Man’s Men are the men who follow the Son of Man, Jesus.
Over the last 4 years of my much flawed and often accidental 50-year journey as a Jesus follower, there have been 2 changes that have both subtracted from and added to my life and ministry.
Have you ever stepped across a threshold the appeared level or even
higher only to discover that your foot drops a half-foot down? It happens to me yearly at least, but each time I have the same reaction; I am stunned, disoriented, and ticked off at the same time! Sometimes it is worse–it so shocks me that my spine gets wrenched out of alignment!
This is still my response when it happens to me in the spiritual realm…or the realm of “God’s Ways.” Here I am, seeking to become more like Jesus, and as I raise my foot to go upwards, my foot and leg fall down into the darkness, and, after recovering from a dangerous stumble, my eyes begin to adjust to discover a down staircase!
Today, the shock is mostly gone and I am no longer as surprised when it happens, but it is still disarming. In fact, it is becoming my new norm. It feels so rightand good in my heart to descend! Let me try to describe my 2 changes:
1. I am learning a daily practice of self-emptying. The process is explained by St. Paul in Philippians chapters 1 and 2. The gamechanger for me (and surely 10’s of millions of other Jesus followers in history) is this passage in chapter 2:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
When Paul wrote, “He made himself nothing” he chose the Greek word kenoo from the verb kenosis. Theologically, the writer is describing the well-planned and painful steps Jesus took in the Throne Room of Heaven to prepare for his transformation into a single-cell zygote readied to merge with a virginal egg in Mary’s womb. He had to divest–empty Himself of his eternal experience, talent, powers (all of the “Omni’s”), appearance, and accomplishments. This mindset was required for Him to become the God-Man and the worthy sacrifice needed to violently disable Satan through His death and regain the Keys to Death and Hell so He could deliver them to the Church on Earth. And it was the key to Jesus’ ministry every day as well. Today in the smallest of ways, I try to do it in my mind and heart The end game? I am filled with Christ, yet bring NOTHINGto the table but “Yes, Lord.”
For me, this includes the mindset of decrease, versus increase. The World says maturity and growth are about increase, but at the peak of John the Baptist’s ministry, he said, “He must increase and I must decrease“ (John 30:30). Like nothing I have ever experienced, with this attitude, God has been freed to release his purposes through me 10 fold! What a joy to watch Him flow out of me to help others…expanding favor, and the invasion of His miracle-infused Kingdom of God, supplanting darkness along the way.
2. I am intentionally regarding my life as a stewardship. The Lord has made me a steward of all of these things around and withing me that I used to think were mine. If I am His creation and slave, then even my next breath is in his hand! It changes my perspective on everything. Possessions like my home become His home that He allows me to live in, rest, eat, and steward for His purposes and my blessing. Money management is now stewardship of His money. My diet, rest, play, and exercise becomes a form of worship–the stewardship of the Temple (me) of God, and the habitation of the Holy Spirit. Hemade me (the maker is the owner, right?) and filled me with HisHoly Spirit. Even though my tendency to sin is, regrettably, still too big of an issue for me–it seems like there is less for the World, the Devil, Flesh to get ahold of.
For the often tumultuous decades I spent in faith before these changes, there is a river that flows effortlessly into which He has made me a passenger and conduit of His love.
Recollecting, I remember now where it started six years ago when I began meditating on the first 3 verses of the Shepherd’s Psalm, 23:
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want–He makes me lie down in
green pastures–He leads me beside the still waters–He restores my soul”