I was fortunate over the last three years to serve with our military in Germany. My time there taught me two important lessons about being a gentleman. One from a German and one from a U.S. Army Colonel.
I was on a German train traveling to a conference. It was a bullet train and I reserved my seat (you have to pay extra to get a reservation). When I got to my seat, a German man, a bit older than me, was sitting in my seat. It didn't matter that there were other seats available, he was in MY seat and I had PAID for that seat. I showed him my ticket and he got up and moved to an empty seat. What I didn't know was that he was sitting with his friends. He moved across the aisle and continued his conversation. I wasn't very friendly, I was upset that this guy could just sit in my seat. But I put in my earphones, listened to my iPod and tried to not act angry. As I sat there, listening to my CHRISTIAN music, God talked to me and said I was wrong. I was full of myself and was not acting like Christ. Finally, after several stops, I got up and went over to the man and apologized to him (in very broken German) and asked him to trade seats with me. In perfect English, he said, "no, it was my fault. It was my pleasure to let you sit there." Now, I felt even more foolish. This man said it was his "pleasure."
On another occasion, I was at a US Military hotel in Seoul, Korea and I was standing at the deli, ordering a sandwich. I noticed someone had taken the previous number and had thrown it on the ground. I thought about picking it up, then I thought, "I didn't put it down there, I'm not picking it up." I ordered my sandwich and sat down. Shortly after that, a Colonel came thru the line. He saw the number that was on the ground and he bent over, picked it up and threw it away and then got back in line. God spoke to me, He said, "so you thought you were too good to pick that up, huh? Look at that Colonel. Even though he is in charge and could have ordered a number of men to pick up that number, he did it himself." Then I was reminded of the story of the Centurion in Matthew 8.
This Centurion was commended for his humility and faith.
So these two simple stories, I hope, help to spur you into thinking what it means to be a gentleman. A gentleman thinks of others. He doesn't get to thinking he is better than anyone else. A gentleman doesn't think that he is above doing tasks that don't seem worthy.
Yesterday at Target, when a woman ran over my toe with her shopping cart, I didn't erupt. I told her not to worry about it. When a man asked to sit next to me while I was waiting at the pharmacy for my prescription, I simply stated, "yes, it would be my pleasure." Are you willing to allow God to make you into a gentleman's gentleman?
For part two, click hereBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
This picture represents an important concept in gaining ground on addictions and compulsions.
If you observe this startling picture you will notice various things. I don't even understand all that the artist intended as he has made several statements with this picture.
However, what stands out to me the most is the left arm of the man shooting up. If you look carefully, you will see that it is actually Jesus' arm that is receiving the drug.
There is an important concept to be learned here. Did you know that what you do to yourself, you do to Jesus? If you think this is a goofy idea, know that it is true. Paul stated, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!"
Do you abuse your body? Do you abuse alcohol and/or other drugs? Then you're causing Jesus to abuse his body.
Do you engage in sexual sin? Do you let your mind wander into lust? Then you're causing Jesus to sin sexually.
Does your mind ruminate on hateful thoughts? Then you're causing Jesus to hate.
This concept is also consistent with David's statement to God, "Against you and you only have I sinned..."
All of our sin, is ultimately sin against God.
Understanding this concept is important in conquering addictions and compulsions. Pray, asking God to show you that when you sin, you are sinning against Him and involving Jesus in your sin. Ask God to have His Holy Spirit prompt you, when you start entertaining sinful thoughts, to remember that you will be sinning against Him and involving Jesus in sinfulness. BE HOLYBE A MAN
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Sometimes the recovery journey takes us through the valley of the shadow of death. It is a frightening valley.
What a difference it makes in times like this to hear God's promise to be with us. It's not that the fears vanish, they don't always. But we experience them differently when we are not alone. When we are alone our fears can become the focus of our thoughts and feelings - they can consume all of our emotional resources. But when our journey is a shared one, fear does not have the same power over us.
God has made a very specific promise to us when we are going through the most difficult of life's struggles. God has promised to be with us. It is hard to say how God's presence will be made known. Our subjective experience of God's presence may vary widely. Sometimes when we least expect it, we may hear the still, small voice of God saying "I am here". Sometimes God will use a friend, your pastor, a counselor, or someone in a support group to speak to us in ways that help us to remember that we are not alone. Sometimes God will give us a peace that needs no words.
The important reality is that God is with us. God does not come and go in the way our experience of God's presence comes and goes. God does not forsake us. God walks with us. Even through deep valleys.
God, I am walking through a difficult valley right now.
Sometimes I think my heart will give way with fear.
Remind me of your presence.
Sometimes I know you are here.
Sometimes I'm sure you have gone.
Are you really here?
Please walk close beside me.
I need your protection.
I need your love.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
How do you prepare yourself for your day? For many men, it's to hit the alarm clock and then full on until bed time again. A real man works hard. But a real man has to gain sustenance.
Where do you get your strength? I would encourage you to pray this prayer before you start your day. Do it several days in a row until you can grasp the full meaning and meditate on it throughout the day. You might be surprised with the results!
This is St Patrick's breastplate prayer . It is to prayed upon starting your day and Psalm 5
is to be added.
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
* Note: "day of doom" is an Old English term meaning "Day of Judgment."
Has porn taken you down a path you can't talk about? What about lust, envy, pride? Do you find yourself wallowing in the mud?
You WERE a prodigal eating old cobs of leftovers in the pigsty. To restore your relationship with your Father, you had to get out of the mud and start walking home. You didn't have to clean yourself up first, but you did have to make that first step. On the road ahead, the Father would be waiting with a ring, a robe, shoes, and everything else an honored son is meant to have. But, FIRST, you had to come to your senses and take your first step toward home --toward purity--toward holiness--to being a REAL man--by making that covenant with your eyes.
"I made a covenant with myself to never undress a girl with my eyes" Job 31:1
Before long you may have felt a new light and lightness in your soul. Your sexual sin had brought a darkness so deep and smothering that when it vanished, the difference was so real you could practically touch it. You are loved and approved by God.
Along with inner peace comes an outer peace that affects your daily life. Now is the time, say a quick prayer asking for God's strength to leave your sin and your pigheadedness. BE HOLYBE A MANadapted from Every Man's Battle
Raising boys has its own special challenges. I was fortunate enough to have two sons who have grown into godly men. They are excellent sons and husbands, men of whom I can be proud.
To the left is our family crest that my wife and I designed. I've only raised two boys, so maybe I'm really lucky that they are so great or maybe it is more than luck.
We instilled from them at an early age our family verse. Psalm 23:4 "I will fear no evil because You are with me." Also, we gave them three principles to live by: 1) reject passivity, 2) accept responsibility, and 3) lead courageously (see the book Raising a Modern Day Knight
Further, we taught them how to respect their mother, knowing that would be how they would respect women and ultimately their wife. One simple way to respect their mother was to raise and lower the toilet seat when using the restroom.
There are three things that we did for them that made them see how a real man is supposed to be:
1) I loved their mother and put her ahead of them. They recall many nights I put them to bed with the idea that I needed to spend time alone with their mother. If they cooperated and stayed in bed, they would notice that they would get along better with their mother the next day. They believed me.
2) They both had a "manhood ceremony." This was a time that each of them met with me and several men, to "learn how to be a man." These men each gave advice of how to be a man. They all also said that they would be watching them and hold them accountable for proper conduct not only as a man but as a Christian as well.
3) They learned that behavior had consequences. Karyn and I were quick to show them our mistakes and the consequences of our behavior, even as adults. We modeled forgiveness and respect. They came to see their parents as real people whom they could love in spite of their imperfections. Honesty in relationships is required. To be in a relationship with someone meant to be real. No phoniness allowed.
Now, we are not perfect parents and maybe we just lucked out by having really good sons. However, we would like to think that godly parenting and prayer had a lot to do with it...I
When I saw this photo of the It'll Do Motel, it reminded me of porn. This may be a fine hotel but it looks like those seedy hotels where porn ends up taking a man.
There was a man who was a Sunday School teacher and on his church board who struggled with porn. He would drive out of town, buy porn and then take it back to his garage where he would fantasize and masturbate. Then, in a fit of guilt, he would burn the porn in a "holy ritual" to get rid of porn's effects. He felt that he had his "addiction" under control because God revealed to him about how to perform this "holy ritual" so that he could still be a "man of God."
One nite, however, his "holy ritual" did not seem to remove his guilt. So, in his fervor, he drove around and ended up at a seedy establishment that promised sexual release. He went into this one room, by himself, where he was to stick a certain part of his anatomy into a hole in the curtain by the wall to be fellated. He imagined a young, beautiful woman on the other side and felt quite satisfied. However, as he was getting dressed, he saw a young man slipping out the side. He was struck with the thought, "what if that was the person and it really wasn't a young, beautiful woman?" The man felt totally devastated and decided that he needed to get professional help. He didn't realize that porn is insidious.
I would say that this man, once deciding to get professional help, did much better for quite a time.
Where did this man learn about porn? His story is consistent with most men's stories. Most men are introduced to porn by finding someone's stash.
He found his father's stash in the garage when he was young boy. It was "just car magazines" but he found himself attracted to the women who posed with these cars and was turned on by their provocative poses. As a young man, these magazines started a lifestyle of wasted time, energy and money, not to mention the toll on his spiritual life.
So, as a man, where are you? Are you looking at porn? Do you have a stash somewhere? Porn will win. It always does. It is stronger than a man's resolve.
I encourage you to get rid of that stash, find another man to be accountable to, talk to your pastor about your decision to get rid of porn. Then get into a men's group that talks about the tough things we men go thru and be open, transparent and accountable. Find a licensed Christian counselor and uncover your motivations so that you can, with God's help, kick porn to the curb.
Stop going to the It'll Do Motel and be a man of God. Go beyond It'll Do and be victorious. Don't squeak by, barely making it.
BE A MAN.
I was on the subway in Athens, Greece and a man across from me was swinging beads in his hands and talking to himself. Being a licensed Mental Health Counselor, I thought the man might have schizophrenia or some type of anxiety disorder. I watched him and realized that he was praying (or maybe not).
I asked around and found that he was using Greek prayer beads or "Kombolói." I was able to purchase this set. It is made out of camel bones and has a nice feel to it.
When I was trying to find it, I described it as prayer beads. However, I found out that most people don't use them to pray with . They are generally used to help people stop smoking or deal with anxious feelings. I did find one or two people who acknowledged it could be used for prayer but "it is not used for that anymore."
That last statement, "it is not used for that anymore," caused me to think about my prayer life. Do I pray like I used to or do I just pray to ward off anxiety, kind of routinely without really understanding what I am doing? Has my prayer life developed in a healthy fashion?
Prayer, at least the way that I understand it, is building a lasting relationship with God. It is a two-way relationship where I talk and listen and God talks and listens. I have these conversations several times throughout my day. I don't use flowery phrases or talk in Elizabethan English. I imagine God sitting next to me and I just tell Him what I'm experiencing. When God talks to me, I generally don't hear an audible voice but I hear Him inside my head speaking thru my thoughts. I also notice, as I go thru my day, my wife will say something to which I talked to God about or a friend will say something similar to what I talked to God about. Also, when I spend time in the Bible, what I am reading is super relevant to what I had just shared with God. Other times, I hear God speaking thru things I read on the internet, books that I am reading or in my student's papers. It's amazing, also, how many times my Pastor's sermon is spot on to what I have been talking to God about.
So, I don't want you thinking that I see God answering everywhere, a kind of God behind every burning bush idea. There are days when I don't hear God speaking. Jesus talked about that in Matt 12:39. He said that "wicked and adulterous people are always looking for a sign." I live for those times when God reminds me of His love. I also know that when I don't recognize God's working, I can trust Him. He has impeccable character and is faithful even when I am unfaithful.
So, I ask you. What is your prayer life like? How do you experience prayer?
I have never lived with cats before. When we moved to Indianapolis, Karyn wanted to replace our cat that she graciously gave up from our last move. So, we adopted two kittens that are sisters from the same litter. I always thought that animals didn't have personalities; however, these two are widely different from each other.
Lucy is a cat that investigates everything and if anything is missing, she is the culprit.
Ethel is a cat that prefers to watch Lucy get into trouble and sit on the sidelines. (Fitting that their names reflect their personality.) However, I noticed one thing that is similar about both of them. They act like they are the center of the universe. You know the old saying, "Dogs have owners but cats have staff." That adage seems to run true with Lucy and Ethel.
Funny thing, these cats remind me of my own selfishness. I can do pretty good and look out for others and try to serve Karyn but eventually, I resort to my old man and think, "I am God." I can tell you that when I think I'm God, I am not very much like God. God showed His Love thru sacrificing His Son Jesus. Jesus showed His Love by emptying Himself of His Godliness and "took the form of a servant (Phil 2:7)."
So, that is my challenge to you. Will you join me in putting yourself last? Know that this is not done by firm resolve. The only thing that keeps us men from being selfish is connecting with God regularly. Paul coined the term "I die every day." A godly man dies to selfishness, pride of life, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes because these are not from God but from the world.
Are you gonna be a real man?
A real man doesn't follow the crowd. Especially when the crowd is wrong. He also faces the consequences of his action.
August Landmesser was a worker at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and is best known for his appearance in a photograph refusing to perform the Nazi salute at the launch of the naval training vessel Horst Wessel on 13 June, 1936. He had been a Nazi Party member from 1931 to 1935, but after fathering children with a Jewish woman, he had been found guilty of “dishonoring the race” under Nazi racial laws and had come to oppose Hitler’s regime….
[He] was discharged from prison on 19 January, 1941…. In February 1944 he was drafted into a penal unit, the 999th Fort Infantry Battalion, where he was declared missing in action and presumably killed.