God can never be put into a box. When you think that a story is over or God has done all He can do in a situation, He reminds you that He has plans for us that we could never think, dream or even imagine.If you remember from the previous two posts,
there was a pastor and cattleman. The pastor lived a godly life. The cattleman lived life like Esau:
desiring to be the best, be the manliest, having the most and grabbing all you can from life because "you only go around once." He lived a life of sensuality. The cattleman wasn't a bad man, he just slightly missed the mark.
God was working in the cattleman's sons' lives. One of the cattleman's sons finally came to himself.
He had experienced heartache and sadness from his father, his siblings, his wives and his children. All of these heart wrenching experiences finally brought him to the point where he realized that the way he experiences life leads to moral, financial and spiritual bankruptcy.
This man became what God desired of him. He found comfort in being with the family of the pastor, visiting them frequently and enjoyed having them to his home. There was a real change in his heart.
There was a tenderness that he had never experienced before as he let God have more and more of his past, present and future.
Life continued to be difficult for the one cattleman's son. He still had the pain of his upbringing to deal with. Some of his behavior had become so automatic that he still found himself grabbing for two pieces of bread and challenging the pastor's sons in manliness, but now, he was listening when the Holy Spirit reminded him that he was a new man.
He still had to face his siblings and he worked hard to break down the Esau spirit
in their relationships. His own children, who experienced the pain of his lifestyle, finally were able to see that their father had truly changed. He was now working tirelessly to make up for lost time and become more of what God desired for him all along.
The cattleman's son's life is not over. His life is not what it should have been but it is becoming what it could have been. He learned an exciting principle in which he is applying to his life: it is never too late to do the right thing.
So, as we conclude this three-part story of living like Esau, I ask you for two things:
1) Will you take a moment and pray for this cattleman's son? Ask God to continue to mold this man into being the man of God that he can be.
2) Consider your own life. Do you live like Esau? Are you looking out for yourself and looking for the best, seeking sensuality and the immediate gratification of your desires?
If so, it is never too late to do the right thing.
Ask God to change you. Become the man that God knows you can be. BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Once there were two friends. One man wanted to be a pastor. The other wanted to be a cattleman. These men both had a desire to please God. As they aged, studied their respective interests/calling, married and had children, God blessed them. However, as God is
wont to do, He did not bless them equally, or so it seemed.
The cattleman felt sorry for the "poor pastor" who was raising his family on a very meager salary. The cattleman quickly became wealthy. He acquired land, cattle, fortune, and family. In joking with the preacher, the cattleman said, "you know, I'm gonna end up taking care of you and your children. With my wealth, you will be cared for."
Nevertheless, the preacher stayed the course, doing what he believed God wanted him to do. After the preacher married, the doctor gave him bad news, "I don't believe you'll ever be able to have children." However, as God is wont to do, God doesn't have to listen to doctors.
So, it wasn't very long afterwards, they had their first child. And then another. And another... It was tough, living on a pastor's salary with so many children. There were times that they couldn't afford coats for these children to wear in the harsh winters of that region. Yet, God did bless. Miracles occurred in the pastor's family as they learned to rely upon God. The pastor's family learned that God does, indeed, take care of His children.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the cattleman lived well. However, there were a few noticeable, glaring aspects to the cattleman's character. The wealthier he became, the less he needed God. He could easily provide for his family.
Also, the cattleman lived a life of sensuality. Much like Esau,
he became a rather coarse fellow, using brash language, not delaying his gratification. He gave himself whatever his heart desired. This lifestyle led to tension within his own family. His children saw that even though the cattleman was a Christian man, what he said often did not match up with what he did. His children strayed from God's best for their lives. However, they did not stray too far. They frequently went to church, they proclaimed Jesus as their Savior but they always had Esau's seed in them. They, too, could be brash, insensitive, living in their own sensuality. Like their father, they were not bad people. Just edgy. Slightly missing the mark for what God desired for them.
When these two families got together on special occasions, the cattleman's sons challenged the pastor's son to games of strength and daring, often berating their manhood. "Come on, be brave! Don't be such a wimp!" were words the pastor's children often heard when challenged to do things that were marginally safe, sensual, just a bit edgy.
The pastor's sons noticed, also, that the cattleman's sons would grab the biggest or choicest pieces of food from the table, when offered one piece of bread, they would take two, drink the most iced tea, all without giving thought to others. The cattleman's sons weren't bad men, they just lived more sensually than the pastor' sons. However, they were missing the mark of God's standards for holiness.(Tomorrow, we will discuss part two of this story)BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The overscrupulous religious bad boy
is a leader who sucks energy from various members of the church. With his endless observations about himself and others, he drains joy from the congregation. Additionally, he is always seeking advice and reassurance, mostly for trivialities.
Further, this bad boy is stingy with his emotions and material possessions. Money often becomes a battleground for him. He insists that the church does things his way and is unaware of the rage he provokes in others when their plans are set aside on behalf of his nitpicking demands.
Unfortunately, this bad boy often ends up as the church treasurer or runs church meetings and runs these meetings strictly by the latest edition of Roberts Rules.
He will argue points of order, procedures and motions so that the point of the meeting becomes lost and the members are frustrated. He fails to see the humor in many situations.
This bad boy can also take on the role of being the person who notices every tiny infraction by church members. The overscrupulous Christian bad boy engages in biblical nitpicking and tends to use certain sections of God's Word as litmus tests, passing judgment on the spiritual state of those who don't agree with his interpretation. Further, it is not uncommon for him to feel much anxiety about his Christian walk and worry about committing the unpardonable sin. How can the church help the overscrupulous spiritual bad boy?
The core concern to be addressed with him is "what is your God like?" This man tends to have a Pharaoh for his god. God, from his perspective, is one who is perpetually demanding of him. The whole perception of a God of deliverance from the slave pits, One who can release him from the burden of guilt, shame and sin, a God who has a "wideness in His mercy" and whose love is broader than than he can perceive -- is the message we want to convey by our presence and our responses to these burden bearers who take on the world's load. Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The anti-social bad boy
places high value on being tough, thick-skinned and powerful. He wants people to fear him. You may look at that statement and ask, "come on, we could spot this guy a mile away, there's no way he could be a church leader!"
You could be surprised. Who wouldn't admire a church leader who plunged himself into opposing anti-Christian causes that many would rather ignore? A pastor who regularly speaks against the ills of our society with a militant vigilantism? A leader who fears nothing and no one? He is always on the news, internet and/or local paper as the man to go to for a Christian opinion, drawing headlines and attention? This man is attractive, manly and assertive. He draws people thru his strength, his ability to gain followers.
What is he like behind the scenes? Thinly veiled as Christ-like behavior, he is self-reliant, full of energy and hardheaded. Intimidation is his first tool of choice in relationships. The anti-social bad boy uses his powers of debate, exclusion and inclusion, and theological name-calling to express toughness. He loves a good fight (in Christian circles, this is called deep theological discussions). He is very good at thinking on his feet, flying by the seat of his pants.
This bad boy lives by the motto, "I don't get angry, I get even." In church settings this vindictiveness appears under a social mask. He may appear to be very suave, sincere and adult. However, his inner circle (the boards, committees and staff that he intimidates), his confidants, carry out his vendetta. These people don't want to cross him. He claims that most people are devious and punitive and this justifies his own mistrustful, hostile and vengeful attitudes by ascribing them to others. People are not to be trusted until they have proven thru repeated testing that they are loyal.
Manipulation and coercion become his tools of conquest. If acting gracious, cheerful and charming will maneuver and subjugate, he will do so. He may have the motto, "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission" and just does what he wants. If such behavior fails, frustration of his will to power easily turns into furious, vindictive attacks. The people & institutions around him become tools of power. Christianity and its pieties are subordinated to the iron necessities of his personal need to control.
He will kiss those above him and kick those below him. When he arrives at his temporary pinnacle (he always wants a more powerful pinnacle) the people beneath him are there to minister to him. He spends his time, energy and attention in feathering his nest and maintaining his position of power.How can the church deal with the anti-social religious bad boy?
The anti-social Bad Boy assumes he is clever and you are stupid. A frank, direct, unequivocal "no" tells him that you will not be manipulated, maneuvered, or used. Jesus reminded us to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves
in the face of such men. A refusal to be frightened by threats and resistance with gentleness and evenhanded good humor destabilizes him. He needs to learn what Paul Tillich says, "faith in God's love means that we can accept being accepted though we know we are unacceptable."
He needs to learn the discipline of considerateness. Gentleness can be learned. Gentleness and self-control are two hallmarks of a person who has God's Holy Spirit indwelling.
He needs to learn a childhood lesson that he obviously missed. In anger we are to be as children. Children don't let the sun go down on their wrath. It's only from older people that that children learn how to carry a grudge, how to plan to get even, and how to be vindictive. In our interactions with the anti-social bad boy, gentleness is our greatest strength
. It confuses and ministers to him because it is a different pattern of living. Living the adage, "He who is genuinely strong has no fear of being gentle"
will eventually, with his willingness to let God work in him, bring about the needed change.Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst."
This quote from C.S. Lewis in his book, Reflections on the Psalms
, addresses an issue in the church that is frequently overlooked by Christians. People who are not Christians have no trouble with this quote and believe it wholeheartedly. However, in the church we tend to overlook bad behavior from our brothers. Are our churches just some sort of fraternity where we overlook these "imperfections"? God's Word states that individuals that wink, to signal that one is in the club
, to get away with something are dirty, rotten scoundrels
. Unfortunately, these men have crept into the church. God's Word describes them as waterless springs
and twice dead.
This week and next we will be discussing different personalities that are in positions of authority in the church. Remember that the individuals in these posts are fictitious.
However, as we go thru some of the behaviors, you will recognize them as actual people that you have encountered in the church. I know. I have met each of these men. You may even recognize yourself in some of these men.
I know that I recognize elements of these men in my own personality and it concerns me. If they are you, ask God to change you. Only HE can give true, lasting change.
Here are some of the men we will be discussing: The Histrionic Religious Bad Boy, The Narcissistic Religious Bad Boy, The Anti-Social Religious Bad Boy, The Passive-Aggressive Religious Bad Boy, The Avoidant Religious Bad Boy, The Overscrupulous Religious Bad Boy
and The Chaotic Religious Bad Boy.
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
If you remember from yesterday’s post
, I left you with me in the Amazon Jungle with five girls. I was jealous and I was not very cordial on this trip after jealousy set in.
Sometime on the trip, I don’t know if it was at the hospital or on the trip back, I realized how stupid and selfish I was. A thought hit me, “You are such a lucky man. You have a wonderful, beautiful wife and two marvelous sons. Why in the world do you care about being alone with a high school girl?” Part of the answer was I was in a competition with the Pastor. Because he was with the prettiest girl, he was more of a man than I was (or so my ego wanted me to believe).
The TOURNAMENT MALE syndrome works that way. My ego was more important to me than anything. I got jealous.
When I got back to our apartment in Quito, after the boys were in bed, I told Karyn about this experience. I told her how I felt and what I discovered about myself. Karyn said, “yes, I’ve seen that about you and have been praying that God would talk to you about that.”
That just blew me away. My wonderful, patient, loving wife chose to let God speak to me about my TOURNAMENT MALE syndrome in His timing rather than confront me directly in her timing.
I tell you this story, passing on what I learned, hoping it will help you:
- It’s important to have someone in your life who is willing to pray for you
- It’s important to be honest with yourself, God and someone who loves you
- It’s important to listen to God’s Holy Spirit. He will lovingly confront you about things that need to change in your life. Let God empower you to keep your ego in check.
Are you a TOURNAMENT MALE? Every man is. So, ask God to take you out of the tourney and put you into His hands where you can do what He wants and not be ruled by your jealousy and ego. BE HOLY.BE A MAN. My thanks to Dr Don Joy for this concept of the Tournament Male
Men have within them this desire to always be looking for more.
That could be one of the definitions of a TOURNAMENT MALE. Men have unusual abilities. For example, a room can be full of men, yet some will attempt to monopolize the only woman in the room.
Men will be talking, many of them with their backs to the door. A woman will enter the room and the men with their backs to the door will know, I don’t know how we know, but we know when a woman has entered the room. Maybe we pick up on the observations of the other men that saw her first. I don’t know how, but we men have this ability.
A few moments after the woman enters, men will do one and/or two things:
1) they will check her out, comparing her to their own wife or girlfriend, or if single, compare here with old girlfriends, and/or 2) they will approach her and start talking to her.
There will ALWAYS be more than one man who chooses option #2. Hence, the tournament is on…
Let me share with you my experience with being a TOURNAMENT MALE.
Before having been married for 10 years, we moved to Ecuador to counsel missionaries. I was excited being on the mission field with a young wife and two sons.
My office was in an English-speaking church in Quito. On one occasion, we had a group of about six high school girls visit us from America and the Pastor and I took them to the hospital in Shell Mera. We stopped at one very picturesque part of the Amazon Jungle where there was this waterfall that fed into the Amazon River. The Pastor and the most attractive girl took off down the trail (she had been sitting in the front with him and they had been carrying on quite a conversation) and I waited back at the van and walked the remaining girls down the trail. All the way down the trail, I was brooding. I was thinking to myself, “why does he get to take off all alone with the prettiest girl and I’m stuck with these five?” (continued)