Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Man Up!

"That's the second un-manly thing you've done today."

"What was the first?"

You are then reflected back to earlier in the day to 3 men fishing in a row boat. The un-manly gentleman in question is seen reeling in a fish and screaming in fear, "Get it away from me! Get it away!"

This is just one of the many Miller Lite Beer commercials where man's masculinity is in question in a supposedly funny moment. Personally I think the ads are not humorous but degrading men. I thought beer drinking men were supposed to be perceived as macho-men, but today's culture dictates otherwise.

Today, even Hollywood downgrades men as unmanly and un-macho as you sit and watch your favorite television sitcom. It is the man who has  replaced the so called bubble-headed bleach blonde character in sitcoms. And some in Tinsle Town will argue that this is the way it is in society today. But excuse me, you are completely wrong!

A few weeks ago on the day before Easter, I and a small group from my church (shooting for 50 men next year!) gathered together with 300 other men for a Resurrection Breakfast. Besides stuffing ourselves with an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet we: prayed together, worshiped God together, and heard a great message on the role of man. Not only that, but we were reminded that the roles of man are not extinct, no matter what our culture dictates.

When God commissioned Joshua to take Moses' place as Leader of Israel, He commanded Joshua to "Be strong and courageous."
Now I am sure Joshua may have had reservations at first of replacing someone of such stature as Moses. I mean,come on, we are talking Moses here. The man who: literally saw God, spoke with God, and was given the Ten Commandments to instruct how all of mankind should live. And not only that, but Moses had to carry with him some extreme patience for 40 years when leading the Israelites, whom God referred to as a stiff-necked and rebellious people.
Yes, Moses was "the man" and now imagine yourself being Joshua and having to replace "the man". Having been chosen to be the successor to Moses probably added great pressure to Joshua. But I am sure Joshua was encouraged when God instructed him to just "Be strong and courageous."

Sometimes us men are faced with the same dilemma as Joshua,  having to live up to certain expectations or high standards. But those of us men who follow Christ can be encouraged, for there are many strong men of God in the world today facing the same expectations and challenges.

Don't let today's world dictate how men are or should be. Stand on biblical principals.  Show them who you really are.
Be strong and courageous.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Unsung Hero on the Titanic

This past Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The blockbuster film with Leonardo and Kate was reissued in theaters to commemorate this event. I never really cared for this film, maybe cuz I'm a guy (hence the pic of me mocking Leonardo Dicaprio at the Hollywood Wax Museum). But nevertheless, I was always intrigued by the actual story.

When my sister mentioned she was going to see the film again, it kind of brought to memory a book I had read called Titanic's Last Hero.
It was the story of Evangelist John Harper and his 6 year-old daughter as they were traveling on the Titanic on that fateful day in 1912 when 1500 people lost their lives.And unfortunately, his story gets lost amidst all of the Hollywood hype of the more adventurous stories transpired from this tragedy.

When the Titanic crashed into an iceberg, John Harper placed his daughter into one of the lifeboats and ran to go help other passengers. When the ship began to sink quickly, he and several others jumped into the icy ocean. There were 1528 people in those frigid waters that fatal evening, and the preacher's job was just beginning. Harper was seen swimming around relentlessly trying to lead others to Jesus before hypothermia would settle in on these folks.

"Are you saved?" John Harper asked another, the man answered no.

When Harper tried to lead him to Christ, the young man with shock settling in, replied no. John Harper gave the man his life jacket and told him he needed it more than he did,Harper than swam on to save others.

It is ironic that John Harper had almost drowned several times during his life. Perhaps that is what had prepared him to move forward in strength with no fear whatsoever on this tragic night.

Only 6 people in those frigid waters were rescued, John Harper was not one of them. But the young man he gave his life jacket to did survive, and was able to tell the story of Evangelist John Harper: a man who gave no consideration for his own life, while trying to lead others to a better life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Dream of all Dreams

The howling wind opens the unlocked front door. A man dressed all in black enters through the screen door,runs quickly through the house and exits the back door. You awaken to a loss of breath as you let out a loud gasp. Suddenly you realize it was all just a dream.

Whether you are 9 years old or 99 years old, we all have dreams. Some are good, some are nightmares, and some make no sense at all. I think that is why I was always fascinated with dreams and tried my hardest to interpret them. Ive had so many of those "don't make sense dreams" to cover a lifetime, and it drives me crazy when I can't interpret a meaning to my dreams.

Two psychologists who contributed to a Time magazine Science article on dreams came up with this conclusion:

"We invest more meaning in dreams in which our enemies are punished and less meaning in dreams in which our enemies emerge victorious."

So, they were correct, because I did invest a lot of time into the above dream that I first mentioned; a dream I had one night a couple of weeks ago.I do not like the fact that I had a nightmare where I awoke gasping for air and letting out a loud shout,but still, it was a dream I had to search for a meaning.

My conclusion to what this dream possibly meant came somewhere in the middle of my day:

The man dressed in black possibly resembled that of the enemy, he came into the house and saw that he could not conquer so he fled out the back door. I think James 4:7 describes it best:

Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.

The closer we draw near to God each and every day the stronger our relationship becomes with Him, and as a result: fear disappears and the enemy flees because we are entwined with a Greater Power and Authority.

When we establish a greater connection to God we become more powerful and as a result we are able to fend off what the enemy may throw at us:

I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; and nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)

But this can only happen when we remind ourselves:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2Timothy 1:7)

Having a bad dream and seeing it unfold as a good dream isn't so bad after all!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I Like This!

This will either tickle your fancy, blow your mind,or should encourage you:

If you've ever been around a stage production at any level of schooling or a simple church play, you are always told the final dress rehearsal should be like the real thing. As if there were a real audience out there watching. Case in point: you may never know who might just show up to watch!

Three years ago I was asked to participate in my church's Easter play titled
The Easter Song. Most of our church's holiday productions are so elaborate and have a Broadway-esque feel to them that they require numerous actors, actresses, and singers. I believe this one had over 50 men,women, and children involved. The stage settings and lighting take days to prepare, the costumes are first rate just as on Broadway, and the makeup, wigs, and fake beards appear realistic. In this play I played a Disciple and with my costume, including the fake beard, some of my co-workers that attended one night couldn't figure out which one was me. Now if I was playing Jesus and they couldn't point me out than we'd have a problem!

During this particular final dress rehearsal a local newspaper reporter had his curiosity get the best of him when he saw all the cars in the parking lot on a mid week night and wondering what was going on. He entered, sat in the back and watched us do our final rehearsal, but to him it appeared to be the real thing. So real that at the end of the production he was on his knees in tears.

For my first time in a production setting at this church, I even kind of found myself in awe and felt the impact of the play's powerful message: That Christ loved me with a cross. And this was just rehearsal!!

As for the reporter, he obviously showed up at the right time and it just proves that God can reach anyone at anytime, even during rehearsal.

Now fast forward 3 years to today, well actually this past weekend, when our church decided to put on the same production again. And that same reporter who had met Jesus at what seemed as an inopportune moment, now found himself in the stage production playing the role of King Herod.

When one unexpected guest meets The Unexpected Guest something special happens.

If you are involved in any kind of Easter production this coming weekend, do your best even if it's just a rehearsal. You may just never know who might show up!