Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Category: Wildman Journey (Page 1 of 68)

Deep People

As a young pastor back in 1978, I read Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline.”  It was a kind of spiritual awakening for me.  I felt like I was breathing “fresh spiritual air.”  I was concerned about matters of the heart and soul, but there were few evangelical leaders speaking to the issues of “soul care.”  Foster opened new doors for me. 

I was captivated by the opening words of Foster’s book: “Superficiality is the curse of our age.  The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.   Foster went on to say, “the spiritual life calls us to move beyond surface living into the depths.”  He was talking about soul life.

Recently I watched a video of Foster giving a presentation in 2018 at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of his book.  What was true then is true today: “The need for the growth of the soul.”  In Foster’s view, “The most lasting work is accomplished in the depth of the heart.”  All real spiritual formation is “heart work.”  The focus is on the purity of the heart (Proverbs 4:23).  “We must not neglect this work,” he warns, “Spiritual formation is not a tool kit to fix things.”

When Foster looks at our culture, he listed four areas of concern:

First, information technology.  We are all wired to the information age.  The changes have been rapid and all pervasive.  The demands on each of us can be a spiritual drain.  The inner life can easily be neglected.  Soul care takes time and attention.  Foster cautions us with one word: distraction.  “We need,” he maintains, “a discerning, life-giving ascetism.”  We need practices to help us “unplug” so we can listen and learn to just be.

Second, the loss of Christian consciousness.  The Christian story and culture are being lost in the collective consciousness of our nation.  How do we minister to people who have no roots in Christianity?  We need to focus on spiritual formation and the growth of the soul.  The inner life of many is an empty, confused spiritual space that needs to be addressed.

Third,  learning to live courageously through dark times.  We live in what Foster calls, “a wilderness of cultural unbelief.”  We may be witnessing “the beginnings of a new dark age.”  Evangelicals in our day are considered “hypocrites.”  How are we to sing the songs of Zion in a strange land?  Foster’s advice is stark: “Shut up” and “listen.” Talk less. Listen more.

Fourth, narcissism is the spirit of the age.  Culture has changed in this regard over the last 40 years.   We live in the age of “expressive individualism” (Carl Trueman).  It is the very air that we breathe.  Only inner transformation of the soul can help us to be “other-centered” rather than “self-centered.”  Jesus is our model in a life of surrender. 

Recently I came across a review written by Foster.  He mentioned a prayer that he was using in his devotional life.  I have memorized it and use it both in prayer and during the day.  “Lord Jesus, please/Purify my heart/Renew my mind/Sanctify my imagination/Enlarge my soul/Amen.”  This is a prayer that helps us focus on our inner life.  

Notice: a purified heart comes first, then the renewal of the mind.  I continue to need much sanctifying of my imagination.  Recently, I have become aware of the Spirit enlarging my soul as I focus on Jesus at the center.  May the Lord help us all to do this (Hebrews 12:1-3).

 

 

Jeremey’s Razors

Recently, I got an e-mail from my number one son in North Carolina that included an ad for Jeremy’s Razors.  When Mark wrote, “This advertising is causing more conversations in my world here than anything in the last few years,” I knew I had to see it.  Then Kurt, my second son, responded to the e-mail string, saying, “One of my favorites.  Some of my buddies have bought these razors.”

The company and the ad are both “old school.” See the ad on YouTube: “Jeremy’s Razors: the greatest commercial ever.” I consider the ad “slapstick” comedy, the kind that I enjoyed in the 70’s and 80’s (like I Love Lucy or Red Skeleton), when we were less concerned about being offensive and hurting people’s feelings.  But in our day of “cancel culture” many would deem it offensive.  The ad was a little too “edgy” for me as a more seasoned guy, who has stuck with an electric shaver all these years and doesn’t really prefer to see all the flesh.  But it still carries some insights for us.

Jeremy’s Razors started as a protest against a woke culture in which ads are pulled or walkouts are staged simply because the ads are deemed “offensive.”  Jeremey Boering launched his company on April first as a protest to the woke culture in advertising. In the first month, the firm already had 60,000 subscribers wanting razors.  The brand attracted more Twitter followers in the first month than Gillette has gained since it went on Twitter in 2009.  The ad has been watched over 15 million times.

With tongue in cheek, the ad asks, “Stop giving your money to people who hate you. Give it to me instead.”  Boering acknowledges in the ad that his company’s values are misaligned with a culture which sees anything masculine as “toxic.”  He wants to celebrate manliness.  He had no idea that he would be an immediate success.

Why?  Here is part of what I wrote back to Mark: “What impresses me about the ad and the response you are experiencing from other guys is the opportunity to identify with someone who says, ‘Enough is enough.’  It shows me there is a lot of pent-up emotion and frustration in men.  Together, guys are able to celebrate and ‘let off some masculine steam.’  Young men feel mistreated and misunderstood by a culture that wants to put them in a box.”  They see the ad as an act of rebellion against the dominant media that gives credence to social engineers who are committed to blending the genders. 

Men respond to the candor in this ad.  As I wrote to Mark, “Each man is unique, but he needs to have his soul renewed and made alive by the Spirit of the living God,  who enables each man to function as a man, not like a “shadow” based on the “broken” rhetoric of the feminine which has lost its God-given uniqueness.”  

My suggestion is for younger men to find male mentors to walk with them.  Along with that, find a band of brothers who are trying to understand manhood from a biblical perspective.  I, for one, have lived through the sexual revolution.  Many younger men only hear part of the story (a bent feminine) and not a strong masculine (tough but tender).  Healthy men, integrated in their masculine identity,  need to come alongside confused younger men who are in danger of losing their masculine soul.  If we don’t, men can easily become weak pushovers who cannot stand against the lies and illusions  of a woke culture.  Pray God guides us in that.

 

 

 

 

Child-On-Child Murder

Samuel D. James has a very thoughtful article in First Things about the recent murder of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.  He was very perceptive when he wrote, “We have become a society filled with very young men who are ready and willing to throw away their lives and the lives of others…We are living in an age of literal “child-on-child murder.”

I have watched on TV and read articles of opinion makers, both left and right, being at a loss about what to do regarding mass shootings.   We are at an impasse on gun control.  James rightly notes, “An inability to talk about anything other than gun control threatens to deaden our lament and neutralize a vital conversation about why so many of our country’s most lost, most hateful people are boys with their whole lives ahead of them.”  

James makes a haunting observation when he points out, “Historically, mass killers were usually men who were old enough to have lived and abandoned a former life.  The current generation of shooters have had no life to abandon.  We cannot afford to stop asking why.”  

Most of these killers are just entering manhood.  They have been told they are “toxic,” with a masculinity needing to be deconstructed. They continue to lose traction in a culture focused more on helping young girls flourish.  They are loners, who can’t find traction in a culture that has called their very identity into question.  What does it mean to be a man?  These young men are not sure. 

As you might imagine, I have some passion about this subject; after all, this blog is called “The Wild Man Journey.”  Many readers have their own struggles coming to peace with their masculinity. Personally, I remember struggling mightily with my maleness in my 20’s.  Not until I was through school and had become a pastor did my soul grasp intuitively that I am a man.  Since then, I have been building on that foundation.  But I am still a work in progress.

Young men today desperately need help – not from politicians, social engineers, feminists, or even preachers.  Young men need older men coming alongside them, leading them into manhood.  As James wrote, “Many young men today are socially invisible…lacking the kind of thick attachments that make life worth living.”  How can we reach these lonely, young men?

First, be a strong advocate for the family unit, in which the father has an “exemplar” role to play.  I have said it many times in this blog, “a boy only has one father.”  If you have boys at home, take time to invest in their lives.

Second, the church needs to encourage male mentoring of young boys. It could be formal or informal.  But as a man who is trying to follow Jesus, make it your business to influence the boys and young men.  In my living space and at church, it is more informal.  But I am aware of making a difference, even if it’s only giving some attention to a young man.

Third, resist with all the grace that God gives to not become a “passive” male in America.  Male passivity leads to “absent fathers” and has contributed to a whole generation of “lost young men.”  Whatever your place in society, be proactive as an “engaged” male.

I resist all the talk about who is to blame for young men and mass murders.  I want to shout, “There is a “better way!”  That way is active, engaged men making a difference for the boys and young men around them. 

 

Fatherhood

Recently, I was struck by a blog from Glenn Stanton at Focus on the Family titled “Fatherhood: The Core of the Universe.”  “Fatherhood is a deeply precious and sacred thing for the Christian,” writes Stanton. “‘Father’ is not just a role that God took on in order to tell His story.  It is who He is.  Fatherhood is the very core of the universe, because it is the very center and fount of all reality.  Fatherhood is the original and most fundamental nature of God.”

Stanton goes on to make an observation that I believe men need to hear:  “And this…is why human fatherhood is under such vicious attack today in our culture.  Why the father wound is so real and devastating.  Satan knows all too well what fatherhood represents, and he hates it.”

I embrace the eternal truth of God as Father being the core of the universe.  In my early forties I had to come to terms with God as my father.  I had a broken image of my heavenly Father because my relationship with my own dad was broken and distorted.  Through a spiritual, emotional, and mental struggle I eventually came to embrace the truth that I have a Father in heaven who delights in me.  That was revolutionary for me.

I have marveled at the truth that God is the core of ultimate reality.  While Genesis declares, “In the beginning,” there already was from eternity a Father who was love, a Son begotten in love and the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of love.  Stanton adds that “ultimate reality is not dark, void and impersonal, but intensely personal, inherently, and passionately intimate.” 

God is relational – and he desires deeper relationship with each of us.  Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven…” Matt. 6:9).  I rejoice in Jesus words: “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well” (John 14:7).  Put simply, “God is love” (I John 4:8).  John goes on to say, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I John 4:10).  

So, I challenge you to be countercultural in affirming with Stanton that God is the ultimate core of reality.  Make this the basis of your life.  

First, picture God as your Father.  See yourself as a dependent child before your heavenly Father.  “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).

Second, embrace deeper relationship with your heavenly Father.  Here is a suggestion: visualize your heavenly Father “running” to you – like the father in Luke 15:20.  He is waiting for you.    

Third, be a loving earthly father, even as you discipline your own children and try to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Don’t exasperate them – and seek their forgiveness when you fail (Heb.12:5-6; Eph. 6:4; James 5:16).

Fourth, be open to being a father figure to others who have deep father wounds.  In my opinion, the greatest need in your nation is for godly fathers.   Allow Paul to be your exemplar. “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children…” (I Thess. 2:11). 

Let the words of the Psalmist encourage you: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: ‘The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death'”  (Ps. 102:18-20).

 

 

Keeper of the Garden

In a recent blog,  Pastor Tim Challies wrote a review of a book for men by Brent Hansen, entitled, “The Men We Need.” I was inspired by Hansen’s “big vision for manhood.” 

He writes, “We men are at our best when we are ‘keepers of the garden.’  This means we are protectors and defenders and cultivators.  We are at our best when we champion the weak and vulnerable, using our strength to protect the innocent and provide a place for others to thrive. This is the job Adam was given: “keeper of the garden.”

At the heart of masculinity is taking responsibility “for those things God has men particularly responsible for.”  The recent hearings for a Supreme Court Justice will be remembered for the simple question: “What is a woman?”  Similarly, many ask, “What is a man?” We have forgotten this simple reality to the detriment of our culture.  God’s intention is for men to be protectors, defenders, and cultivators.  But as a nation we are dismissive of God’s intent.      

I appreciate Hansen’s thesis that men are responsible to tend their garden.  When there is so much confusion about gender roles, Hansen’s position is simple and straightforward.  Taken right from the story of creation, men today are to do what they were called to do from the beginning – to be “keepers of the garden.”

According to Hansen, there are six decisions men need to make in expressing their God-given responsibilities: 

First, “forsake the false and relish the real.”  We are to reject pornography, video games and other fake forms of virtuous longing.  Many men have fallen asleep emotionally and relationally, substituting real life relationships for virtual reality, especially porn.  Even though it might be hard, we need to wake up to what is real. 

Second, “protect the vulnerable.”   Men are to step up and protect others from harm, rather than being a threat.  We should be drawn to the weak, rather than to those in positions of status and power.    

Third, “be ambitious about the right things.” Don’t waste your time on “trivial” affairs, where men spend time, energy, and money.  Seek Jesus and his kingdom. “For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 7:21).    

Fourth, “make women and children feel safe, not threatened.”  We should help those around us to grow and thrive.  This begins with our wives and children.   Stand up and protect those who are threatened.  

Fifth, “choose today who you will become tomorrow.”  “Who we will be tomorrow is a direct result of what we pay attention to today.”  “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 7:33). 

Sixth, “take responsibility for our own spiritual life.”  While we appreciate the support and teaching of others, we need to give priority to feeding our souls spiritually. Spend focused time with the Lord daily – get to know His voice.

My biggest takeaway:  don’t permit the voices of our culture to make being a man complicated. My advice: come before God humbly as a man, asking for grace and strength to simply fulfill your responsibility as a man created in the image of God.  Embrace Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”  God is addressing you.  As a man God has given you a responsibility to tend your garden.  You are unique in your maleness, with your own garden to tend.  Cry out to God for the desire, strength, and confidence to be able to tend it.

 

Radical Monogamy

Breakpoint recently featured an article on “radical monogamy.”  Radical monogamy, as described in Vice magazine is “an exclusive relationship commitment that’s chosen, not blindly accepted… Monogamy that is radical is chosen from among the many equally valid relationship options, including polyamory.”   It appears that even some who want to remain sexually open-minded would still prefer and choose a monogamous relationship.  

Proponents of radical monogamy “stress that the decision to remain in an exclusive relationship was made by themselves, and for themselves.”  This proposal reflects the cultural view of seeing freedom “only as freedom from any and all restraint.” The significant moral flaw of radical monogamy “is to suggest it’s only valid if it’s what I want, rather than because it is morally superior.”  It is still “the me first” emphasis found in the sexual revolution. 

Of course, a biblical view of monogamy is built on an exclusive commitment of a man and woman, who  choose before the Lord to make a lifelong commitment to one another (Judy and I are on year 56).  Jesus tells us when a man and woman marry, “the two will become one flesh” (Matt 19:5).  Then he gives this  warning, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (v. 6).  I would call this “faithful” monogamy, rather than “radical.” 

This was the Creator’s plan from the beginning, in creating “male and female.”  Marriage was his gift to us.  Monogamy has divine origins going back to creation.  Viewed from a cultural perspective, God’s intention for monogamy goes far beyond our cultural norms, making it truly radical.  Jesus clearly states, “So they are no longer two, but one” (v. 6).  

Even more radical is God’s intention for a man and woman becoming one flesh to reflect Jesus’ love for his church.  Paul describes this relationship as a mystery.  “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).  This is beyond radical; it is a mystery.  Men, you will never fully understand your own marriage.  It’s a profound gift. 

Since God’s intention is for our marriage to reflect Jesus’ relationship to his church, He gives men some sober instructions: “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting.  Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty.” (Eph. 5:25-26 – Message).  That’s radical.

Pope John Paul II gave the church a wonderful study of Eph. 5:31-33 in his “Theology of the Body.”  The Pope’s thesis:  “Only the body is capable of making visible the spiritual and the divine.  It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God and thus to be a sign of it” He maintains that the union of man and woman is meant to proclaim and participate in the “great mystery” of Christ’s union with the church.  

Further, the Pope declares that a faithful marriage of two being one flesh can have a prophetic message in our post-Christian culture.  Imagine such a dimension to your marriage.  I personally embrace the idea that my marriage can be prophetic within the culture. 

This presents a challenge for men:  1) the enemy does not want marriage to reflect Jesus’ love for the church.  It will be a fight.  2) It will take all you have spiritually to love your wife as Jesus loved the church.  You will need a lot of grace.  3) You will truly be countercultural in your lifestyle.  There is a price to pay.  Are you up the challenge?

 

Cave of The Heart

Cave of the Heart is the title song of a John Michael Talbot album from l999.  I have always been intrigued by the lyrics repeated throughout the song:  “You are seated in freedom in the cave of the heart.”  I am challenged by certain words: “Silence your heart/Silence your soul/stilling your senses/with single-minded devotion.”  I have been troubled by some as well: “How can the troubled mind/understand his ways?/If your thoughts are troubled/You cannot find the wisdom.”  

I can also identify with particular words: “Like a fish out of water/Stranded upon the shore/Thoughts thrash and they quiver/How can you shake off the chains of desire.”  If only I could deal with these deep, mysterious desires that come from deep in the cave of the heart.  “They tremble unsteady/They wander at will/It is good to control them/To master them it will bring you joy.”  

St. John of the Cross talked about the “caverns” of the soul.  He is calling  attention to the deepest places of the soul; to our center where God dwells. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). The capacity of the soul is infinite. It is beyond consciousness and beneath our understanding and experience. “These caverns are deep because the object of this capacity, namely God, is profound and infinite…their capacity is infinite, their thirst is infinite, their hunger is also deep and infinite…”   

I have a new appreciation for the “capacity” of my soul.  While finding new freedom, I still shy away from the depths of my soul. The caverns remain shrouded in darkness because I can neither comprehend nor manage what is found in these deep places.  It is a space that contains the story of my life, including painful memories and long forgotten vows which still hold a tight grip on my responses to everyday life.

Men, you might not like to be reminded of the “cave of the heart.”  But it is found at your center, dictating more of your conscious life then you would care to admit.  Remember Jesus told us, “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness – all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution” (Mark 7:20-23 – Message).  

Here is a confession:  It  happened recently – again – with my wife. I had a strong negative response during two separate conversations we had with others.  I shut down emotionally. I became quiet, not wanting to communicate.  I tuned out…   

I also felt confusion, condemnation, and shame. What was happening?  Pollution was coming from the cave of my heart.  By God’s grace, through the circumstances in my life, the pollution was coming to the surface.

Praise God, I am now admitting my struggle to my wife.  I cannot blame her for the way I responded.  I want to be honest in my responses and bring the pollution from the cave into the light.  Confession helps get rid of it.  I still don’t fully understand, but I feel more freedom in my responses.  I’m now more aware of the pollution and its causes. In this case it had to do with my mother. 

My point in this is that confession allows the pollution from the cave of the heart to come more into our consciousness.  It will begin to loosen its grip on the soul, allowing for discernment rather than reaction.  Pray with David (and me), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).  

America’s Moral Compass

Two recent surveys show a nation that is trending downward when it comes to optimism. The first is the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America survey.  Lynn Bufka, a clinical psychologist with the APA, called the level of shared stress among Americans “startling.”  ”A full 87% say that the rise of prices on everyday items due to inflation is a significant source of stress.”  Beyond this, 84% of respondents felt the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is “terrifying to watch.”

Further, a Marist College Poll survey showed a majority of Americans are “concerned that America’s moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction.”  “Some 72% of Americans say the nation’s moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction, while only 22% say it’s pointed the right way.” Among Christians, 74% agree that the nation is moving in the wrong direction morally, while 69% of those who don’t practice a religion agree.

The APA believes that “living through historic threats like these often has a lasting, traumatic impact on generations.” They feel it is important to “provide help to everyone who needs it” and suggest “evidence-based treatment.”  However, the Marist Poll also found that “some 79% of Americans reported turning to their family for moral guidance, including 83% of Christians.  The report notes that “Americans actually find themselves looking to family more often than religious teachings when looking for sources of moral guidance.”

My interpretation of these conclusions suggests help comes from two primary sources: “healthcare professionals” and family.  Family points in the direction of trusted relationships and community. My contention is that in the days to come, those committed to Jesus and his kingdom will need strong communities of faith to remain strong in their convictions and witness.

I cannot stress how important it is for any man who is still living a “lone ranger” spirituality to realize how much he needs a believing community.  It is vital for your family as well.  You will need to band together with other believing families to withstand the opposition you will be facing.  It is going to get darker.  We will need to be surrounded by “children of light.” “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light…” (see Eph. 5:8-10). 

I personally sense the stress level rising in our nation.  Anxiety increases as people realize they are being lied to by the dominant cultural narrative.   People are confused by “misinformation.”  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is. 5:20).   The Lord is saying, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14).

Sleepwalkers avoid the truth, while being swayed by deception.  Jesus said, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3:21).  Those asleep are being influenced by false prophets, who say all the right things to enhance a false narrative of unreality.  Jesus warned us of this danger: “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity.  Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other.  Don’t be impressed with charisma: look for character” (Matt. 7:15-16 – Message).  

“Walk by the light you have,” Jesus reminds us, “so darkness doesn’t destroy you.  If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going.  As you have the light, believe in the light.  Then the light will be within you and shining through your lives.  You’ll be children of light” (John 12:35-36 – Message).  My advice, surround yourself with “children of light.”

 

 

 

“Endangered Words”

Recently, I ran across an article that prompted me to say, “This author expresses my very sentiments about masculinity and femininity.”  “Endangered Words” by Diane Woerner is such an article. She writes about “the price we’re paying for vanishing masculinity and femininity.”  What a joy to find a relatively unknown author expressing so clearly and passionately the importance of masculinity and femininity.  Her words are a breath of fresh air for my male soul.  You can read them at www.salvomag.com

Woerner writes, “We live in a bizarre world where we’re told that we can choose whatever sexual identity we like…but behind this, there is the quiet but insistent message that classical masculinity is toxic and classical femininity is really masculinity restrained.”  She has come to believe that “few words are as maligned and yet as precious as masculinity and femininity…we are being deceived into thinking these words are ours to refashion however we will.”

Woerner write that she wants to shout from the mountaintops, “These words don’t belong to us!  They belong to our Creator!” But in our day these very words are “being dismantled.” “Human sexuality needs to be viewed with God at the center, not ourselves. How does God view sexuality, not how we would want to redefine it in our own terms.”  She expresses a profound truth in simple terms when she says, “men can actually be both masculine and feminine” – the same for women.  “Masculinity and femininity are essentially defined “by their roles or assignments.” Both find their “fullest sense” in each other.  

Going deeper, Woerner writes, “The Bible clearly describes Christ as masculine, [but] his church as feminine…God intends the proper relationship between human husbands and wives to serve as a visible representation of the divine/human relationship.”  She gives the following example: “Men are masculine in their relationship with their wives but feminine in their relationship with Christ.  Women are feminine in relationship to both their husbands and Christ, but masculine in their relationship with their young children.” 

Woerner’s hope is that her “thoughts and ideas might seep deeply into your mind and heart, not only to give you some defense against the lies, but also to provide a more solid grounding as you…accept your assignment as a man and woman and thereby discover the joy of becoming aligned with the amazing design of our wise and good Creator.”   

C.S. Lewis has reminded us that “gender is a reality and a more fundamental reality than sex.  Sex is, in fact, merely the adaptation to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings.”  Gender, masculine and feminine, have a transcendent nature that points to God, who (as Leanne Payne wrote) is so masculine that we are all feminine in relation to Him.  

I intend to fight for the biblical validity of these words (masculine and feminine).  My masculine soul began to be renewed and restored when I first began to digest Payne’s teaching on the masculine soul.  

Two observations from Woerner’s article continue to motivate me to be a voice crying out in our dysfunctional culture wilderness.  The first is that every man has both masculine and feminine tendencies within himself.  While the masculine, being proactive is more prominent, each man also needs to learn how to respond (feminine) to the voice of God, that is, being tough and tender, or being a lion and lamb.  

Secondly, husbands and wives serve “as a visible representation of the divine/human relationship” (see Eph. 5:31-32).  Men, this is where the real spiritual work takes place.  May God help us to live out this relationship with our wives. 

 

  

 

 

 

The “Unattached Male”

An unattached male is a young man who is either single or divorced. With today’s focus usually on helping young women flourish, unattached males are not faring well in modern American culture.  David French in The Dispatch recently sounded the alarm about this segment of our population. Quoting Patrick T. Brown he noted, “The opioid epidemic is hammering single and divorced men. Over 35,000 prime-age single men died of drug-related causes in 2020, a 35% increase from ’19.”  

Further, French cited a Wall Street Journal article detailing the immense and increasing education gap between American men and women: “At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%…U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.”  

Beyond disproportionately high opioid overdoses and declining college enrollment numbers, men commit suicide almost four times more often than women.  They’re also losing close friends at a higher rate than women.  In light of this, French asks whether “gender-specific cultural or policy changes” exist to “help repair the terrible (and often deadly) damage done to young men.”   

French wonders how we can help younger men find their way even as we intensely debate the question of what it means to be a man.  Remember that the American Psychological Association declared that “traditional masculinity ideology” marked by “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression” is harmful to boys and men.  French uses this to make a case for the channeling of these tendencies in men as virtues. “Healthy masculinity,” French suggests, “seeks to channel these characteristics (which are often, but not exclusively, found in young men) towards virtue and away from vice.”  

Then French makes this observation which I want to quote in full, because it is worth pondering as grown men wanting to influence the lives of younger men:  “…You’re not asking boys to reject their nature, nor are you asking them to indulge their impulses. Instead, the process of character formation shapes a young man from the inside out, to make the very best of who they are. And then, ideally, as a boy grows into a man, he connects his virtue to a sense of purpose – a calling into which he pours his energy and effort.”  

French makes a very telling comment when he observes that there are two jobs that only men can fill: “Only a man can be a husband. Only a man can be a father.  And those jobs have a purpose and meaning that transcends the purpose and meaning of virtually any profession or career…two of the most important purposes that any person can pursue are right there, in front of them, and theoretically available to the vast majority of America’s men.”

Men, that is the challenge: it is our task to raise up the next generation of young men who love God and desire to serve him.  We can’t leave it to the government, or to social engineers who keep their focus primarily on needs of young girls.  Yes, girls need help too.  But who is going to come to rescue of young men?  Don’t expect your wife or your mother to do that.  “YOU ARE THE MAN.”

I am past my prime.  But I write this blog to influence men younger than myself.  I cry out with the words of Psalm 78:18, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”   

« Older posts

© 2022 Canaan's Rest

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑