Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Be THE Man, Part One

Several years ago, when I was in Australia, it would have been easy to stay on in that beautiful land. The scenery and the laid-back lifestyle were very appealing. A job would have been no worry, mate. There are so few men in the churches (or at least that was the case at that time), that they were crying out for male leadership.

Such is still the case in our country. Most congregations have more women than men, including many single mothers. Why is this? It is because the church needs to do a better job of teaching men to be Godly men. It's because we have fallen victim to the feminization of the church as well as the society.

Most of us who have children – and those of you who will yet have them – try to make sure that they have the essentials of life (or at least what we perceive to be the essentials). We see to their medical care; we get them into school (or homeschooling); we buy them clothing, food, bikes and gloves. But the greatest gift we can give them is a Christian dad; an example; a reason to believe us when we present them with the claims of the Gospel.

This is what I call the “Model Model.” What our children see, what they experience, is what they learn. No matter what kind of educational setting they are in, we must still be their primary teachers/disciplers.

We must also remember that our goal in being their teacher is not just knowledge, not just intellectual stuff. For knowledge must always promote wisdom, that is: seeing things God’s way.

God is looking for leaders; not only for the current generation, but for the one after us, too. In speaking of the qualities He wants in men, God DOES NOT use the corporate model. He does NOT set quotas of any kind. He’s seeking leaders of competence and character.

If a man is not accepted as a leader in his own household; if he is not viewed as a man of character within his own household; then he cannot be a leader – of any kind – in the church; or on any mission field, foreign or domestic. Leadership, according to God’s plan, begins in the home.

Next time: A look at the Model-Model.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Be Her Man, Part 3

Protector. Besides being the leader and the teacher for our wives, men are designed to be their protectors. This brings us back to 1 Peter 3:7, which says, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers".

Women were made to be our helpers, our partners - and to be protected by us. There are many stories of both bravery and cowardice associated with the sinking of the SS Titanic. One of the important aspects of that entire ordeal was the fact that many of the men stood aside and made sure that their women and children were put into lifeboats, knowing that they (the men) were probably going to the briny deep. The British seafaring tradition of women and children first was upheld that day. One of the men who made sure of the safety of his family was a member of the Astor family; a wealthy man with much for which to live. But he did the right thing. Those were men. They protected their women and children. It is our job to protect them. How? Here's just a bulleted list of ways in which we can stand up and be a protector for our wives. You can fill in the details of each item - and probably add a few of your own.

  • Stand between them and the children
  • Stand between them and the school authorities/municipal authorities
  • Stand between them and society and the culture
  • Protect them from smut, crime
  • Protect them from poverty (provide for them)
  • Protect them from their own sinful desires (w/o stain, Eph. 5:25-27)
  • Take their side as much as possible in public
  • Never, never insult them
  • Trust them.

As I close this three-part essay on being Her man, here's an image from God's Word for you:

Each man will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. (Isaiah 32:2 (NIV)).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Be Her Man, Part 2

The second role that God has prescribed for men in regard to their wives is that of a teacher. In 1 Corinthians 14:35, Paul wrote: “If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home….” Then we read in 1 Timothy 2:11-14,

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

Much controversy swirls around the interpretation of these verses. One thing these passages point out clearly, however, is that you are expected to be the “resident theologian” in your own household. When she asks the questions (which she should be doing), you are expected to know the answer - or know how to find it!

Talk about pressure! Here are some questions that immediately come to mind. How many of us have wives who've been Christians longer than we have? How many are intimidated by our wife's Bible knowledge or church understandings or personal piety? These make things harder on us. But in our role as head of the household, we are also supposed to be the lead teacher of Bible knowledge. Let me tell you how I know that this can be intimidating. My own wife was a Christian long before I was. When God graciously took me into His family, all of a sudden I was the head of a Christian family. I was afraid to lead her in Bible study! It took years and years and effort - on her part as well as mine before I could fully assume my rightful role.

How on earth do I do that? Let me give you just a couple of verses which may help. 2 Tim. 2: 15 states that each of us should, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Granted, this is in the context of Timothy going to be a pastor. It's applicable to us, though, because we are called to be the pastor/chaplain/theologian for our families.

Hebrews 5:14 says, “… solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” The key here is “constant use.” We will not get to be the resident theologians we are called to be simply by going to church one morning per week and hearing someone preach. If we want to learn the Word, we need to be in the Word. Here are some thoughts about the process of becoming the teacher wants us to be.

  • Take baby steps. Learn books of the bible. Learn who wrote them. Learn a general outline of scripture. When you read scripture always have a reliable bible dictionary and concordance. Follow those trails of connecting verses. Find some study help online, like http://bible.crosswalk.com/; http://www.biblegateway.com/; and http://netministries.org/bbasics/bbasics.html. You’ll find more as you begin to explore the wonders of Bible study online.

    Go easy on yourself. Don't expect to become a theologian overnight.

    Keep her informed. Let her know that you're working on this.

    Don't give up because you think you don't have time. You can devote a half hour a day to this kind of study and make great progress. You can give an occasional weekend. You can stay up late at night and not watch TV. Imagine if you gave up one hour per night of TV and gave it over to understanding God's Word!

    Ask questions. Your pastor is your theologian. If he isn’t then get him educated – or get a new pastor.

    Pay attention. Take notes during sermons. Follow up - or ask questions.

    Attend a Bible study. Get one started if there isn’t one already. This is an opportunity to study and discuss what it says in God’s Word. Don’t fall for the easy ones. Pick a study that’s going to make you think and pray.

    Don't make excuses. This is a God-ordained task. You find time to do the things you like to do. You can make time to do this.

    Study with her. This might mean going through a book about Biblical marriage or about Bible study. If you’re new at this don’t start out with studying major theological topics!

    Do not be afraid. You are not trying to take something that is rightly yours. You don't have to take it - it's already yours, by default.

What we have to be constantly working on is developing our leadership. If you're married, there's probably a woman at home just waiting for you to be the man she wants you to be and God ordained you to be. If you aren't married yet you have a great advantage. Look for a woman who understands these things and grow together with her.