Monthly Archives: October 2011

From The ” True Vine” by F.B. Meyer-Oct. 30

     I found this to be a good reminder that the results of what I do aren’t my responsibility but God’s.   

” I Chose You, and Appointed You, That Ye Should Go and Bear Fruit, and That Your Fruit Should Abide ”

Joh_15:16

There are some fruits that will not keep. One sort of pears or apples must be used at once; another sort can be kept over till next year. So there is in Christian work some fruit that does not last. There may be much that pleases and edified, and yet there is no permanent impression made on the power of the world or the state of the Church. On the other hand, there is work that leaves its mark for generations or for eternity. In it the power of God makes itself lastingly felt. It is the fruit of which Paul speaks when he describes the two styles of ministry: “My preaching was not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstrations of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” The more of man with his wisdom and power, the less of stability; the more of God’s Spirit, the more of a faith standing in God’s power.

Fruit reveals the nature of the tree from which it comes. What is the secret of bearing fruit that abides? The answer is simple. It is as our life abides in Christ, as we abide in Him, that the fruit we bear will abide. The more we allow all that is of human will and effort to be cut down short and cleansed away by the divine Husbandman, the more intensely our being withdraws itself from the outward that God may work in us by His Spirit; that is, the more wholly we abide in Christ, the more will our fruit abide.

What a blessed thought! He chose you, and appointed you to bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide. He never meant one of His branches to bring forth fruit that should not abide. The deeper I enter into the purpose of this His electing grace, the surer my confidence will become that I can bring forth fruit to eternal life, for myself and others. The deeper I enter into this purpose of His electing love, the more I will realize what the link is between the purpose from eternity, and the fruit to eternity: the abiding in Him. The purpose is His, He will carry it out; the fruit is His, He will bring it forth; the abiding is His, He will maintain it.

Let everyone who professes to be a Christian worker, pause. Ask whether you are leaving your mark for eternity on those around you. It is not your preaching or teaching, your strength of will or power to influence, that will secure this. All depends on having your life full of God and His power. And that again depends upon your living the truly branchlike life of abiding—very close and unbroken fellowship with Christ. It is the branch, that abides in Him, that brings forth much fruit, fruit that will abide.

Blessed Lord, reveal to my soul, I pray Thee, that Thou hast chosen me to bear much fruit. Let this be my confidence, that Thy purpose can be realized—Thou didst choose me. Let this be my power to forsake everything and give myself to Thee. Thou wilt Thyself perfect what Thou hast begun. Draw me so to dwell in the love and the certainty of that eternal purpose, that the power of eternity may posses me, and the fruit I bear may abide.

That ye may bear fruit. O my heavenly Vine, it is beginning to dawn upon my soul that fruit, more fruit—much fruit—abiding fruit is the one thing Thou hast to give me, and the one thing as branch I have to give Thee! Here I am. Blessed Lord, work out Thy purpose in me; let me bear much fruit, abiding fruit, to thy glory.

Taken From F.B. Meyer’s “True Vine”

     We live in a world that has trouble with defining “Love” and knowing whether it is genuine or not.  True love for man, woman, child, neighbor, friend, or enemy lies in the foundation of obedience.  In our obedience to God we show the true depth of our ability to love.  Mark 12:30-31 says “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.   And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  There is none other commandment greater than these.”   John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  True love has always been, and will always be, found in the expression of our obedience to the laws of God, and our willingness to sacrifice on the behalf of others.  F.B. Meyer puts it this way: 

October 27

” Ye Are My Friends, if Ye Do the Things Which I Command You ”

Joh_15:14

Our Lord has said what He gave as proof of His friendship: He gave His life for us. He now tells us what our part is to be—to do the things which He commands. He gave His life to secure a place for His love in our hearts to rule us; the response His love calls us to, and empowers us for, is that we do what He commands us. As we know the dying love, we shall joyfully obey its commands. As we obey the commands, we shall know the love more fully. Christ had already said: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” He counts it needful to repeat the truth again: the one proof of our faith in His love, the one way to abide in it, the one mark of being true branches is—to do the things which He commands us. He began with absolute surrender of His life for us. He can ask nothing less from us. This alone is a life in His friendship.

This truth, of the imperative necessity of obedience, doing all that Christ commands us, has not the place in our Christian teaching and living that Christ meant it to have. We have given a far higher place to privilege than to duty. We have not considered implicit obedience as a condition of true discipleship. The secret thought that it is impossible to do the things He commands us, and that therefore it cannot be expected of us, and a subtle and unconscious feeling that sinning is a necessity have frequently robbed both precepts and promises of their power. The whole relation to Christ has become clouded and lowered, the waiting on His teaching, the power to hear and obey His voice, and through obedience to enjoy His love and friendship, have been enfeebled by the terrible mistake. Do let us try to return to the true position, take Christ’s words as most literally true, and make nothing less the law of our life: “Ye are my friends, if ye do the things that I command you.” Surely our Lord asks nothing less than that we heartily and truthfully say: “Yea, Lord, what Thou dost command, that will I do.”

These commands are to be done as a proof of friendship. The power to do them rests entirely in the personal relationship to Jesus. For a friend I could do what I would not for another. The friendship of Jesus is so heavenly and wonderful, it comes to us so as the power of a divine love entering in and taking possession, the unbroken fellowship with Himself is so essential to it, that it implies and imparts a joy and a love which make the obedience a delight. The liberty to claim the friendship of Jesus, the power to enjoy it, the grace to prove it in all its blessedness—all come as we do the things He commands us.

Is not the one thing needful for us that we ask our Lord to reveal Himself to us in the dying love in which He proved Himself our friend, and then listen as He says to us: “Ye are My friends.” As we see what our Friend has done for us, and what as unspeakable blessedness it is to have Him call us friends, the doing His commands will become the natural fruit of our life in his love. We shall not fear to say: “Yea, Lord, we are Thy friends, and do what Thou dost command us.”

If ye do

. Yes, it is in doing that we are blessed, that we abide in His love, that we enjoy His friendship. “If ye do what I command you!” O my Lord, let Thy holy friendship lead me into the love of all Thy commands, and let the doing of Thy commands lead me ever deeper into Thy friendship.

Taken From C.H. Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”

     If we could only realize how fortunate we are to live under the grace of God through our Lord, Jesus Christ, and what a gift we have in prayer, that we have the right and the privilege to come before our Father and petition Him on the behalf of those we love and care about, and for a world gone mad.  Praise Him for loving and shielding us each an every day.

October 26

“Because of Us ”

Mat_24:22

For the sake of His elect the LORD withholds many judgments and shortens others. In great tribulations the fire would devour all were it not that Out of regard to His elect the LORD damps the flame. Thus, while He saves His elect for the sake of Jesus, He also preserves the race for the sake of His chosen.

What an honor is thus put upon saints! How diligently they ought to use their influence with their LORD! He will hear their prayers for sinners and bless their efforts for their salvation. He blesses believers that they may be a blessing to those who are in unbelief. Many a sinner lives because of the prayers of a mother, or wife, or daughter to whom the LORD has respect.

Have we used aright the singular power with which the LORD entrusts us? Do we pray for our country, for other lands, and for the age? Do we, in times of war, famine, pestilence, stand out as intercessors, pleading that the days may be shortened? Do we lament before God the outbursts of infidelity, error, and licentiousness? Do we beseech our LORD Jesus to shorten the reign of sin by hastening His own glorious appearing? Let us get to our knees and never rest till Christ appeareth.

Taken from F.B. Meyer’s “True Vine.”

     You know I’m very blessed.  I seldom have bad days.  I think the reason I have so many good days is because I always try to spend them with my Lord.  You know when you’re loved, and know it, it’s very easy to love others.  May you find this devotion as much of a blessing as I have . . . .    

October 25

 

” This is My Commandment, That Ye Love One Another, Even as I Have Loved You ”

Joh_15:12

 

This is the second time our Lord uses the expression—Even as I. The first time it was of His relation to the Father, keeping His commandments, and abiding in His love. Even so we are to keep Christ’s commandments, and abide in His love. The second time He speaks of His relation to us as the rule of our love to our brethren: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” In each case His disposition and conduct is to be the law for ours. It is again the truth we have more than once insisted on—perfect likeness between the Vine and the branch.

Even as I

—But is it not a vain thing to imagine that we can keep His commandments, and love the brethren, even as He kept His Father’s, and as He loved us? And must not the attempt end in failure and discouragement? Undoubtedly, if we seek to carry out the injunction in our strength, or without a full apprehension of the truth of the Vine and its branches. But if we understand that the “even as I” is just the one great lesson of the parable, the one continual language of the Vine to the branch, we shall see that it is not the question of what we feel able to accomplish, but of what Christ is able to work in us. These high and holy commands—”Obey, even as I! Love, even as I”—are just meant to bring us to the consciousness of our impotence, and through that to waken us to the need and the beauty and the sufficiency of what is provided for us in the Vine. We shall begin to hear the Vine speaking every moment to the branch: “Even as I. Even as I: My life is your life; and have a share in all My fullness; the Spirit in you, and the fruit that comes from you, is all just the same as in Me. Be not afraid, but let your faith grasp each “Even as I” as the divine assurance that because I live in you, you may and can live like Me.”

But why, if this really be the meaning of the parable, if this really be the life a branch may live,who do so few realize it? Because they do not know the heavenly mystery of the Vine. They know much of the parable and its beautiful lessons. But the hidden spiritual mystery of the Vine in His divine omnipotence and nearness, bearing and supplying them all the day—this they do not know, because they have not waited on God’s Spirit to reveal it to them.

Love one another, even as I have loved you

—”Ye, even as I.” How are we to begin if we are really to learn the mystery? With the confession that we need to be brought to an entirely new mode of life, because we have never yet known Christ as the Vine in the completeness of His quickening and transforming power. With the surrender to be cleansed from all that is of self, and detached from all that is in the world, to live only and wholly as Christ lived for the glory of the Father. And then with the faith that this “even as I” is in very deed what Christ is ready to make true, the very life the Vine will maintain in the branch wholly dependent upon Him.

Even as I

. Ever again it is, my blessed Lord, as the Vine, so the branch—one life, one spirit, one obedience, one joy, one love.

Lord Jesus, in the faith that Thou art my Vine, and that I am Thy branch, I accept Thy command as a promise, and take Thy “even as I” as the simple revelation of what Thou dost work in me. Yea, Lord, as Thou hast loved, I will love.

 

 

A Thought on the Influence of the Media in America

     If there’s one area in this country that shows how blind and naive it’s citizenry is to the organizations that influence it the media is number one.   Some people would say that government is number one, but I disagree.  Let me ask you a question; which one has more of an influence on you?  It seems to me that now more than ever the media is the single biggest influence on this country and it’s citizens, and thus has a lot of power.  Power to entertain, to inform, to promote agendas, to form and sway opinion, even to create and destroy policy, procedure, and people.

     In times past, I believe the media was more a reflection of our society than what it is today.  I believe the media of today has taken on the role of not only being a reflection of what is seen in society, but is now creating what is seen in society.  Do you see the difference?  It’s the difference between looking into a normal mirror and a funhouse mirror.  In one you see an accurate representation of what is placed in front of it; in the other you see a distortion of it that is barely recognizable.  I believe that this comparison is illustrative of the media of yesteryear and the media of today. 

     Think about it.  How much of what you see on t.v. is truly reflective of your life.  Examine it a little more closely.  Is t.v. an accurate reflection of you, or are you and the life you lead more a reflection of it?  For those of us who are older (of which I’m one) it’s easier to see the shift in the media of yesteryear and the media of today, and it’s ability to accurately portray it’s presentation of what it sees, and reflects back to us.  How many times have you watched or read something in the media that you later found out wasn’t true?

     Do me a favor.  Close your eyes, take a minute, and travel back in time to when you were a kid watching your favorite t.v. show.  Got it?  Okay, now go back to when your were a little older and started watching the news on t.v. and actually being interested in it.  You not only watched the local news, but the national news.  Now come on back to reality.  In your opinion, how has the media changed?  More importantly, how has it changed and formed you?

     Make no mistake.  The media of t.v. is a far different animal than it was when I was a kid.  The puppy I used to sit, watch and play with, and that I enjoyed so much has morphed into the wolf little red riding hood encountered in the classic fairytale just waiting, looking for, and ready to seize every opportunity to destroy if given a chance.  I realize that this statement isn’t going to be a popular one, and that there are few who will probably agree with it, but think about it.  

     As an example, look at the national news.  The national news is a 30 minute broadcast.  In each program you may have up to 15 stories, or more, often with a sound bite accompanying it of a few seconds duration.  What do you think the odds in Vegas are of every story being 100% true and unbiased?  If the news media is so trustworthy then why do so many of them report the same stories with different facts, and why do some report stories that others don’t show at all?  Let me give you an illustration.  The other night none of the major news networks reported this story about a woman in the wall street protests out in California that made anti-semtic remarks on air, but Fox news did.  My question is why did three networks ignore it, and one air it?  Last of all why is the word “slant” so often used in journalism, as in how to slant a story.  The definition for slant is:  “To present so as to conform to a particular bias or appeal to a certain audience.”

     I find it reprehensible that the media in this country has taken the role of creating and manipulating truth rather than presenting it as it is.  They talk about freedom of speech, and pursuit of truth, and yet fail to do them with integrity, and the result is a view promoted and distorted by hipocracy.  The media that cries about it’s constitutional rights and  privileges has failed the very thing it should hold in highest regard.  It’s promotion, presentation, and portrayal of truth and its’ freedom to pursue it.

Getting Ready to Go Meet Tracey

     The last e-mail I got from Tracey was Thursday night, so I had three days to get through before I could finally see this woman I had proposed to over the internet.  Three days to do nothing but think about her, and what she might look like, and to wonder if I’d lost every bit of sense I might have ever had.  I can tell you I was some kind of nervous .  I’d like to give an anology about how nervous I was, but I’m just not that good of a writer.  The best I can come up with is to ask you to imagine yourself in my shoes, as a man who had for most of his life done the wrong thing, made the wrong decisions, and who had just taken the biggest risk of his life by proposing to a woman I had never met.  Who was taking a last shot at love based only on what I felt in my heart, and the imprinted words of an anonymous someone that had floated across my computer screen over the last few months. 

     If that in in itself weren’t enough to make me nervous, I had one other minor thing to contend with which was my father was going with me to pick up Tracey from the bus depot.  Why would I allow that added strain? Because it was either allow him to take me to pick her up, or go there in a taxi to get her.  At the time, I didn’t have a car, nor a license, so going to get her would have been problematic for me.  It was either him or the taxi, and to be blunt about it, he was cheaper.  Somehow I thought it would make a better impression on Tracey to have my father drive us back to my apartment rather than for me to arrange for a taxi to take us back.  It seems absolutely crazy to me, I almost wish I’d still beeen drinking so I’d have an excuse, but the thought of my father and Tracey meeting and how awkward that may have been for her never entered my mind.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking I was either certifiably stupid or crazy not to have thought about Tracey’s feelings having to meet me, and then my father in almost the same breath.

     Anyway, after what seemed an eternity, Monday morning arrived.  I was tired, worried, excited, happy, sad, on edge, calm, glad, hyper, and all the rest of those words that describe feelings and are completely opposite of one another.  You say it I probably felt it that morning.  I’d spend the majority of the night cleaning an apartment that already sparkled.  Armed with Endust, windex, and comet I had scoured every surface within an inch of it’s life expectancy.  I’d called my Dad at 3:00 a.m. just to make sure he knew what day it was, and what time we needed to be there to pick her up.  At 8:00 a.m. I called to make sure he hadn’t forgotten about me, and when was he going to come and pick me up.  I vaguely remember him telling me to relax or something like that, and if I called again he was going to stop on the way and pick up my grandmother to go with us.  (You remember my mentioning my grandmother from an earlier post, don’t you?)  Being sufficiently threatened, I begged for mercy, promised I wouldn’t call anymore, and hung up.

     At 10:15 a.m.  I was getting antsy.  I’d already opened the curtains, so I could see out to the street where my father would be coming in, but then grew worried that it would take too much time to close the curtains when he came, and would make us late, so I closed them.  So I opened the door in order to see when he pulled up, but the wind was blowing, and I worried that dust might blow in and get my place dirty after I’d spent so much time cleaning it, so I closed it.  I started peeking through the peephole every few minutes looking for him, and almost had a heart attack when I looked through it for the 100th time and saw his eye looking back at me!  I’m absolutely positive that if I hadn’t had a roof over my head I would have been able to touch the moon.

     My Father being the calmest man I’ve ever known, and the biggest smart butt ever born preceeded to do what he always does when I’m stressed out.  He made jokes.  Here I’m barely holding on to my sanity, and my father is cracking jokes, and just giving me hell.  Before I even knew it, we were pulling up at the bus station.  He parked across the street, and asked me if I wanted him to go with me.  I sucked in my breath, shook my head, opened the door, and walked toward the bus that was just pulling up . . . .You’re not going to want to miss what happened next. 🙂

A Thought on the State of the Church in America

     Looking at my title “A Thought on the State of the Church in America.” seems a little daunting to write about now that I’m looking at it, but I’ve often thought about this subject.  To be honest, I’m not sure it’s the wisest course of action to write about this.  It’s not like I’m an authority on any subject, and I know of no quicker way to look like an idiot than to write about something of which I have no real education, yet, I do have a thought or two on this subject so here goes. 

          To me, trying to write about the “church”  without writing about “America” is like writing half the story.  I don’t think it’s possible to write intelligently about one and leave the other out.  The fact that there are people who can routinely talk about “America,” and not even mention the “church” adds a whole new layer to the term “separation of church and state.”

     When I think about  “the church,” a number of things come to mind,  but primarily it’s failure to carry out its’ God-given mandates.  I realize a statement like this can draw some fire from people who are going to say I’m making judgements I have no right to make, that I’m being too harsh, but I’m going to stand by what I said.  How can I say something so inflamatory?  Who do I think I am making a statement like this?  The answer to the first question lies in my motivation for saying it. 

      Everything in life whether it be cars, houses, or clothes, to the way we tie our shoes, to how we feel about abortion and think about government came about as a result of making comparisons.   When I look at this country and the way it is now, and the way it was when I was a boy, and compare the two, I see a discrepancy between the country I lived in then and the one I live in now.

     I’m forty-nine.  I’ve seen a lot of things change during that time.  How about you?  Is your life now the same as it was 5, 10, 20 years ago?  Is it better now than it was then?  Is it worse?  Perhaps you feel it’s just different.  What were people like then?  How did they act in your life then as opposed to now?  What about values, morals, sports, politics, education, religion, sex, technology?   Wouldn’t you agree that all these things, and the attitudes toward them have changed?  In some instances these things have changed the way we think and live dramatically. Now am I saying any of these things are good or bad?  No, but what about the attitudes toward them? 

       Our attitude is our disposition toward something.  It’s our inclination to think and feel about things in a certain way.  Our attitudes are developed under the influence of what we experience.  We’re all a product of  the things that influence or fail to influence us.  It’s here that the “church” comes in.   Up until the 1960’s, I believe, the church was the single biggest influence on our society, and it’s people.  That’s not to say the church quit being influential, but it’s influence on society began to change.   Why is that important, and how does it play into what I think is the failure of the “church?”

     Why it’s important is because I believe it’s the church that upholds the word of God, and in doing so upholds the standards of morality and decency.  In the 1960’s, our country started undergoing changes because of the Vietnam Nam war, protests, free love, and illicit drug use, and they started having an affect on eveything around them.  Think about this.  In just the last 25 years school and workplace violence, unwed pregnancy, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, crimes against children, murders and suicides in this country have grown exponentially.  Our government, unemployment, the national debt, taxes, welfare, are all out of control, and our once great nation is now on the verge of collapse.  

      So what does this have to do with the failure of the church?  All of these things that I just talked about are social ills.  Frankly, all these things are the result of sin, of living in rebellion against God, and to be blunt are the result of the church’s failure, both as an organization and as a body, to uphold, and live out what God has called His people to be and to do.   Is that being too harsh?  Is that being unfair?  I don’t think so, and here’s why.  

     I remember a time when preachers’s taught the Word of God verse by verse, chapter by chapter.  I remember a time when I was a boy, and my pastor taught on what being a good husband and father entailed, on the value of marriage and why it was important, why you shouldn’t have sex before you were married, why it was important to be a good steward of what you had, why it was important to raise Godly children, and why it was important for children to obey their parents, what love really was, and how someone who really loved showed it.  I remember how the people I went to church with knew each other by name, how they banded together to help each other, how when one member suffered we all suffered and would gather around to help and support them.  Most of all, I remember as a child hearing about the love of God as expressed in the life of Jesus, and why He came, and what He did for me. 

     Instead of the church maintaining it’s stand, and it’s commitment to teach the Word of God, and to hold itself and it’s members accountable, it allowed hersy to enter in.  It started teaching philosophy instead of doctrine.  It allowed the things of the world to enter in, and started using the things of the world to appeal to people.  Churches started telling people that “Feeling good,” “Being happy,”  and “Name it and claim it” were what God wanted and would give.  They gave people the God they wanted and not the one they needed, and now we live in a country that spends every waking minute worshiping him.

     The thing about it is all those things have one thing in common, “SELF.”  Christ didn’t come for  him “self.”  He came for me and for you, and to gather unto himself a people who would love Him, and each other.  The failure of the church is in the fact that the one thing thing it was called to do it quit doing.  What is that?  To demonstrate to each other, and to all people, the love of Christ.    The saddest commentery on the church in America, in my opinion, is what happened right after  Sept 11.  For a period of time, the churches in our country were filled to overflowing, and then in a very short time all those people who were seeking answers quit coming.  Why?

     The answer to the “why” is because there was nothing different in the churches than what they saw in the world.  The churches forgot that it wasn’t the condemnation of Christ that drew people to it, but His love.  If our country is to survive, the only way that will happen is for the “church” to quit being the organization it has become, and become once again the living, breathing, “body of Christ” who showed through the example of His life the kind of love that could and did change the world. 

     Who do I think I am?  I think I’m a sinner who has experienced the love of Christ; who has accepted His death on the cross for my sin, and who I’ve placed my faith and trust in.   Who wants people to know that although there are hypocrites in the church that Christ isn’t one of them.    To beg you to consider what I’ve said, and to know that Christ loves you, that He died for you, that He will accept you where you are, and take you where He wants you to be.  and that all you have to do is confess that you’re a sinner, and ask Him to save you.  He will do so.    If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share, I will be happy to help or listen as you will.

A Thought on the Role of Men in Society

     It’s interesting how times have changed since I was a young boy looking up at my father, and the other men who were around me when I was growing up.  To me there’s a big difference between the men of those days, and the role they played, and the ones I see today.  

   The definition of what it is to be a man, and the role men play in society has changed since then, and, in my view, not for the better.  When I look at the men around me now days I can’t help but feel disappointed and saddened at what I see.  Let me be clear.  When I say that I’m disappointed and saddened by what I see, it’s in view of the values and characteristics used today to define what a man is, and what his role in society should be. 

     It’s interesting how society in general has changed it’s perception of what a man is, and his role in the world, but even more so in the way that the men of today define themselves and the role they play.  Ask ten men what it is to be a man, and the role they should play in society, and you’ll get ten different answers.   

     It seems there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the subject of men today on the part of society and even within themselves, and I believe it’s that confusion that’s causing some men to not only question their identity, and their role, but also their expression of those things.  I remember a time when many men defined themselves by a set of values and standards that were very clear. 

     A man defined himself, not by his physical strength, but by his willingness to use it in service to his family and to others.  He defined himself in the way he carried himself with pride.  Not a shallow, vain, self-effacing sort of pride, but a pride based upon his willingness to meet and carry responsibility with modesty and humility.  Being honest and trustworthy and dependable were the qualities he treasured, not only in himself but in others.  His commitments and his word were his bond, and he honored them.  He relied upon himself, his family, his neighbors, and most importantly his God. 

     He measured himself by his sense of justice, fairness, compassion and mercy, and not by the size of his wallet, or the breadth of his chest.  In short there were three things he loved above all others, and they were God, family, and country, and if you wanted to make him mad enough to fight then you attacked one of these. 

     Yet, as important as all the above was, and is; those things weren’t what truly defined him.  What truly defined him was his willingness to sacrifice.  That’s right.  Sacrifice.    I realize that a lot of men reading this will sneer, and tell themselves that I’m full of it, but I stand by what I said.  I hate to use the word “real” because so few people anymore actually have a sense of what it (really) is, but there’s a difference between what it is true and what is false, so I’ll say it this way.  A true man is someone who will sacrifice his wants, needs, dreams, even his life for something that is greater than himself.  A true man will put himself last instead of first. 

     It’s a great sadness to me that so many men seem to define themselves by the way they look as if six-pack abs, a bottle of hair gel and tattoos make them men.  Then there are the ones who think that having a lot of money and power make them men.  Then you have the ones who define themselves by how well they can play video games and sports.  Worst of all are the ones who think that sexual prowess with a multitude of women, and having the ability to beat the hell out of another man makes them more of one. 

     These are certainly definitions, and there are a number of men that certainly define themselves in these ways.  There’s only one problem.  The definitions above aren’t those of a man, but of boys.  I’ve absolutely nothing against boys.  I was one myself, and I understand a boys’ need to distinguish himself, to discover who he is, to find his place in the world, but at some point boys should grow up. 

     Boys live in the realm of me and I, and suffer eye trouble in the sense that they’re shortsighted.  They can’t see much beyond themselves.  It may surprise you to know that men suffer from a form of shortsightedness, too.  So what’s the difference?  Men don’t see themselves at all.  Men not only have the ability to see beyond themselves, but the willingness to sacrifice themselves on the behalf of others. 

     One of the tragedies in our society is the devaluing of men, and their role in it.  In part, the reason for why men are being devalued is simply because there has been a failure to live up to the definition of what, I think,  it is to be a man.  I believe it’s a combination of things that have contributed to this, but regardless of the reasons, the result is that we now have a preponderance of boys in our society.

    Our society in many ways mocks, and makes a laughing-stock out of the man’s role, and we do so to our harm.  If we don’t start teaching our young boys what it is to be true men, our country won’t be able to stand because there won’t be men of strength and character to lead and protect it.

A Thought on the Wall Street Protesters

     I’ve been watching the Wall Street protests, and I’ve noticed a few things.  One of the things I’ve noticed is in the beginning the vast majority of protesters were young people between the ages of 18-25.  Now I’ve noticed that several different unions and organizations have moved into the protest, and even some government officials have stated support for them. 

     As always when I have a question about someone or thing, I like to look at motives or what’s going on behind the scenes.  The truth is that few people do anything without benefit to themselves, so what are the unions and government officials getting out of supporting them? 

     Another thing I’ve noticed is that there doesn’t seem to be an overriding issue that these protestors are gathering around.  What exactly are they protesting against?  Are they protesting capitalism?  Most of them as well as everyone living in America have benefited from capitalism.  Don’t they realize that the devices they’re using to communicate are the result of that system?  I’ve seen almost every cause imaginable protested on some sign or other, so I ask you exactly what are they protesting? 

     I have no doubt that there are some really scared and sincere people there who love this country and truly believe they are doing the right thing.  I commend them for standing up for what they feel is right, but I wonder what does defecating on the hood of a taxi-cab have to do with the protest?  What about having public sex?  Some people like to say that the Wall Street protesters are the same as the tea party.  I beg to differ.  The tea party was organized, they had a central issue, and every demonstration was carried out respectfully within a designated period of time, not to mention that there were no arrests in any of those events to my knowledge. 

     It seems to me that this group of people is being exploited by others for their own purposes.  I realize that people are worried, and that they’re fearful about the future, but I fail to see how protesting Wall Street is going to change anything.  Protesting capitalism, in my view, is a lot like killing a cow because somebody got a bad bottle of milk.  It just doesn’t make sense.

     Just because people and companies abuse a system does not mean that the system itself is broken.  It’s not the system that needs to be done away with, but rather the people who abused it.  I didn’t agree with bailing out Wall Street, or for that matter bailing out anyone.  I think people as well as businesses should be responsible for themselves. 

     It bothers me when I hear talk about taking from the rich to give to the poor.  It sounds good in theory, but would you want someone to take away what you worked and sweated for.  Would you want someone else to decide how much money you could earn or what you could spend it on?  I’m sorry, but I don’t. 

     I think it’s wrong to call these people names and to demonize them just as it’s wrong to exploit them.  These people as all people have a right to be heard and to be treated fairly, but shouldn’t they as all people communicate  a clear message and present themselves with dignity?

A Thought on Suffering

     If there’s oe thing I know, it’s that suffering in one form or another is a universal experience.  We’ve all had to deal with it at one time or another.  No one escapes.  As someone who has lived with chronic pain for years, I understand the effects of living with pain on the mind and the body.  I can tell you that I’ve had many a sleepless night pondering the question of “Why.”  I’ve learned through that experience that asking “why” can take you down a long road and to a lot of different places, but ultimately it leads to a dead-end.  

     For myself, I know that a part of what I’m living through is a consequence of something I did.  Actions have consequences.  That’s the painful, ugly truth, and not admitting it doesn’t make it any less true.  Am I saying that all my suffering is a result of bad decision-making?  No.  Nor is anyone’s.  I can tell you that asking the question of  “why” only exacerbates and prolongs what is already painful.  Every answer to “why” invariably leads down the road of blame where the passengers of anger, guilt, and shame climb in the cab with us.  Often asking the question of “why” can trap us in a quagmire of  paralyzing emotion.

     That’s not to say that asking the question of “why” isn’t important and even necessary.  I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t ever asked the question, and I think it’s important to do so.  It’s so easy when suffering to get caught up in thinking that it’s our fault, that we either did or didn’t do something; if we’d only done that instead of this.  “What did I do?”, “Am I so bad?”, “I don’t deserve this.”  Trust me when I tell you that I’ve gone through the gamut of emotions and questions.

     I don’t have all the answers, but let me tell you some things that have helped me.  The first is it’s okay to ask “why.”  I believe God is big enough to handle the question.  I believe it’s all right to say “this sucks,” and “I don’t like it.”  I think God is big enough to handle our anger, pain, and frustration.  I think to deny what we feel is to deny our humanity, but even more than that I believe that God desires for us to come to Him with these things.  I don’t believe that my suffering with pain is God’s way of saying, “I’m going to get you.  I’m going to make you pay.”  I don’t believe God in Heaven is up there just waiting to pick people off. 

     If that were the case, why did He send His son to die for our sins?  Why take our guilt and shame upon himself?  If God were to do such things and to treat people in that way where would His justice, mercy, and compassion be?  The reason why Jesus died was to put an end to our suffering, our guilt and shame, and even death itself. 

     I don’t pretend to know or have all the answers.  I’m not going to try to explain God or why He does what He does, or allows what He allows.  I don’t know, and neither will you.  There are some questions we will never know the answer to in this life, and that’s all there is to it.   The thing that gives me hope, the reason I have faith is that God has revealed Himself to me in His work in and through my life.  I have experienced His love and grace firsthand.  I know where I was, I know where I am now, and I know where I will be, and I know He walks with me every step of the way.