Monday Morning Musings
We thank God for His wonderful grace that is put on display in the lives of people surrendered to Him! Yesterday, we had another wedding, and united Nathan Prieto and Andrea Torres in marriage during our Sunday morning service. All I can say is that it never gets old! When you mix two young people who have sought to: 1) honor God in their lives 2) honor their parents, and 3) honor one another in sexual purity before marriage, it is a delightful brew! There is a tangible presence of God. I have to wonder if that’s heaven smiling on the decisions of two faithful young people?! I also fulfilled my promise that I made at our last wedding when I preached on “The Wedding Planner II” (which had a largely female-focus to it) that I would give the other side, the “man version” at the next wedding; hence “Manning Up.”
A major part of the cultural debate today involves the whole issue of gender. Just consider the recent furor over the Canadian couple’s ludicrous decision to raise a “genderless” baby, saying that a person’s gender is a personal project and not subjecting people to societal expectations. Then there’s TIME magazine’s cover last September, “Man Up” - the traditional male is an endangered species. Oh, and the mother who is raising what she calls her “princess boy” who want to dress like a girl. The mom not wanting to “crush his spirit” is all-too appeasing, not to mention a bit exploitive, appearing on a number of talk shows with her son, and writing a book about it?! So, the gender wars are hot and heavy. Whether it’s James Brown singing, “It’s A Man’s World” or Helen Reddy’s “I am woman (hear me roar),” it is part of life in the 21st century. To quote Bob Dylan, “Times They Are ‘A Changin’”
WHERE HAVE THE GOOD MEN GONE?
The well-documented crisis today that has an abundance of cultural observers and authors discussing it, is the widespread problem in men of...delayed maturity: a generation of young people who seem unwilling to grow up and assume adult responsibilities. Here’s just a sampling of some of the books: “Manning Up” - “The Making of Modern Immaturity” - “Not Quite Adults” - “Guyland” - “Why There Are No Good Men Left” (The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman). -USE SLIDE FROM SERMON- Added to this is a host of newspaper articles and blogs underscoring this phenomenon. There is even a whole vocabulary to describe this condition: twixters, sensitive male, metrosexuals, toddler-men, emo’s, adult-knapped, and now the child man. Either way, whatever you call it, they are all talking about men who have been “wait listed for adulthood,” putting off or delaying adult responsibility. If the 20th century brought us “adolescence” then the 21st century has brought us the “pre-adult,” what social scientists are saying is a whole new stage of life. Kay S.Hymowitz in her book, “Manning Up” wrote, “Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20's had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20's hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance....a pre-adulthood.”
For instance, Adam Sandler (actor/comedian) has made a name and career for himself in comedy films all about arrested development in men. These films for or about child-men have made him one of the biggest names in Hollywood, his films grossing about $2.5 billion worldwide. The unspoken dilemma and question that won’t go away where have all the good men gone? The reason for this is what has become obvious to legions of young women today, this does not bring out the best in men! It doesn’t prepare them for what has been one of the traditional ways manhood has been understood and defined, marriage and fatherhood. Do you hear that sound? Yes, it’s the sound of women not laughing. All of this is enough to underscore that we’re living in a confused generation, and one of the major contributors to weakness in our nation, institutions, churches, and families is an anemic view of manhood.
THE CALL TO MENRERGY
This is one of my new favorite words. It was coined by a NY times reporter referring to men wanting to be real men, to exhibit menergy. (1Cor.16:13,14)Wms says, “Be always on your guard; stand firm in your faith; keep on acting like men; continue to grow in strength; let everything be done in love.” God highlights here the traditional masculine virtues of strength, boldness, courage, sacrifice, and risk-taking as very needful. The goal for men is not to get in touch with our feminine side, but getting in touch with what’s supposed to be a true masculine side. You see, gender is not some socially-constructed reality, but it is a God-thing (Gen.1:27) “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This tells us some very powerful things: 1) we are created (didn’t come about by chance) 2) we are made in the image of God (created with a soul) and 3) we were made male and female. Gender is an important, but purposeful part of the Creator’s intent for mankind. ” I like the CJB, Complete Jewish Bible’s translation, “behave like a mensch, grow strong.” Mensch is a Yiddish word that means a “person of integrity.” A mensch is someone who is responsible, who has a developed sense of right and wrong, and is the sort of person that other people look up to. This is why menergy plays a factor that spearheads revival in the last days (Mal.4:5,6) "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction." There is a critical initiative and work of God that begins with men being real men.
HOW TO “MAN UP”
- Vital relationship with God: “stand firm in your faith” (make it your #1 priority)
- Character counts: “continue to grow in strength” (not how much you can bench press, but your character)
- Sacrificial love: “let everything be done in love” (perfect blend of toughness and tenderness)
I have always remembered the phrase, “Male by birth, man by choice.” It recognizes that true manhood involves the decisions and priorities we make about God and His will. Paul declares this in (1Cor.13:11) “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Our text and the surrounding phrases in 1Corinthians 16 give us insight into God’s grace and enabling in order to “man up.” There are four:
- Moral vigilance: “be always on your guard”
This is why I believe that Christlikeness and manhood are synonymous. True manhood is following and becoming more like Jesus, our model and our enabler! There is a real dynamic released in a man’s life when he responds to Christ’s command, “follow Me” that makes us what we could never be in ourselves, helping us to “man up.” Bill Hybels wrote in his book, “Every married woman longs to be loved by a truly masculine man—not an emasculated man devoid of energy, spirit, and confidence–or a macho cowboy who uses cheap bravado to prop up his male insecurities, but a God-honoring man who is secure enough to be divinely elastic. This brand of man can be both strong and sensitive. Such men free women to respond w/ respect and love.” Amen, may God help us all!
This was the title of Pastor Fred Rubi’s message last night. I’m not going to give you all the details, I’ll let him do that, but it was outstanding. In 38 years of pastoring, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a whole message on the subject of “in laws” so we were blessed and truly “fed well!” It made me thankful for my mother-in-law, Toni Pena, who is a miracle of God’s grace herself, and prays for her “hijo” all the time. I’m grateful for that, big time!