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 65)

Fathers Found Guilty

The prophet Hosea was called to live out a parable of God’s persistent love in the midst of Israel’s betrayal.  God commanded Hosea to marry a common whore and have children with her (Ch. 1-3). God “goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love” (Message). 

God wants us to identify with Gomer in her wretched state to understand how spiritual adultery offends God. We can see the heart of God as He calls us back to himself. God does not give up on us. In our day both spiritual and moral idolatry keep us from relationship with Him.

Who is responsible for this spiritual condition of our culture?  Hosea 4: 14 gives us a clue: It is fathers who have not set the example in taking the lead in spiritual and moral fidelity. Hosea calls the fathers out for their failure: “I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery, for the men themselves slip away with prostitutes, and they offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes [who give their bodies in honor of the idol]…the people without understanding [stumble and fall and] come to ruin” (Hosea 4:14 – Amp.).

To win the favor of the fertility god Baal and the goddess Asherah, the Canaanites engaged in “sacred” prostitution, which involved ritual sexual acts with “sacred” prostitutes. “These rituals took place at special shrines located on hills under the shade of trees and were designed to promote fertility in the land…The Israelites encouraged their daughters to visit the shrines, hoping that their participation in ritual sex with the priests of Baal and Asherah would encourage their gods to give them numerous children. But their fathers were just as guilty, for they too visited the shrines and has sexual relations with the priestesses there…to enhance their own virility” (Chisholm – Handbook on the Prophets).

Israel became so infatuated with idols and sexuality promiscuity that they surrendered to “a spirit of prostitution” in which “the men consort with harlots and… sacrifice with temple prostitutes” v. 14 NET).  “Verse 14 is in fact a landmark in moral history by its refusal to treat a man’s sexual sins more leniently than a woman’s” (Bible Speaks Today). Here Hosea makes clear that the daughters are innocent when compared to the men, who were not setting an example to their daughters, but were going to prostitutes, both religious and secular. 

Verses 12-14 reveal people who had forsaken the Lord and turned to promiscuity. They show how self-indulging and mindless religion is in fact guilty of producing spiritual decadence, which in turn produces a moral breakdown in the culture. God declares they are, “a stupid people, ruined by whores” (v. 14 – Message). 

Men, God’s directive in the sixth commandment is: “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). Luther’s Small Catechism tells us, “We should fear and love God so that we lead a chaste and pure life in word and deed, and that husband and wife love and honor each other.” Paul exhorts us, “Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity” (I Thess. 4:3 – Message).

It seems to me that in a sensual and sexually-confused time, Christian men need to step forth and practice sexual purity. We can apply this by resolving to: 1) Be a one-woman man, 2) Live and model a virtuous life of purity, and 3) Acknowledge how much we and other fathers have failed in our culture.  God help us as men and fathers to do that.

 

 

 

Old School

Are you old school?  I ask that question as I watch pro football games. Commentators use the term as they discuss a player’s talent, attitude, and contribution to his team. When you tune into sports talk radio, you will hear intense dialogue, men sharing passionately about the play of their favorite players and teams. They often refer to players as old school. Could it be evoking memories of players of old, stirring a longing for the past, especially their youth?

As an NFL sports fan, I know enough to keep informed and to converse with others. I’m even in a fantasy football league with some of the guys in our building. For some it borders on idolatry. But I try to keep it in perspective; it is simply a pastime for me. Even so, I wonder why these die-hard fans use the term old school so often. Do certain players model character that is missing in our day?

Gary Sheffield wrote that Green Packers wide receiver Davante Adams is old school for this comment: “I hate everyone that I play against.” “Although it’s overblown how buddy-buddy athletics are today, “notes Sheffield, “[Adams] is having none of that culture. He spoke this morning about how much he hates everyone he plays against…We’d like to see more quotes like these from everyone so we can get back to believing players take losing as personal as we do.”

If I’m understanding this correctly, Sheffield would like to see more passion in football players that verges on hatred of the opponent, rather than the “buddy-buddy” mentality he encounters on his sports beat. For him, though, old school carries more of a negative connotation.

I identify somehow with old school, but primarily as a positive longing in the hearts of men admiring the exceptional performance in a man competing with other men. Pro scouts talk about a prospect as “a character person.” This is more the exception then the rule. To get a positive grade for “character” is seen as an achievement. 

So, what exactly is old school? It certainly points to a player being exceptional and even unique. I would like to be considered old school when it comes to my walk with Jesus. I know that I am “surrounded by…a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) who are definitely old school.  They all followed Jesus, who is “the same yesterday and today and forever.”  So as followers of Jesus, we might want to be called old school.

First, if hating your enemy is old school, as Sheffield seems to believe, I don’t want to be identified with that attitude. The old can become the new. The old has died, and I am a new man in Christ. He gives me grace to compete but also care.

Second, old school refers to the exceptional character of a person. It seems to highlight the attitude of one who “marches to the beat of a different drummer.”  I want to be that way. “Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34).

Third, old school can refer to the admired performance of a player. He might not be the most talented, but he works hard at his game – like a “blue collar guy.”  I want to be “all in” for Jesus, not necessarily polished, but sincere.

Fourth, while being old school, I sincerely pray that God will give me the discernment and wisdom to be relevant in sharing the good news of Jesus.

If that’s what old school means, I’m in. How about you?

 

We Are Restless

Mere Orthodoxy interviewed Ben and Jenna Storey about their new book, “Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment.”  While restlessness has always been a part of the human condition, the authors point out it has taken on “a distinctive and particularly troubling character in modern times.”

Augustine said famously, “our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  His restlessness is contrary to modern restlessness, which the authors say is more like “agitated motion without direction.” Augustine was searching for ultimate meaning and purpose in God. In our day, it is simply assumed that we cannot find fulfillment in God. We are suspicious of that idea…

The modern mind “seeks diversion from itself, rather than attending seriously and persistently to existential questions,” such as “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”  Could this be why we are unhappy? The book focuses on “the restlessness of the mind that tries and fails to find happiness in a distinctly modern way. The focus is on self – not on building a relationship with the transcendent God.

The authors coin the term “immanent contentment” to represent a view of “happiness with no center – a pleasantly various kind of happiness.”  If we limit life to “the immanent frame” it will fail on this delusion.  In contrast, Augustine’s search for happiness was what Jesus called “the one thing needful” (Luke 10:38-42). Happiness is found outside of self.

The authors hold, “If we’re honest with ourselves both about the depth of our miseries and the height of our aspirations, we begin an anguished quest” for answers to the longings of the human soul.  Too much attention to the immanent needs in our life distract us from “the fundamental question of why we find ourselves on this planet.” 

The authors hope readers of their book will “learn to exchange pointless busyness for a pointed quest.”  “We need,” they stress, “to be more ruthless about the question of how we commit our time, separating serious things that deserve our attention from distractions that might be pleasant enough but are not the answers to the question of a life.” 

Men, we are restless because we have a longing for God. James Houston reminds us, “The unsatisfied longing for God is what drives human beings above all else.”  Augustine noted, “Longing is the heart’s treasury.”  He went on to say, “The whole life of the good Christian is a holy longing. What you desire ardently, as yet you do not see…by withholding of the vision, God extends the longing; through longing he extends the soul, by extending it he makes room in it…Let us long because we are to be filled…that is our life, to be exercised by longing.”

Men, I encourage you: taste, feel, experience, and cultivate your longing for God. Don’t be afraid of your deepest desires and passions. That is how we are wired. We have been lied to and tricked by the enemy, to either neglect or disavow our deepest desires. Open your heart to God. Don’t just think about God; express your deepest longings to him. Ask the Lord to help straighten out the tangled mess you may have made of your passions.

Years ago, as I began to befriend my deepest longings, I found much comfort in the Psalms. They express the full range of desire before God. For example, in Psalm 42:1-2 we read, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”  Remember: He longs as well for relationship with you.

“Make Lying Wrong Again”

In a recent report, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a dire warning: “…The world is moving in the wrong direction and faces dangerous trends…[and] is under ‘enormous stress.'”  He laments how injustice is bringing people into the streets to protest, “while conspiracy theories and lies fuel deep divisions within societies.”  

The Secretary-General urged global action to deal with disinformation and conspiracy theories. He proposed facts, science, and “integrity” in public discourse. He then ended with this plea, “We must make lying wrong again.”  I could not get this statement out of my mind. Here we have a world leader sounding almost like an evangelist: “We need to stop lying…” to which we all can say, “Amen.” 

How can this be accomplished in our broken world? My contention is that it can only happen slowly, and that courageous men need to come forth, stand in the gap, and dare to live by the truth. The problem is that many men are missing in action, having abandoned the truth. In her important book, “Crisis in Masculinity” Leanne Payne notes, “The power to honor the truth – to speak it and be it – is at the heart of true masculinity.” She goes on to say, “A culture will never become decadent in the face of a healthy, balanced masculinity…When a nation or an entire western culture backslides, it is the masculine which is first to decline.”

As followers of Jesus, we as men can lead in making lying wrong again. Jesus tells us in John 18:37, “…For this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He tells his followers, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). In his high priestly prayer, Jesus prays, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17 NLT).

In our day, with so much deception and verbal wrangling over what is true, it seems to me that we as men need to be integrated in our understanding of truth. Here are three factors to consider in our battle to “make lying wrong again.”

First, truth must be the basis of our worldview and assimilated into our very being. It is similar to the experience of Jeremiah: “When I discovered your words, I devoured them” (Jer. 15:16 NLT).  The NET notes, “The prophet accepted them, assimilated them, and made them such a part of himself that he spoke with complete assurance what he knew were God’s words.” 

Secondly, truth must be allowed to penetrate our inner life, so that we have not only an intellectual grasp of the truth, but we also seek to know the truth about ourselves, our relationships, and the world in which we live. Truth is relational because Jesus is Truth – and we can relate to him as Savior and Friend. Truth (meaning Christ) in a man needs to affect one’s whole being (Gal. 2:20).

Thirdly, we must walk out truth in life. Oh, that God would raise up more men of integrity. These are honest, courageous men, who have not only been pruned by the truth, but men who are willing to put their very lives on the line for the truth. That would make us martyrs. Might you become a martyr for the truth – in both the big things and the little things? 

 

Are You an “Integrated Disciple?”

In the findings of the annual American Worldview Inventory Survey, just 6% (15 million) of the estimated 176 million American adults identifying as Christians actually hold a biblical worldview. These are believers who “demonstrated ability to assimilate their beliefs into their lifestyle.”  This group comes “closest to reflecting biblical principles into their opinions, beliefs, behaviors, and preferences. A person in this group was classified as an “Integrated Disciple” (ID).

The survey noted difficulties determining how many Christians are in America, since the number varies widely depending on the definition used.  Those who simply said they were Christians (69%) were broken down further to include: born-again (35%), evangelical (28%), and theological born-again Christians (28%).  A much smaller group were those identified as “Integrated Disciples.”  Those who are seen as “theologically born-again” were more closely aligned with the “IDs.”  But only Christians identified as “IDs” were classified in the study as having a biblical worldview.

I was surprised at the large number of IDs whose beliefs challenged biblical principles: “25% say there is no absolute moral truth, 39% contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity, 42% believed that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue, and 52% argue that people are basically good.”

George Barna, the lead researcher at the Cultural Research Center, commented on the survey: “‘Christian’ has become somewhat of a generic term rather than a name that reflects a deep commitment to passionately pursuing and being like Jesus Christ.”  Barna warned about interpreting data related to Christians: “Political polling, in particular, may mislead people regarding the views and preferences of genuine Christ-followers simply based on how those surveys measure the Christian population.”

The survey ends with this summary: “It’s one thing to call yourself a fan of a sports team or a devotee of a particular brand.  It’s something else altogether to call yourself by the name of the savior of humankind… He (Jesus) noted that a person would be his disciple if they obey His teaching (John 8:31).  It follows, then, that when a person takes on the name “Christian” it refers to one who is striving to know and follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.”   

This report should warn men of the divergence of belief among those who call themselves Christians in America.  It makes for significant confusion in a culture that has already rejected a Christian worldview.  There is a lack of belief in basic Christian doctrine.  When 25% of IDs believe there is no absolute moral truth and 39% “contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity,” the body of Christ is compromised.

Men, I pray you are “Integrated Disciples.” We must be vigilant in building our faith on the solid foundation of Jesus (Matt. 7:24).  It is sobering to hear Jesus warn of the last days, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt 24:12-13).   

Most of all, I want to reassure every man reading this blog that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.  The Spirit is a person – not an influence or idea.  We confess in the Nicene Creed, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, with the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.”  My advice: seek and welcome the Holy Spirit. 

Don’t call it a “Conspiracy”

Because of his message of non-involvement with the superpower Assyria, the prophet Isaiah was considered treasonous by the people of Judah. He chose, however, not to get political during a time of deep and divided political intrigue. He was simply God’s prophet proclaiming God’s word to the nation of Judah.  God warned the people in Is. 8:12 not to get involved with conspiracy theories. “Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.” The Message says, “Don’t be like this people, always afraid somebody is plotting against them.” Wow! Is that a relevant warning for our day! 

Remember: when God was looking for a spokesperson, Isaiah responded, “Here am I. Send me!” (Is. 6:8).  But here, God was firm with Isaiah – and it seems He meant business. The Message tells us, “God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not go along with this people” (8:11). Isaiah may have been influenced by the events of his day.  Perhaps he had started believing some of the rumors he’d heard. 

The NIVZSB gives this insight about Is. 8:11-13: “Two different understandings of history: (1) Give God the central place that only the Holy One must have, or (2) explain historical events as the result of human conspiracy, with the constant dread of the unknown that this view engenders.”  The NET Bible speculates the conspiracy might have been the alliance between Israel and Syria. “Some of the people may even have thought that individuals in Judah were plotting with Israel and Syria to overthrow the king.” The NLT Study Bible notes, “People regarded Isaiah’s message of non-involvement with Assyria as treasonous, part of a conspiracy…What frightens them was the alliance of Syria and Israel attacking Judah.” 

Isaiah exhorted the people to listen to the Lord of Heaven’s armies: “He is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread” (Is. 8:13 – emphasis mine).  Isaiah goes on the say, “He will keep you safe.  But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall, and for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare” (Is. 8:14).   

Peter picks up on this passage in I Peter 2:4-8.  He describes Jesus as a “living Stone” and those chosen by God to be “living stones” used to build a spiritual house, “to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (v. 5).  Quoting Isaiah 28:16 Peter declares, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (v. 6).  Then he adds, “This stone is precious…But to those who do not believe…a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” (vv. 7-8).  “They stumble,” declares Peter, “because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for” (v. 8). 

The implication for us as followers of Jesus is to examine our dedication to Jesus, our “chosen and precious cornerstone.”  As “living stones” we are to trust that Jesus is the key to what God is building by his Spirit. We are warned that unbelief will cause us to stumble and fall.  Men, make Jesus your “cornerstone.”  Measure all you do both within and outside the church by your commitment to him.  In these passages God gives us fair warning of the deadly consequences of not keeping our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus.  

Enjoy Your Wife

I have been reading Ecclesiastes lately.  It has been awhile since I spent time with its message.  “Ecclesiastes challenges the naïve optimism,” notes Eugene Peterson, “that sets a goal that appeals to us and then goes after it with gusto… The author’s cool skepticism, a refreshing negation to the lush and seductive suggestions swirling around us, promising everything but delivering nothing, clears the air.  And once the air is cleared, we are ready for reality – for God.”  

During my senior years, I found a good word about life with my wife that had been tucked away from my awareness in earlier years.  The CEV translation puts it straight and plain for men living in a confusing and meaningless age: “Life is short, and you love your wife. So enjoy being with her. This is what you are supposed to do as you struggle through life on the earth” (9:9).  I can almost picture my own mother giving me that advice on my wedding day.  Solomon tells us in Proverbs 18:22, “A man’s greatest treasure is his wife. She is a gift from God.”  The NLT Application Bible notes, “How sad it would be to be married and not appreciate or enjoy the companion God had given you.”

I write this blog as a testimony to God’s work in my heart, helping me to be a better husband. More than ever, I am learning during my senior years the blessing of my “better half.”  For me, Judy is the one created for our union as man and wife.  She is like good wine, getting better as she ages.  Thank you, Lord…   Here are a few things I am learning in a new way after 56 years with the same woman, things that may help you as well in your own marriage: 

First, the simple reality: “life is short.”  I have not always given my bride the attention she deserves.  I have allowed myself to be distracted, not emotionally available to cultivate a more soulful relationship with Judy.  But life is short.  Make each day count.  Don’t be lazy about giving your bride attention.  Relationships take time and effort.  After all she is “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23).

Secondly, I am learning to “cherish” my wife – which means, “hold dear,” “protect and care for,” and “keep in mind.” I tell her how much I love her most very day.  I continually tell her how important she is to me.  I acknowledge daily my intention to cherish her throughout the rest of our journey.  

Thirdly, I enjoy being with my wife.  This means that I give her attention and tell her how much I appreciate her companionship.  I find fulfillment in our sharing of life together.  I spend quality time sharing heart-to-heart with my bride.  I miss her when she is not by my side.

Fourthly, more and more I realize that Judy is my greatest treasure and a special gift from God.  I have always appreciated her, but I have not always verbalized to her what a gift she is to me.  I often use new words to express my delight in her – mostly verbal, because written is less my style.    

Fifthly, I want to remember the last part of Eccl. 9:9, “The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil” (NLT).  Yes, this life will be an “earthly toil.”  But I praise God that he has given me a true soul mate who listens and gives godly input into my life of “toil.” I pray you can too!  

Who Sees Us?

When I listen to many politicians, I picture arrogance prancing right before me, like mischievous children who think they will not get caught. We are told God hates arrogance. “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance” (Prov. 8:13).  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines arrogance as “an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.”  It is the height of arrogance when someone seems to have total disregard for the Creator of the universe who has invited us to call him, “Father.”  The Psalmist cries out, “Why does the wicked man revile God?  Why does he say to himself, ‘He won’t call me to account’?” (Ps. 10:13).

We have become complacent in our own wisdom, thinking we know better than our heavenly Father. “You were complacent in your evil deeds; you thought, ‘No one sees me.‘ Your self-professed wisdom and knowledge lead you astray when you say, ‘I am unique! No one can compare to me!'” (Is. 47:10 NET).

In at least two instances, the prophet Isaiah calls out the arrogance of those who think God does not see.  First, Isaiah 29:15 says, “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us?  Who will know?'” The second is Isaiah 47:10, “You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.‘  Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none beside me.'” 

The first passage is directed to the leaders of Judah and “probably alludes to political alliances made without seeking the Lord’s guidance…There seems to be a confidence that their deeds are hidden from others, including God.” (NET).  In danger of an invasion from the Assyrians, the leaders of God’s people were planning to seek help against Assyria from Egypt.  Instead of publicly putting their trust in God, “the leaders of Judah are reduced to the secrecy of underhanded human politics.  For them, the sovereign God might as well not exist” (ESV).

The second passage is directed at the Babylonians. “The Babylonians gave great attention to cataloging all the possible omens that might occur and what they would mean when they did; it was a great but vain intellectual effort.  When disaster came, their magical wisdom was useless to either foretell it or prevent it” (NIVZSB).  We read in Is. 47:11, “But disaster will happen to you; you will not know how to avert it.” (CSB). Babylon’s wisdom was actually foolishness; it would fall because it was wise in its own eyes rather than trustful of God.  

In all of the prancing that is being done today, we need to always remember how God has dealt with the pain of our fallen world. “”For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” ( Col. 1:19-20).    

Men, we are Jesus followers.  We need to humbly keep our eyes on Jesus.  He will make a way for us through this modern wilderness.  John tells us, “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands” (John 3:35).  As the good shepherd, Jesus will lead us through this present wilderness.  “But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert” (Ps. 78:52). 

While others prance, stay humble – and keep your focus on Jesus and the cross. 

 

The Babylon Bee

My temperament is that of an extroverted, sanguine male.  Because I’m also intuitive, I often feel on the outside looking in when it comes to male camaraderie.  Yet God, by his grace and mercy, has allowed me to feel secure in my maleness even in the company of men very different from me.  In fact, I have found that joshing and joking with men has given me an inside track into their lives. 

I say this just as a segue to expressing my appreciation for The Babylon Bee: “Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satire.”  The Babylon Bee “was created ex nihilo on the eighth day of creation week, exactly 6.000 years ago.  We have been the premier news source through every major world event, from the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to the Reformation and the War of 1812.  We focus on just the facts, leaving spin and bias to other news sites like CNN and Fox News.”

Men, when we can no longer laugh at life, nor get along with people who think differently than we do, we are in trouble.  Many of the leading comedians of our time admit it is harder to do standup comedy today, because people are too easily offended.  This is not good for our emotional and even spiritual health. 

Because of this, I release you as a man to joke, poke fun, and josh with other men. When the people of Israel came back from captivity in Babylonian, Psalm 126:2 tells us, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”  When we can no longer laugh at ourselves and enjoy good, clean joshing as men, we are still slaves in captivity.  Men, in Christ we can live in freedom and joy. 

I write about The Babylon Bee for two reasons.  First, I recommend their website to you if you have not already discovered it.  You will be surprised at the insight they provide into our culture through satire.  Second, I want to point out how they are in the crosshairs of the popular media. It only shows how oversensitive we have become to opposing positions.  When satire is misconstrued, then we are in real trouble as a culture.

Recently The Babylon Bee was able to force the New York Times to remove its defamatory characterization of The Bee as trafficking misinformation and fake news.  However, the battle against The Bee continues: recently Facebook announced it would be moderating satire to make sure it doesn’t “punch down.”  Essentially, Facebook posits that it can judge what qualifies as “true satire” – which also means it can judge jokes that “punch down” to be hatred disguised as satire.  

Seth Dillon, CEO of The Babylon Bee, noted: “Having failed in their effort to lump us in with fake news, the media and Big Tech… now hope to discredit us by saying we’re spreading hatred – rather than misinformation – under the guise of satire.”

I appreciate how Dillion responded to the attacks on The Bee.  “But we’re not ‘punching down.’ We’re punching back.  Conservatives have been on the ropes in the culture war for a long time… the left’s new prohibition of “punching down” is speech suppression in disguise.  It’s people in positions of power protecting their interests by telling you what you can and cannot joke about.” 

Men, I encourage you to use satire to lighten your load.  It seems like we can no longer laugh.  Remember the people of Israel when they came back to Zion: “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Ps 126:2).

A Soft Answer

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).  This verse became more real to me recently after I spoke in a harsh tone to my wife.  There was no need for such a response.  I was simply frustrated.  In its footnotes, the NET Bible gives an alternative translation as “a soft answer.”  “The adjective ‘soft; tender; gentle’ is more than a mild response; it is conciliatory, an answer that restores good temper and reasonableness.”  I definitely was not conciliatory toward my bride. I was ill-tempered and unreasonable.  

By all accounts I had blown it with my attitude and especially with my tone of voice. It was harsh and condescending. I confessed my fault to my wife. That is spiritual progress for me. Usually, I would simply brush off my remark with an insincere “I’m sorry.”  But this time I was aware of the tone in my voice.  I was deeply convicted when my bride expressed “fear” that I might regress to giving her the old silent treatment.  My wife’s expression of “fear” was frankly shocking to me.

Men, it has taken me a lot of years to get to where I can confess to you my shameful attitude when I get frustrated.  I pride myself in being a caring guy.  I am not harsh and judgmental in my outward behavior toward others.  Yet my own wife can become fearful because of my harsh attitude.  That makes me a hypocrite. 

“Gentleness” is a new watchword for me at home. There are six references to gentleness in scripture (NIV).  Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).  In Col. 3:12 there is the challenge to clothe “yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Paul appeals to believers “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (II Cor. 10:1). In Phil. 4:5, Paul exhorts us to “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Phil 4:5).   In I Peter 3:15, we are told to answer “with gentleness and respect.”

According to The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, “Gentleness is an image of God’s ultimate subversive power that undercuts the power structures of the world.”  Jesus tells us to take his yoke and learn from him because he was “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29).  By doing so we would “find rest” for our souls.  Men, we can be subversive by being gentle and humble in relation to our wives.  

Paul urges us to live a life worthy of our calling as a follower of Jesus.  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).  The first place I can practice being gentle is with my wife, since Paul tells us “He who loves his wife loves himself” (Eph. 5:28).   My harshness only shows how far I still have to go in loving my wife as my own flesh.

So how am I going to become gentler as a husband, father, or man – one who desires to give a gentle answer in an attitude of love and caring?  I know I will not succeed in every situation.  But I hope to improve in showing gentleness. Many of you could feel the same way.  

Here are three things I challenge us all to do, as we ask for grace to improve.  First, become aware of our attitude and tone of voice as we sincerely pray for a sensitive and gentler spirit.  Second, confess on the spot when we detect a lack of gentleness. Third, seek forgiveness when we fail, while asking our wives to pray for us.  We’re in this together!

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