Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Character of 'Captain America'

I was finally able to watch the story about 'The First Avenger'. This movie was never really high on my list of movies to go watch, but I had some time one night and gave it a chance. One of my social networking buddies also gave me a nice short review of the movie after he saw it and helped convince me.

Right from the start, it is obvious that Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) is not your typical superhero. He is by no means physically strong or very appealing. He is always getting tossed around and made fun of by other men his age. He wants to serve his country, but keeps getting denied. There is a catch about Mr. Rogers though, his character.

Steve faced challenge after challenge, but he never gave up. He pursued what he wanted to do with all of his heart. When he finally was allowed to join the military, it was not because of his physical strength but rather his mental strength. He trained with all of the other men, but showed courage in hard times and displayed knowledge when everyone else was fighting. But his training was for something else, something more. A chance to take the mental courage and combine it with the physical strength. A secret project to make a super human or superhero!

If you have seen the movie, you know the rest of the story. But if you have not, I would highly recommend taking some time to watch this movie. As men, we can learn a lot from this example. It is not always the best looking guy that gets the girl and it's not always most physically fit that is most appealing. What really matters is character and the condition of your heart. Captain America showed courage before he even fully understood it. He thought it was just the right thing to do, so he did it. When he became 'super', he was able to stay humble which only made him stronger throughout the rest of the movie.

Hollywood is Hollywood, but in my opinion this was one of the better movies released this year. It shows us that there is always hope and always a way. If you believe in yourself and can stay grounded in the truth, other people will see it, appreciate it and admire it. This story reminds me of the life of Jesus. He was not a glorified super human and He certainly did not have flashy clothes. But he spoke the truth and He spoke from the heart. His character was what people saw and believed in. As He grew older, His miracles made Him a superhero, but as we all know, there are consequences for such actions. There will always be people against you in one way or another, but we have to stay strong. We have to stay firmly rooted in Christ and follow the example that He has given us. It may not always appear to be the best way, but it will be His way.

  Did you get to see the movie? Post a comment and share your thoughts below.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Be Thankful for the Small Things

Thanksgiving = food, family, friends, parades and more food!

Life these days seems to be so busy that we don't always appreciate the small things in life. I would say most of us say 'Thank you' each day, but todays a great day to be more specific. Spending time with family and friends is great, so take advantage of that time, be thankful for it and let everyone know what you are thankful for. Today is a great day to point out those small things that someone did for you, or be thankful again for something bigger that happened.

I want to say 'Thank You' to everyone that has liked, followed or checked out Manturity! I really appreciate the comments, feedback, encouragement and questions. I hope I can keep writing great blog posts for everyone to enjoy and be challenged by. Thank you for all of your posts and ideas also, they have been a great inspiration to me as I write and find my direction.

Be thankful for what God has blessed you with, for we are owed nothing and we never know when it could all go away.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

'Love and War' Book Review

My wife and I have had the pleasure of reading and teaching from a wonderful marriage book titled 'Love and War'. The authors of the book are John and Stasi Eldredge. John is well known for his popular book titled 'Wild at Heart' and for his new book 'Beautiful Outlaw'.

'Love and War' is a very real and down to earth marriage book. The Eldredge's have been married for a long time and have had some hard times over the years. But through it all, they have come away with some great insight for all other marriages. They speak from experience and from the heart in this book.

Right away the book gets into the idea of Desire. In order to have a great marriage or re-gain control of our marriages, we have to have desire, desire to want the best for each other, a desire to always love each other and know that this marriage is for the long haul. The next chapters get into what they like to call the 'perfect storms', this more or less talks about opposites and how they attract. The opposite part in our spouse is a way that God uses the differences in your partner to make your marriage stronger and make you a better person. One of my favorite chapters is titled 'Sharing an Adventure'. It is so important for couples to not just be married partners, but friends. Get out once and awhile, go crazy and take some dancing classes (I think this is coming up on the schedule for us). Schedule a great vacation and be intentional about it. Take a walk once a week together and enjoy the wonderful nature that God has created. This is essential. The Eldredge's bring a very real portrait into the book when they talk about our marriage having an enemy, and it is not our spouse, seriously. Marriage is one of the unions that the Enemy is out to destroy. We see it all over our culture today and it seems to only be getting worse. If we can hear and talk to God, than we have to take the other monologue into play. The enemy will step in at the most opportune times and say definitives like "She is never going to change" or "He will always be like that". Definitives or agreements are marriage killers and we have to protect ourselves and our marriage from those type of words and thoughts.

On top of just having some great material in the book to read about, the Eldredge's have made a few items that go along with the book for small groups at Church or Home. My wife and I have actually facilitated a few group classes on the 'Love and War' material and have had a great response. Here are some easy links to some of the great tools that go along with this powerful book.

- 8 week DVD series  Watch a video each week in your group.
- Love and War Participant's Guide  Use this to stir some great conversation!
- Love and War Devotional for couples  This takes five minutes! It's a great tool for your marriage.

Overall, this is a fantastic book. I would highly recommend reading this book with your spouse. Take the initiative also to see if your Church has the 'Love and War' small group or facilitate a class by yourself or with your spouse!


Have you read? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pier Pressure

Everyday we have to wake up and face the challenges of the day. Amongst the many topics discussed in the Manturity series of Influence, the challenge to stand up to and face other men is inevitable, at least for me. I work in construction, building commercial buildings, and for the most part men are the workers. These are a unique set of men and personalities that I have to deal with on a day to day basis, it's part of earning that paycheck. If there is one thing I learned about a year ago, it's that I do not have to take on their identity. I do not have involve myself in their immature, senseless and revolving conversations or influence. I can make the choice to walk away or stay and be "part of the group". I know that I can not change these men, but I can be mature in my decisions around them.
I like to think of this as the work pier. Work piers were made to for one reason. To get the men and the material to the ship. They were not built for pleasure, they were not build to look pretty, but they were made to get the job done. They were designed for work. And like most of us, we have to walk that work pier everyday. Is it something we want to do? Probably not, but it is something most of us have to do and do the best we can.

2 Chronicles 15:7 'Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak; for your work shall be rewarded.

When I am not at work, I get to enjoy the company of good friends and work colleagues. This is a different group of men that I more less choose to be around. They are friends from Church or friends that are my age at work and men of true strength. This is also a unique set of men. We still have to be careful how our friends  influence us, but hopefully that is happening in a positive way. The conversations are generally more interesting, exciting, funny and clean. I know these men on a deeper level and is a sense, know their heart.
Proverbs 15:13 says 'A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance; but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. These are the men that you can share your high and low points with. These are the men that you put your trust into and depend on, these are men of resolution.
This is what I call the pleasure pier. Pleasure piers are made pretty much the same way the work piers are made, but they are built for comfort, enjoyment and rest. This type of pier might get built in a scenic area or might get built for fishing. Either way they are a shelter, a vacation, a getaway from the craziness of life. After a long day, it's nice to get off the work pier and enjoy some time on the pleasure pier.

Proverbs 18:24 says 'A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. 

Some of us are forced to walk the work pier everyday, but don't forget to walk the pleasure pier also. Jesus is such an amazing example of a good friend and fellow brother amongst His disciples. If we are pursuing to be like Christ everyday, than our friends, attitude and life will show it.

How do you find a balance between the work and pleasure pier?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Way through the Fog

I have woke up the last few mornings and found the weather, well, foggy. It's still dark, I jump in my car and head off to work. The fog brings a different attitude than just the typical chilly morning. It requires me to be more aware, more alert of what is going on around. The visibility levels are much lower and the chances for an accident are increased. As I head down the highway, I look up into the tall road lights and there nothing but a distant blur. The closer I get to them, the more clear they become, but just like that they are gone. The fog gets even worse as I near the city, this is mainly because of the river that runs through it. It reminds of living in the country when I was younger. The night would be foggy, but when an opening or a clear in the woods arrived, the fog became really heavy. But beyond the effects of actual fog, I can't help but think of the fog we can get stuck in.

How often in life do we find ourselves in a fog? Caught up at work and no time for family. A couple small lies spiral into a large lie. Fighting in your marriage and can't find a way out. When the fog is heavy, we are more likely to hit the deer. How can we fight through the fog in our life and stay on the straight and clear path? I have a few ideas and would love to hear yours!

1) Turn on your lights! Just like we do when we first get into the car when the fog is heavy, we have to keep our lights on. We have to be careful to not get stuck in the darkness. The Enemy lives in the dark and is impatiently waiting for his prey, us.

2) Stay Alert! I am usually pretty alert when I am driving, but the fog makes me extra alert. I know that people are still anxious get to where they are going and not paying attention. It's important to always be on alert when we go throughout our day. We can so easily get caught up with the drama of coworkers, family and friends. The drama in their life does not need to be the verdict on ours!

3) Take it slow! Driving through the fog usually means going at a slower speed. Don't get so caught up in your day that you forget to breathe. I will sometimes read a chapter of my current book at lunch, or go for a short walk. Maybe text my wife to see how her day is going. Sometimes it is just good to stop and put things into perspective.

4) Have Faith! Navigating through the fog is hard, but keeping the above ideas in check will make the journey to your destination easier. Keeping grounded in faith is so important in life. We're going to face trouble and there are going to be patches of fog here and there, but we must remain faithful. There is always a higher power and plan at work and we must believe it, even in The Fog.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Like Flakes

Like flakes of snow that fall imperceptibly upon the earth, the seeming unimportant events of life succeed one another. As the snowflakes gather, so our habits are formed. No single flake that is added to the pile produces a sensible change. No single action creates, however it may exhibit, a man's character. But as the tempest hurls the avalanche down the mountain and overwhelms the inhabitant and his habitation, so passion, acting on the elements of mischief which pernicious habits have brought together, may overthrow the edifice of truth and virtue.  -Bentham

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Check Your Roots!

"He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." -Jeremiah 17:8

This verse is so simple yet packs a powerful message. Where is your seed planted, where are your roots headed and what type of fruit are you bearing?

It took me a long time to discover where I had planted my seed. I thought I was near the stream and I thought the the roots were being fed by a good source, but I couldn't have been more wrong. I grew up hearing about the stream. I went to a Chrisitan school, attended church and tried to keep to a value system. It's not that I didn't believe in God, I just never really knew Him. My seed had been planted in false soil. The world shows us different types of soil to plant our seed in, but doesn't guarantee the type of fruit it will produce. It's a risk we don't  have to take, but many people do. We all remember the first story about fruit.

So let's say we step into the worldly journey of risk. There is no guarantee for anything good to come of it, but it looks like good soil so we jump in. Planting our seed in the soil of Christ also comes with risks, though what grows will never fail to bear good and useful fruit. Once planted in the false soil, the path of the roots are questionable at best. The direction can come from friends, family, work, money, love, sports or anything really. This is exactly the problem, there is no clear direction. This allows for fear to come in, the droughts can become long and hard and the fruit can get real bitter.

Bitter fruit does not sound good to me! The bad fruit is the result of the seed in imitation soils, and the roots not near a stream. The verse is so clear to the willing mind. In order to bear good and healthy fruit we need to be centered, we need to be rooted in something solid, we need to be rooted in Christ. Planting your seed in the soil of Christ is the best place possible. Your will grow strong, you will stay humble and it will tear down your selfishness. By having your roots spread towards the stream of Christ, you can be assured many seasons of growing. No fear of coming droughts or seasons of intense heat. And finally the fruit, the fruit that Christ can bring into our lives is more filling and more delicious than anything else we can ever experience. So I say dig deep, real deep and find out where you are truly rooted and ask your self why.

Root yourself in Christ.
Check your roots!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Man Like Christ

This year has been nothing short of a process. From struggling with who I was and almost having my marriage fall apart, to realizing the my own black selfishness. I had to go down to the bottom of a deep, dark pit in order the see the pure light of Christ. I know, now, that He put me down in that pit for a reason and that the reasons would reveal themselves over time. Christ showed me a way out of the pit and asked me to walk along with Him and just listen. Over the course of this year, I can look back and see the path He has taken me on. And like Christ, the journey has been anything but ordinary.

We are to be like Christ, but what is it to be like Christ? I didn't realize, at first, that this was the question I have been asking ever since He first took me by my heart. The earlier months of the year went something like this. Desire. I kept hearing the word desire and I had no idea why. But, everyday the word just kept coming and it only got louder. If you have been following Manturity for a little while now you will know about my series on Desire. I came to realize that because I started walking with Christ, I had actually started to 'delight' in Him. (Psalm37:4). I came to realize that life wasn't about my own selfish desires, but rather it was about asking God what I desired. I went from praying 'what do I desire God?' to 'what would You have me desire God?'. That shift made a massive difference in my view on desire. It put desire in perspective and made me less interested in the meaningless things and more interested in the meaningful things. I also began to realize that I wanted to be a true Man of God, or a Man Like Christ.

In continuing my desire to be a man more like Christ, I moved my focus to 'influence'. I really didn't understand this shift at first, but I went with it anyway. I began to think about the ways things influenced my life, behavior, emotions and so on. I wrote about music, friends and work. But God was saying more, He wanted me to take the idea of influence and persuasion further. I didn't understand what He meant by 'further' till more recently. See, Jesus had a style that he did life different than anyone that has ever lived. Jesus never said the "normal" thing and never responded in a general way. He always had a reason behind His motivation. He had a way of making people think and challenged people to do the right thing by their own means. He could be in the toughest of situations where there seemed to be no way out and He would simply surprise everybody. His style of influence is enchanting to say the least.

If I truly desire to be more like Christ, than I need to know his personality. John Eldredge's newest book, Beautiful Outlaw, couldn't come at a better time. This book gets into the wild personality of the risen Christ. I also started reading another book called 'Split Second Persuasion'. This is not a Christian author, but it gets into the origins of persuasion and influence. I am only a few chapters into each book, but they go together in a great way. Lessons from Jesus Christ himself and a hard look at how God designed influence in us since birth.

When I saw the path in the distance, God pointed to the path of desire. And in going down that path I have seen the fruits along the way of making Him my desire. But God demands more of us. As the path of desire is conquered, I can see in the distance the path of influence. The path to the deeper understanding of how to lead and speak like Christ. The path of desire was made of soft grass with only a few hills. But I have already started on the rocky, more rugged path of the personality of Christ. This is what it takes to be a Man Like Christ. To continue to seek more, to continue to work harder no matter the challenge set before you.

Our God is a God of Process.....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Strength Over Time

We can never have more than we can bear. The present hour we are always able to endure. As our day, so is our strength. If the trials of many years were gathered into one, they would overwhelm us; therefore, in pity to our little strength, He first sends one, and then another, then removes both, and the third, heavier, perhaps, then either; but all is so wisely measured to our strength that the bruised reed is never broken. We do not enough look at our trials in this continuous and successive view. Each one is sent to teach us something, and altogether they have a lesson which is beyond the power of any to teach alone.  -H.E. Manning

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Culture says "Man Up"?

It's one thing for the culture to notice that there is a problem with men these days, but it's another thing to leave it up to culture to "try" to fix the problem...

I recently started watching a couple new shows on TV that were suppose to portray a "manlier" image. The first show that came to the chopping block was 'Last Man Standing'. I have to say that out of the newer shows this is one of the better ones, but still not overly "manly". The father, Tim Allen, is surrounded by his wife, three daughters and his oldest daughters baby boy. The concept is to show men that they can still be manly amongst all those women. He also wants to show his grandson that he is in charge and that the true man is still alive..
The other show that came out recently is titled 'Man Up'. In my opinion, this show did not hit the bar at all. I don't think it even realized there was a bar to aim for... The show is loaded with immature men in their forties who are trying to grow up. Really? So the show is not about mature men doing the responsible things in life, but rather doing the irresponsible things and trying to learn from them. The show starts with the main characters playing video games and ends with them playing video games. I don't think this is hardly any example of men that are making an attempt to 'Man Up'. The networks know that a manlier image is needed back on television, but who is running the networks? I can't answer this question, but maybe someone could enlighten me with the answer.

I also find it interesting that these shows have come out while a new movie is out in theaters called 'Courageous'. Men that are struggling in life, but come to a Resolution to fix their issues. This is a true example of men becoming responsible men! Television shows are more easily accessible, but they still require an audience that wants dumb people cracking the same old jokes and making no real point. The new shows mentioned above do have some very subtle and sometimes very quick examples of men doing the right, responsible and mature thing, but the majority of the shows are fill and fluff.

So the idea is simple. The world, our family, our friends, our workplace need to see men 'Man Up'. But how that happens and where the influence comes from needs to be managed properly and responsibly. Sure, these shows can be funny and have their moments, but being a man is more than that. It's about growing in maturity, becoming a man of integrity, making the hard decisions and raising kids that know who is in charge and why. Man is ultimately responsible to God. It is the way we were designed from the very beginning. If a man can stay true to his roots, his Father, than his path will be straight and long.

So in short, Man Up! And do it carefully and according to the design God intended.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It’s amazing how disconnected I can be in such a “connected” world.

As my wife and I drove through the mountains of northern Georgia this past weekend, we couldn’t help the feeling of being disconnected. I’d think of something to tweet or want to check my email only to find no connection and see the “Searching” word in my top bar of my phone. After this happens a few times frustration starts to set in and I tell myself I can try again in a few minutes. It’s also at this point that I realize how dependent I am on being connected to meaningless things and how disconnected I am to God.

I take my phone and set it aside. Instead of having my mind flooded with ideas, updates, and other small dramas. I sit back and connect to God’s beautiful creation. The leaves are turning wonderful colors of orange, red and yellow. The mountains were all around us and went on for as far as I could see. I turn to my wife and see her smile and I smile back. Now, I am truly connected to what matters.

Make time to disconnect from the craziness of this world and connect to the beauty that God has waiting for you. It’s all around us, just look!