Todd Wagner

About Todd Wagner

In 1999, a group of friends and I desired to be the same awe-inspiring community that we saw in the Scriptures and to connect God's people with opportunities to know... Read more

Message Transcript
Good morning, men! How are we doing? We'll go ahead and let everybody pile in a little bit. We always will come in here at 6:30 sharp. We let a little bit more time go by today, as some guests are here for the first time and making their way in. We're glad you're with us. If you have never been to Watermark before, we're so glad you said "yes" to your friend as he invited you in. We're just going to take a good look at what it means to be men. Let me just welcome you and let everybody get all situated. Then I will pray, and we will get started. This is going to be a fun study. Now we're going to take next week off because a lot of schools have spring break and a lot of men are going to be with their families. Then we'll pick back up in two weeks. If you are here at the end of the day, and you don't know where to go next, there will be a slide. We'll explain all that. We'll get you situated. This is an encouraging thing just to wake up and be here with a bunch of other guys who want to just talk about a right understanding of what it means to be the people God created us to be. I think we're all here and ready to go. Let me pray, and we'll get started. Here we go. Father, thank you that, for whatever reason, you have ordered our lives in such a way that we would be here today just to consider what it means to be men. We know this is no small thing because there is always chaos when we deviate away from truth. We love the progress we get to make in this world, but when we progress off of truth, it's called perversion, and we realize there is a great perversion out there in what it means to be a man. Would you just use these weeks we have together just to re-center our minds, to teach us and remind us of what it is you intend for us? I thank you, just as we start, for what you have shown me to be true, that no good thing do you withhold with those who love you, that in your presence is fullness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures forever, that the reward of humility and the fear of the Lord is a rich life, an honor, and everything that we really as men long for. Father, I thank you that it's the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and you add no sorrow to it. Help us to be men who don't just know those proverbs and those truths but whose lives demand that people pay attention to it because it is embedded in us. Would you teach us to walk in your way and to find the blessing that comes with being connected to a good, good Father who loves us and wants us to be men? We pray in the name of the one who is the picture-perfect definition of a man, the one who is the visible image of the invisible God, the one we want to learn more of and become more like because he's a man. In Jesus' name I pray, amen. Well, I made a pretty bold claim there which is that, if you want to be a man, you ought to be like Jesus. Now that could be a little shocking to some people but let me just say this. You're not going to meet somebody who hates Jesus. You're going to find folks who redefine him. You're going to find people who misunderstand him. You're going to find people who create a Jesus who isn't the historical Jesus, but you just don't find people who say, "I hate Jesus." Now what we're going to do just to start might seem a little odd as a guy gets ready to speak, and that's to stop and let you turn to one another, but I want you just to take a second with the guys who are right there around you. I want you to use words, single adjectives of what you understand, know about, think about, adore in, venerate of the person of Jesus. You might not have a whole lot. Some of you guys are going to have a ton. I want you to think about the greatest attributes you know about the man who said he was the perfect man, the visible image of the invisible God, never denying, never stopping to be fully God but adding to that eternal divinity perfect humanity. In other words, he related to everything that you and I relate to. He's been tempted in every way we have been, but what he did that we're going to learn to do is trust the Father Creator who's the author of life, who gives riches and honor in life when you are humble before him and you fear him, which means you have a right understanding of God and you don't want to miss a second of intimacy with him. It produces in you something great. Take just a second and turn to the guys around you and go, "Okay, when I think of Jesus, this is what I think of." When you get to 10, we'll stop. Just go for it right now. Turn to your buddies. You might even want to write it down in your books. Let's just do that. All right, let me stop you. That's enough. Here we go. Let me pull you back in. Now that seems kind of maybe an odd way to especially welcome guests or men who are beginning to talk about what it means to be a man is to talk about Jesus. I'm going to tell you, Jesus is the one all of human history pivots over. He is the fullest and final definition of what a man is to be and what a man is to look like, and as I said, "Nobody hates him." Let me just say that, I'm going to bet with absolute confidence that not a single person in this room shared an attribute about Jesus that had anything to do with the three primary ways that, in the world today, we define manhood. How many of you guys talked about Jesus' athletic accomplishments? Anybody? Anybody talk about how he, you know, rushed for more yards than anybody else in that great NFL season he had? Anybody talk about his 40 time? Anybody talk about what his abs looked like when the robe was off? Not a single person. How many of you guys talked about his sexual conquests? "Man, Jesus, he tore through women. Nobody…nobody had a time with the ladies like him." Not a single one of you mentioned sexual conquests. How many of you guys mentioned his millions and billions of dollars? "A single guy would turn and go, "That brother was loaded. I mean, he had some jack." Not a single one of you guys talked about his athletic dominance, his sexual conquests, or his financial success. Let me ask you, when you start to evaluate how you're doing in life what markers you're using. What should mark you is not the things our world is telling you are going to make you valuable. I have watched this. I am a father of six children, and three of them are boys, and I have watched what happens about the time they get to be 5 years old until about the time they are 18 years old. Their whole world revolves deeply around how they can compete against other men in athletic arenas. They become popular. They become leaders. They become venerated amongst their peers when they have athletic ability. There are a lot of guys, by the way, that the way God wired them… In fact, these are fully male individuals who have no real desire to compete. They're not what we would call rough-and-tumble guys. They're more sensitive, artistic guys, and they are fully male. One of the reasons there's been such a perversion about what manhood is and that so many of the guys who are artistic, which is a unique and special, valuable part of manhood…the Michelangelos, the Leonardo da Vincis, the C.S. Lewises… C.S. Lewis, they said, when he grew up in early twentieth-century England, was always left out during his childhood years. While other boys were out there doing calisthenics and wrestling and competing and training, he loved opera and poetry, yet if you want to mark a man who marked the twentieth century and did more to advance human good than any other man, it would've been this opera-listening, poetry-writing, nonathletic man…Clive Staples Lewis. It grieves me that young boys who don't have athletic ability are sometimes told they're girls. The gender spectrum that really does exist is not between the fluidity between God creating humans who are female and humans who are male, but within the gender spectrum of female, there are gals who are sweet and everything nice and girls who are a little bit more what we would call tomboys, and they're both fully female. There are men who are strong and prone to activity and physical engagement, and there are others who are more artistic, and they're both fully male. Athletic dominance is the very first way we kind of start to define men. Then you move on from there, and then we discover, as certain chemicals start to fire in our bodies, about the way we interact with the other sex and have success with them in terms of feeding that flesh that drives us so much, and you become a man if you can have your way with women, so our world says. A little bit later, there's another way to keep score. No one really cares about your little high school letter jacket. You start to measure yourself in how you do in terms of financial competition, financial success. What club can you belong to? What kind of car can you drive? What kind of house can you live in? What kind of homes can you own? When you talked about the greatest man who ever lived, the visible image of the invisible God, the one whom God wants to conform every man to, not a single one of you thought of anything athletically, sexually, or financially. What's that tell you? It tells you you've been duped. We have an enemy. We see it all around us, and there are lots of guys who have been duped. I'm not really necessarily picking on any of these men, but one who's been in the news a little bit lately is a guy by the name of R. Kelly. Do you guys know what's going on with R. Kelly? R. Kelly has been a hero to many young men. I mean, he has made it and scrapped his way to the top of his professional career in the way he used his abilities as an artist, but because he was not shepherded well, R. Kelly went on to have that toxic masculinity which nobody respects and nobody is drawn to. He was recently arrested and charged, and just a couple of days ago, R. Kelly had an interview. Actually, it was all over the media just yesterday. When R. Kelly was being interviewed, he just went ballistic on the set because he sees that this manhood that he pursued has not worked out well for him. One of the things he said was amazing. It was something like, "I don't have a cult. Man, you guys say I have a sex cult. I don't have sex cult. That documentary that was out there about me…" That was called _Surviving R. Kelly_ because people who had seen a bunch of young, specifically underage women be abused by this man, kept pursuing him and pursuing him, and they made a documentary which made the DA pick back up the cases, and he was recently charged. He said, "Everybody said something bad about me. Nobody said nothing good. They was describing Lucifer. I'm not Lucifer. I'm a man. I make mistakes, but I'm not a devil…" Let me tell you what R. Kelly has done. He has followed the Father of Lies, and he has looked like a devil." Our world venerated him. The tragic truth about R. Kelly is that he said basically, "So many people brought their girls to me because they wanted what I could offer them, maybe a fast track. They wanted me to get them pregnant. They wanted them to be in my little posse," because some perverted men lusted and longed for what he had. He said, "Their fathers brought them to me." That's crazy. I saw on the news that, recently at the Oscars, there was a guy by the name of Billy Porter. This is a picture of Billy Porter at the Oscars. Billy Porter says that, whenever he goes out, he says, "My goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up. To challenge expectations," so he has this tuxedo jacket that looks like he ought to be holding a brandy and a cigar, and he has this regal gown as the bottom right there. He says something like, "What is masculinity anyway, man? What does it mean?" I'll tell you, yesterday… Sometimes God gives you stories the night before you're getting ready to talk to a bunch of men about what manhood is. Listen, you know, I mean, there are guys… One of the very first times we start to deal with our insecurities in that junior high shower…right? We kind of all walk in there. We look around, and we look at not just guys and what they look like when they take the towel off, but we look and go, "How do we stack up against these guys just on the arena that's out there? Now that I'm in this field of athletic dominance and success, there are lots of ways that men measure themselves." Yesterday, there was a guy who never really was comfortable with his stature. In fact, they said he had a Napoleon complex. He didn't win much in his athletic dominance, but he was having a good time with his sexual conquests, and he was having a good time with his financial success. He happened to be a billionaire. This is a picture of Ehud. Ehud was a billionaire diamond trader, and yesterday, he died on a plastic surgeon's table in Paris, France, trying to get a penile enlargement. It's tragic. I don't want to mock him, but Proverbs 15:16 comes to mind. It says, **"Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it."** That brother wasn't happy with what he had, and I don't mean just the fact that he didn't look good without a towel on, in his opinion, in the shower. He had great treasure, but he had turmoil because he had found everything the world says a man should have, yet he wanted some more of what he thought a man should have, and he didn't know where to look. When Jesus was talking to some individuals about their understanding of life and how it all went down… You know, when R. Kelly would've been a guy who would've said, "Man, I'm not Lucifer. I'm not a devil," he could've had the same kind of interactions Jesus had when he was talking to the Pharisees and some other guys who were having a hard time with who he was. In John, chapter 8, this is what Jesus says. **"If God were your Father, you would love Me…"** In other words, "If you knew who God was, if you knew the Creator of the heavens and the earth and you knew who God was, you would love me because I'm the picture of what God wants men to look like because I came forth from God, and I have come, not even on my own, but I'm here because he sent me." Watch this. **"Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word."** Do you know why the Bible says you can't hear his Word? It's because you've been made deaf by the god of this world. You've been blinded by lies. He said: **"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."** He's going to tell you your worth is tied to your athletic dominance, your sexual conquests, and your financial success, and when you live that way, you will look like R. Kelly. You will look like a devil. When the whole world, frankly, celebrates you for a while and then all of a sudden wants to charge you with toxic masculinity, you're going to go, "What's going on here? Where's the bait and switch?" That's what happens to so many men. You may not be on some plastic surgeon's table trying to get your penis enlarged, but there are a lot of guys who have great treasure in the world's eyes (a lot in this room) but have a lot of turmoil with it. There is turmoil all over this place. Let me tell you about some of the turmoil that's going on with men right now. Depression rates are up tenfold since 1960. Anxiety is right there with it. There's an epidemic of loneliness, up 20 percent in the last few years, with 40 percent of all men saying they deal with loneliness. Suicide rates are at a 30-year high, almost four times that that women experience. Forty-two percent of all children are growing up without a dad because dads don't apparently think there's life in giving themselves away to others. Ninety percent of all homicides are men. Ninety percent of all major crimes, like rape and robbery and assault, are men. We have a man problem in our country. It's causing the disintegration of family. It's causing an epidemic level of fatherlessness. It's causing a great vulnerability to gang recruitment. It's causing a rise in poverty. It's causing an increase in abuse of women and children. It's causing an escalation in the pornography epidemic. We have a man problem, and the reason we have a man problem is because we have left the good way. When we start to think about maybe the greatest man who ever lived, we all go, "That's probably Jesus." Then we start to go, "Well, what's a great man like?" Then we'll start talking about athletic dominance, sexual conquests, and financial success because we've been lied to. My favorite definition of Jesus is found in 1 Corinthians 15:45 because it describes there, calls him, the _second Adam_ because the _first Adam_ came along, and he didn't trust the Father who was the Father of Light. He had a desire to follow the lust of his flesh, the lust of his eyes, and the boastful pride of life. He decided to try and find life on his own. That first Adam, leaving the goodness of God, followed a lie, and he became a monster. What you're going to find from Genesis 3 on is that, technologically, man advances. In terms of agrarian science and industrial science, man advances. In the arts, man advances. In almost every single area you can imagine, man advances, but morally and in terms of peace and in terms of those who are in his presence prospering, man declines. God is not mad at us, men. The world might be. I hear women say this all the time. "If it has tires or testicles, I know I'm going to have a problem with it." You see a lot of people today who are saying, "We have to do something about toxic masculinity." Let me just say this. I think we do need to do something about toxic masculinity. What we have to do is get rid of _toxic masculinity_, not _masculinity_. We have to redefine it. We have to go back to the Father of Light and not keep following the Father of Lies because with the Father of Lies, even when you have great financial success, you're still going to feel like there's great turmoil and you're lacking in something. You're going to want something else. **"Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it."** There are all kinds of athletes with great treasure in the athletic field. There are all kinds of men like R. Kelly who have been in and out of bedrooms and all kinds of men who have billions and have great turmoil. God wants you to have peace, and God wants you to be a man who, when folks start to list who you are, they don't talk about your records that someone's going to break or your bank account that's going to go to zero one day and you can do nothing with it. You want them to talk about the kinds of things that maybe you talked about when you leaned to one another. God is out there to get you. He's out there to rescue you. This is the definition. It says in 1 Corinthians 15:45, **"So also it is written, 'The first man, Adam, became a living soul.'"** He left the God who offered him life, and he earned from the wages of his leaving God death. **"The last Adam** [talking about Jesus] **became a life-giving spirit."** Now what a great definition of a man, that everybody who is around that man, a little bit more life comes into them, a little bit more security fills their hearts, a little more prospering in every way that is ultimately meaningful exists. When people are around you, they just go, "Man, this is a good man. May God multiply his kind." A lot of us don't even have any idea where to find a man like that. It's funny, when David, one of the men who was venerated in his day, was alive and he got ready to pass on, as all men will do, he said to his young son, Solomon, **"I am going the way of all the earth."** That's where every man is headed to give an account for how they lived this life. Did they represent the God who created them, and therefore, they were a blessing, or did they follow the first Adam and the lust of their flesh and the lust of their eyes and the boastful pride of men that nobody cares a lick about what they wore to the Oscars after very long? He said: **"I am going the way of all the earth."** He said to Solomon. **"Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man."** Can't you just see Solomon going, "Yeah, I'm going to do that! Hey, Dad, what's that look like?" Right? We hear that all the time. "Play the man! Be a man!" I would just ask you. Do you know what that's like? This is what the Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 16:13. It says, **"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men…"** We hear that, and we go, "Okay, I want to act like a man. What do I do?" We think we have to bench a little bit more, earn a little bit more, seduce a little bit more, and we become a little bit more toxic, a little bit more anxiety ridden, a little more hopeless. We can act like _the man,_ and we become more of a life-giving spirit. A guy named Donald Miller several years back, over a decade now, wrote a book called, _To Own a Dragon_. It's a creative title. What he was just saying is he grew up without a daddy in his home, and because he grew up without a daddy in his home, he didn't know what it was to be a man. This is what he wrote. This is really, really insightful. He says: "I felt as though all men in the world secretly met in some warehouse late at night to talk about man things, to have secret handshakes, to discuss how great it was to have a penis and what an easy thing it was operate, how to throw a football or a baseball, how to catch a fish and know what kind it was and be able to grab it and stop its flapping around, doing this without jolting their heads back or squinting their eyes. They talked about how to look a woman in the eye and tell her she was your woman and that she looks good in that dress and make it so your eyes say you love her but you could survive without her, and how to drive a stick-shift truck without grinding the gears. And then I secretly believed that at the end of that meeting, they gathered around and reminded each other that under no circumstance was anybody to tell me [or anybody else who wasn't in there anything] about these things." He says that he wanted to own a dragon because, as just a little boy who was a very creative boy, a lot like C.S. Lewis, he probably watched that show about a dragon, where a little boy had that dragon, and that dragon made that little boy a man because he could rescue and people thought he was something. Well, you don't need to own a dragon, guys. You just need to know there's a God who loves you and wants to make you a man. When you have a country or a world without a man, it is a time of judgment. This is what Isaiah, chapter 3, verses 1 through 5 says. It says, **"For behold, the Lord God of hosts is going to remove from** [the city, from both] **Jerusalem and Judah…"** Which is the wider area. **"…both supply and support…"** That's not a good thing, when you don't have supply and support. He says, **"** [I'm going to take away] **the mighty man and the warrior, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder…"** This is judgment, when you stop having these individuals. **"…the captain of fifty and the honorable man, the counselor and the expert artisan…"** Notice what God puts there in Scripture. When he's talking about studs, it's not just the mighty captain of 50. It's also the expert artisan. You don't have to go to Disney World and talk with a lisp if you're an artist. You can be a man and be an artist. **"…the skillful enchanter. And I will make mere lads their princes…"** Watch what he says. "I'm going to make boys their kings." **"…and capricious children will rule over them…"** They'll be their role models. **"…and the people will be oppressed…"** In Ecclesiastes, chapter 10, verse 16, he says this. **"Woe to you, O land, whose king…"** Those who are venerated, those who lead…are children, who think athletic dominance, sexual conquests, and money games make you a man, whose priests just want more and more comfort. **"…** [who] **feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility…"** What we want to do is raise up some kings who are noble because children underneath you are either prospering or dying in this room because some of them are being either abandoned by their daddies because, in your insecurity, you don't know what it means to be a life-giving spirit and to die to yourself so others might live, or you still are trying to have some sense of victory with some athletic accomplishment, maybe being unfaithful to their mother, or maybe working so much so they can respect you, and kids don't want that, men. I'm going to read this. I've read it before. It's a little long, but it's worth it. It's called, "What My Father Wore." It says this: "What my father wore embarrassed me as a young man. I wanted him to dress like a doctor or lawyer, but on those muggy mornings when he rose before dawn to fry eggs for my mother and me, he always dressed like my father. We lived in south Texas, and my father wore tattered jeans with the imprint of his pocketknife on the seat. He liked shirts that snapped more than those that buttoned, and kept his pencils, cigars, glasses, wrenches and screwdrivers in his breast pocket. My father's boots were government-issues with steel toes that made them difficult to pull off his feet, which I sometimes did when he returned from repairing air conditioners, his job that also shamed me. But, as a child, I'd crept into his closet and modeled his wardrobe in front of the mirror. My imagination transformed his shirts into the robes of kings and his belts into soldiers' holsters. I slept in his undershirts and relied on the scent of his collars to calm my fear of the dark." Because this air conditioner of a father was a life-giving spirit. You're going see that. "Within a few years, though, I started wishing my father would trade his denim for khaki and retire his boots for loafers. I stopped sleeping in his clothes and eventually began dreaming of another father." That's what young boys do in their foolishness as they get whisked away by the lies of this world. "I blamed the way he dressed for my social failures. When boys bullied me, I thought they'd seen my father wearing his cowboy hat but no shirt while walking our dog. I felt that girls snickered at me because they'd glimpsed him mowing the grass in cut-offs and black boots. The girls' families paid men (and I believed better-dressed ones) to landscape their lawns, while their fathers yachted in the bay wearing lemon-yellow sweaters and expensive sandals. My father only bought two suits in his life. He preferred clothes that allowed him the freedom to shimmy under cars and squeeze behind broken Maytags, where he felt most content. But the day before my parents' twentieth anniversary, he and I went to Sears, and tried on suits all afternoon. With each one, he stepped to the mirror, smiled and nodded, then asked about the price and reached for another. He probably tried on ten suits before we drove to a discount store and bought one without so much as approaching a fitting room. That night my mom said she'd never seen a more handsome man. Later, though, he donned the same suit for my eighth-grade awards banquet, and I wished he'd stayed home. After the ceremony (I'd been voted Mr. Citizenship, of all things), he lauded my award and my character while changing into a faded red sweatshirt. He was stepping into the garage to wash a load of laundry when I asked what even at age fourteen struck me as cruel and wrong. 'Why,' I asked, 'don't you dress "nice" like my friends' fathers?' He held me with his sad, shocked eyes and searched for an answer. Then before he disappeared into the garage and closed the door between us, my father said, 'I like my clothes.' An hour later my mother stormed into my room, slapped me hard across the face and called me an 'ungrateful little twerp,' a phrase that echoed in my head until they resumed speaking to me. In time they forgave me, and as I matured, I realized that girls avoided me not because of my father but because of his son, and I didn't act like my father. I realized that my mother had slapped me because my father could not, and it soon became clear that what he had really said that night was that there are things more important than clothes. He'd said he couldn't spend a nickel on himself because there were things I wanted. That night, without another word, my father had said, 'You're my son, and I sacrifice so your life will be better than mine.' For my high-school graduation, my father arrived in a suit he and my mother had purchased earlier that day. Somehow, he seemed taller, more handsome and imposing, and when he passed the other fathers they stepped out of his way. It wasn't the suit, of course, but the man. The doctors and lawyers recognized the confidence in his swagger, the pride in his eyes, and when they approached him, they did so with courtesy and respect. After we returned home, my father replaced the suit in the flimsy Sears garment bag, and I didn't see it again until his funeral. I don't know what he was wearing when he died, but he was working, so he was in clothes he liked, and that comforts me. My mother thought of burying him in the suit from Sears, but I convinced her otherwise and soon delivered a pair of old jeans, a flannel shirt and his boots to the funeral home. On the morning of the services, I used his pocketknife to carve another hole in his belt so it wouldn't droop around my waist. Then I took the suit from Sears out of his closet and changed into it. Eventually, I mustered the courage to study myself in his mirror where, with the exception of the suit, I appeared small and insignificant. Again, as in childhood, the clothes draped over my scrawny frame. My father's scent wafted up and caressed my face, but it failed to console me. I was uncertain: not about my father's stature—I'd stopped being an ungrateful little twerp years before. No, I was uncertain about myself, my own stature. And I stood there for some time, facing myself in my father's mirror, weeping and trying to imagine—as I will for the rest of my life—the day I'll grow into my father's clothes." I can't tell you how many times I've read that story, and I do that every stinking time because I'm just like that twerp in that story. I look at my God in heaven, and I go, "Hey, how come you didn't give me more athletic dominance, man? Why didn't you make me a guy that girls want to throw themselves at? How come you didn't give me more financial success?" My Father says, "I like my clothes, son." The Scripture wants to dress you as a man. The Scriptures want you to be a man who other young men respect, and the aroma of life is on you, and they desire to be like you, not for some fleeting reason but because they see a man. This is what God wants to produce in your life. It's what we're going to talk about for the next five or six weeks together. Our world needs men. The Scripture says this in Colossians chapter 3. **"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ** [if you know Jesus], **keep seeking the things above…"** Don't be duped by the Father of Lies. Stop trying to define manhood by clothing yourself in all the things the world says make a man, but they don't make a man. They make a bunch of adolescent boys who never passed through to manhood. Men are life-giving spirits. Jesus did nothing but, in every single moment he was on earth, die to himself. Everything he did was constant self-mortification, not self-glorification. It wasn't for self-pleasure. It was to give life to others. That's a man. No greater love does a man have than this, than to give his life for a friend. Jesus gave his life for us all the time. He gave his life that you might be reconciled back in your sinful state, just like mine, back into a relationship with a loving Father who can have no fellowship with evil, and Jesus is going to be the means through which you can be reconciled to God. Having been reconciled to God, he's the means through which you can be conformed in the image of Jesus, but you have to set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. When you walk out of here, this world's going to start to tell you that this is what a man is, and you have to be an individual, if you want to experience life indeed, who continually meditates on truth. **"The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches, honor and life."** Those are the kind of riches the dad had in that story. You have to set your mind on it. It says you have to take off some things that men are typically identified by. This is Colossians 3:8. **"But now you also…"** Take off the clothes that wrap up so much of what's inside men. **"…anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech…"** Anybody know men like that? **"Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices…"** Put on some new clothes. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. Be a man. **"…who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…"** Not the Adam who leads to death but the second Adam, the second man who is a life-giving spirit. Verse 12 says, **"So, as those who have been chosen of God…"** Let me tell you something. Men, you probably won't be drafted this year by any team in the NFL, but God is drafting you this morning, and he's saying, "I choose you. I want to make you a man. I want you to be the kind of man who women love, kids aspire to be, and the world celebrates. I have chosen you." **"…holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity."** Now this isn't just like, "Put it on." What he's saying is, "You want to clothe yourself in identity with God, and you want to follow Christ." Jesus says, "Follow me, and I'm going to help you become fishers of men. I'm not going to have you take a live fish anymore and make it dead and brag about what you just caught. I'm going to help you go out and find other men who are dead like you were, and you're going to fish them out of the way of darkness and death and make them alive." That's a man, and you can become a life-giving spirit, but you have to be united to the life-giving one. His name is Jesus, and he is a man. All other men fall short of the glory of God, and that's why he's the only man who can go and pay the price that our sin earned, which is judgment and death. This life-giving man died for you and me. He's not mad at you, men. He just wants to know when you want to quit acting like a boy and be his son and be his man so the peace of Christ can rule in your hearts. While the rest of the world is spiking in suicide attempts and anxiety and despair, verse 15 says this. **"…the peace of** [God] **rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body** [of men] **…"** Noble warriors, people who don't entangle themselves in the affairs of everyday life so they might please the one who enlisted them as his soldiers because he loves those men who are still captive like R. Kelly and my buddy, Ehud. It says in verse 16: **"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."** What we're going to do when were done in here every week is we're just going to break out as men. We're going to begin to encourage each other, and we're going to remind each other what it means to be a life-giving spirit. We're going to encourage each other day after day, so we won't be hardened by the deceitfulness of athletic dominance and success and sexual conquests and temptation and financial competition, but we're going to show each other again and remind each other where life is. We're going to say, "Listen, it's fine to be physically fit. Take care of your body so you can serve God longer. It's great if God makes you rich, but be rich in good works. Be a life-giving spirit. Don't live for your own comfort. Live to constantly die to yourself that others may be comforted by God who is at work in you. That's a man." I happen to agree that we ought to get rid of toxic masculinity but not by redefining it as femininity. We just have to get the right kind of manhood showing up, and when you do, the people rejoice. When you get a tender warrior, when you get a shepherd king, it is well with the soul. Hey, God is calling you out, men. He's saying, "Do you want some of this?" We're here to help you. I pray that, in our little times of fellowship and encouragement as we learn more of Christ, that we become more like him and there are more young boys who go, "That's a man," and there are more women who say, "I'm glad that man is mine," and there is more of a country that says, "We need men like that." Amen? Be on the alert, guys. There is a liar, and he wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to give you a billion dollars and tell you you're too small. He wants to tell you that you're great if you can exploit women. He wants to tell you that you're great if you can do a CrossFit competition that everybody is amazed by. I'm going to tell you that God says, "Pick up your cross. Die to yourself. Follow me, and I will make you a man." Everybody in this room can do it. Come. Come when you're sick and tired of toxic masculinity and despair and depression and defeat and be his man. Father, would you help us as we go out of here to learn more of Jesus. I think there are some guys in this room today who needed just to hear one thing, that this is who Jesus is. He's not mad at you. He's not asking for you to perform and submit a résumé. He wants you to acknowledge just that your definition of man and the way you have gone has not led to life but death and that you need help and rescue. He wants you to just reach out and say, "Jesus, will you come and get me? Will you take me? Will you deal with my sin and all that's broken, and will you re-parent me, and will you be my Father?" There is no secret room with secret handshakes. There is just a God who says, "Come and see. Come, you are weary of toxic masculinity and loneliness, stoicism, and self-achievement and self-pleasure, and be a man." I pray there would be guys in this room who would deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Jesus, that we'd become life-giving spirits and that women would be blessed, that children would prosper and that the land would be renewed. Make us men. Teach us. Spur us on. Help men know Jesus, Father, and make him our hero. Make us run to him. In his name we pray, amen.