the man zone
The summer before my freshman year at UCLA, I came home one time after midnight to a dark house and sleeping parents. While my home was very quiet, my soul churned in chaos. I needed the safety and comfort of my bedroom to relax me. I sat on my bed and ran my right hand through my shoulder-length hair. While I had dismissed many things I didn’t like about my life–going to church topped my list–I had one habit too ingrained to let go of: praying before I fell asleep. I guess this was my way to connect with God on my terms. After all, I was the “spiritual” party guy.
Most of the time, however, I would recite the same old prayers I had known my whole life. My lips would be moving, and I could hear myself speaking the words, but my heart and my soul were definitely checked out. I found these midnight prayers easy, comfortable, and safe. I’m sure to God I sounded more like a robot than a human being, but in my twisted thinking, I figured God wouldn’t call my lack of sincerity on the carpet. Man, was I ever wrong.
That summer evening it was time for my nightly ritual. I got down on my knees at the foot of my bed and looked out at the star-filled Northern California sky. I started with the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”).
Suddenly, I heard a voice inside telling me to stop. I thought, What’s up with this?
I started over, but I couldn’t get out the memorized words that I had repeated thousands of times before. I didn’t know what was happening, but I did know that my skin felt like it was crawling, which humbled and scared me. Instead of “Our Father, who art in heaven” coming out of my mouth, I heard myself whispering, “I want to see You… I want to see You.”
Each time I said this, I felt a deeper and deeper presence filling the air around me. My body shook in response, and tears rolled down my cheeks like rivers. My emotion had been touched by the strong and fragrant presence of God.
For the first time in my life, I expressed to God what I really wanted more than anything–a real encounter with Him…just the two of us. I voiced a simple prayer–“I want to see You”–not to please my parents, not to impress friends, not to maintain some image, and certainly not to win His approval. What I said that evening was the true confession of a guy on his knees to a God who had been patiently waiting for me to get honest.
Once you settle for less than God’s best,
you start spinning your wheels.
He didn’t have to be patient since I had been acting like a hypocrite–an immature one at that. He knew I had been deliberately fooling myself, but He also saw someone who was experiencing turmoil regarding who Christ was. When I expressed a longing from deep within my heart–as simple as it was–He seized that measly effort to invade my room and bring me closer to Him as never before.
That night was a turning point. God reached out and touched me, and I felt closer to Him as never before. I couldn’t rationalize this experience away, I couldn’t blame someone else for not living out what I believed, and I couldn’t divorce myself from His will at my convenience any longer. Instead of judging me or punishing me, He threw His arms around me and said, “I forgive you. Now go and sin no more.” God “unstuck” me spiritually as a young man, for which I’m grateful. What happened to me sounds a lot like what happened to David, who wrote this in the book of Psalms:
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:1-2)
I had been stuck in the slimy pit of compromise. Once you settle for less than God’s best, you start spinning your wheels. You may think you’re gaining traction, but you’re not moving forward as a young man.
He’s not going to point His finger at you while you rev your engine in the mud, saying “I told you so.” God is more interested in you moving forward–but first you have to get all four wheels on the pavement.
This book is about you getting some serious traction in your drive toward spiritual significance with God. It’s about becoming the young man God created you to be versus what you think you ought
to be. This book is about facing the real fears keeping you from being completely
Stand Up Now!
Through Every Man Ministries I have connected with thousands of younger spiritual brothers on college campuses and high-school settings for the last several years. What I have found is that you are just like me–battling the urges within and the forces outside to stay true to what you know deep down is right. The tension you feel is real spiritual warfare. All
of us are at war against the Enemy of God, and we will have to fight against the dark side within that pulls us toward selfishness and away from our faith. Fear not, however, because this is our bond: we have common enemies and similar temptations.
Spiritually speaking, the confidence and courage to stand strong as God’s man now–
not later–is the challenge set before you. That means you will need an identity in and connection with God that is strong enough to risk rejection by others as well as delay gratifying yourselves. The biggest lie Satan can whisper in your ear is that you can wait
to get serious about God and delay
being spiritually responsible. I’ve met too many young people with this mañana
attitude–that’s Spanish for “tomorrow”–who feel they can get “serious” about their faith somewhere down the road. I even know one of those persons real well because that’s my
There is no such thing as
harmless fantasies about women.
Whether you are on the courageous or not-so-courageous side of the faith battle, let me encourage you. Every Christian male I know has been there, but what I’ve found is that every day you put off taking spiritual responsibility for yourself, the harder it becomes. Believe me, there are a lot of guys in their thirties who learned lessons the hard way because they chose the “wide path leading to destruction” instead of “the narrow road.” They passed up years
that could have been loaded with God’s blessing.
This book is an effort to help you see around the corner, avoid pitfalls, and experience God’s best without regret or losses. I need to ask for you to put your faith in the battle-hardened wisdom of your “olda brotha” who has seen the Enemy do his dirty work, blowing up the lives of brothers your age who thought they knew it all. You’re becoming a man, and that means you have to start thinking like one. Similarly, to become God’s man, you have to think like one of His sons. To help you think like God’s man, you need to think through the following statements that I’ve come up with. I call them “Kenny’s Code.” Read each one slowly, thinking about what each statement means to your heart.
•There is no such thing as “later” with God, only now.
•There is no such thing as being neutral with God–you can go only backward or forward.
•There is no such thing as playing both sides.
•There is no such thing as great results without sacrifices.
•There is no such thing as lies without consequences.
•There is no such thing as mixing God’s values with others that are more popular.
•There is no such thing as being good on your own.
•There is no such thing as a real God without a real devil.
•There is no such thing as “I know better” when there’s God.
•There is no such thing as harmless fantasies about women.
•There is no such thing as a disconnected and productive
•There is no such thing as a good “secret” that contradicts God’s Word.
•There is no such thing as a good conscience without the Holy Spirit.
•There is no such thing as a relationship with God without communication.
•There is no such thing as growth without testing.
•There is no such thing as freedom without responsibility.
•There is no such thing as getting hurt by others and not needing to heal.
•There is no such thing as risking more for God and getting less back.
•There is no such thing as a bloody Savior and a lazy believer.
These are the bottom lines of this book. I wish these were my thoughts, but they are not. They are God’s. They are His code for His followers. They are truth. They are unchangeable. They are a source of blessing or, if ignored, a source of judgment. They will save you a ton of pain and may even save your life–if you accept them in your heart now.
These bottom lines could have saved me a ton of pain. At one time, I was stupid enough to believe that I could play Christian and also play cool with the party and girl scene at school. I’ll never forget one hottie telling me, “You are like the perfect blend of religious and cool.”
There is no such thing as
a bloody Savior and a lazy believer.
I thought to myself, Wow–what a great witness.
Ha! What a joke I was. One night I would hang out with my Christian friends at a Bible study, and the next night I would be laughing my head off at a huge beer bash with the “stoners.” It’s a good thing that I had friends praying that God would rattle my world and get me back on track. I needed my cage rattled, because there were parts of me that really liked the feelings of acceptance and the danger of dancing with sin. What I didn’t like was the war raging within me, which made me miserable. But I never discussed those feelings with anyone.
The Man Zone
Let me share a little story with you:
The young knight says to the king: “I love your daughter with all my heart and soul. I want to marry her.”
The wise king says: “Then go find a dragon and bring me its head. Then you may have my daughter’s hand.”
The young knight asks: “Did I mention I have a large inheritance?”
We chuckle reading this story, but when you stop and think about it, the wise king didn’t want a flippant response to the condition that he set for giving his approval to the match. What the wise king was really saying to the young knight was this:
•Do you have the courage of a man, or will you run from your problems?
•Is there depth to your desire for my daughter?
•How bad do you really
want my maiden?
•Will you change your tune under pressure?
•Will you face your fears and discover the man within?
•Will you risk everything?
Every caring father wants to know what lies beneath the surface before he hands his priceless daughter over to what looks and smells like a gorilla. He lays down a gauntlet to test what’s on the inside. What about you?Young man:
“I want to live for You,
God. I love You. I want to be part of Your plans. Forever.”God:
“Are you willing to slay the dragon?”
The reason you have this book in your hands is because you’re in the Man Zone now. The game has changed. Old ways don’t cut it anymore. You can’t laugh off your childish mistakes. You are maturing, which means you should be becoming serious about God. He’s certainly getting serious about you. Before, He may not have held you accountable for some things, but now that you’re becoming older, that’s not acceptable to Him. Your future is at stake. Your mission for Christ–which only you can fulfill–could be hindered. You will be responsible for the choices you make.
The game has changed. Old ways
don’t cut it anymore. You can’t
laugh off your childish mistakes.
Don’t blow off this important moment from God as if this was just a nice book your momma would love to see you holding. This is a life-and-death issue in the most serious and eternal ways. We’re talking about a crossroads of character that will define your destiny.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life, so that you may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
Every great man in the Bible crossed through the Man Zone spiritually. Sure, many received help. Moses assisted Joshua. Jonathan aided David. David charged Solomon. The apostle Paul inspired and called out Timothy. Jesus told Peter he would be the man in Matthew 16:18. That’s why I want to be that person who helps you step into the Man Zone.
On the field of battle the enemy lays down “suppression fire,” which is intended to keep you pinned down so they can move their guys into a better position to kill you. In spiritual warfare Satan calls for suppression fire to distract you. He will work overtime to get your focus somewhere else. He may get you too busy to notice God or too tired to read your Bible or too comfortable in front of the television or computer to spend time with God. He’ll do what it takes to keep you away from the Man Zone.Fair Warning:
continued reading from this point will involve serious distractions, temptations, internal conflicts, anxiety, fear, sexual thoughts, and any other available tactic. Why? Because the Enemy wants to limit you from becoming the man God wants you to be.
Draw Your Sword
I want you to lay your hand to your sword, draw it out, and stare the Enemy in the eye without flinching. God has got your back, and His goal is for you to drive the sword of His truth into the heart of compromise. He’s looking for brave young men who will give their total loyalty to His kingdom:
God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9, msg)
There’s another thing you need to be alert about, and that’s where we’re headed in this book. As you may already be aware, Every Young Man, God’s Man
is connected to a series that includes Every Young Man’s Battle.
That book was specifically written to address the sexual issues young men face, including sexual temptation, masturbation, and how to manage your mind and your body to honor God and women. If you are struggling most in the sexual arena, I urge you to read Every Young Man’s Battle. Every Young Man, God’s Man
goes beyond that struggle into other issues connected to living out your faith in every
area of life, not just the sexual area.
God has got your back, and His goal is
for you to drive the sword of His truth
into the heart of compromise.
While sexual thoughts and behavior are the number one temptation, God did not create us to always be playing defense. Growth comes from gaining self-control in this area, which will help you think about God and His plans for you. Sexual self-control is a way to choose God’s plan for your life, which will give a strong foundation for the future and a life full of His purpose.
In the chapters ahead, you’ll learn:
•how to get unstuck in your spiritual walk
•how to have a total versus partial heart commitment to God
•how to face the truth about yourself, and then grow
•what attitude pleases God the most
•why blending your world with God’s is not His plan
•how to manage the dark side within
•how to know who your friends really are
•the consequences of keeping secrets from God and others
•the power of total honesty
•how to overcome sin on a daily basis
•how to connect to God in His way
•how to use pressure and temptation for progress
•how to starve sin out of your life
•how to deal with major family or personal traumas
•how to keep your motivation to be God’s man even when it hurts
You will be reading tons of stories about me and some of your fellow brothers that will help you see these principles in real time. Some are funny, some will scare you silly, but all are true. The best thing is that you’ll relate to them and see that you’re not alone.
Ready? Good. Keep your hands inside the car at all times, and make sure your seat belt is securely fastened.
You are now entering…the Man Zone.
Excerpted from Every Young Man, God's Man by Stephen Arterburn and Kenny Luck with Mike Yorkey. Copyright © 2005 by Stephen Arterburn and Kenny Luck with Mike Yorkey. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.