Category Archives: Manhood

6 Essential Truths For Cultivating Biblical Manhood

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Tearing Out Your Eyes For Purity

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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.

One Of The Most Important Talks A Father Can Have With His Son

He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray. Proverbs 5:23

This sentence is the concluding warning to a son about the very real danger of lust and adultery (Matthew 5:27-30). And as much as anything, it is a desperate and passionate plea for the well-being of a son(s). Read and listen carefully to the words of the teacher in Proverbs 5:1-7:

“Give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; that you may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge. For this lips of the adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol. She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it. Now then, my sons, listen to me and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep away from her…”

Do you hear the concern, passion and urgency? Thousands of years later, has anything changed that we should be any less concerned than the writer of Proverbs?

Boy illuminated by the blue light of a computer monitor

My own boys are at the age for which this is a very real threat to their soul because of the easy access to porn. They are on devices regularly and even though we have rules and we monitor it closely, we can’t be with them every single second. If they have a device in their hands, or are with friends who have access to the world through the web, danger is lurking. If they go to the grocery store, there are magazine racks full of women clothed provocatively to entice a sell of something. If they go to nearly any movie, even animated ones, the potential for lust is there. Satan has lust-lures everywhere, and every male (not to exclude women, but I am addressing fathers and sons particularly) must determine in his mind not to let his impulses lead him to take the bait and swallow the sin of lust hook, line and sinker. Satan never stops fishing for the ill-prepared.

Exposure to pornography doubles in a generation

A point-blank, man-to-man question here: “Is your son prepared?”

Grandfathers, have you asked your son if he has had this talk with his son? Because if your son won’t talk to your grandson and lovingly warn him, someone needs to. It’s biblical. It’s needed. It’s loving. It’s the right thing to do. This needs to be done, and when it is done, it needs to be done again and again. Don’t be a coward to awkwardness. Do Proverbs 5 with your son and soberly say to him:

Lust and adultery will kill you, my son, so don’t go near it! But if you do, flee from it like Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife! It will cost you more than than a few moments of guilty pleasure. It will start small, but will numb you deeply, stealing your years. Pay attention son, I know! This is not something to be played with. This is deadly serious!  If you give in to it, you will live in perpetual guilt, and you will recoil from the love of God. It will make you withdraw from God’s word and God’s people. It will make you lazy, because porn is easy. You will not pursue your wife the way God intended. You will not value you her and you will treat God’s design of marriage with contempt. And generally, you will devalue women. You will treat them like objects instead of sisters who were created in the image of God. Son, don’t do porn! Flee from it! God’s way is better and more satisfying.

(9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY AND THE BRAIN)

Fathers and grandfathers, honor God’s protective word and do this. And do it sooner rather than later. As is true in most cases, prevention is better than treatment. Get ahead of this if you still can, but for the love God and your son, do something.

I’ve only know one man who said he never looked at porn, and he said he didn’t look because his dad told him not to. Dad, don’t underestimate the power of hard talks. God uses hard-talk honesty.  That doesn’t mean it will work perfectly for you and your son, but it’s better to have tried than to have disobeyed. Trust the power of God’s word and do Proverbs 5.

One last thought to the guilt-laden dad or grandfather. If you are failing or have failed, remember that Christ finished the work of redemption for your sin and failures. Turn from your sin(s) (repent), rest in the gospel (trust/believe) and let it move you to obey (fruit of assurance) as you may have the opportunity. If you have failed, be honest and make much of Jesus and your need of Him. Jesus gives us the freedom to confess and be authenticate with others.

Let’s be honest, men, we need to do this. May the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead make it so for the glory of God together, for the good of others and our eternal joy.

Sin Has Not Changed God’s Design For Gender

Did sin cause God to abandon His original design for relationships between male and female?

In Genesis 2:15-18, God gives bachelor Adam a work (job), His word, a warning and a woman. Man is created first and he is given responsibility and then finally a complementing companion who is female. She is equal in dignity (1:27) but distinct in function. This woman was meant to come alongside the man and work with him to honor God and fill the earth with image-bearers. And it was perfect and harmonious for an unspecified amount of time according to God’s design.

But paradise and unobstructed communion with God did not last because the woman and the man chose the way of the serpent instead of God’s way. The believed the lie that they could be their own God and provide a greater goodness than the LORD God could give.

And this came about not only because they chose not to believe God’s word, but also because they did not adhere to God’s design. The man was passive when God’s word was questioned and twisted, despite having received God’s word before the woman was created. The woman took on the role of leader, and the rest is sinful history.

So again I ask: Did sin cause God to abandon His original design for relationships between male and female? Or does God expect us to honor His perfect design? I believe the answer is one-hundred percent, yes. Yes, God expects us to trust and obey the original design of equality (Gen. 1:26-28) with role distinction (2:15-18).

Here are two reasons I hold this position:

First, after the fall and God’s judgment on sin, the Spirit-inspired text continues to affirm roles and gender distinction. Genesis 3:20-21 says:

Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

The fact that Adam named his wife indicates that he is lovingly exercising authority over her as the head of the family. Also Eve’s role as a child-bearer is upheld. The judgment on her sin (3:16) does not nullify the blessing of Genesis 1:28. Additionally, the marriage of 2:23-24 is not annulled or separated. Sin doesn’t undo God’s design, it just makes it very difficult to for us to abide according to God’s gracious plan.

Second, when the Bible addresses gender and roles, it grounds that teaching in the creation and fall accounts. For instance, in Ephesians 5:21-33 and 1 Timothy 2:9-15, when Paul discusses gender roles and marriage, he references Genesis 1-3. He goes back to the beginning. Peter also affirms roles in 1 Peter 3, and when Jesus talks about Marriage (Matthew 19 and Mark 10), he references Genesis 1 and 2 as the basis for His teaching.

Which means, if we are going to honor God’s design – that which is for our greatest and lasting joy – we must understand the intended message of the narrative in Genesis 1-3. Also keep in mind that the very gospel itself is grounded in this account (Romans 5 and 1 Cor. 15). So Genesis 1-3 is critically important to our understanding of the whole Bible.

Check yourself. If you have trusted Christ with your salvation, then won’t you trust the LORD God with your gender?

If in fact the original creation was the perfect and holy work of the LORD God, crafted with infinite and intricate detail, then is there any possibility that the fine-tuned design and order is irrelevant today? What does it say about you if you don’t like the design? What does it say about your trust in God’s word and His goodness? You will either embrace the goodness of the design, or you will reject it and the Bible. The organization of the text that speaks of the design of God for our lives is no accident. It is a fine-tuned message about the way God meant us to live according to our gender. Ultimately, we trust God’s word and goodness, or we don’t. You can’t have it both ways. There’s only one perfect way and that is God’s way, and God’s way should be your way.

Sin didn’t change God’s perfect, beginning plan, it just changed our nature. That’s the real problem and our submission to God through Christ is the only solution.

 

Prentice Man-Venture 2013

For several years in a row I have taken the boys on a dad and son get-away to another country that some people call Eastern Oklahoma (I grew up there). The  boys eagerly look forward to this time and so do I. You will see in the pictures below that for the first time we invited a couple friends of the boys to come along, which made for even more adventure – especially in Wal-Mart trying to shop for man-sustenance. BTW, God taught me a lot about patience through these blossoming young men.

We live in an ultra-busy culture that seems to be steaming ahead at a relentless pace, robbing relationships of quality time. I want my sons to have memories that serve as reference points that remind them that their dad was not too busy to intentionally plan for time with them. I have also found that some of the best teaching moments and conversations come around a fire, with a fishing pole in hand or during a walk-about (hike).

And it is not as if I don’t spend time with my sons. After all, I live with them, take them to soccer practices and games and do all other manner of daily activities with them. But I see the need to create traditions with them that cultivate conversations and memories. So as a means to an end, I hope in part that this blog will help me remember this and spur fathers to plan special times and traditions.

Setting out for an exploration adventure.

Setting out for an exploration adventure. AKA a Walk-About.

My boys really like to climb this shell bank. It's just steep enough to be a little scary.

My boys really like to climb this shale bank. It’s just steep enough to be a little scary.

As far as I know, the only casualty of the trip - a frog that died at the end of a Red Rider BB Gun.

As far as I know, the only casualty of the trip – a frog that died at the end of a Red Ryder BB Gun.

What goes down, must come up.

What goes down, must come up. Climbing up a ravine.

A nice sized crappie. I didn't have time to fish we caught so many fish and limbs.

A nice sized crappie. I hardly had time to fish because we caught so many fish and limbs.

We ran some jug lines. This one was about 8 lbs. We also caught a 7 and 3 pounder.

We ran some jug lines. This catfish was about 8 lbs. We also caught a 7 and 3 pounder.

Elij and Landon displaying their catch from a jug-line.

Elij and Landon displaying their catch from a jug-line.

The dock where many a fish was caught.

The dock where many a fish was caught.

Luke and I waiting on the next fish to bite.

Luke and I waiting on the next fish to bite.

Elijah and I picking some apples.

Elijah and I picking some apples.

Campfire, hot-dogs and smores with my long-time friend Daniel Milligan and his  daughter, Maggie, and son, Reese.

Campfire, hot-dogs and smores with my long-time friend Daniel Milligan and his daughter, Maggie, and son, Reese.

Four great boys.

Four great boys.

Dinner at Poppy and Grammy's house on the way home.

Dinner at Poppy and Grammy’s house on the way home.

Water Blasts to the Back and Thoughts on Fatherhood

Me and the Boys at SDCI was mowing and sweating profusely when I felt a sudden and unexpected shot of  wet and cold on my back. Though it felt briefly refreshing, it startled me and for an instant it irritated me. Isn’t there an unspoken rule that you don’t sneak up on a man when he is working? After all, mowing requires concentration and effort and I could have cut my foot off or chopped down a flower. So I turned to confront the culprit and standing there with water gun in hand was Elijah “Sniper” Prentice, smiling from ear to ear and looking as though he had done something worthy of commendation.

Seeing his pleasure, I playfully acknowledged his feat, and an instant of irritation turned to a moment of joy as we delighted in each other as father and son.

This prompted me to think about the unexpected joys of fatherhood and how I should cherish them while I can, because the days of water blasts to the back will soon be gone.

Here are some other truths, responsibilities, privileges and unexpected joys of being a father that came to mind because of a direct hit from Elijah.

  • There is a Heavenly Father. A human father should recognize that there is a heavenly Father who is perfect and worthy of our emulation (Matt. 5:48).
  • Fathers should embrace biblical manhood. To be the father that the Heavenly Father would have us be, each of us needs to be the kind of man who will “gladly embrace sacrificial responsibility (Eph. 5:25) to cultivate (produce) and protect (keep)” what God has given to us (Gen. 2:15). You don’t have to be married or be a father to be a man, but you do need to be a Godly man to be the father that God would have you to be.
  • Fathers will need to patiently repeat themselves. Before I could mow the lawn, I had to pick up balls, bricks, toys and rocks. How many times have a I instructed the boys to be responsible and pick up after themselves? A father should accept the responsibility of patiently instructing by repeating himself until authority is respected, and truth is understood and applied. He will need to do this with gentleness and sometimes he will need to do it forcefully, but always patiently. Is this not how the heavenly Father teaches us?
  • Fathers should show and tell. Instruction is essential (Eph. 6:4) but so is modeling. If a man is going to tell his children to pick up after themselves, then they need to see him picking up after himself, and better yet, they need to see him showing what he expects by helping them do it the right way.
  • Fathers should take less so they can gladly give more. Augustine of Hippo said of God, “You release (forgive) us of our debts, but lose nothing thereby.” God gave His only Son to ransom many (forgive) from sin by death. And yet in giving, did He not gain instead of lose? A father should realize it is in giving that he receives. Instead of pursing boy toys and earthly treasures for himself, a father should want less so he can give more to his children; especially of his time and energy. See Matt. 7:9-11.
  • Fathers should love deeply the mother of their children. One of the greatest gifts a father can give to his children is the security of a verbal, visible, consistent and sacrificial love (Eph. 5:25). Children need to see and hear fathers stick to their covenant commitment before God – for better or worse.
  • Fathers should work at loving the bride of Christ – the Church. You can’t fully love the heavenly Father if you don’t love the Son. And you don’t fully love the Son if you don’t love His universal and local body. Children need to see fathers love what God loves.
  • Fathers should ask for forgiveness – a lot. I’m fairly confident that we all know that fathers fail a bunch – it’s a hard and demanding job. We are pretty good at failing and it is one of the few things in life that doesn’t require training and effort. So when a father fails and causes disappointment, he must see it as a powerful opportunity by acknowledging his failure and asking for forgiveness. “Will you forgive me?”, is a powerful question that should be familiar to your family.
  •  Fathers should learn to rest despite the failures. Present failures, and regrets about distant failures, can destroy a father. Though we are called to be perfect, none of us is, and that is why we need Jesus and His gospel so very much. Godly fathers must learn to rest in the finished work of Jesus. It is in Christ that we are made perfectly righteous in the sight of God, and because of God’s grace in Christ that we find the strength to be the father God has called us to be. Grace is never an excuse to give up or coast, rather grace protects us from living in guilt and motivates us to glorify God in all that we do because we have been given so much – including the grace and privilege of fatherhood.

Replication is Probably Happening

This morning at our weekly men’s gathering we used an article by Michael Hyatt called, Leadership and the Law of Replication, as a spring board for some very challenging discussion. In summary, he argues that those we lead will be like us for better and for worse – even if we don’t recognize that it is happening.

And that’s why it is important to have some self-awareness and other-awareness. We have to know something of our own strengths and weaknesses and we also have to be willing to see them in others and recognize that it is probably a reflection of our leadership. This is especially true in parenting. Why do your children act the way they do? When you observe them, you are probably looking at a living mirror. And as one man pointed out this morning, that’s scary, and even cringe-worthy.

But how does replication take place? One of the most helpful moments of the morning was when we identified three ways replication happens. These observations primarily came from the opening story in the article that is posted above. Replication happens:

  1. By what comes naturally. What is it that we do that we don’t even know we are doing it because it is so much a part of us that we are like fish in water? What comes natural to us tends to happen over and over again. The question becomes this: “Is natural helpful or hurtful?” This is why self-awareness is so important; you are passing on something to those you influence and/or lead.
  2. By what is done consistently. What is done over and over again sticks. This is why repetition is a necessary component of teaching.
  3. By what is distinctly noticeable. Replication happens because something is visibly modeled that does not fit with what is normal. What do we do that sticks out to others? Whatever it is, it probably is being replicated – whether good or bad.

The potential trouble with all three of these means to replication is that they may not produce a desirable and virtuous outcome. So I offer four guardrails to protect us from ignorant and accidental error:

  1. Begin by asking what you hope to accomplish. What is your goal? What is the result you hope to see? What is success? If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you need not proceed. Imagine deciding to build something without knowing what you want to build. That’s a recipe for frustration. 
  2. Have intentional processes. Plan to take actions that are noticeable and consistent for others to see. You may also have to eliminate some things that come naturally that don’t accomplish the intended end. For instance, if you desire responsive and disciplined children, don’t watch TV while eating potato chips for four hours a day.
  3. Seek to be self-aware. It’s a frightening thought that you could be passing on to your children or followers something that you are completely blind to. Ask introspective questions about yourself often.
  4. Embrace community and shared leadership.  The shortcoming of number three is that we really like ourselves and are therefore often blind to weaknesses that are obvious to others. We should invite trustworthy and wise people to critique our lives. When was the last time you asked your spouse what you could do better? What about a fellow leader? Also, by placing ourselves  in a committed community of people and by sharing leadership, our weaknesses can be minimized because the people who follow us see a diversity of strengths that no one person alone possesses. My sons, for instance, need to see other males who are acting like men so that they don’t conclude: “That’s just the way us Prentice men do it.”

If we hold any kind of influence with people then there will be replication. So consider this question: If people imitated me in everything I did, would I be glad?

Switching It Up; Family Devotions at the Prentice House

I write this with the hope that it will spur others on to take up the privilege and responsibility of disciple-making in the home, and to show that there is a time to re-evaluate and make changes.

I recently became quite frustrated with our lack of a consistent and disciplined routine, especially in the morning. It seemed we were not finding time in the evening to have a family Bible time and the mornings were filled with the distraction of Curious George and whatever Luke’s selection might be. I told our family that starting this week there would be no more TV in the morning. That announcement was met with some resistance, but sometimes a parent has got to be a parent and not just a friend.

So here’s what our family has just started doing:

  • No TV in the morning. It has been surprisingly peaceful and it makes it easier for all of us to listen and focus.
  • At around 7:30 we will have a time of Catechism. Catechism simply means to instruct in an orderly manner using questions and the Bible to answer those questions. Here is the one we have started using. Baptist Catechism. We will answer one question per week, reading one scripture per day. There are 118 questions so there is plenty of material. You can download for free the Catechism here.
  • I also plan on alternating each day some personal time with the boys going over AWANA verses and praying for them. This I want to do before our family time.

This time does not need to be very long. I think keeping it short is the best strategy. But one thing it must be; it must be consistent and we must have a plan to do it.

The other point I would make is that the responsibility falls to the parents and especially the father to be disciplined in making it happen. We need to go to bed on time and get out of bed on time. We parents, and especially the man, have to be the pace-setters and have our stuff done so we can prompt the children. If a family devotional time isn’t happening in the house, it’s nobodies fault but the fault of the parent. We can’t blame tiredness or busyness because that’s always going to be there. This is too important of a responsibility to put on the back-burner.

My fresh realization of my responsibility is what recently prodded us to make a change. I hope it prods you to start, or do whatever you need to do to do something consistently in your house that teaches in an orderly manner the truth of God’s precious and life-giving word.

Do You Want To Be Pure? Check Yourself!

We all have vices. We all have sin tendencies that confound and cause us to despair – even deeply despair.

How can a person keep their way pure?

This is what the psalmist asked in Psalms 119:9 and we are not left hanging.

So what’s the secret? How can sin be restrained? How can a person keep their way pure?

First answer: God’s word. Verse 9 leads off with the only question of the section and then gives a summary answer in verse 9b: “By keeping it according to Your word.” But the psalmist then gives us more to work with.

Second answer: Active word-centered discipline.  How do you maintain purity?

  • V. 10 – You seek God with all your heart so you don’t wander from His commandments. Do you seek God will all your being?
  • V. 11 – You treasure God’s word so you don’t sin. Do you treasure the word of God in your heart?
  • V. 12 – You praise God with a teachable and humble heart. Do you praise God when tempted?
  • V. 13 – You speak God’s word to others because it overflows from your heart. Are you regularly overflowing audibly with the word of God?
  • V. 14 – You rejoice over the word of God more than the treasures of the world. Do you love to hear and obey God’s word more than you desire the stuff of this world? What’s more valuable to you?
  • V. 15 – You meditate on God’s word and heed what it instructs. Do you meditate and respond rightly to what God has said?
  • V. 16 – You delight in God’s word so that you can’t forget it. Do you love God’s word so much that you have memorized it?

How do you fight sin? How do you fight for purity?

You discipline yourself to seek, treasure, praise, speak, rejoice, meditate and delight. This is what you do to fight for purity.

Are you doing these things? If yes, praise God. If no, then be honest about the fact that you may not desire purity as much as you think you do.

If you and I want to beat sin we can’t passively read the Bible every once in a while. We can’t scratch at the surface of the depths of God’s special revelation. We must dig and dig deep. We must be consistently active. We must make extended time for God’s word. We must discipline ourselves to actively know and keep the word of God.

So if your sick of sin, don’t complain or give up. With all your heart discipline yourself to know and do the word of God.

The Commercial Emasculation of Men

Father’s Day is drawing nigh and so with it comes a barrage of commercials selling phones, cars, cologne, steaks and everything  Lowes has to offer. These commercials are certainly not all bad, but some of them are deeply bothersome – at least to me.

Now I don’t want to be the guy who makes a mountain out of a molehill, but I do believe it is important to think and be wise about what our culture believes and is communicating. I think it is important to ask if we are somehow being inoculated in a detrimental way.

I recently was watching the primary cultural inoculating medium – the television – when I saw this commercial:

This commercial bothers me a lot and it does so because I think it is unintentionally selling  a bill of goods (an idea) as normative. And it isn’t cell phones. Here’s what I see in this commercial.

  • There’s an embedded cultural perception. Our culture makes light of things that are subtly and generally true. Sitcoms and stand-up comedians make a living off correctly diagnosing and then exaggerating tendencies. Seinfeld for instance was a show that you could watch and by the end you would be laughing and saying: “That’s just the way it really is.”   The intent of this commercial is to sell you a phone, but it is saying something about men and how they communicate. If this is the way men generally communicate with their sons, I don’t think it is something to laugh about. This commercial makes males look like cavemen who are barely capable uttering a string of intelligible words. And even if it is generally true for many, it’s not alright.
  • Perception: Men are cluelessly not engaged. It also appears to further our pop-culture view of men, and especially fathers, as very unengaged. Adam was unengaged in the battle for the mind and heart of his covenant mate (Genesis 3:1-6), and look where that got him and us. It’s not alright for men to come home, say as few words as possible and sit in front of the TV and let the wife do all the communicating to the family. Men have got to engage.
  • Diagnosis: If largely true, it’s a massive tragedy. I know this is just a commercial that overstates perception, but here’s the tragedy, a father like that will raise a son who does the same thing. And that’s not funny. Men were meant to be communicators of truth by using words. Adam failed in an epic way because he did not speak up in Genesis 3:1-6. He did not concisely and urgently inform Eve that she was not speaking the truth, the very truth that God himself gave to the man. Men must be more than grunters, head-nodders and rib jabbers. They must carefully and urgently communicate with meaningful intent and content.
  • In Sum: It’s Emasculating. I’m not saying this commercial is meaning to emasculate men, but what I am saying is that if we agree with what this commercial is communicating, then men will think and act in a way that is contrary to God’s purpose for their masculinity. If men think and act like this then we have lost the biblical paradigm concerning masculinity.

Have I over-thought this? You decide. But I fear for us that too often we are told and sold what we are to think and we don’t even know that it isn’t funny. And even worse, we don’t even know it is wrong.