Saturday, May 12, 2012

What it Means to be a Man

 While looking through Josh's computer, his dad and I found the last blog post Josh was working on.  He likely would have tweaked it more before posting, but I believe you'll be blessed anyway.  Thank you for your comments.  We read each one and have been so blessed.  By Grace alone, Stacie Eddy

        During my Basic Training, I heard an amazing definition of what it means to be a man.  It was actually during the final speech to my Unit on promotion night.  Captain Keon (key-un) Pendergast, one of the most tremendous examples of true manhood that I have yet to meet, defined true masculinity as “the joyful assumption of sacrificial responsibility.”  I love loaded statements -  Let’s unpack this one word by word: 

~Joyful ~
| Definition:
Not only is joy the obvious opposite of grumbling and complaining, but it is also quite different than “happiness.”  Happiness is an emotion: fleeting, conditional, often short-termed.  Joy is first a gift of God: joy in its purest form can come from no other.  Secondly, joy is something that is chosen:  its presence is not based upon present circumstances.  I like to define Joy as “an outward expression of inner peace.”  Only God can give a man peace in all circumstances.  This peace often expresses itself in happiness, but the difference now is that the happiness is rooted in God, and the peace that trust in His faithfulness brings.  When hard times come, joy and faith allow us to say “Lord, You give, and You take away: blessed be Your Name.”
 | Application:
A leader must exemplify the qualities of competency and devotion that he desires to see in those under him.  If a man is to lead his family well, he must constantly strive to study, implement, teach, and live the character of Christ to them.  A responsibility like that is a tremendous load even for the stoutest of heart, and if he cannot surrender the burdens of his heart to God, he will fall under the pressure of life’s demands.  To live with true joy before God and family is the mark of a true man.

| Definition:
When I began this post, I originally remembered the quote as “the joyful acceptance…”, but then recalled that it was the word “assumption.”  Now, I like the sound of the word “acceptance” better, if only for the ease of which it slides off my tongue and out my mouth.  But I realized that there is a distinct difference between the two words that has a tremendous ability to change the meaning of the statement.  
To accept, say, a responsibility, means that it was originally presented to you as an option.  Someone says, “hey, will you do this?” and you say “yes.”  Simple. Direct.  It’s a good thing to be willing to accept responsibility.  But the assumption of responsibility has a slightly different flavor.  To assume responsibility has a lot more to do with the personal initiative of the individual.  You look, you see a need, and you say, “that’s my responsibility, I’m going to take care of that.”  It’s seeing something that needs to happen, and taking the initiative to do it yourself.
| Application:
A man needs to care enough about his family and whoever else may be in his charge to look around, and look ahead for anything that may be hindering the productivity of the system.  He doesn’t wait for things to plummet, or for someone else to do it; he exercises foresight and wisdom to see what needs to be done, and he does it.  A true man will not shirk responsibility, nor waver when demands increase.

| Definition:
True sacrifice is more than merely “giving something up.”  True sacrifice is giving of yourself for the good of someone else, without thought of personal gain; whether gain is defined as honor and accolades, or material compensation.  True sacrifice is completely devoid of pride.
| Application:
A man is called to empty himself in service to others.  He must be willing to surrender every right he has at the foot of the cross in order for his full effectiveness for Christ to be realized.  A man must be ready to drop every personal dream and desire that comes between him and his family or his faith.  He must be ready and willing to lay down his life for another, or as a martyr for his faith.  

| Definition:
In the context of this statement this word means more than just the act of being responsible. This word carries with it all the magnitude of masculine Biblical qualities. These would include, but are not limited to, authority, protection, provision and determination. 
| Application:
To be responsible is to take up the mantle of these qualities and carry them honorably. There will be no halfway measures or excuses for failure. A man must wield his authority as one under authority, recognizing he is responsible to God for the decisions he makes. He must be actively looking ahead to scout the way for those he loves, so that he can protect and provide for them. He must have a settled purpose within him that he will follow through no matter what may come or where he ends up. 
To joyfully assume responsibility no matter what it may cost is the essence of Biblical masculinity. We will be tested, but let us hear the word from James, “Brethren, count it all joy when you encounter tests of various kinds. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, but let endurance have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing (1:2-4). So we are to have this mindset of joy when we encounter tests of all kinds. Why? Because we know that they are producing endurance, or steadfastness. This is a result of us walking by faith, one of the aspects of which is for a man to joyfully assume responsibility no matter what the cost. What is the reward for walking by faith? Verse 12 of James tells us, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under testing, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” Enduring faith will receive eternal life. We can walk in faith by taking up our masculine responsibility because we know the end of enduring in that faith is the limitless glories of eternal life! 
And now I close. Many of you who are reading this are doing so because of the promotion into glory that Joshua Eddy received on Saturday May 5th. The post was one that Joshua was working on before he died, and his father asked that I finish it for him which I have done, grateful for the opportunity. Joshua wrote the first three points and I have added the section on responsibility and the closing thoughts.
Joshua has finished his race and endured to the end. What about you? We have no promise of tomorrow so the race must be run today, you must endure with joy today. Men, you must joyfully assume sacrificial responsibility today! The blessing is nothing less than eternal life!
-Capt. Keon Pendergast

Monday, April 23, 2012

To surrender a precious dream...

More journal stuff... skip it if you don't like emotional writing.

            As he sat on that mountain top, he watched a sunset so beautiful as to bring him to tears. The sight was the very manifestation of peace, serenity, and glory: the untainted majesty of it took his breath away.  Almost everything about this moment was perfect: the sight of God’s art in the sky, the smell of raw earth, the invigorating feel of the warm, summer-like wind that made his clothes whip around his body and filled his lungs with the wonderful taste of nature’s pure air; and even the powerfully peaceful sound of silence amidst the wind.  

And that was just to the west. 
To the east was the sheer edge of a cliff face that would carry him down to a forest that appeared quite small from the altitude of this giant rock.  As he directed his gaze to the far horizon, he saw an indescribable panorama of countless acres of countryside.  He watched as the shadow of his mountain covered more and more of the landscape, and marveled at the beauty of the patches of light caused by the shifting clouds.
He wept for the sheer beauty of it all.  He couldn’t take his eyes off of either sight, and found himself spinning in slow circles to take as much in as he could before the moment ended.  The world was washed in shades of purple, red, and orange as the sun produced its dazzling show of lights in its descent. He had his camera with him, but sensors and glass were no match for all that there was to see, and the senses that just had to be experienced.
Surrounded by all this, and close bursting with emotion at what was unfolding before his eyes, he turned to draw his love to his side, to sit and drink up this moment with her, and share this wonder of God with her; but there was no one.  He suddenly found himself overwhelmed by a sickening sense loneliness.  The most beautiful sight he had ever seen, and it had to be contained within the limits of his own memory?  All the beauty around him turned into an empty theatre: it was all there, but no one to turn to and laugh, cry, or silently hold:  though he knew that God was on that mountain with him, he felt absolutely alone.

To surrender a precious dream is a fearful thing, but he learned that night that he could not hold on to what was not his.  God had not promised him that he would ever have a companion, and yet he treated a precious gift as an inalienable right.  He knew that night that he must surrender that dream if he wanted to love God fully.  If God would bring someone to him, it would not be because he had earned her, but because God in His divine providence had chosen him to be one of those fortunate enough to receive such a gift.  Until that moment, if and when it ever came, he would focus on nothing but his growing his love for his Savior into an unquenchable passion that could last a lifetime.  This love would be the foundation for fulfilling the call he hoped to receive.
As he settled into the reality of his commitment, he felt peace.  The sunset turned to stars, and he knew that his love had been replaced where it belonged.

To surrender a precious dream is a fearful thing, but to pursue anything but the full measure of the glory of God’s love is a wasted life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

a Taste of Atmosphere

            Have you ever noticed how you can be eating something delicious, while standing by something nasty, and almost every time, the nasty smell spoils the delight of whatever you’re eating?  If you think about it, it would seem to defy logic: smell is a sense of the object.  To put it in simple terms, little pieces of whatever you’re smelling enter your nostril, and your brain says, “oh, that’s a rose!” or “ew… that’s the skunk the dogs killed.”  So, scent is a microscopic amount of the subject’s matter.  Yet somehow, it often has the power to overwhelm the taste of something that you have large amounts of in your mouth, where 60,000 sensory buds are tasting it at the same time!  How that happens is something I don’t quite understand.
            But think also on how smell can compliment taste:  you put the right scone with the right cup of tea, and your early morning hours just got sweeter.  Have the right scented candles burning during a meal, and the atmosphere can be delicious as well as the meal.  Put the right type of grass in your freshly cut lawn and you will never taste better lemonade.

            Can you see where I’m going with this?  You can be spending time in the Word, and in prayer, devouring every word and every moment, but if you put yourself in and around places that spiritually stink on a constant basis, you’re tainting with rancid beer what could be made complete by the flawless wine of the Word.
            Do not let my meaning be mistaken for avoiding the lost and sinful: we are inescapably called to reach out to them and love them as Christ did.  I’m not talking about the mission field.  I’m talking about the general atmosphere of your home, your church, and wherever else you devote your time.  We should be striving to surround and saturate ourselves with the grace and peace of God at all times, and in all places.

            Now that would be dining with the King.

To Die Well...

There is no greater love than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Sacrifice.  We’re all called to it in one way or another, but I believe that men are specifically wired for it.
For me personally, this is the quality of a man that touches me the most…  
As a young boy, the scenarios played out in my differently than they do now.  I would imagine myself driving a burglar out of the house, or beating up a guy who stole a girl’s purse.  But now, having grown beyond childish fantasy and realized the reality of my duty as a man…  the thought of giving my life for something…  what would it be?  A day rarely passes that I don’t think about it. 
Will I die in an explosion saving a woman and her child from a car engulfed in flames?  Will I throw myself in front of a truck to save a child playing in the street?  Will I die protecting my family from an intruder in my home? Will I take a bullet to the head while standing between a sick thug and the woman he intended to rape?  Will I give away the last parachute or life ring?  The last piece of bread? The last ounce of water?  Will I freeze to death having given away my last piece of warm clothing?
Will I sing songs of praise as I am burned alive for refusing to deny the One who endured far worse for me…….?
Do these questions scare me?  No.  I would give anything to die like that…  To die so that someone else might live… the thought shakes me and sends tears streaming down my face.  But more than that, so much more than that, I want to die a martyr.  To die for the overwhelming love of Christ, and the honor of bearing His Name and image; to be counted “among whom the world was not worthy”…  I can’t even imagine…  That would be dying well.
For me, some things are easier on a larger scale.  Like speaking:  I would feel far more comfortable standing on a stage in front of 5,000 people than 10.  It’s the same with sacrifice.  I know beyond a doubt that if my life were required in an emergency to save someone else that God would give me the strength to surrender it.  If a grenade dropped into the middle of my squad, you better believe that I would drop and wrap that thing in my arms against my chest to save them.  Yet somehow I lack the motivation to die to myself daily and live for Christ and others in the small things.  To read my Bible and pray:  what am I really giving up?  Forty five minutes of sleep?  There are thousands who would give their lives for a page of that Book, and I treat it like watching C-Span - boring, monotonous information.  
My sister asks if I’ll play with her.  My excuse?  I don’t have one.  I usually make something up.  I more or less lie to her because 10 minutes of Legos is more than I can handle, even though I know very well that just ten minutes would make her week!
I suppose it’s my long-term vision taking priority over my short-term choices and investments.  It’s a weakness. 
What would you consider the greatest thing you could die for?   You faith?  Your wife and kids?  If you say that you’re willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for your Savior - your life - are you not willing to give up anything less important?  Your thoughts, your dreams, your anxiety?  Your time?  
If you say that you’re willing to surrender your life for your family’s sake, are you not willing to surrender your pride, your rights, and your comfort for their benefit also?
           You show me a man who can lay down his pride for his faith and family, and I’ll show you a man who will not hesitate to lay down his life, also.
These are heavy questions, and I need to weigh them as well.  I’ll not be getting sleep tonight.
~ 2:12am

A healthy blend...

I don’t post very often because I always feel obligated to post complete thoughts.  You know; if I post a thought that happens to be about, say, pride, I feel like I can’t just mention it without developing this whole theological essay about it.  I suppose it’s the perfectionist in me, wanting nothing left unsaid or unclear.  I think it’s mostly a good thing, but sometimes, I think it hinders my ability to just express my thoughts and my heart, because I try to push as much “literary excellence” in a post a possible, making it sound more like a term paper (just shorter) than a personal blog post.  I want to have a healthy blend of both.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just a Reminder...

          Rainbows are beautiful, even breathtaking at times.  I don't get to see a whole lot of "good" ones where I live (so, no, the picture is not mine), but I've seen enough.  I never really thought about what a rainbow was - that is, scientifically - until a few days ago.  Ponder this:
          When light passes through water droplets at a specific angle (44degrees, if I'm not mistaken), that water droplet can become a prism, which, in layman's terms, means that the light bounces around inside a reflective surface in such a way that the light rays are broken up, creating visible colors.  Imagining this little miracle happening in millions of water droplets at the same time is incredible, but God doesn't leave it there!  As the angle changes just slightly by distance, the rays are broken differently, revealing different colors in the spectrum!  So now we have millions upon millions of little tiny water drops with light bouncing around inside of them making the same colors in the same order every single time!  And God made all of this, created this wonder of nature, for the sole purpose of reminding a stubborn and rebellious race that He would never destroy the Earth by flood again.  Can you imagine that?  God made a promise, and God always keeps His promises; yet just for fun, He created a whole new phenomenon of nature just for the fun of it as a reminder of that promise.  Now, thousands of years later, God is still reminding us that His Word is true, and His statutes are sure.  That, my friends, is a God that you can trust.  That is a God of indescribable wonder.
           Let's worship Him together!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm home.

            After spending the last nine weeks of my life on a base in Texas, learning what it takes to be a man of God, I have a lot to write about.  I should be posting here pretty soon.