by Jason Cruise
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus - 1 Timothy 2:5
There has never been a time in the history of mankind when access to information is as fast and as easy as it is today. I don't know about you, but there are times when access to all this information can actually work against me.
I've noticed information overload, if I'm not careful, can bog down my decisions, because I can find a thousand positive reviews and a thousand negative reviews on any gadget, vehicle, book, or vacation rental, all of which can validate any decision I want to make. Even more, if a search engine cannot find what I'm wanting, then I can just take to social media and ask a gazillion people what they think about it.
I suppose that's why the simplicity of God is such a beacon to my soul. In a world of Google searches, social media, and access to information that is endless and often confusing, God has, since the dawn of time, made Himself easy to find.
His message to me is clear: there is one God and the only way to get to Him is through His son.
An Idea In Jeopary
by Jason Cruise
I'm not exactly sure how core values get lost. I suppose there's countless ways in which we lose touch with the bedrock beliefs that make up our worldview.
I do know, however, that we take our core values as Americans for granted, and we do it often. We hear words like freedom, but most of us have never been held captive at the end of another man's gun. We grin when words like patriot are spoken, yet many of us have never felt what it was like to sleep while wet under the blanket of combat.
With little effort one can detect that President Reagan was struggling to finish his speech on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984, holding back tears as he spoke directly to the unknown soldier being laid to rest. President Reagan called him, "dear son" in words that came from the heart of a father who actually believed in the idea of a great America.
I do not know how our core values get lost, but I know that at least one way, one most common way, is when a dad fails to explain to his sons and daughters just why it is we are called the "land of the free and the home of the brave." We must tell the story, in any way we can, to our sons and daughters, or what's left of our core values will surely be gone forever within but a few generations.
I never really know the best way to tell the story of Memorial Day to my sons, for my oldest is just now getting to an age where he can understand sacrifice on some levels. Different ideas cross my mind, and I never seem to find the one that fits best.
Today, on this Memorial Day, perhaps to try and give him a new perspective, I am going to take my oldest son, Cole, to the Veterans Cemetery.
It's a beautiful, solemn place filled with white crosses that clad the hills of Middle Tennessee. There I will tell him that he gets to play baseball because he is free. He gets to go hunting, and own a gun, because the men before him died for his 2nd Amendment rights.
I will tell him that the idea of freedom is just that ... an idea. I want him to know that ideas can be stolen and replaced unless we remember that there are truths worth dying for, and the men buried before him did that very thing, so that one day a little boy could live a life they never got to finish.
Wrestling a Mean Dog
by Jason Cruise
Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own -Proverbs 26:17
The imagery in this verse makes me think of my grandfather. This was his sort of wisdom. Funny, yet forever true.
Who in their right mind walks up to a stray dog and grabs it by the ears? The very thought of it makes me laugh a little.
I can remember as a kid going into country stores that had a game room in the back. Often there was a flipper-less pinball machine back there that would pay out earnings. Usually, it was the pinball machine doing the earning!
My grandfather, Josh Cruise, said in reference to feeding those things your hard-earned money "anything that is willing to back its hind-end up to a wall and challenge the whole world ... should be left alone."
Some things need to be left alone.
That can include the very situations that surround you today as you move through the marketplace of business. The issue is knowing when to move in, and when to walk on by.
I'm learning that there are situations that simply do not warrant my presence or my attention. I cannot tell you how many times my life has remained peaceful by just telling myself "God hasn't called me to fix that."
Upside- Down Wisdom
by Jason Cruise
Almost every chapter in the book of Proverbs contains some sort of warning against arrogance or pride. It's mind boggling, really.
Every. Single. Chapter. Something is said about pride, or arrogance, or a stubborn heart that is easily deceived. Whatever you want to call it, the truth is that a man who is proud is a man in danger. Tangible danger.
The ironic mind warp in this is that pride in yourself, and taking pride in your work, is drilled into your heart from the earliest days of childhood. Pride is how life is supposed to work in the marketplace. Pride is supposed to drive a man's ethic. Pride is what is part of every man's foundation to push him to high standards.
So run that against God's standard and you see that pride, and the need for it, springs from the upside down wisdom of a dying world. Humility, not pride, is the marrow needed for success as God would define it.
Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life. - Proverbs 22:4
Riches. Honor. Life: a trifecta that pop culture would say comes from hard work and a self-made man who is bent on making a name for himself. Yet true riches, bestowed honor, and lasting life do not come from pride, they come from a heart that God can still coach.
Prone To Wonder
by Jason Cruise
I blew it.
Dropped the ball.
Caused a stir.
The metaphoric glitter describing ways in which we sin is endless.
We live in a fallen world, and that's no secret. Wake up every day and one is confronted with such a simple reality that brokenness is everywhere. No person is immune to it, nor is any person untouched by the realities of sin.
Since we are all bound together in this earth journey, the next time you are connected to someone who simply causes a problem, whether big or small, remember this: no person feels worse about something gone wrong than someone who prefers living in the right.
I cannot recall to memory having met any person who gets up every day hoping and praying that they bring pain into the daily experience of those around them. Maybe there are some out there who do, but the average person doesn't want the drama of having to recover from making mistakes made.
The next time you are connected to someone else's bad day, just realize there's not a lot you can say or do to make that person feel any worse than they already feel about what they did.
Grace is something we all crave in moments of despair, and yet grace is something we rarely give in moments when we are not the one most in need of it.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
- 1 Corinthians 16:23
Drama and a Question Worth Asking
by Jason Cruise
Working with micro-managers has never been easy for me. Ever. I'm not a guy who sweats the details. People who sweat the finite details make me sweat, too - usually with some internalized anger, mixed with a pinch of bitterness, and marinated for a few days in thoughts of retaliation.
Then again, I'm sure I make them sweat, too. I'm sure that when it comes to me they have to have their own conversations with God about attitude readjustments.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. - Romans 12:18
A man must ask himself: is this a battle worth fighting?
It's amazing to me, when I step back and do my best to be objective, that I'll find the battle was not, nor is not, in fact, worth fighting at all because it never was intended to be a battle. It was more like a riff. A skirmish. A bit of sideways popping up on my life's radar that was gone as fast as it appeared. More often than not, the drama was over something that, in the greater kingdom of God, really didn't matter at all.
Peace, in my experience, is most easily achieved between me and someone else when I am at peace with God.
Said another way, when I allow myself to trust God with the outcome, peace resides in my heart. When my heart is content, my attitude tends to follow . . . without the use of a leash.
They Came Back, With Joy!
by Jason Cruise
Danger is a reality of life for the true disciple, yet in the lives of Jesus followers, I believe we think that perhaps the Master was just speaking metaphorically when He said:
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. (John 15:20)
In Luke 10 you see Jesus sending people out to battle. Think about the sobriety of it: they were going out on a homeless option; on a straight up odyssey, where the only agenda for the day was to wake up, get in the fight, and see what happens.
"The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."
They came back with joy. Not beat down. Not discouraged. They experienced real fulfillment.
Understand what's being said here: they came back with joy because they encountered demons, sleepless nights, "no clue as to what might happen today" sort of stuff. They had a great time being sent on a wild, unpredictable, homeless every day until somebody says "sleep at my house tonight" kind of journey.
Why the joy? Because they were living their lives with a purpose ordained by God instead of a manufactured dream based on their own set of life goals. They were obedient to God, and obedience, friend, is the birthplace of vision.
God have them a vision for their future. They acted on it. Then, and only then, did they find fulfillment that springs from the joy of knowing you are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Fire From Heaven, As If I Could
by Jason Cruise
"... but the people did not welcome Him."
Perhaps what I love most about the Scriptures is that God didn't make any attempt whatsoever to cover up our inescapable humanity. In this case, Jesus was once again stonewalled in a town, only this time, it was the wrong town, and the right wrong people.
Religious people loved to hate on Samaritans. They were easy targets. Lost. Unredeemed. Degenerate. Loud.
Luke 9:54 gives me incredible hope as a man.
So Jesus gets a cold shoulder in a Samaritan village, and when His men get wind of it, James and John cowboy up.
"Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and destroy them?"
Don't overlook it. James and John wanted to stomp on these people. Not with whips. Not via stoning them. Not a beat down. No ... they genuinely wanted to flip the light switch of the eternal and engulf these freaks with literal fire from Jehovah God. As if God's wrathful fire was something you could just go and get whenever you want it; totally at your disposal. Don't you love their brazen, junior high attitude?
I love it.
It's the apostolic equivalent of "My dad can beat you up. All I gotta do is tell Him."
There's not much difference between you, me, James and John. We are men. Sometimes we get really, really angry, and sometimes, it's for the right reasons. They were protecting Jesus and were defending what they knew to be the man God sent to this perverse generation. They were acting out of what seemed like love for Him in the moment.
The irony is hilarious. They were following a man from Nazareth who was teaching them to love people, and the moment things didn't go their way simply because people were acting ugly, they double down on the ugly meter with sheer desire to kill 'em all.
The reality is this: the hardest truth I continually confront is that lost people are supposed to act like lost people.
I should know. I used to be one.
Miley Cyrus, Me, and You
by Jason Cruise
I woke up Monday morning and checked my Twitter feed. Evidently MTV's Video Music Awards were nothing new. Rank. Raw. Filled with glam and pop culture. Yet there was a buzz above the norm, and it was due to Miley Cyrus. Her performance left even the most un-shockable shock jock pop stars speechless with shock and awe.
Before you start shaking your head, be careful, because I'm not so sure you, me, and Americans everywhere, can get off the hook on this one.
I searched out the video of her performance on the internet so that I could see it for myself. It was bad. No, it was awful, not merely in matters of music and production, but in all things related to the human soul. However, after watching it, my first response wasn't targeted at Miley. My first thoughts were targeted at us: all of us. All Americans. Everywhere. I thought to myself, "Why all the shock? This is what we wanted. She's giving us exactly what we've wanted for decades."
Miley Cyrus is completely to blame for her actions. Let's be clear about that. I detest with a vengeance any time I see someone blame evil or depravity on anything other than the person doing it. Miley is not a product of her environment. Miley's a grown woman who did what she did because she wanted to, but as an entertainer, she's just living out what people want to see. As an entertainer, she's matching the culture's desire for more of the edge we want to see pushed.
There's a question in leadership circles about how change happens. It goes like this: "
"How do you turn a battleship?"
Answer: Constant pressure on a very small rudder.
We've allowed ourselves to get to this moment in our nation's history. Decay is always a slow process. We have decayed via constant, unrelenting pressure in the name of freedom of expression. We, and by we I mean all of us, Jesus followers very, very much included, one by one, we all began to let things into our lives and our homes that were far less than righteous.
We ... me ... you ... watched Friends in college and laughed about their lives as twenty-somethings trying to figure life out, all the while willing to put up with the sitcom as it was couched in the context of every character freely pursuing multiple sexual partners.
We ... me ... you ... let our children go to movies that have questionable plot lines because we want them to have friends and we want them to be socially included. Americans at large have allowed promiscuous language, via the television, to slip in our homes, all the while telling our kids, "Oh, sweetie, now we don't say that."
We just let it go, and that's how it happens. The constant pressure of promiscuity leaning hard on our cultural rudder eventually wins. That's how you transition from Andy Griffith to NBC's debut of The New Normal, aptly titled because it's two gay men raising children. It's in this same cultural context where now you have the debate in the church over whether or not homosexuality is actually a sin when God's word couldn't be more clear on the issue.
It's in this same culture where you see men, in rampant numbers, addicted to porn. Christian men included. It's in the same culture where you now see women struggling with self-image and doubt because they can't keep up with the latest breast implant fads; nor can they measure up to the ads they see in magazines where models display photo-edited versions of what is, after the graphics are mastered, a woman who is a computer generated, perfect, flawless version of the quite flawed woman who actually modeled in the photo.
It's in the same culture where movies are filled with killing, and killing, and killing. It's in that same culture where video games are filled with killing, and killing, and more killing while the teenage gamer, surrounded by girls in the video game clad in bikinis, stand in awe of him doing his killing. Yet, we are somehow shocked when we see Newtown?
Listen: it's not the fault of a gun. It's not the fault of a video. Even the most anti-intellect human being can reason that out. It's evil, and we let it in our homes, and by letting it into our homes, we gave it value.
We have taught our children to value killing, sex, sexiness, and rebellion. In fact, many of you PAID to let these values into your home because you bought the video games, and some of you watched these movies and sitcoms yourselves right along side your sons and daughters.
It's in this same culture where teenage California boys are watching their wildest dreams come true, supported by the force of state law, where boys have access to girls locker rooms and bathrooms, and can now go shower alongside girls at public schools, if those boys are willing to say they are struggling with their sexual identity. I can promise you, at the age of 14, I'd have been the very first to sign up for that, and every one my buddies would have, too! We'd have all been claiming to be sexually confused, without the first ounce of shame, if it meant getting to watch girls take showers.
We let it go. We, Christians included, shook our heads in disgust, yet we did nothing. We let it go, and eventually, slowly, over thirty years or more, it's gone. All of it. Innocence has left our country, and it's not coming back.
Miley grew up in a culture where the gloves had officially "come off." Everything and anything that even hinted at sexuality was actually celebrated as creative and vogue. Every movie, every song, every sitcom, every billboard, every everything, from the day she was born into this world, reeked of sensuality.
When I saw Miley's performance, my heart hurt for her. She literally looked and acted like a person who'd lost her mind given that her soul had been taken over. As a father, my heart hurt for Billy Ray Cyrus. To see you daughter act out such depravity has got to leave a man speechless.
Even still, friends, do not think that we are completely innocent. Even within the church, our standards have fallen. Our regard for that which is Holy is missing, and we are paying for it.
So now what? What do we do in the face of a culture that is morally lost its mind?
Take back your mind. The Scriptures tell us that we are to "be transformed by the renewing of the mind." (Romans 12:2).
Take back your home. Get rid of networks like ABC FAMLY who stated recently that they are going to start introducing programming for kids that have gay parents. Take back your music, and your kids music, when lyrics denigrate the holiness of God's plan for your body. Cancel service to networks that show movies that your children can access when you're not home, and for the love of God and His plan for you, don't watch them yourselves.
Take the words of Jesus seriously. Jesus wasn't offering a Great Suggestion. He was giving a Great Commandment. When He said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" He was including loving God with your iPad, loving Him through your DirecTV, your movie ticket purchases, your iTunes downloads, how you spend your money, loving Him through the clothes you let your kids wear, and the video games you let them purchase.
Our culture may be lost. And gone. And depraved. That doesn't mean you have to be, and it certainly doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your children on the altar of temporary popularity for the long-term loss of their soul.
Post Script: People ask me all the time if they are allowed to forward The Man Minute or post in on church or corporate websites. Absolutely. In fact, in this case, I would hope you'd send it, post it, or tweet it to every man, woman, or teenager who is willing to listen.
Dwell Well by Jason Cruise
The mind is a wild and fascinating creature unto itself. I am forever mesmerized by the truth that a man's mind holds within it the capacity for such greatness while equally being the breeding ground for so much depravity. I am fully convinced that life, and how we live it in relationship to God and one to another, is a battle that is found on the gridiron of the mind.
Every man reading this today has won ... and lost ... many battles in the mind.
Attitudes come and go. Bitterness can turn to forgiveness when the mind is given permission to do so. Lust is never more than a split second away as it patiently waits for chance to get in the game. Apathy, neglect, victory, humility, love, selfishness, and every other emotion, runs through the mind.
I wish I had a playbook for how a man could go undefeated in every season of life when it comes to the mind. I do know this, however: a man's mind lives in the ebb and flow of how he chooses to dwell.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. - Philippians 4:8
Today, when you encounter victories of any sort, dwell on the power of praise to the God who showed you such grace. If you should experience failure, even of the smallest market, dwell there as well on the power of Jesus who paid the price for that victory, too.
Jason Cruise is the founder of Mission. Mission was created to "vindicate the fatherless" in a country known as Moldova. To learn more go to www.themissionvision.net Jason is a well known speaker traveling across the country sharing his love for Christ at wildgame dinners and conferences. Jason has created many valuable resources for the outdoorsmen to take them deeper into their walk with their Creator. These items include DVD's, Bibles, and Bible studies.