Thursday, July 22, 2010

Be Men!

Do you have an X and a Y chromosome? Do you enjoy the company of other guys? Do you like sports? Enjoy hunting and fishing? Do your cable TV preferences lean to ESPN or Spike TV rather than Lifetime? Do you prefer Cornhole and Tailgating to dinner parties? Do you find Clint Eastwood and Steven Segall movies superior to those with Leonardo DiCaprio? Did you ever sprain an ankle in a pick up basketball game, or pull a hamstring trying to stretch a single into a double in a softball game? Congratulations, you show every evidence of being a genuine, red blooded, "semper peratus" American guy.

Several years ago a friend once told my son and his high school buddy, "Boys, women aren't like us regular folks!"

Ain't that the truth? We are as different as daylight and dark. God has wired us that way, and that's a good thing. The Creator knew what He was doing when He created the companion for the first man. The Biblical creation account reveals that God took a bone from Adam's body to fashion the woman. I suppose He could have scooped up another handfull of dirt and created the perfect woman, but the Almighty chose to do it differently. It is worth noting that He didn't use a bone from Adam's cranium, so the woman might rule over him. Nor did He choose a bone from his heel, that Adam might keep her "under his foot". But God took a rib from the man's side - close to his heart - that his companion might walk beside him.

We are different, indeed. And we compliment one another. It's part of the Divine plan.

But there is more to being a man than the physical and emotional ways we may differ from the fairer sex. Machismo and "doing guy things" are not all there is to being a man. We are first, and foremost, spiritual beings. We were created to have a relationship with the Creator. Because of our fallen nature, that original relationship was breached. That is why God sent His Son to reconcile us by taking our sin upon Himself, while miraculously imputing His righteousness to us (2 Cor 5:21). Men and women, are meant to have a personal relationship with their God.

Sadly, somewhere along the line, it seems we men have dropped the ball. Designed to be the spiritual leaders of our homes, many of the masculine gender have forfeited that responsibility. It may be almost undetectable in some areas, but the lack of participation of men in the ministry of the local church has become obvious, and epidemic in its proportions.

George Barna's research shows that "More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church." While we know that church attendance is not what brings us into a right relationship with God, we also know that the Bible encourages Christians to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) The local church serves as a center for fellowship, and discipleship training, as well as a home base for outreach ministry, evangelism and missions.

A man (or woman) who loves Jesus, will love His church. Yet on any given Sunday, there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches (figures from Barna Research and U.S. 2000 Census). This begs the question, "Where are the men?" Could it mean that a great majority of Christian men just don't feel that the ministry of the local church is important? Could it come from a life of focus on all the other manly responsibilities we have, while ignoring the most important - a personal relationship with the Father? The frightening thing is what this poor example shows to the boys we are raising. LifeWay research reports that "Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return." After all, boys are going to mirror the behavior of their fathers - whether it be good or bad.

Christian men today must wake up! We must step up to the plate and take on the spiritual responsibilities that God has given us as husbands, fathers and grandfathers. Oh, for men today who will state like Joshua of old, "And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 (ESV).

I'll be writing more about this later, but in closing this article let me share with you men the words of an old hymn, written almost a century ago by William Merrill, that ring ever true today:

Rise up, O men of God!

Have done with lesser things.

Give heart and mind and soul and strength

to serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O men of God!

The kingdom tarries long.

Bring in the day of brotherhood

and end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!

The church for you doth wait,

her strength unequal to her task;

rise up, and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ!

Tread where his feet have trod.

As brothers of the Son of Man,

rise up, O men of God!

Brothers, real men love Jesus! Real men take up their cross and follow Him. Real men seek to fulfill His mission.

Rise up and serve Him!

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