The Importance of Men With Chests

“Iron sharpens iron,
    and one man sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17

The past couple months, I have taken to mentoring two young boys who are some sons of friends. And it has definitely been a personal adventure that has helped me to grow in my own spiritual journey and walk with God. It has definitely helped me to understand the difficulties of what it means to be a parent. And, quite honestly, looking at society, taking some time to invest in young men who don’t have a godly role model in their lives is EXTREMELY important.

C.S. Lewis writes in The Abolition of Man:

“It still remains true that no justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat’, than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers. In battle it is not syllogisms (logical arguments) that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment. The crudest sentimentalism … about a flag or a country or a regiment will be of more use. We were told it all long ago by Plato. As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the ‘spirited element’. The head rules the belly through the chest—the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. The Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment—these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal. The operation of The Green Book (a book promoting relativism) and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. … A persevering devotion to truth, a nice sense of intellectual honour, cannot be long maintained without the aid of a sentiment… It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so. And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Scripture is filled with the importance of teaching children. Especially teaching them God’s Word, and how it speaks to men and women respectively. C.S. Lewis calls men that have no morality or virtue “men without chests.” I’m speaking to men here alone, women have their faults as well, but I am definitely not qualified to speak on them. Men, the next generation of guys that come after us–it’s our responsibility to make sure we raise them to be the godly men that God expects us to be. There are expectations of us as followers of Christ to be spiritual leaders–in the home, church, and the world. And one of those expectations is to teach and invest in children.

Have you ever seen how a sword gets made? It starts with a bit of raw iron ore. And then the blacksmith melts it down, removes the impurities in the iron, and then lets it cool in a molded shape. The blacksmith then takes it and heats it back up–not to the point of melting it but to the point that he can take the hammer and beat it into a certain shape. This process of heating and cooling is a lengthy process and takes time, because if the blacksmith does it wrong or doesn’t take the time to forge the sword into the best quality possible what happens to it? The moment it enters into a battle and meets up with a sword that is properly made, the poor sword will shatter. By heating and cooling the sword and beating it with a hammer, the blacksmith makes this sword as strong as it can possibly be.

So it is with young men.

I quoted Proverbs at the beginning of this post that iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. A companion proverb to this is “bring up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

God is the blacksmith, we are His hammer, and the Bible is the anvil upon which the sword is rested upon while being forged and it is also the whetstone used for sharpening.

God being the blacksmith is obvious–He is the author of everything that exists in the world and is the creator, His stamp and handiwork is upon everything. The Bible is the anvil because it is the solid foundation that the sword must rest upon while God forges it. God’s Word as the whetstone is also what is used to help young men become sharper and stronger and more established in their walk with God. We, as more mature followers of Christ, are the tool that God uses and works through to help forge young men into the mature followers of Christ in the future.

But simply teaching it is not enough for young men, they must see the teachings in action by those who are teaching them. If we do not walk the walk that we are talking about, then we are, in the eyes of young men and boys, MEN WITHOUT CHESTS. And they will be as well when they grow older. And they will contribute to the disorganization of society and cause it to fall even further into chaos. Satan is an “agent of chaos,” to quote one of my favorite movies, and he wishes to make us so as well. agent_of_chaos_by_kanombravo-d501aou

Instead, try to live up to be the opposite, and I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but if you can be Batman, then always be Batman. Still flawed, but holding true to what you believe and know to be right according to God’s Word. Be MEN WITH CHESTS.the-dark-knight-152659

~Tom

Romans 1:16–Welcome to the Masquerade 

To start, let me just throw out the disclaimer that the song I am about to mention belongs to one of my favorite bands–Thousand Foot Krutch…#throwupyourrawkfist

Here are the lyrics of the song

We’ve got the fire, who’s got the matches 
Take a look around at the sea of masks 
and come one come all, welcome to the grand ball 
Where the strong run for cover and the weak stand tall 

I’m not one to scatter ashes 
But there’s some things that melt the plastic 
Try and dig down deeper if you can 

I’m not afraid 
I’m not ashamed 
I’m not to blame 
Welcome to the masquerade 
I’m not ashamed 
I’m not afraid 
I’m not okay 
Welcome to the masquerade 
Welcome to the masquerade 

We’ve got the power, who’s got the action 
Break it down till there’s nothing but a mere fraction 
Out of the fire, rise from the ashes 
Reject your doubt and release the passion 
Let’s get on it, believe if you want it 
step into the realm where the real ones flaunt it 
Come back, rewind, another time on it 
Reach out, take that, but now step on it 

I’m not one to scare the masses 
But there’s some things that melt the plastic 
Try and dig down deeper if you can 

I’m not afraid 
I’m not ashamed 
I’m not to blame 
Welcome to the masquerade 
I’m not ashamed 
I’m not afraid 
I’m not okay 
Welcome to the masquerade 
Welcome to the masquerade 

I’m not afraid 
I’m not ashamed 
I’m not to blame 
Welcome to the masquerade 
I’m not ashamed 
I’m not afraid 
I’m not okay 
Welcome to the masquerade 
Welcome to the masquerade 
Welcome to the masquerade 

I’m not one to scatter ashes 
But there’s some things that melt the plastic 
Try and dig down deeper if you can 

I’m not afraid 
I’m not ashamed 
I’m not to blame 
Welcome to the masquerade 
I’m not ashamed 
I’m not afraid 
I’m not okay 
Welcome to the masquerade 
Welcome to the masquerade

Now, at first glance this song might not be making any sense, since it’s talking about throwing off some things and then it “welcomes you to the masquerade.”

I was on a run last night and to help keep the rhythm, I had my Running Playlist going on the Spotify app! This song came on and as I was listening the central theme of the song hit me, despite having heard the song hundreds of times before. And it led me to one piece of Scripture…
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

~Romans 1:16

For the longest time, I thought this passage was constrained to meaning salvation from sin. But it’s salvation from so much more. 

Doubt

Fear 

Loneliness

Whatever you are struggling with, the gospel releases you from it, and replaces it with the most fulfilling relationship you’ll EVER have in your life. A relationship with Christ and by the gospel, God takes us– flaws and all, brings us to Him and begins to work on us to change us into who HE meant us to be. 

So, as the song says: out of the fire, rise from the ashes, reject your doubt and release your passion. The Gospel gives us the power to be:

Unashamed of who we are
Unashamed of God and

Unashamed of the Gospel and God’s Word. 

Welcome to the Masquerade everyone, unmask yourselves.

Good To The Last Drop.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering about the title and the picture. How can God’s wrath be good to the last drop? In short, it is, but that is not that upon which I wish to focus on, but it will come into play in this post. This post however, focuses upon what Christ did today.

To start, let me share this passage of Scripture with you:

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:41-44)

Christ needed to come before his Father, to pray to Him and ask that what he was about to face, that if it were possible, to take a different route. But God told His son no, this is the only way. As much as it saddened His heart, both God and Jesus knew it had to be done? But what was it that Christ was so afraid of?? Most people think it’s the trials that Jesus was afraid of, knowing what he was about to face. Christ knew what he was gonna face, but it wasn’t the trial and the subsequent beatings–no, what Christ was afraid of was much more fearsome. So fearsome, that Christ sweated blood.

By the way, after Christ was arrested, he went into BEAST-MODE.

Any normal man, having undergone several beatings, a Roman Flogging, having thorns crushed on to his skull, walk a full 1/3 mile to Golgotha, and then endure the exsanguination and suffocation of the cross all the while enduring the scorn and mockery of the crowd would have died long before even being nailed down to the cross. The two thieves that were crucified with Jesus? All they had to endure was maybe a beating before being crucified. If you want an idea of what the Roman flogging entailed, watch the video below from Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ (GRAPHIC CONTENT):

By the way, this still doesn’t even come close to what the Romans did.

When Jesus was hanging there on the cross, it became dark. This is the time that God poured out His wrath on Christ, and Jesus took it all. He took on God’s Wrath, endured separation from his Father by becoming sin, even though he didn’t know sin himself, and took on the worse thing imaginable–His Father’s wrath on all of humanity’s sin.

So, why is Jesus taking the cup of God’s Wrath and drinking it all good to the last drop?

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

There was a joy that Jesus knew about in his act of dying on the cross. And that joy was was YOU. Jesus endured the shame, the pain, the wrath of God for you. He bridged the gap between you and God, the gap that no one could cross, and he did it in a way that all you had to do was take a single step towards God and He would embrace you.

Will you embrace God back?

Mine, or I Will Help You Not!

WATCH THIS CLIP

ALL CREDIT TO LUCASFILMS

So, I’m a Star Wars junkie, #noshame.

And by far, my favorite characters are ranked in this order from 1 to 3:

  1. Yoda
  2. R2-D2
  3. Darth Vader

But for the sake of this post, I’d like to focus on Yoda, because there are a few things he says that reminds me a few things of what God says in the Bible. One of the first things Yoda says to Luke in the clip is:

yoda201724-looking-found-someone-you-have-i-would-say

Luke had been searching for Yoda, Yoda, for reasons to difficult to explain, hid his identity from Luke for a bit. But only when Yoda revealed himself as the person Luke had been searching for, Luke was just shocked, because Yoda was right in front of him the whole time and he didn’t realize it.

Now, for the Scripture version of this:

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

How often do we find ourselves searching for God and not see Him? God certainly has a way of garnering our attention if He needs to be dramatic–look at what happened with Moses and the burning bush, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, and Jesus when he went fishing with his disciples. God knows that we’re foolish and sometimes can’t see such huge things that can jump out and bite us if they were any bigger, like Him. And even those who are searching for the things that God has, they discount Him because they don’t meet their expectations, just like Luke was constantly discounting Yoda up until Yoda revealed himself as the person that Luke had been searching for.

Next line:

bdsfbsdfasdfgasdg-help-you-i-can

How many times have you seen God offer His help to you and out of your own selfish pride, swatted His hand away? Perhaps the biggest complaint that I hear people make about God is that He either doesn’t do enough or that He hasn’t done anything. Are you freaking kidding me? If you even understood half of what Christ did for you at the cross, you would bow down out of shame. God came down as Christ to redeem mankind out of it’s own sin and to provide a way to give them righteousness so that they may stand before God. God offers that as a free gift to us and all we have to do is accept it and follow the way Jesus lived–and we can stand before God without any shame because of what Christ did for us. Just like Luke, we tell God, “I don’t think so…” If you’re asking something of God, just remember Matthew 7:7:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Next thing of note that Yoda says:

vnbkdfghasd-wars-not-make-one-great

This was a bit trickier to relate to Scripture, but I was able to figure it out 🙂 Take a look at Luke 9:46-48. The disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest. But Jesus shut them down quick. Luke in the movie was looking to become great and look to have adventures, Yoda with his quick quip was able to shut him down as well about what it would take to become great, and he had the wisdom to back it up. John the Baptist, in exalting Christ, said that Jesus must increase but John must decrease so as not to overshadow what Christ had come to do. We must humble ourselves and God will exalt us to the highest place, but we must show others why we consider God to be greater in our humility.

Next Yoda saying:

vnbkdfghasd-how-you-get-so-big-eating-food-of-this-kind

To put it plainly, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 says this:

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”

God shakes His head at us. We go to EVERY source for spiritual fulfillment in our lives, except Him. Why is that? I know the answer is sin, but even more unexplained is the reasoning why we’re willing to give everything else a try except God’s way. Is it because God provided the way and it’s His way or the highway? Ironically speaking with that kind of phrase, the highway leads to death according to Scripture, it’s the narrow less taken path that leads to life. But  once again, it’s our pride to resist God and seek our own way to salvation, even though each and every other way will ultimately lead to the same result: FEELING EMPTY IN OUR SPIRITS.

Next Yoda Saying:

vnbkdfghasd-yoda-you-seek-yoda-take-you-to-him-i-will-come

God offers an invitation through His Holy Spirit. It beckons us to come and seek the Lord and find that He is everything good for our spirits, and that He can both provide for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. God asks that we come to Him, and see that He is good and His love endures forever.

Final Yoda Saying and it’s the reason for this post’s title:

vnbkdfghasd-mine-or-i-will-help-you-not

In the book of James, it says to draw near to God and God will draw near to us. There is no going back. To put it even more plainly, God is all or nothing. There is no one foot in and one foot out. Yoda would plainly say it like this like he does in the movie:

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

If you stop following God, you will backslide, and God won’t come near you, for you are sinning. Remember, your body is a temple, and God dwells in it, but how can He if your life is filled with sin? Commit to God and God will commit to you, that is His promise.

Now, to lighten things up, I offer to you Bad Lip Reading’s video “Seagulls, Stop It Now” ENJOY!!!!

Lacking….

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah… So tweasuwe youw wove”

Okay, so that’s a pretty famous quote from the BEST chick flick out there. And you’re only hearing that from me once. And it’s in reference to something I witnessed today, and that’s the marriage of one of my closest friends from college.

And being in the wedding party, I got a front row seat to everything. And watching the ceremony, I began reflecting upon the words being said, the significance of each of the actions that the bride and groom were performing, and the nature of the wedding ceremony as a whole. And then something hit me….

I am completely not husband material.

Main reason being is that I never had a permanent role model in my life as to what being a godly husband looks like. And finding someone to love and start a family with someone is a strong desire of mine!

And I have begun to doubt if God will ever bring someone into my life.

When I say that I am lacking a role model, I am not saying that I never had any godly men in my life, but I come from being raised by a single mom, and having mentors in your life is not the same as witnessing 24/7 what a good marriage looks like. And I completely fearful that I will make the exact same mistakes that my father made with my mother that led to their divorce.

It’s difficult is all, I’m 28, single, and I doubt that I’ll ever be as good a husband as the men in my church. This may sound like a pity party call, but there is something else.

God has me. Whatever He decides, it will be well with my soul. That song is what got me thinking about what God is doing. Have you heard that hymn? If not, here’s the song as performed by Jars of Clay:

And here’s the history of that song:

“Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a lovely family — a wife, Anna, and five children. However, they were not strangers to tears and tragedy. Their young son died with pneumonia in 1871, and in that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire. Yet, God in His mercy and kindness allowed the business to flourish once more.

On Nov. 21, 1873, the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board. Among the passengers were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Although Mr. Spafford had planned to go with his family, he found it necessary to stay in Chicago to help solve an unexpected business problem. He told his wife he would join her and their children in Europe a few days later. His plan was to take another ship.

About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Suddenly, all of those on board were in grave danger. Anna hurriedly brought her four children to the deck. She knelt there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta and prayed that God would spare them if that could be His will, or to make them willing to endure whatever awaited them. Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers including the four Spafford children.

A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down, spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage. It was Anna, still alive. He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wired her husband a message which began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Mr. Spafford later framed the telegram and placed it in his office.

Another of the ship’s survivors, Pastor Weiss, later recalled Anna saying, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”

Mr. Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife. With the ship about four days out, the captain called Spafford to his cabin and told him they were over the place where his children went down.

According to Bertha Spafford Vester, a daughter born after the tragedy, Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” while on this journey.”

–CREDIT TO http://staugustine.com/living/religion/2014-10-16/story-behind-song-it-well-my-soul

 

The first verse: When peace like a river attendeth my way When sorrows like sea billows roll What ever my lot you have taught me to say It is well, it is well with my soul is what spoke to me the most. God can give you peace on anything. ANYTHING. And I forgot about that today and hearing that song in my car, I couldn’t resist singing with the rest of the song after the first verse. God has taught me to be content in life, and that any new thing or person that comes into my life is a blessing given by Him and it’s His timing that matters. My job is to just follow Him and love Him. God will deem me ready as a husband in His own time, and I hope that is soon, but I will exercise patience until that time and continue to worship God 24/7 and say IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL, on whatever God decides to do!

 

-Tom

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Gonna get political on ya guys for a moment. No, it won’t be an entire political post, but it relates to how we view Scripture, and how Scripture is being distorted in today’s world. Let me begin by addressing the confirmation hearings this week for Neil Gorsuch. Forget the crybaby hypocritical statements from Democrats about not being able to confirm Merrick Garland in a presidential year. It’s not about fairness for them though, it’s about them losing an opportunity to put someone on the Supreme Court that would secure their quest for ultimate and tyrannical power.

One thing that was said to prove this fact came from Diane Feinstein. She said that, “our constitution is a living document, meant to evolve as our nation evolves.” Nothing is further from the truth.

What Senator Feinstein means is that what is written in the U.S. Constitution can evolve and that no one can merely just abide by what it says in black and white terms. Can you see the danger in this yet? Let me paint a clearer picture for you–with the book Animal Farm. The pigs were in charge and anytime they needed to change something that they wanted to do, they would alter the rules of the farm just slightly so that it would suit them, and the rest of the animals suffered as a result. See where I’m getting at?

Now, would it surprise you that there are spiritual leaders out there who are doing the same thing but with God’s Word? There are pastors who are saying that we should not be abiding by God’s Word in such black and white terms and there are some who say that anyone who does follow God’s Word so well have made it an idol. Can you believe that? God’s Word an idol. The thing that Jesus said that man cannot live without. “Man cannot live by bread alone.” And what about Psalm 1:1-2? “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night.”

See, God’s Word lays out the story of God’s plan for redemption of mankind through His son Jesus Christ. And when people accuse us of following God’s Word too strongly, what is your response? Do you have one? Mine is that I follow God’s Word out of thanks for His Son’s sacrifice, and that to live according to His Word is the best way for me to constantly thanks Him. Does this mean I’m perfect? No! Of course not! No one is perfect.

See, when these spiritual leaders say such things about God’s Word, I accuse them of being what Jesus calls “a brood of vipers.” And I also ascribe to them the Seven Woes that Jesus put on the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. Here, take a read…

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+23&version=ESV

You can change the Bible version if you’d like, ESV is just my preference.

That may be a bit harsh, but how dare people distort what God’s plan is for people and how He implemented His plan for redemption. God’s Word is just as applicable today as it was when it was first written. Take a look at 2 Timothy 3:16, my friends.

 

Precious

What’s precious to you?

I’ve been silent for a long time. There’s been a reason for that. I’ve had to take some time to myself to really take stock of what’s been most important to me in my life. I’ve had to rearrange some things in my life, because, ultimately, I haven’t been putting God first. And I’ve been feeling it.

This is a recurrent theme in Scripture.

“I am the Lord your God, you shall have no idols before me.”

“Love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, and soul.”

“What is the greatest commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your might, and the second is just like it–love your neighbor as yourself.”

God wants to be first in our lives, each and every single dang time. Any time I open my Bible, I get smacked in the face with that theme. There’s another verse, James 4:8, that really boils down all those verses. It says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

There is no pausing in a relationship with God, you either keep trying to grow it, or you backslide exponentially faster. And the only way to get back to that original point in your relationship with God is to turn to Him, ask forgiveness, and repent. I have done this the last few weeks and it has extremely been humbling in learning how God has been trying to speak to me these last few months.

I’ve been giving everything to God except really matters–me. What He really wants is what Jesus was trying to get at when the Pharisees asked him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar.

“Who’s likeness is on the coin?”

“Caesar’s.”

“Then render unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.”

Jesus is saying that God doesn’t care about anything we give him, except our love, devotion, and attention to His word.