Archive | October, 2013

A Man’s Place – A Response to Mark Driscoll

24 Oct

I recently came across a clip from a Mark Driscoll Q&A session in which he addressesmark-driscoll_profile_img men who stay at home rather than working.  In it, he mentions 1 Timothy 5:8 which tells us that “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

What does this mean in today’s world?  It seems like hard words for any man who finds himself out of work and/or struggling to make ends meet in this economy, right?  First, check out the clip from Mark and his wife: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WPVxndUcHQ.

The context of 1 Timothy

Now, to begin with, I’d like to point out two things.  First off, Paul has been talking about widows up to this point in chapter 5.  This passage is part of a long list of instructions that Paul gives to Timothy on how the church ought to be run.  In Greco-Roman culture, the family unit was the hub.  It didn’t matter whether you were a Christian or a pagan, it was simply understood that you would provide for all the needs of those under your care.  So if a man does not provide for those God has placed in his care, how is his life a witness to the rest of the world?

Secondly, I’d like to grammar-nazi it up here and point out that the wording is does not.  It does not say that those who cannot provide for their families are worse than unbelievers.  If you’ve been laid off or are sick or injured, this verse is not the Bible calling you a major d-bag.  This passage does speak to our priorities, and the meaning of love.  To love is to provide and protect.  As men, we are called to these two duties in a way that reflects Christ.

What are we called to Provide?

When the passage discusses providing for one’s family here, we’re not just talking about bringing home the bacon.  We’re addressing a man’s ability to care for those in need around him.  When it comes to our families, especially our wives, Ephesians 5:25 tells us “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  Love is an essential element of provision.

So, what does it look like to provide well?  For starters, we are called to give up our lives.  This means my career decisions, my financial decisions, my emotional, social, sexual, recreational decisions…..are not determined by my wants and needs but by the needs of those God has placed in my care.  

If it feels like someone just placed a huge responsibility on your shoulders, then you understand.  I’ve encountered entirely too many guys that get into Ephesians 5 and get hyped about being the head of the household like it’s simply being in charge.  The truth is, that if we were to really love and provide for our families the way that Christ loves and provides for the church, our marriages, families, heck our entire lives would stand out like sore thumbs in the culture of “me”.

Roles and Responsibilities

So where is a man’s place?  Can a man be a stay-at-home dad and still be living Biblically?  I’d say that’s asking the wrong question.  Instead we need to examine what is driving our decisions.  I’d say that there are many situations in which a man’s home life doesn’t have to look like the traditional ‘hubby goes to work while wifey takes care of the kids.’  Instead of asking what roles we have ‘permission’ to assume, we ought to be asking ourselves what responsibilities we have an obligation to assume, and how do they show up in our decision-making?

Because at the end of the day, our households will reflect our priorities.  A man’s place is serving and sacrificing, providing and protecting.  This is what we will be held accountable for, and not the manner in which we do it.

 

david hughesDave Hughes is 32 and is an instructor in the Army, teaching leadership at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy on Ft. Bragg.  He’s currently studying counseling at Liberty University Online and plans on going into vocational ministry after the Army.  He blogs at http://davehughesblog.wordpress.com/ and Tweets at @DaveEvanHughes

I am a Man

22 Oct

005There are days when I don’t feel like a man.  When I feel as if I don’t measure up to the standards of those around me.  The messages of the world about who I am and what I should be are over-whelming.  Continue reading

Grace at 2 AM

17 Oct

riley 2 I used to think that I was a servant, and would always go out of my way to help others.  However, that idealized portrait of myself dissipated when the cries in the middle of the night from my daughter Lucy began last month.

My inward response was, “Kristen, you go change her.”

In my mind, the logic was flawless.  She needed to be up to feed her anyway.  I, on the other hand, should be allowed to get more sleep.  Although it seemed logical, I am not sure that my wife appreciated my wisdom.

The truth is that when I was most vulnerable and without any excuses, I found myself not the saint that I had always imagined.  I even considered faking sleep at times that first week or two so I wouldn’t have to leave my cozy bed.

Truth be told, I choose to be selfish, I choose to let my darling wife take care of the neon yellow poopy diaper.

I once heard that becoming a dad helps draw out new characteristics of a man.  I have found that I’m learning more about myself, but especially my weaknesses.  I’ve learned that I still have a ways to go when it comes to serving other people.

The good news is that I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to pretend that I have it all together.  One of the great things I have learned this year is that I can choose to forgive myself and give myself grace by placing myself before God’s gracious throne.

I don’t have to have it all together, but through my deficiencies I can point others to the grace of God.

This lesson of God’s grace is a lesson I want to instill in my precious daughter.  I want her to grab onto the promise that God’s grace is abundant and that she doesn’t have to beat herself up when she’s low, I want my daughter to embrace this reality and to flourish in the beauty of his Amazing Grace.

I’ll still work on getting up when Lucy cries, but may God give me the ability to extend grace to others even at 2am.

Rileys-41Jeremy Riley is a twenty-something husband, father to a
beautiful daughter, and recent graduate student living the dream in the
O.C. A soon to be transplant to San Francisco, he work as a youth
mentor and helps them think through big questions of life. He is a
history lover, political junkie, and a stand-up desk guy.  Jeremy blogs
regularly on the intersection of faith and life at jeremydriley.com
and Tweets at @jeremydriley.

May I Hear Your Voice

15 Oct

In expectation of a time of meeting with God, I wrote a prayer.  I hope it can bless you as you seek His voice.

Lord, may I hear your voice.

May the voice of others – ready with advice, but lacking understanding – be stilled.

May the voice of my enemies – full of hatred and driven by envy – be silenced.

May the voice of the storms – raging and longing for fear – be stilled.

May the voice of friends – full of love, but fearful of truth – be silenced.

May the voice of Satan –filled with lies, and desirous of destruction – be stilled.

May the voice of reason – ruled by intellect, and void of faith and the Spirit – be silenced.

May my voice – confused by worldly wisdom and selfish desires – be stilled.

For while You may use other voices, they are but to lead me to Yours.

 

turn in autumn

Reflection on “Wars Over Christian Beards” by Christianity Today.

10 Oct

Today I came across this article about beards and Christianity.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/september/wars-over-christian-beards.html
[1]

How do Christians get stuck on things that really don’t matter. Faith and manhood goes much deeper than a beard. It’s about the person behind the beard. And their relationship with a man named Jesus.

Sometimes I think some of us have shaved too close, scrapping away all common sense. Instead of judging on the outward appearance, how about loving. Love for other comes when we see their value in Christ, and not what the person looks like. His love will pour out of us so that we can love others…regardless of whether they have facial hair or not.

tedTed Goodwin is a speaker and the author of the book “Lessons from a
Headache.”  You can find more great content from Ted on his blog
at http://ignitetruth1.wordpress.com/ [2].

Just Keep Swimming

8 Oct

Finding nemoHave you ever had God send you a message through one of your children?  God can use anyone (Pharoah) or anything (remember Balaam’s donkey) to accomplish his purposes.

I will never forget the day when I heard His voice coming from my four year old son.

It was one of those days when I was trying to get my two boys ready to leave the house.  Andrew was two, and Josiah had just turned four.  I was running late on time, and low on patience.  I had Josiah sit down on our stair case to put his shoes on, however, his shoes were no where to be found.  I looked in his bucket (where they were supposed to be).  I looked in the coat closet (where they most likely would be).

After each failed attempt at finding them, I spit out more words of anger frustration and anger.

“Josiah, where are your shoes?”  I yelled at him.

In calm composure, he said.  “Just keep swimming.”

At first, I didn’t quit catch what he said.  I just became even more angry that he would dare talk back to me.  “What did you say?”  I snapped back.

He looked up and hesitantly whispered, “Just keep swimming, Daddy.”

The phrase “Just keep swimming” comes from the Disney movie Finding Nemo.  In the movie, an overwhelmed father searches for his son and finds himself often angry and out of control.  In order to help him through the trials of life, his friend Dory continually reminds him to, “Just Keep Swimming.”

Now I want to let you know that “Finding Nemo” was not his favorite movie, nor was a movie that he had even watched recently.  I don’t even know how Josiah knew the expression applied.

But God did.

And I did.

In that moment, my eyes were opened, and tears began to fall as God revealed my failures through the words of my boy.

As a man, you may feel overwhelmed today by demands of work, being a dad, or a husband.  My prayer for you is that admist the stress you feel, you will hear another voice.

His voice – saying, “Just keep swimming.”

Jesus on Every Page – Book Review

3 Oct

Jesus on every page - book“The son trudges uphill, bearing wood for his own sacrifice; his father has decided to give him up to death. What biblical event does this bring to mind? Is it Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, or Christ’s passion in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? The kinship between these two stories is deeper than mere coincidence. Christ is present in the story of Abraham and Isaac. In fact, he is present on every page of the Old Testament.”

Every once in a while I’ll dip my toe into Genesis and Exodus or I’ll make a quick stop over in Joshua, but the majority of my Old Testament reading sadly falls into primarily the Psalms/Proverbs category. It’s not that I think that reading the O.T. is worthless, it’s just that the New Testament seems a lot more readily accessible.

Studying the Old Testament often feels like reading a tome of dense Russian literature while I can fly through the New like some kind of action thriller.

But as Gleason Archer put it: “How can pastors hope to feed their flock on a well-balanced spiritual diet if they completely neglect the 39 books of Holy Scripture on which Christ and all the New Testament authors received their own spiritual nourishment?”

So how do we start? Where does the average Joe Christian go for some Old Testament study training? I heartily suggest Dr. David Murray’s Jesus On Every Page.

I think that part of the problem is that many Christians think (even if they wouldn’t verbalize it) that the Old Testament is somehow irrelevant… inferior… outdated. Guess what? They’re wrong. The bottom line is that the O.T. has everything to do with Jesus. The gospel story doesn’t begin on the first page of Matthew, but from the first page of Genesis.

In Luke 24:13-35 we are given an account of a resurrected Jesus who has appeared to some of his disciples and uses the journey as an opportunity to expound the Scriptures. In particular, Jesus began to interpret all of the Old Testament scriptures concerning the Messiah (Luke 24:27). If Jesus is able to use the entirety of the Old Testament to show how it all pointed to himself then we should be able to do the same. It is with this in mind that we are taken on the same journey that Murray himself took when trying to find Jesus Christ in every page of the Bible, giving 10 simple ways for us to do so.

 

Rather than resorting to technical, grammatical, or logical gymnastics that cause the ordinary Christians (or me at least) to glaze over and despair, David’s tone is that of a conversational tour guide, pointing out landmarks on the side of the Old Testament highway.

Everything is broken down into easily understood terms and sections, and he uses clear examples to underline each of his points. Time and time again, David would point to some section of scripture and it made sense in way that I’d never noticed before… I kept on asking myself, “Has that always been there?” The only beef I had with the book is that the endnotes should really have been footnotes (I flipped back and forth to the end of the book so often that I nearly got whiplash).

This is an incredibly quick read, but it will really inspire and equip you to start studying the Old Testament books.

-Dave Wonders

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(I received this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review. I was not asked to write a positive review.)

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