A Struggle To All Men
by Jason Cruise
Selfishness is a struggle for most men I know. I sometimes wonder if, at times, I could win an induction into the Hall of Fame for selfish tendencies.
There are those men who walk the planet who are selfish because they are just that arrogant; they truly do not care about anyone other than themselves, regardless of any situation. However, that sort of man is a rare breed.
Like an apple, peel it back to the core, and you'll find that in most cases the fruit of selfishness is born from fear.
Selfishness is actually fear in disguise. The fear is simple: you're afraid you won't get what you think is best for you in the end. So, in turn, you try and manipulate situations. Regardless of how it ultimately effects other people, you act selfishly because you value the outcome more than you value the people nearest to you.
It's insecurity at its finest. Believe me, I've lived with it for years. I know this beast well.
Selfishness comes back home, as most things do, to the idea of the sovereignty of God. If I believe God will always take care of me, then I can be free to put others first, because I know He will give me what I need in the end.
Take your time when you read this verse below. Read it through the lens of someone who has given himself over to the freedom sovereignty brings in the battle with selfishness bred from the fear of missing out:
Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their
children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth
and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear ...
The Land of Sour
by Jason Cruise
The power of my attitude is the baseline for virtually everything I encounter.
The problem, at least for me anyway, is that at times my attitude can go south of the border so fast that
it takes a hefty charge of power from God's spirit to generate the current
necessary to bring me back into my native land where His peace and joy reside.
I hate myself when I find that I'm living, even if for a solitary hour, in the Land of Sour. I hate myself for allowing my mind to go there and dwell. I hate myself for allowing
someone or something to own my emotions. No person, no object, nor any situation should ever be
given permission to own my emotions. Only God should own the title to the
property of my attitude, yet I fail on this front more times than I care to admit.
It seems to me that more often than not, when my attitude goes sour, it is my witness for Christ that takes the lethal blow in the eyes of my fellow man. It is a painful thing to realize that you've set the
clock back in terms of relating well with those who are without Christ.
"Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5
Sometimes a man's attitude fails him because he's trying to control a situation instead of trusting the sovereignty of God to work things out in His time. Then there are times your attitude is pathetic simply because you let that someone or that some thing penetrate the heart and bend the will toward the direction of disdain.
The Land of Sour, regardless of how one may arrive there, is no place to live for those who are resident aliens of Heaven living on this side of the river. We do not have to wait for that distant day when we are to cross that final stream in order to experience the joy of Jesus available for the here and the now.
A Matter of Ought
by Jason Cruise
I asked him to tell me about his family. He couldn't.
He had been told that he had brothers and sisters, but he had no idea of their whereabouts. He didn't know where his mother was living and he'd never met his father. Born in Europe's poorest country, Moldova, he was yet another forgotten child being raised in a shelter that had now become his home. He had nowhere else to go. Nowhere.
He was at the end of the line ... at the age of 8.
Often I get the question, "Why do you go to Moldova?" In almost every investigation of my heart the attempt to answer that question eludes me. I suppose the underlying question for every one of
us is "Why do you do anything that you do?"
There are many things that I could do, yet there's a difference between what I could do versus what I should do. At the heart of the reason for my expeditions to Moldova is a simple answer: God told me to go.
Since the first time they cut a record, I began following the music of this tiny Irish band who called themselves U2. In their timeless track titled "One" U2's lead singer, Bono, pleads the case, "One love, one blood, one life, you got to do what you should."
It's a strange animal, this thing we call abandonment. I cannot speak about it personally for I've never
felt its attack, but I have on many occasions stood only a few feet away and watched as this animal fed on the souls of those who are defenseless. I cannot look away from it. I cannot pretend not to see it. I cannot pretend as if I am helpless to do anything about it. With Bono, I agree, I have one life and I must do what I should.
There are times in life where I could do something, but I don't. We've all been there. When it comes to being a messenger of justice and mercy, however, it is not only something I could do, but something I should do.
You may never go to Moldova, yet that has no bearing on whether or not you are able to be a messenger of justice and mercy. You are called to justice and mercy everywhere you go. You ought to do it, and you should do it, because you are told by the God who created you to do it.
It's a matter of the ought. Why?
Because love demands it.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of
sins. - 1 Peter 4:8
A Target Defined,
by Jason Cruise
Most days during the school year I drive my oldest son,
Cole, to school. I cherish this short commute because we use it to talk about
life through the eyes of an eight-year-old. Our conversations range from
everything to hunting, homework, the latest item on the school lunch menu, why
Classic Rock is critical to humanity at large, and occasionally, girls. I've
discovered that girls do, in fact, still have the "coodies" in the new
millennium. Not much has changed on that front.
As we drive up to the school, I tend to ask Cole the same question. Every day, he knows it's coming.
"Which is better, to be the head or the tail?" He'll tell me, "The head, because the view is better."
When he exits the truck, grabbing his book bag, I say to him, "Be a leader today bud." It's a
simple exercise that I will not give up on because I want him to be conscious of
leadership, even though he's eight.
Trying to build upon this, we started a fun little exercise this summer where we
are defining manhood together. In trying to coax him into such on-going
conversations, I said, "Hey, Cole, let's spend some time together this summer
trying to define manhood and the qualities it takes to be a real man of
He responded, "Dad, I mean, why would you define what it means to be a man when you're actually already a man?" It's a great point, so I went on to explain that a moving
target is hard to hit, and when you don't know what your target is, it's
impossible to hit it all together. He seemed to understand why a man must define
his pursuits, and so I asked him, "What do you think it means to be a man,
Cole?" His answer stunned me somewhat, because I didn't expect an
eight-year-old to plow deep.
He said, "I think a man should be loyal."
I asked him why he chose loyal, and he said, "Well, like let's say one of your friends is hurting, or something has happened, I think a real man doesn't leave someone stranded."
I really didn't know what to say. I was stunned at the depth of his response.
A moving target is a hard target to hit. A target undefined is impossible to hit.
In terms of all things related to biblical manhood, I suppose that is where many men live out their days, even though many of those days actually exist underneath the shadow of the steeple. I spent many years knowing that I was a follower of Jesus, but I'd never really made an honest assessment of what it means to be a man of God. For years I had general ideas of what biblical manhood looked like, but I had never truly defined my target.
It's been said that "a goal without a plan is just a wish."
I don't want to wish I'd be a man of God. I want to know I'll be a man of God and live like a man of God, because, I have a concrete understanding of biblical manhood. Such an understanding will only come if I carve out my manhood from the pages of Scripture.
I am looking forward to our father/son journey in defining manhood. Judging from the way things have started, it appears certain that I am not always going to be the one doing the teaching.
A Modern Day Miracle
by Jason Cruise
I wanted to send you a Special Edition of the Man Minute because this story is
critical in a world that doesn't believe in a God who is still active and real
in every matter of life.
Anytime today after 9:00 am (central time) you can see the short story of Tim Herald and
his family's modern day miracle by clicking his picture below.
I'm telling you, it's one of the coolest stories I've ever heard. I can still
remember sitting there on the film set in that cabin while Tim was sharing this
saga and thinking to myself "Were it not for a sovereign God, there's no way
The Photo To Go To The Story & Video:
The Mark of Maturity
by Jason Cruise
Nobody likes criticism. I laugh every time I hear the words "constructive criticism" because I know that right after those words come a rebuke, and one that is most always intense and personal!
In 2 Samuel 16 we find a man named Shimei doing something beyond brave. Brave would be merely protesting the king's leadership, but Shimei came out of nowhere when David was passing a road near his home and began to throw rocks as he cursed David's leadership as king. In fact, one of David's servants, Abishai, offered to go cut off Shimei's head, just to shut him up.
Most every other king in David's position would have given his servant the green light no doubt. The truth is, there have been many times I'd love to have had my own Abishai hanging around on my staff, as I'm sure negative comments would have seen a dramatic decrease. Nothing like having your own executioner to keep "constructive criticism" at bay!!
I'm sure you've seen leaders like that; I know I've seen leaders like that. I'll never forget the one pastor who told me that his staff "had never been this unified" in his tenure as lead pastor. Yeah, they were unified alright, because he'd fired about 10 people in the six years prior to that, as a signal of what happens when you dare to disagree with the senior pastor.
David did not use the razor sharp assets of men like Abishai, however. David basically listened to what Shimei had to say about his leadership and pondered the man's words. In effect, David ended up asking, "could he be right?"
Having been in ministry and leadership for over 20 years, I've seen my fair share of critics. My wife has forever been an asset to me, and one way it shows up is in those shattered times when such ego-demolition occurs. She'll gently say, "Let's try and see if there is actually any truth to it." I don't like her much in those moments. Not much at all. It hurts to do that sort of self-examination.
The truth is, every great leader knows that greatness doesn't come through blanket praise. Greatness is forged in struggle, and sometimes those struggles come in asking yourself, "could they be right?"
by Jason Cruise
Over the past year or so I've faced a battle, mostly in the mind. If I'm being candid I have to say that I think I lost many of the wars that have been fought there over this past year.
The battle, for me, was getting lost, or maybe, overcome, with the negative issues surrounding our country. At times, the only thing I could think about when it came to America was how ruined our country has become spiritually, financially, and morally. Every time I see Barack Obama on the television, or hear him on the radio, my thoughts would run to how much I despise basically everything about him. I would often discover my attitude steeped in anger over a sense of a loss of control and feeling helpless to do anything to help our country regain its compass.
The problem with this has been that I've allowed myself to adopt a line of thinking that for many years I have literally preached against concerning a warning to Christians ... a warning I certainly never thought could be applied to me ... in that Christians are guilty of what I call "shouting at the darkness." We shout at darkness for being dark. We shout at darkness in terms of symptoms such as moral depravity, loose living, and all those things that are certainly dark, for they make for incredibly easy targets.
Here's the truth: no matter how much you shout at the darkness for being so dark, the darkness doesn't change.
The only change I've actually seen so far in this past year is that my attitude goes to the gutter. Completely. My attitude does not and has not reflected the joy or the hope of Jesus, and my words have been full of nothing but scorn and disgust with my country.
The truth is, our country actually is bankrupt, both fiscally and spiritually. The truth is, I cannot help but feel the way I feel about our President who, I believe, is intentionally and systematically ruining our country by design. Even still, let us never forget that Barack Obama was, in fact, put in office by the American people, to represent their heart and desires for our future. He is not the one in fault in the end. Our country as a whole is at fault.
You see, that is exactly how the enemy uses darkness. He distracts us with symptoms instead of the core disease. If we spend our lives shouting at the darkness for being dark, we actually chase a distraction instead of honing in on the real issues at hand.
I believe Satan has used this tactic against the church for years. We shout at symptoms of sin like substance abuse or pornography, when the real disease is sin and its affect upon a person's soul.
The tactics of Satan to use distraction are not limited to the church. I see the enemy doing the same thing today within our culture in all matters pertaining to guns.
Do you not find it absurdly ironic, and equally insulting, that we have a growing portion of our country wanting to blame crime on something . . . on anything . . . other than the criminal?
How can a reasonable human being blame a lifeless, inanimate object that has no power, no soul, and no ability to act alone whatsoever, like that of a gun, and yet blame a gun for something so tragic as mass murder? However, that's exactly what Satan does. He uses darkness to cover that which is the most dark: the power of evil. So if symptoms of darkness can be used to distract from the core of darkness, then our enemy will do that very thing, for he is a deceiver.
Darkness is supposed to be dark. The greater truth is that I must share the light of Christ, not curse the darkness for being dark. I must tell anyone who will listen that there is a better Way, and His name is Jesus.
So my prayer this year has not been that I'll just "be positive" for the sake of being positive. That's an empty way to live, for one's hope must be built on something more than mere optimism. My hope is built on Jesus, for He is the overcomer. I must remember that simple truth.
My prayer is that His joy will fill my thoughts and my attitude, so that I won't be distracted by darkness, but rather that I'd be filled with the light.
I am thankful to say that I am winning more, and losing less, in this battle of mine. I will say it has not easy, but I will keep trying, because after experiencing the other side of joy, I don't like the alternative of staying there.
A Man Minute Christmas ...
by Jason Cruise
I turned 40 just a few weeks ago.
I have been warned, for years now, that a man's fourth decade on earth brings with it journeys that were yet unknown, and even, yes, reserved for those years after 40, so as to grind it into a man's spirit that he is no longer young. The eyes will go bad, joints will ache, health will show signs of decline ... these were the prophetic utterances I'd heard for these last few remaining years of my 30's.
My doctor, a good friend of mine, has been telling me for the last five years or so that my future most likely held the prospect of having to go on medication for bad cholesterol. So it was, just 25 days or so ago, that I began this morning exercise of eating this pill. There they are ... on your right. We aren't talking much - those pills and me. Our relationship is quite mechanical right now in its early stages.
It has been a bitter truth to confront, because I actually take decent care of myself. In our ongoing conversation, my doctor and I have been pondering the issues surrounding my radically inactive metabolism, and subsequent extra pounds, relative to my active lifestyle, that should, in theory, boost metabolic activity.
I work out several times a week. Do not eat fast food, do not eat that much meat, and take many vitamins and natural supplements for heart health. Not too bad for a guy who's cholesterol is bouncing off the ceiling. I found his words to be interesting in all matters of the spirit. Brian said, "No matter what we do, Jason, or what we may experiment with, I simply cannot separate you from your family tree."
Yes. We all have a history don't we? Yes we do.
Truthfully, I know my nutritional approach needs reform. Even still, I have a family history of heart disease that is undeniable and unavoidable. Which means I've got to apply a different variant of discipline now that I've clipped the dark caverns and recesses of a man's health in life after 40.
I have a family tree. I cannot detach my health from my genetic code. Something more has to be done, literally, to keep me alive.
So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
(1 Corinth. 15:45-49)
In a few days you and I are going to gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ. Jesus, the Scriptures say, came at "just the right time." (Romans 5:6) Jesus came to do that which we could never do on our own.
On a cold night long ago in Bethlehem a baby was born. He did come to this earth to bring you greater discipline in your lifestyle, nor did He come to offer you strength in your approach to behavioral reform.
No amount of reform could cure the simple truth that you have a family tree that started with a man named Adam; and, the fruit of that tree, my brother, was called Iniquity. The Scriptures tell us that we all, every one, "bear his image." Adam, a natural man, fell to the fruit of this natural tree. So did I, and so did you.
No matter what you do, you cannot reform iniquity, for it is literally ... in you. You cannot separate yourself from its story or its effect.
This simple reality is why you need a Savior.
This simply reality is the reason why "unto us a child is born ..."
Merry Christmas My Brother. Jason Cruise
Running Down A Dream
by Jason Cruise
Right now many hunters are living their annual dream. Chase big bucks, go to work, be a husband and father, all while trying to survive for about sixty days on complete and total sleep deprivation.
Several seasons back a friend of mine invited me to come up and hunt a farm near his home in the mid-west. I was honored, for I'd always wanted a chance to chase big whitetails known in that region. In fairy-tale fashion, I arrowed what has been my largest buck to date: a 14 pointer with a double main beam that scores just shy of 160 inches. The hunt itself was absolutely amazing.
The chase phase of the rut was in full swing, so I was committed to an all day sit. At 3pm, however, I climbed down from that oak to go and sit on the ground about 110 yards north of my stand site due to the fact that all day long I'd noticed deer were crossing the intersection of a wood line and a field edge. It was a horribly risky move because there wasn't a lot of cover for a ground assault, yet I knew I was out of position, so something had to be done.
One hour later and temperature dropping, this brute hopped a fence and came into the cut bean field about 400 yards from my position under a cedar tree. With his nose glued to the ground on a trot, he began working my way. He was locked into a hot doe's scent trail.
When he was 90 yards away I grunted at him, and he swung his monster head in my direction. I grunted a second time, he grunted back, and then began to sprint directly at me, running down what he felt was an opportunity to satisfy his greatest craving. He closed the gap from 90 yards to 12 yards in roughly 6 seconds.
Leaning on one knee crouched in sage grass, I shot him at 12 paces. I'll never forget the blurry image of that arrowing reflecting the sunlight as it passed through him and flew out his other side violently as he swung upon its impact. He ran 50 yards, and then dropped. To use a worn out cliché, it was truly the "hunt of a lifetime."
The most elusive animal in North America is a large whitetail buck. No animal is better at staying alive, and no animal is better at adaptation to a hostile environment, than a whitetail buck. Yet, this elusive, wise, savvy survivalist was shot and killed for one simple reason: he was, though be it only temporary, willing to live off of the adrenaline that comes from pure and unfiltered emotion.
My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword ... For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.
by Jason Cruise
But he who is spiritual appraises all things ... 1 Corinth. 2:15
When you came into the family of God in a personal relationship with Christ, a cosmic amount of God's heart was downloaded into your life in that supernatural moment. Not only were you redeemed, but you immediately received the assets of redemption. One such asset was a filter for truth.
The Holy Spirit is your guide, your filter for truth. "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13)
Lies, heresy, and deception come in many, many forms. The older I get, the more I see how eternally valuable my filter for truth is in all matters of pure survival pertaining to the journey of manhood.
God gave you a filter. Use it. If you don't, you'll find out, oh so quickly, that life unfiltered is cluttered with every imaginable impurity.
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.