It has been said that a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.
An arrogant negativity, as it were.
There are also other characteristics that define cynicism, such as a lack of trust, lack of grace, ungrateful, arrogant, bitter, jaded, hopeless, skeptical, pessimistic, etc. I could go on giving words that describe the cynic, and paint word pictures for you that you potentially would be all too familiar with, as I’m sure you have your own pictures that arise when you think of the Cynic in your life — maybe you see yourself.
I think though — and I could be wrong here — that the route of cynicism is mere brokenness. The cynical man has been jaded by life’s circumstances. His positive outlook on life has been chipped away at over the years by failed relationships, unmet expectations, and unforeseen events. People have hurt him along the way. Things have happened in his life that have all but crushed him. He is not even close to the success he hoped to achieve when he was younger. His mistakes are piled as high as his regrets. He now views the world through a foggy lens of negativity, and he’s absolutely certain — or hopeless — that it will always be this way. For this type of man, things will never change. He is hurting. He is indeed broken. He feels cursed.
He needs a King.
In reality, cynicism is idolatry. It’s a displacement of God for yourself. It’s a response to the circumstances of life where you are the center of everything. The cynic has a view of man, events, or the future that denies God’s goodness, sovereignty, grace, and power. Again, he may not speak this way in his theology, but he lives this way in his heart.
Allow me to explain myself.
The gospel shows me that I am a broken man. Without Christ, I am nothing. The cynic, however, is a pretender. He knows this to be true in his mind, but this truth is not being watered in his heart. Or maybe, it can no longer be watered. His heart has been hardened by his experiences. This man’s experiences has led to his brokenness. The gospel, however, shows us that we are and have always been broken apart from Christ.
The cynic needs a fresh or new reality to take place in his life. He needs to be reminded — like we all do — that brokenness is not a state that we “arrive at” because of the circumstances in this world. We are broken. He have always been that way.
Our hope must forever and always be grounded in the King. It is King Jesus who takes our brokenness and fills it with hope — a hope that transcends the circumstances, events, and relationships of this world. In fact, when Christ becomes the King of our world, our circumstances, events, and relationships are seen with a new perspective. A fresh perspective. A redeemed perspective.
After all, it was Jesus who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
This is what the cynic needs.
Rest. Restoration. Redemption. Newness. A King.
When we realize and embrace Christ’s Kingship over our lives, then we come to understand that our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a great price (1 Cor. 6:20). When we realize this, our cynic minds become humble, gentle, tender, and hopeful minds.
Cynic, I encourage you to trust in that truth. Believe in that truth. Hope in that truth.
After all, to hope in the hope of this world is no hope at all.
This post first appeared at CBMW and is posted here with their permission.
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Yet another resolution post? Not at all. This is a plea—an urgent call, of sorts—to my fellow brothers to chase something the rest of this year that is much more substantial than a gym membership, self-help technique, hobby, or hygiene etiquette—I seriously resolve to floss more every-single-year.
Furthermore, this is not a how-to-post or a 7-things-to-do-post to procure a more mature manhood. This is simply a bare-bones, man-up plea to pursue Jesus with a furious, war-like training that is equal to a fighter training to step into the Octagon or a warrior training to sprint into war. The vocation of mature manhood is a training regiment—a way of life.
As I write this, I am not necessarily conjecturing about the seminarian, or young pastor, who might be reading this post, though this post is for you. I am primarily thinking of, and writing to, the men I pastor at my local church—the men I get to do life with daily.
These are, first of all, the men to which I resolve.
The business of mature manhood, however, is a vocation every man can obtain. Whether you are married, single, have no kids, have 10-kids, have a seminary degree, pastor a church, coach a basketball team, or work in a factory, mature manhood is your terminal aim. The Apostle Paul seems to liken mature manhood with the “stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).
Men, it is to this vocation I resolve.
It is no secret that manhood is being attacked in our culture. It is increasingly risky to be a man who possesses complementarian values. Men, today, are taking the heat of feminist word bombs. Manhood is neutered in the media, especially in television and movies. It is no longer culturally proper to be a man whose manhood calls him to be the spiritual leader of his home, or serve well in his local church, or work hard, or date his daughter, or strive for purity. I am saying here that those are the most befitting things you can do as man. In fact, they are the manliest.
It is to these pursuits I resolve.
Men who tote guns on their hips, have long beards that dribble with stew, or can conquer mountains by only wearing their Chacos, often are the personifications of manhood as it is commonly displayed in the church. These traits, however, are not necessarily the qualities of mature manhood. The reverse is also true. Men who work as baristas in the inner city, sport skinny jeans, and don earrings are not the antithesis of biblical manhood either. What is more, if the skinny jean wearing barista pursues Jesus with a ferocious posture, and the mountain man does not, who is manlier? It is always the one who labors towards the “fullness of Christ.”
This is mature manhood, and it is to this I resolve.
When a man stamps his daily routine with the foundation of steady spiritual disciplines, the resolve to mature manhood becomes more realistic. Without regular bible reading and prayer, how can a man pursue the fullness of Christ? How can a man venture toward mature manhood without a love for God’s Word and a vibrant prayer life? The man who is disciplined to protect the state of his soul will also be more disciplined in caring for his physical body. He will also see this as a mark of mature manhood.
It is to this sort of discipline in my sanctification and care for my physical body I resolve.
Furthermore, there is a gentleness that exudes from a man’s character when he chases after the fullness of Christ. It is fleshed out in how he talks to and pursues his wife, prays with his children, laughs with his friends, and seasons his speech with salt. The trappings of Christ then become our most momentous marks and the bullets of our speech.
It is to this manner of speech I resolve.
When a man pursues the fullness of Christ, the mission of Christ then becomes more compelling than his hobbies. Instead of becoming hobby-less, his hobby is redeemed to become the call of God on his life. His hobbies then become the pursuit of Christ and his mission—to make disciples. What is more, his family becomes the jewel of his earthly enjoyments, and his local church becomes the storehouse for his time, talent, and resources.
It is to this rank of hobby I resolve.
The pursuit of mature manhood makes the characteristics of risk-taking, courage, and boldness become more manifest in the life of a believer. Under fire, he holds a stoic composure. He speaks truth winsomely. His decision-making is always for the benefit of others, and he carries himself with a humble courage.
It is to this kind of posture I resolve.
Therefore, men, as the Apostle Paul says, “Imitate me, as I am of Christ.” I, too, say to you who are reading this post—imitate me, as I am of Christ.
But I don’t stop there; I furthermore say, “Let me imitate you, as you imitate Christ.”
Let us resolve to mature manhood together. Let us pursue this Christ—this Warrior King— together. Let us go to war, shoulder to shoulder, armed with Truth, and together pursue the fullness of Christ. Let us repent when we fall short of mature manhood, knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for us in Jesus. This is good, and it is to this I resolve.
Men, I truly believe if we pursue the fullness of Christ side by side, spurring one another on, then nothing can stop us. Everything will change—our marriages, homes, hobbies, work, friendships, churches, cities, culture, and love for the nations—because Jesus changes everything.
I resolve. Do you?
This post first appeared at CBMW and is posted here with their permission.
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The opposite of a gospel-centered husband, I think, is a comfortable husband.
The adjectives gospel-centered and comfortable don’t really fit together in a gospel-centered home. What is more, a comfortable husband might be simply okay with the current status of his home; he might be prone to a posture of passiveness; he might be glued to his lazy-boy instead of engaging his family; he might be void of courage, the continual daring pursuit of his wife, and lack a certain spiritual vitality—he might be many things.
It is no secret that we find a high view of wimpy husbandry alive and well today, in culture and all-too-often in the church, as well. C.S. Lewis might call them “men without chests.” I tend to agree. And, I hate it. There should always be the highest standard in place for how we pursue our calling as husbands. The next generation is watching. If it is true that we pass down manhood—the good and bad— to the next generation, then we need to model it for them.
The gospel changes everything and its implications provide a foundation—a tenacious posture—for the characteristics of what a biblical husband should in fact be.
In light of that, here’s what I think we, as a gospel-centered husband, should strive for.
The Gospel-Centered Husband PURSUES.
In the same way Christ has pursued us, we should continually pursue our bride.
It is common to see this habit put to death after the marriage vows have been spoken; however, the husband who truly understands Christ’s pursuit of him will always strive to pursue his wife. He will love this about their marriage. It will be adventurous to him. Dates will be sweet. Sex will be sweeter.
There is something to be said about a man who gets out of bed daily with a war-like mindset, ready to clothe himself in his husbandry armor, and go to war on pursuing his wife. This, men, is our most important calling—to love and pursue our wives well.
In the same way Christ has sacrificially served us, we should sacrificially serve our bride.
As men, we are called to serve our homes spiritually as leaders, providers, and protectors. Leadership can also be shown through the posture of sacrifice, as we take bold stances on working less to be at home more, having fewer hobbies, playing less Fantasy Football, and putting down the video game controller. Furthermore, stop playing video games.
In the same way Christ took dominion over everything, we are called to take dominion over our marriages and homes.
As men, we are called to get up early, work hard, establish a budget, steward our money, give well, cultivate our homes, and live disciplined lifestyles. A gospel-centered husband is a man who takes dominion over these areas of his marriage. He also takes showers, and maybe, just maybe, he has a beard.
In the same way Christ was the most courageous man ever to live, we are to practice a bold, daring, and courageous posture for the sake of our bride.
As men, we are called to be protectors. We are also called to be risk-taking warriors. By default, a gospel-centered husband is a courageous man. He is courageous in the pursuit of his wife; in his lifestyle at work (everyone knows he loves his wife the most); in his speech; and in his goals for his marriage and family.
As John Piper says, “Every wife knows that something is amiss in a man’s manhood if he suggest that she get out of bed 50% of the time to see what the strange noise is downstairs.”
In the same way Christ killed all sin, we should strive to kill all sin in our lives for the sake of our bride.
We are called to be a one-woman man (1 Tim 3:2). This means that the gospel-centered husband works at sanctification in his life. It means that he doesn’t look at pornography, and he doesn’t pursue sin that would kill his marriage. More to the point, he pursues Jesus, and seeks to clothe himself in his righteousness. Through his commitment to his local church, daily spiritual disciplines, and a practice of repentance, the gospel-centered husband sees sin in a bitter way.
As Dave Harvey says, “Until sin be bitter, marriage will not be sweet.”
In the same way Christ has extended us grace, we should always be mindful of God’s grace in our marriage and extend that grace both to our wives and to ourselves.
A grace-centered husband is a reflection of what it means to be a follower of King Jesus. God has shown us grace in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). This type of husband—characterized by grace—is not an authoritarian or dictator. He is a servant—a gentle warrior (Eph 4:2; 1 Tim 3:3; Titus 3:2)—who through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, suppresses his nature to continually judge, to correct, to order, to instruct.
He has grace for his wife, and displays the beauty of Jesus when he demonstrates this grace. What’s more, he practices grace for himself. Trying to be a good husband, without embracing grace, will be crushing. The gospel-centered husband understands that God accepts him because of what Jesus did, not because of what he has done. And then he models this to his wife.
Jesus was the greatest model of these characteristics to have ever walked this earth. He pursued his people and goal fiercely. Sacrificially served with his life. Took dominion over the universe (Col 1:15-20). Personified courage. Never sinned. Extended saving grace.
So, brother, I think it’s safe to say that when you pursue Jesus with a fourth-quarter-games-on-the-line-type-of-crazy, then your marriages will win.
Go forth and be a gospel-centered husband.
This post first appeared at CBMW and is posted here with their permission.
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For a good framework for a gospel-centered home, see Ed Mull and Tim Chester’s book, The Gospel-Centered Family (United Kingdom: The Good Book Company, 2011).
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, 20-21
John Piper & Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 43.
Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say “I Do,” (Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2010).
From the outset of my relationship to my (now) wife, Sarah, I determined that we would have a date night. So, we would often go on a date to a restaurant and then to a movie. The rest of the week we would chat and hang out with one another, often watching shows or talking about what was going on in our lives. Yet, date night was viewed as a special night where phones went away along with every other form of mobile technology. As I’ve grown as a shepherd-leader to my wife, I’ve learned that, while having a date night is important, viewing date night in this way can lead to a lot of problems. This is why, I’m writing this article, and encouraging men that date night shouldn’t be just one night a week but every night. In this article, I want you to understand how to get a Ph.D. in your wife with the result that your marriage will then prosper and glorify God.
Now that I have your attention, I challenge you to read that last sentence to your wife. She’ll likely nod her head as my wife did when I originally read it to her. Why did my wife nod her head? My wife loves date night; she enjoys going out to eat and going to movies, yet she wants more. Behind going out to eat and going to a movie (or whatever activity), is the idea that she is spending significant time with me.
I know I’m in trouble with my wife when she makes it a point to highlight how I’ve been working too much. She will kindly point out that the time to stop working is now (or typically at the end of an 8 hour work day), which means I need to put away my laptop or anything else I’m doing and spend time with her. Truly, I view this as an act of kindness on her part. She is telling me that she cares enough about me to make sure that I don’t work myself into an early grave. What my wife is saying is that she wants time with me; time to grow in our relationship with one another. She is communicating that she needs me because she loves me and needs emotional, mental, and spiritual care.
I’m going to be brutally honest with you here: I’ve often failed to provide care to my wife. As I wrote that last sentence, I winced at thinking how many times in the past seven years I’ve failed to put away whatever I was working on and focus on my wife when she was giving me every indication that she needed me. By my previously stated standard, I thought that I was doing well, since after all I was taking my wife regularly on a date night to the movies. My problem, as I now see clearly, is that I thought that this form of “date night” was all I needed to do as a man to take care of my wife’s emotional needs. That is why the approach of taking your wife on a date night is a good start, but it isn’t everything. Men need to study our wives like we are to read and study the Word of God. You may be getting an education in school, but truly you are getting an education as a married man, by studying the precious gift God has given you in your wife.
Have you ever thought of your marriage in these terms? Chances are you haven’t. We live in a culture that promotes passivity in our relationships. Yet, the Bible repeatedly challenges our apathy and calls us to something radical and yet ordinary. The radicalness of the Christian life is that we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus in all of life. No, this does not mean just part of our lives under God’s Lordship, but all of life under His direction and guidance. This is so important because, until you see your life this way, you will continue living however you please, all the while stating that you want to glorify God by the way you live. A life that truly reflects God’s grace is one that takes serious both His grace and applying that grace to all of life. This is why the approach so commonly given as advice to married couples on dating one’s spouse is so dangerous. It isn’t just one day that you need a week to spend with one another. No, you need each other every day. You need to grow in loving your wife everyday as you are growing in God’s grace. As men we are called to this because loving our wives isn’t a suggestion, it is a command! There are real stakes here, that even our prayers (as 1 Peter 3:7 teaches) will be hindered if we do not show kindness and love to our wives. Date your wives, men, not just one day of the week but every day. Get a Ph.D. in your wife. That takes time I know, I’m still learning, repenting, and growing in this. Continue on men of God—love Jesus, love your wives, and watch as God uses ordinary you in powerful ways for His glory.
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Biblical manhood is an idea that is extremely neglected in our society today. Popular culture emphasizes to men that they are to be like their favorite sports hero — super-strong or superhuman, able to conquer all and take no prisoners. The problems with this are many from the fact that it promotes pride which God hates to it not being the picture we see of the man of God in the Bible.
One way we can get a proper idea of biblical manhood is to learn from the Apostle Paul. Remember what Paul was like before he got converted? He persecuted the church, threw Christians into jail and ran around everywhere all in an effort to stop Christianity. Yet Paul was stopped dead in his tracks on the road to Damascus. God got a hold of Saul and turned him into Paul. Paul was told he would suffer greatly for the name of Jesus and suffer he did. Before his conversion, Paul relied on his own abilities to make things happen; however, after he got saved, he relied on the power of God in the Gospel to energize him and his ministry. This is the key to biblical manhood, namely that we become weak rather strong. In our weakness God is made strong. That idea is so countercultural to the present day that it can no longer be assumed that we understand what it means.
The average man is inundated everyday with temptation from the secretary whose skirts are just a bit too tight, to that “girl” walking down the street wearing that shirt that is way too tight who wants to grab your attention. How is a man to avoid temptation and not succumb to the spirit of the age? While every man has points where he is tempted, most men are particularly vulnerable to the lust of the eyes, an issue the Apostle John talks about in 1 John 2:16. Satan knows men are visually oriented which is why in order to fight the lust of the flesh we need to find our satisfaction in Jesus and for those who are married, in the arms of their wife. First we will consider what it means to be satisfied in and by Jesus, and then conclude by addressing our relationships with our wives.
Jesus is Lord in and over all things. The Bible teaches us He is the Firstborn over all creation, the rightful ruler of Creation, High Priest over His people, the Chief Shepherd, and much more. Jesus bled, died, and rose for His people. Through Jesus’ death, Christians can put to death their sin, live for Him, and testify of Him. When I talk of being satisfied in Jesus the focus is that of finding Him to be all that we need. I’m talking about the supremacy of Christ in and over all things as well as that precious truth, the treasure of the ages, Jesus Himself. Jesus is our treasure and in Him our soul ought to rejoice at all times for His great grace has saved His people, is sanctifying them, and will one day glorify them. Jesus is not just the personification of biblical manhood — He is the source of it. In Jesus we see how the God-man ministered to the broken and thundered against the religious. In Jesus we see that a biblical man is compassionate towards the hurting, who walks alongside of the struggling, who forgives quickly, who brings a message of reconciliation and healing for broken people, and who sets the captives free. While ultimately Jesus does all of these things, as Christian men we have a message to share, that of the reality that in Jesus, the power of God is revealed as well as the fact that God uses godly men to do all that I just described through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The man interested in biblical manhood knows the danger and allure of sin. Look at King David. Rather than going out to battle, he was enticed by Bathsheba and we know how that story went. Uriah was sent out to the front lines of battle to be killed. A real man knows he needs something worth living and dying for. Real men know they have met their match in Jesus and bow before the brilliance of the Cross of Christ.
Crucial to understanding what it means to being satisfied in Jesus is the point I’ve been making throughout this article, namely that when we are weak He is strong. It is not in our own strength, might or intellect that we are going to be biblical men. When we follow after our own way we will stumble and fall every single time. At every turn and in every situation as men we need to admit we are weak. It is precisely at this point that the Gospel is good news. God takes our feeble efforts and weaknesses and uses them for His glory. That is the best news in the world. It means I don’t have to be a superhero or be “Mr. Muscle Man”. I do need to be like Paul who recognized that the Christian life from beginning to end is all about grace (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Men, our wives need us to be biblical men. A man who believes in biblical manhood looks the other way when the girl in the tight skirt, tight shirt, or provocative clothing walks by attracting attention. A man demonstrating what biblical manhood is all about will look the other way because they are satisfied in and by Jesus. A biblical man finds in Jesus his satisfaction which provides the ground for loving his wife and putting off the flesh with its desires. All of this is because of Jesus. In other words, because of being satisfied in the sufficiency of Jesus, find your wife to be your standard of beauty and be satisfied in her love for you.
While the message of biblical manhood is revolutionary in a culture that teaches men they have to be either wimps or superheroes, the Bible paints a vastly different and much better picture. The biblical man is a man whose life and thought is centered on the Word of God, that is saturated in the gospel and whose life glows with the love of God. Through Jesus the biblical man loves others because he knows it isn’t about him but rather all about Jesus. In other words, the biblical man is putting his sin to death because of Jesus and putting on Jesus. Just as that message was revolutionary in the first century so it is today. It a message that turns lives upside down and inside out by calling men to abandon their strength for God’s strength and for His character in Jesus. Jesus is more than the ultimate superhero. He is the Son of God and the Son of Man and through Him all men have met their match and one day will bow before the brilliance and splendor of the King of Kings. That is why biblical manhood begins and ends with Jesus. At all times, the biblical man is met by Jesus in His life, death, burial and resurrection and is empowered through the Holy Spirit to make much of Him in and through their lives in a world that is confused about what biblical manhood is all about. Men, by the grace of God rise up and testify of what biblical manhood is all about! Our wives need biblical men not whiners. Our world needs biblical men, men of conviction to rise up to lead in politics, in our churches and in our world.
This post first appeared at CBMW Manual.
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One of the quintessential issues men face in every age is that of courage. I remember the first time I stood up to my father, a Lt. Colonel in the US Army and a physical therapist, when he was treating my mother poorly. You see, my entire life up to that point, I was deathly afraid of my father. Even though I knew he wouldn’t physically harm me, I was afraid of him because I knew he could literally end my life with his own bare hands. Perhaps your experience with your father is completely different. Like many young men these days, I know well the pain of an absentee earthly father, but I also know the joy of a present Father in heaven who promises to never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). In this article, I want to explore a couple reasons why, as men, we need godly courage.
Young men today are confronted with challenges on every side. With the rise of the internet and social media, we are more distracted than ever (even to the point of ignoring God and our families). The temptation to do everything except be in the Word of God, in the habit of prayer, and regularly gathering in a local Church each week to sit under the preaching of the Word, is a real challenge. When one combines this with the plethora of resources on the internet by which we as men are led into sexual temptation, we can see that there has never been a greater need for godly courage. Thankfully the Bible speaks loudly to this issue.
From Joseph, to Daniel, and King David to Paul, Peter and even to Jesus Himself, the Bible gives us many examples of godly courage. Consider Daniel who had just been taken out of his homeland and brought into a new land; it would have been easy for him to lack courage after all of that. Yet, in the midst of this situation he challenged cultural norms in Babylon and resolved in his heart to trust the Bible when it says not to sin against the Lord (Daniel 1:8). The same goes for Joseph. It would have been all too easy for Joseph to succumb to Potiphar’s wife and her attempt at seducing him, but he didn’t. Instead, he resisted and suffered. The Bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way we are, but never sinned (Hebrews 4:14-16). In Jesus, we come to the sinless, victorious, triumphant and exalted King who seeks now through the Holy Spirit to empower men so that they can live courageously.
Servant-leadership is hard for us as men because, by seeking to be servants rather than authoritarian, we are running head-first into our pride and indwelling sin. Our pride tells us to be tyrants, but Jesus calls us to be humble servants. The gospel is countercultural at this precise point, because it challenges us as men in our marriages to take the lead, even while doing dishes. Perhaps your wife has had a hard day and dishes or laundry are piling up. Rather than asking her to do it, why don’t you lead and take the responsibility on yourself. I promise you, your wife will appreciate it and by doing so you will provide a means of grace to her and a witness to her that you love Jesus.
Godly courage is needed in our day. Men, we are confronted on every side to do everything but be men of courage. Yet, God calls us in His Word to lead our families. Men, we will be held accountable for how we lead. Just as soldiers prepare for battle, so we as men need to prepare for battle in our own lives. We need to prepare by preaching the right message to ourselves instead of a false gospel. We desperately need to take the message of the gospel contained in the Word of God and proclaim it to ourselves. The gospel is the source of our confidence and our joy in Him. The source of godly courage comes from the fount of joy and delight in the Gospel. The Gospel provides the reason for godly courage which in turn empowers us as men to love our wives and children to the glory of God. Rather than sulking around being depressed, and discouraged, men of God arise, and take hold of the inheritance that is yours now in Christ.
Men, we have a battle to attend to, the battle for the hearts and minds of lost people the world over, which requires that we take up the armor of God and stand by the grace of God in Christ. So take up your swords, men, and herald the gospel to the glory of God. Then we will be men of courage and valor—servant-leaders who shepherd our wives (and children) towards the Good Shepherd and King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
This post first appeared at CBMW Men’s Blog, Manual here.
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