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Did you ever watch that TV show that follows the building of a brand new home for someone? The family sends in a video of their need and why they should be the recipients of this new home. Ty and his staff come out, assess the situation and then start the process of building. But did you ever notice that they don’t go into the ramshackle mess of a home that is there and fix that up, but totally knock down the existing home and build it completely new from the bottom up. The old is replaced by the new.
That is exactly what God has to do with us. This is not a “re-do” of the mess we are. Coming to Him means that He will knock your socks off, so to speak, and start from scratch! Sort of like the caterpillar thing—a whole new creature emerges!
A while ago, I heard another good analogy to the extreme makeover we must go through to live a life in Jesus...from ugly to beautiful. Our beginnings are ugly...like the old rhyme, “U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you’re ugly, you’re ugly.” We are ugly, like an old beggar in the streets (which is a good picture of our spiritual condition before Jesus starts His extreme makeover in our sorry lives).
What God is talking about is an EXTREME MAKEOVER…a total renovation not just a paint job and duct tape repair...religion does that! Becoming this “new creature” hurts so much sometimes because God has to rip out what we have built. He has to do that, not as punishment, but in order to replace it with all new. What He builds remains forever (and He knew you before your bones were even formed!). It has to be that way because nothing unclean, broken and incomplete can stand in His presence. All the reconstruction, even though painful, is lovingly done so we may be made new for here and for eternity. Don’t hold on to the moldy, broken and rotten anymore. Send Him your request for an “Extreme Makeover”. Let Jesus come in to your heart and make you brand new, total and complete. C’mon, we’re all dying to see that completed project and say, “Move that bus!
Obviously, I have no idea what it is like being a man. But, as a woman, I know what it is like to be on the other side of every man that has been in my life...the good and the bad of it. As men, you should be aware of the powerful influence you have on all those around you, especially us women.
God has decreed what you are to be, even though hampered by what Adam did with his God-separating disobedience. It is harder, but nonetheless possible for you by walking in the Spirit of God.
Now, in all likelihood, men, your most difficult challenge will be the establishment of a stable, happy, functioning, and wholesome family. Any struggles here guys! As our world gets further and further away from the original plan of God for marriage and procreation, the more problematic it will get. You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to see the poor results of today’s system.
Some deny it, but God has deeply set within each man the uniqueness of body, soul and spirit to efficiently carry out the duties of the husband, provider and family head; and has deeply set within each woman the uniqueness of body, soul and spirit to efficiently carry out the duties of wife and family manager, nurturer and co-leader. Only in following the system and instructions God has established can you even hope to come close to that stable, happy family. Guys, it will cost you your life so they may have theirs. The sacrifices you must make are tough, but heck, you’re a man...or should be.
Kind of hard to be a man in today’s society though. I call it the “woosifcation” of America. It seems lately that men are being emasculated at every turn—books, movies, advertisements, etc. Men are being presented as the stupid Neanderthal in the group. What a far cry from what God intended. Men need to be men; there I said it! Not a “metro-sexual” pansy trying to find his inner female self—get a grip, it ain’t there! God did not put it there. Now, you can go and put it in there yourself. You can float around as part of the wallpaper of the world or you can be a man and stand out as God has intended. “Take courage and be a man” (1 Kings 2:2 NLT) is what David said to his son Solomon.
But God did not say to be the master and your wife (and all women) to be the slave. He did not give woman to man so man could have a live-in servant and sex object. No, He gave woman to man so that man could have someone to be the “Christ” to on this earth. No animals and plants were suitable for Adam to be the “Christ” to, only the woman God made. Being the “Christ” to her means you have to lay down your life for her, forgive her, and meticulously make sure she is gently loved, cared for, nurtured and brought up to the fullest in purity, knowledge and wisdom. Far cry from the “put another log on the fire, rustle up some beans and bring me another beer” picture that some men have in their minds. Authority and power are tools of destruction in the hands of a fool; but they are life and productivity in the hands of the wise.
Being this type of man to your wife will produce the kind of “beauty” that you will always want to rescue. You may not currently have what you want in a wife, but that may be because you have not been a true husband to her. Do things God’s way and you get God’s results. "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5). Be her Christ, and your wife will be glad to respond to you as seen in Song of Solomon 4:16 “Come into your garden, my love, and taste its finest fruits”.
We are not talking rough and tumble here. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.”
Success, victory, boldness, adventure—it is not for the timid...but for the men of this world! Those words bring pictures to my mind, that of Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart. A man’s man for sure. He was willing to suffer greatly to assure the better good for his family and the whole village; or Saving Private Ryan, Top Gun, Die Hard-movies that show masculine men on a mission that not only helps others but fills them as well. That is what God intended for our men...adventure, daring, excitement, challenge, discovery, etc.; a joy at being a man, made in His image, to be the High Priest, so to speak, for his family and “village”.
Far cry today from the bogged-down, hen-pecked husbands who see no way out of the drudgery that is their lot. Hours working, no respect from family, no adventure to live; who often live in a world of pornographic fantasy. What a shame, what a waste. No, that is not what God intended! No way. Jesus is called the “Lion of Judah” for crying out loud—that’s the visual we need!
When you get a chance, guys, read John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart. He nails it on the head when he says that God has put core desires in a man’s heart: a “battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue”. Funny thing, the match to that is deeply set in each woman, a beauty to unveil, a desire to share adventure and a desire to be rescued (Prince Charming dreams start very young)!
Wow—quite a different picture, heh! The battle is not what you think. I’m not talking about invading countries and grabbing power (although that has occurred over history)! The battle I’m talking about is the big one, that is, the battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. Get on the front lines of this one, guys—you are built for it. The adventure is with your God—leading your family and those in your care through the maze of life down here, including all the risks, the failures and the successes. Don’t soften it; this is a wild journey down here. Adventure—you should desire it—smell it in the air yet? And a beauty to rescue. It is in you—strong, courageous love. Love for your wife, a wife you should have watered and nurtured into fullness of life. If she’s haggard and worn out, bubba—it could be that you have not “rescued” her to the fullest as Jesus rescued His bride!
With all this in mind, do we see those battle-hardy, adventuresome, Prince Charmings filling our churches? Where are the men? God put the mantle on YOUR shoulders for spiritual leadership...why aren’t you at church? And why aren’t you, through the precepts of your God, out there changing our communities?
The beginnings of the church were filled with accounts of men dying for the principles of Christ. They confronted the “religious” leaders who were all fluff and vinegar; they were out there promoting the care of the needy; they challenged authority, as well as the pampered rich and the pagans alike, to come to the truth in Christ. They were fighting battles, on an adventure, all the while leading the family and community in Christ.
What do we have in churches today? Instead of the risk and challenge that men are so suited for, we often have this sweet little safe place full of pomp and circumstance. Pretty, soft lights, wafting music, all surrounded by crowds of women and children. How did it get to this?
Christianity that is soft, safe and feminized is not going to bring men into the church. A revitalized, manly, strong, yet compassionate “Christ-like” congregation will be full of men who love Jesus more than life itself; who incorporate His principles into all aspects of family and work. Men who have Jesus’ love, kindness, fidelity, virility, integrity, purity, power, joy, etc., as their foundation and upon which they make each and every decision. THAT is the kind of “church” that will change the world.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been pretty busy lately praying and asking God to use the power of His Spirit to call men to that type of life and devotion. For them to come out from under the yoke of this world and rise up as men to the glory and fullness of Christ. Ah-men!
You love the Lord with all your heart, you read the Bible, you go to church, you generously give to the ministries that help you on your spiritual journey, you pray for God’s strength to do His will ... but those old habits (in thought, word or deed) just continue to dog you to death. They not only cause frustration but even failure at times; failure right at the feet of the Jesus you love and serve.
You start to doubt and think, “Am I even a Christian?” “Am I even saved?” Don’t go there, buddy! Your entire sufficiency is in Christ, not in your ability to control your behavior. If it were all about behavior modification, you’d go to a shrink. This is all about a “heart transplant” ... giving the Lord dominion over your inner being; letting Him be God of your life and have His Spirit enter into yours. You purposefully and powerfully choose to deny yourself the luxury of being your own boss so that the Lord’s mind, will and emotions would rule ... there is the victory.
I can remember when I first gave my heart to the Lord over 35 years ago. The transformation was swift and sweeping. Yet, I knew my own weaknesses to some extent back then, and struggled greatly before the Lord in fear that I would fall back into certain sins. Civil war was raging deep within (the good fairy and the poo-poo fairy, as my brother Bobby puts it, were fighting for my attention). My greatest fear was that, while in the midst of some stupid sin, I would die during that period and end up in hell. That fear was dark and kept me frozen in time ... just what the “Ole Deluder” (Satan) wanted ... saved but in the freezer ... stored away not doing anything bad, but not living life to its fullest and being an ambassador for Christ.
In crying out to the Lord to show me something, I opened the Bible, and it happened to fall open to Romans 7 and 8. Yeah, just happened to fall open to exactly what I needed. Do you think the Lord was orchestrating that moment? Yeah, me too! It really helped me to understand that old habits don’t go away overnight, and God knows that. His love for us helps us through those times. He’s not there holding His nose as we waddle through some mucky sin. He is on the other side wooing us through it. Through the sacrifice of the cross, that fallen person of yesteryear was restored and reinstated with the great and mighty heavenly Father ... Father ... get it? You get a new heart and a new covenant. He loves you and forgives you eternally IF you are His. In Him we have a guarantee of protection from hell; a new way of thinking, feeling and wanting AND a promise of a one-way ticket to be with Him in Paradise (as was the original plan!).
Those assurances filled my heart, for sure. Here is what I read:
We must all realize that before we came to know Jesus we just went by our own ideas and willpower and got really good at it. So don’t be surprised that there’s a bit of a learning curve in switching tracks from the natural to the supernatural. (Ephesians 1:18-19 and 3:16-21). So whether it’s your impatience, your rotten temper, your bad attitude, your hard to control sex drive or your compulsion toward chocolate brownies ... how in the world do you find the strength to put these urges under control? The answer is ... you don’t find it in the world! You find it in Christ. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world! The same power God made use of in Jesus is available to you when you ask Him in. Remember, Jesus says He stands at the door and knocks and if you let Him in, He will come dine with you ... sweet!
Use the weapons of prayer, Bible study, and seeking truth; go worship and fellowship with strong Christians, practice thanksgiving in everything, with a strict accountability for your stinking behavior and walk in the power of the Spirit, not your own ways. That is what will push back temptation and deception ... not your willpower, which flounders far too frequently. It’s a fight to the finish. Ah, but what a finish. God is with us!