“7 Men & the Secret of Their Greatness” + LINKUP

 

7 Men & the Secret of Their GreatnessWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas.

 

We all need heroes. Even the Apostle Paul said that we were to follow him and others as they follow Christ, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Phil. 3.17).

On the other hand he warned us, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15.33).

Who we hang out with, who we follow, who we choose as heroes, can have a profound effect on our lives. When we read the biographies of great men and women who have gone before us, we have an opportunity to see how they lived and to follow their example.

Eric Metaxas has written several of the best biographies I’ve read in recent years. Earlier I reviewed one of them, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. You can read about it here.

In Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxas writes about seven men who experienced struggles and faced challenges that would have crushed lesser men. These men and their stories—George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson—can encourage all of us to be strong in the face of opposition and live right in a world that has little or no standard.

 

What makes great men & what is the secret of their greatness?

What is biblical manhood and what makes men worthy examples? Metaxas’ book doesn’t just tell us, it shows us through the lives of these seven men. (I’ll talk about women who exemplify biblical womanhood in a future blog.)

Metaxas tells us first what it isn’t, here are several excerpts for the opening chapter:

The first false idea about manhood is the idea of being macho— of being a big shot and using strength to be domineering and to bully those who are weaker. Obviously this is not God’s idea of what a real man is. It’s someone who has not grown up emotionally, who might be a man on the outside, but who on the inside is simply an insecure and selfish boy.

The second false choice is to be emasculated— to essentially turn away from your masculinity and to pretend that there is no real difference between men and women. Your strength as a man has no purpose, so being strong isn’t even a good thing.

God’s idea of manhood is something else entirely. It has nothing to do with the two false ideas of either being macho or being emasculated. The Bible says that God made us in his image, male and female, and it celebrates masculinity and femininity. And it celebrates the differences between them. Those differences were God’s idea.

For one thing, the Bible says that men are generally stronger than women, and of course Saint Peter famously— or infamously— describes women as “the weaker sex.” But God’s idea of making men strong was so that they would use that strength to protect women and children and anyone else. There’s something heroic in that. Male strength is a gift from God, and like all gifts from God, it’s always and everywhere meant to be used to bless others. In Genesis 12:1–3, God tells Abraham that he will bless him so that Abraham can bless others. All blessings and every gift— and strength is a gift— are God’s gifts, to be used for his purposes, which means to bless others. So men are meant to use their strength to protect and bless those who are weaker. That can mean other men who need help or it can mean women and children. True strength is always strength given over to God’s purposes.

Metaxas goes on:  Continue reading

“Family Worship” + LINKUP

 

Family WorshipWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney.

 

Family Worship: It’s perhaps one of my greatest regrets that we didn’t do a better job in this area.

We did other things we believed were important. We took our children to church every Sunday. We made sure they were involved in the children’s and youth ministries.

We set boundaries as to where they were allowed to go and with whom. We made sure they knew “the rules,” that is, what Christians should and shouldn’t do.

We didn’t take cruises or buy expensive personal items. We made Christian school and family focused activities a priority. We put in a pool so the kids could have their friends over where we could get to know them and we’ve seen some of those young people come to the Lord. We took family vacations. We tried to be good examples morally.

It’s not that we did any of these things perfectly … far from it, but we worked at it. We also read our Bibles and prayed, although again, haltingly and imperfectly.

But our attempts to live the Christian life, while important and a part of what we should have been doing, coupled with what we were taught and taught our children was too much about keeping “the rules.”

Let me say here that, at that time, we didn’t attend what you would call a conservative or fundamentalist church. On the contrary, we attended a contemporary church where “freedom in Christ” was talked about on a regular basis! Yet, in retrospect, our understanding of Christianity wasn’t really about the freedom of the Gospel lived out on a daily basis.

I wish I had been familiar with books and teachers like Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love by Milton Vincent. I wish we had understood the importance of understanding that the Gospel is something we must preach to ourselves every day and that it should be understood in the grace and freedom of the Gospel lived out and talked about in our home in more effective ways.

God, in His faithfulness has grown us and exposed us to better, more biblically sound teaching through the years. And we continue to grow in that area. We understand the importance of sharing the Gospel, properly understood and applied, in our home. But our children are grown with children of their own. A couple of our grandchildren are even married and have little ones. (Yes, that makes us great-grandparents!)

My prayer is that someone out there reading this will seek to understand and do that a little bit better as a result of my testimony.

One thing I believe can be an important part of good parenting and our own personal growth in Christ is regular, Gospel-centered family devotions. I believe this is important whether or not we have children and whether or not they are still at home.

I first heard Donald Whitney talk on this subject at a biblical counseling conference. I was both blessed and convicted. But more than anything, I was motivated to share the importance of all this with those God puts in my path both inside and outside the counseling room.

Dr. Whitney’s book can be a huge help in that area, but I’ll let you hear from him: Continue reading

Relationships: “We can’t communicate about anything!”

 

We can't communicate about anything!Welcome to Soul Survival where I blog through the Bible and on other subjects related to living the Christian life. My “day job” is biblical counseling. I’m an ACBC certified counselor. I meet with couples, families and individuals to help them find God’s answers for the issues and struggles they face.

Besides meeting with people formally, I am frequently asked questions at church or by email. I’ll be answering some of those questions here on the blog. If you have a question you’d like to see answered (using only a first name or initial) you can submit it here.

 

TODAY’S QUESTION:

From John:

My wife and I have huge communication issues. We don’t seem to be able to communicate about anything! It seems like everything is an issue with her and I don’t usually react the way I should. We fight about the kids, my friends, her family, my family … you name it! I think she’s too critical and she says I’m too selfish. We both know we shouldn’t be talking to each other like that, but we don’t know where to start to fix it.
Continue reading

“Gospel Treason: Uncovering Our Hidden Idols” + LINKUP

 

Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols by Brad BigneyWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel With Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney.

 

The Bible talks a lot about idols and idolatry, both in the Old and New Testaments. Perhaps you, like me, have often skimmed over those verses as only relevant to some foreign culture with temples and giant statutes.

But are statues of Buddha, Hindu gods, and other strange religions the only forms of idolatry?

In Ezekiel 14 God, speaking to the elders of Israel, said this:

¹ Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me.And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?

“Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”’

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

These were not carved statues. These idols were in their hearts, were causing them to stumble into sin, and separated them from God.

Sin does that. While those of us who belong to Him don’t lose our salvation. It puts a wall between us and Him and will hinder our prayers and our communion with Him.

Gospel Treason can help us uncover the idols we have in our hearts, idols we might not even recognize. Idols that are standing between us and our spiritual growth, between us and the marriage we want, between us and peace in other relationships. In short, causing chaos in our lives.

Brad does so through personal stories and a great deal of transparency. From the introduction:

My wife and I have been married for twenty-five years, but twenty years ago we were at war. There was no camouflage, there were no guns, and neither of us was crawling under barbed wire in our single-wide mobile home. But we both felt that we were constantly stepping on land mines in our relationship—putting out brushfires, running for cover, and dodging the bullets that our tongues fired back and forth. Our marriage had deteriorated into a battlefield, and we were opposing forces.

And the casualty rate was high.

He goes on:  Continue reading

Relationship Q & A: “Physical Abuse”

 

Physical Abuse: A few weeks ago my husband hit me. He said it would never happen again, but it did. I hope you can tell me what to do.Welcome to Soul Survival where I blog through the Bible and on all kinds of other subjects related to living the Christian life. My “day job” is counseling. I’m an ACBC certified counselor. I meet with couples, families and individuals to help them find God’s answers for the issues and struggles they face.

Besides meeting with people formally, I am frequently asked questions at church or by email. I’ll be answering some of those questions here on the blog. If you have a question you’d like to see answered (using only a first name or initial) you can submit it here.

 

TODAY’S QUESTION:

From J.:

A few weeks ago my husband hit me. The first time he told me it would never happen again, but last week it did. We have only been married 2 years and we have a new baby. My parents don’t live here, but I did talk to his mother. She seems to be concerned, but she doesn’t want me to tell anyone. I love my husband, but every time something goes wrong, I start to get afraid. I hope you can tell me what to do?
Continue reading

“For Women Only: The Inner Lives of Men” + LINKUP

 

For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of MenWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn.

 

I probably recommend Shaunti’s book, For Women Only, as much as any book in my counseling arsenal. There are other books that are more in depth biblically, even other books on the role of the wife that do a better job of explaining from the Scriptures what God has to say about our role. But I find that the one thing women who want to be godly wives struggle with most often is understanding just what we do that our husbands perceive as disrespect. And Shaunti’s book does the best job of helping us do just that!

That isn’t the only thing you’ll come to understand about the inner lives of men. Reading this book will probably provide you with numerous “aha” moments.

From Chapter 1:

Have you ever been totally confused by something the man in your life has said or done? Have you ever wondered, looking at his rapidly departing back, Why did that make him so angry? Have you ever been perplexed by your husband’s defensiveness when you ask him to stop working so much? Yeah? Me too.

But now, after conducting spoken and written interviews with more than one thousand men, I can tell you that the answers to those and dozens of other common perplexities are all related to what is going on in your man’s inner life. Most are things he wishes you knew but doesn’t know how to tell you. In some cases, they’re things he has no idea you don’t know. This book will share those interviews and those answers. But be careful, ladies. You might be slapping your forehead a lot!

She goes on:  Continue reading

Relationship Issues: “Help! My Husband Won’t Lead!”

 

Relationship Issues: Help! My husband won't lead!Welcome to Soul Survival where I blog through the Bible and on all kinds of other subjects related to living the Christian life. My “day job” is counseling. I’m an ACBC certified counselor. I meet with couples, families and individuals to help them find God’s answers for the issues and struggles they face.

Besides meeting with people formally, I’m frequently asked questions at church or by email. I’ll be answering some of those questions here on the blog. If you have a question you’d like to see answered you can submit it here.

 

TODAY’S QUESTION:

From Sue:

I’m a new Christian and I’ve been attending a Bible study about being a godly wife. I realize I haven’t been the kind of wife I should. I know my husband is supposed to be the leader of our family. I have talked to him about it, but he doesn’t seem interested in being more involved. How can I get my husband to lead our family? Continue reading