Monday, March 10, 2014, 9:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 1 (NIV).

Not Afraid!

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Truly this was Jeremiah’s specific call to ministry by God Almighty, and yet there are aspects of this call which are not peculiar to him alone, but which contain the essential elements of God’s call on the lives of all of his followers. We are all to be his witnesses, his lights to the world, and we are all to go and to make disciples of Christ of all peoples, baptizing and teaching them to obey all of Christ’s commandments. And, all throughout scripture we are urged to not be afraid of man and what he might do to us, but we are to put our trust in Jesus Christ alone. As well, we learn in the NT that each of us is to exhort, instruct, encourage, counsel, correct and to build-up other followers of Christ in the faith, as these are our working parts within the body of Christ, and for the edification of his church.

Idol Worship

…I will pronounce my judgments on my people
because of their wickedness in forsaking me,
in burning incense to other gods
and in worshiping what their hands have made.

In yesterday’s devotional, “Insults to God,” which you can read here - http://originalworks.info/insults-to-god/ - the Lord Jesus led me to begin to look into the teachings of John Eldredge – Christian counselor, teacher and author – because there are some very disturbing aspects of his teaching which are greatly troubling me. Today, I believe, God would have me share a little bit more of what this teacher is spewing forth to Christian men (and women) in the Evangelical Christian churches here in America. In his book, “Wild at Heart,” on pgs 7-12, Eldredge said some more disturbing things:

“And then, alas, there is the church. Christianity, as it currently exists, has done some terrible things to men… I believe that most men in the church believe that God put them on the earth to be a good boy. The problem with men, we are told, is that they don’t know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives, or raise their children. But, if they will try real hard they can reach the lofty summit of becoming… a nice guy. That’s what we hold up as models of Christian maturity: Really Nice Guys. We don’t smoke, drink, or swear; that’s what makes us men. Now, let me ask my male readers: In all your boyhood dreams growing up, did you ever dream of becoming a Nice Guy?” (WaH pg. 7)

So, what’s the underlying message here? I believe the message is clear: Being a “good boy” or a “nice guy” who keeps his promises, who is a spiritual leader, who talks with his wife, and who raises his children is bad. He is not a “real man.” A feeling of shame is thus attached to the image of the “nice guy” who does what is right; who obeys the word of the Lord, walks in the Spirit and not in the flesh, and who loves his wife and who honors his God. On the other hand, if you smoke, drink and swear, then you are a “real man.”

“God meant something when he meant man, and if we are ever to find ourselves we must find that. What has he set in the masculine heart? Instead of asking what you think you ought to do to become a better man (or woman, for female readers), I want to ask, What makes you come alive? What stirs your hearts? The journey we face now is into a land foreign to most of us. We must head into country that has no clear trail. This charter for exploration takes us into our own hearts, into our deepest desires. As the playwright Christopher Fry says, ‘Life is a hypocrite if I can’t live the way IT moves me!’” (WaH pg. 9)

I agree that God created both male and female, and that we are distinguished from each other in personality, drive, thought, and in the particular Biblical roles each one of us is to fulfill. I concur that men are generally the “hunters” and women the “nurturers.” I do also assent to the fact that men should be men and that women should be women. I, as well, grant that there has been too much blending or even switching of roles in today’s society, and that can lead to much confusion and, yes, even to the emasculation of men.

Yet, I don’t believe that the Bible distinguishes the heart of males from that of females. Whether male or female, we either have sinful, unbelieving hearts, or we have regenerated hearts by the Spirit of God living within us because of God’s grace to us, and through our personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. As followers of Christ, we should now have HIS heart within us, and it is HIS heart which we should now seek to discover, not our own hearts, which, since we still live in flesh bodies, can still give way to the desires of the flesh. We should not be asking what stirs our hearts, but what stirs the heart of God, and then we should ask God to put that same stirring within us. This journey of the Christian faith and practice and walk in the Spirit has a clear path we must follow, not one where we aimlessly wander and explore trying to find our “true selves.” It is not “Life” that should move us, but what should move us is the Life of God within us.

The danger I see in much of what I know and have read of Eldredge, and others like him, is that he seems to be leading men more toward self-discovery rather than God-discovery, and more toward a thought that somehow men don’t have to follow the same Biblical standards as women, because they are men, and so they are exempt. Oh, how wrong!

“There are three desires I find written so deeply into my heart I know I can no longer disregard them without losing my SOUL. They are core to who I am and yearn to be… they are a clue into masculinity itself… In the heart of EVERY man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue… a yearning… to find a place where he can be all he knows he was meant to be. To borrow Walter Brueggeman’s description of God: ‘wild, dangerous, unfettered and free’.” (WaH, pg. 9-12)

Granted, Eldredge was probably speaking metaphorically when he said he could not disregard these three desires without losing his SOUL, and yet doesn’t this speak volumes to us about this man who, as a Christian, would use such language to describe the degree in which he holds these humanistic desires in such high esteem, and in level of importance in his life; that if he lacked them he would feel as though he would lose his very soul? Wow!

He continues by saying these three masculine desires are core (essential, central, basic, and at the heart and center) to who he is as a person and what he yearns to be. Where is God in all of this? Where is John’s hunger and thirst for God - to be the man of God that scripture teaches he ought to be. Oh, how he hates that word “ought.” It appears from what he says that he doesn’t want to be what he “should” be, but who he wants to be, in his own flesh.

So, what is this battle to fight, and adventure to live, and beauty to rescue which he believes is so valuable to his life that he would lose his very soul if he did not do these things? He says “little boys” yearn to know that they are “powerful, dangerous and someone to be reckoned with” (pg. 10), that “aggression is part of the masculine design” (pg. 10), and he says that “a boy wants to attack something – and so does a man...” (pg. 10). His description of man as a warrior includes his thirst for bloodshed, danger and competition. He has to win, even if others have to die (see pg. 11). So, he quotes from and shows movie clips from such movies as “Braveheart,” “Saving Private Ryan,” the “Die Hard” films, and the like, in order to encourage men to be brave, strong and fierce warriors. Wow! And, he uses his own twisted perception of the divine character of God to justify this, too. Yet, God is not like us, though Eldredge tries to make him like us, and we are not God.

Get Ready!

“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

So, is there a battle that must be fought by us? Most certainly! Yet, it is not peculiar to just men, and it is not fought with the weapons of this world – not with guns, knives, fists, bullying, or the shedding of human blood. It is fought on a spiritual battlefield with the spiritual weapons God has given to us. Jesus Christ already won this battle for us via his death and resurrection. We just have to put on (apply to our lives) what he has already done for us (See Eph. 6:10-20). We are to fight the good fight of faith, and we are to resist the devil and his lies - which Eldredge is spewing forth - with our faith, our salvation, Christ’s righteousness, the truth of God’s word, and with the true gospel of salvation. Yet, when we stand up for what is right, and we expose what is evil and wrong, there will be those who will fight against us, yet we should not be afraid, for God is with us.

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.