Friday, 28 June 2013

The Measure of a (family) Man

Over the past several years I have given a great deal of thought to what makes a man a man.  Now it is common knowledge that “real men don’t eat quiche” but that just tells us what a real man doesn’t do.  My guess is that the definition of manhood depends on who you ask, the context of the question and the person’s life experiences.  The number of definitions could easily be in the hundreds.

Not too long ago I heard someone say that character, wisdom and the ability to love are at the heart of being a man.  The person went on to say that only God can bring forth the transformation we need by strengthening our hearts, enlightening our minds and giving us a greater capacity to love.  This definition works for me.

To me character would include such things a Integrity, virtue, honesty, courage, reliability, adherence to a code of ethics and a set of values that would bring glory to God, moral excellence, self-sacrificing, humility, patience, forgiving, loyal and a generous spirit.  This man would be above all things God fearing.

To be wise a man would need to be understanding, insightful, enduring, and exercise good judgment.

These characteristics and qualities would be capped off with a capacity to love, not only those he most cherishes but also show compassion to his enemies.

You will notice that power, prestige, and wealth are not among the qualities listed. 

So what’s the point?  Who could possibly live up to such a description?  The point is that divorce courts, damaged children and counselor’s offices are filled with men who did not experience a father who exhibited many of the qualities and characteristics listed.  And while I would not expect to find many men who would possess these qualities I believe Scripture calls us as men to be sanctified – a process where we are growing to become more like God’s Son.

As husbands we are called to love our wives in the same way Christ loved His bride the church.  How could we begin to do that unless we possess many of the attributes of Christ?   Are we raising our sons to have a Biblical vision of manhood, to establish a code of conduct that would bring honor to God?  Are we dropping our kids off on Sunday morning, hoping the church will instill Biblical value in our children? The book Raising a Modern Day Knight talks to fathers about their role in guiding their sons to authentic manhood.  Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters describes how the father is the most important man in his daughter’s life as you are called to teach her, protect her and defend her.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

DIY Doesn’t Usually Work

DIY or “do-it-yourself” is not a phrase I hear any more.  Perhaps it is because in my home that would amount to PDIK or “please do it Kathleen”.  The most useless present anyone could give me would be a gift certificate for Craftsman tools.  My bride on the other hand buys power tools and will take on almost anything.  She is fearless.  I will say however that YouTube which wasn’t around for much of my life on this planet has added immeasurably to one’s ability to fix things.

DIY doesn’t only apply to fixing things.  There are thousands of self-help books that address decision making, finances, sex, upholstering, gardening, marriage, etc.  Google search takes our ability to learn at home to a new level.   Now you don’t even  have to go to the library or book store to get information on what you need, just go to your computer.  We are truly a “microwave” society where everything is quickly available, including the solutions to many of life’s challenges.

It is just such an environment that leads struggling married couples to assume that there are quick solutions to their problems and when it becomes apparent that it is going to take time and hard work to repair their damaged marriage they look for what they perceive as an easier way out – the “d” word. 

For struggling couples who claim to know Christ as Lord and Savior they get impatient when their prayers don’t seem to be answered.  They know that God could instantaneously repair their marriage but He will rarely to that.  God is not Mr. Fix It, armed with duct tape and super glue but He is a patient craftsman who lavishes attention on the smallest detail.  (This last sentence is plagiarized but I don’t know from whom)  God wants us to be dependent on Him, just as we are for our next breath.  He knows that most of us learn best when we are experiencing adversity.  He knows that bad habits that have been formed over years of neglect won’t be easily put aside just because we learn some new skills or make behavioral changes.

What we need in most cases is a change of heart, a vision for our marriage which includes God at the center, and a covenental commitment that leaves no room for an exit strategy.   Salvaging a marriage is not a DIY project. God, prayer, and the Word of God will be instrumental in bringing about a change of heart.  In addition a Godly couple  who have traversed the tumultuous waters of marriage and come out stronger could be valuable allies.  In addition seek a Biblical Marriage counselor.  These solutions are all more effective and cheaper than the dreaded “d” word. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Firewall for Your Soul

I must admit as someone who writes a blog there is a temptation to pick up a clever phrase and try to turn it into a meaningful message.  Such is the case with today’s title. In computer lingo a firewall is a software or hardware-based network security system that controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic by analyzing the data packets and determining whether they should be allowed through or not, based on a rule set.

Now that I have told you more than you care to know about firewalls you are probably wondering so what is the point?  The “rule set” which should guide our behavior as Christian husbands and wives (not to mention parents) is Scripture.

Practically speaking why is a firewall necessary to protect a marriage?  The simple answer is that we are all self-centered, we all have a sin nature and we are living in a fallen world.  Now wasn’t that helpful?

Let’s get specific.  Sexually speaking men are wired to be stimulated visually, women are not.  There is practically nowhere that a man can go today without being faced with an inappropriate image, including Sunday morning at church.  He needs a firewall.  A wife has a number of close friends who meet once a month.  Eventually the topic becomes husband bashing.  “My husband is always watching sports.” “Well my husband says he has to work late but I know he’s drinking with his buddies.”  “My husband doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body.”  This wife needs a firewall.

Pornography is rampant in our society.  It was once the primary domain of men and is now being increasingly inhabited by women.  We need to have filters on our phones, iPads and computers.  We need to have accountability partners who will ask the tough questions.  We need sophisticated firewalls to protect us from this insidious addiction.

Kids will most likely be exposed to pornography before they are out of elementary school. We all need a firewall.  As parents we need to have a firewall in place that protects our children from seeing and hearing things that are inappropriate given their age; a firewall that helps us to be vigilant regarding their choice of friends, and a firewall that intercepts offensive texts, tweets and other forms of social media.

Our firewalls are comprised of reading God’s Word, praying for deliverance from temptation, praying for wisdom and discernment and finally having Godly men and women in our lives who will pray for us and hold us accountable.