American Culture And Growth In Christ Because You’re Worth It.

My inner circle knows that I’m in a period of hyper spiritual growth and maturing as a man right now as I prepare for upcoming chapters in my life. Out with the old, in the with the new; a whole lot of prayer and a whole lot of hard, emotional, painful work to get there.

Things worth pursuing always come at a cost.

Our culture hasn’t done a great job of teaching us to count the cost. I don’t think Donald Trump ever learned to count the cost of his inflammatory remarks toward woman. And I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton fully considered the ramifications of Benghazi and deleting e-mails to attempt avoiding accountability. (I do not endorse either candidate for the record, but I’ll leave my political leanings at that for now.) The thing I’m getting at, is if our two “best” Republican and Democratic candidates for Presidential office of the United States of America are two full-grown “adults” that lie, steal, and quarrel like elementary students on the playground, then I think it’s a sad reflection on the social landscape of America.

We’ve fallen victim to selfishness. Pursuing whatever is best for us in the moment, without considering the cost – unaware of the rewards, consequences, monetary debt inflammation, and other ramifications our decisions would cause. Behaving like children and quarreling more with one another than discussing, investing, and serving alongside one another to truly build a better America. We’re more focused on who’s “worse than us” than we are on improving ourselves to build a better future for everyone – because we all have an impact on this world, whether we want that responsibility or not.

And if this is a reflection of our national leadership and our political landscapes and if I’m currently fighting the backlash of a couple decades of not taking responsibility for my actions, then perhaps you are, too.

So where do you start? Where do you go when you realize it’s time to grow up and you can’t get out of this one? There’s no one to pass the blame onto this time, except for your own shortcomings (whether those be laziness, greed, pride, addiction, hatred and bitterness that poison your heart, and the like).

You tell someone.

Trump is Trump because he thinks he doesn’t need anyone. He is his own king and he has all this “wealth” and can do whatever he wants, so it makes him a ‘man’. Clinton is Clinton because her husband betrayed her (and many, many other things we all just don’t know – she is definitely more than her husband’s actions) and she’s grown cold-hearted and calculated, doing whatever it takes, in scandal after scandal, to get what she wants. She doesn’t need her husband. She doesn’t need anyone.

Wrong. Absolutely wrong.

We all need someone. We all need accountability and community. You will fall. And if there’s no one by your side to pick you up and get you back in the fight for freedom and Kingdom work, then you’ll stay there in the pit of your own despair and begin to build your home there, because you think you’re just not good enough for something better than the present sum of your past sins.

Wrong again.

You are absolutely created and destined for something greater than that. Heirs to the throne and absolutely powerful to overcome, heal, prophecy, and bring forth incredible revivals, if you will only submit your lives to Christ. (Another area we often fail to count the costs of…You can have power and gifts and be alive in the Spirit, but you’ve gotta put your own pride and ‘glory’ and doing it all ‘on your own’ to death first, before it can happen.)

So take the first step and call someone. “Hey [their name here], it’s [your name] – I’m done doing it all on my own. I’ve tried and tried and fought and fought. I’ve ran away long enough. It’s left me in a dark, tired, lifeless, and absolutely spent place. I need Jesus. I need closer friendships and community. I need the church and you to pray with and walk with me through this life, so that growth can occur.”

I’m praying that when you make that phone-call, you’re met with open arms and someone that wants to come by your side and help you live the life you’re absolutely capable of living. You just don’t know it yet. That’s okay. You’ve spent a long time believing the lie that you weren’t worth it anyways.

I promise you are.

In Christ,

Justin

mens-bible-study

Broken Being Becoming

There’s an album that I’ve recently been listening to on repeat by a hip-hop artist that goes by NF – it’s called “Mansion” – referring to the ‘Mansion of his mind’. You can find the 12-track album on Spotify and I’d highly recommend giving it a listen at your earliest convenience. But what’s intriguing to me about this particular track-list of music is the transparency; the supernatural ability this young artist has at laying out his heart and frustrations with being a twentysomething adult trying to figure himself out.

His mind is the ‘Mansion’ he’s trapped in as the title track explains. And this line nails it on the head…

“I regret the fact that I struggled trying to find who I am – and I lied to myself, saying ‘I’m doing the best that I can.’ Shrug it off like it ain’t nothing – like it’s out of hands – and get ticked off whenever I see it affecting my plans.”

I was in the gym after another weekend of going out a few too many times. You know – the usual – hating myself for indulging and then punishing my body by working it too hard (as if that fixed the root issue). So I’m on “the bike” – and putting in a pretty solid cardio-routine for a guy like myself (10 miles) – and those lyrics hit me right in the chest.

I’m in a stage in life where I’d say I’m “becoming” – trying to reach the mountaintops of the business world.

It just feels like I’ve been in the valleys just a little too long and that I’ll never amount to much of anything.

So I avoid reality – watch another movie, go dancing with another pretty girl, meet friends up for drinks or coffee somewhere and chalk lack of success up to being young and inexperienced and perhaps that’s why no one’s truly utilizing my full potential. Because that’s a hell of a lot easier than admitting that I might be (at least part of) the problem.

I could work a little harder; spend a little less; become more joyous and content with what I’ve already been blessed with; but I think the monumental concept I need to focus myself on is just being.

I swear this has been the hardest aspect of my “becoming” – of me graduating from college and tackling “the real world”. Embracing the man that I am at the time. Whether’s that’s the charming guy on his next date, or the brokenhearted and lost soul that I was about four months ago during my first breakup. Whether I’m the go-getter in the office, or the guy that could use a little extra coaching to improve on techniques he’s become lazy with. Whether I’m the inspiring Christian, or the concerned critic. Whatever season I’m in – if I could just look whatever guy is staring me back in the mirror that day, and take responsibility for his actions, I think I’d start to see some real progress.

Part of the problem – I’m starting to believe – is that I can easily confuse self-love and avoidance or selfishness. There’s a difference between spending time on myself (recharging with friends, going on the occasional date, taking a night “off the grid” to clear my head, writing in the library like I am right now, etc.) to refresh and simply burning time  (sulking in the library, endlessly dating, going out as often as possible) to avoid hard realities like a truck that needs replaced, a grown-man still living in his parents’ house, heaping piles of student-loan debt, and a heart that yearns for intimacy.

I want to love myself more, while avoiding myself less.

Part of “becoming” is learning to “be”. So here I am – the Big & Tall, joyous and confused, provider of bear hugs and witty jokes, charming and reckless, broke yet rich, Justin. And I can honestly tell you that tonight, I’m choosing to love myself and not avoid the reality that I’m a broken being becoming.

I’m Back,

Justin

Broken Being Becoming

Where The Men At?

A recent conversation I had revealed the devastating reality that there are few men left. Oh, don’t worry, there are plenty of individuals that can mark “male” on questionnaires, but upstanding gentlemen–good luck.

I wish I could pride myself more-so on my own contributions to the coed relational world, but I’d be hypocritical and dishonest if I were to not admit that I’ve had my own slip-ups here and there throughout my young-adult years. So, men (and women), before you continue reading and pointing fingers at one another, realize that I am first preaching to myself on this topic before I exhort you (and you should do the same). ENOUGH of the finger-pointing within The Church; seriously. Take responsibility for your own actions, exhort your brothers and sisters with biblical counsel, live out your faith, read the Word, and then leave the convicting, heart-changing, and life-changing to the Holy Spirit (He’s been in the business a while and is SO MUCH BETTER at it than you and me–we tend to get prideful and mess things up).

Back to the conversation I was having…A friend of mine sent a Facebook message to me and asked if there was any hope for finding a guy that would wait (for that magical three-letter word, s-e-x), because she was being pressured by all kinds of “men” to compromise on her convictions. My first instinct is probably like yours–“well, they’re jerks, wait and date a gentleman”. Note that “gentleman” is a word compromised two smaller words–“gentle” and “man“–are there any men gentle enough to sacrificially love, wait for, and pursue their bride-to-be?

And men, this is the question I’ve come to realize that many upstanding young women our age are asking themselves, “Are there any real men left?” Or, is it time for them to lower the standards they’ve been raised to uphold, so they may have some slight chance of a man being willing to pursue them? But at this point, what are they being pursued for–for them (ALL of who they are), or simply for the perks in the bedroom? 

I’d venture to say that the women in this world are ready for a new kind of man; Not necessarily an entirely new breed of man, but men that are still willing to uphold old-fashioned principles–like waiting for marriage. Not only that, but as many of you likely know, there has been a societal epidemic of a fatherless generation–where are the men at? Where have they gone? Why do they run from their children?

Men desire respect above most other things, but men, respect is earned

I don’t claim to be the mac-daddy of the dating-world, but I’m fairly certain respect is not earned by shirking fatherly responsibility or pursuing women solely for the provision of momentary fulfillment.

Have I upset enough readers with my bluntness just yet? Great! That’s the goal…guys tend to stay relatively chill about things until it engages their emotions, or hurts their pride a bit. Now that your cage is rattled, tail-feathers are ruffled, and the like…give me a second to calm the waters.

No one is void of responsibility in the issue of men lacking in society. We all need to be doing our part to raise up a stronger generation of men, to become that generation ourselves, and to cherish the women in our lives.

Ladies, you are not all perfect little princesses all the time, so please do not judge your brothers haughtily in this situation. Many of you are fiercely opposed to the leadership of men, which, by the way, is a biblical principle–I hope to find a wife that will be okay with me leading.

Oh, right, I said I would calm the waters… 😉

Here’s the thing…everyone is responsible. And responsibility is lacking miserably in the American culture. If you mess up, fess up. If you are currently in a relationship that is going nowhere, but somewhere it shouldn’t be going, GET OUT OF IT. If you have a baby, take care of it and raise it to be a child of God, an heir to Grace. If you want respect, earn it. And for the love of men’s purity, dress modestly. It’s actually been scientifically proven that the more scandalously-clothed a woman is, the easier it is for a man to view her as an object, rather than a person. Do you want to be someone’s object, or someone’s companion? Attract the right kind of man.

This world is ready for a new class of man. A new brand. It’s seen enough of the Biebers, Timberlakes, Chris Browns, and Barney Stinsons (the star-character of How I Met Your Mother) and is ready to be reminded of what a true, classy man is. It’s time to get old-fashioned. It’s time to be responsible.

Learn from your mistakes. Correct your peers gently. Be overwhelmingly courageous, encouraging, and resilient always. And for the love of humanity, never give up.

Trumpet Call

We’re livin’ in a world of passivity,

Moral lines fadin’, realize the gravity?

Culture’s been convinced that wrong is right,

And few hearts long for The Light!

 

“If I can stay comfortable,

Then that would be wonderful!

Wouldn’t want my feathers ruffled,

Or my heart troubled…”

 

Persuaded sin is living free

Forgettin’ they were bought; paid for on a tree.

Blood-stained linens wrapped around The King,

But no one remembers Him when they have sex without a ring.

 

This may be blunt; straight-forward and not eloquent

However, it is time we dealt with this elephant.

An immoral culture immersed in darkness…

Lifestyles never changin’; are we heartless?

 

Thinkin’ you’re saved,

But livin’ depraved,

Awake, rise from the grave!

 

A redeemed life will bear fruit abundantly,

Can you not hear God’s trumpeting?

Jesus is coming back, The Messiah shall reign.

I pray you will have chosen not to live in vein.

Coffee-Shop Devotion

I love coffee. If you think about it, coffee can be quite the loyal companion, it wakes you up in the morning, stays with you through the late-night study sessions, holds close friends together through a medium which can be used for deep conversations or lighthearted banter, and um…it tastes great! Let’s face it, coffee is a fundamental aspect of the American culture. But even more noticeably it’s a larger part of the Christian culture within the United States.

Walk into any coffee-shop in Manhattan, KS (where I currently reside), in Olathe, KS (my hometown), or anywhere else (where you live), and I can almost GUARANTEE you that there will be at least 1-2 individuals in there with their Bible cracked open or casually reading one of John Piper’s latest books. That’s great! I love that people have a hunger for the Word of God, are active in fellowship with one another, and are seeking to think more deeply on topics of theology that can be daunting without the assist of a great book, etc.

But here’s something to consider…Do you and I love coffee(shops) more than we love the individuals around us? Is it possible that we love coffee more than Jesus?

Now, at first glance, that just sounds utterly ridiculous, right? I feel slightly foolish suggesting such a thing as a plausible concept. But humor me for just a moment and continue reading for the sake of me developing my argument a bit more. There are many people that I know who can be found inside a coffee-shop on a daily basis, or at least several times a week. It’s literally a religious practice to them; much like a devout Catholic attends mass and visits the church many times a week. On top of the amount of time we spend inside the church/cathedral, we’re also spending quite possibly 10% or MORE of our income on this luxury a week, much like a tithe. See where I’m going with this?

What if coffee-shops and coffee in general have become a greater devotion for us than our relationships with Christ? The reality is that our spirits are thirsty, but not for coffee, they’re thirsty for the living waters that only the Holy Spirit is capable of providing us with.

Am I against coffee-shops? Absolutely not. In fact, I’m one of those individuals you’ll likely run into at Starbucks and other venues. Here’s my point, I don’t want anything to begin taking precedence over my relationship with Christ, or to be hindering my ability to reach out to and serve others within my community. So if cutting back on coffee is what it takes to lead just one more person into the Kingdom of God, I want to do it. I simply invite you to evaluate your heart alongside me and to live righteously at all costs.

Finally, I leave you with this thought I had earlier, which I will be seeking to apply to my daily life: “Attempting to justify oneself is simply an excuse for not living above reproach in the first place. So let’s live like Christ, man up, and attempt to pursue holiness with every fiber of our being.”