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Risky Business for Men

Speaking about Epaphroditus, the Pastor of the Church at Philippi, Paul says:

Welcome him in the Lord with great joy and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me. ~ Philippians 2:29-30

The motto of the USS Dallas nuclear-powered attack submarine of the United States Navy is “First in Harm’s Way.” That’s the type of risk spoken of here. Epaphroditus risked his life, put himself in harm’s way, and almost died for the work of Christ to make up for the help the Philippians could not give to Paul.

When he says “honor men like him”, it is a call for godly leadership. A call for men of courage that put service before security.

Why are there so many bored and unfulfilled men that have lost the spirit of adventure they had as young men?

Why aren’t they risking anything anymore? Is it because they don’t have anything to live for, any challenge, any goals bigger than themselves?

Only those who give away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live. ~ Mark 8:35

If you want to live… go for broke for Jesus Christ! Give up your life. Give up your reputation!

It is sad when a man, rather than being the spiritual leader of his home, is a detriment. He resents his wife’s growth. He’s afraid of it and limits it. One of the greatest challenges you will ever face in your life is to live for Jesus Christ in front of your wife and your family, friends, work associates. Are you man enough to do it?

Why is it, that evangelical Churches (in Australia) are full of girls and women who want to know and serve Jesus Christ and not men? Al Stewart says, “It’s because that’s who we cater to.” We sing soft songs that would sound better in a karaoke bar being sung by a teenage girl to her boyfriend. We hold “morning tea” for the ladies to have a bickie and chat. We have girl’s night’s out. We have women’s conferences, women’s Bible Study Fellowships.

We have failed, because we don’t honour men like Epaphroditus. We mark him as a trouble maker. He’s unstable. We don’t like him. He might do something without asking permission – we better shut him down.

Epaphroditus was just an ordinary guy, not a super star, but 2000 years later we’re still talking about him. When I look at my life and work, as a man, how much is it going to count 50 years from now? Or 100 or 1000? Will it make any difference? Will yours?

 

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How does Men’s Ministry help women?

Kerrie Sheaves helps her husband with a Men’s Ministry in Sydney called Men In Action. She “lays down the gauntlet” on her blog about why it is critical for Churches to be more involved in out reach to men.

I am passionate about Men – your men, and mine… Imagine a world full of men who are fulfilling their God given purpose.

Men who are proactive instead of reactive, men who are filled with purpose and passion for the things of God, men who rush to participate in the mission of the local church, a church so flooded with men wanting to serve the body that the pastor only needs set the direction of the church and show up on Sunday to preach his sermon. Men who set good priorities, and balance their commitments at work, with their family life. Men who do jobs they love even if it doesn’t lead to riches and glory. Men who love their wives passionately showing actively how much they cherish you, and your children.

… We need to realise that to be great women, we need great women in our lives, but we also need great men – why because we were built for partnership, I’m not talking about marriage, I’m saying that the church needs both men and women to fulfull their God given purposes and be the best they can be. Men and Women were made to partner in the Gospel. So we need men – but they’re leaving the Church in droves, and those that are there, are barely flickering, when they should be blazing inferno’s for Christ.

… I’ve too often in the last few years seen women in churches shut men’s ministry down, making it impossible for their husbands and other men in the church to participate in men’s activities and programs. The message is clear to the men of those churches, Men are not important in this church, and we don’t believe that investing in discipling them is of any value, why do we need to do anything separate or special for the men. Behind that are a handful of strong outspoken women who are fearful and selfish. My question to you is: Are you one of them? Or are you simply discouraging the men in your life more subtly through your actions and words?

… if we ask ourselves honestly aren’t we living a life that nurses disappointment about the fact that the men in our lives display in the main inactivity, a lack of: strength, self control and Godly leadership? And we know that if they really tried they could do it, but what’s more disappointing is that they don’t seem to want to try at all. We think that they don’t notice how we feel about that. But they do, they sense it in your tone of voice and your increasing efforts to take control. It gives them a simple message: you are not enough for her and nothing you do is right – you are a disappointment.

… Why do we try to control our men, do we think that by this method we will achieve what we want. We curse them for making us feel like we have one more kid to manage, when in reality we undermine their confidence in their ability to be any of the things we desire them to be.

… For the first 10 years of our married life I was secretly afraid that if I allowed Tim to spend time with his male friends having fun, that soon he’d rather be with them than me. We had plenty of time together (quantity) but there wasn’t a lot of quality time, neither of us did things we had passion for, hobbies or sports or interests apart from each other. How many of you know that even though you love each other, deep down you know you’re not enough for each other, that you’re lonely and you know that you’re husband is lonely too?

At Men In Action we’ve discovered that Men who spend time with other good men in their lives, come back to their wives and families better men, eager to spend time (quality time) with you, and your children. We have wives who seek us out to thank us for helping their husbands come alive, and become more engaged in their homes.

The secret is that they get out regularly to spend time doing activities that they enjoy, with men that build them up and encourage them. These are relational groups, not evangelistic 3 point sermon outreach events.

It is a long article, for a blog post, but it’s worth your time reading it. If you’re a bloke, why not read through it with some mates and discuss the points raised? Maybe you can come up with some ideas to engage your brothers-in-arms. If you’re a woman, why not read through it at your next catch up with the girls and pray for the guys in your life to be enabled, by God, to be real, godly men.

Does your Church have a men’s ministry? What have you found to be most effective in reaching and connecting with other men inside and outside the Church?

 

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Boys and Music

Douglas Wilson recently blogged some thoughts on getting boys (& men!) more involved with music and singing at Church.

1. It is more important that your boys grow up masculine than that they grow up musical.

2. We learn by imitation, and imitation involves persons and personal characteristics. If the music master is not the kind of man that the boys would like to be when they are grown, then they are generally going to avoid the musical pursuits that this man is offering to train them in. [Ed: i.e. get rid of the 'Jesus is my boyfriend rubbish!' Stat!]

3. Certain kinds of music appeal to boys, so musical selection is a big deal.

4. Musical accomplishment is a matter of discipline.

5. Don’t turn up your nose at musical accomplishment acquired off the grid in a garage band somewhere.

6. If your assigned task is a musical program at school, recognize that there are two other places where musical culture is formative — family and church. … Keeping all these things in mind, and the other principles noted here, none of this is going to change without dedicated funding. Musicians — who understand all these principles — need to eat, and need to provide for their families. They should be provided for well. The task of musical reformation cannot be left in the hands of hobbyists and volunteers.

7. [Ed. This is ALL of point 7] The growth of rock n’ roll, and the paucity of rocker chicks in that realm, should really tell us something. Instead of sniffing at the popularity of rock (o tempora! o mores!), we need to cultivate some humility at this point. We have to recognize that rock is vastly superior to more cultivated forms of music in at least one area — its ability to attract boys to music. If your theory about this is that rock does it all with half-naked girls, you haven’t thought about the subject nearly enough. The immorality of rock culture, and the inanity of the baby, baby, baby school of high poetry, are certainly worthy of our notice. But at the end of the day, they know how to do something that accomplished musicians and musical programs usually do very poorly. In the credit where credit is due department, we should be willing to try to learn what that is.

 
 

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ANZAC Mateship and Men

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love
~ 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

 

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What being a Christian Man is all about

It’s not about tea parties, it’s not about sewing clubs, it’s about getting some steel in your spine, growing up and taking a stand.

 

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Boys and Music

Douglas Wilson recently blogged some thoughts on getting boys (& men!) more involved with music and singing at Church.

1. It is more important that your boys grow up masculine than that they grow up musical.

2. We learn by imitation, and imitation involves persons and personal characteristics. If the music master is not the kind of man that the boys would like to be when they are grown, then they are generally going to avoid the musical pursuits that this man is offering to train them in. [Ed: i.e. get rid of the 'Jesus is my boyfriend rubbish!' Stat!]

3. Certain kinds of music appeal to boys, so musical selection is a big deal.

4. Musical accomplishment is a matter of discipline.

5. Don’t turn up your nose at musical accomplishment acquired off the grid in a garage band somewhere.

6. If your assigned task is a musical program at school, recognize that there are two other places where musical culture is formative — family and church. … Keeping all these things in mind, and the other principles noted here, none of this is going to change without dedicated funding. Musicians — who understand all these principles — need to eat, and need to provide for their families. They should be provided for well. The task of musical reformation cannot be left in the hands of hobbyists and volunteers.

7. [Ed. This is ALL of point 7] The growth of rock n’ roll, and the paucity of rocker chicks in that realm, should really tell us something. Instead of sniffing at the popularity of rock (o tempora! o mores!), we need to cultivate some humility at this point. We have to recognize that rock is vastly superior to more cultivated forms of music in at least one area — its ability to attract boys to music. If your theory about this is that rock does it all with half-naked girls, you haven’t thought about the subject nearly enough. The immorality of rock culture, and the inanity of the baby, baby, baby school of high poetry, are certainly worthy of our notice. But at the end of the day, they know how to do something that accomplished musicians and musical programs usually do very poorly. In the credit where credit is due department, we should be willing to try to learn what that is.

 
 

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Sister Show Mercy!

A blatant re-post of a Dan Phillips’ classic:

What will change, and what won’t. Spring’s springing, and summer looms. Mercury rises, fashions change. But one thing that won’t change, unless I’m badly and happily mistaken: some good and regular churchgoers will not dress as helpfully as they could.

I chose that word with care: “helpfully.” I am not talking about sin, shame, indecency, wantonness, or the like. Perhaps I could, with some justification, in some cases. But that’s for another time — and probably another writer. At this point, I just want to talk about being helpful.

Sister, if there’s one thing you and I can certainly agree on, it’s this: I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, and you don’t know what it’s like to be a man. We’re both probably wrong where we’re sure we’re right, try as we might. So let me try to dart a telegram from my camp over to the distaff side.

“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man” (Proverbs 27:20). Solomon doesn’t use the Hebrew words that would indicate males exclusively, so this and Ecclesiastes 1:8 may apply across the gender-board. Libbie pointed out very ably that we men wrongly assume that we alone battle with temptations entering through the eye-gate.

But. But if men aren’t alone in the battle, they may have a particular weakness for this aspect of it. Consider passionately-godly King David, whose psalms express aspirations after God beside which our own are pale, bloodless things. One day King David is in the wrong place, at the wrong time; sees a naked woman bathing next door, and boom! – he’s gone (2 Samuel 11). Family, kingdom, God — all forgotten, consumed in the flash-flame of a lust that was only visual in its inception.

And what of that Israelite Philistine Samson and his own “eye trouble?” He sees a fetching young pagan, and bellows at his dad, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me” (Judges 14:3 NAS). Where did Samson’s passions take him? How did his course end?

Unless all the men I’ve known personally or at a distance are completely unrepresentative, it’s a lifelong struggle, a lifelong weakness. As I recall from a Proverbs lecture on mp3, Bruce Waltke says that his dad, at around age 100, told him, “Bruce, I still have the same struggles I did when I was 50.” It was sobering for Dr. Waltke to hear; sobering for any man! (In fact, put me down for “disheartening.”)

Where am I going with this? Oh, don’t try to look so innocent. You knowexactly where I’m going.

So here comes this brother into the assembly of the saints, hoping for a rest from the battles of the week, a moment to regroup, sing, pray, get the Word, fellowship. He looks up to the choir, or to his left or his right — and in a tick of the clock, he’s facing the same struggle he faced every time he turned on his TV, opened a magazine, or went down a city street. He’s seeing things that make it far too easy for him not to keep his mind focused where it needs to be focused.

And he’s not in a nightclub, he’s not at a singles’ bar, he’s not at the beach. He’s in church.

Now, some very direct disclaimers:

Having said all that: while it may be true that I’m holding the matches, you won’t help me if you pile twigs all around my feet and douse them with lighter fluid. To be more specific: if you know I’ve had trouble with drunkenness, you won’t offer me a glass of wine. If you know I battle covetousness, you won’t take me window-shopping in high-end stores I’ve no business frequenting.

So I put this question: what are some sisters thinking, in how they dress?

As the ladies pick clothes, they’ll consider what’s pretty, what’s flattering, what’s attractive. Who could blame them? But, “attractive” to whom? In what way? To what end? With what focus?

Consider the questions again. “Is it pretty?” Good question, no evil in it. “Is it comfortable, is it complimentary, is it fun?” No problem. I’d just suggest you add one more question“Is it helpful, or is it hurtful, to my brothers in Christ? Will this unintentionally contribute to their having a focus that is harmful to their walk?”

Now, lookie here:

In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23 the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. (Isaiah 3:18-23)

…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness–with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing– 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Immediately we’ll swing in, as we always do, and say, “Now, the writer’s not saying that women can’t dress nicely, or wear jewelry, or blah blah blah.” And we’ll all disown our Fundie forebears who focused on nylons and lipstick, and came up with precise hemline measurements. We’ll want to make sure that we’re not advocating a new line of Burqaware for evangelical women. All that will be true and valid enough.

But I’m concerned that, in our anxiety to be sure to prevent the wrong interpretation, we effectively cut off all interpretation. We have swung from making the passages saysilly things, to not letting them say anything. These passages have tomean something! They must have some application! What is it?

Surely the emphasis of the passages is warning against vanity, externality, sensuality; and on highlighting and promoting focus on a godly character as true beauty. Who you are; not just what you look like. Remember: “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion” (Proverbs 11:22 NAS).

Oh boy, I’m going to make it worse now. Deep breath….

What are you clothes saying about you, sister? What are they supposed to say to your brothers? “Hey, look at this?” Well, they actually are trying to look at the Lord; it’s not good for them to be looking at that. No, it’s not your fault that they have a problem. We established that. And it’s really great that God has made you beautiful. I hope your husband (present or future) shows you how grateful he is for that about you.

But you can help the brothers who aren’t your husband, or you can not-help them. Which are you doing? If you’re not married, and a man looks at you, is he thinking, “What a great character”? Or are you giving him reason to think about something else?

I know many of the responses. “You don’t know what it’s like to buy women’s clothes, you ignorant man!” Mostly true. My first just-for-fun purchase for my wife was, well, it was appalling. What a good sport my wife was. I took it back to the store immediately, and made a much better subsequent choice.

But this: “You can’t find anything modest! It’s all too revealing! It’simpossible to get something that looks nice, yet isn’t too tight, or too short, or too-something / not-something-enough!”

Sorry, but baloney.

I put “modest women’s clothing Christian” in Google, and 453,000 pages come up. Yes, some are funny and quaint at best. But are they allAmishwear? “Can’t find?”

More fundamentally: I do not accept that anyone has to wear clothes that are too tight or too sheer or too short — unless you are the largest and tallest woman living in the hottest part of the planet. Because I see larger, taller women walking around in hot weather, and they’re all wearing clothes, every last one. They got those clothes somewhere, I reason. You could too.

“But — but they won’t look good on me! The shoulders will be wrong!”

I’m not sure that’s necessarily true, but let’s accept it and pose a counter-question. You tell me. Which is worse: your shoulders hanging a half-inch too low? Or a blouse/shirt that simply (shifting into turbo-delicate) provides need-to-know information to those with a need-to-not-know?

I’m sure we all agree that there are clothes that show what others have nohelpful business seeing. Here’s what to show, in clothes-selection: show a Godward focus, discretion, a godly character.

And show mercy.

Parting thought. Darlene pointed me to a statement by Arthur Pink, which makes everything I’ve just said look awfully mild. But there’s no denying that he has a point. I’ll close with it:

Again, if lustful looking be so grievous a sin, then those who dress and expose themselves with desires to be looked at and lusted after-as Jezebel, who painted her face, tired her head, and looked out of the window (2 Kings 9:30)-are not less, but even more guilty. In this matter it is only too often the case that men sin, but women tempt them so to do. How great, then, must be the guilt of the great majority of the modern misses who deliberately seek to arouse the sexual passions of our young men? And how much greater still is the guilt of most of their mothers for allowing them to become lascivious temptresses?

Now, note, Pink and I speak to different ends. I speak to those who I assume are inadvertently dressing in an unhelpful manner. Pink speaks to those whose intent is to allure. Between the two of us, I can pray we’ve provided food for thought, prayer, reconsideration, and needed change.

 
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Posted by on 13/01/2010 in discipleship, worship

 

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