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In Genesis chapter three, we see the first confrontation of a man in his sin, and it doesn’t go well.
For starters, he’s hiding when God comes looking for him (Gen 3:8-9). This is the unredeemed sinful nature of a man, hiding from the responsibility of his sin. Most of us can probably remember as little children hiding from our parents after we’d done something wrong. A young boy will often hide behind physical objects to avoid taking responsibility for his sin. When he’s older, he often hides behind excuses.
Although Adam admits to eating the fruit, he admits it while putting the blame elsewhere:
“The woman… whom you gave to be with me… she gave me the fruit of the tree” (Gen 3:12)
He blames the woman for his eating of the fruit, and he blames God for giving him the woman in the first place.
He makes excuses.
The truth is that it wasn’t the woman’s fault and it wasn’t God’s fault. It was Adam’s fault.
Real men don’t make excuses for their sin. Real men take the blame and accept responsibility.
When a man chooses to avoid taking responsibility for his sin, he’s left putting his faith in the false saviors of excuses and blame shifting to justify him from guilt. For most men, blaming someone or something else is a self defense mechanism from guilt and shame.
Putting faith in the blood of Christ for justification, frees a man from the pressure to self justify sinful behavior by blaming someone else.
The story of Genesis three begins with Adam avoiding responsibility for what was his fault, and ends with the promise of Jesus, coming to take responsibility for the fault of others (Gen 3:15).
True manhood accepts responsibility for his own faults and the faults of others.
What excuses are you hiding behind?
How can you grow in your manhood by looking for ways to help take responsibility for the consequences of other’s sins?
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I believe that one of the best ways to find a good friend, is to be one yourself. Here’s some thoughts to help determine if you are a good friend or a bad friend.
A good friend lends things and money freely. A bad friend is stingy.
A good friend gives stuff back that he borrows. He’s grateful that his friend is willing to go without something for a period of time, so that he can benefit. A good friend returns borrowed things promptly, realizing that the friend who borrowed it may need it. A bad friend keeps borrowed things (steals them) and justifies why it’s ok in his own mind.
A good friend not only lends, but also gives generously, with no strings attached. A good friend understands that it’s better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35) and loves to share generously. A bad friend keeps everything to himself.
Integrity and Commitment
A good friend does what he says and keeps his commitments, even when it hurts. (Ps 15:4) His “yes” means “yes” and his “no” means “no”. (James 5:12) A bad friend can’t be trusted to do what he says he’s going to.
A good friend is prompt, regularly showing up on time, because he has respect for your time. A bad friend is routinely late. He’s selfish with your time.
Speaking The Truth In Love
A good friend loves you enough to tell you the truth, and he makes sure to communicate it in a loving way. (Eph 4:15) A bad friend is too afraid to tell you the truth, often engaging in flattery.
A good friend builds you up. (Eph 4:29) A bad friend tears you down.
Sarcasm and Joking
A good friend honors and respects you. A bad friend engages in condescending sarcasm and joking.
A good friend has good tech etiquette. He doesn’t text when you are talking to him. He doesn’t take calls when engaged in a conversation with you. If an interruption is really important, he apologizes and politely excuses himself. A good friend returns calls and texts promptly. A bad friend is rude with tech, letting it interrupt conversations. A bad friend is hard to get a hold of and inconsistent in getting back to you.
Listening and Asking Questions
A good friend is a great listener. A good friend makes you feel like you’re the most important person on the planet. He asks questions and puts you first. A bad friend is a bad listener. He only talks about himself, rarely asking questions about you.
A good friend is open about thoughts, feelings, and experiences. A bad friend is surfacy and shallow.
A good friend rejoices with those who rejoice and mourns with those who mourn. (Rom 12:15) A bad friend is envious. He has a hard time being happy for you in your success, and enjoys seeing you knocked down.
A good friend shows unconditional forgiveness and keeps no record of wrongs. A bad friend is bitter and holds grudges.
A good friend shares your burdens, so you don’t have to do it alone. (Gal 6:2) A bad friend doesn’t help because it’s an inconvenience.
A good friend makes you feel welcome in his home, and often has you over for meals. A bad friend rarely invites you over and makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable when you are in his home.
A good friend is affectionate. He gives hugs, puts an arm around you. A bad friend is cold and distant. (Phil 1:8)
A good friend prays for you regularly. A bad friend doesn’t.
Are you a good friend, or a bad friend?
This last week my family and I were hit by a semi while traveling to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. We were completely stopped, waiting for a break in oncoming traffic, so we could turn left into the parking lot. While we were waiting, a semi truck smashed into the back of our van, whipping our necks back, and smashing out our back window. Aside from some sore necks and backs, everyone seems to be alright.
While I was sitting in the nearby parking lot waiting for the claims guy to come, I started to get afraid. My neck and back were hurting, and it felt eerily similar to how I felt fourteen years ago after a drunk driver hit and flipped a friend of mine’s truck that I was a passenger in.
I started remembering all the hassle of chronic back pain, multiple treatments, and the limited opportunities that injury had brought. My mind began watching it play out again, only this time with a wife and seven kids experiencing the same problems.
As I thought back fourteen years ago, and I began working through my fears, I started to gain some prospective.
I realized that the way I viewed things then, through my nineteen year old eyes, was quite different from how I view things now, through my almost thirty four year old eyes. When that first accident happened, I was single with no kids, no career, and very few life experiences.
I think the biggest difference I noticed, was that back then life moved so much slower, and seemed so much longer.
As I thought about dealing with my back over the last fourteen years and the prospect of future back pain, I began to think that it’s not so bad. And you know why I thought that?
Because life moves so fast now, and seems so much shorter.
In a couple months I’m going to have a teenager. In no time my kids will be driving. In a heartbeat my kids will be married and out of the house. And before I know it, Gina and I will be old and gray.
The truth is, we’ll be home soon.
This life is a vanishing mist. (James 4:14)
And it hit me. I can endure a little pain for a few more decades.
This life isn’t what matters. It’s eternity that counts.
The older I get, the faster time goes. More and more I’m realizing how short this life really is and I’m asking myself the question. What am I doing, investing in, and focusing on that will last for eternity?
How much of my life is spent going after pleasures and rewards that will end in this life?
How much of my life is being spent going after pleasures and rewards that will last forever?
I leave you with a poem that Leonard Ravenhill quoted:
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
A few weeks ago I saw the latest movie adaptation of Victor Hugo’s famous novel, “Les Miserables”. The story of Les Miserables is one of my favorites. Days after seeing the movie, I was still finding myself thinking about some of the more compelling scenes. I started thinking to myself, “besides the theme of law and grace, what is it that’s so compelling about this story?” And then it hit me. One of things that’s so compelling and so attractive about the story is the masculinity of the main character, Jean Valjean.
**Spoiler Alert** You may not want to read this if you’re not familiar with the story and you plan on seeing the movie.
- He takes responsibility for his sins, for his city as mayor, for a dying prostitute, for the prostitute’s daughter Cosette, for his future son-in-law Marius, for Javer (his enemy), for a man being crushed by a wagon, and for a man falsely accused, to name a few.
- He provides for Cosette.
- He cultivates a business and becomes the mayor of his city.
- He respects women and is not swayed by perverse sensuality.
- He protects Cosette from danger and saves Marius.
- He uses his strength to help and to save people.
- He voluntarily takes on shame by trudging thru sewage in order to save Marius.
- He leads Cosette, a business, and a city as a mayor.
- He lays down his life for Cosette, her future husband Marius, and for a falsely accused man.
Jean Valjean was one serious example of true masculinity.
For many people the topic of gender roles is very offensive. Apart from the unfortunate abuse that many have experienced within a distorted context of men’s and women’s roles, I believe that one of the main reasons that people reject distinct biblical gender roles is because they’ve never seen them fleshed out before.
Masculinity and femininity in their purest forms are attractive, because our sexuality uniquely images God (Gen 1:27). What makes them attractive is that when fleshed out appropriately, they give us a glimpse of God himself.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to give people living, breathing examples of what true biblical manhood and womanhood look like, so that they can have a proper view of what God is like.
Jean Valjean’s character was a living, breathing example of manhood that inspired me to be more proactive in laying down my life for other people.
In my opinion, Matthew 7 verses 21 thru 24 are the scariest verses in the bible.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
What’s scarier than thinking you are living your whole life for Jesus and finding out in the end that you were deceived the whole time?
What is God’s issue in this verse?
Notice that he says “I never knew you”. He doesn’t say “you never knew me”. He says “I never knew you”. Christians talk a lot about knowing God (as they should) but you don’t hear a lot of talk about God knowing us.
So the question is, “How does God know us?”
1 Corinthians 8:3 gives us the answer. It says, “if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”
God will never say, “I never knew you” to those who love God, because those who love God are known by God.
What is love for God?
1 John 5:3 says, that “this is love for God: to obey his commands.” Therefore those who obey God are known by God. This is why he said, “why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46 NIV)
If you love God by obeying his commandments, you never have to worry about God not knowing you.
Those who love God are known by God.
Does God know you?
The role of a man is to take responsibility. In this post I want to take a look at three different types of guys and how they handle responsibility.
1) The Guy Who Abdicates/Avoids Responsibility
This is the old Adam. This is the coward, the procrastinator, the lazy man. It’s not really fair to call this guy a man, because if he’s not taking responsibility, then he’s not really a man.
This is the blame shifter, blaming the woman, blaming God, blaming the devil. It’s the government’s fault, the boss’s fault, the church’s fault, the parent’s fault, but never his fault.
This is the guy who doesn’t provide for his family, the guy who avoids work. This is the guy who uses “going after his dreams” as an excuse for not taking work that would pay the bills, so his wife wouldn’t have to be the primary provider.
This is the boy in a man’s body, who knows more sports stats or movie lines, than bible verses, who knows how to win video games, but not a woman’s heart.
This is the selfish coward who enjoys visual stimulation (porn), selfish flirting, or sexual contact, without the demands of commitment (marriage).
This is the guy who doesn’t lead, whose wife is “the boss”, the passive man, expecting the woman to do her role and the man’s.
This is the chauvinistic, macho man, too lazy to do the hard work of laying down his life for a woman. Instead he uses his strength to harm, to scare, to force and manipulate women.
2) The Guy Who Manages His Responsibility
This guy takes responsibility. He’s not a blame shifter. He works hard. He provides for his family. He’s not lazy. He takes care of his family, participates in his church, pays the bills, keeps his eyes pure, respects women, and manages what’s on his plate.
He’s a nice guy.
But he’s passive in a different way. He’s complacent. He’s perishing for lack of vision.
He manages what’s in front of him, with no plans of taking on more. As long as he’s as good or better than the next guy, then he’s fine.
He does the minimum required to stay on good terms with his boss at work.
He relies on yesterday’s manna. His spiritual security is in past experiences with God. He’s faithful, but not hungry. His gifts, talents, and treasure are given, but never at great cost. His life is spent doing what seems possible.
He aims at nothing and he hits it.
He lives without risk, and so he risks not living.
3) The Guy Who Looks To Increase His Responsibility
Mark Driscoll says that “men are like trucks – they drive smoother and straighter with a load.” This third guy is the guy who not only “drives with a load”, but he’s planning on how he can carry more. He believes that true manhood takes responsibility, so he’s looking for ways to take on more responsibility, to grow in his manhood. He doesn’t run from responsibility – he runs to it.
This is the guy who’s diligent to be faithful with little so he can be entrusted with much. This is the guy who does what’s asked of him and more. A paycheck and weekend are not enough to motivate him. He’s not just making a living, he’s making a life.
He has dreams and a plan. He’s disciplined and hard working with vision for his family’s provision.
He not only takes responsibility for his own growth, but for the growth of others.
He stays pure because he believes his character is his influence, and he’s not too proud to admit when he’s wrong.
He runs towards the battle, slays the dragon, and rescues the girl.
He leads well and seeks to increase his influence for God’s glory and people’s good.
He believes it a noble task to aspire to be an elder and works towards becoming one. (1 Tim 3:1)
The status quo is not an option. It’s forward motion or backwards digression. There is no middle ground.
He’s like Jesus, the new Adam. He “increases in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
Which guy are you?
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2012 wasn’t my best year for reading. I only finished 10 books.
I did read some good ones though. I read:
- three different books on marriage (each good in completely different ways)
- one on the church
- one on blogging (which is a must read for anyone with a blog or wanting to start one especially)
- one on boys (which had some incredible nuggets)
- one on strengthening yourself in the Lord
- one on the fear of the Lord
- one on creativity
- and one on the attributes of God (which is now one of my new favorite books of all time- life changing!)
Here’s the complete list:
- The Spirit-Filled Church: Finding Your Place in God’s Purpose – Terry Virgo
This was an excellent book. I definitely recommend it.
- The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God – Timothy & Kathy Keller
This is a great book on marriage. I really liked it.
- Strengthen Yourself in the Lord: How to Release the Hidden Power of God in Your Life – Bill Johnson
Excellent book. Practical and encouraging.
- The Attributes of God – Arthur W. Pink
This book was so good. Changed how I view God and how I view life. This is a must read. One of my new favorites.
- Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World – Michael Hyatt
If you have a blog or are interested in starting one. This is a must read. This is an excellent, very practical book. It was great.
- Jesus + Nothing = Everything – Tullian Tchividjian
Reading this out loud to Gina. Awesome title.
- Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants – Douglas Wilson
This book was really good. I recommend to dudes and especially to fathers of sons. Great book.
- This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence – John Piper
Good book on marriage.
- Fear of the Lord – John Bevere
Just finished reading this book in preparation to preach on the topic. Great book!
- How To Be Creative – Hugh MacLeod
49 page pdf. Great stuff.
- Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together – Mark Driscoll, Grace Driscoll
Overall a good book on marriage. Great content. Some chapters read better than others.
I usually like to read at least 24 books a year. Here’s how I do it:
(Image Credit: “adamr” | FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Image courtesy of “George Eastman House” | Flickr.com
For some, 24 books is nothing. For me and my busy schedule, it feels like a lot.
At first glance, thinking of reading that many books seems impossible. The thought of the goal, and the inevitable failure to reach it, pretty much used to demotivate me from even starting. So how do you overcome the first hurdle?
Simplify the goal.
24 books seems daunting. But if it’s broken up by month, it’s only two books per month. That doesn’t seem as difficult. But if you’re like me, it still sounds unrealistic with a busy schedule.
So let’s break it down one more level.
How much would you have to read to accomplish the goal of reading 24 books in a year? Let’s say that the average book is about 10-12 chapters, give or take a few. If you read one chapter per day, you’ll finish 30 chapters in a month, which is about 2-3 books, depending on the size. Two books per month times 12 months in a year equals 24 books.
I don’t know about you, but the goal of reading one chapter a day seems pretty doable (especially if you utilize toilet time), ;). And then if you read more than one chapter, you exceeded your goal.
This has helped me reach my book reading goals in years past. What do you think? Could it work for you?