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True Manhood

Posted by Job on March 1, 2007

I Corinthians 8:2-3:And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. For much of my life, I felt that I was not much of a specimen or example of manhood. I am not big, tall, or strong. I have no skill, experience, or apparent acumen in fighting, even in self – defense. I am not particularly athletic. I have no musical or artistic talent, even to the point of being quite deficient in dancing and singing. I am not a sportsman or outdoorsman. Socially I am a reserved homebody. I have no romantic history whatsoever save that with my lovely God – given wife (it is nothing but a miracle from God that I am a married father). I do not handle liquor well. I tried to join the military but failed the physical. I went out for baseball and was one of the first cuts, then I made the track team (due to lack of interest at my extremely small high school) and was notable for finishing last every single time. I do not have a string of degrees behind my name (although I am extremely grateful for the education that I do have; again nothing but a miracle from God that I did graduate college). I have no power, influence, title, or great wealth (again, I am very thankful for the job and position that I do have, another miracle from God that I do not deserve). And so on. So, when I looked at the images of masculinity in the media – that is, back before
Hollywood ceased to present masculine images in favor of effete and childish ones – or the men that I knew, and compared myself to them, I felt as if I did not measure up. The worst part was not some failure of mine. Actually, I had great respect for the Ralph Kramdens of the world who try and fail; at least they were trying! So for me, my low sense of self – worth was not due to my failed attempts to attain excellence – or even competence – in the areas that I was deficient. Instead, what made me feel worst of all about my manhood was the fact that I never really tried, didn’t apply myself. I was a quitter; one who would start something and not finish. Or I would get intimidated and not start at all. The rare times I did goad myself into doing something, I would take shortcuts, things would not work out like they should or to their potential, but I would hurry up and complete it just to say that I had finished something and was not a total failure.
 My loving family, supportive coworkers, etc. would accept me for what I was, congratulate me on my successes and even my half – tries, and make the best attempt to make sure that they were not putting any undo pressure on me lest I break under it. I was grateful for their compassion and charity, but it did not either resolve my feelings of worthlessness or motivated me to do better. Finally, I prayed my God, the one true God, the One of Heaven who made the land and sea and all things and sent his only Son to die for my sins, for help. He heard me and granted my request! I have no idea why a God such as he would hear the prayer and grant the wish of one such as myself, but I thank him that he did.  

It did not happen overnight. I was not ready, and moreover I was still a sinner. God brought me along slowly, advancing me step by step as I became more willing to confront the sin in my life, let go of past disappointments and resentments, stop blaming everyone else and allowing other people to take responsibility of my affairs, and finally actually finish the things that I started, and do so in a worthwhile manner. And I also had to accept doing what God wanted me to do, and not seek those fantastic notions of greatness that I had carried within myself since I was a child. I created those fantasies as my escape from a lonely, difficult childhood, but I had to be willing to command those Satan – inspired distractions, which were weights on my mind, spirit, and soul pulling me down, to go in the name of Jesus, and exist in the reality that my benevolent God created for me! I would say that my first step was meeting the woman of my dreams. I will not say that she loved me for me, because I was not particularly loveable at the time. No, she was a woman of God who loved me solely because God commanded it! But God would not grant her to me in marriage until I got saved – I was an atheist – and graduated from college. Further, graduation from college did not happen until I was willing to get a job for the first time in my life – at the age of 24 – and pay my own tuition and bills. Sad to say that my graduation and getting a job and house did not change my ways; quite the contrary I regressed almost back to where I was in college.   The next step was when a few years later God granted us a son. I was tremendously concerned for my son’s well – being even while he was in the womb, and for that reason I finally began to pray and read my Bible in earnest and on a regular basis. When my son was born, that was more responsibility that I had ever known, and I was finally placed in a position where I absolutely HAD to do certain things; there was no parent, friend, or coworker to do it for me, and my wife was doing more than enough already. But then when I saw the little fellow looking at me with such unconditional love, it made it all worth it. Here was a guy who did not care about my failures. He did not love me because of who I was or resent me for who I wasn’t. He did not love me because I fed him, changed his diapers, or rocked him to sleep (although I did plenty). He loved me for who I was, and his only requirement was that I be good, dependable, and reliable for him and (of course) his mother!But there was one problem. I had what one could charitably describe as certain bad habits. Before I had no problem with these negative traits; indeed I loved them and had convinced myself, my wife, and everyone else around me that they weren’t bad at all; completely natural, even positive! But once my son began to exhibit the same behavior and I saw myself through his actions, I became very disturbed, determined NOT to be the cause of my son’s corruption. I did NOT want him to grow up and become a man like me!  

So, I resolved to do better. But as much as I tried, I could not change my behavior. I increased my prayer, Bible reading, and worship, but the only thing that changed was that my eyes were finally opened to the full extent of my wickedness and the damage that it was causing my wife, son, and others in my life. I was finally able to see the damage that my actions had caused others that had been in my life that I had discarded; but the only thing that I could do was pray for them. But my behavior continued, and it exerted more and more pressure on my wife and son until it reached a breaking point. Finally, I confessed my deep dark secrets, the full extent of my behavior, to my wife, and then we prayed. God then told me that he would deliver me from the worst of my behavior immediately, but that if I returned to it, the consequences would be terrible indeed. Then I had to face the fact that the reason for my behavior – and the fact that I could not control it – was because I was literally crawling with demons. So, I embarked on a journey of spiritual deliverance and cleansing that took over a year to complete. (Considering the type of person that I was and the things that I was doing, I considered it light speed and myself to have been very fortunate that God took such kindness and pity on me to deliver me so quickly). During that time, my wife and son also had to be delivered from things that I had brought into our house and family with my behavior. But thank God, we were all set free! Then came the final step (the process is still ongoing but I have overcome the main barriers thank God). I became aware of all of the anti – Christian and downright demonic messages and influences on television and began to seek out entertainment for my child that would bring him closer to Christ. One of the first things that I went to, thanks ironically due to my seeing him promote his product on the Christian station back in my “atheist” days when I would watch it to make fun of Christian folk, was VeggieTales. At first I was apprehensive, considering Christian entertainment to be of poor quality and low entertainment value, and in truth wanting very much to go back to the evil worldly entertainment (temptation that I have only recently overcome). But to my surprise, I wound up enjoying and benefiting from them as much as my son!  What struck me most was the portrayal of the main father character, Dad Asparagus, in the series. I was expecting a religious outfit to promote the “Christian family values” ideal of fatherhood, the macho masculine suburban superman, and was all set to give my best effort to emulate it. Boy was I surprised! Dad Asparagus was the antithesis of the “family values” ideal (to the extent that a true Christian can be of course); an unimposing, geeky, elementary school teacher prone to bouts of fainting; a mild – mannered slow to anger sort. Needless to say, I personally identified with him. Yet, in this character was great strength; the strength to best any challenge, overcome any obstacle, to win any battle; a real man greater than any that I had seen or imagined other than the characters in the Bible. But the source of his strength was not great stature, strength, ability to win streetfights, money, title, education, accomplishments, or any of the things that I have spent my life feeling sorry for myself because I not only lacked but lacked the desire to pursue. No, the source of his strength was his God and his zealous pursuit of him. I was amazed at how his character not only had a Bible verse for every situation, but knew the practical application of the principle behind the verse to the situation. And I was further amazed that it was all this character needed or wanted. He wanted to do nothing else but to serve his God. Service to his Creator was the beginning, end, and extent of his manhood.   

Before you think that I have made a fictional vegetable into my role model, step back and realize: did not Jesus do the same? David? Moses? Joshua? Samuel? Paul? Peter? And so forth? All VeggieTales did was use a character that I could relate to in order to show me that in Christ I could do all things; that I have all power in his name, and that I was bought and redeemed through his blood and given the victory through his resurrection. I realized that the Word of God is God, it is True, and that though all else would pass away I could rely on it, and if I did rely on it I would not pass away, know death, or fail. That is when I ceased to admire the Ralph Kramdens; people who try and fail. I realized that in God there IS no failure. Even what might seem to be a failure at the time is a success if you do God’s will. I realized that my entire concept of masculinity, even down to the loser who is lovable because he has a good heart and tries his best, is fiction. It is worse than fiction, it is a lie created by Satan and propagated via literature and the media in order to seduce boys and men into fantasies of distraction. The goal is to keep boys and men focused on chasing money, sports, power, women, accomplishments, activities, anything to keep them from the real source of their manhood, the only true source of strength, power, and virtue, which is in God through his son Jesus Christ.  Now, you’d think that the people who fail to achieve this false image of manhood and see their failures and go to God. But the enemy even has another avenue to deceive those men; the notion that “it is OK to fail so long as you try.” And so, the men who in most ways fail to achieve the manhood idol satisfy themselves with worshipping other men who in their eyes achieve it. They do this by living vicariously through sports heroes; actors, musicians, and other entertainers; corporate executives; and of course politicians who affect a “manly” posture. This tendency – and the demons that drive it – gets passed down from one generation of men to another when men start at a very young age pushing their boys to succeed where they failed. The devil has completely blinded these men’s eyes from the reality that without Christ failure is inevitable! Indeed, even few of the “ideal men” that these Ralph Kramdens idolize are truly happy (unless they happen to be followers of Christ) but that is something that the Satan – controlled media will never allow you to see.  For instance, when I was a child, I used to love professional wrestling. I would emulate them and fantasize about being one. Now, rare is the professional wrestler who does not die penniless, drug – addicted, and with bodies broken from the combination of abuse in the ring and steroids. But you rarely hear about it in the media. You also rarely hear similar stories about what happens to so many athletes, entertainers, and captains of industry. As says Psalms 49:12, unless they live for God, their “manhood” will not endure. 

Then, I began to actually praise God for my “failures.” I began to realize that there was a reason why I could never find the motivation to start, finish, or excel at anything. As I said earlier, I was crawling with demons, but mighty God even used that to my benefit and to the benefit of all who love God! A lot of those things that I wanted to do and be was never God’s plan for my life. Even the things that God did want me to do, he wanted me to do it for him and not for my own selfish ambitions. The things that I never achieved, that I never finished simply were not good things, or they were not desired for the proper motivations.  It was to my own benefit that I never achieved an acceptable state of masculinity in my own eyes. Had I, would I have ever sought the one true God? Even better, now that I have God, I absolutely know that I have NOTHING but a failed existence to go back to if I turn my back on God. I have no memories of great times or achievements to tempt me into believing that I was, could have, or would have been any better without following God with all my heart. Right now, I know with incontrovertible irrefutable conviction that every good thing that I am today is solely due to God, and what is more, before I had God there was not a thing good about me (other than, of course, God already had a plan for me and had already defeated Satan on my behalf before I was even born).  So, my good friends, God and God alone made me into a man. What’s more, any man who doesn’t have God isn’t one. So, if you are a man, give God the praise, rejoice in your manliness, and continue to serve God so that you do not depart from it. If you are not a man, then do not fear or despair, just get down on your knees and ask him to deliver you right now! Remember, God isn’t the U. S. Marine Corps. He isn’t looking for a few good men, but rather he makes all men who will seek, accept, and submit to him good.   http://www.healtheland.bravehost.com/Archives/Sermons/True_Manhood_3.htm


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