Friday, March 25, 2011

Be Real About Marriage

If you are a single Christian man then what are your expectations about marriage?

Do yourself a BIG favor by establishing realistic expectations of marriage.

Unmet expectations lead to disappointment.
Disappointment left unchecked becomes resentment.
And resentment can become a root of bitterness that destroys a marriage.

Here is some help in setting your expectations:
Marriage is not about wedding.
It is about the life you will build together.

  1. Marriage is not a construction project!  Don’t marry a woman who doesn’t fully accept you for who you are.  And don’t marry a woman HOPING that she will change.  If you accept each other then God is able to keep you both growing together.  Ask yourself BEFORE marriage, “If this woman never changes can I live with her for the rest of my life?” 
  2. Marriage is work!  Ed Cole said, “it is easier to obtain than it is to maintain.”  Why?  We are prone to take people for granted and become complacent.  The same effort that you made to win her heart is required THROUGH the whole marriage.  In fact it takes more effort because you are living together, raising kids, paying a mortgage, etc.  A man has to be proactive and innovative in loving his wife.  Remember that, “a real stud is the man who can satisfy and be satisfied with the same woman for over twenty-five years.”  Any dog can go from woman to woman.
  3. Marriage is a covenant.  Meaning that marriage is not simply a contract between two people but a promise made before God.  In marriage your only real “right” is to benefit your wife.  Your “right” is to die to your selfish desires and serve your wife.  If you aren’t prepared to love a woman like this then quite honestly you have a lot of growing up to do BEFORE you even consider DATING!
  4. Marriage is not your salvation.  Some Christian men look for a woman to validate them or cure them of loneliness.  Sorry partner but marriage will expose your issues not heal them.  You do best to settle your identity issues and vision for your life BEFORE you get married.  Your wife rightly expects a husband not a little boy in need of nurture and a “hug." 

  • What do you think?
  • What are some misguided expectations that I haven’t mentioned?
  • What is the right mindset for marriage?
  • What advice do you have to a future husband or couple?

Please post your thoughts below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio
P.S. This post is dedicated to my brother Jay "Rome" Mack! Thanks!

Take Off the Masks

What mask did you put on today?
Are you wearing a mask?

Men are wearing masks all around us.

We see it in the hood when young men join a gang and put on a mask of defiance.

We see it in the womanizer who is too selfish and insecure to share his heart with one woman.

We see it in the workplace and in the CHURCH where men ask “how you doing? And respond with “I’m good” then quickly shift to talk about sports or politics.

Some masks are a form of protection.  Men don’t like to appear weak or vulnerable.  “I got this!” we say and all the while we need to stop and ask for directions.

Establishing boundaries is not the same as wearing masks.  Don’t let everyone into your business and don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.

Wearing a mask has to do with hiding.  All sin manifests in hiding.  But hiding creates distance between us and God and the people we are called to love.

What masks are you wearing?

Take off the masks with God.  A lot of men “pray” but don’t really and honestly share with God what they feel, believe, or struggle with.  Run boldly before the throne of grace to receive help from your Father.  Embrace the truth and stop walking in lies.

Because of the Spirit of God you can keep it real with God.  You don’t have to perform to be accepted by our Father.  He knows EVERYTHING and we need his power to walk in freedom from sin.  We have to trust, surrender and receive his grace by faith.

And do you have men in your life that can keep it real with you?  When you’re struggling do you have brothers you can call?  When you’re tempted do you have a safe place where you can go? 

Most of the time all we need to do is to confess to a brother and we break the power of sin. 

Why?  Because God gives grace to the humble.

Only the true-faced can receive power to walk in victory.  The false-face, mask wearing, religious man is trapped in the nature of sin.  Ed Cole said, “Unbelief is the basis of sin. Pride is the strength of sin. Deceitfulness is the character of sin.”

Be free brothers.  Be real with God.  Make that phone call.  Take off the mask and walk in freedom.

  • What kinds of "masks" do you see around you?
  • Why else do you think men wear masks?
  • How and when did you begin to take off your masks?
Please post your questions and thoughts below.

Yours brother,

Minister Onorio

Lord Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life.  You desire truth in the inward parts.  Help us to walk in truth and take off the masks by keeping it real with you in prayer.  Teach us to walk in your strength and the confidence that comes from being accepted by your grace.  And give us other brothers who will be committed to walking with you and to being real not false men. In this way by the power of your Spirit may you have men of valor who walk in your truth bringing you glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Such Thing As Entrapment

There is a lot going on when we are being tested.

Testing reveals:
  • The quality of our faith
  • Our character and values
God doesn’t tempt his people to sin.  The world system and the devil tempt us to sin against God.  But every temptation is a test used by God to increase our faith and grow us up.

God wants to purify a man’s heart through the test.  But the Enemy is banking on our selfishness, lust and unbelief to kick in so we fall into temptation.

Need an example?  Your boss wants you to lie to a client or fudge the numbers.  Your Father in Heaven wants you to trust in God.  The Enemy is banking however that you’ll cave in for fear of losing your job.

Wow!  All of that spiritual activity going on!

Here is an important principle for the Christian man: We take responsibility for our actions because there is no such thing as entrapment.

The Enemy traps us based on our desires, inclinations and receptivity to certain “sins.”  We are tempted to sin based on what is already inside of us. 

We can only be enticed or incited to sin against God based on what is already within us.

What tempts you?

The real conflict is on the inside.
Will you trust your Father God?
For example, I could be fasting but Lemon Cake isn’t going to tempt me to eat.  No matter how hungry I get I don’t want Lemon Cake.

But I drool over a Hershey’s chocolate bar.  Forget about the sight of cheeseburger! 

It’s our own evil desires that drag us away from God and entice us.  It is when our desires grow in us, instead of taking them to God and confessing them to our brothers that we give birth to sin.

And sin leads to death.

What’s a brother to do?

Be honest.  Admit your desires both to God and those who hold you accountable. 

Judge those desires.  See evil for what it is not what you hope it will be.

Stay humble and trust that your Father will supply for all your needs.

Understand this principle: Many temptations to sin against God are based on legitimate needs.  But will you try to fulfill those needs in an illegitimate way?  Will you fulfill your needs for intimacy, security, comfort or acceptance (or other needs) in a way that brings life or brings death? 

One thing is for certain my brother.  You can’t blame the world or the devil for giving into sin.  It was already in us.

But if you are a Christian, the Spirit is also in you.  And the Spirit wants to satisfy every thirst, heal every wound and strengthen you to pass the test.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Friday, March 11, 2011

Better or Bitter: The Reasons for the Test

I hate tests.  Do you?  And I definitely don’t like pop quizzes.

Okay so maybe it depends on the kind of test.

But it’s been said that everything in life is a test.

And the Christian life is full of tests.

To be tested can mean:

  • To test means to reveal something or someone’s quality of character and faith.  So a circumstance or situation comes to “test” or reveal who we really are and who trust.  So Abraham was tested by God to give up Isaac in order to “prove” or “show” or “demonstrate” the quality of his faith.
Please note: The next two definitions for “test” are synonymous with being “tempted” or “enticed.”

  • Testing also refers to the attempt by an opponent to “trap” us or for an enemy to prove that they are “stronger” than us.  The Pharisees tested Jesus through their questions in order to publicly shame him or get a reason to have him arrested. 
  • Finally testing refers to an attempt to get us to sin against God.  The classic example is the Serpent’s lie to Eve to get her to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
All three parts are almost always involved in every test we face.

Why?  God’s objective in testing us is to make us better.  The Father wants to purify our faith, increase our courage, and to make us sharper than our enemies.

The world system and the devil are gunning for our downfall.  Their desire is to have us distrust our Father, take matters in our hands, or lean on our own strength.

Through the test God wants to make us better.  Our enemy wants to fill us with the bitterness of unbelief, selfishness and pride.

Do you feel tested right now?  Do you feel like you are going to cave in?

In whatever test you face believe that our Father doesn’t give us more than we can bear.  Our true elder brother, the Lord Jesus Christ knows what we are going through.  He will help us and Jesus is praying for us.  In fact the Spirit of God is in us to give you wisdom if us ask, insight, and strength.

We have to put in the sweat but the Three in One God has us covered.

And when is the last time you shared what you are going through?

Call on God.  Call your friends.  Stay humble and receive God’s grace.

God will make it and make you better.

Please post your thoughts below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Burden of Boredom

I hate being bored.

Do you?

But what does being bored say to us?  If I feel physical pain in my hand don’t I respond to holding and inspecting my hand?

When we feel something – sadness, anxiety, etc. – it is a warning sign that something is wrong.

Emotions tend to follow thoughts.  So examine what you're thinking.  Emotions also signal an opportunity to ask God to inspect our hearts. 

Boredom can be defined as an emotional state resulting from a lack of activity or interest in a subject and even lack of concentration.  It is unpleasant and can be frustrating for men.

How do we deal with boredom?  Well most people seek to do something “fun” or exciting. 

That usually lasts for a moment but then we are looking for something else.

So when you are bored consider this:
  1. Are you living your life on purpose?  Pastor AR Bernard said that, “life is best when designed around purpose.”  Are you intentionally designing a life or passively going with the flow?  Are you maximizing your potential by developing your gifts and talents?  When you live on purpose you design your calendar to reflect your interests and your values.
  2. Do you understand the purpose of healthy recreation?  Rollercoaster rides are great!  But a rollercoaster life is ultimately destructive.  Balance is the key to life.  Do you also enjoy simplicity?
  3. Have you learned to give your life to others in service?  Are you mentoring someone?  When is the last time you spent time in community service?

We live in a world addicted to novelty, sensuality and shock.  Ancient Rome sank to the place of entertaining themselves by seeing others die in the Coliseum.  We haven’t gone that far yet but no one will argue about the increase in nudity, profanity and bloodshed on TV.

Living for pleasure is the way of children and the socially maladjusted.  Living life on purpose is only way for a man of God live.

Only passive men are bored men.  You can’t handle life with a limp hand. 

Be proactive.  Be intentional.  Boredom means you aren’t living or designing your life around purpose.

Please post your thoughts below.

Your brother,

Minister Onorio

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