Every Man Dies… Not Every Man Truly Lives

Originally posted on my long dead Xanga page.

The Lord spoke to me today in such a mighty way that it left me weeping. I have been casually reading Wild at Heart by John Eldredge for several weeks now, and slowly God has been openning me up to prepare me for today. Here’s the premise for the book:

“A Battle to fight. An Adventure to live. A Beauty to rescue. This is what a man longs for. This is what makes him come alive. Look at the films men love. For that matter, look at the dreams of little boys, the games they play. There is something fierce, passionate, and wild in the heart of every man. That is how he bears the image of God. God designed men to be dangerous. Simply look at the dreams and desires written in the heart of every boy: To be a hero, to be a warrior, to live a life of adventure and risk.”

Where are the battles today for men to fight? The truth is, we are already in the midst of it. But, like soldiers hiding in a farmhouse and drinking merrily, we often choose to ignore the tumult around us. The enemy is steadily gaining ground in the church, our homes, and our own lives simply because we refuse to admit that he’s even there. There was a time in my life when I fought a very real battle against Satan and his demonic forces, but over time I had convinced myself that a majority of the attacks are coming from within, that I was a pitiful sinner with no hope of truly fighting. I had defeated myself and thusly handed the battle over to the enemy. Reading this book with the urging of the Holy Spirit has reminded me of who I really am.

The church has often used the title “sinners saved by grace” to describe the church. Yet, this very thought is what often cripples those who should be the Lord’s greatest victors. “A sinner saved by grace” is what I was, not what I am. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor 5:17) What I am now is a child of the King! A warrior for the cause of Christ. My struggle is not with myself as much as it is with sin.

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.” (Rom 7:19-21)

There is a traitor within us, and that traitor is sin. Sin is the one doing wrong. Satan tries to convince that we are still sinners, that we are still slaves, and he gains victory when we answer him by saying, “You’re right.” As long as we believe we are defeated, then we are. Too often Christians make the mistake of assuming that the real battle is the one going on inside of us. While that battle is a true one, to focus on that one is self centered. As long as we are only looking at ourselves, we are ignoring the fight outside of us. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)

Men, you are engaged in a battle, not just for yourself, but for the Kingdom of God. You are in a battle for your wife and your children. Often I find myself fighting with the princess instead of for the princess. I imagine that the struggle is with her and ignore the dragon holding her captive. This is not to say that my wife needs me to free her, only God can do that. Only God can free any of us, and only God can give us our strength. However, God designed the marriage relationship to be one in which the man takes on the batttle for his wife. The enemy is real and he is attacking our families. How many times do we see struggles in our lives, our jobs, our families, our churches, and ourselves and immediately try to find some rational, natural explanation? There are supernatural forces at work in this world, good and evil. We may think that our actions and decisions are only personal, but what we do as humans can have cosmic significance. Read the first chapter of book of Job to see God pull back the curtain and reveal what’s behind the scenes. Job’s actions made a difference that he never knew. His refusal to denounce God and curse his name was a victory in the heavenlies. Look at the description of the nativity as described in Revelation:

“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (7:1-5, 7-9)

Though I am still learning about the interpretation of this book, it seems clear that this describes the birth of Christ in a way that is a far cry from the description in “Silent Night.” Christ’s birth was a battle, with Satan and all his armies on the attack. We must never forget that we are in a battle. If there is no battle, why are we given armor (Eph 6:11), and why would we be called “more than conquerors” (Rom 8:37) if we are not fighting? Do not let Satan convince you that he is a minor threat, or that he is not concerned with you. Do be persuaded to think that the struggle is with our own human natures. That nature is dead. The struggle is with the evil forces at work in this world. The struggle is with the one who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8) Be a warrior. Be who God has called you to be. Be dangerous to the devil. A warrior for God who knows he’s a warrior can do some damage.

“Every man dies… not every man truly lives.” (Braveheart)

Random Update

Originally posted on my long dead Xanga page.

Gee golly, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. (That’s what all the cool kids are saying these days – gee golly… when you’re a youth minister it’s easy to stay hip.) So much has happened that I’ve had very little time to document it because I’ve been too busy living it. To save time and clear out all the cobwebs, I’ll just give it to you in brief factiods before I start my major rambling.

1) I’ve officially graduated! I got my diploma in the mail a few weeks ago and now it hanging up in my office at church. Speaking of my office…

2) My officially title at church is now Youth and Children’s Ministry Coordinator. That means that I am working more at church and having to spend less time in another job. It also means I get to play a lot of silly games with small children. Finally, I’m working with people I can relate to! As far as who I’m working with…

3) LifeWay no longer has its shackles on me! To quote Mary Mary, “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!” And I literally did dance around the room when I found out this job was going to work out at church because I knew it meant I could give my two weeks notice. (I was at home at the time… I actually was so involved that I ran right into the door frame of the computer room. It’s hard to stop me when I’m gettin’ my groove on.) Don’t let The Man bring you down! But with every good thing there must come complications, such as…

4) My pastor resigned the day I was announced as Children’s Dude. (That’s how I see myself.) No, I didn’t run him off. ( I don’t think… then again, one week before I put in my notice, my manager at LifeWay resigned too… hmmm…) He’s going to a church in Dickson. I think that all the difficulties at my church – lack of commitment, laziness, inconsistancy, etc. – just got to be too much. That makes me the senior staff member now. Oy vey! (That’s what all the hip Orthodox Jews are saying these days – oy vey.) Actually I think it’s going to be for the best. We’ll just go from scratch with a fresh start. Additionally…

5) I am now a substitute teacher for the Knox and Anderson County school systems. I gots to pay the bill somehow, so I figured at least this way I’m still playing with kids most of the time… or hiding from them under the desk. Anything else? How could I forget…

6) Right now, my current obsession is Mel Gibson’s new movie The Passion of the Christ. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about the release of a movie as I am about this one. It opens in just a little over a week on Ash Wednesday, February 25. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have to teach the youth on Wednesdays, I’d be at the theatre that night. The movie’s getting great reviews from advance audiences (at least the Christian ones) and stirring up controversy everywhere else. Be sure and check out the website (www.thepassionofthechrist.com) if you want to find out more. I just can’t wait to see what kind of impact this movie is going to make. I’ll be sure and post after I see it too.

Anyway, I guess we’re all up to date now in the world of Jody. I really need to work on making my site less ugly now that I’m not using the free Xanga premium. Right now though, I have a very sleep pug in my lap that I need to put to bed.