Sunday, October 4, 2015

Justin's Calling: Are you called to be a Salvation Army Officer?

Justin Steckbauer is an employee of the Salvation Army Central Territory. This is Justin's personal blog. The views on this blog do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Salvation Army, it's employees, or partners.  This blog is not associated with the Salvation Army.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

God is real. God is really here. He is among us. And every word in his book is the truth. We have amongst us here the answer to every question in the world.

I did not know God when I was younger. I didn’t think he was really there. I thought it was a fairy tale. I lived and grew up among a church. I didn’t understand any of it. I just went because my parents made me. I didn’t think it had any bearing on life. I thought it was just some sort of backwards tradition that we had to honor.

After my parents divorced at age 15 I got into trouble. I had many struggles. I went very low. Depression came about, addictions came about. As things got worse I was forced to ask some very difficult questions.

Many people, if they were asked: Why do you exist? Why are you here? They would have no answer. They don’t know, and they never really thought about it.

I didn’t think about it either. But then I had to. My life was collapsing, my addictions were growing worse, and my heart was empty. I was filled with the ever-present agony of the everyday blah!

So, at rock bottom, I got on the floor, on my knees, and I cried out to Jesus Christ. I didn’t know if he was real, if he was really God, if God was even real, but I took a little leap I suppose, I cried out desperately, just desperately. Jesus save me. And do you know how I know God is real today?

Because Jesus answered that cry for help. He set me free from my addictions, depression, and most importantly from the long list of my wrong doings. I was reborn. He saved me in every way imaginable...

  • He saved me physically from addiction
  • He saved me emotionally from crippling depression
  • He saved me spiritually from the just penalty of my sins.
  • Jesus took my place on the cross. And he reclaimed his life for my eternal life.
I didn’t cry out to Muhammed, Buddha, Krishna, Zoraster, or the universal spirit. No. Only one name: Jesus Christ, or in Hebrew: Yeshua. So if anyone tells you there are many ways to God,to heaven: They’re wrong, there is only one.

As my life continued to change, there was something I became certain of, almost immediately: I need to serve God. I felt immediately, an intense insatiable urge to full time ministry. I loved to write, I loved to read poetry at open mics. I loved to explore deep questions. I loved to read books. I loved to talk with people and help them with problems. It all started to make sense.

So if you’re wondering if your called to officership, the first thing to watch for is the urge to serve.

Some might call it a “burden on the heart.” It overflows out of your heart. Every fiber of your being cries out for the need to serve, to love, to carry the gospel. Because deep down having been changed, made clean, you know it is the truth of life. Do you have that?

Around 2013-2014 I was working at a homeless shelter in Wausau, Wisconsin.  At that time I was reading a biographical book on the Salvation Army by Henry Gariepy. He lists a quote in the book from a conversation he had with the famed evangelist Billy Graham. Billy was shooting hoops with the boys at the corps where Henry was serving and after they were done Billy Graham looked at Henry Gariepy and said,”The Salvation Army is Christianity in action.” And it’s true.

I knew, Justin needs to be a minister. He needs to carry the message. Why? Because Christianity is the truth about everything. It’s the truth about EVERYTHING. Jesus Christ is really real, heaven is real, hell is real, and people need to know now, not later, now!

If your called to officership, don’t be afraid to let God change the course of your life. Don’t be afraid to let God take you in a direction that makes you uncomfortable.

I know that sounds odd. But often times we're trying to control things, and we’re missing the direction God wants to take us. I didn’t want to be an officer, I thought it seemed like too much paperwork and not enough ministry. It seemed way too hard, insurmountable.

But God didn’t seem too concerned with what I wanted. He seemed to say,”So Justin doesn’t want to? So what!” 

So when searching to know if your called to officership don’t necessarily “trust your feelings” or “use your best judgment.” That’s worldly garbage, don’t trust yourself, don’t trust how you feel. I felt very discouraged and dissuaded at times. Don’t trust those feelings, trust the guidance of God. Ask for his wisdom. Pray, and trust the leading of the Holy Spirit. Forsake yourself, and your way and instead take his way. 

It was quite logical to me, at first: I’m here worshiping Jesus, I’m alive today because of Jesus, and Jesus is really real, and really God. Given that, what else would I do with my life but serve him in full time ministry? If the Bible is the truth about everything, the truth of life, then everyone needs to know especially people my age.

Still, there are many organizations out there proclaiming the gospel.  Many are doing it quite well too.  So how can one discover if they are called to the Salvation Army specifically? If you believe you may be called to officership in the Salvation Army, the first thing you need to do is pray, pray, and pray. I must’ve asked God over one hundred times:Is this where you want me?”
Pray, pray, pray. Search the scriptures. Watch for opening doors.

I was only saved by the mercy and love of Jesus Christ three short years ago.  I wasn't raised in the Salvation Army.  I was originally raised Catholic, a.k.a. atheist in my case.  Eventually I was baptized in a Baptist Evangelical church.  But as I studied the word, prayed, learned, and took classes I became transfixed by a question: What is real biblical faith?

I became more and more caught up in the idea of “What does it mean to have a real faith?” What is faith in action?  Is this it, just church on Sundays?  Or is there more we could be doing?

I was praying about finding work around then. I applied at the Salvation Army homeless shelter in the Wausau, WI area. A friend worked there and said I would be perfect for the job.  I started working there and as I like to tell people, I became terminally involved.  I had to work weekends, so I couldn't go to my baptist church.  I started going to theirs.  Eventually that spring-boarded into other areas, like leading a young adult Bible study, participating in youth events, and attending conferences.

Eventually a retired corps officer asked, “Have you ever considered becoming an officer?”

I really hadn’t thought about it. But it started to make sense and line up. Meanwhile the work at the shelter was awful, just terrible. Very stressful. Very tough.  I imagine to this day that I may always recall the rotating shift work at the shelter, while trying to balance full time college, as the most stressful part of this journey.  Probably just because I was so new.  I didn't know what to do when under spiritual attack.  I was a new Christian, inexperienced.  I was a child in the furnace. Truly, truly. Nightmarish.  Lots of spiritual attacks.  The enemy really wanted to wedge me out. But the ministry there was something powerful. And it was real.

I learned a very simple method to confirm a call:

1. Are you on board with the call?

2. Do your family and friends support your call?

3. Are doors opening?

My first reaction to the Salvation Army? Nerdy. Was I board with that call? Not really! It seemed very stressful, given my experiences at the homeless shelter. But it started to seem like it was “of God.”

One of the best things that I did was I started going to Salvation Army conferences. I got a feel for what it was like. 
Three times at Salvation Army conferences they had “calls to officership” sessions. Every one of those three times I felt moved by the Spirit to come to the front, declare my calling, and step up to the mission God had placed on my heart.  What in the world was I doing, walking to the front?  I have no idea.  I must've gone crazy... or maybe it was God.

I had my heart set on doing apologetics, online ministries, and evangelism heavy ministries. I envisioned myself as a traveling speaker/evangelist. But no doors were opening in those areas. In the Salvation Army, every door was opening in front of me. I become a soldier, I went to conferences, I applied for an internship, and was accepted into the Ministry Discovery Program.  It's been an amazing experience so far, unparalleled in my walk with God.  It's like being rocketed into a new dimension of ministry, service, work, adventure, and satisfaction.  There is nothing like the feeling of being within the will and plan of God, headed in the direction you were meant to walk.  There is nothing like it.   

I was at a candidate conference last weekend. It was an awesome experience. Overwhelming, inspiring, fear inducing, courage stirring, a plethora of thoughts and emotions raced through my mind. Yet also present was a transfixing wonder, an awe at the presence of God. One of the teachers said, "If your afraid that you can't do it, it's because its true, you can't." And he followed that by saying, we can know this calling is of God, if it's more than we can handle. We can be assured it is of God, if we are certain it's too big for us alone to handle.

Someone once said,”If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”  It has been very, very challenging.  As C.S. Lewis said, “If you’re looking for a religion to make you feel comfortable, Christianity isn’t it.” But part of being a man is taking the challenge. God coaxes me outside my comfort zone. It’s scary, it’s challenging, it takes courage, but God can do great things through our most feeble efforts.

With God the impossible becomes possible.  He lights my passion for his mission on fire with hope, faith, and love.  I've learned to believe in spite of the most dire circumstances.  And as William Booth said: “God loves with a great love the man whose heart is bursting with a passion for the impossible.” 

Yet sometimes I pause and think: Lord, this is actually quite awkward, I had very different plans for my ministry. And I’m reminded by a still quiet spirit, His will be done, not mine.

He wants all of us, his paintbrush is time to make us into the people he wants us to be.  He has called me a man unable and will make me able in his power, in his time, to change the world with the gospel, and just because I can’t see that doesn’t mean it’s not a reality. 

"There are several billion people rushing headlong into hell. Many have died between the day this was written and the day it was published. Many of them are living in your backyard. Don't you want to make a bigger difference? We're not saying that the bigger difference must be through officership. And we're not saying that full surrender leading to being filled by the Holy Spirit leads to officership. But what we're saying is not "business as usual." This is not last generation's officership that we're pitching to you here. There is no better means for someone to make a bigger impact in the world than officership as vocational extremism. Pray it out. If God is not calling you to be investing your hours and years and skills and gifts and abilities and passions in your current employment, train up and offer yourself for officership- as vocational extremism. Is God tapping you on the shoulder?" -James Knaggs & Stephen Court, Leading the War: Salvation Army Officership as Vocational Extremism, p.14

Related Posts:
  1. Reflections on the Salvation Army Regeneration Conference
  2. Spiritual Journey | Dreams, Darkness, False Light, a journey in Ideas
  3. Am I called to Ministry? How can I know? 
  4. The Servant Leader: A Radical Concept 
  5. Life after Death: Law, Eternity, and the Changed Mind
  6. Wisdom from Above: Living in Light of the Victory of Christ
  7. The Mindset of Christ: Teach Me How to Live, Lord
  8. Who I was and Who I am: A Poetic Observation 
  9. Liberty University Graduation, Young People, and God
  10. Christianity in the Public Square: The Apologetics & Philosophy Renaissance

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Don't Judge Me! Discernment or Condemnation?

What is the difference between judgement and discernment in the scriptures? The Bible says don't judge your neighbor, for the same measure you judge them by, you will be judged by (Matthew 7:1-2). The Bible also says "test everything" (1 Thessalonians 5). Jesus said don't judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement (John 7:24, 1 Cor 2:15).

But there are two different contexts here. The first form, "judgement" is in the context of condemnation. If I were to judge someone, say they are in sin, and I would say "they are hopeless, they are doomed, nothing can save them." I've just sinned by condemning them by "passing judgement over them." If I were to say a person is evil, beyond repentance, again that's passing judgement. If I were to say that person deserves 20 years in prison, that is passing condemning judgement. If I were to look at a person and think less of them because of their sins, that would be condemning judgement. But there is another.

1 Corinthians 2:15 (ESV) says "The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one."

Or the NIV translates it as: "The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments."

The second context is discernment, or "testing everything."  The scriptures interchange the words "judgement", "discernment", and "evaluate."  So this can be somewhat confusing.  Many Christians seem to think that when Jesus said,"You must not judge" he was referring to all situations where anyone might point out anything about anyone.  Jesus' statement is not unqualified.  There are qualifiers, barriers around all of his statements.  We don't want to get out of control with "just love" or "just never judge."  Because the overarching moral themes of the Bible contain numerous, interwoven moral teachings that include mercy, love, truth, judgement, discernment, evaluation, growth, holiness, fairness, justice, and many other themes.  All of these teachings are interwoven into a lattice of moral precepts that are applied as a contrariety in any given real life situation.  For most of you, you already know this and if you don't you should.  

So in any given situation I may apply love to a certain extent, truth to a certain extent, grace to a certain extent, and evaluation, and exhortation, among many others.  We study the scriptures thoroughly and daily to be aware of how and when to use which precepts in which situations.

If one of my friends were struggling with pornography, I could go to him and say, "Friend, pornography is wrong, it's evil. I'm encouraging you to change your ways in that area." I've just "exhorted" him to change.  Exhortation is a spiritual gift. He has not been judged in anyway. He has been exhorted.  I've politely and humbly rebuked him in private.  I've applied some love, some mercy, some grace, some truth, matched with evaluation of his circumstance and a humble rebuke to encourage him to change.  

The world today thinks that love means accepting any behavior in anyone no matter how destructive it is to that person.  That is not the Christian way.  We don't encourage people to be in sin, or stay in sin, why?  Because sin is destructive, and sin leads to spiritual death.  It's loving to warn people of the bad paths they choose.  Would you tell a drunk to keep drinking?  Would you encourage an addict to keep using drugs?  Would you encourage a homosexual person to stay in a culture that often leads to drug use and a sexual practice that can often lead to the spread of disease?  Of course not.  It wouldn't be loving to do so.

A second example of discernment matches with "exposing evil" (Ephesians 5:11). If someone indicates that an institution is in sin, or that homosexuality is sinful, or that pre-marital sex is sinful, or that pornography in general is sinful, or that drug abuse is evil, or human trafficking is wrong, this person has not "judged" anything in the context of condemnation.  But if they were to condemn sin as evil, they would be free to do so.  But if they were to condemn the person as evil, that is sinful judgement.  When someone calls out an institution practicing wickedness, or a group, or a culture, or a civilizations, they are not sinning.  They are engaging in discernment (Hebrews 5:14), exhortation (2 Tim 4:2), and a prophetic role of calling out the sin in the world. The prophetic gift is a spiritual gift (1 Cor 12:10). 

Someone might say that you are only allowed to rebuke someone in person.  That is true that the standard model for rebuking a fellow believer is in the context of first meeting them in person.  But it also says if they refuse the rebuke you are to come back with several others.  If the person still refused the rebuke you are to make the sin known to the entire church congregation.  Once again we need to look at context, and qualifiers surrounding a statement.  

For further reference Matthew 18:15-17 says "“If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

But we aren't finished here.  Matthew 18:15-17 is not the only teaching we have on dealing with "exposing evil" and "revealing sin" and rebuking believers and non-believers.  There are numerous other examples in the scriptures.  Think of the confrontation between the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter at Antioch.  

Galatians 2:11-14 says "But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. 12 Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. 13 The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. 14 When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?”

So we have a context for rebuking fellow leaders, or a fellow leader in public, in person.  There is no indication in Galatians that Paul made a mistake by confronting Peter in person for his conduct toward the Gentile (non-jewish) believers.  We could go even further at look at John the Baptist and his calls in the wild to repentance.  We could look at the Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah, Elijah, and others, but I think that will suffice for now.

Believers need to be careful about this. Don't toss around the "judgement" stuff unless you've fully studied it's meaning in the scriptures. Don't jump the fence when someone throws out the "don't judge me card." Most of the time you aren't judging them, and they just need to repent.  

Part of your job as a Christian is to lovingly and humbly rebuke someone.  You must remember to do so politely.  Be cautious of how it's done.  But it's important to do so.  Christian love is quite different from the ideas the world has about love.  Christian love is not unqualified love.  Christian loves means warning people who are in sin.  Isn't it loving for a parent to discipline a child when they misbehave?  Absolutely that is loving.  Love includes many boundaries.  Part of Christian love is to rebuke those who are in sin.

The correct response to a gentle rebuke, is to be broken or disturbed by it. Then one laments (grieves, feels awful about it), and expresses a contrite heart (a heart willing to change). Then the person repents (changes their actions and beliefs on the issue), and thanks the individual for the rebuke. The incorrect response to a rebuke is to become defensive, angry, and lash out at the person trying to do the correcting. The incorrect response is to lash out and say "don't judge me." Titus 2:15, 1 Timothy 5:20, Galatians 6:1, James 5:20, Matthew 18:15-17, Proverb 27:6, Rev 3:19

We are fully free, and in fact commanded as believers to discern everything, evaluate everything, and expose evil in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Judgement is the form of condemnation, or in looking down on someone to build yourself up is sinful and wrong.  We must never do that.  We must never stand back and judge others, mock them, laugh at them, or consider them damned.  We must never think ourselves better than a non-believer or a Christian struggling in sin.  We are here for one reason, in the family of Christ: Jesus saved us, transformed us, and gave us the ability to begin living a different life from the one we used to live.  Given that, we must certainly discern, evaluate, and rebuke when necessary.  We must expose evil, encourage good stewardship, encourage holy living, and encourage repentance in all areas of life. We must stand against the sin in our own lives, and encourage others to defeat the sin in their lives, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Monday, September 28, 2015

Your Spiritual Before & After Picture

We often see pictures of "before" and "after" for weight loss programs.  Yet we Christians are privy to the most powerful and comprehensive transformation known: spiritual rebirth.  I encourage you, sift through your photos.  Find pictures of yourself before and after you encountered Christ.  Upload them to social media, and show your fellows that being a Christian isn't about being a self-righteous snob.  

It's about Jesus Christ changing a real life from something pointless to something special.  People talk so much about how the followers of Christ fail to live up to the standard of Christ.  Let's show people that the transformation is real.  I don't suddenly become perfect, but I do begin down a long, lifelong journey of growth and change as a follower of Christ.  

My first thought is of self-conscious recoil.  But how I looked before is so sad!  People will judge me!  My reputation may be adversely affected.  Aren't Christians suppose to put out a front of being really religious and good?  Well, not really.  If you act all perfect all the time, then people outside the church think maybe they aren't good enough or it's just not for them.  But if you show them that you used to be just as lost and troubled, then they know it's for them too.  

Let me suggest that when I recoil, it's out of pride.  I enjoy a good reputation.  I'm an employee and intern candidate of the Salvation Army.  I'm a college graduate.  I'm known around the area as a decent friendly person.  What if they all knew that only three years ago I had jet black long hair, and I spent my days and nights drinking cough medicine, beer, smoking dope, and causing trouble?  Wouldn't they think less of me?  Some might, don't get me wrong.  But our testimony is vital.

I have not been saved by Justin's ingenuity or Justin's ability to cobble together a systemic transformation.  I've been saved because I was the most despicable worthless man boy doped punk on the face of the Earth, and God saw fit to deliver me from that.  It's all due to his Spirit and his leading.  I did the foot work of course, I didn't just sit there.  I embraced the recovery process, church, bible studies, step groups, and all of that.  I prayed vigorously.  I still do.  But it was the power of God working a mighty orchestra of hope and change in my life.  That's what did it. 

Our mere physical appearance still is only a poor shadow of the change Christ has done.  But most definitely in my case, it is extremely noticeable by appearance alone.  And it probably should be.  But imagine if they could see the spiritual side of it!  The bumps, the bruises, the blood stains, and the scars.  I was talking with a young man at Celebrate Recovery the other day, and we were talking about the transition from being a member of the church to really engaging in intentional ministry.  It's quite a whirlwind of difference.  It's like stepping from sunny suburbia into a brutal, muddy, storming trench of spiritual warfare.  It's like stepping from an airy path to trudging through shin high sludge.  The enemy is fine with spiritual infants who never do more than sit in a pue.  They are fine right where they are.  But the enemy has to stop the maturing warrior Christians who are taking a stand for the truth. And the more intentional and provocative you are in sharing your faith regularly, and really engaging in ministry to the lost, the more intense come the spiritual assaults.  If only we could see the spiritual muscles, the spiritual scars, and the spiritual lightsaber duels, sword fights, struggles, defeats, and triumphs.  In spite of all of it though, we fight on.

Yet even despite the invisible nature of our spiritual war, our physical appearance is a parallel, a mirror of who we are in Christ.  Think about it, can't you see it in the eyes of a godly man?  Can't you feel it in her presence?  Can't you sense it in their being?  It can be seen.  The question is: Are willing to share who we used to be, along side who we are now?  Because then it becomes much more clear, that it wasn't me, it was Christ.  He delivered me from foolishness.

Therefore the question is much more basic than we might think.  It comes down to this: Are you willing to be a fool for Christ?  Are you willing to look stupid for the sake of his mission?  Are you willing to be embarrassed and awkward for his sake?  

Think of what Paul said,"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.11 I have made a fool of myself." 2 Cor 12:7b-11a NIV

Listen to the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest authors in history.  God spoke through him in the books of the New Testament.  He didn't say "hide your shameful past."  He said "boast of your infinite weakness!"  He even said, "I take delight in them."  And he finally says,"I have made a fool of myself."  Have you made a fool of yourself for Christ yet?  Well, you better get on that.  God bless you. 


Friday, September 18, 2015

What does it mean to be a Man: Man-boy Syndrome & a life of Greatness

What is manhood?  What does it mean to be a man?  Is it power?  Is it strength?  Is it having the biggest truck?  Or the biggest house?  Or the best kept lawn?  

Is it the family and white picket fence?  Is it finding true love in a wife?  Is it raising children, and caring for grandchildren, and growing old together?  Is it leaving a legacy of family?

Is it sexual prowess?  Is it the "bro lifestyle" at the bars?  Is it going from woman to woman, conquest to conquest?  Is it found in experimenting with smoke and pipe?  Or perhaps in a hedonistic search for pleasure?

Is it gathering wealth and possessions?  Could it be attaining to total power?  Is it creating brilliant works of art?  Or might it be immortalizing oneself in writing books and poetry? 

Is it in finding oneself?  Or perhaps might it be discovering the truth that works for you?  Or as some have said, to find your own meaning in the world?

Manhood is a very misunderstood topic today.  One could say that western man has in many ways lost touch with what it means to be a man.  But there are always the hold outs, the exceptions to the rule.  They are around, holding their heads high, living lives of meaning and dignity.  They are out there.  I aspire to be one of them.  I aspire to be a man of strength, courage, and conscience.  

What kind of man are you?  And if you're a woman, what kind of man would you want to lead your home?  What kind of man would you want as your partner in the business of life?  

Manhood can be very confusing.  If one watches television and culture, one might have some very confusing ideas about what being a man is.  If you watch commercials and sitcoms, you might think that men are supposed to be dumb, somewhat out of control, and in need of guidance from his wife who seems to commonly take the superior role in the relationship.  That isn't manhood though.  That's a fantasy world and it isn't real. 

Some say there is a war on men.  I don't know, maybe there is.  Maybe media means to disarm men, to push a lot of guilt their way for their oppressiveness in the past.  But I suppose I don't adhere to that.  I won't be suppressed for the crimes of others.  I just won't.  Society, culture, people groups, and families in general need strong men, strong leadership in men, and overall just good men are needed.  

Young men are not especially any of these categories.  A lot of them are being told they're suppose to be more feminine.  They are being told nothing is ever their fault.  They are being told they are victims.  They are being told they need to explore homosexual relationships.  They are told they are suppose to try to screw everything that moves.  What?  It's true.  If you haven't noticed this then you've been living in a box.  Young men are for the most part, predators.  It's creepy.  Young men are being told they are the product of time + matter + chance.  They are being told that they are just pond scum, and do whatever feels right.  As they say "follow your heart."  My heart got me into a lot of trouble, so today I follow the leading of my God.  But men are hungry for something else.  They are hungry for honor, dignity, truth, and a great cause to stand for. 

But today?  My goodness.  Young guys today make me want to puke actually.  Many of them do, truly.  Especially the guys who dress up like gangsters.  Or even worse, the bar hopping bro guys.  They are just insufferable.  These are the guys who have read "The Dao of the Badass" five hundred times, and make a practice of manipulating and seducing bar girls.  They usually end up paying a lot of child support and drinking heavily.  There's no meaning or happiness in that pursuit, believe me, it's empty.  And child support is expensive.  Welfare queens.  It's ridiculous. 

Do you know what they call that?  In Psychology it's considering something called "King Baby Syndrome."  King baby syndrome is characterized by selfishness, rejection of criticism, complaining, refusal to accept circumstances, refusal to mature, and believing that rules of life don't apply to them.  The king baby is always looking for the next chance to laugh about something, or have fun no matter what.  When people get in the way, they call them a drag and move on to the next.  The king baby says things like "I shouldn't have to work, because then I'm just enslaved to my corporate masters."  They refuse to face the difficulties of life, and refuse to accept difficult situations.  Instead they tend to run from such issues, and often have chemical dependency issues and/or alcoholism problems.  So let me ask you: Are you a king baby?  If so, maybe it's time to grow up?  You can be king of the pen at your mommy's house, or you could allow yourself to mature into a man?  Your choice.

Let me ask you, have you noticed a certain trend?  I've noticed this quite regularly.  It seems to be the new rule, not the exception.  Guys in their twenties, jobless pot heads playing videogames all the time, sitting in the passenger side while their girlfriend drives them around.  Have you noticed this?  I've noticed it.  I think they call that man boy syndrome.  Girls don't like that.  They just have nowhere else to turn.  Public schools and fatherless homes turn out these dope smoking man-boys by the millions.  

Now that we understand the problem in somewhat blunt terms (your welcome) we can look at a hope for the future.  Let's look at recovering and redeeming manhood.  Five areas.

1. Men need to understand who they and why they are. What is my roll as a man?  In other words, what does it look like to be a man?  

The young man rolls off the assembly line, gets plugged into the matrix, and eventually asks himself: What am I suppose to do?  Usually there should be a strong man in the household to sit down and explain it to this young man.  Unfortunately that's not always the case.  

Let's settle it right now.  Your primary purpose in life is not to be entertained, it's to be a man of honor and dignity, upholding a righteous cause.  You sir are not a product of the slime, and you don't get to choose buffet style what life does and doesn't mean.  You are a man, created in the image of almighty God himself, endowed with a conscience that you should use.  You are afforded days and nights on this Earth, bright stars above, and dirt below to do your best to be a mighty man of God.  

If you want to believe whatever you want to believe, then life has no meaning.  And you can go back to being a loser man boy destined for welfare.  Maybe you can apply for disability so you can sit in your mom's bedroom for the rest of your life and play WoW and COD.  But if you want to be a real man of greatness, you must understand that what you do matters, how you live matters, there is a God, he made you, he's in charge, and your life will echo throughout eternity.  There are fundamental truths of life that do not change.  And your purpose is to stand for what's right, care for your family, raise your children, bring in the bread and meat, and sacrifice for your wife and your family when need be.  

If you can stop running from your God and turn and embrace him, he can make you a man of greatness.  He can make you the man you were always suppose to be.  But you've gotta rise above the man boy syndrome. It can be done.  God is real, and he's got the power.  Let's move on.

2.  Men want boundaries and discipline.  Men want a code.  What is my code?  How should I live?

What code do I live by?  What are the rules and disciplines surrounding my life?  As much as it seems so great to just indulge in everything, we've seen how destructive that is.  It's spawned a lot of men addicted to pornography, men addicted to drugs, men addicted to sex, and men addicted to the party life.  Every young man quietly craves for guidelines.  Dad, show me where the boundaries are!

The boundaries are outlined in this book, and if you can handle not running to your mommy and crying about it, I'll tell you the title: It's called the Bible.  The Bible is your basic instruction manual.  Stop whining.  Stop dishing out your panzy liberal "objections" to the Bible.  Your objections stink.  The Bible is real.  Your code is in there.  Your chivalrous code of honor and truth is right in there.  It's all there.  

Do good, champion the causes of the oppressed.  Stand for truth.  Stand up against those who threaten freedom and liberty.  Honor your wife.  Care for your family.  Don't lie, don't steal, and don't cheat.  It's all in there.  And it makes sense.  It really makes sense.  And if you can't handle that, there's the door.  Go apply for disability because you are terminally man-boy.  But if you can handle it, then you've found a manual, a guide, a power, a greatness, and a tool to handle every situation life can throw at you.  You've started the journey of becoming a real man.  

3. Men need an allegiance.  What is my cause to champion?

Causes have been stripped from men.  I'm not sure how or why, but it has happened.  I need a mission in life.  And we can see that can't we?  Look at the movies we men love.  We love Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, the great battle against the evil empire.  We love war movies, because of the great and glorious battles.  We love super heroes, because we want to be the heroes of our story.  Think of the videogames we play.  We play Diablo, Starcraft, Call of Duty, Half-Life, World of Warcraft, come to think of it every single computer or videogame I ever played was about a hero fighting in a desperate cause against the forces of evil.  Think of Master Chief and his battles against the covenant.  Or Metal Gear Solid.  Or Fallout 3.  Or Morrowind.  Oblivion.  Rise of Nations. The list could go on and on.  We all have that urge within us, to fight on the side of the righteous, in the hopeless cause, in defense of the weak and trodden on.

What is your cause?  My cause you might say is that of the paladin.  I'm a righteous warrior of light.  I'm the white knight of God, washed and renewed in the victory of Jesus Christ.  My God is real, powerful, and mighty.  He is real.  He is all knowing.  He is the architect of all life.  And he means for me to fight in his army on light on Earth, the body of Christ.  

I have an incredible cause to champion, in a dark world, I am honored with the gift of carrying the light.  I wake up every morning and put on my spiritual armor, and make war on the darkness.  I share the truth boldly.  This is the ultimate cause.  And every man needs a cause to champion.  Otherwise he's just a selfish, snotty little brat who wants everything his way.  We can all think of that guy, can't we?  Don't be that guy!  

Submit yourself before the real God of the universe, join his army of light and truth, and begin the exhausting, arduous journey to fulfill your destiny.  The journey is long and hard, taking us through the darkest valleys, and highest mountains, but if we are brave and tap into the power God gives us in his Spirit, we will make it to the promised land.  Let's continue.

4. Men need an outlet for exploration and adventure.  What is my adventure?

In connection to a righteous cause, is a need for exploration and adventure.  Men suffer greatly in the cubicle.  I know I do.  I'd almost rather be dead then have to come back to a cubicle every day.  It's insufferable.  Men need adventure.  We need outdoors.  We excursions.  We need men's outings.  What is your adventure?  Maybe it's something as simple as camping, hiking, or rock climbing.  Maybe it's going on mission trips.  Maybe it's joining a gun club or a state militia.  I don't know, get creative.  It could be joining a service organization like Lion's Club.  It could be protesting, it could be skydiving, it could be fishing, it could be many things.  But we need our adventures.  It's kind of like Fight Club, we need our adrenaline.  

Men are born trail blazers and heroes.  Men are born for action and excitement.  That isn't a bad thing.  Sometimes it's just channeled wrong.  But if we search, there are outlets for adventure, usually along the same lines as our cause/calling.  

5. Men need a sense of glory and a striving toward greatness.  What is my glory and what is my greatness?

This desire for honor, glory, and greatness is at the core of the male heart.  It is God given and good.  It's the part of me that wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with patriots to retake America.  It's the part of me that craves a great awakening.  It's the part of me that despairs at the state of men today.  It's the part of me that is caught fire with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the instinct within me that is the most righteous and true.  It's that part of me that hungers and thirst for righteousness, truth, and the victory of good over evil.  This is the very core of a man.  

No matter how much sex, drugs, selfishness, materialism, and gluttony is dumped into the masculine heart it cannot extinguish this God given splinter of eternity that cries out for justice, truth, and the righteous perfection of God himself.  We can't escape it.  There is always the part of us that calls out in the deep for truth, for glory, for greatness, and for something greater than ourselves.  We need that greater cause that we can lay down our lives in the service of.  

That cause is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the truth of life itself.  The male character finds it's perfection of greatness and glory in the tireless service to the noble cause of the Christian faith.  We are called to radical action to see the world saved from the very greatest threat of all: death itself.  We are called to a noble cause indeed.  We are called to gather the lost into the army of God, to stand on the battle lines in the army of God fighting the forces of hell.  We are called to make spiritual war on the forces of darkness.  We are called to stand for the truth in a world full of lies.  

Are you willing to become a man of greatness?  Are you willing to step up, and become a real man, the man you're suppose to be?  This is it.  This is our cause.  This is our victory over consumerism and meaninglessness.  

The Christian faith is the truth about all of life.  God is a real God.  We are called to defend the truth, and stand against the darkness.  But the walls are vacant.  The men are too busy trapped in addictions and obsession with self satisfaction.  Men are too busy stalking women, collecting trinkets, and aspiring to management positions.  Come out of the bars, come out of your mother's basement, and become the man you were born to be!  Become a man of greatness.  

God turned me from the most pathetic, addicted man-boy, into a man serving in his army, standing for truth, fighting pitch, desperate spiritual battles; God made me the warrior of truth I had always hoped to be, yet couldn't quite grasp.  God made a real man out of me.  And I want you to be a real man too.  Turn from man-boy syndrome, and begin your journey to masculinity.  Begin your journey at the cross, receive Jesus Christ and his Spirit, don your spiritual armor, and get ready for a war.  Men of honor are needed on the battlelines.  It's time to take your place on the frontlines.  The greatest cause in the history of man awaits you, sign on now, before the time is too late.  

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