Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What is a Real Man?

Tony Fadell was the architect of something you have probably heard of – the iPod.  Under the direction of Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, Fadell and his team developed the new technology.  What was the purpose for this industry-changing gadget?  According to Jobs, it was to put “1,000 songs in your pocket”.   

The God of heaven and earth is the architect of human beings making them male and female, and He wants to put a purpose in every man’s heart.  God has created men for a much higher calling then what we observe in society.  First, there is the TV-sitcom guy.  He is portrayed as lazy, lacking character and more interested in being entertained than anything else.  Then there is the work-all-the-time guy.  This type of man is viewed as a workaholic, highly driven and finds his personal worth tethered to his occupation.       

God called it “good” when he made the man and into the fabric of his being He built an instinctive desire to protect, provide and lead.  However, that is to be carried out within the framework of two very important commandments.  Love God and love others. 

This is where men get side tracked and draw some valid criticism.  The TV-sitcom guy thinks life is about his fun, and the work-all-the-time guy, his career.  In neither case is there a humble attitude of love through service to those whom the man has been given responsibility for.   

God has a vision for every man.  It is discovered through Jesus, the standard for all men.  He was the hardest working man of His day, and during a time of crisis we saw the heart of this man’s man.  It was the moment He suffered and died on His cross.  He willingly laid down His life for the sake of others.  Men are called to live the same way.  Regardless if a man is married or single, he is urged to observe the attitude of humility that spills out of this Scripture “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).       

Jesus has pioneered a new path for all men.  Turn to Him and aspire to become the kind of man He was and still is today.  May He be your hope for today and model for genuine manhood.    

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Commencement Wisdom

During May over six million students are expected to graduate from high schools, colleges and universities.  These teenagers and twenty-somethings will reach a milestone and have a new beginning for themselves.  If you know of a graduate here are a few pieces of commencement wisdom to pass along.       

Rejoice and celebrate your achievement.  Years have been invested to get to this point.  Do not let it slide by without enjoying the moment.  Celebrate!     
Resolve to never give up.  There were challenges in reaching this day and there will be challenges tomorrow.  Researchers say that there will be over 20% of high school students and over 40% of college and university students who will never reach graduation.  You did.  You overcame.    
Recall the people that helped you make it.  No man is an island to himself.  Thank the people who helped you along the way.  Henry Ward Beecher once said, "Gratitude is the fairest blossom, which springs from the soul.”
Release the heartache connected with the journey.  Your celebration may be bittersweet.  Maybe a loved one or close friend has passed away and their absence is heart-wrenching.  Maybe there is some relationship conflict sucking the joy out of the air.  When you receive that diploma or degree, vow to release the pain and step into the future.     
Remember Almighty God.  A wise King once said, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).  It is very easy to forget God when we are young.  A sense of adventure, a desire to question and the journey towards independence can all lead there.  Yet, He has a way of keeping us in-check.  It is often found in those times of adversity when our determination and ability cannot fix the situation.  We realize we are at the mercy of time, chance or others.  God uses these moments to teach us that we need the intervention of someone outside of ourselves – Him.     
As you reach this milestone, be resolved to depend upon God with all your heart.  He is real and trustworthy.  May you become a follower of Jesus, God’s only Son, and may He bring you hope for today and your future.   

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#NoMorePro**nity!

The other day I was listening to a talk radio show when I heard the host say, “What the h__ll do they think they are doing?”  I said to myself, “I don’t want to listen to language like that!” and changed the channel.  Then one evening I was watching a TV show and one of the characters said, “Just quit b__ching about your friend and go talk to her.”   There I was again changing channels. 

According to an Associated Press survey from several years ago, 64% of Americans confess to using profanity.  Personally, I think it is higher.  Let me ask, should this be seen as a problem in society?  It should be because it demonstrates that nearly a super-majority of America’s population has a Mt. Everest-sized character problem.  Here are three evidences that profanity is about character.  1)  Anger-driven.  When someone rattles off a series of expletives cutting people down like a weed-eater - it is about character.  2)  Vulgar humor.  When someone feels compelled to include gutter-language in every joke – it is about character.  3)  Thoughtlessness.  When someone spews forth their sewer-mouth around young children, true ladies and gentlemen and in general public settings (like social media) – it is about character.   

I want to challenge us as a society to raise our standards.  Let us start a hash tag campaign #nomoreprofanity to raise awareness of this issue and use positive peer pressure to encourage people to change their language.

Jesus is a model for raising standards through His famous Sermon on the Mount.  He once said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”  (Matthew 5:37)  This means to keep our language simple and clean and if we have a problem with profanity it is because we have a problem with our heart. 

Changing how we speak can be difficult, if we do it on our own.  However, if we call upon Jesus and ask Him to change our heart, then He will touch our lips too.  May Jesus be our hope for today and our standard for living.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Who is Jesus?

The Quran says about Jesus, “Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah, and His Word” (The Quran 4:171).  The Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation says He was “a god” (John 1:1). Notice the small “g”.  Rabbi Shraga Simmons says that, according to Judaism, “Jews to not accept Jesus as the messiah”.

The existence of God is denied by millions.  However, world religions, historians and most people agree in the existence of Jesus.  Agreement gathers around what He did calling Him a good man, miracle-worker or powerful teacher.  Interestingly though, when we move from “what Jesus did” to “who He was” division begins. 

The main point of tension is this statement - Jesus is the one true God in human flesh.  Despite centuries of heated disagreement such a statement reveals who He really is.  It all started with Jesus who once said about Himself, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), or in other words, “When you see me, you see God.”   

Again, most people also agree Jesus died, but why did He?  Those who actually conspired to put Him to death tell us it was because He claimed to be God.  They once accused Him saying “you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 11:33).  His fierce opponents did not realize how they were helping the world to know who He truly was.  Jesus ultimately died because He claimed to be God, which He did openly for all to see and hear.  Then three days later He rose from the dead validating everything He spoke of.        

Why does this point of Jesus being God matter, because it changes everything.  What if an atheist who agreed in the existence of the historical Jesus also believed He was God?  It would change everything.  What if a Muslim who accepted that Jesus was a great prophet also believed He was God?  It would change everything.  What if a Jew who agreed that Jesus was a great teacher also believed He was true Messiah?  It would change everything.  Most importantly though, what do you believe?  A good man cannot forgive your sin.  Only Jesus can.  A miracle-worker cannot remove your guilt and shame.  Only Jesus can.  A powerful teacher cannot redeem your life from the pits of despair.  Only Jesus can.  Believe in Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  May Jesus be your hope for today.