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Over my life I have seen a strong shift in the media’s portrayal of dads and men.

On TV, for example, I can remember watching Diff’rent Strokes, The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss?, and Full House. The dads, adopted dads or live-in dads weren’t always saints in these shows but they were the leaders of their families despite success and/or being widowed.

albundyAs I grew, Al Bundy of Married with Children and Ray Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond became the standard depiction of men on TV…lazy, irresponsible and disconnected.

Ray was a momma’s boy who couldn’t untether. While funny, his lack of leadership is nauseating. Al was abusive to his kids and wife, lazy on the job and at home and an all-around dirtbag. The Art of Manliness saysIf you want a lesson on how not to be a man, watch Married with Children.

Regardless your thoughts about Aristotelian mimesis, the media’s portrayal of men and dads has not been a positive contribution to society.

Research clearly shows us a couple of things. 1) Bad dads are bad for kids and society. 2) Good dads are good for kids and society. See here, here and here.

Aside from cultural norms, ancient philosophies and scientific research, I believe this portrayal of dads is a spiritual battle. Hollywood’s assault on fathers undermines Scripture’s clear call for men, more specifically husbands and dads, to be the leaders in their homes.

Scripture teaches that, for a wife, disrespecting her husband is sinful (likewise for the husband who doesn’t love his wife).

In Ephesians, Paul writes

Each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
Much has been written about these complementary phrases. The proven principle is this…when a husband loves his wife, she respects him more. When a wife respects her husband, he loves her more.
How many shows or movies do you see couples living this out?
And earlier in the passage…

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.

Here, the Bible shows how marriage is a picture of the Gospel, what God the Son in Christ the Messiah did for us on the cross by taking our sin and then joining us with him through our belief in his finished work. Divine love, divine sacrifice and divine unity. That’s why when one-man/one-woman marriage is attacked, it is this picture of the Gospel that is attacked. (More on that later).

Again, I ask…how many shows or movies do you see couples living this out?

Media can be used in many good ways for the proclamation of the Gospel, but when it comes to highlighting strong, biblical manhood and marriage, it is being used to deceive and destroy the family’s foundation…fathers.

1607096_10202342387435511_1803202478_nNote: This is not a fitness post. 

Recently, the local YMCA posted a picture on their Facebook page advertising all their updated work out equipment…new dumbbells, cable machines, benches and all the assorted accessories and weights. So, I decided to go back and check it out.

Being nearly a year since my last visit to this gym, I was impressed with the new layout of the floor and the equipment. Something caught my eye; nearly the same regular 5 a.m., crowd (about 25 people) was there.

When you are a regular at a gym, church, or wherever, you’ll notice how people use the same locker, sit in the same pew/aisle, etc. After a while, you register their patterns and their behavior becomes somewhat predictable. For example, there was the same older gentleman doing the same exercises on new equipment, the beefy dude doing the same beefy dude movements, the same endurance runner running on the new treadmill, and the same middle-aged mom on the new elliptical. 

What really got me thinking was that they all looked the same to me as they did a year ago. None of the bodybuilders looked bigger and some of my flabbier acquaintances were still, uh, flabby.

Some people go to the gym to “maintain” their fitness or physique, but if you ask around, most people would say they have fitness goals.

What had these people not done differently in the last year? Why did it appear to me that they were in the same routine getting the same level of progress?

Mark Twain is credited as saying, “You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”

This applies to us in the gym, our marriages, our spiritual journey, our professions, our family, our parenting, ad nauseum.

Jay Platt before his final climb on the Appalachian Trail in 1999.

Many years ago, I met a highly motivated individual named Jay Platt. I was on an assignment from a local newspaper to cover this man’s thru-hike of the Appalachian Trial.

Jay had recently been medically retired from the Marine Corps due to a rare form of cancer, and he was on a mission to raise awareness and money for cancer research. Jay was missing an eye and had tumors on his brain and spinal cord. He was an inspiration to many in many definitions of the word.

Jay raised about $100,000 on his thru-hike and left a life-long impression on me about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

In his recent Huffington Post article, entitled “Do You Do It in the Rain?,” he had this to say about progress…

It was a cold January morning, and I was just finishing up a three-mile run. I was soaked to the bone. It had been raining when I started and was raining even heavier now. As I turned the corner to head home, a blue minivan pulled up beside me. The driver side window eased down a bit, and I could see it was my neighbor from up the street.

In a rather sarcastic voice, she said to me, “Don’t you know it’s raining out here? And they’re calling for more.” I just smiled and replied, “I know. I know.” I then continued on my way.

Her comments got me to thinking though, and so now I want to ask you. Do you do it in the rain? Well, do you?

Now, don’t misunderstand my question. I know I have been talking about running here, but “doing it in the rain” could be a lot of things. Anything that you really want.

I don’t know your answer, but I can tell you that most people simply do NOT do it in the rain. On a nice sunny day, sure. They are committed then. Big time. But not on the days when it’s nasty. When anyone with “good sense” would remain inside.

The truth is, if you want to accomplish the truly big goals in life you’re going to have to have the kind of mindset that will get you out there doing what you have to do. In good weather and bad. When you feel like it and when you don’t. Day in and day out.

Are you setting goals? Are you in a rut in your life? What needs to change in your life today?

As Jay points out, “Doing it in the rain” can make the difference between success and failure.

I know it’s hard to find a new fitness routine, change your diet, speak kind words to a spouse who has hurt you deeply, forgive a family member or friend. But it’s time.

For what’s it worth…I gained 20 pounds since last year and not the good kind of weight.

I avoid social media during certain times. One of them is during awards show like the Grammys. Here’s a nice round-up from around the theological world with responses about what happened on the Grammy stage. Ed Stetzer had this to say…

We can complain about how everything has changed, but people have been doing that for a long time. Perhaps instead we might unashamedly hold to the truth we know and the hope we have.

Do you sing in church? Here’s a fantastic article about Why Men Have Stopped Singing in Church. Read this conclusion…

…there’s only one avenue left for men to participate in the service – the offering. Is this really the message we want to send to men? Sit there, be quiet, and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to give us money.

Here’s a very popular post this week is about wives letting their husbands love them – Let Your Husband Love You.

Yes. I love my wife and family. More than myself. This week on a friend’s blog I posted this confessional about when I knew I became a man. Thanks to fellow man, Brent Reinhart for encouraging me to write Being a Manly Man.

At this point in my life, some hobbies are on hold. But I will be introducing my kids to some outdoor sports and activities. Here’s a great read from one of the children who were “Born Into Rafting.”

Last thing. Spectate upon these incredible vistas from Bored Panda’s 22 Unbelievable Places…here’s one:

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Enjoying Nepali hospitality

You don’t really know a person until you sit and eat a meal with them. And I would even venture to say you really don’t know a culture until you share a meal with the people.

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Typical Nepali dish Dal Bhat

Recently on a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal in South Asia, I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor of a tiny one-room home eating Dal Bhat, the native dish of white rice and lentil soup, with six local believers including two young people, our translator and two sisters.

Another American, Keith, and I were teamed together. Keith serves a volunteer with Inter­national Commission, which worked to coordinate this multi-day trip. After the meal, I pulled out my EvangeCube and asked Keith if we should teach these believers how to use this tool in their poor village on the edge of the city.

Keith launched into a short training session on presenting the gospel with this Rubik’s Cube like pic­tograph. While he demonstrated the cube, one of the sister’s faces lit up. She was very interested, focusing intensely, smiling and nodding her head.

After Keith finished, I gave the older sister my cube and asked, “Who do we need to share this message with in your village right now?”

The older sister got up and then took us around her neighborhood, telling people to come meet the Americans.

At a small concrete grocery store, I used the cube to share the beautiful story of the gospel with about a dozen men, women and children. A few people came and went. A crowd gathered, and a few people started asking questions.

Several people were displeased with our effort.

“You are teaching people to leave their reli­gion,” one woman told us. “We do not need this in our village.”

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Equipping a village pastor with one of their deepest needs, a Nepali audio New Testament

I turned on a Nepali audio Bible and let God’s Word do the talking.

The crowd grew to about 20. Even construction workers about 75 feet away stopped working and listened. I then shared some thoughts about the stories we heard from John chapters 3 and 4 about being born again and worshipping in spirit and truth.

What happened next was breathtaking. The elder sister pulled out the cube and began telling the gospel again. It was a beautiful thing to see her owning her faith, telling others about the love of Christ and evan­gelizing her own neighbors.

After the resulting chatter and discussion died down, we made an invitation. No one responded.

We did ask if they had prayer requests and some people did respond. We prayed for their requests and said goodbye, knowing gospel seeds had been planted and that a local believer was now empowered and equipped to better share her faith.

Please pray these seeds of faith grow. Pray for this woman who boldly professes the gospel in spite of family and cultural rejection.

Next, our guide took us to another one-room home. There, a man and his 19-year-old son heard about Jesus. As Keith presented, I prayed. Both of the men listened, but afterwards they looked at each other and asked what to do. The young man wanted to respond, but without his father he wouldn’t commit.

In their culture, the religious, cultural, economic, politi­cal and even family systems are tied together. When you invite someone to follow Christ, you essentially ask them to remove themselves from all that—much like removing a single thread from a sweater.

The next day was a turning point for our team. The local pastor and translator had planned a few visits, but God had planned something special.

The first visit was with a Hindu woman and a college-aged man. The pastor introduced us and indicated that the woman had been waiting for us to come, and that she was ready to accept Christ.

Keith led her in a beautiful prayer of dedication.

Afterwards I asked her how she felt.

“Very happy,” she said.

We shared some Scripture with her and prayed for her to grow strong in the Lord.

Pastor Saroj said he had been witnessing to her for eight years.

Eight years.

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My Nepali brother, Pastor Timothy

This serves as a perfect example of some sowing and some harvesting. God had been working on her for quite some time. There also is inspiration for us to draw here. Don’t give up praying and witnessing for your lost loved ones.

Over the course of this mission, six teams witnessed to many people in and across the Kathmandu valley. In schools. In the mountains. In the slums.

There are many stories that could be told about the trip, yet the most important one is that we have nearly 200 new brothers and sisters in Christ who we will one day meet again in eternity and share another meal…the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Fill in the blank, it’s OK to kill a baby in the womb when…

Right now, an entire generation of people are gone. 53 million people in fact. They could’ve been your neighbors, your friends, your coworkers, your family. Today on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, here’s a compelling video about asking honest, intelligent questions about abortion.

 

This week’s overused word is…Polar Vortex. It was not warm for those in SoCal or Key West. But hey, it led to some great photography, especially these of Niagara Falls.

I once burned a large lot and thought we were going to have to pay, but this is scary. The U.S. Forest Service wants a 77-year-old Wyoming man to pay $6.3 million for a 2012 forest fire the man allegedly started by burning twigs in a barrel. Read the full story on MSN.com (I didn’t know that was still a site).

Sticking with the outdoor flow, blogger Ryan Grayson has one of the most informative articles on backpacking food that I’ve come across. He put a lot of thought and effort into this post

chuckpunch1Guy I’d Like to Punch in the Face Award goes to a Nashville jerk who was charged with aggravated child abuse after police found a 6-year-old girl suffering from serious burns.

“Unplugging” is a new word and a new thing. Here Mika from Morning Joe on MSNBC talks about the power of addiction to her phone. I urge men to take charge of their life and not let anything take charge of them. Moderation is key. Extremes are typically evil.

Speaking of extremes…this couple in their 60s ran a marathon (26 miles) every day for 366 days…in a row. That would take one large car for all those annoying stickers.

Behind the Wheel of Death

Posted: January 7, 2014 in opinion
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Cars are like slow, powerful bullets.

Who would get on a trampoline with someone who had loaded weapon in their hand with the safety clicked off? That’s idiocy.

But everyday we get on the road with people driving dangerously, taking risks and neglecting to care for themselves and others. And I absolutely hate that my daily drive in to work is the most dangerous thing I’ll ever do.

It’s striking the power other people can have over your life. Their Facebook post, their text or tweet, their love of liquor or just their desire to drive faster than you could keep you from going home to your spouse and kids today.

Here in Tennessee alone, there have been eight people killed in car crashes by the time of this posting on Jan. 7th. That’s eight people in seven days. Last year, nearly 1,000 died on Tennessee’s roads. How many of these “accidental” deaths were preventable?

We all mistakes, myself included. Sometimes we make mistakes while driving. And here’s an ad from New Zealand that is just WOW…