Monthly Archives: July 2017
This summer we spent six weeks covering various topics and asking probing questions in order to challenge each other about what it looks like to fight against the malaise of masculine mediocrity that too often is the default for many men. Does God have a good and gracious design for us as men, or not? If He does, then should we not pursue it relentlessly for God’s glory, the good of others and our joy? Is it enough to settle for avoiding the caricature of the modern man as a buffoon, which is so often expressed in various forms of media? Or is there a biblical standard that we should doggedly pursue so that our families, our local churches and our communities flourish and the gospel is advanced?
To be the Godly men God created us to be, here are six crucial truths that men must hold to and excel at.
- Men must make the Bible their authority for all they think, say and do. We must relentlessly build our lives on what the Bible says about our masculinity, because if we don’t, all we do will fall and be lost. We will either live Jesus’ way, or another way – the wrong way (Matthew 7:24-27). There are really only two ways for people to live, and that reality also extends to our manhood. Ultimately the decision to submit ourselves to God, comes down to whether we trust God and His goodness toward us in His design, or whether we don’t. Who do you trust? Who do you believe about what it means to be a biblical and Godly man? Your response to God’s word reveals the answer.
- Men must have a biblical definition of manhood. Real men do what – Serve? So do real women. Real men persevere – right? So do real women. There are bumper stickers that say that real men love Jesus. Is a woman a man if she really loves Jesus? So what is a real man? We can’t relentlessly pursue biblical manhood if we don’t know what biblical manhood is. What makes manhood unique? Here is a definition: Biblical Manhood is gladly embracing the initiative for the primary responsibility to sacrificially provide and protect God’s design and creation according to His word, and for His glory (Genesis 2:15-18 and Ephesians 5:25-27). Women can lead, take initiative, serve, sacrificially love, give, do hard things, encourage their husbands to follow Christ and be Godly dads, etc. But the distinguishing mark is that men take the initiative for the primary responsibility of these things. A biblical man accepts the responsibility to plan and act to love Jesus and help others to do the same. If the male has to constantly be nudged or pushed to take the initiative, then something other than biblical manhood is happening.
- Men must discipline themselves for Godliness. Left to themselves, men tend to be passive and lazy toward the initiative to take primary responsibility. We must discipline ourselves for the purpose of masculine godliness (1 Timothy. 4:7-8). We must be gospel-changed and gospel-driven men who fill our lives with God’s Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) to fight the spiritual battles we will face (Ephesians 6:10-17). Even though it is hard, and even though it may hurt, we must engage the means of grace God has given us to do what He expects of us. On the other hand, men must also be careful not to discipline themselves for the sake of crossing off a list, or to be seen by others. The spiritual disciplines that empower us to love God and others are a means, not an end – lest we make even a good thing an idol or a way to perform for the praise of others. Having said that, I suspect most men trend toward laziness and passivity. “No man will be a spiritual leader in his home if he is not going deep with God in his own private life.” John Piper We cannot be the consistent leaders we need to be if we are inconsistent in filling our lives with God’s means of life-giving grace.
- Men must be honest with God and others. We need to be honest with others and others need our honesty. Men tend to hide weaknesses and failures because they want to be respected as someone who has all their stuff together – as though anyone has it all together. When men close themselves off, they are playing into the hands of the enemy and are hurting those who follow them because they teach others how to hide from what is real. Men must be relationally engaged in the life of the local church so they can get to know other men they can trust. They must be willing to take the risk of sharing honestly about what they struggle with so others can ask helpful questions and pray specifically for them. Honest confession is biblical and good for those who trust God enough to practice it (Psalm 32:5 and James 5:16). Many men are wasting away inwardly, and perhaps outwardly, because they are not man enough to be honest. Wise vulnerability is not optional for the Godly man.
- Men must fight for sexual purity. This is something every man battles with. Whether it is lust, pornography, adultery, etc., every man must discipline himself and find honest accountability if we are going to walk in ongoing sexual purity. This is Satan’s biggest weapon against men and he uses it to devastate men spiritually. One blogger who worked with college students said the number one issue he dealt with was young men who had a lack of assurance of salvation because of habitual porn use. If they were really Christians, why do they keep sinning this way? Were they really repenting? Sexual immorality makes men numb to the image of God in women, to the spiritual needs of their family and it makes us hide from God in the shadows of shame and guilt.
- Men must build a difference-making culture of biblical manhood in their homes and as a part of their local church. How does this happen? First, men have to know how to be men and they must contend together to hold the line of manhood. The first five truths of manhood articulated above, represent the line we must know and hold. There certainly are other truths that would help us be Godly men, but the aforementioned five are critically important. There has to be some sort of expectation and plan. There has to be some way of evaluating whether or not we are acting like biblical men, and when we know what needs to be done, we can fight for these things together. We can stand shoulder to shoulder and encourage, admonish and even rebuke each other according to the need of the moment under the authority of God’s word. Think about just a few examples of men who did not trust God’s word and hold the line. Adam did not hold the line in Genesis 3:1-6, and now we all are infected with sin and are destined to die once and face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Abraham had a very specific promise from God that he would miraculously be given a son, but he listened to Sarai and took matters (Hagar) into his own hands and the consequences persist even to this day. Abraham did not hold the line in Genesis 16:1-6. In 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12, David did not act like the man after God’s own heart. Rather he committed a slew of sins for which people lost their lives, and for which he momentarily lost his integrity. Second, men have to move forward by helping others to know the line and hold it. We have to lead our families to know and trust God. We have to help men in our church fight against the tendency to be lazy and passive in their manhood. Men must be inviting others to join them in following Jesus. We must lovingly press men to love the gospel deeply and share it freely. We must challenge men to be teachable, reminding them of all that Jesus commanded for obedience. We must call for courage and risk-taking. We must own the responsibility of being the solution when there are deficiencies and problems, instead of just being a critic and problem-finder. We must take it upon ourselves to equip and train Godly men who will carry out the mission of the church.
We must know the line. We must hold the line. And we must advance the truth that there is a way for Godly men to live. A man with no plan to be a biblical man, is no man at all. Our families, our churches and our world need more biblical and Godly men.
Manversation – The first goal for our time is to build meaningful and honest relationships with other men.
- One more week next week and 5 Groups – you can continue what we have started here by being a in 5Group.
- Introduce yourself – name, phone number and known birth marks 🙂
- When was the first time you looked at porn and how does that make you feel now? Would you go back and undo what you looked at back then?
- ILL: I read the other day of 9 yr old girl who began looking at porn when she was 6 because lack of supervision on a device.
Relentlessly Pursing Purity in our Manhood
This is a massive problem because of the proliferation the accessibility of porn – it is just a click away!
- Porn makes more money than the NFL, NBA and MLB combined. Not to mention marketing that prostitutes the bodies of women to sell products and services.
What is sexual sin?
- Matthew 5:27-30 – Sexual perversion is: Rebelling against God’s design by physically, mentally or emotionally acting like you are married to someone when you are not, and/or sexually mistreating your spouse.
- Jesus says sexual sin is ultimately a heart issue in us that must be aggressively and severely dealt with. Eternity hangs in the balance (Matthew 5:30).
What does sexual sin do to men?
- God dysfunction A blogger claimed the # 1 issue among college men is the sin of lusting over porn that results in doubting the assurance of their salvation.
- Relational dysfunction – it results in our dishonoring the image of God in women. It makes us less helpful spiritually.
- Sexual dysfunction – studies find that men who look at pornography are less intimate with their spouse.
- “Sin is missing the mark. It is transgression. It is rebellion. It is iniquity. It is evil, and only evil. It covers us with guilt and shame and shame and filthiness. It is folly, the opposite of wisdom. It is a lie, the opposite of truth. It unmans a man. Left to itself it crushes him who indulges in it. It covers the soul with a pall (dark cloud) of the deepest sadness. It separates between God and his creature. One sin naturally leads to another. It shuts the mouth. It opens hell…And God hates it. If we think lightly of sin, we shall not be much concerned to get rid of its guilt or defilement, nor be very watchful against its assaults, nor very thankful for supposed deliverance from its curse or its power.” WS Plumer
Why are men so susceptible to the sin of sexual perversion?
- We are visually driven. This isn’t all bad. There is something good in that God has given us this drive. But it is reserved for our spouse and it is dangerous when perverted. Matthew 6:22 “They eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, you whole body will be full of light.”
- The sins that are the most dangerous are the ones that are perversions of a good thing God has created for His glory and our enjoyment.
- We are not disciplined and so we are:
- Lazy – porn and lust are too good to be true. Porn is too easy. Relationships that produce loving physical and intimate interactions require patience and serving. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” Ps. 119:9.
- Empty – Full of the flesh and not of the Spirit. Because we are lazy, we do not discipline ourselves for Godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8) and therefore we are not full of the things of God, which leaves lots of room for the flesh.
- We are fake – we are not honest. We must be accountable about the extent of our struggle with sexual sin.
Why Are These Men Downloading Child Porn from May 30, 2017 Psychology Today “One popular sight boasts 91 million videos were viewed last year alone. That is 12.5 videos for every person on earth. The popularity of internet porn is generally attributed to the three A’s – anonymity, availability and affordability. People can learn about sex and engage in experimentation without personal vulnerability or fear of embarrassment. There is no responsibility for another’s satisfaction.”
How do we fight for the joy of purity?
- We make sure we are saved. You need positional righteousness and you need Spirit power that comes from becoming a new creation (Eph. 1:12-13 and 2 Cor. 5:17).
- We make sure we are repenting. If you fail and fall, repent. Repent as much as you have to in order to progressively kill the sin of sexual immorality.
- We fight it with every weapon we can muster:
- We make commitments (Job. 31:1) to ourselves and others.
- We make sure we are nourished and full of the Spirit. Eph. 5:18
- We employ negative ILL: Could be your daughter or mom. Are you a rapist?
- Are you an atheist? Then why do you act like no one is seeing when God is looking? God is with us and watching.
- We preach to ourselves that those we love the most need our purity. Don’t you want to be spiritually sensitive to God? Don’t you want to be able to say to your children, you can do this.
- We warn our sons and daughters about it. By the age of eleven, we have better have had the talk about the dangers that lurk and can kill.
- We choose to never to give up, repenting and clinging to the perfect gospel.
Remind ourselves that sex is God’s idea and it is good when done within the protective boundaries of marriage (Gen. 1:27; 2:24).
PRAYER – Lord God, help us to trust in Christ for our standing before You. Help us to be full of Your Holy Spirit and to be like Your Son, who was fully human and never sinned sexually. Lord God, empower us to never give up fighting sexual perversion, for the good of others and your glory and our joy. Amen.
This past week social media was buzzing with comments and posts about celebrating and/or recognizing the Fourth of July as a part of Sunday morning worship gatherings. There are wide-ranging views (often generational) about what is appropriate when it comes to patriotism and Jesus. For example, some of the questions being volleyed back and forth are: “Should churches have patriotic services?” “Should there be an American Flag in the worship gathering space?” “Are we elevating country and civil religion over the kingship of Jesus?” These questions, like almost all things in this increasingly contentious culture, are not easily resolved.
In light of these questions, and others, here is an article that I found to be biblical and representative of how I see this increasingly sensitive conversation. But even this balanced article reveals the tension we find ourselves dealing with in regard to the place of national pride in the life of Christ-worshiping churches. Our temporal love of country should not divide the forever people of God and churches of Jesus Christ.
On top of all the theological and cultural arguments for and against recognizing a holiday like the Fourth of the July, there is a more practical concern that often goes unmentioned.
Do we really have enough time? Is this the best use of our Sunday mornings?
Even if a church wanted to recognize a day like the Fourth, or Memorial Day or any other special day, how would they squeeze them all in without squeezing out regular, through-the-Bible preaching? And how would they decide what is worthy of addressing and what is not?
Take this list of prominent calendar days and consider the sermons that could preached for each one.
- New Year’s Day – getting a new start and living for a greater purpose
- Sanctity of Life Sunday – whether born or unborn, all life matters
- Valentine’s Day – working on relationships and love
- Easter (Resurrection of Jesus Christ Day) – the resurrection changes everything
- Graduation Day (High School and University) – God has great plans for your life
- Mother’s Day – mothers are great and we all love them
- Memorial Day – thanks to the many who made sacrifices for our freedom, especially Jesus
- Father’s Day – dads need to get their acts together and lead
- Independence Day – thank God for this nation under God
- Labor Day – God made work and rest
- Thanksgiving Day – are you thankful? If not, then you are not in God’s will (1 Thess. 5:18)
- Christmas Day – Jesus was clothed in flesh to live with us that He might die for us
That’s 12 days. 12 is a nice number when talking about the twelve tribes of Israel and the 12 disciples, but not for topical preaching. If a preacher did a sermon for every significant holiday that meant something to someone, he would have to give up 12 sermons a year. That is 23% of the year.
Our Eagle Heights faith family usually acknowledge days like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and I am thankful for each of those days, because we should be thankful for our nation’s freedom and those God used to preserve it. But when I think about what the church is and why we gather, I would rather reserve special occasions and sermons for days that are explicitly Christian, or days that transcend our temporal county (Hebrews 13:14) – unless there is very special reason to do so. It is biblically hard to ignore Christmas and Easter, and Sanctity of Life Sunday is really about God’s creative rights and the dignity of every person He has created. And sometimes we will focus on Mother’s and Father’s Day, but we can’t do them all.
Please hear me loud and clear. I am thankful for my country and the men and women who have served and sacrificed. I love my mom and dad, and I hope the best for graduates. I also want everyone to be loved and keep their covenant of marriage, but I am committed first and foremost to the kingdom of King Jesus. We have 52 weeks a year to gather and I want to give those weeks to the most important person in the universe while being secondarily thankful for all the other good things we celebrate. Jesus and His agenda must always have first place, and everything else must bow to Him. Even our love of country and the holidays that remind us to honor and celebrate.