Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vigilance with sin...

As the end of summer is nearing and I'll be going back to school in 9 days, I've been reflecting on the summer and what I have learned. Often times a friend at school will ask, "what did God teach you this summer?" So I've been thinking about what He's been teaching me...because, for the Christian, God is always working in our lives...teaching us and shaping us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

So, what did (is) God teach (teaching) me this summer? The thing that stands out to me is that God has reaffirmed for me my need to be vigilant in my fight with sin. The pull towards it can be so subtle...a lingering look at something I know I shouldn't be looking at...a thought being entertained that I know is wrong...and before I know it I'm falling into sin...

I have to be vigilant about what I'm feeding my mind, and this means guarding my eyes and ears too.

In this fight of course "the best defense is a good offense." This means that we're renewing our mind with truth from God's Word and praying. When we're meditating on truth from God's Word and allowing those truths to move from our heads to our hearts, this is our offense. We're reclaiming the territory of our mind and fueling our affections for God.

But even when we're doing this, there are those moments in our lives when temptations come...we see those images, our minds begins to be drawn away to chase that idol...we have to have a good defense in that moment. Our first instinct should be to get away from the temptation before it gets a foothold...but it cannot end there.  The next thing I've found that works well for me is that I pray...ask God to help me in that moment to overcome the temptation...but it cannot end there either. Because my sinful flesh is going to pull my mind back to those images, idols. This is when I need to renew my mind with scripture...those thoughts need to be replaced with truth from God's Word. As I meditate on those truths, it pushes out all the garbage.

This is a constant battle that we will fight our entire earthly lives...but our merciful God has not left us alone in this fight...He's given us tools for this battle!

Another tool He has given us is other believers. God never intended for this Christian life to be lived alone. It sounds spiritual to say, "all I need is God" but really this is foolish. God has given us fellow believers to encourage us when we're struggling. They can pray with us, for us, and they can offer advice to help us. 

Now, I've made it sound kind of simple, but like I've said, the pull toward sin is very subtle, and we have to be vigilant. We need God's grace...we need His strength to keep fighting, even when it gets REALLY hard. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dangerous Men

Has anyone ever heard someone say, "Inside every man there's a little boy trying to escape"?  I agree with this statement...sort of.  Or I should say, I understand what makes people say this.

What makes them say this is when an adult man finds himself doing or wanting to do reckless/crazy things.  Perhaps this is said when he goes or wants to go skydiving (something that I have secretly wanted to do...although I guess it's not a secret anymore), swimming with sharks (something I don't want to do), or running a marathon (something I do want to do someday).  Perhaps it could be said when a grown man LOVES to watch superhero movies (something I do like to do), or plays way too many video games where he does violent things (something I do not like to do).

There is something inside a grown man that makes him long for danger...I know this sounds crazy, but it's true.  I still will often find myself fantasizing that I'm a superhero saving the day.  We say that this is childlike, but is it really?  Is it wrong for a grown man to feel this way?  I would submit to you that it is not wrong for a man to feel this way, but it can be expressed in an incorrect manner.  Allow me to explain...

As we see in the Scriptures, God made man to be the leader.  To courageously fight for what is right, to lead his family and to not be afraid to take risks in the process.

The sad thing, however, is that too often this desire is squashed by unfulfilled expectations.  I could go into details about why this often happens, but there are too many to name.  But lets just say something happens that makes him feel like he can't, or shouldn't give in to these urges to lead, these urges to be the courageous man God has created him to be.  So fear overtakes him and the man/young man/boy pushes those feelings away...but as much as he tries to quiet them, he can't...they're who he is.  So these desires manifest themselves in doing completely ridiculous things (pulling awful pranks on his friends, or giving into dares from his friends to do VERY dangerous things), illegal things, or in playing too many video games (the video games allow them to vicariously do the things they've always wanted to do).

These lists I have made are by no means comprehensive, they're just some areas where I've seen this problem manifested.

So, what should we as men do to combat this problem?  Well, some of us may need serious counseling by Godly Christian men to work through the struggles in our lives that have caused us to be crippled by this fear of leading.  As we work through these things, God will help us to learn how to lead.  This is something God has been working on in my life over the last few years.

So, my fellow men...let us, by God's grace, seek to be the men God created us to be.  To be the leaders God created us to be.  To not be afraid to take risks, to stand up for the truth.

Now, before I close this...I feel the need to clarify it wrong for men/boys to enjoy video games and superhero movies?  No, I don't think so.  But if a man is allowing it to become his "substitute leadership" (as in, he's living vicariously through the characters), and not truly leading in real life...then there's a problem.

Okay, that is all.  Often times I feel like my blog posts are a bunch of random thoughts strung I hope that all made sense.