Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Life Changing Moment - The Job

"Help Wanted" -- what great news those two words are. There comes a time in every man's life when he looks for an opportunity to use his God-given gifts and talents, to earn income, and to accomplish productive work. When that time comes, "help wanted" is a beacon of hope.

"The Interview" -- offers a time for anxiety, self-doubt, and perspiration. For it is in the interview that one must do what one is not used to -- brag. Men are expected to present themselves in the most positive light possible -- never easy, but always necessary.

"You're Hired" -- is cause for rejoicing and celebration. These words mean you are worthy, you are capable, and that someone will actually pay you money to do that which you enjoy doing (usually) -- how great is that? Once a man has been hired to fill a position, he starts to redefine who he is. He now describes himself in terms of his occupation - "I am a plumber." "I am a bricklayer." I am a pilot." "I am a welder." "I am a cowpoke," etc.

Life is changed by the phrase, "you're hired."

In addition to any work or occupation we may have, we have been given another task -- a "mission" if you will. This mission or job we have been given is one that can have eternal consequences. This is a job you never lose. This is a job everyone already has!

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

What an awesome job that is! The good news is you already have this job and the Holy Spirit gives you the power to do it! How are you doing in your job?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Life Changing Moment - The Car

Independence Day for many teenagers is not the Fourth of July; rather, it's the day they get their driver's license. Better still, it's the day they get their first car.

I know that a guy's first car is something he dreams about, plans around, and works hard for. Each guy holds an image of the ideal first car -- for some it's a Mustang GT; for others it's a jeep, and for others it's some form of convertible -- never mind the brand, just as long as the top goes down. I know for me, the ideal and the real car were a little different -- okay, a lot different. But as homely as the car was, it was my car and my independence.

A guy's first car opens up doors previously closed -- jobs outside the neighborhood, drive-in fast-food places, cruising for dates or just heading out and about with no particular destination. Likewise, the first car came with some other things that must have been in small print -- insurance, maintenance, and gas. Remember your first moving violation? Was it speeding or something mundane like a burned out taillight?

This taste of freedom can be heady for a young male. Ever drive too fast for the road conditions? Get in an accident because you weren't paying attention? You ever drink and drive? Guilty as charged on all counts -- but when you're 18 and invincible, driving and, for that matter, living dangerously is not seen as such.

I am sure most of you know someone who has paid or is paying the price for not treating this freedom with the proper level of respect. The consequences can be devastating and sometimes beyond repair. Some things just can't be fixed.

God gives us the freedom to choose our life paths. And yes, He allows us to make wrong decisions. And yes, He permits us to live away from Him if we choose. And yes, God is always here for us -- always -- no matter what! But unlike our lives here, in His kingdom all things can be repaired.

I am not a fan of bumper stickers in general; preachy religious ones bother me the most. (Somehow I think our God deserves better than a trite, frequently guilt-ridden slogan slapped on some rust bucket, but I digress.) However, there is one that says, "God allows U-turns." If I could change the slogan, it would read: "God loves U-turns." Turning us back towards Him when we've been heading the wrong direction is what He's all about. What was your first car? Ever do a God U-turn?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Man Hugs Creep Me Out

According to information from the Worsley School, personal space is defined as an invisible bubble surrounding you. (And, yes, I am in the camp that finds "personal space" an annoying term.) If people move inside this bubble when they are talking to you, it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. Men and women are different. (How's that for stating the obvious?) A woman meeting an unfamiliar woman will have a smaller bubble than a man meeting an unfamiliar man. Men will only shrink their bubble around people they know very well -- such as a brother, a close friend, or a spouse. Whew! I'm glad I'm not the odd man out.

Churches might want to consider this information when greeting visitors. Pastors who habitually greet all people, including visiting men, with a robust hug might be better off shaking hands. A visiting guy might prefer a simple head nod and smile, instead of a handshake. Invading the bubble too soon can cause problems, especially for guys. (Don't want to invade anybody's bubble too soon!)

If your church does the "sharing the peace" thing, be aware it's likely a time of angst for guys, especially if they're visitors. Being surrounded and converged on by people with handshakes, hugs, or embraces can be plain creepy. We like our bubbles big, ya know?

You prefer a friendly head nod, handshake -- or the "man hug"?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Maker Movement

You gotta love this guy; his name is Mr. Jalopy. His credo is this: "If it is broke, DO fix it." He sits in his workshop surrounded by thousands of nuts, bolts, washers, springs, hand tools, and gizmos. If there were such a place as nirvana, this might be what it looks like. He started the Maker Movement to unite men with a simple idea: transform something nearly obsolete into something useful. For example, one member of the Maker Movement took a VCR and made an automated cat feeder. We can only hope for a self-cleaning litter box made from a junk DVD player is soon to follow.

Mr. Jalopy repairs, invents, and is so far out of the box he can't see it anymore. Some of his more interesting creations include a gorilla drive-in theater made from a light bulb, old bookshelves, junky electrical parts, a kitchen table, and an adult-sized tricycle. Now he can wheel up to any building and watch a movie. Perhaps his coolest invention is a large iPod made from a small iPod connected to a large family radio and a stereo.

His Maker Movement captures the imagination of every little boy who ever created a spaceship from a cardboard box, a drag racer from a crate, or a fort from a blanket over a table. We guys like to tinker, take things apart and make something better. We invent and imagine. We can take stuff and find new uses, combine unrelated parts and make things better. So what if you have some extra parts after the repair-obviously, they weren't needed to begin with. We all have one thing in common though; we use stuff to make other stuff.

Mr. Jalopy can do some pretty creative things, but he's got stuff to work with. Where he gets the stuff, I'm not exactly sure, but it comes from somewhere, and ultimately, it came from somewhere on this planet. Like everything around us, the earth is full of made stuff. The earth itself, however, was made out of nothing.

Compared to many, Mr. Jalopy is pretty creative, but in the bigger scheme of things, he's got nothing compared to the "Maker": the one who created the universe-the heavens and the earth-out of nothing. That one is God the Father, and what an awesome Maker He is.

What would you make if you could?