Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

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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.

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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.

Many years ago, before I was a father, I began thinking deeply about my family legacy. One thing I read has led to my intentionality today and one reason why I enjoy blogging about fatherhood.

A November 2010 article about being a Christmas Dad by pastor and teacher, Mark Driscoll, is something I circle back to every Christmas/Advent season.

It has helped me set and keep Christ-honoring family traditions, hopefully leading to fun and solid spiritual memories for my wife and kids as well as ease the stress of the holidays on my wife…

Christmas Daddy Tips

A dad needs …

  1. … a plan for the holidays to ensure his family is loved and memories are made. Dad, what’s your plan?
  2. … to ensure his family is giving generously during the holidays. Dad, who in need is your family going to adopt, bless, and serve?
  3. … to carve out time for sacred events and experiences to build family traditions that are fun and point to Jesus. Dad, is you calendar ready for December?
  4. … to not let the stress of the holidays, including money, cause him to be grumpy with Mom or the kids. Dad, how’s your joy?
  5. … to make memories and not just give gifts. Dad, what special memories can you make this holiday season?
  6. … to manage the extended family and friends during the holidays. Dad, who or what do you need to say “no” to?
  7. … to schedule a big Christmas date with his daughter(s). Dad, what’s your big plan for the fancy Daddy-daughter date?
  8. … to schedule guy time with his son(s). Dad, what are you and your son(s) going to do that is active, outdoors, and fun?
  9. … to help get the house decorated. Dad, are you really a big help to Mom with getting things ready?
  10. … to ensure there are some holiday smells and sounds. Dad, is Christmas music on the iPod, is the tree up, can you smell cookies and cider?
  11. … to snuggle up and watch fun shows with the kids. Dad, is the DVR set to record old classics and holiday shows?
  12. … to connect with Mom during the holidays. Dad, do you have some fun date nights or getaways planned for you and your wife?
  13. … to help Mom get the kids’ rooms decorated. Dad, do they get lights or a small tree in their room?
  14. … to read about Jesus with and pray over his kids. Dad, how’s your pastoral work going with each of your kids?
  15. … to repent of being lazy, selfish, grumpy, or just dumping the holidays on Mom. Dad, are you a servant like Jesus to your family?
  16. … to help his kids learn to be generous and give. Dad, whom do your kids want to buy presents for outside of your family?
  17. … to check the local guides for what’s going on to make fun holiday plans for the family.
  18. … to not let technology eat away family time during Christmas break. Dad, will you make sure the electronics are turned off so your family can interact, play games, talk, etc.?
  19. … to take the lead in family devotions centered on the birth of Jesus. Dad, have you picked out parts of the Bible to read together over dinner during the holidays?
  20. … to take the family on a drive to see Christmas lights while listening to music and sipping cider. Dad, is it mapped out?
  21. … to study the incarnation of Jesus Christ to help prepare him and his family for the holidays. Dad, do you have some reading lined up?
  22. … a break during the holidays. Dad, it’s not a sin to watch some football, nap, or relax a bit so long as you’ve taken care of your other priorities first.

You can read the first post in this series here – Things Dads Should Be Able to Do.

Most men start life with a “dad deficit.” That shouldn’t come as a shock; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 40% of all babies born in 2011 came from unmarried women.

Not having a dad around makes many guys unprepared for fatherhood, leading to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity as well as a lack of leadership skills.

Here’s a humorous take on “Fearing Fatherhood” from the Power of the Home blog.

For most of my childhood I had a frightening hunch that I would one day be a dad.  My hunch was frightening because I was raised by a single-mother.  What did I know about being a dad?  One day my kid would ask me questions that all dads know how to answer. All dads but me.

“Dad, how do you clean a fish?”

“Just cut his head off, son.  The rest should take care of itself from there.”

“Dad, what does a spark plug do?”

“Hey look, a butterfly.”

My senior year of high school I failed out of a trigonometry class and got put in a wood shop class. This excited me.  Trigonometry didn’t seem to have a lot to offer but wood shop would probably help me to learn some dad things.  This way, if my kid ever asked me what a spark plug did I could at least build him a bird house.  My first few days in wood shop were spent telling jokes and seeing who could hammer a nail into a board the fastest.

And then, almost as quickly as it started, I got taken out of that wood shop class.  I don’t think anyone else, in the history of public education, has ever been taken out of wood shop.  Wood shop classes exist for the kids that get taken out of other classes.  When school administrators pull you from a wood shop class, it’s sort of like getting kicked out of prison.  My fears of fatherhood remained.

So instead of wood shop, I got put in an electronics class.  I was okay with this.  Now, whenever my kid would ask me what a spark plug does I could teach him how to slide his church shoes on the carpet and electrocute his friends.  That’s classic dad stuff, right?  Unfortunately, all we ever did in electronics class was watch movies.  The movie we watched the most was Short Circuit starring Steve Guttenberg.  The good news is that I got an A in that class.  The bad news is that now, whenever my kids ask me what a spark plug does, I tell them a stupid joke and talk about the Police Academy movies.

I’m a 36-year-old father of two young boys and my worst fears as a kid have finally been realized.  I don’t know a lot of dad stuff and I think my kids are on to me.  My oldest son wants to build a tree house.  I’m really hoping Jesus comes back before that time comes.

To compensate for my lack of knowledge, I try to spend a lot of time with my boys doing what I did as a kid: playing outside, playing on the floor, praying, reading the Bible, loving mom and watching Kung-Fu Theater.  Sadly, Kung-Fu Theater doesn’t come on anymore but there are worthy substitutes.

I always pick up my youngest son, kiss him and ask him who he loves.  He’s 16 so he really hates when I do this.  No, really he’s a lot younger than that.  But every time I ask him who he loves he does the same thing.  He points at the wall, or the ceiling, or the refrigerator.  Anything but dad.

One day I was asking my son this question and he was giving his usual response when his older brother walked up and said, “Hey dad, ask me who I love.”

I sensed a Hallmark moment coming so I gladly played along.

“Who do you love more than anybody in the whole world?”

“Mom!”

For a minute I felt like a real loser.  I should have petitioned to stay in that wood shop class.  But then it hit me.

Maybe my son loves his mom so much because he sees how much I love her.  And maybe he’ll grow to love Jesus even more because of how much I love Jesus.  In a way that’s kind of intimidating but it’s also very liberating.  Who cares if I don’t know how to do a lot of dad stuff?  If I can just, by God’s grace, love my wife like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25), train up my boys in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) and love Jesus more than anything else (Deuteronomy 6:5), I think all of the rest will be just fine.

This week I spent some time with a senior adult in my church.  She lives alone and she says her kids are always asking her if she gets lonely in that big house all by herself.  She tells them that she never gets lonely because she’s never alone.  And then she told me about the time a tornado came through her town in the 1930s and how good of a job her dad did at taking care of the family.  The loving presence of her earthly father taught her a great lesson about the far greater loving presence of her heavenly Father.

I hope I teach the same lesson to my boys.

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P.S. This is how you clean a catfish –

Guys, you’ll never jump from space, but you can still live an awesome life. Read this post from my friend Dan Kassis called, The Baumgartner Effect.

One way to lead your family is through intentional prayer. Third Option Men asks, Are you a Prayer Wimp?

With election season upon us, one element missing from the discussion is fatherhood. In this All Pro Dad post, Tony Dungy asks for your signature to change that. Sign Coach’s petition today. It takes two minutes.

I have several friends with multiple sons and no daughters, so this link is with them in mind. Check out this advice for raising boys.

SUPER FUNNY VIDEO (that’s why it’s in all caps).