Archive for February, 2012

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One of the big challenges we have as fathers is asking our sons to do things that we don’t do well ourselves. Witness the law of inertia. That states that a body at rest will tend to stay at rest unless or until it is acted upon by an outside force. That is men in a nutshell. We tend not to move outside of our comfort zone, or even to get into action, until something is screaming for our attention. The thing is that there is a whole world out there that is constantly screaming for our attentions and we have largely become immune to hearing it. My belief is that most of the things we are being asked to do lie outside of our comfort zone. I mean really, who wants to work with the homeless, the people of the third world, on racial reconciliation? The answer is, those who are already there. I have been all over the world and in every kind of hopeless situation you can think of, and I would challenge any of you reading this to witness those same things and remain passive. Now, I would like to say it is because I am so altruistic that I have witnessed these things…but that would be untrue. I have seen most of things I have because my work took me into these environments. But once confronted with the needs of fatherless children, abused women, addicted people, I couldn’t just sit back and not be moved. Further, as I have traveled with my wife who does concerts around the world, I have been given unique access into countries and peoples and their needs that few will ever be privileged to witness. And the message I have heard from them and bring to you is this, “We are here. We exist, and we need you!” They need you to turn off the sports and the media that have anesthetized you for so long and go do something. Here’s the thing…we can tell our sons to be men of action, but they will mostly do what they see. I’m sure you have heard Ralph Waldo Emerson’s adage, “Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.” Well, that is how our sons see us. They will hear what we do, more than what we say. So step out of your comfort zone. Tell your sons that their fsith is made complete by what hey do. Tell them if they sit on the sidelines their whole life they will never get in the game. Tell them that the religion that God sees as pure is that which takes care of widows and orphans and the distressed. And tell them that a life spent serving others, a life more-giving , is a life that can never be wasted.

This might be a perfect place to bring up subject near and dear to my heart…the difference between occupation and vocation. In a nutshell it’s the difference we outlined above, that is work that is done half-heartedly, and work done from the heart. Remember when your granddad used to say, “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? That’s the crux of the thought. Occupation means just what it sounds like. I’m occupying space and taking up air, hanging on ‘til Jesus comes back. Vocation implies someone is calling, which further implies that someone is listening. If God is calling and you are listening, do whatever comes to your hand and you’ll probably be happy. Even more importantly, and I believe this is the pint of all good things God gives us, it will probably make us more holy…as we grapple with the real-life issues of work and contentment. But you’ve got to be paying attention. You’ve got to be listening. I think it is incumbent upon us as dads to help our sons understand how to recognize the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Remember when Samuel was called? He had no clue who it was that kept waking him up in the middle of the night until his mentor-priest (Eli) caught on and told the young man:

9 “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

11And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.

(1 Samuel 3 NIV)

His surrogate dad helped him figure out what the Lord’s voice sounded like, and what he heard not only changed his life…it changed the world.

Similarly, we as fathers need to help a young man understand exactly what it is the Lord is calling him to. The Scripture in Proverbs that says:

Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

…does not so much mean that if we teach a child God’s precepts as a lad that he will return to those teachings later in life. I do believe that is true, but it isn’t what this Scripture means. It is speaking of training, like a vine is trained. It is training it’s bent around a certain type of structure. We know that all woods and plants have a certain bend (a way that they should go) and it is fruitless, maybe even deadly, to train the vine against that bend. Here’s the thing: if you see greatness in an area of your son and you’re fairly sure he is bent that way, call it out in him. Tell him you see the hand of God on his life. Tell him you believe God has a holy calling (vocation) for him. Tell him he should be listening for God’s voice, through the Spirit, to direct him as he makes his choices about his calling and career. Who knows…he may go and change the world too.

Believing the LieBelieving the Lie by Elizabeth George
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Elizabeth George. It is hard to see how such a thoroughly British book can be written by an American.

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Practical Theology

Posted: February 18, 2012 in Book Review, Devotionals

The Attributes of God: A Journey Into the Father's Heart (The Attributes of God, Volume 1)The Attributes of God: A Journey Into the Father’s Heart by A.W. Tozer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I actually forgot how good this book is. If you are a fan of plain spoken folk, but you can’t abide the smugness of modern theologians, then you will probably love this book. Tozer walks the reader through the attributes (God’s goodness, kindness, justice, omnipotence etc. ) and casually almost whimsically illustrates how each fits within the other without violating any of their first principles, or cancelling out the other. More importantly, Tozer demonstrates how we seamlessly fold these into our everyday living…thus making it our own. It’s just very practical theology. When I was a new Christian, some idiot gave me for my 1st bible study…wait for it…Burkoeff’s Guide to Systematic theology. While that is a tremendous book, it is not one a new Christian can fully grasp. I don’t say understand, I was study radiation physics at the time in college so understanding it wasn’t the problem. Internalizing the truth revealed therein was the problem. Making it part of my everyday life was the problem. Being surrounded by numbskulls who thought big books were more important than big living…that is living the truths they like to only think about. I wish I had read this book instead.

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Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous ManhoodStepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood by Dennis Rainey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dennis Rainey does a great job of asking men to step up…from wherever they are now to the next step on their journey through manhood. Some of us need to know Christ. Some of us know Christ but have never gotten serious about knowing his Word and applying it to out lives. Still others have done that but never imparted the knowledge to their own wife or family. Some have mentored and discipled their families and need to reach out to someone without a dad. This is not a 5 steps to something kind of book. rather it is a call to boys to become young men, young men to become full grown men, men to become mentors, and mentors to become patriarchs. The numbers on not doing this are plain. Today 30 million kids are floundering without a dad or man of any kind in their life. Mr Rainey asks, “What are you gonna do about it?”

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According to another set of brothers, Stephen and Alex Kendrick, we as dads have approximately a million things we need to teach or sons…but they all basically fall under 12 headings. It’s that age between 12 and 20 that we want to concentrate on, because (again) this is when manhood has traditionally started and the age of total accountability was reckoned in biblical history. So you have 8 years to teach your son 12 things…piece of cake.

To be a man of responsibility
To be a leader capable of leading a family
To find and love a wife
To have and bless children
To live with honor
To fight for justice
To demonstrate the love of Christ
To provide for his family
To reconcile and clean up the mistakes of the past
To live with integrity
To be faithful to his calling and his family
To leave his own legacy

(“The Resolution”, Stephen and Alex Kendrick, B&H Publishing)

There…that wasn’t too hard, simple right? I used the Kendrick brother’s list, because it was more complete than the outline I had originally created in my head. It also scares the crap out of me. Not only because I have not covered all these bases yet, but also because I am fully aware that most men will never even attempt to teach this to their sons. What are we unleashing on the world. Aren’t we, as Christian men, supposed to be different than the men of the world? Let me encourage you the way I encouraged myself when I felt most intimidated by undertaking the task of paying forward these tremendous teachings. Can you imagine if someone had poured into your life this way, how different your life would have been? How many fewer mistakes, devastatingly painful mistakes, would you have made if your dad or mentor had given you these invaluable tools? Or maybe your dad did pour this into your life. Can you imagine how different your life might have been had he withheld it from you? To some it may seem too pragmatic to have a mental checklist and go through it with your pen ticking-off issues you have, or have not addressed. I say that in this time and space of God’s story, that if you fail to plan you are planning to fail.


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