What Does It Mean To Be A Man? Part 1

“Be a man!” “You’re the man!” “Fight like a man!” What does it really mean to be a man? I’ve heard it said, and said it myself before, you may be male by birth, but you’re a man by choice. For too many years there has been this unspoken thing about what it means to become a man that the world has foisted upon us. When you have your first alcoholic drink, you’ll be a man, once you start shaving, you’ll be a man, when you bed your first woman, you’ll be a man. But honestly nothing could be further from the truth.

Being a man is a choice you make each and every day of your life, sometimes hour by hour. But before you can make that choice, you have to know what it really means to be a man, and what the job description entails. This is something which has been lost and not passed on to boys from their fathers in many, many years. For whatever reason, fathers have failed to teach their sons how to be men, and when movies and television came along, boys were shown what the world said it mean to be men so naturally because of the vacuum left by their fathers, they began to follow this instead.

Men were created first by God, and Adam, the first man was placed in the Garden of Eden and given a job; to cultivate it and name all the animals. It was while he was in the process of naming the animals he noticed every one of them had a counterpart, but for him there wasn’t one to be found. God put him to sleep, took a rib and made Adam a helper in the form of the woman Eve. When he woke up, he had a wife and a new job; to be a lover, leader and provider. He was to love his bride, lead her and provide for her. And this is what it really means to be a man. If you are going to be a real man, then you’re going to have to work these three things into your life as well. To not do them, is to not be a real man, plain and simple.

One of the most exasperating things I see, are guys who treat this role in their lives with disdain and selfishness. They live by the mantra of I’m going to get mine and the heck with the rest of you! Selfishness is the enemy of manhood. In the next few blogs I’m going to talk to you about what it really means to be a man, and I hope if you see yourself lacking in any way that you will make the corrections necessary.

It’s time men stood up and took their God given roles back, be the men the world needs and stop being like Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up but lived only for himself.

 

 

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The Little Foxes

In the book of Songs 2:15 NLT Solomon says, “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” I find it very interesting this is in the book about love and marriage. One thing I’ve learned in almost 30 years of marriage, is it’s not the big things that try to make a shambles of my relationship with my bride, it’s the stupid little things. Just like water dripping on a rock constantly doesn’t appear to be doing anything, but over time it will wear away at the rock until it is destroyed. This one thing would change the course of marriages around the world.

Stop allowing the little things to mess up the relationship you have with your spouse. You know what I’m talking about too, those little irritants which eventually become big things which cause the death of marriages. The pet peeves, which to other people are nothing, but to you cause aggravation. I’ll give you an example from my own life. For some reason my bride never puts her seatbelt on until we’re driving down the road. I mean, how hard is it to buckle up before putting the car into gear? But even though it bugs me that she does this, I’ve learned to just put it out of my mind, looking at it as one of those little idiosyncrasies which make me love her all the more. It’s a matter of perspective, much like everything else in life.

Now looking at this Scripture and using the law of opposites we can see if little things can destroy your marriage, then it’s possible that doing little things can also make your marriage better. For instance, I don’t wait for my bride to say something about taking out the trash, I make sure it is done before she has too. I look for little things I can do to help to make her life a little bit better. I’m amazed at how many men gripe and complain about their wives. Getting all indignant when they’ve been asked to empty the dishwasher or do a load of wash. Really? Is it more important to make this a big thing when in actuality it is just a tiny thing which can help you in the long run? After all we all know if momma ain’t happy, then nobody is happy. Right?

Let me write this where the fellas can understand it just a little bit better. If you want to have sex with your wife, then doing little things to make your marriage better will help with this. What woman  wants to have sex with a guy who gripes about having to do things around the house? Doing things for your bride pays dividends unlike anything else out there in the world. And ladies sex motivates guys, it’s the truth regardless of what you think. Maybe you could use this to your advantage, and I don’t mean as a tool to get what you want, but if your husband is making an effort, then do a little something’ somethin’ for him, you’ll be amazed.

Let’s start doing little things to make our marriages better, and stop doing the things which hinder it. After all, most of those little things are really stupid and we shouldn’t give them any attention any way, right?

Living out God’s Word in everyday life!

 

Let The Ignorant Be Ignorant Still

The Bible is a great book; one I believe can lead and guide you into a life you may have never expected was even possible. It is one of life’s greatest tragedies that people just don’t read it. For many, many years the general population wasn’t even allowed to read it for themselves, let alone have their own personal copy. It wasn’t until the 16th century when England’s King James commissioned it to be written in the common tongue, and the rest as they say is history. No longer do we have to have a man tell us what God is saying, we can discover all He has for us on our own.

It amazes me how many people in churches all around the world, sit in their sanctuaries waiting for their leaders to spoon feed them the Word of God. People I talk to who tell me they really don’t read the Bible, often use the excuse, “Well I didn’t go to Bible School, so there is no way for me to understand it.” How ignorant, but then the Bible does say to let the ignorant be ignorant still. (1 Corinthians 14:38) If you are a born again believer in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit dwells within your heart, and it is He who is the great teacher.

I remember back when I was a new Christian I was trying to decide what my next step was going to be; whether to just work, or go to bible school. I had been praying for weeks about it, and one night at church we had a guest speaker who walked up to me and in front of the entire congregation said, “This is what God wants me to tell you. Just as I have used ignorant and unlearned men before, I’m going to use you.” There was laughter and my friends ribbed me saying, “He just called you ignorant.” But what this man of God said to me brought peace to my heart and I knew right then that bible school was not for me.

This didn’t stop me from becoming a student of the Bible however. I have been reading it for almost thirty years now, and I am amazed every time I see something new and different that I had never seen before. Scripture says the Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12), it is unlike any book ever written or ever will be written. It leads, guides, directs and corrects us no matter how old we are, what education we have or don’t have. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring back to our remembrance every thing Jesus has said, which is found in the Bible. (John 14:26)

Maybe you haven’t been reading the Bible like you used to, or maybe you haven’t read it at all, let me encourage you to start today. Download the YouVersion bible app here, it has so many different translations of the bible, you’re bound to find one that appeals to you. Don’t wait, start today!

Living in a story much larger than my own…won’t you join me? You Can Do It!

No Man Is A Failure Who Has Friends

Yesterday was a day of celebration for the family of some of my closest friends. It was the wedding day of their youngest daughter Ashley, and the ceremony was perfect and she was stunning in her wedding gown. As I was enjoying my morning coffee before leaving for the festivities, I was spending time looking through pictures on my Facebook page. As I clicked from picture to picture I began to reminisce about the things Ashley’s dad and I had done together. You see Terry and I were very good friends; more brothers actually than friends. He was the man I could go to with anything and everything, and I was this for him too. Ours was the picture of what a true friendship should be.

The reason I say “we were friends” is because he died and went to be with the Lord almost a year ago. It was a shock to say the least; it was sudden and totally unexpected. Now I won’t wax philosophical about his passing, because this is not the purpose of my blog tonight. I’m writing about friendship and what it means to be a friend. And I do know I will see him again one day. I guess this means we are still friends. Ha!

Back in May, I, along with six other friends of mine received a text from the bride to be, asking if we would be willing to stand in for her dad in some of the pictures and then dance with her in his place. To say I was honored is an understatement. “I answered back immediately my acceptance of her offer by replying, “Absolutely, I’d be honored to.”

Dancing with Ashely

With tears in our eyes as we danced yesterday, I told her how proud I was of her and the woman she has become, and how proud I knew her dad was of her. This was an easy thing to tell her too, because Terry and I had talked about her often and he always beamed when her name came up in conversation. My friend loved his two girls and was just about the proudest dad I’ve ever known. No matter what was going on in Heather or Ashley’s lives he could never say enough good things about them. It was one of the qualities I loved the most about Terry. He was such an awesome cheerleader for his kids.

Rainbow

As we celebrated the ceremony with Ashley and Jason, off to the left of us all in the sky a beautiful rainbow appeared. I couldn’t help but think about how Terry probably asked God to do a little something special for his baby girl since it was her special day. It is exactly the type of thing he would do too. Yesterday was just an awesome day; one I won’t soon forget.

While yesterday was my good friend’s daughter’s day, I couldn’t help but think a little bit about how much this friendship we took the time to cultivate has meant to both of our families. It may have started out as a mutual love of movies and pop culture, but grew into a brotherhood which has enabled our two families to become one. And that my friends is a good thing, and I am eternally grateful for it too.

Seven Years

Seven years or 84 months or 364 weeks or 2,555 days or 61,320 hours or 3,679,200 minutes or 220,752,000 seconds.  However you want to track the passage of time, this is how long it has been since my youngest son Noah was lost to me due to suicide. I’ve written about this before; usually at this time of year when I am forced to relive the events which happened on that day. But this year I want to write something a little different.

It was back in the first part of March I was thinking about Noah and I began to ask myself what day he died on. It took me quite a while to remember, actually having to go back through my Facebook account looking for posts from when it first happened. After figuring it out, I felt like quite a failure as a parent. After all, how could a good parent forget the actual day they lost one of their children? It wasn’t until a few days ago when my bride said something to the fact about today being the seventh anniversary and it had crept up on her, I began to think perhaps we had both turned a corner.

When I say turned a corner, I don’t mean either of us has forgotten the day or Noah, but that we have just traveled farther down the road of life. And the more distance you put between yourself and the horrible things which have happened, the easier it becomes for them to take up less space in your every day thoughts. The passage of time is a good thing.

Something I’ve learned in the past seven years is there are no guarantees in life; things have a way of just happening to people; both good and bad. We try to rationalize it when something horrible happens, but there is no making sense of it. We live in a fallen world, in which bad things happen. Another thing I’ve learned is God never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I know it sounds trite, but regardless, it is the truth. And when crap hits the fan, you have to hold on to what is true if you ever want to have hope of making it further down the road of life.

For me, today marks another year off the calendar and a few more miles along the path I’ve been forced to walk these past seven years. Would I rather not be on this particular journey? Absolutely. I’d love to have my 20 year old son here with me and my family enjoying the life he should be living, but instead I’m living another reality; the one where he is no longer here with me. It’s not my choice, but I will journey on regardless.

The passage of time is a good thing, believe me when I say it. Though it may not look like it when you are in the middle of whatever you are going through, I promise it will get easier the further away from whatever is challenging you. Just do what my family and I have done for the past seven years; breathe, take a step and repeat. Just keep moving forward.

For I Am Costanza…Lord of the Idiots

My best friend Terry and I shared a love for the television show Seinfeld. We spent many years quoting lines from this hilarious sitcom and even would call or text each other on every occasion we were able to live out a moment from the show. (Finding a Kenny Roger’s Roasters in Manila was a highlight for both of us.)

One of the more memorable and funny episodes is called The Apartment, and in it George Constanza is wearing a wedding ring in a social experiment to try and get dates with more women. Towards the end after having his plan backfire, he makes the statement, “For I am Constanza, lord of the idiots.” It makes me laugh even as I’m writing it now. I have picked up this line and use it whenever I’ve had an idiotic moment in my own life; something which happens more often than I actually care to admit.

In my fifty-three years of life on this planet, I have had plenty of opportunities to play the idiot, as I’m sure we all have. There are times however when I feel I’m actually setting the bar for idiots everywhere to be judged by. But during the times of my lunacy I don’t think this way, it’s usually after the fact. And once this realization hits me, I really feel dumb. Those are the times where I want to crawl under a rock and hide, it can be so embarrassing.

This past week at work I had a couple of extremely difficult days and a Constanza moment raised its ugly head. It was so bad one day I actually thought about fleeing; just going to my truck and leaving without saying a word to anyone. In my entire adult life I’ve never wanted to run away from anything and this shocked me. Thank God it did, because it was this shock which woke me up from my lunacy and got me to asking what was really going on my life.

These Constanza moments come to me whenever I perceive things are not going my way. It’s like my default button is to act like a fool whenever things are not going the way I want them to. Yes I realize this sounds horrible, but truth is truth, and as they say, the first step in fixing a problem is realizing you actually have one. The man who is not self-aware is the man who really has a problem. I realized the issues I’ve been having and have begun to rectify them, making the necessary changes towards becoming a better man, which will be another blog altogether.

What I want you to realize today is you’re not alone, there are millions of us out there. And just like in the Seinfeld episode as George is confessing his idiocy to Jerry, a lady in the background starts yelling out the window to the runners, “You’re all winners!” to which George says, “But suddenly a new contender has emerged.”

 

 

 

 

Why Is Everyone So Angry?

“There is a way which seems right unto a man, but in the end lies death.” ~ Proverbs 16:25

I’m sure every man has taken a path he thought was the right one, only to end up somewhere he never anticipated. I know I have more than once. It always seems to be during times when my emotional level is extreme I will inevitably make the wrong decision. At almost fifty-three years old, you would think I would have figured this out by now and made some corrections to disregard the choices which lead me towards the wrong pathway.  But I’m nothing if not consistent I guess and am still learning.

Have you ever done this though? Been faced with a situation which emotionally threw you off of your game and instead of taking time to step back from the situation and evaluate it from every angle, you just leapt in where angels fear to tread?

Why is this do you think? Could it be because emotional upheavals in our lives feel as if they are personal attacks on us and therefore we respond without thinking? Or perhaps they are just something which is interfering with what we perceive as our normal routine and we don’t want it upset? Whatever the case, I think it would be good for us (well me actually) to look into this a little closer.

The world we live in is crazy. Have you noticed how quickly people seem to fly off the handle and confront anyone they think is hindering their life in some way? Think about road rage, or accidently cutting in front of someone at the grocery store. It seems to me people are itching for a fight nowadays more than ever.

I remember a time back after the terrorist attacks of 9/11; I had gone home to eat lunch and on the way back to work had decided to drive my wife’s minivan and fill it up with gas. I noticed the line of cars waiting as I pulled up to the gas station; everyone was panicky and the word on the street was all the gas stations would run out of gas soon. As I circled the lot looking for the best line to get in, I noticed a pump had just opened up and maneuvered my vehicle into position to fill up.

As I placed the nozzle into the tank opening, a lady walked up to me and began yelling at me about how I had cut her off and stolen her pump. She screamed about how I had almost killed her kids and should be ashamed of myself. Shocked, because I had actually not seen her at all, I removed the nozzle, apologizing and told her by all means take the pump. She insisted I stay put, but I wouldn’t have it and said, “Mam, I’m very sorry about taking your pump, I didn’t even see you. Have a nice day.” Getting back into my car, I began circling the lot once more.

Telling my wife the story later, it was almost comical to me. It must have made her feel better yelling at me and maybe she was just scared, but all I could think about was how it wasn’t a big deal for me to move to back of the line and let her get her gas. It sure wasn’t as big a deal as she was making it out to be. I think many people feel like they are going to be taken advantage of and instead of letting this happen they attack first before realizing what is actually going on.

What we (I) need to do is to really take a look at these situations from the other person’s perspective first and then make our next decision based on that information. I think it would really save all of us a lot of grief in the long run. I mean after all, are the things we fight about really as important as we think they are at that immediate moment? Probably not. And isn’t it better not to have to apologize for being an idiot?