to say that God and a woman are expecting the same things from a man; consistency, decisiveness and strength.

I read somewhere that, “A great lover is someone who can satisfy one woman all her life long, and who can be satisfied by one woman all his life long.  A great lover is not someone who goes from woman to woman to woman.  Any dog can do that.”

Robert Lewis shows how boys should be taught to treat women and trained concerning the roles of a husband and wife.  We need to mimic this in our discipleship of all Christian men and not assume that men will simply "get it."  Men need training in being God's kind of man.
In closing this post let me say that Christian men are called to accept the spiritual and social responsibility that our Father has given us; To mature in the love of God, neighbor and enemy; To see that all of our work is done to “glorify God and to enjoy God forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism); to be prepared to respect all women and love our wives as Christ loves the church.
What do you want to hear more about?
1. A will to obey
2. A work to do
3. A woman to love
Let me know your thoughts.
And THANK YOU AGAIN for reading.
Your brother,
Minister Onorio

Monday, November 8, 2010

Real Talk About Being a “Real” Man

What does it mean to be a “real” man?

Yes my posts focus on manhood, masculinity and life from a Christian man’s point of view.

But I have a problem with the “be a real man” talk I often hear in Christian men’s meetings.

The real man talk in a lot of churches is no different than the Miller Light commercials.  You know the ones with the beautiful young female bartender asking, “Do you care how it tastes?”  And what is the message of the commercial; “Man up and get a real beer” ‘cause if you don’t you’re being passive, effeminate or a momma’s boy.  So a men’s group in a church might think it’s cool to say, “Man up and get Jesus!”

Maybe it’s because I get a flashback of the Junior High locker room where guys were picking on the “wimps” and “nerds?”  Ah, who remembers the ol’ locker room conversations where we boasted about sexual conquests, who won the game and how big our, uh, well, let me stop here…

The body of Christ is not called to emasculate men.  We are called to give all men the good news of salvation through Jesus the Christ.  A Christian man’s life starts and ends with surrender, trust and humility toward God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There are two things to consider.

First, there are different kinds of men in this world and even in our churches.

Yes, by our Christian standards, a man who neglects his children, cheats on his wife and gambles away his income isn’t being a “real” man.  But will the challenge of being a “real man” change that man’s mind?  Men who live like that simply say to us, “you guys are just a bunch of sissies and you better shut your mouth before I smack YOU!”

How many of us know guys like this?  Their definition of manhood is totally different from ours.

How do we reach these kinds of men in our community and in our churches?  We reach all men only with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and by setting Him as the blueprint for our manhood.  For us to “Man up” means more than sticking out our chest and chanting “go men go.”  It means finding our source of identity, values, strength and wisdom in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Second, being a “real” man means being real or genuine and transparent with other men with our joys and struggles, our faith and our fears.  It means I am going to be myself.  I’m the same brother in the dark or in the spotlight.

That is what it means to be real.  That is what men’s ministry really needs.  I think the “ra ra”, “go men go”, “pump your fist” at Christian men’s meetings is silly boasting.  I believe it keeps us from being genuine brothers.  We tend to look like men trying to relive glory days at a football rally.  You’re embarrassing yourselves.

Be real.  Be honest.  No man has it all together.  You need the Father’s hand to hold you and you need the company of other Christian men to stay the course.

It is not as simple as recognizing “real” men from “fake” men.  There are simply different kinds of men who all need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe that men of different faiths and worldviews can agree on certain values like loyalty, honor and courage.  Most men don’t care about being liked but they do care about being respected.

As I end this blog on “real man” talk, remember that the Christian man learns to see his masculinity in the light of the God-man, Jesus the Christ.  We trust the Holy Spirit to show us the Son in the Holy Scriptures and to keep us connected to our Heavenly Father.  He is the blueprint, the model, the paradigm of our manhood.  Be God’s man my brothers and trust Jesus!

More next week family.  If you haven’t already please subscribe.

Thanks again for reading.  God bless you!

In the mean time, post your thoughts;

1. Have you seen the “Man Up!” Miller Light commercials?  If so, what do you think?

2. Who is the most “real” man you’ve ever known?

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.  Don't assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil!  Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!” Proverbs 3:5-8 in the Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language

Monday, November 1, 2010

To Men: Reject Passivity

Defining Manhood, Part II

If you randomly ask men on the street, “What does it mean to be a man?” you will probably get a thousand different responses.

Until I was born again I never considered Jesus Christ as the example, the model or the blueprint for masculinity.  Most of the Jesus movies didn’t help me to see him as “manly” either but instead spooky and distant. 
Many Christian men don’t take the time to reflect on what models, images and stories of manhood shaped us.
But if your son or some stranger asks you, “What does it mean to be a man?” what would you say?  How would you answer your son?  What are you modeling for your daughter who will probably marry a man much like you?  What do you say to the man experiencing an identity crisis?
Last week I shared a definition of manhood or at least Christian manhood from pastor and author Robert Lewis.  I really like his definition found in his book Raising a Modern Day Knight.
So here is it again.  A Christian man rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously and expects the great reward from his Heavenly Father.
Robert takes time to treat each piece as an individual principle under the banner “a vision for manhood.”  I intend to do the same thing beginning with the question, “What does it mean for a Christian man to reject passivity?”
The same man who can be aggressive on the road can be passive in his career and stop pursuing higher education or certificates that will get him a better job.
The same man who can be a bully on the block never learns to manage his finances and frustrates his wife when the bills are overdue.
Being aggressive can be a cover up for a failure to live life without a purpose and meaning beyond momentary pleasures. 
A Christian man is called by God to reject the social and spiritual passivity that was found in Adam who said nothing when the Serpent tempted Eve…
Or when Moses failed to circumcise his son and his wife had to do the job…
Or when David allowed his sons to run amok…
By nature boys run, climb, fight and conquer.  But because of our sinful nature and being cut off from God we are passive about our social and spiritual responsibilities.
Turning from spiritual and social passivity is different for every man.
Some of us are intentional and full of purpose concerning our Bible study but passive about our health.  Others are very intentional about their careers but passive in fathering our children.
This is why we need training in Biblical manhood.  A lack of vision is a core reason for a man’s passivity.  But our Father promises us vision through His Holy Spirit.  In fact, the Holy Spirit is the source of wisdom, inspiration, guidance and strength. 
But you have to put in the sweat.
Ed Cole taught that there were two kinds of sins; sins of commission (stuff we did wrong) and omission (stuff we failed to do). 
How do we start rejecting passivity?  Repent.  Turn to your Father.  Trust him and reject passivity.  Learn the difference between being aggressive and being assertive, proactive and intentional.
Have you considered writing the vision for your relationship with God and your family?  Have you written down your gifts, talents and abilities?  Do you know them?  Do you have a vision for your career or are you just “settling?”

Where do you start?  Take courage.  God is with you and he hasn’t given you a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and a sound mind.

Change is not an event, it is a process.  But it starts by turning to the Father who wants to train you alongside honest brothers who will hold you accountable.   And there are resources like the Leading a Mission Driven Life Bible Study from Man in the Mirror that you can order and study alongside your brothers in Christ.

Next week, we’ll talk about the need to “accept responsibility” for what God has given us as his sons; to be warriors, visionaries and heroes. 
Your brother,
Minister Onorio

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