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Archive for July, 2011

Prayer is the cornerstone of an intimate relationship with God.

You can attend every church service…

Read the Bible cover to cover over and over…

Preach the Gospel to all the most random strangers…

Memorize and meditate on large quantities of Scripture night and day…

Adhere to every applicable law in the Bible…

And still have no intimacy with your Creator.

What builds friendships? Personally, I would say contact. Whether it may be through spending time with a particular person, talking to them, or  just hanging out… direct contact is what builds your relationship with that person. It is a crucial component in getting to know each other.

And the same applies with God. Yeah, you could “saturate yourself in His presence” by doing all the things commanded by Him, but what about just simply talking to Him? Pouring out yourself to Him with your mouth, listening to hear His voice; it all comes down with direct verbal contact with your Creator to develop your friendship with Him. You know God is there, and that He hears your prayers. Your faith in Him increases because you know He’s there.

I really like this definition of prayer, written by Daniel Henderson in his impacting book, Transforming Prayer:

All true prayer exists for the glory of God and is
Based in the worship of God
Focused on the face of God
Shaped by the Word of God
Inspired by the Spirit of God
Offered through the Son of God
Aimed for the Will of God
Experienced by true children of God

In Transforming Prayer, Henderson describes most prayers as “grocery list prayers”, where we ask God for a bunch of things (mainly seeking the hand of God). Henderson then describes true prayer as worship-based prayer. This kind of prayer “seeks the face of God as well as the hand of God”. He believes that prayer is primarily about glorifying God, and then secondly presenting our requests to God, because no matter what we want, knowing God is much better and worth so much more than any of it all. Henderson offers practical tips to transform your prayers into the kind that build the foundation for powerful revivals, which I find so very useful and inspiring.

Daily prayer should be part of every man’s life. Jesus talked continuously to His Father, asking for guidance, praising God, and showing complete reverence to the Creator of all. He depended on God for encouragement and power. He did not look to Himself, even though He had all the ability to do so. Instead, He sought after God’s face and hand, and only then was able to perform all the miracles and preach all the messages He did.

If Jesus, the Son of God, ignored all the power He had and instead gave all glory to God in prayer and in prayer showed dependence on His Father… what does that say for us sinful mortals?

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Men are called to lead. That’s why you see that the Bible is full of patriarchies instead of matriarchies. The kings, generals, tribal leaders, and most of the prophets were males. They were fulfilling their calling to lead the people under them, including women and children.

With great blessings come great responsibility, so when a man is given the privilege to lead, he must not abuse his authority. He must lead to his full potential, and in some cases beyond. The people under him depend on him for making the right decisions and wise choices, so he must work to gain their trust. In times of trouble he has to keep everything in order until a possible solution is available. When conflicts arise, he must be fair and unbiased to either side.

A leader also gives of himslef for the good of all. In history there have been multiple cases of monarchs and other authorative figures milking money, provisions, and labor from the people. This is for their own selfish gain and is outright abuse of their leadership. However other monarchs have taken money from the people and divided it evenly so that the poor could live somewhat better. They worked to organize society so that people had a clearly defined status and suppressed any rebellions that would potentially harm the people as a whole. Other leaders would sacrifice time and sleep just so that the people could sleep at ease, knowing that any plans would be taken care of and everything will turn out right.

Many leaders were not good people in themselves. Some were gluttonous or drunkards, others shrill with their finances. But they all possessed certain qualities that enabled them to lead with the effect they did. These include diligence, resourcefulness, dependability, and justice, and are crucial in developing strong leadership.

Leadership starts with the ability to control oneself. One must be diligent, resourceful, dependable, and just. All it takes is application of these charcteristics every day to develop lasting qualities in your life. Be diligent with your work. Make good use of your finances and time. Be someone people can depend on and trust. Be fair when you make decisions and do not tolerate wrongdoing. In doing this, you will set yourself on the path to becomeing a leader.

A leader God wants you to be.

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Hollywood has pretty much twisted masculinity beyond recognition. What used to define a man seems to have little influence in many Hollywood films today, and among those is a man’s strength.

I don’t know how many of you have ever watched a movie where the male star rips off his shirt and displays his perfect physique for everyone to see. From head to toe the star is all-too-well proportioned, and his muscles are clearly defined. But do these characteristics make him a man?

Honestly, I’ve seen stronger men whose physiques were no match to those of movie stars. Their strength does not come only from their physical capabilities, but also those of their mind. They are strong from the inside out, and it is clear to those around them because these men seem to give off an aura of their strength that tells everyone that they are real men. Not fakes who only build their bodies to look good for the ladies, but men who can actually use their physical and mental strength to help people out.

Today, a “buff” guy is supposedly stronger than one that is not. While true in some cases, I’ve seen leaner guys lift heavier objects than those with more muscles. I’ve also seen buff guys scared of events that lean guys are not. More importantly, I’ve seen lean guys behave with better etiquette, responsibility, and morality than the buff ones.

So here’s the question again: do muscles and a good-looking body define a man? Is that person more capable of handling life than those ‘inferior’ to him? If he somehow loses his muscles, will that make him any less of a man?

Real strength does not come from your body. Real strength comes from your relationship with God. The closer your walk is with Him, the stronger you are. Don’t worry about your physical strength as much as you do your spiritual. A nerd can certainly be spiritually stronger than an athlete, as long as his relationship with God is solid.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary,and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

– Isaiah 40:28-31

So what about you? Where does your strength come from? Is it merely outward and physical, or does it come from within? Your outward strength will wane and fail, but as long as you find your strength in the Lord, your spiritual strength will not run out. You are only as strong as your relationship with the Lord.

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Society today has lost so much of the virtue it once held. Immodesty is rampant, marital unfaithfulness rates are about the same among pagans and Christians, and the age at which a person has sex is becoming lower and lower. The average man will have struggled with pornography at some point or another, many beginning their addiction from their youth. Of course, the Internet doesn’t make things any easier. Pornography is easily accessible from almost anywhere, and anonymity on the Web is a huge contributor to this tragedy.

Pornography, in a nutshell, degrades people to mere objects. Only their body is what matters to the viewer. The sad thing is that viewers forget that they ARE people. Like you, they experience emotions, they have family, and they have a life. They were born, they were raised, and they have a job… just the wrong kind of job.

Have you ever thought: Why did these young women you see in these videos take the job they did? Where are their friends and their family? Do they ever live a normal life? What if one of the women were your sister, mother, friend, wife, or daughter? Would you still watch these videos with this truth haunting you?

Chances are, you didn’t. You sat in front of the screen and clicked away at the videos and pictures, consuming every one with desire. And the sad thing is: you are never satisfied. You have to go back for more. And unbeknownst to you, you begin viewing women with less and less respect. You no longer treat them with the love that you should. Sure, you may be a gentleman on the outside, but what’s in your mind? Do you see your sisters in Christ as princesses and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? The women so dear to Christ that He shed His blood to save them?

Think about your perspective towards pornography and women. Are you a gentleman of purity, or an immoral thief, viewing what you have no right to see?

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”

– Job 31:1

Now is the time for you to decide. Will you give up your immoral habits and follow the path of purity?

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In the modern age, God likes to show his power through various people and events. He takes the willing and humble and changes and molds them into what He wishes them to become. But how does He get them to the point they are? People like Billy Graham, Bill Gothard, Greg Laurie and various musicians, bands, and actors proclaim God’s message, yet many come from very simple and humble backgrounds.

What does God look for in a person when He selects people to do His work? His major concern isn’t whether or not you’re rich and famous and read the Bible everyday. He looks for those who humble themselves daily before the throne of God and say “Lord, let your will be done in my life. Break me of anything that stands in the way of serving You the way You want me too.” He seeks the broken, the ones who know they can’t do anything without God. Those who cannot even crawl forward without the Lord to help and guide them. As I said before, God often selects those who come from humble backgrounds. They may come from poor families, or broken ones. Maybe the person’s parents had divorced. Maybe they lost a loved one. These people become more sensitive to God’s power, love, and grace. It sounds cliché, but it takes on a stronger meaning once you find yourself in need of Jesus; when your faith is all you have left to hold on to.

God calls for the broken. He cannot work through hardened clay. He needs clay that is soft and easy to mold; clay that is willing to be broken and be remade into whatever the Potter wants it to become — no matter how or when.

Are you that clay?

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When Jesus was on earth, he demonstrated many qualities that all men should use as their model. One of the most important was the character of humility. Jesus lived a humble life. Though He was the Son of God, He was born in a manger as the son of a mere carpenter. He spent 30 years of His life doing woodwork before he set forth to accomplish His mission on earth. Even then, He talked to the poor, healed the sick, and washed His disciples’ feet.

How more humble can you get? The Creator of the universe, the One who put everything in its place, kneeling in front of His students, washing their feet like a servant boy. He loves us so much, He served all sinners by dying on the cross and taking their punishment on His own body.

Men are called to serve.They are callled to be leaders, and leaders serve the people they lead. A father serves his children by raising them. Soldiers serve in the military to help their country. Pastors serve their congregation by sharing the Word of God.

However, today many men are absorbed into the trend of selfishness and laziness. Husband leave their wife and children. Leaders use their status for personal gain. Pastors engage in immoral activities. What has happened to our world? Pride has corrupted so many men; brought them to their fall. Public scandals are announced on TV and in newspapers and all over the Internet. Men are seeking only what they can gain… not what they can give.

So what about you? Will you humble yourslf before the Lord? God cannot use the proud. He cannot work through a hardened vessel. Either you humble yourself now, or God does it for you. And when God humbles you, he really humbles you.

Ask the Lord for help in avoiding pride. Have Him give you a spirit of humility. Pour out your sins and heart to Him, and ask that you become His servant. Without humility, it is impossible to serve and please the Lord. Pride is placing yourself in God’s position, to say that you did whatever you did yourself and thinking that you are in charge of your life.

Look at what happened to Satan. He thought he was better than God, and as a result, his pride became his downfall.

Don’t let it be yours.

 

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Recently I have begun a study on Biblical manhood, and decided to share what I’ve learned with everyone as a series titled Poetic Warriors. It will focus on how one can fulfill his calling to be a man of God in bravery, virtue, and kindness. I will be writing as a peer, to challenge other guys to take up their cross and follow Christ as I do that in my own life. I am definitely no expert, but what I learned and what helps me will be incorporated into this series so I can share them with everyone else.

I really like Eric Ludy’s definition of a Poet Warrior:

1. We must learn to be a warrior. More than just a defender of justice and champion for the weak, a true warrior is a heroic protector of the covenant Life within his being. As an outflow of the covenant life, a warrior is trained to protect that which is sacred and innocent within a woman.

2. We must learn to be a poet. More than a bearer of roses, rings, and rhymes, a true poet cultivates an intimacy with Christ; and as an outflow of that intimacy, he is trained to understand and appreciate the intimate sanctuary of a woman’s heart.

Ludy, Eric. God’s Gift to Women. Sisters, Chicago: Multnomah Publishers, 2003. (pg. 118)

For the next few weeks we will concentrate on masculine virtues, those that reflect a warrior’s ferocity and strength, but also a poet’s gentleness and kindness. I hope you can take what I’ve learned and reproduced and apply it into your life, so that the next generation of men will arise to the Lord’s service and calling.

In Christ,

Kyle

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