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January 13, 2004

Male Validation

Genesis 26:34-35; 27:46; 28:6-9
34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.

46 Rebekah said to Isaac, "I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these who are the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?"

6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan," 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram. 8 Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. 9 So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

Many men deal with the "Esau syndrome." Without rehearsing all of Esau's story, early on he was willing to sacrifice the long term ("birthright") for immediate indulgences. Then once he realized what he lost, he spent the next season of his life trying to overcome his "failure" and prove his worth to those he felt he had disappointed - his father (giving away his birthright), his mother (bad marriage choices). He then complicates the issue by taking on more responsibility (a new wife). He never is at ease until he encounters Jacob. Something happens during these years that finally Esau is at ease with himself.

I don't know why we (men, or me) try to make up for past mistakes by going overboard trying to prove ourselves to others and gain their approval. Is is out of regret for past mistakes? Have we let our failures defines us so that we need others to validate us? At some point, each man has to grow up and find that he has God's approval, birthright or not, a wife from the right family or not, and learn to be comfortable in his own skin if we will ever be able to walk in the "blessing" (Genesis 33:4, 8-11)

Lord, help me to live with nothing to prove, comfortable with who you've made me to be and with what you are doing in me.

May 8, 2007

The Meditations of a Man

Psalm 104:33-34 (NKJV)
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34 May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the LORD.

One of the things I'm reminded of as I read the Psalms is that most, if not all of them, were authored by men - and one man in particular, David. The Biblical record credits David with being a King, a Warrior, a Businessman, etc. David seems to be the most manly of men, a guy's guy. We also have some insight to his flaws. He could be presumptuous. He could be self-serving. He could be ruthless. The point I'm making is that David was a man, a male, like me.

Our culture has no problem with men being successful, leaders, warriors. What's odd is that most rock stars are male too, and in our culture's odd way, they are celebrated for their "maleness" (booze, women, fights, all that "Behind The Music" stuff). Where am I going with this? Well, it's about guys...and worship. When I look out at our congregation on Sundays I would say there's only 10-15% of the men actually engaged in the "worship" (the congregational singing part of the service). By "engaged", I'm evening bringing it down to the lowest level of even singing along, let alone giving some kind of physical expression to their worship like lifting their hands.

I don't get it. I don't understand why men have trouble engaging. Most of the songs we sing are written by men. There's nothing more manly than declaring, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will continually be in my mouth." Talk about taking a stand. I think a real man isn't afraid of intimacy either. The same man who engages in the worship of his God will most likely be a better communicator with his spouse. Then why don't men worship?

I think it's a problem with what we (I) think about - the meditations of our hearts. Men are so easily sidetracked and at the same time can be completely consumed by his circumstances. It takes effort to guard our minds, and change our focus. I think David understood this challenge when he wrote, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). Today, I'm taking these words not just as a mushy, "spiritual" comment, but instructions to men on how to keep their lives focused from a man who knew what it takes to be a God-fearing man and was taking on that challenge.

I want my meditations, the things that consume my mind and require my energies, to be pleasing to God - a continual worship. To praise Him while I'm engaged in the activities of my life. To sing to Him, as long as I live. And to find pleasure in worship...the true measure of my manhood.

Lord, I want my mind to be focused on You. Help me fill my heart with Your desires. And I wil be glad in You.

May 30, 2007

Sons & Moms

Proverbs 10:1
A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son grief to his mother.

Proverbs 15:20
A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.

Proverbs 17:25

A foolish son brings grief to his father
and bitterness to the one who bore him.

Proverbs 19:26
He who robs his father and drives out his mother
is a son who brings shame and disgrace.

I'm enjoying reading from the Narrated Bible. This section of Proverbs has been organized by topic, with today's reading including a section on parents and children. It was timely because my son woke up today in a mood. He is a sweet and tender young man by nature. But occasionally he becomes very withdrawn and shuns any kind of affection and even any interaction. This is particularly difficult for Jayme to handle. Her only "pay" is the appreciation and affection from her kids for all she does for them. I'm thinking back on my own life and evaluating my relationship with my mom who as a lifelong caregiver for her family is also only compensated with love. Is either of these women in my life being "paid" for their worth or just receiving minimum wage?

The wise man gives consideration to his family. The fool, who thinks only of himself, the consequences of his choices/actions impact his family, especially his mother. He brings grief and bitterness to her probably because she feels like she has failed in what she dedicated her life to. The fool is ungrateful. He does not acknowledge the sacrifices his mother made for him and doing so despises her. He keeps his mom at a distance and in doing so disgraces her. This behavior brings bitterness and shame upon her.

I know that many men have a severe case of being "Momma's boys" which is unhealthy. On the other side there's extreme cases of parental neglect that makes this kind of maternal relationship challenging. But for the most part, we see that one of the signs of wisdom is a healthy relationship with one's parents, especially a man with his mother. One day I'm going to tell my daughter that one of the things she should look for in any man she considers to be a potential spouse is how he treats his mother. In most cases, if there's a healthy relationship there, she'll be treated with love and respect as well.

July 3, 2007

Man Rule #1

While reading in 1 Kings today, I came across this cool piece of advice. It should be included in any set of "man rules."

And the king of Israel answered and said, "Tell him, 'Let not him that girdeth on his armor boast himself as he that putteth it off.'"
| I Kings 20:11 (ASV)

Some things are better in "ye olde english."

February 4, 2011

Hand-Me-Downs

Exodus 29:29 (NKJV)
And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed in them and to be consecrated in them.

OBSERVATION
God dedicated the Aaronic line to be ministers before him. All of Aaron's descendants will now be priests. In fact, Aaron and his sons were dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 29:20). But Aaron's "uniform," the symbol of his position and responsibility, was to be passed down to his sons who come after him.

APPLICATION
This week in Men's Fraternity we defined authentic Godly manhood as "rejecting passivity, taking responsibility, leading courageously, and expect the greater reward." In the mentioned passage I see that the legacy that God was entrusting to Aaron required authentic manhood. It requires that he "hands down" to his sons something more than just his name.

Aaron and his sons (and the generations that followed) were dedicated for service to God. But there came a time when Aaron passed on his assignment to his sons. Aaron job wasn't only to minister before God as a priest, but to train his sons in what being a priest means, what it requires. For one day, they would wear the uniform and with it the responsibility for God's people and the generation that would follow them. There would come a day that Aaron's sons would be recognized by the community ("anointed") and charged with the full responsibility ("consecrated"). This means that the time of training and the time when they lived for themselves was over, and now gave themselves to a lifetime of service. And also took on the added responsibility of preparing the generation that would follow them.

I wonder what my son will feel when he puts on the uniform of "manhood." Will he know what it looks like? Will he know how to put it on? Will he understand what comes with the job? He was dedicated to God's service as an infant, but when the time comes to be anointed and consecrated into the ministry that God has for him, will he be ready? Will he know what to do. Doing my job with him is every bit as important as doing my job for others. When that day comes and he puts on the uniform; cap & gown (graduation) / tuxedo (wedding) / burp rag (fatherhood) - I want him to stand proud knowing he's ready and willing to embrace the ministry God has for him.

PRAYER
Father, I wear the uniform you've given to me with pride. Let me care for it in such a way that what is passed down to my son is not a mess of filthy rags, torn and worn out because I didn't care for it. Let me take pride in the manhood/ministry you've anointed and consecrated me to, so that I pass down to my lineage something of worth that is cherished and taken pride in...so that it can be passed down again.

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