Last week I was reading an article that really got me thinking. The article was entitled “This Is the Average Man’s Body” and it talked about how the average male who lives in the United States has a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) , waist size, and as a whole is considered more obese than the average male from any other country. The part that caught my attention was the word average. What exactly is “average?” If you were to look it up in the dictionary, you might find something like “typical, common, or ordinary.”
We all knew someone in school who barely did enough to get by what was required of him or her. It really hit me hard when I thought that many times in life, that “someone” has been me. Colossians 3:23 (The Message) says “And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best.” The NIV version translates the same verse this way – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” I always took the NIV version to literally mean work or my job. The more I reflected on the verse, the more I realized it was applicable to everything in my life. When it comes to my friendships/relationships am I just phoning it in? Am I doing the bare minimum as a leader? How about my health and taking care of myself? When I take inventory of my life, I can honestly say that I never want to find myself being average.
In what area(s) of your life have you found yourself being “average” lately?
Photo Credit: By Nate Steiner
The topic of God’s will can be very perplexing if we let it. We think of it as an equation: If I do “this” and then do “that” it will equal the will of God. It’s not quite that simple, or is it? I remember hearing someone say “Find where God is active in your life and join Him.” David G. Benner’s book Desiring God’s Will: Aligning Our Hearts with the Heart of God tries to shed some light on how we can truly desire God’s will, embrace it, and live in it.
This book is the third and final book in a series (Surrender to Love and The Gift of Being Yourself being the first and second books respectively). Its seven chapters include: Ways of Willing; My Kingdom, Thy Kingdom; Love and Will; Choosing God; Will and Desire; Choosing the Cross; Developing a Discerning Heart. I think Dr. Benner puts it best when he says, “Surrendering to God’s will makes little sense if we are not convinced of the depths of God’s love for us.” He further discusses how we get confused about God’s will thinking we must “know” it rather than how to “choose” it. He also talks about how we on our own don’t have the willpower to truly desire God’s will…that it is something for which we truly need Him to act on our behalf.
I found this final book to be an easy read and found myself eager to finish it to learn more about the topic of God’s will. I had several takeaways, but here are just a few:
- “What a tragedy if we lump choosing God in with things that are not naturally attractive. Is it any wonder that the thought of surrendering to God’s will evokes mixed feelings? Choosing God’s dream for us feels like choosing to take bitter medicine.”
- “Looked at carefully, willfulness is more against something than for something.”
- “The act of willing surrender is a choice of openness, a choice of abandonment of self-determination, a choice of cooperation with God.”
- “Discipline was, for Jesus as it should be for us, grounded in relationship and shaped by desire.”
- “We become love only only by surrender and self-sacrifice. The beginning of this journey is the return to ‘our Father,’ a journey that we take with the other prodigal sons and daughters who are brothers and sisters.”
- “God’s will cannot be separated from God’s kingdom.”
I highly recommend this book. It is more geared to those who are more established in their faith, but I also think that new believers would also be able to gain a great deal of knowledge from it as well.
Photo Credit: By Amazon.com
I’ll be the first to admit that I may not be the best person to tell others what to wear or not wear (there is a picture of me as a child wearing Sesame Street corduroy overalls that will be further proof of that statement). Last night, I was having dinner with a couple of friends at a local restaurant and in walked a group of what could only be described as hipster college students. One guy stood out in particular. He was probably in his early 20′s and had a full beard, but that wasn’t what you immediately saw. This guy had a good bit of chest hair and was wearing a tank top. When I say he had a “good bit of chest hair,” I mean it looked like he could have been part ape.
If you’re that hairy, why would you even consider wearing a tank top out to eat? When I saw him (okay, the chest hair)…it made me think of a quote from the movie DodgeBall. Chest hair that is long enough to braid should be the first sign that maybe a tank top just isn’t for you! Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against chest hair (I have a lot of it myself) but you should really think about how you look when you go out in public. I kept thinking “What if some of his chest hair ends up in his food?!?!” GROSS!
Maybe they should offer a college class for us guys – “What You Should/Should Not Wear 101!” I know I could have benefited from it earlier in life (and probably even at times now…female friends have been a blessing for this straight guy when it comes to my clothes). If your chest hair resembles that of Tom Selleck or Steve Guttenburg, maybe you should think twice before you consider going out in public wearing a tank top. You’ll be doing us all a favor (plus you won’t get chest hair in your food!).
This weekend was our annual Singles Leader Retreat for church. “Be” was our theme this year and the scripture this was based on was Exodus 14:14 – “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” We had four sessions and the topics were “Be Present,” “Be Still,” “Be Yourself,” and “Be Grateful.” The session that was most relevant to me right now was “Be Still.” This session was led by John Hambrick and Sue Bates (two members of the staff at Buckhead Church).
One thing that John said really hit home with me – “Our purpose is to experience and enjoy God!” To help us better understand this concept, they gave us eight verses from scripture and asked us to go spend an hour alone, praying, reading the passages, and listening to hear what God had to say to us through these scriptures. At first I didn’t think it would take me the whole hour, but the time quickly passed. I just wanted to share these scriptures and what God revealed to me through them (I am linking the verses below to The Message Translation, because I really like how it speaks as we would today).
Romans 11:36 – God is the source. Nothing happens to us (challenges, growth, rewards, etc.) without His permission. If it’s something good, He entrusts me and values me enough for me to take on the task. If it’s a challenge or a period of growth, He thinks I can handle it.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – Be present and enjoy what God is doing in your life right now. Don’t let the negativity of others take your joy and your focus away form what is important. Give God the glory!
Psalm 19:1-4 – Don’t be so busy that you forget to stop and look at God’s creation. Class is always in session and we can learn so much from just being silent.
2 Peter 1:3-4 – A relationship with God is an investment. You have to spend time being intimate and personal with Him in order to grow in your relationship. Be a participant, not a spectator.
Psalm 73:24-28 – God is holding my hand and leading me. He doesn’t force “followship” but He leads tenderly and with wisdom. Desire only God…He is the only thing that lasts. As I grow older God is still strong, firm, and faithful…He never changes.
John 17:21-23 – God sent us to be right where we are at this present time and place. He has a reason for our current placement and often we may not understand why, but if we take a step back and look at it from a different perspective we can embrace it and be a part of what God is doing now. God loved us so, we have no excuse for not loving others.
Philippians 4:4-7 – Experience and embrace God 24/7. Give people no doubt to Whom you belong. Replace worrying with prayer. When you give your worries to God through prayer, the results are life changing.
Psalm 27:4 – Be fully present with God. Observe and acknowledge the beauty of all He has done in and through you. Imagine yourself at the throne of God, in His presence bowing at His feet in reverence. Fear and be awestruck by God.
What is God saying to you through these passages?
Photo Credit: By Ryk Neethling
A few weeks ago, I did a post geared toward women that talked about the objectification of men. This post is for the guys out there. I was reading an article today on the New York Times website and the whole point of the article was that it has become “in fashion” (so to speak) for guys to go around the streets of New York with out a shirt. It would be one thing if you were at the beach, the pool, or out running but it talked about guys just out doing errands in the city without a shirt.
My first thought when I read the article was “SERIOUSLY?!?! Who does that?!?!” It’s not something that I would do and I can’t think of any of my friends that would do that. As men, have we lost our sense of decency? I understand that sometimes the temperature can get unbearably hot, but when you are out in public in the city please keep your shirt on! I don’t care if you look like Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds, or if you’re the fattest guy on the planet — nobody wants to see you without a shirt while you are in a public place…it’s just disturbing! Be a gentleman and cover up! More often than not there are ladies present and you don’t want to be known as the “creepy shirtless guy.”
How did this even become a thing? I can remember a time in society where if you didn’t wear a shirt in public people looked at your strange and businesses would not serve you. When (and why) did men being shirtless in public become “normal?!”
Photo Credit: By homelesshub
Recently I have had the misfortune of dealing with migraines. The positive thing is that I found out what was causing said migraines (a tooth issue) and have had it fixed, which has resulted in relief. In dealing with the migraines, God has used them to reveal to me how much they are like sin in our lives. It may sound silly at first, but please hear me out as it will make sense when I am finished.
When you have a migraine, you don’t want to be exposed to light. When we deal with sin in our lives we honestly don’t want to be exposed to light either. We take the “what people don’t know won’t hurt them” approach and try to keep our sin hidden from others, but no matter how hard we try that sin will eventually be brought into the light for all to see in some form or fashion.
You don’t like being told what to do when you have a migraine. The last thing you want is someone trying to tell you how to “fix” your migraine issue. Sin is the same in that we don’t want people telling us what we should be doing to “fix” our sin problem. We would rather just attempt to do things on our own, but we all know how that ends. Migraines cause us to become isolated from others – you just want to be alone and not be bothered. Sin isolates us from the people who love us the most…our friends and family. We seclude ourselves from others because we don’t want to be judged or just don’t want to face others due to the shame we feel as a result of our sin.
Both migraines and sin involve pain of some kind – with migraines the pain is almost always immediate and lingers, but with sin pain doesn’t always happen instantaneously…it can take some time before you feel the painful consequences of sin. There are also after effects with both – a migraine may make you may feel weak, fatigued, sick, or exhausted afterwards and sin may do the very same thing. Both migraines and sin can feel paralyzing, in that once you’re dealing with them you feel constricted and can’t move.
I’ve often found myself bargaining with God when dealing with either a migraine or sin. “God, if you make this migraine go away, then I’ll <fill in the blank>!” These negotiations are based on things which we never plan on following through – “God, if you get me out of this situation I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life, I’ll tithe, and I’ll never do this again!” God can easily see through our child-like pleas and knows what it will take to bring us back around to Him and sometimes it takes us suffering the consequences of our actions.
Migraines can happen to anyone…no one is immune. The same is true of sin – the only one who was sinless was Jesus Christ. Romans 8:23 states it clearly – “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The thing is, just because we are prone to sin doesn’t mean we have an excuse to sin. What we do with this sin us completely up to us. Will you let it consume you and rule your life? Will you ask for God’s forgiveness, turn from it, and use it as a learning experience?
What is another illustration you’ve heard comparing sin to something else?
Photo Credit: By Ben Photog
Something has been on my mind lately. Women (specifically single women) I am posing these thoughts to you. I’ve always been taught that you don’t treat women as objects…they are people with feelings and of great value. Women comment about how men can be jerks because of the way they look at and treat women. My issue is these same women will turn around and treat men the same way they don’t want to be treated. Granted, this is not ALL women.
What gets me is these women (Christian women mind you) will go see movies like Magic Mike and describe in great detail their attraction to these Hollywood men who look like a Greek god. Then they complain about not being able to find a Godly man when they have set these unrealistic expectations that no man can ever meet. Society has jumped on this notion and uses it to promote everything from salad dressing to diet sodas.
We often hear about women dealing with self-image issues due to things men have said or done, but women don’t realize that men deal with these same type of issues as well. Did you know that 10-15% of those who suffer from anorexia or bulimia are male? Also men are less likely to seek treatment for anorexia or bulimia due to the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.” It may be hard to believe, but at times men struggle with self-image more than women. As men, it’s not really about how we see ourselves, but how we perceive others may see us.
Single guys like myself who are trying to live a Godly life get easily discouraged by all of this because we don’t look like Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, or whatever “perfect” celebrity man women are crazy over at the moment. How can we compete with that? We can’t, so more often than not we don’t even try.
Below are two videos that I’ve seen recently that are further proof of this. The first video is for Kraft’s Zesty Italian salad dressing featuring an attractive man who ends up shirtless (I’m confused on what this has to do with salad dressing). The second video is a campaign for Men’s Wearhouse called “Give The Suit Off Your Back” which is encouraging men to bring in their slightly worn suits to donate to homeless men. The purpose is great, but the delivery is just not right — buff, shirtless men in neckties and their boxers standing on the street corner with women practically drooling over them.
How can we retrain society to prevent these issues for men in the future?
Photo Credit: By ed and eddie