Monday, January 28, 2013

Facing Manhood

It wasn't the most comfortable seat,
but I suppose it wasn't suppose to be.
My feet wrapped solidly around the rails,
my heart was hoping not to fail.

One side short,
the other long.
One side right, 
the other wrong.

I sat atop this lonely fence,
fighting back the fear.
Wondering which side I'd choose,
or whether I'll stay right here.

Courage. Fear. Courage. Fear,
I battled back and forth in mind.
Is this the moment to become a man,
is this the place and time.

A short jump means the same old thing,
a long jump means I'll change.
A short jump meets a cowardice boy,
a long jump meets a man.

I gripped the fence with mighty strength,
and closed my eyes with hope.
I prayed that God would lose a boy,
and gain a man in slope.

With one last look my hands released,
I felt the winter air.
The easy side was long far gone,
and I faced the man I dared.

What lay down here I can not know,
but the journey will be hard.
Rest assured that God is near,
in every step and every yard.

The choice is yours to face the fear,
and test your strength head on.
For courage always will prevail,
and God's protection will shine on.


Check out this other great poem by Peter Choi, "Three Men at the Wall".

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Handling the New Man in Christ

Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of learning more about God and the Christian walk. This journey has taught me many things that are good and bad. From the beginning I knew that if I overloaded myself with information, I would not get anything accomplished or stick to anything. I knew that in order to become a better man, I had to break my old habits.

 The breaking of my old habits was the beginning of my journey with Christ. Where did you start out with Christ? From there it went to desire and influence. A new follower in Christ must break from their old, worldly ways and follow Him. Here are a few tips and ideas that I have learned over the years to make the process go easier. You can share yours in the comments section below.

A) Don't Overload!
  • I'm going to buy a devotional, a Bible and a study guide. I'm going to stop listening to all secular music and go to Church three times a week (all of this, all at once!). Now, don't get me wrong, if you can pull all of this off; more power to you. In my experience though, it is best to start with a couple items and move your way up.
  • For me, it was reading a chapter of Proverbs and praying for 15 minutes in the morning. The afternoon would require a shorter prayer and quality time with my wife and/ or kids. I also read the book "Wild at Heart" on my lunch breaks. The idea is to not overload yourself or overwhelm yourself; but to form new habits as you break your old ones. Do one page of your devotional a day. Say a prayer in the morning and at night. Be intentional about whatever it is.

B) Stay Organized!

  • Once you have chosen a couple things to start doing in your new walk. Stay organized and stay with it. Wake up one hour early every morning. Set aside thirty minutes for prayer every night. Turn off the TV on two specific nights a week or do a devotional with yourself or with your wife. You can make this change easier by setting reminders on your smart phone or hanging notes by your bed or around the house. There are many ways to do it, as long as you're doing it! Pick that one book and finish it before you start another one. Stay organized!

C) Set Goals!

  • Now that you know what your going to do and you have an organized plan to attack it, be ready for whats next. By the time I'm getting to the end of a book, I am figuring out what I want to do next. Do I plan to read it again? Is there a second book in the series? Pray and have God help you figure out what to do next, because He will help! After about 30 days, the new habits will be well into your system. You can increase your work load or keep it consistent with your current level. The goal is to just keep going!

D) Let's keep the list going! What has worked for you?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Man of Imitation

"To be in Christ, is to live in his ideas, character, spirit, as the atmosphere of being. Men everywhere are living in the ideas and characters of others. He who lives in the spirit of Raphael, becomes a painter; he who lives in the spirit of Milton, becomes a poet; he who lives in the spirit of Bacon, becomes a philosopher; he who lives in the spirit of Caesar, becomes a warrior; he who lives in the spirit of Christ, becomes a man."

"I urge you, then, be imitators of me." -I Corinthians 4:16

Although the first quote shows age, the concept is still very real and applies to everyone today. We can take those examples above and add in our own imitations; Hollywood, culture, "The American Dream", "The Joneses", money and so on. Do those sound like some imitations of today's culture? We all want to be great, we all want to be noticed and we think that acting or living like someone popular will get us what we want.
  • Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club wrote, “We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact." 
This line is so true in my opinion. Some of us grow up and make these imitations our goal in life. In the meantime, we miss the opportunity to become a man. We miss the spirit of Christ.

Paul's appeal in I Corinthians 4, is for us to imitate him; because he is imitating Christ. I think we can all agree that Christ is the ultimate example for all of us. Do you agree? How to live, how to speak, how to love, how to care and most importantly how to sacrifice? Paul endures hardships such as persecution, homelessness, curses, slander and more. 
  • His response in verses 12 and 13 was this, "When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly." 
Are we man enough these days to take that kind of abuse and deal with it? Are we man enough these days to take any kind of abuse from culture or those that think there're better than us?

"He who lives in Christ, becomes a man." I have found this very true in my own walk and in the examples of men that I am close with. The path of Christ requires us all to do things that are not taught in college, that are not taught in culture, and that are not taught on television. It requires a man to go deeper; to read more, to seek truth beyond these "easy" stimuli, to break chains of his families past, to discover the manhood Christ has set in his heart. Be a man that is strong enough and willing enough to imitate Christ, not the things of this world. Are you ready to accept the challenge and be a man that imitates Christ?

Voice your opinion below or ask more questions. We're all in this fight together!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Do you have 5 minutes? (at least)

Tired of hearing about New Years resolutions yet? Fortunately, I have not had to hear about too many this year. I see the occasional status update from people going to the gym; that I know didn't normally go last year. I see it and keep scrolling.

One thing I thought about when reviewing last year was this though, "how much time do I really spend with God"? Ask my wife, my memory is not the greatest. But, overall I am still capable of going back and really thinking about my time with God.

  • Sometimes in the car
  • Sometimes early in the morning when I am laying in bed
  • Maybe right before I walk into the house after a long day of work

I like to think I'm your typical man. I do my best to work hard. I diligently think about ways to love and support my wife. I have to handle earfuls of useless conversation at work sometimes. And I have to keep my home moving in a somewhat orderly fashion. Can you agree with this men?

In short, the idea of 5 minutes (at least) came to my mind. 5 minutes? I thought to myself, "I can surely come up with 5 minutes a day for God". Then I thought, have I even spent 5 minutes with Him over the last week? Gut check, better yet heart check. All this technology to set up reminders and stuff should make this process easier, right? "Ok, 5 minutes. Dear God... Oh look, there are new stories on my social network." Ouch.

My goal is 5 minutes (at least). Do you think this should be your goal too? Put it on your schedule with me and give it a shot. I can pray, read a devotional or just have a general heart to heart talk with God (this could be prayer too). If this sounds crazy to you or if this sounds like a good idea, share what you think about it. Share what has worked with you in the past.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Introducing Mr. Brayden Robert Van Slyke (my son)

I am proud to announce that my wife gave birth to our first child yesterday at 4:56 pm. This is a very exciting moment in our lives! Baby Brayden is doing great and so is mom :) He was 6 lbs. 13 oz., and 20 1/2" long. He's a happy and wiggly little guy. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

7:14 Movement

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, 
and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
-2 Chronicles 7:14

January 6-12 is a week of prayer. The 7:14 movement is an national movement to make prayer more intentional and more widespread. The verse in Chronicles is very direct in it's words and should be a challenge to everyone. Our Church is pushing this movement, and I pray that you do as well with your Church and family. The idea of 7:14 is simple. We all have busy schedules and on average have a hard time making "time" for God. At 7:14 AM, we stop and say a small prayer. At 7:14 PM, we stop what we are doing and say another small prayer. There are set prayers available if needed, and you can download the file HERE. Or if you choose, pick a topic that you can focus and pray on for a few moments. This is nothing earth shattering or difficult. If you think it's cliche, I suggest you read the verse above again. I plan to do this on my own and with my family and hope you do the same. Check out some links below to assist in the process and to make the impact go farther in your life. Please share this with others and have a great week of Prayer!

Download the free iPhone app HERE or go on your iPhone iTunes app and download.

Purchase the "28 Day Journal" HERE. Available as an eBook or Regular Book.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Man of Perseverance

"No great work is ever done in a hurry. To develop a great scientific discovery, to paint a great picture, to write an immortal poem, to become a minister, or a famous general; to do anything great requires time, patience and perseverance. These things are done by degrees, "Little by Little." Milton did not write "Paradise Lost" at a sitting, nor did Shakespeare compose "Hamlet" in a day. The greatest writers must begin with the alphabet, the most famous musicians once picked out their notes laboriously; a child must learn how to draw a straight line before he can develop into a Titian or a Michael Angelo."
-W. J. Wilmont Buxton

"The testing of your faith develops perseverance." -James 1:3

Perseverance in its basic form means to steadily persist in a course of action, or purpose; especially in the midst of difficulty. The top quote laid out some older, yet great examples to for us to think about. To think that some of the works mentioned above have lasted for centuries is absolutely amazing. But these works or paintings took years to accomplish and get right. We have to remember that when we are starting something new or taking on a new adventure in life. We must persevere!

The book of James has some great material when it comes to perseverance. In the first few verses, he says we are to find joy in the trials in our life, for they will yield in us perseverance. I don't think that would make a lot of sense to people these days, the NOW generation. He says that if we allow ourselves to persevere through whatever the circumstances are; we will be more mature and complete. We have been faithful to God and have come away better for it. Check out the book of James for insight on a lot of other topics.

Ever since I really, truly made Christ first and foremost in my life; I have prayed for consistency. I have prayed for God to show me how to be consistent. What it looks like? What it means? How can I do it? Well, it starts by praying daily, for consistency in Him. This prayer has helped me persevere through some great obstacles. You need to be steady in your walk with him, in your marriage, in your family and in your friendships. Don't give up at the first sign of trouble; stand taller, trust God and persevere.

How has God taught you perseverance?
Share an example and help out your fellow brother!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

TOP TEN Posts of 2012

Before going too far, I want to just say "Thank You"! This was the first full year for the Manturity Blog and God blessed it with great success. I want to thank all of the faithful followers, the new followers, the comments, the contributions and the occasional criticism. All of those things make the blog better and stronger. I have some great ideas for 2013, and always look forward to what God has planned. Until then, here is the rundown of the TOP TEN POSTS of 2012. This is based on overall views. Check one out if you missed it! Thank you!

This was the first post of five posts in the "A HUSBAND" series. 
A deeper version of this post is planned for 2013.

This is post about how my personal walk with Christ really began. 
It's all about putting yourself on the tracks...

This post is about the role of a husband in the marriage.
It was written about my experience and should be a challenge to every man.

This was the first post in the Maintenance Man Series earlier this year.
A man must be Willing, Open and learn Dependency...

This post is about how the enemy is always on the attack.
A husband must be aware of this and fight back!

You are not a child, so don't think like one anymore. Be a man!
You are to Love, Protect and Serve.

This was a guest post by my good friend Ryan E.
Through a tough line of events, God shows him true Grace. Check out the Series!

This was, again, a guest post by Ryan E.
This post asked hard questions and more about this years Presidential election. 

I had the pleasure of meeting author Jody Burkeen this year from Man Up God's Way.
Check out my review of his great book!

This was a guest post by a good friend Matt C.
Through many struggles, God shows him that real hope can only come from the Father.

What was your favorite post of 2012?
What would you like to see more of in 2013?