Book Notes | Manhood Restored

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Every Saturday I share some notes from a book I just read. To see some past ones, click here. This week’s book is one I used for my sermons for Revolution Church’s Fight series. It’s Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole by Eric Mason.

Here are some things that stood out from my reading:

  1. Most of the devolution of our contemporary culture can be traced directly to the brokenness of men today. Whether the issue is faithfulness, crime, poverty, or a myriad of other social ills; at the core is the failure of men to become what God has created them to be.
  2. If the saga of a nation is the saga of its families written large, then the saga of a family is the saga of its men written large.
  3. Our gender continues to be steeped in a crisis of identity—genocide, self-preservation, spiritual anemia, role disillusionment, absence, perpetual adolescence, and emotional immaturity. We are deeply deficient in understanding and practicing how to relate to God and others in a healthy way.
  4. Whereas we were created to represent God’s reign in creation, we continue to invent ways to deepen our separation from God by rejecting Him in every area of our lives.
  5. We need fathers, and we’re only going to be fathers to our children when we see that true fatherhood is rooted and defined in God the Father.
  6. relationship is the most compelling factor driving what it means to be made in the image of God.
  7. There was much more wrapped up in that piece of fruit in the garden than just a bad decision. With sin, there always is. We talk ourselves into thinking that sin is just a bad choice; it’s not. It’s much deeper than that for us, just as it was for Adam.
  8. Instead of responsibility, representation, and relationship, things like chauvinism, violence, passivity, insecurity, and addiction would characterize generation after generation of men in a continually increasing way.
  9. As men, we must not become lethargic in our vigilance against things that would attempt to destroy manhood.
  10. Daddy issues have been a cross-ethnic, cross-socioeconomic, cross-generational problem that doesn’t discriminate.
  11. At the center of the father’s responsibility was the spiritual leadership that he exercised under the headship of Yahweh. This leadership would permeate every single area of the family’s life and function. Though fathers were to execute this role in partnership with the mother, the primary responsibility fell to the dad.
  12. As it is, though, young men are forced to wing it when it comes to manhood. This lack of clear expectations and standards has contributed to the crime rate, unemployment, depression, sexual confusion, and family decay. But if we are to have a return to some kind of cultural standard for fatherhood, it can only come through God, expressed through His people.
  13. So central is God’s role as Father those transformed through the gospel of Jesus Christ that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to make sure believers know God as Father (Rom. 8:15–16). The Holy Spirit encourages us to relate to God as Father.
  14. Jesus is the means by which everything will be restored. Though the Bible has much to say about the subject of restoration, most of the uses of this word are connected to Jesus in both the Old Testament and New. Because of Adam’s sin, Jesus will restore all things for the Father.
  15. Restoration is the act of returning something to its original state. The Bible has a slightly different take on the word, because sometimes when it speaks of restoration, it is not returning something to an original state, but to a state it has not been in before. In either case, though, restoration is about being in an originally intended state—it’s about God’s holy intention for it.
  16. In a sense, this restoration is already fully accomplished by Jesus. The cross makes it a done deal. Through the cross, we have been fully reconciled to God in Christ, and our restoration is therefore a present reality: “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!” (Rom. 5:10). The greatness of the cross cannot be overstated. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has restored all things. And yet this restoration is not yet fully realized. So Jesus is also restoring all things.
  17. Jesus has restored all things. Jesus is restoring all things. And gloriously, we are confident that Jesus will restore all things.
  18. Most men, if they’re honest, have something about themselves they want changed. Whether it is a physical feature or simply the kind of clothes they can afford to wear, men typically think that if something on the outside changes something on the inside will naturally follow. If we had the right suit, we would be more confident. If we had the perfect physique, we would feel more complete. See the problem? We assume that real change comes from outside in; it does not. Transformation goes the other direction, from the inside out. When men can avoid the mistakes of over individualization and unrealistic expectations, they can begin to experience this kind of true transformation. True transformation—real, long lasting, life change—is an overhaul of the soul first and foremost.
  19. This was one of my first encounters with sexuality. And because my first contact was a fallen one, I would need Jesus to reboot me and then teach me God’s viewpoint of sexuality.
  20. Most men’s first encounter with sex is a perverted one. Whether it was molestation, rape, porn, or playing doctor, many of us have had our “innocence” disturbed. As if being born as a sinner into a sinful world wasn’t enough, it is as easy as a couple of clicks on a keyboard for a young boy to move even further down the road of sexual corruption. When we look across the over-sexed landscape of our culture, there is something inside us that cries out, “It’s not supposed to be this way!” That’s entirely true. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
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When You Manipulate Your Husband, You Lose Him

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Over time in a relationship, couples fall into typical roles. They learn how to push each other’s buttons. They learn how to control the other, how to manipulate situations to get what they want and ultimately, how to win. This might be through force, silent treatment, being on edge, yelling, withholding sex, controlling the money or the schedule.

Men do this. Women do this.

I’ll post another time about how men do this, but for today, I want to focus on how many wives manipulate their husband and the consequences of that manipulation.

Right now I’m preaching a series through the life of Samson at Revolution Church. While the series is geared towards men, there is a ton in it for women. Like this:

And in three days they could not solve the riddle. On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. -Judges 14:14b – 17

Samson tells a riddle to the Philistines, who are ruling over the nation of Israel. He makes a bet that they can’t figure it out.

They can’t.

So, the Philistines go to Samson’s Philistine fiance and tell her to find out the answer, so they don’t look foolish.

This passage shows a few things about men and women and their default sins under stress. Samson wants to win at all costs. Samson wants to avoid looking foolish at all costs.

His fiance makes the go to move that every woman uses, and uses a lot in marriage, manipulation. 

She wept before Samson for 7 days. She nagged, complained, gave him the silent treatment.

And in the end, she won.

But she lost Samson.

Every time you manipulate your husband, you lose him. 

You may not lose him to divorce, but you lose a piece of him. Trust is damaged. He begins to wonder if you are just using him. He begins to wonder if you have his best interest at heart or if you are out for yourself, your kids or someone else (maybe your mother, his mother-in-law). He wonders if you will fight for your marriage. He wonders what will happen the next time you don’t get your way.

It might be you stop talking to him, stop responding to him sexually, withhold information, give him cold stares, talk in passive aggressive tones, make snide remarks towards him.

Men will acquiesce all kinds of things for peace and the path of less resistance.

So, while many women “win” and get their way through manipulation, much like Samson’s fiance. They lose their husband and a piece of their marriage every time.

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Women, It Matters Who You Marry

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(Photo credit: Lel4nd)

This past week, as I wrapped up our series Beautiful at Revolution, I preached on Proverbs 31. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

One of the things that struck me is verse 23 when we are told what her husband is like.

There are many sides and applications to this verse.

The first is to women. I’ll blog another time about fathers and the impact of this verse.

In our culture, we often minimize the impact that comes from who we marry. Whether it is movies, the rise in divorce, the lack of seeing strong marriages as we grow up, but whatever it is, many people seem to minimize the impact of this decision.

Outside of your choice to follow Jesus, who you marry will have more of an impact on your life than any other decision you make.

The woman in Proverbs 31 marries well. She marries a man who is respected. He is at the city gates, with the elders. The gates is where decisions are made. He is part of leading the city and community. He is respected by the others.

Women, if you want marry well, marry a man who is respected by other men.

Men respect men.

Don’t marry a guy you think you will make into a man. That doesn’t happen.

How do you know if you are dating a man or a boy? Here are few ways to find out:

  1. Get him around men you respect. Men can spot men. They can also spot a fake. Women can struggle with this because they fall for a boy and can’t see the truth. Those around you can. Ask men you respect what they think of him. This might be a father, a pastor, someone in your MC, someone who cares about you and wants to see you find a man.
  2. Ask him about his vision for his life. This one question separates men from boys. Men have a vision for their life, which means they will have a vision for your life as a couple. Boys do not. They are simply floating through life waiting for it to happen.
  3. Look at how he worships. Does he read his bible? Does he serve in a church? Does he love Jesus? How does he worship? How does he use his money? How he does these things while you date is exactly what he’ll do when you are married. Most of the time, men will take these things down a notch when they get married, but that’s a post for another day.
  4. Look at his work ethic. Does he have a job? Does he provide for himself? Is he saving money or getting into debt? Men work hard. Men are called to provide (1 Timothy 5:8).

Ladies, marry well.

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Women and the Cycle of Defeat

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I’ve spent the last 3 weeks speaking to the women of our church in our series BeautifulTo prep for it, I read a bunch of magazine articles, blog posts and books on the struggles women have and what teenage girls struggle with.

Reading stats on body image and eating disorders, depression, feelings of loneliness that they have and how most women live with a sense of defeat and that they will never live up to a standard they have in their mind, a standard their parents or spouse have for them.

While photoshop make the struggle women have with their bodies unwinnable, it is almost like they look though the lens of photoshop for everything in their lives.

I preached on Proverbs 31 this past weekend and beforehand I got a number of emails from women saying, “I’ve read those verses, they are impossible so I simply give up.”

The reality is that most everything in the Bible is impossible on your own.

That’s what the Holy Spirit does.

While the standard for women in Scripture is high, it is for everyone. It is meant to stretch us and cause us to rely on God. That is why Proverbs 31:30 says that this woman fears the Lord. The fear of God takes away all fear, all defeat and refocuses on us on what matters and what will get us through what lies ahead.

Proverbs 31 is a story of a woman through the course of her life. Did she do all those things in the season her kids were small or right after she got married? Probably not.

One of the reasons I believe many women are defeated in their lives (besides the impossible standards they or others set for them) is that they often lack a vision of what their life could be like. I’m not sure if this comes from a personality trait, that men tend to be more logical and linear in their thinking but one of the common threads I heard from women after church this week was how easy it is for them to get stuck in the details of everyday life and not lift their heads above the fog to see what God has for them.

One of the challenges of Proverbs 31 is to have a larger vision for your life. To think bigger than what you do. Your life is meant to be more than what it is. Your life is meant to have a legacy. The problem is that most of the time, legacy is talked about strictly to men. We need that reminder. But women do as well. What you do with every minute of your life makes an impact down the road. This is true for everyone.

Yet, we often spend our moments on the wrong things.

Arianna Huntington said, “Eulogies celebrate our lives very differently than how our culture defines success.”

That is important to keep in mind.

I’d add that God celebrates our lives very differently than how our culture defines success.

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Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

bookOne of the books I read as I prepared for our current series at Revolution was Dr. Meg Meeker’s great book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know.

To me, this is such an empowering book for fathers. We often feel unsure, at a loss of how to relate to our daughters, how to treat them differently than a son, or how to feel like we are moving forward in a relationship with them.

This book is about what a daughter needs from a father that a mother cannot give.

Here are a few things I highlighted:

  • What you say in a sentence, communicate with a smile, or do with regard to family rules has infinite importance for your daughter.
  • Friends, family members, teachers, professors, or coaches will influence her to varying degrees, but they won’t knead her character. You will. Because you are her dad.
  • Loving your daughter better might seem complicated to you, but it’s very simple to her. Being a hero to your daughter sounds daunting, but actually it can be quite easy. Protecting her and teaching her about God, sex, and humility doesn’t require a degree in psychology. It just means being a dad.
  • Fathers, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter’s life.
  • Boyfriends, brothers, even husbands can’t shape her character the way you do. You will influence her entire life because she gives you an authority she gives no other man.
  • Being a twenty-first-century hero is tough stuff. It requires emotional fortitude, mental self-control, and physical restraint. It means walking into embarrassing, uncomfortable, or even life-threatening situations in order to rescue your daughter.
  • Whatever outward impression she gives, her life is centered on discovering what you like in her, and what you want from her.
  • The only way you will alienate your daughter in the long term is by losing her respect, failing to lead, or failing to protect her. If you don’t provide for her needs, she will find someone else who will—and that’s when trouble starts. Don’t let that happen.
  • Authority is not a threat to your relationship with your daughter—it is what will bring you closer to your daughter, and what will make her respect you more.
  • Nothing feels better to a teen or young daughter than being protectively embraced by dad’s strong arms.
  • Do a gut check on your own beliefs, and think of what sort of woman you want your daughter to be. She’ll learn not only from what you say, but from what you do.
  • If you don’t accept the authority that is naturally yours, if you don’t set high standards, if you don’t act to protect your daughter, if you don’t live a life of moral principle, your daughter will suffer.
  • The minute you waffle on your convictions, you lose stature in your daughter’s eyes.
  • Let me tell you a secret about daughters of all ages: they love to boast about how tough their dads are—not just physically, but how strict and demanding they are.
  • When I talk to daughters about their fathers, the conversations are almost always emotionally charged. They adore their fathers or hate them—sometimes they do both simultaneously.
  • Your daughter yearns to secure your love, and throughout her life she’ll need you to prove it.
  • We talked about how difficult it is for parents to be realistic about their own children. Because we want them to make good decisions, we assume they will. We want to believe our kids are stronger, more mature, and better capable of handling situations than other kids. And that’s when mistakes happen.
  • Most parents pull away from their teenage daughters, assuming they need more space and freedom. Actually, your teenage daughter needs you more than ever. So stick with her. If you don’t, she’ll wonder why you left her.
  • Daughters who feel a stronger emotional connection with their fathers feel more attached to them. And the more attached she feels to you, the lower the likelihood that she will be depressed or have an eating disorder.
  • Girls hate feeling invisible.
  • When you show a genuine interest in being with her, she feels more attached to you.
  • If you listen to your daughter attentively for ten minutes every day, by the end of the month you’ll have a completely new relationship with her.
  • Boundaries and fences are a must for girls, particularly during the teen years.
  • Remember that whatever she says, the very fact that you thoughtfully and consistently enforce rules of behavior makes her feel loved and valued. She knows that these rules are proof that you care.
  • Your daughter needs to feel unique and important in your eyes.
  • When fathers don’t teach their daughters humility—that we are all created equal and are equally valuable—advertisers, magazines, and celebrities will teach them otherwise.
  • Girls who have the gift of humility are better placed to have deeper, longer-lasting friendships. With humility, your daughter is free to enjoy people for who they are; she’ll have no haughty desire to cut people out of her life.
  • Happiness is truly found only when it is routinely denied.
  • Protect her budding sexuality and defend her right to modesty. Reiterate to her that sex isn’t a simple bodily function—it is powerfully linked to her feelings, thoughts, and character.
  • Parents are the most important influence on their teenagers’ decisions about sex.
  • Think very seriously about her as a girl growing into a woman, a sexual being. When she is three years old, think about what you want for her when she is twenty. You must, because even when she’s three you give her messages about her body—whether it’s beautiful or chubby. And all these messages count.
  • Your daughter needs you to hug her often. If you are gentle, respectful, and loving, that’s what she will expect from boys. And she needs to know—all the time—that you love her.
  • All girls from eleven years old on feel fat. They feel ugly, pudgy, pimply, and unattractive. Watch how your young teen stands. Most girls slouch if they’re tall. If they’re short, they wear platform shoes. Girls almost inevitably lack confidence in their appearance. So move in and hug her. The effect can be profound.

Here’s the short: if you are a father of a daughter or will be, you need to read this book. As soon as possible. I was so challenged and encouraged by this book in how to interact and love my daughter to become who God created her to be.

To see other book notes, click here.

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Hug Your Daughter

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Few dads realize how important hugging is to their daughters, but I’ve heard countless girls tell me they had sex with a boy (not even a boyfriend) simply for the physical contact, because their fathers never hugged them or showed them affection. Her body starves for you to hug her. The need is especially raw during her teen years. Fathers often assume that their teenage daughters want to be left alone and don’t want to be hugged. This isn’t true—in fact, it couldn’t be more wrong. She needs your touch during these years even more than when she was five. I know that popular culture tells you that teenagers “need their space,” that teenagers are tricky and can leave you unsure what to do, that it might seem safer to opt out and simply do nothing, but that’s all wrong. Your teenager needs you. It’s far more dangerous to opt out of your daughter’s life and do nothing than it is to be a close part of her life, and you know exactly what to do. Just be her dad: be confident, defend her and be supportive, and don’t back away from hugging her. -Meg Meeker, M.D.  Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know

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Photoshop, Beauty & Women

A photographer showed me this last week when I mentioned I was preaching on body image. It shows the standard that our culture holds for looks is simply impossible, because it isn’t real.

Just a warning, the woman in this video is not wearing a lot of clothes, but it shows the sad reality of the standard for women.

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Beautiful Starts This Sunday!

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Beautiful. Strong. Worthwhile. Loved. Accepted. Needed.

These are words that describe how many people feel and want to be seen, it is the drive that pushes us to work hard, workout, watch what we eat, and often push ourselves over the edge.

Men and women struggle to feel like the men and women they imagine themselves to be, or hope to be.

Few people are comfortable in the skin God gave them. The voices of Hollywood in the latest fashions meet us daily in the grocery line bombarding us with messages of success and power telling us what we should be. Will we listen to those voices, or will we listen to our Father, who loves us, created us in His image, and gifted us with purpose. In him and him alone do we find approval and learn what it means to truly be beautiful.

As we kick off our brand new series Beautiful this sunday, we will look at a verse that many people know, Genesis 1:26 – 27, yet few actually believe is true about them. Yet, wrapped up in this amazing truth is the reality that you are who you are created to be, if you will just live into that.

If you or someone you know struggles to feel worthwhile, that they fit in, are beautiful or strong, this is a great week to be at Revolution.

One more thing, you may have noticed, we are growing as a church. You continue to bring friends and family, and God continues to send us new people. This is a good thing as more and more people hear the good news about who God created them to become.

Because of this, we want to make room in our parking lot for them by doing a couple of things:

  1. Carpool if you can.
  2. If you volunteer and arrive early, park on the east side of the school to open up more spots in the main parking lot.
  3. You can also park on Keesal Ave., east of the school.

You will also begin to notice a parking team that will help get people into spots and out of our parking lot smoothly. If you are interested in being a part of this team and welcoming people to Revolution by helping them get in and out quickly, please email Ciara Hull.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

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Why do a Series on Men & Women?

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I’ve been asked by some pastors why we are doing a series for women and one for men.

The reason is simple, our culture has no idea what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.

We struggle with identity issues, body image, how hard we should work, how we should dress, what should we put into our bodies. No one is sure how to let go of their past, how to find freedom from addictions.

While there are commonalities between men and women in their struggles, there are ones that are unique to men and women.

Because we often separate men and women at church in distinct ministries to talk about these issues, the other misses hearing about them. For example, I knew women struggled with body image issues, but while researching my talk for this week on the topic, I was blown by how much and why they struggle. Men can’t help their wife, daughters or be a good brother in Christ without knowing this.

In the same way, women know men desire to work and provide for a family, but why is that so important? How can that destroy and drive a man? If we simply separate men and women all that time to discuss these, we will never have true biblical community that walks together through it.

Another one, why do women struggle with the desire to have it all? Men do as well, but women do in a different way. Men desire is largely material and work related. Women struggle to have the body, hair, looks, house (spotless by the way), kids, perfect marriage and sex life, while cooking great meals and making money. Where does that struggle come from? What kind of legacy does that create?

For men, they struggle with boundaries and self-control when it comes to lust and porn. This isn’t news for women. What many don’t know is why that happens. Where it comes from and how porn rewires the brain of those who see it. How that will affect their marriage, how it will affect their daughter who will feel pressure in college to dress and act like a pornstar because that is all the men around her know.

But, if we bring men and women together and have a frank and honest discussion, maybe we can find  a new way forward, a gospel way forward.

When we first planned to spend 7 weeks on this (3 for women and 4 for men), I said, “This will either be one of our best ideas or worst.” We’ll see.

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Beautiful starts in 2 Weeks!

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We are doing something this year at Revolution that we’ve never done before. After we finish our Breathing Room series we will do a series geared to women and one geared to men. Don’t worry though, each week will have clear relevance and application to everyone.

Here’s what is happened starting January 26th:

Even when you don’t feel it. Even when you’re not happy. Even when you feel condemned. Right now, someone thinks you are BEAUTIFUL. God wants you to see yourself the same way. Join us Jan. 26 – Feb. 9 for Beautiful, a series for women and the men who pursue them.

Our pastor, Josh and his wife Katie will be teaching this series together as we look at what God created women to be, how to become that woman, and what the roadblocks are to becoming that woman. We’ll look at body image issues, how to let go of your past, how to use your tongue in a positive way, and the legacy you should strive for as a woman. We will also talk to men about how to help their wives become this woman, how a single guy finds a girl that God calls “Beautiful” and how to raise girls who are “Beautiful” in the eyes of God. Here’s what we’ll look at specifically:

January 26: Me, Beautiful?
February 2: Letting Go of Your Past
February 9: The Priorities of a Woman

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