Friday, December 31, 2010

Step RIGHT into 2011!!!

How do you plan for a New Year?

Do you just imagine all the stuff you would like to do? 

Do you plan at all?

My brother, we can’t afford to enter a year slippin’ or slackin’.  
If you fail to plan, then you must be planning to fail.  Dr. Stephen Payne said to me that the “first rule of leadership is to lead yourself with excellence.”

Here are a few pointers I continue to practice that I got from Stephen Covey in the classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Know Your Role (s): Every man should know his roles.  Are you a husband?  A father?  What is your career/profession?  For example, I am a husband, father, fulltime ordained minister and men’s ministry director (these are a few of my self-defined roles).  I don’t do anything that isn’t tied to one of my roles.  A man shouldn’t have more than seven roles in his life or risk being overwhelmed.  In each of these roles list the key people involved and write a clarifying statement that will provide you with focus.  A man might object and say, “our roles should be obvious because we live them everyday.”  But do you live these roles in spirit of excellence?  Are you intentional about your roles or have you dropped the ball in 2010 more times than you care to count?  If you are serious about your life then take the time to write down a clear definition for each of your roles.  To quote Francis Bacon, “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”  Be exact about your roles.

2. Live Your Values: What do you value?  If you value peace do you keep your money in order?  If you value faith then do you have time allotted for prayer and study?  It is said so often that it can be counted as a cliché but it is not: I can tell what you value by how you spend your time and your money.  So clearly define your values so that you know what they mean and why they are your values.  The trick is to have a list that can be memorized and used as a filter for all the choices that will come your way.  For example, AR Bernard has summed up his values and the values of Christian Cultural Center down to four: Faith, family, community and education.  Priorities and values are synonymous.  If I claim to value family, yet neglect them for other companionship then I am pursuing or valuing something other than family.  Inconsistency between words and deeds, between confession and practice are not “mistakes” but decisions that reflect our priorities.  To quote Tim Elmore, “Life isn’t about prioritizing your schedule but scheduling your priorities.”  Are your values clearly reflected in your goals?  Are you a man of your word?

Do you know the difference between a flood and a river?  Tim Elmore says that the difference between a flood and a river is focus. Both may be bodies of water but floods spread out causing chaos and destruction.  Rivers on the other hand move in one direction and provide a source of energy and transportation.  Rivers are focused.  Knowing your roles and clearly defining your values provide you with your focus and foundation for setting meaningful and attainable short term and long term goals.

For example, in my role as “father” I want to be more than just “involved” I want to be intentional and strategic.  So I am already sitting with my wife not just to plan the birthday parties in 2011 but how we are going to create a meaningful age-appropriate experience for our children.  Because I am a fulltime minister (role) and my wife is a fulltime domestic engineer (role) we have to discuss our children’s extracurricular activities (based on what we value).  After all, we aren’t raising children we are raising adults!  We want our children to be fully functional independent citizens with a clear sense of identity and purpose (value).

Look guys, I am not an expert.  This is one student of life speaking to another.  There is a lot more to Stephen Covey’s process for goal setting (and ultimately writing a mission statement) but I think these two points are great for starters.

Make 2011 count for time and eternity.  Live intentionally.  Live life on purpose.

The Nile River
As men we are called to be kings. The mark of kings is vision. Start with where you are by identifying your roles and your values. This is the foundation for personal vision and even for qualifying you for a vision from God.

God will give more to the man who is faithful in the little they have been given.

I would love to hear from you and so would your brothers (and sisters) who read this blog:

- How do you plan for a New Year?

- What do you think about setting goals based on your roles and what you value?

- Who do you know that lives life more like a flood than a river?  How can you encourage them to be more focused in 2011?

- How do you schedule your priorities?  Monthly?  Weekly?  Daily?

My brother, step RIGHT (intentionally, strategically, prayerfully) into 2011!!!  Attitude determines approach, and approach determines success or failure.

In whatever process you use to set goals for 2011, bathe the process in prayer to your Father in Heaven.

And I pray that our Father would pour out His Spirit and you’ll have a renewed vision and strategy for taking territory for the Kingdom.  I pray that 2011 will be a new season of blessing for you and that you will be an intentional blessing through your clearly defined roles. And I pray that your values would make you known as a man of honor and integrity to all.
Happy New Year!
Grace and peace and Happy New Year!

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What if God was one of us?

Why is Jesus Christ the blueprint for manhood?

Because Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human.

The belief that Jesus the Christ is fully God and fully human
is unique to Christianity and central to our faith
Sorry.  This is not a theology blog so I’m not going to justify this central revelation and truth of Christianity.

If you are a Christian then this is a matter of faith and study of our sacred Scriptures found in the Old and New Testaments.

Jesus the Christ was (and is) fully God and fully human.  There is One God who eternally exists as three persons; Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

Moving right along…

I write this in case you are wondering why Jesus Christ and not King David or Arnold Schwarzenegger is the blueprint for our manhood.

We can learn plenty from David, Arnold or any man.  But only if we have God’s standard can we make a right judgment about what is Christian manhood.

Jesus Christ is the prototype for Christian manhod.

Christians believed that there has always been “types” of Christ found in the Scriptures.

Isaac was a type of Christ by being the son of promise offered up as a sacrifice.  Joseph was a type of Christ in being betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery and then to return as savior.  King David stripped the natural enemies of Israel just as Jesus stripped Sin and the Devil of their power.

In Jesus’ earthly ministry He reminded the people of the prophets. They thought that Jesus was one of the prophets alive from the dead.  Jesus had the boundless energy and passion of Elijah who ran faster than a chariot.  He reminded the people of Jeremiah whose writings demonstrated personal transparency and sorrow over the sins of Israel.

Even advertisers know the power of archetypes
But Jesus Christ is the archetype or “original model after which other similar things are patterned.”  Psychiatrist Carl Jung defined archetype as “the images, patterns and symbols that rise out of the collective unconscious and appear in dreams, mythology and fairy tales.”[1]  The hero the world collective longs for is actually Christ Jesus; the true hero, king & warrior of man’s dreams.

The Living God warns us over and over again about making images of Him or anything to worship.  To worship is not just praying to something, but passionately pursuing and setting our affections on someone or something.  We can tell what we worship by where we spend our time and money.  This is why we need to “renew” our minds because we can sing a hymn on Sunday and cuss our neighbor on Monday.

And the principal is that you become what you worship.  If you worship money you become shallow and greedy.  If you worship man then you become fearful and insecure.  When we worship something blind and deaf we become spiritually blind and deaf to seeing and hearing God.

God is invisible in part so that we can always pursue Him.  So that we can remember that everything that we see may be good but it’s temporary.  Everything we see is to be filtered through the Word of God.

We are meant to seek an invisible God by listening carefully to His Word…
We are meant to hear His Word so we can worship in spirit and in truth…
We are meant to worship the invisible God because transformation is from the inside out

There was a song that asked the question, “What if God was one of us?”  There seems to be more than one person who sang this, and I don’t want to judge the writer/singer incorrectly.

But the only way you can ask that question is if you flat out reject that God became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth.  He is “God with us” so the question was already answered; the image of the invisible God in word & deed.  Jesus is the new man making us sons of God through His grace.

This should ignite our imagination!  Let's study how Jesus handled His relationship with His Father, His human family, His people, His enemies and even how He died as the blueprint for our faith and identity.

When we accept the answer we are on the path to renewing the image of God in us.  Then we worship in spirit and in truth.  Then we will be transformed to reflect the image of Christ.

Jesus was not only the reality of the "archetypes" He was a genuine human being.  He was born in poverty to parents who were unprepared.  The circumstances of His birth were scandalous to say the least from human eyes and His early life was spent as a political refugee.  Jesus learned to submit to parents who didn't really understand Him and He grew up in a ghetto community that rejected his ministry.  I could go on but I think you understand.

"Through Nomadic Eyes" artwork
from the Stations of the Cross
in Lodwar Cathedral, Kenya
In His divinity Jesus was the archetype of all heroes.  In His humanity Jesus is a man that any man can easily relate to as a brother.  He fully presents to us the heart of the invisible God. He reveals what men (and women) would be like if we had no sin.

How did Jesus transform your image of God?
How does Jesus transform your imagination concerning masculinity and men?

C.S. Lewis said, “God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.”

Imagine Jesus according to all the Scriptures not sound bytes and popular verses.  Let the Scriptures help you imagine Jesus on the job with you.  Imagine how His character would be expressed to your parents or to your children.  And re-imagine yourself because Christ is living through you.

Be blessed.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

[1] The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. (accessed: November 28, 2010).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To See or Not to See: the Son in Me

So I woke up this morning thinking about being a son of God and Shakespeare’s Hamlet came to mind. 
Be the son, trust your Heavenly Father

Like most men my mind is a dangerous place in constant need of renewal.

But as I captured this thought the first line of that memorable monologue continued to echo;“To be or not to be: that is the question”

Hamlet was a young man struggling with his father’s murder, mother’s remarriage (to the murderer) and the covetousness of older men.  The haunting of his father’s spirit and Hamlet’s own timidity finally pours out in violence ending Shakespeare’s play in tragedy.

Okay so I’m not a literary critic but too many Christian men are still haunted by the burdens of a natural heritage.  

What do I mean by natural heritage?  Heritage is “something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth.”  So I specify “natural” because this has to do with our first birth through the womb of our mothers including how and where we were brought up as men.

But there is a new birth that happens when we turn and believe in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.In Christ, through the rebirth by the Spirit, we receive a spiritual heritage as sons of God.  We are all God’s creations but we become sons only by being born again.

Pastor Bernard said, “Your spiritual heritage is greater than your natural heritage.”

Bamm!  Poof!  Pow!  (Sorry for the 1960's Batman flashback)

But that truth hit me like a ton of bricks!

The God who created all things from nothing…

The God who brings order to chaos… 

The same God who turned the world upside down with a handful of fisherman…

This God is my Father.  This God lives in me.  Me?!  And my natural human life is now infused with the life of this God creator, redeemer and Lord of the universe.

Whether my father was a prince or a peasant, or whether my mother loved me or not, I was now a son of God through faith in the Son, Jesus the Christ.

My past, my upbringing & my family of origin inform me.  But my relationship with God and my status as a son of God defines me.

The circumstances of my birth don’t define me.  There are no accidents in God.  I’ve been positioned by God in time & space, as a 6’2 Puerto Rican for the Kingdom of Heaven.  If I take a stand against racism as a Hispanic/Latino it is because racism is a sin and I am son of God.  When I minister to the poor, it is not because I grew up poor but because I am a son of God.  I teach my children what my father taught me not because of him but because it lines up with the Holy Scriptures; my source of faith and rule of conduct.

Every curse in Christ is broken:
You are a son of God!
Too many men are like Sisyphus who was cursed to roll a huge rock up a mountain only to have the rock roll back down on him once he got to the top.


Being a son of God is the only way to roll the stone over the mountain.  No stone can stand in the way of God's resurrection power in your life.  The only thing that can block the life of God in you is the hardness of unbelief.  

If you feel stuck right now, remember you are a son of God.  The curses of your upbringing are broken in Christ Jesus.   Or take spiritual authority and command them to be broken in the Name of Jesus Christ.  And then be humble enough to approach your life by seeing it from God’s point of you.

Or perhaps your Heavenly Father is training you in the school of hard knocks for His purpose.  Everything God does is according to a pattern and based on a principle.  And just as God delivered Israel from Egypt, we are delivered from spiritual darkness and bondage through Jesus Christ.  But then Israel was taken through the wilderness for a time of training so they could know God as Father and understand their call to be sons.

Jesus told a bunch of grown men not to “grow up” but to accept the Kingdom like little children.  He didn’t tell them to “man up” but to stop hustling in their own strength.  Be childlike.  Humble.  Submit. Trust.  Surrender.  Be honest.

Encourage your brother by sharing this truth: We are sons of God.

“Heavenly Father, I thank you for my brother and sister who are reading this post.   I pray for my brother, that he might see himself as a son of God through the grace given to him in Jesus Christ.  I pray that your Holy Spirit would fill him to overflowing today and that he would know that you are Fathering him.  As a son help my brother to trust and submit to your Word.  Prosper the works of his hands.  And bless my dear sisters who are reading; may they also know that this post is for them as daughters of the Most High God and messengers of your good news.  Amen.”

Please share your thoughts.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

P.S. Thank you Pastor Bernard!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Relationships & Lasting Success

As the Director of the International Christian Brotherhood, founded by Rev. AR Bernard, I have the privilege of serving many brothers.  We are a Christian fraternal organization whose purpose is to train men in Christ-likeness as the standard of manhood.

I had a good time answering their questions about work-life balance, ministry to men and more.  I decided to share the Q&A with you.  Hope you enjoy.


Here are a few things that come to mind.

1. As men we see life as “work” and “more work.” We do things that tend to have some immediate result or reward. Or we do things because we have to do them. Most men are overwhelmed by their “busyness” because they don’t manage their time, money and relationships, period. So their “busyness” is a matter of perception and not reality. They are weighed down by their responsibilities because they weren’t proactive enough or they are paying the price for bad decisions. Men stay in a condition of frustration and chaos because they refuse to ask for help from God and from God’s wisdom in others. Pride is the strength of sin. Busyness is a cliché, a word to justify further isolation from genuine relationships. Why? Because they don’t want to be exposed for a life that is spiraling out of their control.

2. Sorry for being harsh and going for the jugular but I can’t take chances. The paragraph can be easily misread as “I’m too busy for ICB” or “I’m too busy to serve on Sunday” or “I don’t have time for my prayer chords.” BECAUSE THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW WITH MANY MEN INCLUDING LEADERS IN OUR FRATERNITY. But here is the principle; “We take the time and we spend the money on what we want.” Period. As a man you are supposed to be busy BEING productive not frustrated.

3. Pay attention to how you feel. When you feel physical pain the reaction is to comfort or to stop. So when you are emotionally overwhelmed why would you do the opposite by isolating and lying about what you feel? This is when you go to God and to your brothers.

4. The man of God who is taking charge by practicing time management, financial leadership and cultivating Christ-centered relationships will NOT have time for shallow relationships. Your relationships should fall into the ICB mancode; mentors, peers and mentees. You need to have time in your life just to hang out with other men; shoot pool, talk politics, grab a burger, etc.

5. But there are times when we have to reposition someone in our life because they don’t fit any of these categories. Make sure you check with God the Holy Spirit on how to do this because there is no easy way; because you might be the problem and not the other person. True “homeboys” understand life’s changes and also when you’ve changed. A great resource to consider is the series entitled Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Cultivating life giving relationships is a lifetime journey and we should be a blessing to others; family, friends, neighbors and enemies.


I’ve never felt the “intoxification of success” but I always have to guard my heart against pride. It happens in little things like driving or when some dude wants to look me over or walk by me “rapping” about shooting people. I have to deal with pride because I am gifted and talented and because I still want to be the master of the universe. Pride shows up when I’m angry at the red light or the person is not moving fast enough or when my internet connection has issues. I know that I am not alone.

You don’t need to be successful to be prideful and arrogant. There are lots of men in the Bedford Armory who are prideful. There are lots of men who don’t have a dime to their name and their only success is rolling a joint or being intoxicated with their ego.

How can we ever be “insignificant”?  We are incredibly significant.  God sent the Son to die for us and save us!  Now if you are talking about the devastation of failure that is different. Failure is only devastating if you let it destroy you.

And the greatest failure was also my moment of rescue. I came to a place where I failed to make sense of life and why I existed. I could find nothing that gave me meaning or joy. Everything was a vanity. I felt my mind slipping as I thought about the answer to the question, “what if life has no meaning?” God kept me long enough to place me in a bookstore stockroom where for the first time I heard not religion but the Gospel of Jesus the Christ.

It was then that I acknowledged my sinfulness and inability to save myself and that I was a wretch destined to hell. But God in His mercy sent Jesus Christ to die for my sins, rise again to give me new life and to prove that He is Lord of the Universe. My greatest failure had been making idols of people and things, denying the truth while claiming to seek it, and believing I could justify my existence without my Creator.

Turning to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord was new life in the midst of terrible failure.

Me & wifey (my Aviance)

The obituary means nothing if you are not thinking about who is going to write it.  So what matters to me is what my wife, children, mother and extended families will say about me. You can be “the man” at a corporation and a villain at home. To that end I pray that they will say I loved them unconditionally, sacrificially and redemptatively. I pray that they say I was faithful to the end, a man of my word and loads of fun to be with. I want them to say that my words and my presence was a source of encouragement, comfort and strength. That I loved the Lord and I loved others including my enemies. Let it be said I made the most of every opportunity to do good especially to them.
My greatest gifts & responsibilities

Remember being a man, being a husband and a father are God’s first call on my life. Then I pray it can be said that I was faithful with God’s calling as a minister of the Gospel and disciple maker. I’m still living out those details in step with the Holy Spirit :-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Leadership Tips

As the Director of the International Christian Brotherhood, founded by Rev. AR Bernard, I have the privilege of serving many brothers.  We are a Christian fraternal organization whose purpose is to train men in Christ-likeness as the standard of manhood.  

I had a good time answering their questions about work-life balance, ministry to men and more.  I decided to share the Q&A with you.  Hope you enjoy.


Before I give a tip, I want to say, that if you are reading this and you are member of ICB – thank you! Thank you for answering the call to be a leader and taking up the call to train men.

First, develop and stay in the habit of prayer and meditating on Scripture. That is your lifeblood! There are so many resources like devotionals, books with written prayers, etc. to keep you connected to the Truth. For instance, has been a real source of journaling and meditation for me for a few months now. A leader has to stay connected to The Source and continually grow not only in Bible knowledge, but in spiritual transformation. Only by spending time in the spirit will the knowledge in our heads renew our minds, sink down into our hearts and move our hands to glorify the Savior. This is the first step in developing what Andrew Murray called the greatest virtue; humility. Humility is not thinking lowly about yourself, it is simply freedom to put God’s will and the interests of others ahead of your own.

And do you have real brothers? There are a lot of leaders who don’t have genuine brothers who they can be themselves with and who hold them accountable. My wife knows who to call to hold me accountable. But it shouldn’t have to come to that. There are men who I break bread with, pray with, and simply talk to about life’s ebbs and flows. You can’t lead men and act like a superstar or some guru. You’ll have a couple of sycophants but no real impact on men’s lives. You need brothers who will want the best for you and who bring the best out in you. Period.

Respect the men you serve. They deserve your respect. They are the good guys who are committed to their spiritual maturity. You have answered the call to lead but that doesn’t make you better than them or closer to God. You answered the call because you heard the call; now respect them because God is at work. Pray for them continually. God will also be training you through them even if you are their mentor.

Here is the most important point; if you really respect them then you will be training them to replace you. You will be giving them everything that they need so you can count on them as a fellow soldier and even general in God’s army to train men. Your success as a leader is determined by how many leaders you raise up. Not by how many followers you keep. The men are not there for your personal self-aggrandizement.

Never assume you know the men. You are always getting to know them and they are getting to know you. Love the brothers. Ask God to give you a heart for them including the ones that don’t cooperate. In ICB there is a system of accountability so we don’t have to put up with foolishness but we want brothers to grow. Pray to see them the way God sees them and resist the temptation to “name” them or “categorize” them. Always be open to God’s ability to surprise you by miraculously transforming his head, heart and habits.

Finally, be in it for the long haul. You have to resist the temptation to always need “tangible” results. As men we want the immediate, tangible, result of our work; a paycheck, certification, etc. But maturity is a process that God is mysteriously working in as well. And God wants all the glory. Our business is to remain faithful, prayerful, humble and growing alongside our brothers. So remember to always invest in yourself through books, online courses, and so forth that will feed you as a leader. God is working in you, through and with you!


Right now I need a shave :-)

There is a lot different. I really wouldn’t know where to start. 


Prove the world wrong. I love a challenge. Don’t you? Be the light in the darkness the Savior has called you to be.

Do you define yourself or does the world? Do you need the validation and affirmation of the world? We should live for the praise of God and not men. I’m reminded of Ed Cole’s book “Strong Men in Tough Times.” We are in an age that needs to see Daniels and Josephs. Be God’s man by rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility, leading courageously and trusting the Father for your reward. Pressure produces diamonds. The world wants to make you bitter. God wants to make you better through the storms and oppositions.

Like my brother David Sterling said to me, “You are a man. God’s son. He has built to lift the weight.” Trust Him in the Wilderness and He will guide you by His right hand into your Promised Land.

Here are some keys;

1. Surrender your private thoughts and life to God (our integrity proves who we are)

2. Prayerfully seek godly role models and mentors (our humility proves who we are)

3. Be a brother and have brothers who will hold you accountable (our love for each other proves who we are)

4. Remember the promises of God (our focus proves who we are)

5. Invest in other men (training other men proves who we are)

Expect God to show Himself strong on your behalf, bring glory to His Name and order to the chaos.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Challenges and Rewards of Ministry

As the Director of the International Christian Brotherhood, founded by Rev. AR Bernard, I have the privilege of serving many brothers.  We are a Christian fraternal organization whose purpose is to train men in Christ-likeness as the standard of manhood.  

I had a good time answering their questions about work-life balance, ministry to men and more.  I decided to share the Q&A with you.  Hope you enjoy.


Mi familia/My family
To quote Pastor Bernard, the work is going to be there in the morning. I review my values regularly and strive to design a life to express those values. I know my callings and my purpose. I’m privileged to do what I LOVE to do. BUT I don’t get it twisted. My first calling is to be a man. Ministry doesn’t define me. My relationship with the Father does. Second to my call to be a man, is my calling to be a husband and father. Elder Pointer said to my wife and I on our wedding day that, “your anointing for ministry flows from your anointing in the home.” We are called to be stewards of our time, talent and treasure. Time is our most precious commodity. Pastor set the example when he said he schedules his family time.

Balance is the key to life
In addition, we have to observe the principle of the Sabbath and have a day or set time of intentional rest. This is not the same as sleep! I’m talking about enjoyment, recreation, worship, etc. You will find me straight chillin’ on my Sabbath with the kids playing the Wii, movie with wifey or a good book. Rest in Christ fuels godly creativity. It shows that we trust God to open doors, provide favor, close the deal, finish the project, etc. We also demonstrate our freedom in Christ this way; free from the addiction to work, free from a messianic complex and free from relying on our own strength.

There are times when ministry seems to demand a straight seven days but I am checking in with Jesus and planning my Sabbath. Success anywhere never makes up for failure at home. And you can only run on empty but for so long before you crash and burn. You ever get stranded in your car because you failed to refuel? It is embarrassing and dangerous to have your car clunk on you while on the highway. Do the maintenance. Refuel. Rest in Christ.


Men’s ministry is very rewarding! It is a privilege to be the director over such a unique process of discipleship that centers on a genuine commitment to Christ and to being our brother’s keeper. I have the privilege of ministering to Kings & Priests who represent Christ in the marketplace! Not only that, but I’ve developed genuine brotherhood that has impacted me as a husband, father and teacher. I wouldn’t be where I am without Varise, Guy, Patrick and so many others! And then to see God raise up leaders like Rodney, Rocky and Mischa is simply awesome! I can really go on; I love ICB and I’m ICB for life!

That said the greatest frustration has been with several kinds of men who always seem to show up. The worst kind is the man who willingly sows discord, gossip and plain old hatin’! They don’t even see the evil that they do to Christ and the body. The second problem guy is the one who shows up with a business card. Argh! Seriously, what part of the word “leech” don’t they understand? Then there is the brother who decides to join ICB but doesn’t genuinely submit to the process and to doing the hard work of getting along. You never learn about him because he is either withdrawn or covered up in super-spiritual mumbo jumbo.

To be very honest, saddest of all, are the men who don’t take up the mantle to train men. There are men right now who finished the curriculum, stopped the prayer chords and only show up to special events. There is so much to do but they’ve seemingly retreated into their own dimensions. It is so easy to sink back into complacency and “religious works” and playin’ church. That is not God’s call on our lives.

Vision is the key
But as Pastor Bernard taught us, "A man with no vision for his future will always return to his past."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Me, Daddy & Plastic Jesus

My brother,

Something like this...
I have a memory that is more like a vision.  I was a boy, maybe seven, and my father was speaking to me about Jesus Christ.  For some reason my father took out a small colorless “plastic” Jesus from his closet (ever seen Cool Hand Luke?).  So he took it out and asked me, “Who is this?”  I responded, “that’s Jesus.”  My father firmly declared “no” and smacked the little statue against the closet.  My father concluded his iconoclastic message sternly saying, “This is a depiction of Jesus.  Not the real Jesus.”

As I continue to reflect on the images of manhood I can’t help but to think back upon my childhood.  Recently on facebook everyone changed their profile pictures to a cartoon character from their “younger” days.  It was interesting to see the choices and maybe even what it says about who they are right now (I’m no psychologist but it was a thought…for the record I picked Snake-Eyes & wifey picked Wonder Woman…’nuff said). 

Many of the ideas and images that shape our understanding of God and of ourselves are formed in childhood.  I remember how difficult it was for some of my peers to see God as both tender and tough, to be love but also to be holy.  And this was a seminary!  Why was it easier for me?  Simply put; my father was tender and tough.  My father was loving and firm, both gentle and at times aggressive. 

A father & son
Some psychologists have said that God is nothing more than a mental concept projected onto our lives.  While I disagree, I do believe that, “It is difficult for a boy to find something of a father in God if he cannot find something of God in his father.”  My father wasn’t perfect.  But he was present, loving and so much more.

Epifanio Chaparro
My father, Epifanio, gave me a standard of manhood worthy of honor.  And he pointed me in the direction of understanding the only wise God.  When my father smacked the image against the closet he helped me begin to see the difference between a psychological concept and the Living God who is Father, Word and Holy Spirit.

In my last post I began a conversation about images of manhood.  But the first image of manhood for so many men is formed and found through their father.  I believe that the distorted images of God and the rise of the images of men as wimpy, uncertain, even effeminate are rooted in the absence of fathers.

One of the major symptoms of this sin-sick world is called the “father-wound.”  To paraphrase Gordon Dalbey, the "father-wound" is a spiritual & psychological wound of absence.  This is a wound that needs healing even in Christian men.  I believe many Christian men struggle in their walk with God because they have failed to forgive the absence of their fathers.

Dalbey also said that the father-wound is the difference between what our earthly father could give us and what our Heavenly Father can give us.  So whether your father was an angel or a demon, he was a signpost for an identity, purpose and life found only through Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

When I see the one dimensional images that men wear to mask their true selves I see the father-wound.  I see it in the “ladies man” who can’t be truly intimate with a woman or see her true value.  Or the macho man who hides his own insecurities behind his physical bravado.  In the religious man who looks down on his brothers because he keeps a set of rules.  I could go on… 

I believe that the first image God wants to restore in us as men is the image of the Son.  It is supposed to start when we experience the new birth, when we believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead and we publicly confess Him as Lord and Savior.  In this spiritual new birth we can rightly relate to God as our Father and we are positioned as sons of God through God the Son, Jesus Christ. 

We have the Scriptures to train us, God the Holy Spirit who empowers us and the brotherhood of other sons of God to continue smashing the plastic images of God.

But we need to see ourselves as sons of the Father.  We need to look to the relationship Jesus Christ had with the Father as the blueprint for our relationship with God.  We need to walk alongside other sons who are taking their walk seriously and honestly. 

Jesus told the disciples to embrace the Kingdom as children. 

Do you see yourself as a son of God?
There is a boy in us that needs the Father’s affirmation & validation…

There is a young man in us that needs to root his identity in Christ Jesus…

And there is the warrior God, the Holy Spirit, who wants to train us to be men… 

Then we will be known as the sons of God.

I pray that you will walk with the Father and he will help you see who you really are in Christ.

Your brother, 

Minister Onorio

Our spiritual heritage is greater than our natural heritage.” AR Bernard

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Power of an Image

The ladies man
A picture is worth a thousand words.

Companies believe this so much they invest in “neuromarketers” to develop ads that will capture our unconscious.[i]

Millions are spent to win your soul through your eyes.

If I can catch your eye, then I can get your attention…

If I get your attention perhaps I can capture your affection…

If I capture your affection I can possess your heart…
The macho man

Your money will quickly follow.

I believe that most images represent the content of the human heart.  Many people create images out of their own needs, dreams and fantasies.  These images can take on a life of their own as icons or idols of inspiration, guidance or worship.

They can serve us as icons like Michael Jordan, the consummate athlete, whose story of perseverance inspires business execs and street ballers.

Or they can become idols that control, manipulate and ultimately destroy the people in a mass murder/suicide like Jim Jones.

The nerd
How often do we discuss the images that shape the way we think and live?

And what images come to mind when we think about men?

I grew up watching Westerns with dad, Spanish Soap Operas with mom and Saturday afternoon Kung Fu flicks on channel 5.  Cowboys, Dons and Shaolin Monks were fighting it out in my elementary school mind.

Born, raised and still living in East Flatbush I see too many young men embodying the images of the “thug”, the “rude boy” or the “G.”

When I was in the corporate world the CEO’s were the ideal of “Mister-Self-Made-Man!”  The CEO was the Alpha Male, charismatic leader and the envy of the other men.

The Lone Ranger
I think many men tend to embody the Lone Ranger, whose only friend was “Tonto” (which in Spanish means stupid).  He is Mr. Loner who does “good” but really doesn’t need anyone.  You’ll find many of these Lone Rangers isolated, depressed or drowning in addictions.

And how does a Christian man filter all the different images of masculinity?

Why are some Christian men still comfortable portraying themselves as a “Mac” or “Ladies Man”?

Then there is the “macho man” with his antagonism against other men and often violence against women.

The gangster
I believe it is time for men of God to deconstruct and destroy our false images of masculinity.  In order to do this we are going to have to spend serious time studying how Christ Jesus is the express image of God and the blueprint for our masculinity.  What we believe about God and how we see ourselves is reflected in our choices, lifestyle and relationships.

Some of you are wondering “what’s up with the images on this page?”  These are some of the images that came to mind as I began this post.  I chose a few to help you consider the power of an image to embody our desires and to shape culture.

I would love to hear what you think.

Yours truly,

Minister Onorio

"One of the most powerful things you can do in life is to create an image. The next most powerful thing is to destroy it." Edwin Louis Cole

[i] NY Times article Making Ads that Whisper to the Brain,

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