Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Ears for Her Heart

Can you hear her now?

Have you ever been on the phone when suddenly the other person says, “Hello?  Hello!  I can’t hear you!”

Maybe you started moving around hoping to get a signal and you respond, “Hello?  Can you hear me now?”

I think this is also the case in many marriages.  Couples are screaming to each other “can you hear me now?!”


Communication was never really there
Too many relationships start off trying to make the other person interested and attracted to us.  We say and listen just long enough to get what we want.  In other words, we aren’t being genuine.  It is a game to win and a prize to possess.

We fail to clarify content
Words have multiple meanings.  Don’t assume you understand what your wife is asking or saying.  Always ask, “what do you mean?” or “why would you ask that questions?” and “is that how you really feel?”

We aren’t really listening
Our wives need to know that we cherish, care and appreciate them.  We communicate these things through active listening.  Men tend to be headliners because we want to get to the point.  Now men can talk a lot but it’s usually to show off, to teach or to exchange information.  Women tend to discuss and share details in order to:

  • Build a relationship
  • Strengthen a bond
  • Show and share empathy
To become an active listener a man needs to learn to detect & reflect feeling.  Is she frustrated?  Is she anxious?  Is she happy?  Connect with your wife by naming what she feels like “honey it sounds like you’ve had a rough day” or “wow baby you are really happy about Isaiah’s grades.”

Our wives aren’t simply sharing details of their day or their feelings.  When she speaks she is sharing her heart.

And when you really listen to her, you are listening to her heartbeat.

Active listening is a skill to develop.  But it’s worth it.

You give her your ear then she’ll give you her heart.

To men:
  1. What are your communication challenges?
  2. What makes it hard for you to give your undivided attention?
  3. Do you feel like you understand what she wants?
Please post your thoughts below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

What on earth am I here for?

What on earth am I here for?

I believe most men ask this question. 

But many of us create our own answers.

Answers like:
“I am here to be successful.”
“I am here to have a good time.”
“I am here to get laid as often as I can.”
“I am here to spend as much as I can.”

Men don’t say these things directly.  But what we believe is revealed by how we spend our time, money and conduct our relationships. 

Most men find their greatest meaning in work.  Our purpose isn’t found in what we do like being a CEO, minister, husband or a father.  The work we do and the offices we occupy are gifts from God!  But most are temporary assignments and we suffer when we make work an end in itself. 

When what we do, becomes the reason for why we exist, we’ve created an idol out of a gift.

So then “What is the chief end of man?”  In other words, what is the ultimate reason that human beings exist? 

The answer“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

We are to bring glory to God by who we are and in all we do.  Our worth is tied to our relationship with God.  We bear his image and likeness.  God’s glory in us is the revelation of his character and presence in Jesus Christ.

But is God really the center of our lives?

And we are to enjoy God forever.

To enjoy God means being open with God, being familiar with his presence.  It means we have experienced God and acknowledge that life is best when lived for him.  To enjoy God is to experience rest, peace and joy in our lives.

Or do we still put other pleasures before the pleasure of God? 

Putting God first and actually learning to enjoy God is impossible without the Holy Spirit.  But Jesus said all we have to do is ask for the Holy Spirit and the Father will give him to us. 

Father God I pray for my brothers to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in a new way.  That they would seek to glorify you in all they believe, think, say and do.  I pray that they would have a hunger to know you, to experience you and enjoy the things of God like sharing, giving, loving and protecting.  Work this in our hearts because we exist to bring you glory and to enjoy you forever.  Amen.

Please post your thoughts below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marks of a Mature Man

My brother Janks Morton inspired this definition of manhood:

A man is patient and kind. He is not envious or boastful or proud or rude. A man does not demand his own way. He is not irritable, and he keeps no record of being wronged.  A man does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  He never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Some of you recognize portions of 1 Corinthians 13

I think it is appropriate to define Christian manhood this way.  After all the mark of Christian maturity is our love of God and others.  And the opposite of maturity is childishness. 

Here are some marks of childishness based on 1 Corinthians 13:
  • Impatient
  • Unkind
  • Envious
  • Rude
  • Self-seeking
  • Easily angered or offended
  • Delights in evil
These are some marks of maturity:
  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Cultured/Refined
  • Humble & Giving
  • Self-control
  • Delights in Righteousness
  • Protects
  • Trusts God
  • Hopes in God
  • Perseveres
These words describe the characteristics of love.  And love isn’t just a verb.  Love is a noun.  Love is a person.  Love is synonymous with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When I look at these two lists I’m deeply convicted.  I really fall short.  I think about how impatient I can be with my children.  I think about how rude I can be when I’m “interrupted.”  I remember how easily I can be offended. 

But God’s love also moves me to prayer.  I pray to persevere and not give up.  I pray to trust God always through every circumstance.  I pray for wisdom and strength to protect my family and others. 

I am moved to hope in God’s love.  Because God so loved me that he gave his one and only Son to die for me.  And because I believe in the Son, I won’t perish, I can continue to move forward, I have eternal life.  This is a gift I couldn’t earn and didn’t deserve but I receive it by faith and learn to live in a new way.  It is God working in me to will and to love.  God’s love died for me and gave me a new identity.

Love isn't typically associated with masculinity.  That needs to change.  We need the world to know that manhood and love are synonymous. 

Please post your thoughts below.

And may the love of God free you to be all the man he has called you to be.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Jesus the Warrior

The image of the warrior is in the heart of most men.

But we don’t usually associate Jesus the Christ with being a warrior.

Many rejected (and continue to reject) Jesus because he didn’t destroy Israel’s enemies.

Let’s briefly consider the warrior spirit of Christ Jesus.

Infiltrated Enemy Territory
God the Son (Jesus Christ) became a human being.  Humanity was and is at war with God.  Human society is enemy territory.  Imagine living with people who will betray and kill you?  But to disarm his enemies, Jesus came with an open hand.  He didn’t come with a sword because we would have all deserved his wrath. He would win back his rebellious creation by personal sacrifice.  To make us one with God, Jesus became one of us.

Outwitted His Enemies
Examine his life you’ll see Jesus’ enemies trying to trap him with questions and debates.  But Jesus never allowed his enemies to dictate the confrontation.  Like a master strategist he answered questions with a question or story and flipped the trap back on his enemies.

From the Samurai to the Marine, self-control is a key virtue.  A lack of self-control is shameful to warriors.  No one exercised this virtue better than Jesus.  He had the power to calm the storms and yet endured the cross.  After steeling himself in prayer, pouring out his heart to His Father, Jesus met his enemies head-on.

Stripping the Demonic
Jesus Christ always exercised authority over demons.  Life is more than just what we see.  There are spiritual forces in rebellion against God.  We are targets because we are in God’s image.  Because of our rebellion we were stuck in a curse that gave demonic powers the right to oppress us.  But Jesus stripped Sin, Death and Satan of their power by willing laying down his life.  The demonic powers had no idea that they were playing right into his plan. 

The Message puts it this way: When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s Cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.

Jesus Christ, Mighty God, Mighty Warrior.  And we are warriors of his light.

Fight on.  Fight hard.  It is a good fight.  Keep the faith.

Please post your thoughts below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Random Valentine’s Day Thoughts

Am I the only dude…
Okay, am I the only dude that can’t wait to punch “Saint Valentine” in the nose when kingdom comes?  If he was a brother shouldn’t the Valentine’s Day shelves be filled with chocolate AND tool belts?  How about flowers and work boots?  Just thinking…

So what’s the holiday good for?
If you are a married man this is a great opportunity to renew your marriage.  That is one of the practical purposes of holidays (or holy days of any kind).  Holidays are an opportunity to renew faith, commitment, vision, etc. 
You can’t make up for screwing up.  But you can ask forgiveness and start being consistent with your words, actions and tenderness toward your wife.

Avoid the traps my single brothers…
People can be swept away by the commercialism, the fantasies and the lust in the air.  If you are a single brother starting a relationship with a woman DON’T BE STUPID.  Yes, get her gift, taker her out, etc. but don’t make commitments you are not ready to keep. 
The gifts on Valentine’s Day tend to say, “I love you” either literally (cards) or symbolically (an expensive piece of jewelry).  If you don’t love her, then don’t sin against God and her by leading her on just to keep her around.

A time to be alone…
Probably one of the real reasons I think Valentine’s Day is still bogus is how it can make single men (and women) feel.
The devil is a liar. 
Don’t feel left out.
Instead, recognize that God set you apart.  Your singleness is an opportunity for you and God to develop your gifts, talents and abilities. 
And if you aren’t happy with your vision or career then STAY SINGLE!  Take a year and figure this out.  THEN you are in a better place to take responsibility to go into a courtship that could lead to marriage.

What’s love got to do with it?
I don’t believe all the pressure to find the perfect gift really spells love.  I am sure it spells consumerism and credit card debt.  But what’s love got to do with it?

Lord God, pray, help us this Valentine’s Day to remember the difference between love and lust.  That love is the desire to benefit the other person at the expense of self.  For the husband this means listening to his wife, matching his words with his actions, being consistent to build security and trust, creating an atmosphere of tenderness with his wife and so much more.  For the single man who is dating it means trusting YOU enough to stay sexually pure, to pray about this woman and where the relationship is going.  For the single man who is not dating, help him to renew his vision and optimism concerning his future in YOU.  Help us to remember that lust is the desire to take and gratify itself at the expense of the other person.  Help us Lord to be men of integrity.  We want to be men who operate out of love and worship not lust and idolatry.  This we pray and so much more in Jesus Name, amen.

One final thought...
I thank you God for my wonderful wife, Adrienne.  Everyday with her is Valentine's Day and more.  Continue to help us stay in step with your Spirit, your Word and each other.  Help me to always be the husband she needs: To be a husband after your own heart.  Amen.

What are your random Valentine’s Day thoughts?

Any questions about what I’ve shared?

Please post below and you can even be “anonymous” :-)

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day 2011!

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Know Your Enemy

Most men will agree that life is a struggle, a grind, a fight.

But we have different opinions about who we’re fighting. 

As Christian men let’s be on the same page and know our enemies.

First, there is the enemy in me.  Don’t forget we were born enemies of God. But by grace through faith in Jesus Christ we became new creations in a new relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Now we are sons of God.

BUT we need to renew our thinking from the negative to the positive.  We need to relearn and be retrained in our beliefs and our lifestyle.  How do we do this?

We have to learn submission.  The evidence of a warrior spirit is the ability to adapt to God’s ways.  That means submitting to a training process that will also hold us accountable to following Jesus.   

What does this look like?  It may mean investing in software like Covenant Eyes.  It may mean living with other Christians to stay focused on long-term goals.  Maybe it means retaking a marriage or premarital course to have a happy home.  Perhaps it will involve using direct deposit to give tithes and to be sure we are saving.  

It definitely means being part of a healthy well-balanced Christian brotherhood with men who are committed to their spiritual growth; and committed to seeing you grow.  We couldn’t save ourselves from hell without Christ Jesus and we won’t continue to grow without learning submission.

Second, we are in a fallen world system full of counterfeit gods and counterfeit promises.  To talk about a fallen world system is not to speak in favor of one governmental system or economic system over another.  It means that, “Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him.”

How do we deal with this system?  I’ll say only this for now: By being men of integrity, walking with humility and by growing in generosity. 

Finally, remember that we wrestle with spiritual forces.  As my Pastor says, it doesn’t make sense to believe in Jesus but not to believe in what he believed in.  Jesus Christ dealt with demons.  So will we. There are two extremes among Christians; we either become obsessed with Satan or we ignore him entirely.  Both extremes play right into the devil’s hands.

So what do we do?  Remember that victory over the demonic is linked to submission to God.  And submission to God is evidenced in reorganizing our lifestyle.  There is no way around it.  The doorway for demonic attacks is our rebellious nature.

Yes we have authority in the Name of Jesus over spiritual snakes but we need to become men of private worship to God.  Practice and familiarize yourself with the spiritual disciplines but especially worship.  This way you develop familiarity with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  When we are in step with the Holy Spirit He can guide us and expose demonic traps.

Where are you right now in the good fight of faith?'

Are you still learning to submit to God?  What area of your life can’t you “control”?

In what way are you grinding against the social order?  On the job?  In your community?

How are you becoming familiar with the presence of God?

Please post your thoughts below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Are You Fighting Alone?

I love my children.  I have three sons and one daughter.  She is my princess.

My boys are the embodiment of lions, tigers and bears.  I know exactly where the wild things are: in my home!  And I love it!

Now don’t sleep; my daughter can take charge with the command of a high school gym teacher.  But she doesn’t have the rough and tumble aggression of the boys (thank you Jesus!!!)

Most of us will admit that this is not just socialization but a matter of design. 

This warrior nature comes from God.  We were made in His image.  One of the names of God is Mighty Warrior.  

Boys play hard and play to win.  Whether it’s a snowball fight or a basketball game, boys learn the rules, play the parts and enjoy being part of the team.

This is supposed to continue throughout our lives.  But somewhere along the line we get a different idea.  We start thinking we should fight alone.  That may be nice for Rambo but in real life the Christian man should know better.

Are you fighting alone?  Why?  Let me share two reminders.

First, don’t rely on your own wisdom and strength.  God the Holy Spirit is our battle partner.  He will fight through us and with us.  Our Father enjoys dropping his warriors into fight zones they can’t handle without the Spirit of Power!  Why?  Because He gets to glorify His Name and we get to enjoy the power of God in the thick of battle.

Remember King David who wrote, “Praise the LORD, who is my rock.  He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.”  When Jesus Christ refers to the Holy Spirit as our helper He was using the Greek word paraclete and this is ancient warrior terminology.  Gordon Dalbey writes, “Greek soldiers went into battle in pairs.  So when the enemy attacked, they could draw together back-to-back, covering each other's blind side.  One's battle partner was the paraclete.

This brings me to my second point.  If God the Holy Spirit is our helper, our Paraclete, shouldn’t we imitate God’s example and help another man?

Real warriors don’t fight alone!  Sure there are times our Father will have us to take a stand by ourselves.  Like Joseph saying no to the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife, or young David facing down Goliath and even Jesus Christ being tested in the wilderness.  Thank God in these times that we have the Holy Spirit.

You may say, "what about a boxer or UFC fighters?  They fight alone?"  Wrong!  The champions don't train alone or go into a fight without coaches and other fighters in their corner.

But real warriors don’t live in isolation.  Real warriors don’t intentionally keep other men at a distance.  Real warriors don’t put up fronts like they have it all together.

Real warriors recognize the call of God to build alongside other men.  This way we protect each other, hold each other accountable and encourage one another to stay the course.

We need the Holy Spirit and genuine brotherhood because we face three enemies: the negativity of our human nature, the fallen world system and demonic forces.  

But I’ll share more next week about the struggle, the grind, the fight that we are in together as Christian men.

  • Are you fighting alone?
  • How do you think the Holy Spirit helps you?
  • Who is in your corner? Do you have a coach? Do you have spiritual training partners?
I would like to hear from you.  Please post your comments below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Attraction is Spiritual

Most men are drawn to a woman based on what they see.  We tend to be visually oriented and go for what “looks good” on the outside.  It takes a mature man to remember that physical beauty is only skin-deep. 

Attraction: Physical? Spiritual?
Both? More?
Mutual attraction is mysterious, exhilarating and should set off alarms.  A single Christian man can avoid a lot of heartache by remembering this principle: Attraction is not just physical, but spiritual.  The world calls it “vibes” or “chemistry.”

Haven’t you ever wondered why a beautiful woman will marry an “ugly” dude? Beauty and the Beast is not just a fairytale: A woman’s love makes the beast a prince in her eyes.  Because women tend to be drawn to a man’s character more than his appearance.

Or how is it that in a club (or church) with hundreds of people the abuser is able to find his/her victim like shark drawn to blood in the water.

Think about Jenny in the movie “Forest Gump.”  I know what many of you are thinking: “Run Forest, run!”  But it was Jenny who was really on the run.  Wounded by her father’s sin, Jenny ran to one abusive relationship after another.  Poor Forest would pitifully cry out, “I love you Jenny” and she ran the other way.  We all know at least one “Jenny” in real life.  Not just women but men too who are drawn to hurt and pain.

Or just ask some husbands and wives to compare their spouse to their parents.  If they are honest they will tell you that they married someone like their father or mother.  And most of the time this was not intentional but “unconscious.”  In 2009 published an article titled “Why you’re likely to marry your parent” giving three reasons for this:
  • Comfort in familiarity
  • Righting old wrongs
  • Reclaiming personal history
A single man will do well to remember that attraction is not just physical, attraction is spiritual.  So what should you do?
  1. Make sure that you’re not bleeding spiritually
  2. Be committed to trusting God enough to take a relationship slowly
  3. Don’t sin against God or a woman by putting on fronts or lying
  4. Trust God enough to be single and celibate until marriage
  5. Test every spirit to see if it is of God. 
  6. And continually examine your own heart before God and in the company of brothers.
Do you agree that attraction is more than the physical? Do you believe it spiritual? Psychological?  Please post your thoughts below.

Yours in Christ,

Minister Onorio

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