In 2003, burnt-out ex-CIA officer John Creasy was searching for work when an old friend who runs a security firm in Mexico, connects him with a wealthy businessman. Kidnappings in Mexico City for ransom money were increasing at a rapid rate and Samuel Ramos employed Creasy to guard his nine-year-old daughter with intentions of keeping him just briefly in order to renew his kidnap and ransom insurance on her. Creasy, an alcoholic battling depression and severe guilt as result of his past work, agrees to work for Ramos at a rate far below what his experience might’ve commanded. Early, Creasy socially distanced himself from the girl, but the two soon develop a friendship and Creasy began to overcome his demons, serving as a mentor and surrogate father-figure to the young girl.
On a morning following her piano lesson, Ramos’ daughter is abducted in public. Creasy managed to kill four of the kidnappers including two corrupt policemen, but was shot multiple times in the process and hospitalized. Meanwhile, the Ramos family agrees to deliver a ransom of $10 million per instructions from “The Voice”, the mastermind behind the kidnapping ring. Samuel’s attorney, arranges for the ransom money to be collected from the insurance policy, then coordinates for it to be delivered to the kidnappers. The drop, however, is ambushed by members of a local crime syndicate composed of corrupt police officers, which leads to several of the ring members being killed and the money stolen. “The Voice” notifies the Ramos’ that their daughter will be die as retribution.
Out of the hospital Creasy vows to Mrs. Ramos that he will eliminate everyone involved in the girl’s abduction. With support coming from a journalist investigating the kidnappings and a Federal Agent, Creasy targets several of the individuals tied to the kidnapping for information and eventually learns from the leader of the crime syndicate that the bags stolen at the ransom drop had only contained $2.5 million of actual currency with the remainder made up of plain paper.
Investigating further, Creasy finds Mr. Ramos’s attorney dead and evidence of Samuel’s desperate financial situation. He confronts the Ramoses for the truth behind the kidnapping and Samuel confesses to Creasy and his wife that he’d agreed to his attorney’s plan to stage his daughter’s kidnapping so he could pay off business debts by fraudulently collecting on the insurance. He had planned on keeping $5 million for himself, splitting the rest between his attorney and the kidnappers. He also confessed to killing his attorney for lying that his daughter would be returned safely after the ransom was received.
Using the information garnered by Creasy, the reporter reveals “The Voice’s” identity to be Daniel Sánchez. Creasy shows up at Daniel’s ex-wife’s house and is shot by his brother, who then tries unsuccessfully to escape. Creasy calls Daniel and threatens to kill his family, but Daniel reveals that the young girl is still alive and offers her in exchange for the safety of his brother and Creasy’s own surrender. Creasy agrees and informs Mrs. Ramos to meet him at the exchange site. He and the girl share a tearful goodbye before he surrenders himself and is driven away by the kidnappers.
The plotline for director Tony Scott’s Man on Fire motion picture ended up as a #1 movie at the box office in 2004. Though audiences may have felt that the violence in the film pushed boundaries, few could ignore Creasy’s enduring exhaustion to ensure the safety of the girl he’d been hired to protect. Denzel Washington’s portrayal of John Creasy certainly demonstrated a man’s burning pursuit at bringing justice for a mother and her daughter even if his methods were unorthodox.
Although the Hollywood storyline likely differs greatly from our own, parallels can be found between Creasy’s life and ours. We at times are haunted by our troubled pasts. We resist becoming vulnerable with those we’re tasked with protecting. Yet, we’re each called to take action when harm threatens our families. Evil is in this world and we must take up arms in this daily spiritual war we’re fighting every day. Being men of strength and courage with hearts on fire for Christ becomes our best assault. Be Men on Fire for your family. Be Men on Fire for your community. Be Men on Fire for God.
Set a Fire Down in Your Soul,
Psalm 90:12 New International Version (NIV)
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
We number our years, not our days, but all of us have to live a day at a time. When we do not know how many are left, we only have an instrument of time to reflect on.
If you read in the beginning of Genesis 1-5, we see man’s time based on years until we get to Noah. Then time recorded for man no longer existed to the degree it did in the length of a life span.
We see a lot of life spans divided by instruments of time. I have worn a wrist watch most of my life. I have a work watch and a dress watch. I also have watches that my wife has given to me. They mean something to me because they are from her.
There is also another instrument of time if you like history. It is the so called ‘A-11′ watch. The military men wore this watch to make tactical maneuvers, flights, and to move ships.
This watch was a basic watch, but it is noted for being the instrument of time that won WWII. You can check that out on the web and see one. They are simple but get the job done.
Watches are instruments of time with hours, minutes, and seconds. But they cannot contain moments. Moments can be joy filled, can create changes, and some moments can bring pain. No instrument of time can contain moments.
If you look at Ephesians 5:16, it says make the best use of your time because the days are evil. When we make the best use of our instruments of time, they can help us in the moments of time.
Men, live your moments because we all have numbered days.
Stay the Course in Time.
Strength and Courage
We have all been indoctrinated into an understanding of what love is by popular culture, books, movies, and idle chatter from a variety of sources. If asked what is the most famous or inspiring love story in history, what would you say? Notable contenders may include Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Isaac and Rebekah, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, or whatever the most recent tabloid covers promote. Over the past hundred years, many have taken images and storylines from countless movies that have been put out there. Regardless if it is a romantic comedy from the past 10 years, or a chick flick from the 1930s the storyline is often predictable, but always filled with passion and emotion. Is that what true love really is? Lots of excitement, chemistry, danger, or physical attraction?
We love because he first loved us. I John 4:19
There was a movie that came out before I was born called Love Story which had the tag line ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ Nothing could be further from the truth! It could be argued that saying you are sorry is more guilt than regret, true forgiveness is a key part of any long standing relationship. Love and forgiveness are closely tied together, so the love portrayed in this show must be something else.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7
Genuine love is even more closely tied into self-sacrifice, giving up things I want for the benefit of others. This can also promote a giving spirit in which joy results from helping others. Whether giving of time, energy, or money to make others happy or see them grow, this should be a natural outflow of a true Christian. Whether it is spending quality time with your wife, buying a special gift for your child, or giving anonymously to a total stranger, the result may be beneficial to both parties. It has been said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. Several stories which picture this are scattered throughout the scriptures ultimately illustrated in the atonement of our sins through Christ’s death and resurrection. Do you feel loved by God? Do you know how much he loves you?
What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? Psalm 8:4
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
What happens if you ‘fall out of love’? If this is related to your spouse, maybe you don’t feel as connected or attracted to them as you once did, or there is hurt, blame, or unforgiveness that tries to divide you. Maybe you don’t love your job like you once did and the passion for what you do has died down. Maybe you don’t feel as close to God as you have experienced before, what are you to do? Feelings come and go, but genuine love is shown through our actions. We continue to serve and take care of others at times when we don’t feel like it because it is the right thing to do. When we do this with the right motives, that love often returns again. When we serve God and continue to grow closer to him through knowledge and experiences, that fire can be rekindled. Go and Love!
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
Love in Christ,
Joshua has crossed the Jordan River miraculously, the walls of Jericho have fallen miraculously, Joshua has done a minor surgery on all his men, encountered the Commander of the Lord’s army, and lost to and later defeated the city of Ai. There is a lot of momentum in Joshua’s favor. Now a new threat has emerged. 5 kings of the hill country have come together to go to war against Joshua.
Have you ever felt like every step you take comes with more opposition than the one before? It can be a very defeating feeling! Yet many of us feel that way now. You have made some strong steps financially and the car breaks down. You have finally gotten a rhythm with your family schedule and you are pregnant again. You have finally gotten the promotion at work to find you have to travel 3 days a week.
The Lord looks to comfort Joshua by saying “Do not be afraid.” Why did Joshua need to be reminded again… He was afraid! Whether he lacked trust in God, himself, or Israel we do not know. What we do know is he needed courage to trust. I know in prayer I hear do not be afraid often… I have a hard time trusting God at times. I have an even harder time trusting myself, let alone trusting others. God’s plan for Joshua is complete victory! That is his plan for you! Freedom from sin, shame, and fear. He wants to build your “truster” so you can taste His kind of victory.
Joshua goes to battle and…
Joshua 10:10 The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the Lord destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword.
The Lord does the real heavy lifting! Joshua had to do his part but the victory clearly belongs to the Lord. So it is with you!
Now Joshua is doing his part but the enemy is routing and the sun is going down. The Lord promised not one of them would survive the day. Joshua wanted the Lord to keep his promise. So he threw out a hail Mary prayer…
Joshua 10:12 “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,
and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. 14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!
How do you get to a place where you can trust God with that kind of prayer? You know what the Lord wants you to do, you come expecting Him to be faithful to his promises, and you cry out for Him to move. If you want to activate your faith, find yourself in the middle of a move of God…
Pray like it all depends on God, Live like it all depends on you, and Have as much fun as possible along the way
Go Be Vital.
Recklessly, Obsessively Following Jesus
I love you all–whether I get to see you every week, we only met a couple times, or I know you via Tuesday devotionals. I say that because being involved in Vital Ministries for the past 3 years has taught me uncountable lessons, grown my spiritual life, and connected me to thousands of amazing people all with a unique story that is God inspired…and you’re part of that.
Today is my last Tuesday devotional. My story is shaping a new chapter in which I will be pursuing the publishing of my book and scheduling speaking engagements with groups that involve 14-30 year old Millennials. I feel that God is urging me to transition out of Vital and press more into the Millennials, a generation that I’m a part of and a group that needs to rediscover the value of a life in Jesus.
My upcoming book, Rootless, focuses on the transitions from high school to college to young adulthood and the identity journey traveled that often leaves faith on the back burner. My passion is to ignite the significance of Christ in the hearts of the Millennials and reroute a generation that seems to be directionless. If you have any connections, suggestions, or speaking leads for me anywhere in the nation, I’d be greatly humbled to hear from you in a call (641.780.2709), email (email@example.com) or on my website at corynikkel.com/speaking.
Enough of the sentimental and goodbye stuff though, eh?
There are 3 things I want to leave with you that Vital Ministries has illuminated in my life over the past 3 years:
1) Rise Up: we are all headed for a crisis, in a crisis, or headed out of a crisis–and so is everybody else. The biggest call for Christians is to RISE UP. Don’t let sin run free, don’t let the devil win, don’t continue being the same person, inside and out, that you’ve always been. Rise up. This world needs the men of Christ to be just that–men. Look fear in the face, don’t cower. Tackle the big problems, don’t avoid. Stand up for what you believe in, don’t ignore truth. You all have it in you to rise up, and when you do, the kingdom of God moves with you. You have God on your side, and “if God is for us, who then, can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
2) Love Loud: Although we think force, severity, and macho-ness is the way to “rise-up,” I’ve found love to be the biggest factor to bring change. Every step we take resounds in the eternal timeline and it can often shake those around us. But moving in love calms those who are hurt, confused, or fearful. We’re all emotional beings that are easily swayed by the devil’s whispers–so speak and be love at all times. Let love be louder than every word or action you output in your life, “let all you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).
3) The Best is Yet to Come: I’ve had so many ups and downs the past 3 years, and I know you have too. It’s life. No matter how low I got, no matter how great I felt, no matter the people I met on both ends of the same spectrum, I found that the best is yet to come. Why? Because if you’re breathing, you’re living. If you’re living, you still have a purpose. If you have a purpose, you’ve got work to do. If you’ve got work to do, the best is yet to come. Believe it. You are a difference maker in this world and God wants to use you, every day, for his glory, because that’s what you were made to do: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11). Take up your role in his kingdom.
My friends, this is goodbye for now. Thank you, for taking up the challenges I and the other men in Vital Ministries have offered you. Thank you for not settling to just be a man, but fighting to be a man of God. And never forget God’s command: Be Strong and Courageous.
Until Next Time–Keep Loving Loud,