Stand in the Gap - Part 7
Stand In The Gap 7
Wake Up Calls
"How many times can a man hear a wake-up call without waking up? Some men, I suppose, never do. This man almost didn’t. I’ve had two major wake-up calls at two crossroads in my life. Neither was much like the gentle ring of an alarm clock. Both were more akin to the crack of a two-by-four across the back of my skull. But I guess you could say I hit the ‘snooze’ button twice before coming awake…Some fifteen years into my marriage…I experienced my second life-changing wake up call…it flashed out of Linda’s eyes. For the first time in all our years together, I saw anger there. Deep anger. Hot anger..It was absolutely clear—there would be some changes in our relationship"(Tender Warrior, Stu Weber, pp. 13,17). It is so easy to snooze through life, or, what the Bible calls, "drifting away" (Hebrews 2:1); "being dead even while she lives" (1 Timothy 5:6); "held captive by the devil" (2 Timothy 2:26); "living in darkness" (Acts 26:20); or simply being "lost" (Luke 19:10). Even Christians are admonished to "awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11); "so let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:6). A sample of wake up calls for men would include:
- My children are out of control
- My wife is distant, the family doesn’t respect me
- I don’t have a close relationship with any of my brethren
- I can’t even properly explain basic biblical truths to others or find the verses that support such teaching
- I don’t have a close relationship with my children
- I am starting to make the same arguments which unbelievers make
- I have come to the conclusion that one doesn’t have to obey the commands of God to be saved (Hebrews 5:9).
- I don’t have a clue what is going on in the lives of my children
- I am not trying to presently convert anyone
- I haven’t prayed for a week
- I am involved in a sinful habit
- I am trying to find happiness, purpose, and meaning for my life in something other than my relationship with God and serving Him(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
- I have a negative attitude towards the church and Christians
Men Who Have Vision
One man compared the role of husband and father to a scout on a wagon train. "Looking ahead. Giving direction. Anticipating needs. Defining the destination. What makes a man? First, foremost, and above all else, it is vision. A vision for something larger than himself. As men we often misplace our vision. We focus myopically on houses and cars and stock portfolios and bank accounts and piling up stuff. We imagine status and security in these things, when in fact there is no status or security if you don’t have relationships. Too many guys squander their vision—and then wonder why they lose their families. It’s the all too common downside to superficial definitions of success, and don’t let anyone snow you, nothing makes up for the failure of a family" (Weber pp. 24,25).The writer of Proverbs had vision as he described in detail the types of situations that his son would encounter in life (Proverbs 1:10-19; 5; 6:1-5; 6:24-7:27). A provisionary looks down the years and asks himself questions, such as:
- If our marriage were to go on just the way it’s been going, what will it be like for us in five, ten, or twenty years?
- How can I build the self-esteem of my wife who spends enormous amounts of time cleaning house and changing diapers?
- How can I help might eight-year-old girl learn to understand and control her emotions before the hormones start pumping through her body?
- When will my little boy and I need to have our first talk about sex?
- What kinds of things might my kids encounter in middle school—and how can I prepare them?
- How can I manage my career goals so that I’m available to my high school children?
- What will my children need in a dad when they’re in college?
- What kind of a husband will my wife need when she hits menopause? How can I help her through that passage?
- What kind of traits will my children and grandchildren cherish in a grandfather?
- What type of maturity is it going to take to grow old and yet not grow bitter?
- What stands between me and being qualified to serve as an elder, or deacon?
- What will the church look like in 5, 10, 15 years if I don’t’ try to share the gospel with the lost in this community?
The Pillars of Manhood
- The Head: Both men and women were given the command to "subdue" the earth, and "rule over" the entire physical creation(Genesis 1:28). The male is the one who is given the primary responsibility to rule. A man rules and leads his family (Genesis 18:19).Husbands are the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23). It is the male Christian who preaches to both genders (1 Timothy 2:12), and is to preach with all authority (Titus 2:15). It is the male who shepherds the flock, tending, feeding, guiding, and protecting it from the wolves (1 Timothy 3:1-2; 1 Peter 5:1-3).
A Man is Under Orders
I really like the comment that being a man means that you are under orders. Why do I teach my children? Why do I set guidelines? Why do I tell them no? Why do I watch over the spiritual welfare of my wife? Why do elders protect the flock? Because as men we are under orders! As men we need to catch the vision that Paul had, that of having received a tremendous commission from God, and regardless of the cost, he was intent upon fulfilling his mission (Acts 20:20-24). When men marry, then are accepting a "mission". When men have children, they accept another mission. When men obey the gospel, they accept still another mission. One of the Hebrew terms rendered "man" in the Old Testament ("ish"), may have the fundamental concept of "strong" or "piercer". "At his core a man is an initiator, one who moves forward, advances toward the horizon, leads. At the core of masculinity is initiation, the provision of direction, security, stability, and connection" (Weber p. 47). Sadly, some men lack this initiative, especially in the realm of providing spiritual, moral, emotional, and financial leadership for their families. A man without initiative is like a compass without a needle or a boat without a rudder. "A lot a people pass through life feeling trapped in some vague sense of dissatisfaction" (p. 47).
- Warrior: "A warrior is a protector. Whether he’s stepping on intruding bugs or checking out the sounds that go ‘bump’ in the night. Whether he’s confronting a habitually abusive Little League coach or shining a flashlight into a spooky basement. Whether he is shoveling snow or helping women and children into the last life boat on the Titanic. Men stand tallest when they are protecting and defending. A warrior is one who possesses high moral standards, and holds to high principles. He is willing to live by them, stand for them, spend himself for them, and if necessary die for them…Ever notice how aloof a man can appear at times? Could it be that the warrior in him is a little out of sync?" (Weber p. 41). (1 Timothy 1:3; 4:6-7; 5:19-21; 6:12 "Fight the good fight of the faith"; 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline"; 2 Timothy 2:3,9; Titus 1:9).
- Teacher: "A man is supposed to know things. Like how a car runs. Or the inner workings of a hair dryer. Or the capitol of Nepal. Or how many legs are on a spider. Or how many miles to the next rest stop. Or when the weather will turn. It’s up to him to maintain a working knowledge of why electricity flows, dogs bark, birds migrate, hamsters die, trees lose their leaves, dads lose their hair, and girls down the street ‘act weird" (Weber p. 42). And far more importantly than these subjects, a man is supposed to know God’s will and be able to impart this teaching to his family and others (Psalm 78:3; Ephesians 6:4). More men need to see themselves as "teachers". Men should be able to teach "life". Men need to be able to distinguish truth from error (Hebrews 5:12-14), and correct children when they get on the wrong path. They need to have the answers to the common questions of life (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and they need to know how "life works.
- Friend: Manhood means keeping commitments. He must have the courage to rebuke when necessary (Proverbs 27:6).
Many men in our culture lack one of the marks of a man, that is, patience, steadfastness, endurance, and forbearance. Have you noticed how badly men run in our culture? One-third of American children are not living with their natural fathers. Over fifteen million kids are growing up in homes without any father. Seventy percent of men in prison grew up without a father. It used to be, "women and children first", but now it has become "me first". In contrast, godly men stand by their promises.
When marriage isn’t fun—stay in it
When parenting is over your head—stay at it
When work is crushing your spirit—don’t let it beat you
When the local church is overwhelmed with pettiness—stay by it
When your children let you down—pick them up
When you wife goes through a six-month mood swing—live with it
When it’s fourth and fourteen with no time on the clock—throw another pass.
Real men stay, stay, and stay. The heart of such staying power is SACRIFICE (Philippians 2:3-4; Luke 14:26; 9:23; Hebrews 12:1-4; James 1:2-4; 5:8-11), and genuine LOVE for God and the people who need you (1 Corinthians 13:4 "Love is patient….love bear all things, endures all things").
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017