Snake Handlers For Jesus

When I was about 10 years old, my family attended a Evangelical church that would get charismatic during their evening services. We never brought out snakes, but it was not uncommon to have dancing, marching, and the iconic shofar while the congregation yelled as if declaring war on the enemy.

My dad usually managed the overhead slides but would sometimes be out in the congregation with my mom, my two sisters, and I as the volunteer rotation allowed him to.

Enemy’s Camp!

I’ll never forget one Sunday night when my dad was sitting with us and a new song broke out that got the crowd hyped. The song Enemy’s Camp had come to our church, a song of proclamation that Satan was defeated and under our feet. The popular expression of the day was to jump or stomp the ground as the band played, as if to stomp on the devil.

What is going on around here?

My 10 year old self was soaking it all in, subconsciously observing and being coached on how to react to those lyrics. This was the first time our church had the time to really “do” this song so the emotion and expression were unfamiliar.

Typically there are two types of people in these services. Those who did nothing, participating only in their mind, and those who participated with their mind AND their bodies. In my situation, after quickly picking up the two different styles, I remember looking to my dad.

My dad, from the outside looking in

My dad is a reserved man. He isn’t expressive with his body, or his voice. He is passionate in his own way. When I looked to him that evening, he was doing the same thing I was; observing and processing. He watched what was happening around him. As I continued to observe him, he began to awkwardly clap his hands and would ever so slightly lift one foot off the ground to show that he was participating.

I could tell he felt awkward but the majority of the room was jumping and shouting.

The desire to fit in was too much for him to handle. He made a decision in that moment to let peer pressure drive him to do what he perceived the crowd wanted him to do rather than stay true to himself. As I observed my dad, I could feel his discomfort. I remember smirking it off and slowly looking away in an attempt to relieve the awkwardness I was vicariously feeling.

From panic to stoic

When I was unsure of how to handle the situation I was in, deciding what kind of person I was going to be, I looked to my father to show me. I realize now that, as I stood there, observing his actions, I was waiting for him to set the example. I eventually got what I was looking for. I learned that, in this situation, the right thing to do is let those around me dictate my own actions. He was painting the picture for me, and didn’t even know it.

So what?

Not all men are fathers, but they are all teachers, just like my dad in that moment. In a polarized world if picking sides, all men are charged with setting the standard for manhood. If you are reading this and you are a man, you have a calling to model real Biblical manhood. There is no way out of it, there is only a way through it.

Thankfully, we have our own model of manhood to follow. It’s not your biological father or mentor, though they can be powerful examples. Our heavenly Father sent a model for us in the person of Jesus Christ. His life is the de facto standard of what a Kingdom man is supposed to be. Our only task is to let Him dictate our actions, not those around us.

He also outlines the nature of Kingdom manhood in the Bible. Be wise and seek council [1]. Train your Spirit man [2]. Grow your righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness [3]. Train to fight your old self [4] in order to put to death your old sinful nature and become like Christ [5].

Take me to your leader

God is calling men out from themselves, into Christ. We are all intended to be images of strength and power in the upside down Kingdom of heaven, where the first is last, and the wisdom of earth is foolishness. Where the measure of a man is not the strength of his arm, but the power of his heart. To be the image of Christ at all times, in all rooms, for all people.

What are you modeling? Are you an image of Christ in you or a reflection of what the world around you intends for you to be?

#StoutHeart

[1]

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” -1 Timothy 4:8

[2]

“A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” -Proverbs 24:5-6

[3]

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. Fight the Good Fight of Faith But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” – 1 Timothy 6:9-14

[4]

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

[5]

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” – 1 Peter 4:1-2

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