Manhood at the Master’s Feet

The Psalms and Matthew 18-19 tell us that manhood is more than bullets, brawn, and beast-killing. Jesus was the manliest man who ever lived, and he bounced children on His knee:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15, ESV)

Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” but American men say, “Leave the children to the women, I’ve got hunting to do,” – as though killing animals, even to feed your family’s bodies, is more important than spending time with them to feed their souls.

Jesus says, “Children are a blessing;” American men say, “Children are a burden,” – as though pouring one’s life into someone else’s is not the best use of our relational time on this earth.

Cultural views of manhood reduce children to annoyances, play-toys, or “choices.” Jesus has a better stance: children get blessings, and they give blessings.

Dads and would-be dads out there, maybe instead of listening to Planned Parenthood, mainstream media, or hip-hop artists, we should sit at the Master’s feet.

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More than Mirrored Men

Amidst all the feminist tussle, the beauties of sexual distinction have been lost. What makes manhood and womanhood beautiful in harmony is their respective distinctions in contrast. Not light vs. darkness but shade, color, hue, melody, harmony, and contrasting blend. Think more “summer sunset over the Appalachians” and less “tornado rips apart entire town.”

Therefore, we must recover the beauties of sexual distinction. What makes men “men,” so strong, trailblazing, and fearless? What makes women “women,” so wise, beautiful, and gentle? It may be hard to explain, but the truth is canyons deeper than egalitarian dogma.

Women, we may say, are more than mirrored men. They not the same, and they’re not mean to be.

Take character traits, for instance. Women are strong, yes. Trailblazing, yes. Fearless, yes. And yet, all so and more in their own, very not-masculine way. They don’t mirror men, but add something that would otherwise be lost.

To put it another way, the world would be a much uglier, smellier place without women. There would be far less concern for aesthetic beauty, style, fragrance, color, and light. Men would have a reduced interest (not no interest, though) in deeper interpersonal questions.  Houses might more often remain painted in hospital white, decorated with movie posters and sports figurines. Most everyone would drive pick-up trucks.

Many of these examples are simplified, but the point remains that women are more, far more, than mirrored men.

As a culture, we reduce the personhood of a woman when we insist that she must be the same as a man. We ought to say emphatically that she must not be the same as a man. She is not made to be his mirror, but his glory, his helper, his well-fitted mate and gift and love.

A Land Dripping with Testosterone

Lately, research and anecdote have found that the result of Western feminism has been . . . the loss of femininity.

Imagine that.

Controversial as his insights may be, Turkish writer Yuksel Aytug was onto something when he explained how “Womanhood is Dying at the Olympics.” The Daily Mail’s photos, meant to retort Aytug’s thesis, were de facto support of it. In competitive settings, some female athletes have begun to look rather (fe)MALE.

Feminist’s abortion and “reproductive rights” wars have only further embedded the idea that women are better removed from the biology that displays their God-given differences from men. Feminists, in the end, would rather have women – business suits, power attitude, lean muscle and all – look and act like men.

Rather than God’s land dripping with milk and honey, where men and women complement each other with their beautiful differences, feminists envision a land dripping with testosterone.

Sin’s Rigor Mortis in My Kitchen

or “Why I’m a Bad Husband: How Sin Ruins with a Man’s Communication

One of the things that happened through sin and because of sin in the Garden was that the man and woman started fighting, blaming, and hating each other. (If you read closely, actually, it’s happening while Satan tempts Eve. Adam just stands there! So passive.)

Adam and Eve now will fight over leadership. They will go to war with each other in violent and escapist ways. They will wall each other off with stiff-arms, absent emotions, browbeating, and even extreme physical force. They will hate instead of love.

One of the ways this affects me is that, because of my sin, I often prefer not to communicate very clearly. And, if I’ve learned anything about communication, it’s that, if it doesn’t start most problems, it sure can solve many. But I’d rather not communicate. I’d rather keep to myself. I’d rather leave my family in the kitchen while I do my own thing.

What’s Daddy doing? No one’s sure.

Maybe you’ve seen the same things:

  • A father at the park who’d rather play on his IDrone than with his own children.
  • A husband who passively follows his wife around the store looking like a frightened puppy.
  • A grandfather who sits quietly and lets grandma do all the leading at family events.

What do these men have in common with me? They’d rather not communicate.

We would rather not communicate because communication and leadership require you to give yourself up to be criticized, questioned, ignored, or disobeyed. Every man, woman, and child in the universe has the pride of a thousand actors, crying, “Me! Me! Listen to Me! Look at me” when it comes to speaking out, but men particularly take offense at these negative responses (criticism, questioning, ignoring, disobedience, etc.) to their leadership. We take these things as a slap in the face, a cruel joke, or a cause for physical retaliation.

So our pride keeps us from speaking. We’d rather be silent than slammed, quiet than questioned, reserved than ridiculed. But leadership is precisely as Jesus intended: great sacrifice as great service to others that points to the greatness of God. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Mark 10:44-45).

As men, we don’t like that. As someone somewhere has said, we want the crown without the cross. We want the acclaim without the agony and pain. We want the adoration without the humiliation.

But Jesus told us: it won’t be so for us. God has charged us men with leading our families and those otherwise in our charge. We’re His. So we must speak, speak clearly, speak love, speak the truth, suffer for it, and by grace through faith be saved in the end.

Sin still shakes its death quakes in my kitchen and in my heart. But sin is dead in me, because Christ lives again.

Want Your Child’s Heart?

Show them how to give it away, says Doug Wilson, just like our Father shows us how.

20 Minutes of Core Non-Boredom

How I Work Out

I make no claims to being a workout guru. There’s plenty of them out there. This post is for those folks who say, “What do you do, and why?” or “How is it that you’re in better shape than last year?” or even “Why are you crawling across the floor like a spider?” Friends, this is for you.

Three Causes
A trifecta of causes birthed my workout regimen:

  1. Family Man: I don’t have much time to work out right now, and I probably won’t for the next 20 years. I had to figure something out.
  2. Bad Back: I can’t just run for an hour in the morning or go play pickup basketball every other night. I have to be thoughtful about doing core exercises.
  3. (Former?) Athlete: This means I like to go hard. Plus, I get bored with the same stuff. Running the same loop day after year? Not for me. I need variety (think P90X without the $70 DVDs).

20 Minutes of Core Non-Boredom
These brought “20 Minutes of Core Circuit” to life. Basically, it rotates through 5-7 core exercises per workout and rotate 3-4 exercises for each component. Each exercise gets 1-2 minutes, then we go straight on to the next, or take a breather and water if injury or blackout feels imminent. We may go for 18-30 minutes, but 20-22 is about right. For example:

Monday
Exercise #1: Bicycle crunches
2: Decline pushups
3: Wall squats
4: Wide-grip pullups
5: Jacknife (combined pushups and lower abs)
6: Side planks (for obliques)

Wednesday
1: Spiderman pushups
2: One-legged squats
3: Mountain climbers
4: Weighted situps
5: Weighted lunges
6: Weighted neutral grip pullups

Friday
1: Balance ball drills
2: Offset-hand pullups
3: Weighted dips
4: Side leg-ups (hanging, knees up to chest)
5: Straight planks
6: Ball-grab pushups

Structure and Variety
This program provides me with structure and variety. The structure is two-fold. Time is structured by weekly frequency (3-4 workouts/week), workout length (18-30 minutes), and component length (1-2 minutes). Exercise components must be within the “core” areas of the body: chest, back, abs, upper legs, obliques.

The variety comes from mixing up the exercises so I don’t get bored. P90X calls this “muscle confusion,” but it really is just  a good workout system. Notice this system never repeats a single exercise in the same week, but it worked each of the core areas at least once (often twice) per workout.

Anywhere, Anytime
The final cool think about 20 Minutes of Core Circuit is that you can do most (not quite all) of these exercises anywhere: a park, your living room, the back parking lot at work, your backyard. You just need a few tools and you’re good to go!

A Year of Results
I’ve been doing this for almost a year without missing more than two in a row. This has usually been due to travel, but, even then, it’s still very do-able. This workout has put me in twice the shape I was in a year ago: I’ve dropped a safe amount of weight while building lean muscle and strengthening my core.

I hope this helps some of you; it sure has helped me! Feel free to write in and tell me what you do.

Discipline Drives It Out, Fast

Or: The Hard Way, The Easy Way, and Love vs. Death at the Dinner Table

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
If you strike him with the rod,
you will save his soul from Sheol.
Proverbs 23:13-14 ESV

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.
Hebrews 12:5-6, quoted from Proverbs 3:11-12, ESV

My wife and I noticed something the other day. For all of our cultural wranglings about “don’t discipline your children, just let them do whatever they want, blah blah blah, ad infinitum;” discipline poses a much better way: deal with the problem and move on.

As Ted Tripp explains in his excellent, God-centered book on parenting (and parenting yourself) Shepherding a Child’s Heart, parents must both teach constantly and discipline as needed. But when the discipline comes, the parent must deal with it in private by:

  1. making it clear how our child broke the family rule,
  2. repeating the promised consequence,
  3. giving the consequence,
  4. affirming our love for our child with hugs and words,
  5. praying for our child,
  6. and leaving together happily.

This is leaps and bounds easier than doing it the “easy” way! So many lazy parents prefer to coddle their child’s fanciful foolishness while ruining his character, their guests’ good graces, and other parents’ discernment!

Take a (not so?) imaginary dinner, for example, in which a three-year-old begins to disobey her parents at the table. The biblically wise parent will take the child aside, deal with the problem with immediate consequences and love, and return happily. And when discipline is correctly and consistently practiced, both will forget the trouble of five minutes prior.

The foolish parent, however, will continue to tolerate their disobedient preschooler until she becomes a nuisance to the entire table, thus making the “easy way” rather hard on everyone else and making a harder, deadlier way for both parent and child. If one guest was offended at the wise parent’s immediate action, the whole table is astonished at this child’s mutiny and her parents’ cowardice.

Should a king be afraid of an infant? Never. He must love as God does.

So which way is easier? Make a straight way for your child in the short and long run, or turn a blind eye and pave a path to disobedient death? We’ve found the answer to be simpler than counting to three.

“All Hat and No Cattle”

I love reading and listening to Pastor Doug Wilson. He talks here about father hunger and here about how we can drive off the road of masculinity on two very different sides (the quote is from this one).

Thirsty for Real Bible

This is what African-American men need: they need an affirmation of gospel-centered, biblical intellectualism that is contextualized, yet biblical, and that shows the connection of the entire breadth of the Word of God.

Eric Mason, in a conversation with Lecrae and Trip Lee on “Theological Imperialism and the Black Community”

Theological Imperialism and the Black Community from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

The Riots Evidence Deadbeat Lotharios and Their Unfaithful Sons

From UK writer Ed West, in The Telegraph, commenting that “The Riots Remind Us That Polygamous Societies Are Naturally Violent“:

Countless studies have shown that, the more polygamous a society, the more aggressive its males. Polygamous hunter-gather societies are absurdly violent.

Why? Because where male parental investment is low, the qualities that define a good male mate are strength, aggression and status. Where male parental investment is high, the most important quality becomes monogamy – because without it a woman’s children will starve. These qualities are partly hereditary, and on the male side this tendency for deadbeat lotharios to produce unfaithful sons was noted long before science dared to tread its feet into the field of evolutionary psychology.

In other words, it doesn’t take worldly psycho-babble to explain that breaking God’s law (the 7th of the Ten Commandments is against adultery) leads to a host of other violences against the Creator and His creation.

See, manhood is not inconsequential. Future men often do what they’ve seen grown men doing. Grown men are often acting out what they saw their fathers doing, and on it goes.

Not that men have excuse, quite the contrary. We have none, which is why understanding the Bible’s teaching on manhood is so utterly important, in this and every age.

Son, Girls Aren’t Your Toys

Ten Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me, Pt. 3:
Son, Girls Aren’t Your Toys

The Problem
Boys quickly get the idea that the world is their muddy oyster. Not only are we deceived into believing that the world spins around our giant personalities, we even get to ruin it as we please. So dads ought to teach their boys servanthood and humility in general, but, in our day, especially with regard to ladies.

Without such teaching, boyhood, young manhood (wrongly termed, “adolescence”), and grown manhood spin wildly into slothfulness, narcissism, and carnality. My young life sure did. To my shame, I found all kinds of ways to make my relationships with young women center on me.

So, boys, young men, grown men, girls aren’t your toys. Women image forth our Creator in special ways that men don’t; and they are valuable to Him, first and foremost. To play with them in manifold ways is to take God for a joker and a sloth. He is neither.

Further, to begin such misogyny at a young age amounts to training in the kind of false manhood currently plaguing our country. Our incredibly high rate of violence against women, our holocaust against the unborn, our other violent and cruel acts against children, as well as the untold number of broken families, fatherless children, broken relationships, and emotionally battered women, can all be traced back to grown boys treating women as toys.

Be A Gentleman
To be even clearer, young men and grown men ought to always walk in such a way as to honor and protect women, even females who are total strangers. With this posture at the beginning of a relationship, it is much more natural to remain a gentleman once any sort of friendship or romantic relationship begins. Further, a gentleman ought never to put himself, by words, actions, or even placement in a room, in a position to offend, embarrass, or degrade a woman.

This would absolutely exclude standard man-child practices toward women like:

  • insults and name-calling
  • yelling and general bossiness
  • harsh grabbing and “petting”
  • any angry “silent treatment”
  • dis-communication and vagueness
  • inappropriate, immoral, and/or crude talk, writing, or texting
  • avoidance of proper responsibility and commitment (I’m looking at you, lifetime “players”)
  • slothful, lazy behavior when active service is needed

In other words, be a gentleman. Find out about a lady, what her interests are. Learn to support her in the callings God has given her. Encourage her to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Learn how to spend time just having fun in a group, and later just the two of you. Enjoy serving alongside one another. Laugh, have serious conversations about things bigger than the two of you, and don’t dwell on physical/sexual matters that have no place before marriage. She’s not your toy.

These things must be so because both men and women are God’s creation. We image forth God! God Himself! He is supreme, and supremely valuable! So our lives ought to reflect His glory, His Son, His character, particularly in holy love. And in this our days are numbered in this life; don’t waste them.

By God’s grace, women are beautiful, intelligent, resourceful, funny, kind, and generous in special ways. But, boys, they aren’t your toys. They aren’t meant to be spent, but served. They aren’t to be consumed, but cared for. They aren’t for loathing, but truly loving, in the kind of self-sacrificing love that Jesus Himself lived out for His bride.

***
Ten Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me

  1. Son, You’re Going to Get Dirty
  2. Son, Get Ready to Take on a Load
  3. Son, Girls Aren’t Your Toys

Ten Ways Children Are a Blessing

In reminding our pro-death, self-centric culture that children are a blessing, not a curse, I wanted to also show several practical ways children make our lives and world a better place:

  1. Children teach you that you don’t know it all.
  2. Children force you out of your comfort zone.
  3. Children teach you that you still need a Father, a Comforter, and a Savior.
  4. Children remind you that there are very many real things to fear.
  5. Children make you slow down.
  6. Children help you to enjoy life.
  7. Children remind us that our souls are made for more than this life.
  8. Children flip your world upside down and remind you that it’s not about you.
  9. Children remind us to make the most of every moment.
  10. Children remind us that we are always as helpless as they are before God.

Son, You’re Going to Get Dirty

Ten Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me, Pt. 1:
Son, You’re Going to Get Dirty

Today begins a ten-part series on advice I wish my dad had taught me. First up (only because it’s been on my mind lately): being a dad means cleaning up waste, junk, unclean matter. You get the idea.

From about the ages of seven to marriage, guys don’t deal with a lot of waste matter. We know how to eat meals without throwing milk on the floor (most of us), we don’t like to clean our bathrooms (mostly everyone), and we keep our clothes neat (okay, 60/40 split). All these come from the same desire: avoiding dirt, junk, and excrement.

But when you get married and have children, gentlemen, that all changes. Children volley food onto kitchen surfaces like it’s Wimbledon, drag all manner of sticks and stones into your living room a la James Audobon (“ooh, look at this!”), and (sooner or later, new parents) have many potty accidents all over your house. I mean all over your house.

A few months ago, our potty-training child had accidents in the closet, in the hallway, in the living room, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, and beside the toilet (!!!) all in a span of three weeks. I’m learning that I can’t control it, but I do wish my dad had taught me. So I’m telling you: it’s going to get dirty.

Your house is going to get dirty and your kids are going to get dirty, so you’re going to get dirty. You’re going to do the dirty work because you can’t conscientiously ask your wife to do it all the time. You just can’t. It’s not fair and it’s not right. You need to man up, grab the bucket and rags, and get to work.

So dudes out there who think you’re ready to marry that girl and start a family, know this: you’re going to get dirty. And, if you love the sacrifice of Jesus to take on all of your dirty sins, you’ll love this little gospel-picturing sacrifice, too.

You Can Take the Woman Away from the Daddy . . .

But you can’t take the Daddy out of her heart, writes Wall Street Journal reporter Peggy Drexler in “Daughters and Dad’s Approval.” Drexler found that even the most professionally-accomplished feminists still longed for their fathers’ approval:

Good father, bad father, indifferent father, absent father: In my work with the women whose stories form the heart of my book, I encountered them all. The stories are as different as the women themselves. But I found one thing time and again: Our fathers are a potent and enduring part of ourselves.

And it’s all a reminder of the stamp on every heart to long for the Father who will never leave His own.

On Teaching and Parenting Boys

As long as our country’s young men and grown men are in masculine confusion, we all are in need of help from all angles. Here are some direct suggestions for parents, teachers, and children in this Scholastic.com article, “Boy Trouble?“:

Encourage more boys to take leadership roles in school. By the time boys get into high school, girls dominate in all kinds of extracurricular activities—newspaper, chess club, yearbook, dramatics, student government—except for sports. Yet, participating in these nonacademic school activities ensures that students are an active part of the school community. They also teach leadership and responsibility and give students an opportunity to practice time-management skills. Get more dads involved in school…

Dads boast about never missing their sons’ soccer games, but when teachers invite parents into the classroom, it is mostly moms who show up…

Moms shouldn’t be the only ones checking homework, signing the report card, and reading the bedtime story, either. Little boys need to see men reading in order to understand the importance of becoming literate men.Hire more good male teachers.The number of male teachers is now at a 40-year low. What keeps men out? Male teachers, particularly those in the lower grades, complain that they are often treated with suspicion. When male teachers do get hired, they tend to move into administration faster than women.

In other words, the article says schools should:

  • Put boys into leadership (like the Bible says).
  • Teach boys to round out their character beyond athletics (like the Bible says).
  • Teach boys leadership, responsibility, and time-management (like the Bible says).
  • Call on grown men to live out their responsibilities as husbands, fathers, and leaders (like the Bible says).
  • Encourage fathers to lead in reading to their children (like the Bible says we should do in reading the Bible!).
  • Look for male teachers of character and integrity, and treat them as such (like the Bible says we should treat male leaders worthy of honor).

Again and again, the Bible speaks timelessly to these issues. Now we must listen.

How would your home, church, or school change for the better if young men and grown men lived out their God-given roles?

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