Messin’ With Your Heroes

Therefore be imitators of God—Ephesians 5:1

Really? Is it so wrong for us to emulate the life of another man or woman? Is it so wrong to hold another person up, as a role model? Well, the answer is (as it often is) . . . it depends. It depends on what exactly, in the person, we long to emulate. If it’s Christlikeness only—if it’s only how the person demonstrates Jesus Christ to us and to others—then, no, it’s not so wrong. We’re meant to be, for one another, physical examples of how to follow Jesus ever more closely. Watching another person move further into the character of Christ helps us move further, too. That’s how it’s supposed to work. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Too often, though, that’s not the way it actually works. Too often, we look up to men and women—and strive to emulate them—for the purpose of becoming more like them, and not more like Jesus. Too often, it’s worldly things that draw us in: a person’s success, their achievements, their talent, their career, their money, their power, their possessions. We men fall into this a lot. And the problem is the same whether the things coveted are secular or ecclesiastical in nature. We can lift any person too high: magnate or minister, entrepreneur or entertainer, priest or professor. We can lift them so high they begin to obscure Jesus.

Okay, so what do we do?

Hero worship is a sensitive subject. We men like our heroes. And we don’t like people to mess with them. We must be careful, though, that no person (great though they may be) gets between us and the ultimate hero. Examine your heart. Wrestle with the issue. Discuss it openly with some brothers—and with God, in prayer.

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Who are you?

Have you ever asked yourself who you are?

I have, earlier in my life I asked this question of myself a lot. There would be times when I would come across something I could do well and try to identify myself with that. The person I am currently in a relationship with or the children I am raising I would try to identify myself as that. I am neither of those things.

I AM A MAN FIRST.

Which kind of man and where do I pull my strength from? I am a Christian man; from there I can be anything that Christ chooses for me to be.
Notice that I said that I can be anything that Christ chooses for me to be. I didn’t say that I could be who I want to be. I am walking the path designed for me.

Brothers we all have a path to walk, we can choose out the path or we can let Christ choose it for us. I have made my choice; now you guys have to make yours.

Choose Wisely…

That was in my heart to give to the men I know, that may be struggling with that same thought I as I have before.

I appreciate you reading,

Arthur Poston Jr.

Too Busy? Hmmm . . .

Look carefully then how you walk . . . making the best use of the time, because the days are evil—Ephesians 5:15-16

When sacred opportunities come—opportunities to listen, to care, to encourage, to serve, to give, to tell others about our faith—we men often use a tactic called “too busy, right now.” We say the words out loud, sometimes. More often, we say them to ourselves and just keep moving. We then rationalize the dodge by using a second tactic, one called “make up for it later.” That is, we imagine ourselves jumping into other, similar opportunities, eventually—when things slow down a bit maybe.

God knows we’re busy. He sees how busy we are, right now. And he calls us still. You see, these sacred opportunities don’t come by chance. He places them carefully in front of us. He knows we’re busy . . . and he knows what he’s doing. He knew what he was doing when he called Simon and Andrew when the brothers were busy fishing (Mark 1:16-18). He knew what he was doing when he called James and John when those brothers were busy mending nets (Mark 1:19-20). He knew what he was doing when he called Levi when Levi was busy collecting taxes (Mark 2:14). He knows what he’s doing when he calls us too, even when we’re busy. He doesn’t wait because he knows our time is scarce. He knows that we have none to waste.

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is the day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Okay, so what do we do?

What was your last sacred opportunity, brother? What did you do? Is the opportunity still open? If not, take a moment to decide what you’ll do the next time a sacred opportunity comes. Commit to stepping into it and making the most of the precious time you’ve been given.

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Who Are Your Heroes?

Worship the Lord your God, and only him.
Serve him with absolute single-heartedness—Matthew 4:10

We men like heroes. We like to look upward. We start early, as boys, looking up to men and women who do amazing things on grass and turf and hardwood and ice. As we get older, we shift our “looking up” to those who do amazing things in classrooms, boardrooms, laboratories, legislatures . . . to those who speak and create and negotiate, to those who research and discover and write.

There’s nothing wrong with honoring and admiring other people. Something is wrong, though, when honoring or admiration becomes worship—when we devote our lives to becoming just like our heroes. You see, heroic images are false. They are false because they’re incomplete. Heroic images portray the good and obscure the bad. We think, “he’s got it together”—“great job, great wife, great bank account, great house” . . . “must be nice.” What we don’t see is what’s broken. Something always is: “For we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). Maybe it’s what was sacrificed in order to achieve the heroic image. Not realizing we’re misled, though, we decide to chase their images, to model our lives after theirs. Not realizing we’re misled, we end up imitating their brokenness.

When we worship heroes, we do like the ancient pagans who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). The truth is, no person, past or present, is worthy of our worship . . . except one.

Okay, so what do we do?

Who are your heroes? Have you ever walked the line between admiration and hero worship? Have you ever held another (broken) person in too high esteem? If you’ve crossed that line, simply confess it to God in prayer. And commit to worshiping no man but our worthy King, Jesus Christ.

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Restoring Connections

. . . build up the ancient ruins
. . . repair the ruined cities—Isaiah 61:4

Three relationships broke when man fell, so long ago: the relationship between man and God, the relationship between man and himself, and the relationship between man and other men (and women). Our jobs now, brother, are to repair and rebuild those relationships, in our own unique ways, as much as we can during our lifetimes . . . and to encourage and assist others in doing likewise. Our King, Jesus Christ, gave us our instructions—love “God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and love “your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). His two-part directive covers all three relationships: love God more than anything else; love yourself sufficiently; and love other people at least as much as you love yourself. It’s all there.

So how do we begin? Well, we restore relationships with God when we soften our hearts, decide to trust him more than we trust ourselves, and bend ourselves toward obedience. We restore relationships with ourselves when we soften our hearts and decide to care for ourselves as God intends, finally dealing with self-condemnation or idolatry or addiction (to work, to food, to alcohol, to pornography, or anything else). And, we restore relationships with others when we soften our hearts, decide to look around for people who need us, and bend our lives toward loving and serving and forgiving them.

Okay, so what do we do?


Take a moment to survey your life. Which type of relationship is most broken? If none is obvious, take time for listening prayer. Ask your counselor, God the Holy Spirit, to guide you. Once you’ve focused-in on what’s most in need of rebuilding, what’s most in need of repair, you’ve got your own, individualized blueprint for “what’s next.” Begin working on it this week. Start with something practical.

 

 

With Friends Like These . . .

My brothers show no partiality
as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ—James 2:1

We men tend toward bias. Sometimes with forethought, many times with no thought, we give or withhold based upon characteristics of the potential recipients. We can, therefore, find ourselves directing all our time and attention, our kindness and generosity, toward only those who live, look, sound, spend, sin . . . like we do. This plays out in many areas of life and, therefore, many areas of faith—in service, giving, worship, and indeed in brotherhood.

But James, brother of our King, Jesus Christ, cautioned us to oppose this tendency:

“For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:2-4).

So, what’s wrong with partiality? Well, intending to or not, we harm people. We hurt them by disregarding them, those whom God wants us to impact or serve or befriend, but who don’t quite make our cut (Proverbs 28:21). God put us here for one another (Matthew 22:39). Partiality means we forsake people who need us. And if that’s not bad enough, we harm ourselves. We cut ourselves off from relationships—and often the weightiest. You see, those were meant to impact are expected to influence us, right back.

Okay, so what do we do?

How’re you doing with this, brother? The test is simple—look around. Who are you spending time with? Whom are you serving? There should be people in your life who’re nothing like you. Are there?

Prepare for Battle

. . . on this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it—Matthew 16:18

We’re designed for battle by our Father God; we’re led into battle by our King, Jesus Christ; we’re aided in battle by God the Holy Spirit. These battles are waged “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The places where we meet our enemies have names like “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21). Though perhaps less dramatic than battles fought on the ground or in the air or on the sea, their outcomes are more momentous. They determine not only how we spend our lives, but our eternities too (Galatians 5:21).

We have enemies. They’re real. They’re powerful. They’re cunning, relentless, scheming always against us—scheming right now. We too, brother, must be cunning and relentless. We too must be prepared.

Okay, so what do we do?

Create a battle plan. Resist any “this isn’t necessary” or “do it later” tendencies. Create a plan to bring the fight to our enemies. They’ve brought it to you long enough. Write it out today. Make it explicit. Make it practical.

  1. Definition of Battle . . . what problem would you like to finally overcome?
  2. Definition of Victory . . . what’ll victory look like?
  3. Lay of the Land . . . what external factors contribute to the problem?
  4. Points of Weakness . . . what aspects of your lifestyle contribute too?
  5. Plan of Attack . . . how will you counter or minimize or eliminate the external factors and contributing aspects of your lifestyle?
  6. Sources of Strength . . . how’ll you stay connected to God and community?
  7. Brothers-in-Arms . . . whom will you tell about this plan and keep updated, as to victories and defeats?

If these words impacted you today, send them on!!!

Emerging from Isolation

 

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them—Matthew 18:20

Imagine, for a moment, a man ever isolated, living alone in the mountains, perhaps. Imagine him living a vigorous, adventurous, spiritual life, but lacking community. The knowledge this man would have of God, the knowledge he’d have of himself, would be modest compared to the knowledge he’d have of both, were he to have full access to relationships, friendships, brotherhood.

You see, the isolated man may know about God. But, no matter how much he might read and study, he cannot know God. That takes community. We get to know God by seeing his Holy Spirit moving in others. We encounter God, we experience him, we understand him when he works through the love and sacrifice of other people. In brotherhood, we get to show God to one another. And, the more we’re in community with brothers, the deeper our understanding becomes.

The isolated man may also know about himself—his talents, his likes, his dislikes. But, he cannot know himself. He cannot know the man God intends him to become. That too takes community. It takes others around him, who know his story, who spend time with him, who watch him, to discern and affirm and call forth things true and eternal in him, things God longs for to emerge. It takes brotherhood to call forth the true man.

Okay, so what do we do?

Though we live in cities and towns, many of us are yet like the man isolated in the mountains. We know about God, but we don’t knowhim. We know the men we’d like to be, but we don’t know the men he created us to be. This message, right now, is another call for brotherhood. It’s a call for you, brother, to get into community with other men. Find some brothers; find your place.

Words of Honor

 

Outdo one another in showing honor—Romans 12:10
To honor someone is to build them up, to give them a sense of their worth. Prevailing culture teaches us our worth is weighed by worldly measures. And so, “honoring” becomes hero worship—elevating those good at projecting worldly success and marginalizing those of us with flawed lives, with failures in our past, or who are simply unable or unwilling to devote enough effort to convincing the world of our success. This type of “honoring” is not what God intends. We lead each other astray when we engage in it, because the focus is so wrong.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

To honor someone as God intends is to build them up and give them a sense of their true worth. It’s trying to see them as God sees them. It’s pushing right through the confusion of worldly measures—successes, failures, talents, faults, wealth, poverty, titles, appearances—looking for evidence of what God has done in and through them, and what he’s doing currently. And, finally, most importantly, it’s telling them what we see. Our edifying, encouraging words to one another are gifts from God. He allows us to give them to one another . . . and we must.
Okay, so what do we do?

Ask God to help you see those around you as he sees them. Look for how he’s working in and through them. And . . . then . . . tell . . . them. Tell them what you see. We men tend to struggle with the telling. We can be married for years, or in community with other men for years, and never simply tell those closest to us what we see in them. So, pick someone this week and tell them what you see. Honor them with a glimpse of his/her true worth.

If these words impacted you today, send them on!

Gotta Get Humble

I got this from a Daily Devotional that I read.

It is called WiRE. Check it out….Not signed up for WiRE? Get started todaytwice-a-week, totally free.

. . . count others more significant
than yourselves—Philippians 2:3

Let’s first get straight on what “getting humble” is not. It’s not trying to think poorly of ourselves or denigrating ourselves or anything like that. It actually involves taking the focus off ourselves. Getting humble is checking our tendency to think ourselves better than others, or more important, valuable, worthy of time or mind share or respect. Getting humble is shutting down our tendency to “size people up” and position them on some scale—based on money, title, education, geography, whatever. Getting humble is recognizing all people as the careful works of God, equally worthy of love and sacrifice.

Getting humble is counterintuitive, and it moves against prevailing culture. You see, we men want to feel successful, important—and have others consider us so. Culture trains us, therefore, to promote ourselves; to be strategic with our time and attention; to let positions determine our treatment of others. This training is foolish. It misses the sense and strength of humbleness.

Imagine someone humble. They’re often fearless, able to act on convictions, rather than trying to impress. Their decision-making is often sound, unclouded by insecurity or prejudice. They listen and welcome honest differences. They abide critics, crushed not by their criticism. They’re often magnetic, treating all people with respect. They engender loyalty, camaraderie. King Solomon wrote, “with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). We want to work with humble people. We want to work for them and have them work for us. We want them as spouses, friends. But, mostly, we should want to get humble ourselves.

Okay, so what do we do?

Practice getting humble. Choose something this week: initiate a conversation and listen more than you talk; serve in a way that’s mundane or difficult (unpleasant, even); help someone anonymously; give someone the credit they deserve (even if you deserve some too).