Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Bill-Cosby-Sweater_t580

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.

Advertisements

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:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.20.48 PM

Men, if you want to keep your wife happy, just quit doing your share of the chores.

According to one recent study, marriages where women do the “lion’s share” of the chores are more content. Think I’m kidding, read the full article here or another version here.

In this day and age, teamwork on household chores is one of the traits touted by Americans in successful marriages. But that study shows European couples who share housework are more likely to get divorced.

The article starts off with…

Divorce rates are far higher among “modern” couples who share the housework than in those where the woman does the lion’s share of the chores, a Norwegian study has found.

In what appears to be a slap in the face for gender equality, the report found the divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 percent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.

“What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Equality in the Home.”

This same study from Europe discusses that men are the ones that benefit more from splitting the chores. Men who do their “fair share” around the house are happier. From my observation of the reports, it appears that men use household chores as a relief valve for decompression.

So, you want to keep your marriage (and family) together? According to research, don’t run the vacuum. If you want to be more content yourself, go dust something.

How are chores divided in your marriage? What chores seem to drift back and forth between you two? What chore do you dread the most but do it because your spouse dreads it too?

I had two moms growing up. One before she got sick, and then one after. The years of strokes and mini-strokes, aneurysms, brain surgeries and seizure medication took a toll.

I loved them both but wish I had more time with the first. Three years ago this week, my mother died. Her cancer had a quickness and ferocity that left me wondering if it was an act of vengeance or mercy.

In her last days and hours, all six of her kids stayed at the nursing home, and one of us was by her side nearly continuously. I went in to visit with her many times, holding her hand, praying for a pain-free and peaceful transition from this life to the next and talking to her about random stuff as she quietly rested.

The morning of her passing, I woke up and offered to go pick up breakfast for the family. After taking all the orders, I got in the car and as I pulled out of the nursing home parking lot, my phone rang. My oldest sister said, “She’s gone, Bubba.”

Mom finally let go at a rare moment when none of her kids were in the room.

I thought this fitting, as she had devoted her life to her kids.

It was a relief, really. I had seen my mom’s struggle, sicknesses and sadness.

In the introduction of this post, I shared a small glimpse into her sicknesses, but her sadness and our struggle started before I was born.

My beautiful mother with her first husband.

When my mother was fresh out of high school, she married a man I never met, but who nonetheless had a tremendous impact on my life. In her 20s she was widowed with three kids and one on the way after her first husband was killed in a tragic coal-mining accident. His sudden departure sent ripples tsunamis through my family for years to come.

Within a short time after his death my mother married that man’s best friend, and they had a girl together. That marriage fell apart, and within a few more years she married my dad and they had me.

To sum it up, I have three older brothers and two sisters on what I call, “Mom’s side of the family.” On “Dad’s side of the family,” add two more older brothers, a younger sister and two step-siblings, rounding out just my immediate family at six brothers and four sisters from four different dads. (Confused yet?)

I believe my mother knew the importance of us having a father figure; for most of her life it seemed she tried to find us a replacement dad. Even though uncles, father-in-laws, coaches, pastors and older brothers tried filling the void, every one of my siblings has had to or is still trying to overcome the “dad deficit.”

Growing up I didn’t realize the leadership vacuum in our home. I didn’t really know any different. When I looked around at other families in our small community I saw fatherless homes. This leaves me thinking about what choices, what mistakes, what memories did we make or miss?

For at least one of my siblings there are no memories of his dad. A few have some memories. Many have few positive memories. For one, there is just a little time left for restoration.

I am thankful for my older brother who taught me how to catch baseballs and fish, who showed me how to ride a bike and find a good wife. Other brothers taught me about music, cars and girls.

It was only after I gave my life to Jesus and started faithfully attending church did I begin to see solid examples of fatherhood. One of my best friends, Richie, is blessed with a godly, funny, wise and loving father. I am thankful for their example and Rick’s intentional prayers and discipleship. Others, like Scott Wagner, Jimmy Lewis and Ted, Gary and Bill retaught me about real earthly fatherhood.

While this week reminds me of Mom’s passing, it’s difficult to not reflect on the dad deficit as well. I ask for your prayers for my family, especially for my sisters. But most of all, if you are a parent I ask that you take a serious look at the legacy you are leaving to your children.

Dads, you have incredible power over the self-esteem of your daughters and egos of your sons. You can break them for life if you mishandle the most precious gift you’ve been given.

Let’s be authentic men who are authentic dads.

For helpful articles from experts, be sure to read the links on my Beta posts

I took an unexpected blogging hiatus this past week. The weather has been incredible in middle Tennessee and my wife and I spent some time away celebrating our 10 year anniversary.

This piece by Mark Gungor is about laughter in your marriage. The story he tells is absolutely crazy. Check out his site for more info on his ministry. My wife and I sat through a few of his video classes once and they were helpful.

With kids, getting them to eat can be a struggle. I have a little game I play with kids where I take what they say and turn it into something funny about finishing their dinner or cleaning their plate. But, here’s another idea from a cool dad using comic book drawings.

Some real journalism in this piece, but something I’ve always wanted to know – How to throw like a girl (and a boy)

This week’s video mocks hyper-masculinity. Enjoy…

 

This week’s Beta is heavy (minus the video). You’ve got stats, sound advice and a three lists of pragmatic next steps.

First, here’s a stout case for traditional marriage and traditional families – Marriage is the Answer to Poverty.

Focus on the Family is a solid ministry with great, practical advice. I think there are some points in this list for every parent – A Child’s Ten Commandments to Parents. Many of the items are spot-on for this generation’s helicopter parents, especially Nos. 6 and 7. No. 8 is a biggie for those OCD-type parents.

Brandon A. Cox puts forth 10 Tough Words for Men. I think this list is helpful and balanced for today’s man.

Here are Six Gifts Your Kids Need From You from Pastors.com. Intentionality is an unspoken theme in this post. I love what it says in No. 4…

A father is without question the single most significant influence on the spiritual life of his children. The statistical data from three major studies in recent years is overwhelming. If the father is involved in a church and is growing spiritually, the likelihood of the child doing the same skyrockets. If Mom goes to church alone with the kids, the chances plummet.

Continuing with a dad’s influence in the home, this post from The National Fatherhood initiative lists tons of helpful stats for those leading other men, pastors, mentors, foster parents, etc. See Consequences of Father Absence Statistics.

For those who don’t know me personally, I serve in the area of media. I’ve worked in many areas in newspaper, radio and TV.

This video is pretty accurate as to how TV really works!