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Permission to Be a Man

We live in a society that does a really good job at emasculating men.  I mean just look at the TV shows that depict families.  Usually the father is a bumbling idiot who is being led by his wife or can’t do anything right unless his wife sets him straight.  Look at our public schools (I can go there…I teach in them), we have told kids that to be a good student you must sit in your desk, be really still and quiet, and be compliant without question.  Now, I’m all for order and discipline, but this is like torture for boys, especially in elementary and middle school.  The sad thing is, when the boys don’t act this way (bc it’s near impossible for them) we want to slap a label on them and give them medicine so they’ll conform.  What is the message we’re teaching them?  Walk in most churches and you’ll find a very similar situation.  Men are expected to conform to the rules and expectations of the organization.  If you stand up and question something or challenge those around you, you’ll probably be asked to temper your passion.  I could go on and on, but you get the point.

The bottom line is that it can be extremely hard to be the man you were created to be in today’s world.  God designed us to be strong, courageous, passionate, alive, and free, but is that how most men are living?  For whatever reason, and there are many, men are living well below God’s intention for them.  Whether it be that life is simply beating you down or that this world keeps giving you a warped definition of what it means to be a man, know that God is giving you permission to be a man.  He created you with a masculine heart and fully expects you to live this out.  This is not some macho image or rebellious spirit I’m referring to, but authentic masculinity that comes through for others when necessary, that stands up for what is right regardless of the consequences, that leads with strength and courage, and speaks up even when it’s not popular.  So, be the man you were created to be…you have permission.

If this resonates with you, then I want to challenge you to be at our Freedom Weekend May 1-3.  If we do nothing else, we give men permission to men.  We do a lot of other stuff, but I will guarantee that you will leave the weekend better than you came, knowing how to better navigate your world as the man you’ve been called to be.  Check it out and register at http://www.thejourneyministries.com.

Jason Carter
TJM Leadership Team

I Think I’ll Stay in the Big House with Dad!

big-house

Had a conversation with a co-worker yesterday about how she spent many years believing she was accepted by God, but at a lesser level than other believers – that due to some failing on her part, she could never enjoy the full and free acceptance originally intended for her.  It reminded me of the story from Luke 15, usually referred to as the parable of the prodigal son, or the lost son, but which I maintain should be known as the parable of the Love of a Father.

You will remember that part of the story after the Father welcomed the son back home, put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet, a robe on his back and ordered the servants to prepare the fatted calf – you know, the part of the story that came after the welcome home party – the part where the son moves into the small cabin out on the back of the property.  He was indeed recognized as a son, but well you know, he had a history.  It just wouldn’t be right for him to move back into the big house with the family – right?

It occurred to me that this is the way many of us live our lives.  Because we have somehow blown it we are now damaged goods, and while our Heavenly Father accepts us back into his kingdom, we can never scale the heights once intended for us.  Oh, we would never say this out loud – we know the truth in our heads – adopted as sons, the whole business, but we don’t REALLY believe it do we?

Why not?  I think this question warrants some serious consideration.  Why do we have a tendency to fall into the trap of believing that we can never be what God intends us to be.  I hate to say it, but I believe the answer to this question is perhaps worse than if this wrong belief were true.

I believe the answer is that we consider ourselves more powerful than God.  We are essentially saying we have the power to make a mess God can’t clean up.  This kind of thinking is dangerous, not to mention heretical.  I am much happier believing that my Dad, the King of the Universe says my forgiveness is full and free; I prefer to take Him at His word.  Have we all blown it at times?  Of course we have.  But don’t make the mistake of believing the lie that God is not strong enough or loving enough to clean up your mess.

I love what Paul said when responding to the Galatians who also were falling back into a belief that “it” somehow depended on them.  Galatians 5:1 – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

I like that a lot…

Wally Hindman
TJM Leadership Team

A Toast to the Boastful

2 Corinthians 12:9

As I write this blog, I’m visiting my parents down in the South Georgia where my folks pastor a small Pentecostal congregation.  They have only been stationed here a little over a year and already God has blessed their efforts tremendously with growth spiritually, financially and numerically.  But on the travel down, I allowed my mind to just wander a bit while my three small ones were napping and my wife was, in an attempt to take full advantage of such an atypical event, doing the same.

I began to ponder my walk with the Father.  I allowed my mind to settle on this season of life and what it has brought me and my family.  Here’s my conclusion – it’s been tough!  No sugar coating it, no political correctness!   Life, in the last 5 years, has dealt us some tough blows…some because of us, some in spite of us and some through no fault of our own.  Consider, over the past 5 and ½ years, my wife and I have:

  • Gotten married
  • Had not 1, not 2 but 3 kids – however, I now know what causes that and it will stop!
  • Bought a house (selling said house)
  • Both changed jobs
  • Moved twice

All of these circumstances and more, coupled with the ‘normal’ marital challenges have, needless to say, been cause for concern, prayer and counseling.  So I felt the Lord asking me…”what do you do when times get tough?  Where do you turn?”  I came up with a seemingly super spiritual response when I replied, “Lord, I can’t handle all of this – I’m too weak!”

In today’s world, when times get tough, people often tend to turn tail and run or bail.  I have to ask…

What do you do when times get tough?  Do you isolate yourself?  Do you take yourself out of the game?  Do you rest on the sidelines while the direction of your life, your spouse’s life, and your children’s lives is being determined?  More importantly, while the destination of those mentioned above is being determined for ETERNITY…where can you be found?

I was reminded of Paul’s writing to the church at Corinth in his 2nd letter to them.  Paul, in talking about how he had asked the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh, penned these words, “but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Again, I want to challenge you today – He knows you can’t do it.  He knows your weaknesses.  He knows that in your own strength, you will fail.  However, if you understand and accept your weaknesses and yes, even boast in them…the promise is right there: the power of Christ will rest upon you!  I don’t know about you, that encourages  me to get back in the game and continue the fight!

So, when times get tough; when you feel like you’re all alone and you’re been pushed past the point of being able to make it, don’t bail…just do a little boasting!  So here’s to the boastful among us – I hope to be much more like you and Paul with my daily walk!

Tim Cook
TJM Leadership Team

What Are You Hoping For?

Beauty awakens our heart with hope. After the dark dreary winter the colors of spring bring hope.  As the weather has been warming I look with anticipation for the daffodils to begin blooming.  The first colors of spring, a sign of hope that winter could be over. I know it doesn’t seem very masculine to talk about a little yellow flower but it is beauty in the midst of gray.  So much of our lives seem to be caught waiting for hope.  I have been pondering the thought – “Jesus wants to restore hope”.  Hope is defined as a confident expectation.  My heart longs and wants to hope but it feels too risky or vulnerable.  The thrill and joy of a hope fulfilled.  As I age and walk the journey I have come to realize it is not stuff that I hope or long for but a closer relationship with Christ is what satisfies my heart. My confident expectation is that He is with me closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and He will give me the desires of my heart as I delight in him (Psalms 37:4).

Mark Carpenter
TJM Leadership Team

Who’s Got Your Back?

I saw the video below and thought about men and our tendency to fly solo, to do this thing we call life all by ourselves.  Sure, we “hang out” with other men and maybe even go to church and participate in a small group, but are we truly living in community?  Are we doing life with a group of men that is bringing freedom and life?  This takes developing relationships to the point where we can be vulnerable and know it’s safe.  You’ve got to be walking with guys that you know have your back and will fight the battles with you, that will go to hell and back for you.  Some would say, “I’ve got God and that’s all I need.”  Though I’m confident God can handle it, what I know is that living in community is His idea.  Not just a neat idea, but His plan for each of us.  Even Jesus, the Son of God, chose to live life with a band of brothers.   I encourage you to watch the video and ask yourself if you have this in your life.  If so, that’s awesome, continue to nurture it.  If not, I challenge you to begin asking God to bring men into your life who are desiring the same thing.  Stick with it…it will transform your life!

Jason Carter
TJM Leadership Team

Do you trust Him with your heart?

A couple of days ago I was doing my bible study and ran into the passage below.  The passage comes from Psalm 33 and I couldn’t help but think that if it resonated with me, then others would probably relate, especially other men.  I’m not excluding you ladies, it’s just that I’m a man and would never claim to understand how a woman thinks/feels.  That’s a blog entry for another day…actually, I just think I’ll leave that one alone.  Ok, back to the topic at hand.

Most of us men desire to be strong and come through, whether it be a trial we’re facing or a need that needs to be met.  The problem is that much of the time we rely on our own strength, skill set, ambition, effort, or you fill in the blank.  I don’t know about you, but for me this usually leads to headaches, frustration, anger, falling short, and a myriad of other things.  The bottom line is that on our own, we will always miss the mark.  Even on those rare occasions that a situation seems to turn out pretty good, there is still something missing.  I can’t help but wonder what all we must be missing out on by not inviting God into our struggle or predicament.  After all, the passage does state that “He’s ready to come to our rescue”.

This leads me to a crucial question: Do you really trust Him with your heart?  You’re probably saying to yourself, “well, of course I do”, but do you live that way?  When you’re faced with a difficult, or possibly overwhelming, situation what is your response?  Do you kick into high gear, racking your brain for a solution?  Do you immediately begin to panic and worry about it?  Does anger rise up in you?  Or does your prayer life suddenly get better as you plead with God to fix the problem?  (Sadly, I’ve done every one of these….still do at times.)  I’m convinced that most of us believe that God comes through for others, but we’re not so sure if that’s true for us.  When truly tested, our faith really wanes.  I’m not talking about our words or our demeanor or even our actions, but down deep in that place we’d rather no one see, we wonder if He’ll show up.  That’s why we work really hard to fix the issue or whine and complain about it or treat God like a genie in a bottle.

What if we walked this passage out everyday?  The end of the passage says,  “Love us, God, with all you’ve got – that’s what we’re depending on.”  Do you know what that would look like?  I’ll be honest, I don’t!  To let go of stuff and simply put it in His hands and trust that it’ll all work out is scary to me.  I like to be able to fix it, or at least see the path and where it leads.  But what I’m learning more everyday is that the Father only shows us the part of the journey we need to see for that moment.  Otherwise, it would cease to be faith wouldn’t it?  So, I challenge you to jump on this crazy journey of TRULY trusting the Father (believing things you don’t see) and allowing Him to love you with all He’s got because that’s really all we need!

Jason Carter
TJM Leadership Team

Psalm 33 (Msg)

16-17 No king succeeds with a big army alone,
no warrior wins by brute strength.
Horsepower is not the answer;
no one gets by on muscle alone.

18-19 Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him,
the ones who are looking for his love.
He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times;
in lean times he keeps body and soul together.

20-22 We’re depending on God;
he’s everything we need.
What’s more, our hearts brim with joy
since we’ve taken for our own his holy name.
Love us, God, with all you’ve got—
that’s what we’re depending on.