Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Category: Brother Al (Page 1 of 43)

Those Super Bowl Ads

I watch Super Bowl ads to better understand the mood of our nation.  Some of the best minds in advertising have been hired to analyze the national mindset – with the intent to manipulate our purchasing behavior. This year the consensus seems to favor the need for relief.  If the ads have their intended effect, you will come away with a happy, positive attitude.  It’s “let the good times roll” and “cast your cares away.”  

Ad agency executives sense the country is looking for a reprieve from its problems, including the surging coronavirus, an uncertain economy, and political divisiveness. Susan Credle, FCB’s Chief Creative Officer, notes, “People want to laugh and they want to feel normal again.” Sarah Long of Mars Wrigley believes people “want to smile, they want to be positive.”  

In recent years ads have tackled heavy issues like cyberbullying, domestic violence, and gender stereotyping. This year the ads will pay little attention to the pandemic because people have been bombarded with “stay safe” or “we’ll all in this together.”  “Every marketer is being very careful right now because of all the tumultuous events around the world,” observed John Patroulis of WPP PLC’s Grey. “You don’t want your ad to be misconstrued or be controversial,” he added.

I must admit the ads in these last few years have been much easier on the male ego, since culture seems to have accepted the idea of “toxic masculinity.”  As you watch the ads and enjoy the game, however, my suggestion would be: think the opposite. The ads tell us to avoid our pain; I say, “Stand in the pain.”  See yourself as “a wounded healer.” 

First, Super Bowl ads can tell us something about life but they cannot deliver the “Good News.”  It’s all make-believe.  Ads only touch the surface of our lives; they are like bandages trying to hide the wounds of broken hearts and wounded souls.  Our nation needs deep soul care. We desperately need Jesus the gentle healer. “… It was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us… it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! (Is. 53:4-5 MSG). There is a place to go with pain. Bring it to Jesus. Only he can truly heal the hurting heart.   

Secondly, the ad industry might discern the state of our nation better than the Church. But it only covers up the pain. If we are to bring healing to our fractured nation, we need to address the wounds of the heart. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18). 

Thirdly, don’t use ads as an excuse to escape from reality.  We are to stand in the pain as men in our ordained places as husbands and fathers. The enemy wants to take us out. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).  But we are called to stand in the gap.  “I looked for a man… [to] stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ez. 22:30).   

Fourthly, deliberately make fun of the ads, knowing they are in conflict with your spirit.  They accentuate our struggles, warring against our spirit. “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other…” (Gal 5:16-17).

The Fury of the Fatherless

Mary Eberstadt is a sociologist who studies faith and family. She wrote recently in First Things, “… Summer 2020 signals something new.  The triply disenfranchised children of the West have achieved critical mass.  They have slipped the surly bonds of their atomized childhoods; they have found their fellow raging sufferers and formed online families; and they have burst as a destructive force onto the national consciousness en masse, left and right, as never before.”  

Like me, many of you may wonder why so many young men expressed such anger last summer with their rhetoric and destruction of property.  I often ask whether this might be due to absentee fathers. 

Eberstadt notes, “The riots amount to social dysfunction on parade. Six decades of social science have established that the most efficient way to increase dysfunction is to increase fatherlessness.”  I continually maintain in this blog the importance of fathers and their commitment to their families.  The real issue in culture as I learned years ago from Derek Prince is “renegade fathers.” 

Eberstadt believes the riots are a “frantic flight to collective political identities” that have primordial origins.  Rioting shows in part the “invisible crisis of Western paternity.” When the family has no father, a vacuum is created in which lost young men seek family substitutes. Quoting a study by the Minnesota Psychological Association, “A high percentage of gang members come from father-absent homes…possibly resulting from a need for a sense of belonging…the gang leader may fill the role of father.”

The problem of fatherless young men finding identity in gang families is not going to disappear.  More angry and lost young men are going to find their way into these gang-families.  “They have been left alone in a cosmos with nothing to guide them, not even a firm grip of what constitutes their basic humanity, and no means of finding the way home” (Deborah Savage).  Eberstadt warns, “The dispossessed children who roam the streets in search of yet more destruction…will not go away until the crisis that has unhinged them and severed them from their own is ameliorated.” 

So, what can we anticipate in the coming days?  I believe there will be more riots.  We will see young angry, disinherited men on the streets expressing their anger at our culture.  What does this mean for the reader of this blog?  Here are some suggestions:

First, give priority to the kingdom of God, in which parents hold an honored place.  The fourth commandment tells us to honor your father and mother.  There is this promise added, “so that you may live long and that it may go well with you…” (Deut. 5:16).  Proverbs 20:20 gives us a warning, “If a man curses his father and mother, his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.”  Honor your own parents for the role they played (or continue to play) in your life.

Second, be a godly man.  We cannot alleviate fatherlessness in our nation.  But we can be examples of godly men who live out godly parenting. We not only honor those placed above us, but also seek to be servant-leaders in our sphere of influence. 

Third, commit to pass on a healthy paternal principle to the next generation.  Find a fatherless young man to mentor… Be an involved dad… Read and discuss Mary Eberstadt’s article… This blog is one man’s attempt to be a voice speaking to the curse of fatherlessness in our culture. 

Fourth, remember that God opposes the proud (those opposed to authority), but gives his grace to the humble (I Peter 5:5).  May we all be men under authority.    

 

“They” and Lies

Merriam-Webster announced “they” as their Word of the Year.  The word increased 313% in 2019 over the previous year.  The pronoun “they” may now be used as a singular pronoun.  Merriam-Webster explained that “they” should be used for individuals who are “gender-nonconforming” or “nonbinary” and prefer the plural pronoun to refer to themselves, instead of “he” or “she.”

The company maintains it is important to use the correct pronouns in communicating with nonbinary individuals.  “They” as a singular pronoun is needed because English lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun “to correspond neatly with pronouns like ‘everyone,’ ‘someone’ and ‘anyone.'” For example, “No one has to come if they don’t want to.”   

Merriam-Webster’s choice of “they” is a surrender to “gender ideology” which maintains there are multiple genders rather than two sexes. Persons are able to shift from one sex to become the other.   Gender is understood as an internal sense of identity, rather than a biological reality.  As a result, more individuals and groups are demanding a change in language. 

Several years ago, when a transgender person was Time’s person of the year,  society was suddenly confronted with the quandary of “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.” These radical changes in human identity and behavior are already in the mainstream of culture.  To oppose this evolution is to be accused of “hate speech.”  For example, in New York City you can be fined for not using a person’s preferred pronouns.  

George Orwell wrote of political groups and activists revising language to change the way we think about ideas and even reality, conditioning people to  believe a lie.  Orwell said in “1984,” “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.”   Scripture warns us about believing a lie. “So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies.  Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth (II Thess. 2:11 NLT).  

The redefining of “they” will only produce more confusion. Orwell talked of “Newspeak” as a means of controlling the categories in which people think and “Doublespeak” as holding two contradictory concepts and then accepting both.  This is happening today.

Men, I have been convicted of living a lie, when I  believe “gender ideology” to be a lie,  yet remain silent as if to be giving consent.  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has called us to “live not by lies.”  By this he meant, “accepting without protest all the falsehoods and propaganda that the state compelled its citizens to affirm – or at least not to oppose – to get along peaceably under totalitarianism.”  

When tempted to believe a lie, do the following:  First,  live surrendered to Jesus. He will keep you free from captivity to cultural lies.  “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  Celebrate your freedom in humility and servanthood to those captive to lies.  

Secondly,  continually cry out for discernment.  Jesus warns us, “So be on our guard; I have told you everything ahead of time” ( Mark 13:23).  This we know: Jesus is Lord of history; We have his Word; He has given us His Spirit (the Spirit of truth); and we are part of the body of Christ.  We have a firm place to stand.    

Thirdly,  remember Jesus words, “Be as shrewd as a snake, inoffensive as a dove” (Matt 10:16 MSG).  We must be vigilant at all times, practicing His presence.  Don’t take time off.

Fourthly,  above all, practice the admonition of Isaiah 2:5, “let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  The father of lies works best in darkness.  We live as “warriors of the light.”

 

 

 

Rescuing a Brother

I meet with a group of men at my church; we call ourselves “a band of brothers.” During a recent gathering, we talked about the spiritual decline of America and abandoned, wayward brothers. We agreed that one of our missions is to “rescue” other brothers, living with broken hearts, who could be influenced by cultural lies. Many could be sinking into despair, resigned to riding out the storm alone.  

As I prayed about this, I was drawn to Jude 22-23: “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire, to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”  

“Jude wants us to become involved in the painful, yet merciful, work of helping those who are wondering about falling, who are falling, or who have fallen” (Bible Speaks Today).  Jude seems to be describing believers who were in the various stages of falling away.  “What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels.  Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license – which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master” (Jude 4 MSG). 

Oh, how easy it is for men to have their minds filled with teaching that denies the grace of God, only to get caught up in being religious and in the process moving further and further away from Jesus as Lord.  These men need to be rescued by other brothers. They live in confusion and brokenness, having lost their way home, now living in the far country (Luke 15).  Who will go and rescue them? 

According to Jude, men need to be rescued from three conditions:  First, those who are wavering.  “Some were in the early stages of wavering in their commitment to faith as a result of false teachers” (NIVZSB).  Brothers need to be  shown mercy, needing loving encouragement.  “Those driven into doubt need mercy” (N. T. Wright).  Learn to encourage struggling brothers.

Second, those who are in danger, “becoming so persuaded by the false teachers that they were in imminent danger of condemnation” (NIVZSB).  Some brothers will need rescuing from actual spiritual danger. Fire is an instrument of God’s judgment.  “Those seduced by the intruders need rescuing” N.T. Wright).

Third, those who are caught.  This group “probably consists of those who followed the false teachers” (NIVZSB), who are now caught in false teaching.  We are to show mercy but be cautious, so as not to be enticed.  “They must be urged to repent and warned of judgment” (N. T. Wright).  “Christians must be extremely cautious when showing mercy to false teachers and their followers because their sins can be enticing” (NIVZSB).

Jesus gave us fair warning of being taken in by false teaching. “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect – if that were possible. So be on your guard.  I have told you everything ahead of time” (Mark 13:22-23).  Men, you will be tempted to compromise your faith.  Satan wants to take you out of the fight.  

We who are committed to Jesus need to be aware of our wounded brothers.  There will be many in the days to come.  Paul gives us this charge and warning, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Gal 6:1).

 

The Great Reset

At its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum recently called for “The Great Reset.” Representing many of the world’s most powerful people, the Forum’s founder (Klaus Schwab) says a new movement called “the Fourth Industrial Revolution” will lead to “…a fusion of our physical, our digital and our biological identities.”  

Schwab believes the COVID-19 pandemic “represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine and reset our world to create a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous future.”  With almost religious zeal, he declares, “nothing will ever return to the ‘broken’ sense of normalcy that prevailed prior to the crisis.”  The aim of the Forum is to deliver us from our “broken normalcy.”

I reference “The Great Reset” to expose the folly of such grand schemes for humanity, and point to the true historic “Reset” in the incarnation of God himself into history.  Jesus declared himself to be “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” of human history (Rev 21:13). 

I write about “The Great Reset” during this Advent season, because Advent is meant to prepare (reset) our hearts to receive Jesus anew as our savior.  This has been a difficult year for many.  There is much uncertainty about the future and hope seems to grow dim for believers.  The subtle voice of the utopians wants to convince us of its solutions, overshadowing Jesus as the Lord of history. 

Men, we all need a new and fresh spiritual reset in light of the present suspicion, reluctance and uncertainty about the future.  But I want to shout about the elites who gather in Davos, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” for their arrogance and defiance of the almighty Lord of hosts (Ps. 2:4).

First, in our true reset we can be confident that God has spoken decisively in his Son Jesus. Hebrews 1:2 declares, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things.”  Paul boldly proclaims, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). John begins his gospel with these resounding words, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).  “Thank you, Father, for sending your only begotten Son to save us, enabling us to reset.”  

Second, those hoping for a Davos reset need to know that the spiritual kingdom of God is now reigning in the earth, and that Jesus will come back as Lord of Lords, to establish his everlasting kingdom.  In the book of Revelation, John boldly declares that we will remain with Jesus in his kingdom. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev 5:10). 

Third, those hopeful about Davos need to know there are multitudes of humble followers of Jesus laboring in his kingdom, under his authority.  This will bring everlasting results. “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:18-19)

Finally, we all need to remember that we are at war. Our battle is with the powers of darkness.  The struggle will be great.  “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you!  He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short” (Rev. 12:12).  But Paul tells us Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15).

 

 

The Expressive Individual

Civil unrest in America has been increasing.  As a nation, we hold our collective breath, hoping it will not escalate into civil war.  Personally, I lament the deep anger towards people of faith being accused of “hate speech.”  To express our views is seen as “violence.”  What gives rise to such disconcerting reactions?

I found insight from a two-part essay in Public Discourse, by Carl Trueman, discussing the rise of “Psychological Man.”  Trueman writes, “The notions that human flourishing is found primarily in an inner sense of wellbeing, that authenticity is found by being able to act outwardly as one feels inwardly, and that who we are is largely a matter of personal choice not external imposition have become common intuitions that lie at the heart of our society’s many ills.” 

However, the gospel story is one of looking up and out to a loving creator God, who has rescued us in Christ and filled us with his Spirit, so that we might flourish in Christ. We receive personhood as a gift bestowed by loving heavenly Father, who deeply desires relationship with us.  This is still the “Good News” for our fragmented age.

In Trueman’s words, “The  Expressive Individual” or “Psychological Man” is a “psychological construction.” It is a denial of reality. “We think of ourselves in terms of our inner convictions, our feelings.”  We then “interpret the purpose and meaning of our lives in line with” this view of self.  “Thus, the church, family and nation can be viewed as potential hindrances to personal authenticity.”  For example, a woman can still really be a man. 

This shift in personal consciousness now views language as oppression, while regarding traditional social virtues as political vices. Oppression is characterized as “making people feel bad about themselves, less than fully human or preventing them from being outwardly that which they are inwardly.”  Victims now need protection from moral values. 

Trueman helps makes sense of our cultural confusion.  Our speech as Bible-believing men can be viewed as hate speech.  Words become “speech-acts,” seen as instruments of violence because they cause psychological injury.  Think of the “snowflakes” who need a “safe space.” 

Policing language then becomes necessary.  Declaring the “Good News” is viewed not as virtuous, but as a vice.  “A society built on the notion of radical individual autonomy,” observes Trueman, “where the policing of language by the authorities becomes a vital part of the social contract” will mean that “individual freedom perversely comes to require political authoritarianism.” 

Human flourishing is now found in sexual satisfaction since the freedom of the inner self is shaped by our sexual desires. Sex becomes a matter of identity, rather than an activity.  “Sex is something you are, not merely something you do.”  Culture is seen as repressing our sexual instincts.  “The psychological self thus becomes central to the political struggle as do sex and sexuality.”

Trueman envisions a two-fold response:  First, we need to see the depth of the problem.  We need to explain the world to the church.  Second, we cannot underestimate the depth of the changes taking place.  Trueman’s advice: “….only by modeling true community, oriented toward the transcendent, can the church show a rapidly destabilizing world of expressive individuals that there is something greater, more solid, and more lasting than the immediate satisfaction of personal desires.”

My advice: 1) Know who you are in Christ, 2) Be wise and loving in your speech, 3) Know that speech is going to get more contested, 4) Build on the solid foundation of Jesus,  5) Find a group of like-minded men. 

 

    

 

 

Father Knows Best

I write this on Thanksgiving Day.  My bride and I are alone in our apartment due to the coronavirus. But we are content since our lifestyle already resembles that of a “monk and nun” living a somewhat atypical monastic life.  Even so, we see that Thanksgiving has changed over the years. 

I happened upon an article about the old TV show “Father Knows Best.”  During Thanksgiving week in 1954, NBC aired the show, which ends with the Anderson family praying before their meal.  After the family gathers at the table, the father leads the family in prayer: 

“Oh Lord, we give thee thanks from the depths of our humble hearts for all the blessings thou hast seen fit to bestow upon us.  We thank thee for this food, which graces our table, the roof, which covers our head.

“We thank thee for the privilege of living as free men in a country which respects our freedom and our personal rights to worship and think and speak as we choose.

“We thank thee for making us a family, for giving us sincerity and understanding.

“But most of all, dear Lord, we thank thee for giving us the greatest gift a family may know – the gift of love for one another.  Amen.”

I was 13 years old when that episode aired.  It sure brings back a lot of memories of growing up in the 50’s.  As I reflect on the evolution of my blogging, I am aware of being a voice of remembrance: “Stand at the crossroads and look: ask for the ancient paths…” (Jer. 6:16).  

Having walked with the Lord for over 60 years, I pray my voice will bring a godly perspective. We desperately need “truth tellers” since much of the past is dismissed as irrelevant or too harmful to remember.

“Father Knows Best” highlights cultural changes our nation has experienced over the years.  I am deeply grateful that I came to faith in the early 60’s and met my future bride in those early days.  Jesus has been the center; Scripture has been our moral compass; and the Spirit of Christ has continually renewed us.  Praise God the center holds and the foundation is secure.  

What are some positive impressions from “Father Knows Best” that could to be integrated into life today?  There are many.  Here are a few,  knowing that the cultural narrative of our day is often hostile to both the Bible and the idea of the traditional family.

First, and foremost is the spiritual leadership of the father. Traditional Christian thought sees the father’s role as spiritual initiator, pointing his family to God, to acknowledging God’s presence in everyday life.  Men, start with being thankful and positive, giving your family a hope-filled future because of Jesus and his kingdom. Your role as father is critical: do your best to keep your family “heavenly minded.” 

Second, we need to be thankful to be part of a nation that “respects our freedom and our personal rights to worship and think and speak as we choose.”  Back in 1954 this was assumed.  In the coming days, men will be called to advocate and stand for religious liberty. Expect to face strong opposition.  Resolve to “stand.”  

Finally, we can thank the Lord for “the gift of love for one another.”  This is a gift God gives to each of us.  Keep your spirit open to receive.  Only then can we pass on the love of God.   I know – I have cried out for mercy often to be able to love beyond my ability to do so. 

 

      

 

“Does it Matter”

I am a football fan, which means another season enduring ads trying to manipulate men in new, subconscious ways.  I notice some ads are beginning to make social statements. Rod Dreher calls this “woke capitalism.”  He maintains, “Woke capitalism is now the most transformative agent within the religion of social justice, because it unites progressive ideology with the most potent force in America: consumerism and making money.”

Men, be forewarned: you may be being manipulated by a woke capitalism that wants you to embrace the progressive social agenda, not because it means a better future for America, but because it is now mainstream and it sells.  And if you disagree, you may be on the wrong side of history.

Coors, for example, still wants to sell beer.  Beer is all about men, football and having a good time.  So the underlying message goes something like this: Men are willing to be made fun of, so long as they can just be who they are.  We can’t live up to today’s expectations of being a proper male.  So let’s just be boys… These ads can be very subtle. 

Case in point: one of the Coors beer (Made to Chill) ads.  Coors Light wants to be the official beer of the discontented male, and Coors tries to win over the male audience with a new appeal: “Chill Out”.  Two guys are settling down to watch football.  A guy asks his buddy, “Who’s playing?”  The answer, “Does it matter?”  To which the first guy replies, “Nope.”  Then this caption flashes on the scene.  “The official beer of who cares, it’s football.” 

What is the underlining message of this “Who Cares” ad?   Remember, a lot of psychological study goes into these ads.  Here is my take:  First, get men to laugh at themselves.  It fits the dominant narrative of the “dumb” male: uninvolved in the issues of the day; just wants to have a beer with his buddy.

Second,  this message reinforces the idea of “escape.”   The chaos, stress and confusion of life at the end of 2020 is too much for men.  They just want to have a place where life is normal.  This is watching football with your buddy.

Third,  the remark, “Does it matter?”  That is loaded with implications.  We are left to draw our own conclusions.  I take it to mean two guys have checked out on real life by escaping together into football. 

Fourth, and most damaging is the remark, “Nope!”  That is totally the stereotype of “toxic” masculinity.  Males in our culture have been told they have to be reeducated to know how to behave in our new “brave” world with its demands of feminine equality.  But men would rather “check out” of the drama of contemporary life.   

I could be wrong.  But that is my take.  My sadness is that many men subconsciously accept  the “I don’t care” message.  My suggestion is that you get your laugh from the ad and then take a look in the mirror.  

I know that I want to stay engaged, even at 79.  I ask God to give me a passion for his kingdom and a desire to understand what he is saying to America today.  I refuse to check out, just trying to survive…  

I am reminded and convicted by the words of Jesus to the church of Ephesus in Rev. 2:4-5, “But I have this complaint against you.  You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!  Look how far you have fallen. Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” 

 

 

The Problem of Virility

Here is more insight from Alastair Roberts.  He notes our society has difficulty with male virility because of what he calls, “gender-integrated environments.”   How  do we deal with the male libido?  “When historically male spaces become gender-integrated,”  maintains Roberts, “men must tone themselves down in practically every realm of life.”  Men then become stunted, needing to repress their natural strengths. 

Male virility left repressed will leave men undeveloped and starved for meaningful expression.  Roberts believes, “many men feel an unmet hunger within themselves and perhaps also a sense of shame at their emasculation.” Men become “unhealthy, repressed or impotent” when they must restrain themselves in ever “collapsing distinctions” between the sexes. “Men can’t become men by spending the overwhelming majority of their time in contexts where women are heavily represented,” Roberts warns. 

Roberts assumes the following  – “When we integrate the sexes throughout society and lose meaningful and productive realms of all-male or all-female society….men and women become stunted and we experience a sort of self-alienation…Virile masculinity takes up space and makes it difficult for women to occupy that space on equal terms.”

Masculine virility was loud and clear as I listened to “sports talk” radio on our long road trip to North Carolina recently.  The passion, excitement and seriousness with which the hosts and the audience dialoged about college and pro football was intense.  With all the critical issues in our culture, sports talk seems to be  the one place where men seemed free to express their passion.  There was fire in the belly for their teams and favorite players.   

I wonder about the “fire in the belly” of the men who read this blog.  Do you have the experience of Jeremiah when he said, “…his word burns in my heart like a fire.  It’s like a fire in my bones!  I am worn out trying to hold it in!  I can’t do it! (Jer. 20:9 NLT)?   Do you know your voice as a man or do you feel impotent in your expression?  The Palmist expressed it this way, “The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words’ (Ps 39;3 NLT).    

If you are a follower of Jesus, God’s word is within you.  God told Ezekiel to eat a scroll.  “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll…..” (Ezk. 3:1).  So he opened his mouth and God gave him a scroll to eat.  God told him, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it” (3:3).  God gave John the Apostle a little scroll to eat.  “”Take it and eat it.  It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey” (Rev. 10:9).

When we read about the stomach, you can be sure that both Ezekiel and John had digested what God wanted them to know.  It became a part of who they were.  Each man will express his virility, because of the word of God is within him, in a unique way that fits a man’s story and journey.  Don’t let anyone silence your voice.  It will lead to indigestion and emasculation.   

Remember Paul’s words to young Timothy.  “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-control (II Tim 1:6-7 NLT).  We need to hear this word, so as to not be intimidated or silenced.    

     

 

Our Moral Compass

Findings of the biennial State of Theology survey from Ligonier Ministers conducted with Lifeway found more than half of American adults, including 30% of evangelicals, I believe that Jesus isn’t God but rather a great teacher.  52% of American adults believe that Jesus was a great teacher and nothing more, while  65% of evangelicals agreed with the statement, “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God,”  not both God and man.  An earlier Barna study showed that only 51% of Americans believed God to be “all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect and just creator of the universe who still rules the world today.”  In 1991, 73% of Americans believed that to be true.

Stephen Nichols of Ligonier Ministers noted, “As the culture around us increasingly abandons it moral compass, professing evangelicals are sadly drifting away from God’s absolute standard in Scripture.”  “The spiritual noise in our culture over the last few decades has confused and misled hundreds of millions of people,” according to Barna.” [We] can no longer assume that people have a solid grasp of even the most basic biblical principles.”  

These findings  come with a “trumpet alert” to men reading this blog.  Our culture will descend into chaos without a moral compass. “I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!'” (Jeremiah 6:17). This blog from time to time will sound the trumpet, warning of danger ahead.  Pay attention. “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.  Raise your voice like a trumpet” (Is. 58:1).  I raise my voice as a warning to all men who read this blog. Men, the enemy wants to take you out, intending to have you drift without direction in the coming chaos.   

Joel was told to blow the trumpet because the day of the Lord is coming. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill.  Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming” ( Joel 2:1).  God is warning his people.  A flood is coming.  But like Noah’s day, “people didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away.”  The enemy would like for you to be spiritual asleep and completely unaware of the coming flood, allowing you to be swept along by the coming confusion.

Men, don’t let yourself be caught napping in the coming tide.  You may be in danger of being swept away without a moral compass.  Remembering these anchor points will help.   First,  Scripture is your sure moral compass.  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away away” (Luke 21:33).  The Psalmist declared, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heaven” (Ps 119:89).

This second suggestion may surprise you.  I encourage you to have a passionate, loving relationship with Jesus.  The Psalmists panted after God.  Let your deepest passions be for God.  Allow yourself to be a lover of God.   

Thirdly, in your daily affairs, know that you are part of the kingdom of God.  It is now, not by and by.  Jesus’ resurrection power and life are available to you.  “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).  

Fourth, I plead with you to find a group of men who are building an ark.  That is, they know what is coming and they are preparing to weather the storm, not just for their sake, but their families.  “By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land.  He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved” (Heb. 11:7 Message).  

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