The bottom line is that when Deb and I got married, she was a virgin and I was not. One of the modern myths about sex is that it’s just physical and no big deal. I don’t believe this and that is certainly not my journey. The emotions have been all over the place in my adult life. At one point I can experience the true forgiveness and redemption of Jesus with an understanding of grace that people with less checkered lives just can’t understand. On the other hand, there are still residual times when I ache for my choices of sexual activity before marriage. I don’t blame the girl. I know it was my decision and it pains me. If there was anything that I could take back, it would be those pre-marital sexual actions that I took during the dark ages on my high school years and young adult life. But I can’t.
I have probably been studying God’s design for manhood for well over 20 years now. The first real pick at the subject came during my college years when Todd Owen and I set upon the gospels to learn what we could from the man Jesus Christ. While Jesus is divine, God in the flesh, he was also perfect in his manhood. The text tells us that he got angry with the religious Pharisees, wept over the death of a friend, and got tired after a long day’s work. The author of Hebrews lets us into the secret that Jesus was tempted in every way possible to man yet was without sin. Jesus was fully man just as well fully divine. Therefore we can learn a thing or two about manhood from him.
In addition to attempting to follow Christ I’ve read a number of books over the years along with taking in various conferences and men’s ministry participation.
Where did the weakness come from? Many sociologists will point to a turbulence in time which we know as the 1960s in America. With free sex came fractured families which lead to countless boys growing up without a dad to lead the way. While such statistical data is something to consider, the real root resides much further back in history. The real problem goes all the way back to our first father, Adam, and his forgetting who he was.
What we find in the ancient order of things before sin entered the picture is that Adam was strong. God created Adam to actually rule over creation, to tend the garden and creatively name the animals and even his own wife, Eve. Imagine; all of God’s creation was set down in front of Adam to govern. In short, Adam was created strong. The problem arose when for whatever reason, Adam lost sight of his heart and gave up his strength as Eve slipped into the grasp of the evil one. Adam did nothing. Eve and humanity suffered. Adam forgot who he was. The result was more than his personal anti-mission, but total brokenness within himself, with his wife, and ultimately with God.
But thank God the historical narrative didn’t end there. This past Christmas we were reminded that God stepped into history and made a way for things to be different. Jesus Christ came to bring life and restore our hearts. Jesus Christ came to restore our strength. Yes, we deal with brokenness and the brave man acknowledges that. But yet, when we come to Christ and walk daily with him we can see that God is truly in the restoration business. While we will never experience perfection this side of eternity, we can get a glimpse of what God had in store for us in the life of Adam as he was meant to be. God made Adam strong so that he might bring strength to the world. God made you strong so that you might strengthen others.
So as we get ready to enter the second month of 2015 what can you do to strengthen those around you? Could you be more present for your wife and children? Could you be more supportive of your local church family and its leadership? Could you reengage with some other guys in your life as a band of brothers?
Whatever it might be, the fact is that our strength starved world is waiting for you to push toward the chaos and make a positive change. Yes, they’re waiting for you.
Concluding in the words of Paul; “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.
This Sunday is Father’s Day and for some people that means a powerful time of positive reflection. Dad was great. Others though approach Father’s day with a yawn at best. Either way I typically look at this confused occasion as an opportunity to teach about God’s design for fatherhood and the family. Dads are influential and important beyond measure. When I talk with solid leaders I like to ask them about their fathers and their relationship with them. If I’m studying the life of a great leader from the past or one presently alive that I just can’t get close to I still try to uncover something in connection to their fathers. Almost without exception, the great Kingdom leaders that I know had a good relationship with their dad and he was a tremendous part of their inner formation.
My story is not too shiny in this department. When people ask me about my father I sometimes jokingly reply, “Well, which one”? I suppose I could categorize my journey with dads this way.
What does maturity and manhood really look like? According to Skyler Wilder who writes for NBCOlympics.com; it looks like David Wise who tore up the half pipe free-style ski event for a gold medal this past Tuesday. In Wilder’s post David is shown to be a great young and mature man who is even thinking about possibly being a pastor some day. I was thrilled to see such credit given to a young man of God. The interesting thing about the post was the number of times Wilder referenced David’s maturity and actually called it an alternative lifestyle. While the immediate context probably is a contrast of David to the other “dudes” who rip up the slopes with more power than I could ever muster, it does raise a question of what manhood really looks like in America and the Post-Modern West. The sad reality is that a young man in his early 20s who is already married and a father with a life focus used to be called normal in western culture. Such is not always the case today. In fact, Kay Hymowitz ran a report in the WSJ a few years ago that simply posed the question; “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” In her article Hymowitz observes that the Western culture is undergoing a phenomina of drop out men of enormous proportions. The truth of the matter is that countless boys and young men in America are clueless as to what exactly it means to be a man. So many of them are lost with nowhere to go and little reason to get there. What does it really mean to be a man anymore?
Are there answers? Does God have anything to say on the issue? Does it even matter? To dive into those questions and more, be sure to join us tonight at 8p Central as we talk with Steve Spicer, co-founder of Marked Men for Christ, and our other guests about manhood and maturity. As always, if you are using Google + you can find the SND page and send in live questions during the show. We will also be checking for questions or comments left here or on our SND Facebook page.
See you soon.
I turned 43 this past week and frankly it was a bit difficult to deal with at first. Honestly, I think the issue was probably just the fact that I had expected to have accomplished a whole lot more by this stage in my life. You know; saved half the world, published nine or ten books, served a term or two in Congress, and created at least one fortune 500 company. Well, maybe not all that, but some of you know what I mean.
Some of you are in the same boat. Maybe you have the t-shirt and wonder about the stage of life you’re in. The funny thing is that this feeling is not reserved for the retired. I remember one of the young guys on our team back in Nor Cal worrying about life when he turned 20. He thought his age was getting away from him. Yup, I laughed with him and then told him to chill out. The young warrior had no idea. But what is the best course of thought when the years seem like they are slipping away? Solomon advised young men to ““Rejoice” in their youth. But what about when you’re not as “youthful” as you once were? What do you do then?