I’m A Man: Achievement Unlocked

Wednesdays are my favorite days because they’re my day off in the middle of the week. What does that mean? It means that I get to spend the day doing whatever the heck I want to do – which always involves coffee, reading, and (in today’s case) writing.

As I’ve read more and more books, I’ve discovered that there is a common theme among authors – a common theme. Wait – does that last sentence make sense? Yes, it does. The common theme among authors is that they often have a common theme in their writings. For me, as the blog’s title may suggest, that has often been grace. But more and more so, I believe my heart has been stirred in areas of the Holy Spirit and upon the topic of masculinity.

A few days ago, I came across a paper that I wrote in college, titled “Christian Culture and Masculinity”, in which I analyzed many cultural themes and researched how social-media defines the gender role of a man. The question always comes down to, “What makes me a man?” In other words, “At which point will I be ‘man’ enough?” Being wholly accepted, delighted in, and respected are desires that strike the depths of every man’s soul.

While I was waiting on my coffee this morning, I struck up a conversation with the barista. Somehow, she ended up asking me if I had any kids. “No kids here,” I assured her. But does her thinking I look old enough to be a father make me a man?

I’ve often wrestled with this question – when does a man feel as if he has “arrived”? I have a college-degree, work a full-time job, apparently look old enough to have kids, and have worked up to at least some muscle tone from the last year of working out at a gym. Does that make me a man? It doesn’t seem to make things all that much different to be honest. I still feel like me. Would I feel like more of a man if I could update my Facebook with “In A Relationship with…[Insert Pretty Girl’s Name Here]”? Maybe for a few days, but in the end, I’d still just be me.

Is just me enough? Are you enough?

The problem with the word “just” (and why it is in italics), is that it assumes the role of insignificance. It’s like when say something along the lines of, “Wish I could do more, but I’ll just pray for you.” Prayer is not insignificant though, and neither are you and I.

If you’re in the gaming world at all, then you know that many of the games now have “Achievements” – so when you get a “Double Kill” – then you get a message that says, “Achievement Unlocked” with whatever perk comes along with it. I think we often view life in this way. “If I could just accomplish/conquer this one thing on status-ladder, then I would be fulfilled…”

Aren’t you tired of climbing?

Aspiration is one thing, but obsession with whether or not you’ve “made it” in the world, or falling into agonizing depression because you believe yourself to be “lesser” are quite another. And it will never be enough. Trust me – accomplish one thing and you’re already hungry to accomplish the next thing – often not even taking the time to be grateful for the first ‘success’.

You’re the only you there is in the world. There is no other Justin Meyer, aka “Flame”, out there, and even if there is, God has created me for a purpose and blessed me with many gifts to reach others in a way that no one else can.

The same is true of you, brothers. You are, indeed, necessary. You can, if you choose to be, enlist yourselves in the band of brothers that can confidently rest in full assurance that they are MEN. And not only men, but MEN OF GOD, if they will only live for His Kingdom.

So I’ve made a personal promise to myself (that I would love for you to hold me to), that I will no longer waste my time worrying about whether or not I am a man. Because I am. Rather, I will simply be a man – I will diligently pursue and rest in all the LORD has to offer. “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.” There’s no turning back now.

I’m a man.

Are you?

Man

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue of masculinity. What do you think MAKES someone a man? How does one become “man enough”? What are some roadblocks to you (or others) believing they are truly a man that has the ability to make an impact?

Gentle Men: The New Macho

One of my goals this year is going to be writing more, so I hope you are okay with that, dear reader, and ready to embark on this faith-journey alongside me.

Earlier this week, I was outraged at the behavior of certain men I came across in the real-world. For the sake of confidentiality and to not give too much away, I will stick to generic details to provide you with the backdrop for my fury. These guys were blatantly, disrespectfully, coming onto – making sexual-innuendos, cat-calling, and making unnecessarily provocative “compliments” to a new friend of mine, and it drove me up a wall mad. The girl felt helpless, hurt, and overpowered, and I’ve not often been more tempted to intervene with physical force (if you catch my drift), but I kept my cool, played big brother, and dismissed the “gentlemen”.

Gentlemen, please be gentle men.
I have two very beautiful sisters. It pains me a great deal to realize that they could be subject to the same treatment by the “gentlemen” in their lives, or to realize that the women I’ve overtly “flirted with” in the past were the sisters and daughters of others. A woman is not just something for you to “have” – she is not a possession, but a person with a heartbeat, soul, and real feelings.
A few days ago I was reminded of this the hard way, when I made some comments to my baby-sister, Brianna, that were not well thought over, and she quickly went into hysteria. Now, of course, she is an 11-year-old, and has some anger-issues, but I did not consider my language and just how powerful it is. I’m her big brother – someone that has been away at college or at work the majority of her childhood, but the little time I do have with her, I should always, always be gentle with her – speaking encouragement into her life and never exerting my strength to make her feel small or powerless.
And that’s what these guys were doing to my friend. That’s what a lot of you (men) do everyday in the way you look down upon your friends, sisters in Christ and whomever else when you consider them to be “slutty”, or at the very least you view them that way. “If they don’t respect themselves, then why should I respect them?” is the justification that many men seem to have programmed into their heads, and I hate it. That’s the wrong answer. You’re wrong if you think that.
Gentle men are sexy men.
Yep, Justin just said the word, “sexy” – that just happened.
They are. Gentle men are sexy men. Guys, you will be so much desirable as a husband, boyfriend, friend, brother, or son, the gentler you are. Your strength should be used to protect, build-up, and cherish, not to get what you want, or overpower the wishes of a woman, or anyone for that matter.
 Image
Macho-Men are not the ones that can bench-press 300 lbs. Don’t get me wrong – I wish I could bench-press 300 lbs. But the new macho is a gentle man. If you’re not gentle, then you’re not part of the fraternity of gentlemen – you’re just a boy that needs to grow up. You may have facial hair and larger-than-average biceps, but you’re less desirable than Average Joe, when he encourages, protects, and cherishes.
Lecture over. Class dismissed. Please be gentle, men.

A Transparent Update: Blessed to Move Forward

Friends, many of you may be wondering what I have been up to over the last few months since graduating from Kansas State University. To be honest, I’ve been wondering, too. What on earth is Justin Meyer up to with his life? It’s been a period of rediscovery–realizing I like some aspects of me more than others and that I’d like to trim out other tidbits of character, or lack thereof–also just wanting to be a slimmer man in general (the struggle against “big guy” status continues, I haven’t given up yet).

May, June, and July were filled with endless online applications, resume updates, job-fairs, and lots of first and second interviews. Handling rejection is never an easy thing, but I believe I have grown a lot from it, and learned how to take it as an opportunity to learn how to better myself, or recognize when an opportunity is not most suitable for me, or for a particular company. A self-proclaimed, realistic-optimist, I like to do my very best to keep a positive spin on things, while not eliminating a logical realism–it’s hard to do, but worth it. A joyless life is death, in my eyes, and I refuse to live as a dead man. Therefore, I hold onto hope and love and press forward, by Christ’s strength alone.

In late July, I was offered a job as a Financial Services Representative and since then, I’ve been studying for those licensing examinations while working full-time in the hotel-industry. Perseverance and determination have been struggles. It’s easy to allow myself to fall to a bad case of the Mondays (even if it’s Wednesday), but I press against that as much as possible. Sometimes that means blasting some Ben Rector music, refilling my iced-coffee at Starbucks, or taking a break to catch-up with a friend. I will conquer those exams and I will be an excellent asset to that company soon. I’m determined.

If you follow me on social-media at all, then you know that I have been missing Manhattan. I love that city, the churches there, the people there, and the absolute beauty of K-State’s campus. Give me a cup of coffee on Bluestem’s patio, a good book, my pen and journal, and I would be content for hours. Recently, I went back to visit my friends at Ichthus. It was a great time. I learned how to two-step, caught-up with my brother, was immensely blessed by the prayers of lifelong friend, Jake Weakland, and learned from the talented teacher that John Schwartz is. I learned something while I was there, though. Manhattan is just fine without me. It was a humbling realization, but a freeing one. God is so much bigger than me, or any one person, and his mission will continue to be carried out there. In the meantime, I’ve been called home (to Kansas City).

Life in KC has been a bumpy ride. It’s a weird transition. You go from nearly drowning in fellowship-opportunities to being isolated in a subdivision. Battling through loneliness, uprooting from Manhattan and replanting myself in KC has not been easy, but it’s happening. I have decided to commit to Life Church’s young-adult ministry, Canvas, and hope to become more involved in the overall church as my work-schedule allows. They are a spirit-led and filled community, filled with hope, and love worship, and I appreciate all of those things.

Hmmm, what else is there to tell you?

In the spirit of relating to others and this truly being a transparent update…I met a girl. Liked her a lot. And asked her out. After a week of praying, she declined. It’s not in God’s plan and I’m accepting that and moving forward, but that’s not to say that it didn’t hurt a little and that satan didn’t attempt to use it as a source of potential contempt or agony. The Spirit was swift to bring encouragement and reassuring my way, as God knows His children, and truly how to bring good and perfect gifts from above. I’m a better man for pursuing her quickly. And I’d do it that way again in a heartbeat.

Boys play games–they flirt, seduce, and trifle with, but have no intent to commit, nor invest. Men diligently pursue–they have an understanding of what is beautiful and they fight for that beauty–they lay childish things aside–stamp out lust, and have a distrust for infatuation. Girls accept the advances of boys. A woman will only accept the advances of a man, if it is in her best interest and in the Lord’s plan. I’m learning to fight more and more each day to become a man and to trust more and more in the Lord’s plan.

That’s about as much of an update as anyone would ever need, so I’ll leave it at that. You can pray for my continued development as a man, writer, employee, friend, brother, and son, and for the Lord’s continued work in my life. Please comment with anything I can pray over you.

Tears

Pin-pricked heart,
Sin-slicked dart,
Ripped apart,
Sweet, yet tart.

Salty tears,
Fears for years,
Humility,
The end of me.

Pride is stripped,
Manhood snipped.
“Men don’t cry”?
What a lie!

An ugly crier,
Uglier liar,
Harp and lyre,
Why so dire?

Tears are spent,
Never wasted.

Repentance,
My pennant.

With me undone,
I see The Son…

Clearer now,
Awe and wow.

Pride erased,
Seek His face.
Joy will haste,
Embrace His Grace.

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.

1 Corinthians Discussion

Dear Friends,

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve slowly been making my way through 1 Corinthians. It’s been a challenging study, as many perspectives of mine are being challenged/questioned through Scripture. We know that “The Body” aka The Church is made up of many parts and some are gifted with wisdom and understanding, others knowledge, and so on (1 Corinthians 12 on spiritual gifts), which led me to the conclusion that sharing my uncertainty with others could possible bring about a positive dialogue which enriches all of our perspectives with the knowledge and person experiences of other readers and their personal relationships with Christ! That being said, I’m VERY EXCITED and strongly encourage you to participate in the discussion which I hope to create over these passages.

I didn’t come across too many confusing/troubling aspects of the first two chapters, but if you’ve got any questions over those, feel free to share! The first thing I’d like to discuss can be found within 1 Corinthians 4:3-5,

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

Verse 5 is intense. He will EXPOSE the motive’s of our hearts! Wow, turns out we’re not as sly as we may think on some occasions. God knows and WILL bring those things to the light. How silly of us to think we could hide from the God whom created us from the dust and placed us in our mother’s womb?!?! 

Here is where things get confusing for me…Chapter 5: 3-8 is Paul’s response to a recent sexually immoral act committed by one of the church’s members. Someone has slept with his father’s wife and Paul says,

“Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed  judgment  on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satanso that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” 

So basically, Paul is now saying that we shouldn’t pass judgement in Chapter 4, but now in Chapter 5, he’s stating that he IS passing judgement as if he were there with them…THEN, Paul instructs his church in Corinth to hand the man over to Satan in order that he might be saved. If you can shed light on this, please share, because logically I cannot comprehend this instruction!

Moving right along…to Chapter 6, Paul discusses with them lawsuits among believers and how it’s ridiculous that they cannot settle such matters within the Church as it is a bad witness. “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated,” he states in 1 Corinthians 6:7. But then comes the topic of marriage! Get excited all of my single friends! No one can argue that within today’s culture, a 20-something single man and woman are under an incredible amount of pressure. In order to be established as a ‘successful’ member of society, one must graduate, marry a ‘respectable'(who gets to define exactly what that is anyways?) counterpart, become employed, and make their elders proud in all aspects of life. But what if Scripture were to throw a wrench in all of these plans? What IF one was called to be single? What IF one was called to be single…for the rest of their life? Paul’s position is that “it is good for a man not to marry.” I really encourage you all to read Chapter 7 as it will certainly challenge many of you to seek the Lord in regards to marriage. OBVIOUSLY, I’m not saying marriage is a BAD thing. I’m straight. I hope to be married to a beautiful woman someday, BUT shall it be the Lord’s will, I should be able to be content with that…and according to Scripture…so should you.

Alright, I’m about to open up a can of worms, so prepare yourselves. Let’s discuss gender roles within the church. Particularly women’s. “Oh no he didn’t!” But oh yes I am…haha. Before continuing to read, pull out your Bible and read 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16.

Within this section of Scripture, we are taught that:

  • Christ is the head of every man and man is the head of woman.
  • Men should not pray or prophecy with their heads covered.
  • Women should cover their heads, otherwise they dishonor themselves as if their head were shaved.
  • Man is the image and glory of God. Woman is the glory of man.
  • Men and woman need each other.
  • It is disgraceful for men to have long hair.

Now, I don’t know about you…but I didn’t grow up in a church where women were expected to cover their heads and to be silent within the church? Women generally don’t wear anything to cover their heads (for some reason I have the image of bonnets from “Little House On The Prairie”). AND a majority of my brothers in Christ have gone through periods where they sported longer hair. BUT, isn’t this the NEW Testament? Aren’t these teachings ones that are valid and something we should wrestle with? So…I’m wrestling with them and am confused. What are your thoughts on gender roles within the church? Within some divisions of Christianity it is acceptable for a woman to pastor the church. Is there Scripture that supports this idea? (1 Corinthians 14:33-35 continues the conversation…)

The last area I’ll take the time to cover and invite discussion over is the concept of spiritual gifts. The primary section to focus on would be Chapter 12, which just so happened to be titled “Spiritual Gifts”. After reading through this chapter, it is discovered that the Spirit is manifest in many ways. There are gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc. My main question is…where are all of these spiritual gifts hiding?!?! I believe the power of God is real and present in current-day, ABSOLUTELY. And I’ve witnessed friends being healed before me through prayer. But when was the last time you saw someone speaking in tongues, or found one whom could interpret tongues in such a way that edified the Body of Christ? What are your thoughts on the spiritual gifts? Are they still alive and well today? And if they are…then why are they not present within the modern day churches of America for the most part.

Thanks for sticking with me through this journey! PLEASE comment with your perspective on some of the things I’ve mentioned and feel free to present any questions of your own. We can work together to bring about a greater clarity and more concrete understanding.

Blessings,

Justin Meyer

All Talk. No Walk. Tick-Tock.

Verbally professing one’s faith is absolutely essential to the continuation of the Great Commission, as well as shining the light of Christ into a very dark and sinful world. Without people preaching the Word of God, sharing their testimonies, and studying Scripture with one another, no one would be fed the living bread they need to stay alive and Christianity would go extinct. So if you are bold and courageous enough to take heed to Romans 1:16 and are unashamed of your faith and you are fulfilling the commission Jesus gave all of us in Matthew 28:18-20 then THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service in this area.

Now, with this being said, there is a certain issue within Christian spheres that I would like to shine some light on. Before I continue, keep in mind that this is a plea and a press towards righteousness and is in no way a form of condemnation, nor am I saying that I have perfected this in my own life. That disclaimer being said, let’s proceed.

I’ve yet to meet a Christian who did not want to talk about what they believe in. We are a people of fellowship, always wanting to discuss theology, doctrine, and how we perceive Jesus Christ and Scriptural truth. However, I’ve been challenged recently by witnessing some of the projects the youth of Olathe East High School’s FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) have been working on. Lars Hanson (Lars Hanson Testimony), a teenager seeking to graduate from high school, is a leader within the group of young individuals and I am deeply moved by his service, testimony, and ability to teach from God’s Word. It’s young men like him that remind me why youth ministry is so awesome and moving. My love for youth ministry aside, these students have put into ACTION the things they’ve been learning. By serving the community around them, praying within the school’s four walls, leading teammates to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and much more.

Shouldn’t this spur us on? I’m a 21-year-old and I think my faith can often pale in comparison to the faith mentioned above and in my previous blog “Selfless” where I talk about the faith and servant’s heart of Jed who wants to be a missionary. I believe this should certainly fuel the fire for the older generation of believers to take steps of faith and to MOVE; to take action and to move mountains for the LORD.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

So will you join me in taking action? Men, we are called to lead, to stand up for what is right. Those who know the good they ought to do and don’t do it, sin (James 4:17). Therefore I challenge you and I challenge myself to man up and to meet the call of the Lord on our lives; to serve wholeheartedly, love unconditionally, and to live counter-cultural lives of humility, submitting to the authority of the Lord and living in reverent fear of our Heavenly Father. We must constantly remember who it is that we serve.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:25-26)

Time is running out brethren. Life is “but a breath” and before you know it, your friends, coworkers, classmates, family members, and many others will be dying before your eyes, having never seen the Gospel of Christ actively shown to them within your life and the lives of other “believers”. So, will you change this trend? Will you begin to profess your faith more boldly? Will you not only verbally share the message of freedom in Christ but also display it to others by the life you live out?

Tick-tock…..tick-tock….tick-tock……….this is an urgent matter. Time is running out! Praying for you brothers and sisters in the faith!