When my daughter was two years old she ran away from home. It wasn’t exactly a pre-meditated fleeing. Truth is, someone (most likely me) left the back fence gate unlatched. So while my wife stepped inside to answer the phone, our little (evil) Yorkshire terrier made a break for it, taking our sweet little toddler as an accomplice on her cross-neighborhood joy-run.
Who knew a two year old with a saggy diaper could run so fast? In less than 60 seconds she was gone. Vanished. Completely out of sight.
A panicked call had me speeding home from the office while a band of concerned neighbors started the hunt. Thankfully, just as I was frantically screeching into our development, relief came. They’d found her (and unfortunately the dog, too) nearly three streets away and just a few yards short of a retention pond, completely oblivious to the chaos her devious curiosity had created.
Here’s what I know…
I would have wrestled a bear to find my daughter that day (because, as you know, there is a burgeoning kodiak population here in suburban Indianapolis). Nothing else mattered. Meetings. Deadlines. Obligations. Life paused until she was back home safe where she belonged. We dropped everything to go and find her.
And that’s exactly the way God feels about you and me (but I fear we’re internally wired to think the opposite).
We see it from the very first chapters of the Bible:
“The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. At once they saw what they had done, and they realized they were naked. Then they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Late in the afternoon, when the breeze began to blow, the man and woman heard the Lord God walking in the garden. So they hid behind some trees.
The Lord God called out to the man and asked, “Where are you?”
When Adam & Eve sinned, they were the ones that covered up. They were the ones that ran and hid. God came looking for them.
And He’s been pursuing us ever since.
You see, we instinctively think we have to clean things up. That we’re the ones who right the wrongs. That we’re the ones who must do the work to fill the gap between our sinful selves and a holy God. That we’re the ones who have to pay the price. That we’re the ones sentenced to go looking for a God who has hidden Himself from our ugly screw-ups.
But let me remind you, Holiness came looking for sinfulness. Jesus chased you all the way to a cross. Not to destroy you, but to redeem you. And then to empower you, transform you, and call you to something greater.
He’s looking for you. Right where you’re at. No matter where you’re at. It’s time to stop hiding and let yourself to be found.
This post was written by Erik Cooper. For the original post, go to: http://beyondtherisk.com/2013/04/10/i-would-wrestle-a-bear/
BE A MAN.
Iron Mike Tyson is one of the most iconic, controversial—and also most jacked-up—sports figures of all time. And I absolutely loved watching him fight. He had the unprecedented power to knock his opponent out with just one punch. He would send you crying to mama in the first forty-five seconds of round one. And if you weren’t careful…he just might spit in your face and go to town gnawing on your ear! (Just ask Evander Holyfield.)
Even though Iron Mike was unquestionably messed up, I couldn’t help loving him as a fighter and an athlete. Because no matter what else you could say about him, he genuinely had that “Eye of the Tiger.” The dude just loved to hit, scrap, punch you in the face, bite, trash talk, kick your booty, fight—and win! He simply stubbornly refused to lose.
Hey parents, listen up: We need more Iron Mike Tysons in this world.
Oh, you read that right. What I mean is we need parents who are willing to hit, scrap, punch, bite, and fight for their kids! (Of course, I don’t mean you should hit your kids.)
But here’s who you should hit: the enemy who’s bent on stealing, killing, and destroying our families. And it’s totally gloves off with that punk. It’s Rumble in the Jungle, Thrilla in Manila, Sting in the Ring, Fight of the Century, all-out war!
But instead of Iron Mike Tyson parenting, what we’re surrounded with today is lazy, apathetic, exhausted, busy, workaholic, God-dodging, materialistic parenting. Mom and Dad, it’s time you turn off that phone. Stuff that To-Do list in a drawer. Turn off the TV. Get your butt up off that couch. Lace up your boxing gloves… And FIGHT for your kids.
Five Things Every Parent Needs to Fight for for Their Kids:
1. Time. James 4:13–14 says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” Make time for your kids today. Nobody’s promising you a tomorrow with them.
2. Purity. Did you know that the largest audience for Internet porn is kids aged twelve to seventeen years old? Understand this: Satan has a dream, a vision, and a coordinated plan to take your kids out. He wants them checking out porn, keeping secrets, rounding second base and sliding into third, plunging headlong into promiscuity! Parents, please… dig deep and find the guts to FIGHT for your kids’ purity!
3. Marriage. Is your marriage on life support? Are you at that point where the doc should just come in and pull the plug? Have you been secretly dreaming about some other person besides your spouse? Have you been having an emotional affair? What about a full-on sexual one? Then let me tell you what happens next: Fight for your marriage! Or risk losing it all—including your kids. It really is just that simple. Sure, it’s tough. I get it. Things are jacked up. I get that maybe you’re not “feeling it” anymore. But one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is modeling for them how to have a healthy, vibrant, passionate love affair—with your spouse!
4. History. So, what’s your deal? Are you a yeller? Does your anger cause your kids to walk on eggshells around you? Are you a workaholic? Spiritually passive? Porn addict? Critical heart? You know that’s not who you want to be. So why are you still keeping that old man around? Kick him to the curb! Find out what it really means to be in Christ, and to have Him in you. You CAN change the pattern of history that has so far defined your life. Write the legacy that your kids deserve. But here’s the thing: You’re going to have to get bloody knuckles to make it happen. FIGHT!
5. The Obvious. Fight to keep Jesus in the center of your family. The only thing trying to stop you is the whole world. Don’t let it. Push back. When the cares of this world try to start a fistfight with your family, you pull a knife. When they pull a knife, you pull a gun. Fight! Every day of your life, as soon as you get up, strap on your armor. (See Ephesians 6:10–18 to learn how.) Read God’s Word together, pray together, go to church together, talk about Jesus on the way to school, when you get up and before you go to bed. It's time to RE-UP. Recommit to making Jesus the centerpiece of your life.
This post was taken from the booklet Sex, Lust and XXX: Fighting for your kids' purity in a sex saturated world.
BE A MAN.
Each Christian must be prepared for conflict. Paul calls this wrestling with wicked spirits (Eph 6:10-20). No Christian can hope to enter the warfare of the ages without first learning to sit with Christ and rest in what He has done, and then, thru the power of the Holy Spirit within, to follow Him in a practical , holy life here on earth. If the Christian is deficient in either of these, he will find that all the talk about spiritual warfare remains only talk; he will never know its reality. We sat and rested with Christ and are learning how to walk with Him before the world but how are we to conduct ourselves in the presence of God's adversary (and ours)?
God's word is STAND. Put on the whole armor of God that may be able to STAND against the schemes of the devil. The Greek verb STAND with its following preposition AGAINST really means HOLD YOUR GROUND.
This is a truth found in God's Word. It is not a command to invade a foreign territory. Warfare would imply a command to march. Armies march into other countries to occupy and to subdue. However, God has not told us to do this.
We are not to march but STAND.
The word STAND implies that the ground disputed by the enemy is really God's and therefore ours. We need not struggle to gain a foothold of it. Jesus' victory on the cross was offensive. He won us back from satan. That mean's our warfare is, in essence, defensive. We war against satan only to maintain and consolidate the victory which Jesus has already gained.
In Christ, we are more than conquerors.
In Jesus, we STAND. Thus, we do not fight for victory; we fight from victory.
We must not ask the LORD to enable us to overcome the enemy, nor even look to Him to overcome, but praise Him because He has already done so.
He is Victor.
It is all a matter of faith in Him. If we believe the LORD, we shall not pray so much but rather we shall praise Him more. The simpler and clearer our faith in Him, the less we shall pray in such situations and the more we shall praise. In Christ, we are already conquerors.
Do you see what it means to STAND? We do not try to gain ground; we merely stand on the ground which the Lord Jesus has gained for us, and resolutely refuse to be moved from it.
The Christian life then, consists of sitting with Christ, walking by Him and standing in Him. We begin our spiritual life by resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. That rest is the source of our strength for a consistent and unfaltering walk in this world. And at the end of a grueling warfare with the hosts of darkness we are found standing with Him at last in triumphant possession of the field.
This post is adapted from the book, SIT, WALK, STAND by Watchman Nee.
BE A MAN.
That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering. ”
God had called Gideon to serve Him. In fact, God greeted Gideon with the moniker, "mighty warrior." What a greeting! How would you like God to say that to you to get your attention? As part of his call, though, God told Gideon to do something very brave. He had to get rid of his father's idols.
I was reminded of this recently, on a visit with my father. We stopped at a gas station to fill up the gas tank of his truck and when we were driving away, he was writing down the cost of the gas and the mileage of the truck. My dad has done that ever since I could remember. If he paid by cash, debit or credit card, he always wrote that down. My dad was raised in the depression era so he learned from his father about the need to count every penny.
As he was writing, I recalled my first car. I got a little notepad (just like my dad's) and wrote down my gas usage and miles. I did that for probably my first two cars. When I got my third car, I thought to myself, "why are you doing that for?" I recalled that I had simply been following my father's example. Now, I don't have the financial acumen that my father has nor do I have the same interests in knowing about mileage and gas usage (although, I don't blame my father at all for this behavior, it is a good discipline).
Gideon, however, had a different kind of father. His father had a half-hearted desire to please God. Sure, his father worshiped God but he had also built an altar to another god. God told Gideon that if he was going to really be the Mighty Warrior that God intended, then he would have to get rid of his father's idols. He was to serve God wholeheartedly and have integrity in his worship of the One and Only True God.
So, now, even though my father is old, and he can't hear very well which leads to some difficulty in communicating, I'm so grateful for a father that continues to teach me about serving God wholeheartedly. Just being in his presence is meaningful to me. I'm praying that God will help me to be even half the example to my kids as my dad is to me.
What about you? Are there things that you need to do differently? Have you been doing some things just because you have been taught or had the behavior modeled for you?
That's good if you have a godly heritage; however, if your dad is like Gideon's, maybe there are some things that you need to do differently.
Ask God to show you how to have a wholehearted devotion to Him.
Get rid of those idols...
BE A MAN.
There is a difference between being masculine and being macho. Masculinity is our healthy expression of the uniqueness of being created a man in God's design. The behaviors of a macho man are instead unhealthy expression of the stereotypes of masculinity lived out in their most extreme forms. The macho man perverts true masculinity. He pretends to be strong by acting aggressively and creating about himself an image of power, both of which mask the deeper reality of the insecurity within. The truly masculine man knows who he is in God and enjoys a healthy integration of this emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual nature. This wholeness comes from knowing and responding to the truth that he is fully loved and accepted in Christ. The masculine man in Christ is truly set free to become all that he is meant to be.
The macho man lives out an image of manhood that emphasizes only one small part of what it means to be male. He pretends that it is possible to live life with a constant erection. But, our physical genital reality reminds us that we are only sometimes hard. Most of the time, we are are soft. The majority of our lives is lived out as penis, not erected phallus, and this is normal and proper for men. Think of what it would be like in actuality if we had to live the whole of our lives with an erection. This is a grotesque image. Yet it is the kind of masculine image many macho men attempt to convey thru their personalities as they relate to those around them.
It is far healthier and more productive to recognize and celebrate the broader dimensions of our masculinity modeled for us most completely by the man Jesus, our loving LORD. As He demonstrated, a man's strength is not rooted in violent aggression or in an obsession with worldly power, but in the Godlike power of sacrificial love.
A man is not weak, but strong, when he wisely chooses to live the predominant portion of this life with his sword in his sheath. This is not a man feminized. This is a masculine man who has given up the false god of proud machismo and has delivered his complex and diverse masculine personality into the hands of God to be shaped by the demands of love.
This post is taken from Temptations Men Face.
BE A MAN.
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
We live somewhere between belief and unbelief. Our faith wavers. At times faith is strong and stable. At times it is weak, and shaken.
For many of us, our capacity for trust has been diminished by experiences with people who were not trustworthy. We have learned by painful experience that we will be disappointed if we trust. One of the most intense struggles in recovery is to rebuild our capacity for trust and hope. We want to believe, but we are afraid.
Some people believe that God will respond only to people who 'believe enough'. "If you have enough faith, God will hear you," they say. But Jesus said "All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed." The mustard is the smallest of seeds. God does not reject small, limited faith. God will not ignore even the desire to believe. God will not dismiss a willingness to learn to trust. Mountains have been moved by less. God accepts our limited faith.
God does not ask us to wait until we are certain and strong in faith. God accepts us as we are, even with our limited faith.
Lord, you see my struggle to believe,
and to hope.
You know my fears,
Help me to accept the limits of my faith.
Help me to bring my limited faith to you.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery
There is a fascinating bit of story told of one of David's mighty men. One day there was a sudden attack upon the camp by the Philistines when the fighting men were all away. This man, Eleazar, alone was there.
The Philistines were the traditional enemy. The very word "Philistines" was one to strike terror to the Hebrew heart. But this man was reckoned one of the first three of David's mighty men because of his conduct that day.
Eleazar quietly, quickly gripped his sword and fought the enemy single-handedly. Up and down, left and right, hip and thigh he smote with such terrific earnestness and drive that the enemy turned and fled.
We are also told that the muscles of his hand became so rigid around the handle of his sword that he could not tell by the feeling where his hand stopped and the sword began. Man and Sword were one that day in the action of service against the nation's enemy.
When we so absorb this Book (The Sword) and the Spirit of Him who is its life that people cannot tell the line of division between the man and the God within the man, then shall we have the mightiest power as God's intercessors in defeating the foe. God and man will be as one in the action of service against the enemy.
This illustration is taken from Quiet Talks on Prayer by S.D. Gordon
BE A MAN.
This is the listing of David's top men.
Josheb-Basshebeth, the Tahkemonite. He was chief of the Three. He once put his spear to work against eight hundred—killed them all in a day.
Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite was the next of the elite Three. He was with David when the Philistines poked fun at them at Pas Dammim. When the Philistines drew up for battle, Israel retreated. But Eleazar stood his ground and killed Philistines right and left until he was exhausted—but he never let go of his sword! A big win for God that day. The army then rejoined Eleazar, but all there was left to do was the cleanup.
Shammah son of Agee the Hararite was the third of the Three. The Philistines had mustered for battle at Lehi, where there was a field full of lentils. Israel fled before the Philistines, but Shammah took his stand at the center of the field, successfully defended it, and routed the Philistines. Another great victory for God!
One day during harvest, the Three parted from the Thirty and joined David at the Cave of Adullam. A squad of Philistines had set up camp in the Valley of Rephaim. While David was holed up in the Cave, the Philistines had their base camp in Bethlehem. David had a sudden craving and said, "Would I ever like a drink of water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem!" So the Three penetrated the Philistine lines, drew water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David wouldn't drink it; he poured it out as an offering to God, saying, "There is no way, God, that I'll drink this! This isn't mere water, it's their life-blood—they risked their very lives to bring it!" So David refused to drink it.
This is the sort of thing that the Three did.
Abishai brother of Joab and son of Zeruiah was the head of the Thirty. He once got credit for killing three hundred with his spear, but he was never named in the same breath as the Three. He was the most respected of the Thirty and was their captain, but never got included among the Three.
Benaiah son of Jehoiada from Kabzeel was a vigorous man who accomplished a great deal. He once killed two lion cubs in Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he climbed down into a pit and killed a lion. Another time he killed a formidable Egyptian. The Egyptian was armed with a spear and Benaiah went against him with nothing but a walking stick; he seized the spear from his grip and killed him with his own spear.
These are the things that Benaiah son of Jehoiada is famous for. But neither did he ever get ranked with the Three. He was held in greatest respect among the Thirty, but he never got included with the Three. David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
"The Thirty" consisted of:
Asahel brother of Joab;
Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem;
Shammah the Harodite;
Elika the Harodite;
Helez the Paltite;
Ira son of Ikkesh the Tekoite;
Abiezer the Anathothite;
Sibbecai the Hushathite;
Zalmon the Ahohite;
Maharai the Netophathite;
Heled son of Baanah the Netophathite;
Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah of the Benjaminites;
Benaiah the Pirathonite;
Hiddai from the badlands of Gaash;
Abi-Albon the Arbathite;
Azmaveth the Barhumite;
Eliahba the Shaalbonite;
Jashen the Gizonite;
Jonathan son of Shammah the Hararite;
Ahiam son of Sharar the Urite;
Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maacathite;
Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite;
Hezro the Carmelite;
Paarai the Arbite;
Igal son of Nathan, commander of the army of Hagrites;
Zelek the Ammonite;
Naharai the Beerothite, weapon bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah;
Ira the Ithrite;
Gareb the Ithrite;
Uriah the Hittite.
Thirty-seven, all told.
BE A MAN.