Thinking Out Loud

November 16, 2017

What These 31 Guys Had in Common

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:16 am

 

Godly men have been growing facial foliage since the beginning of time and church history is filled with Christians who glorified in male-pattern magnificence.1

Jared Brock and Aaron Alford’s book Bearded Gospel Men is about… well I think you’ve got it figured out. Every book needs a premise, right?

Your humble authors have experienced a vast array of diverse Judeo-Christian traditions and have discovered one powerful thing that unites the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox worlds: Follicle faithfulness.2

At first glance, the book is a collection of 31 extremely short biographies of 31 men — oddly not one single woman3 — who belong to the brotherhood of the bearded. Each is followed by a contemporary article with subjects ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Billy Graham…preached the gospel to millions, famously ending every stadium-filled gospel crusade with the old hymn “Just as I am.” We love you, Billy, just as you are. But a Billy beard! What a sight to behold such a thing would be. Perhaps, however it was better this way. Thousands would have come forward at your meetings just get a closer look at the beard and may have caused confusion with the numbers of those getting saved.4

These short pieces are written mostly, but not entirely by the two authors. You may have seen the title before this as a web address.

The book’s history began with a Tumblr blog and Facebook page by Pastor Joe Thorn. It was a joke, really. Mainly memes about beards and good-natured barbs about the superiority of the unshaven.5

There are also a number of pictures with captions that I can only surmise either were are could have been the website’s memes, though the text font is different (see below).

Those biographed — hey, if I say that’s a word — include D.L. Moody, William Booth, Saint Patrick, Charles Sheldon (the original WWJD guy), G.K. Chesterton and Keith Green. There’s no time in those brief accounts to comment on the beards themselves. There’s even a chapter for Zacchaeus, but then didn’t all the males in the gospels have beards? The short synopses are followed by 3 questions for contemplation and a short prayer. In the case of Zacchaeus:

  1. Have you ever wronged anyone, even unintentionally? How might you make that right today?
  2. Is there anything in your life that me obstructing your view of Jesus? How might you see past these things to catch a glimpse of Jesus?
  3. Is there anything Jesus may be asking you to give up, specifically in regard to material possessions or money? 6

So with 31 biographies, 31 additional articles, various memes, etc. this reads more like a magazine than a book. Which is perfect. Because as of late, guys don’t read books. They will read this however, and Christmas is coming. (Hint!)

…The publicist who sent this book suggested it might be timely for No-Shave November.7 Perhaps, although the 11th month only has 30 days and the book has 31 sections. I still see this as a better Christmas gift, though the subtitle, The Epic Quest for Manliness and Godliness is a bit over the top! Consider this one; the guys will thank you for it.

W Publishing, 276 pages, paperback; 9780718099305; page at Thomas Nelson Publishing


1Back cover blurb
2Introduction, p. xiii
3Unless you count the mysterious inclusion of Agnes Bojaxhiu in chapter 20, which apparently we didn’t
4p. 41
5Intro, p. xix
6p. 123
7I guess I’m a couple of weeks late. Sorry!

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August 7, 2016

Guys: Do You Deserve Respect, Or Earn Respect?

respect

Through an interesting series of circumstances, today we’re introducing you today to blogger Gene S. Whitehead who tells us that this 2015 article has been the top-performing item at his site. We even have permission to use this! (Well, sort of; it’s a long story…) You can also click the title below and read this at his site in a much nicer font than we have! You might even want to leave a comment…

Respect – Do You Deserve It or Earn It?

Gene WhiteheadMale Respect: Earned or Implied?

Men, put your boots on because I may step on some toes here. Guys: when was it decided that respect was an automatic thing? Who planted this notion into the male mindset that we, simply by being born male are due to receive respect? And whatever happened to respect being something earned and not simply given?

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31

The more I interact with my fellow men, I begin to realize to what extent some of the fathers have failed the sons. When a man believes that by being in the position of leader, or head of household, respect is automatic. Not so.

Did you ever have a boss you didn’t respect? Why didn’t you, he was in a position calling for respect, wasn’t he? Did he demand it or expect it but not display the character deserving of respect?

You know the type of person I’m talking about, one who leads by authority and position rather than by character. Does this impact the integrity of that person? How much more so when that person is “leading” a family, when the impact and the fallout are absolutely beyond measure, affecting wives and children?

Now before you dust your Bibles off and start shooting verses at me like fiery arrows, let’s make this first distinction of what I am not talking about:

Positional vs. Earned Respect

“Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – Charles Reade

True, being in a position of authority does imply some level of respect. That’s called positional authority, meaning absolutely anyone in that position would garner the same exact level of respect.

What you do, who you are, the character of your person while in that position defines whether you build on that respect or if you maintain the respect due to your position, which believe me, isn’t much no matter what you keep telling yourself. “But I’m the man.” Yes. Now act like one and earn what you think you deserve!

Earned respect exists in that place where you have sacrificially related to those whom you are leading, especially our wives and our children.

The irony is this: the less you expect and demand respect, the more you earn when you are present, involved and by character leading the way and learning from your mistakes, and don’t miss this: the more respect you are giving by serving others, the more you deserve and earn.

You see, respect is not automatic, for that is authoritarian. It is earned and that by the things mentioned above: sacrificial love, serving others, being present, giving of your time- all of which build your character.

Titus 2:7 says that we should show ourselves “in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity…”

There Was a Time…

I married young, it was 10 days before my 20th birthday. Admittedly, I was immature and not ready for the position of authority I had found myself in, and much less that following year when my first daughter was born.

Guys, I’m writing this because I was that guy, thinking that I would somehow be miraculously endowed with leadership capabilities deserving of respect. Would you be surprised to know that is not at all how life happened?

That is not to say that there aren’t twenty year old men out there who are ready and able to do what I could not, just as there are men in their thirties, forties, fifties and beyond who still are not ready!

I share this to say that I have been at both ends of this pool, in one end expecting respect and in the other having earned it, and the message is that you do not want to sit in that shallow end of this pool for years like I did.

Men, We Can Do Better

Guys, it doesn’t matter how well or how poorly we may have taught or what kind of examples we have looked to and learned from. We can do better. We must do better.

Everywhere we turn in today’s world, leadership is failing. We see it in governments, schools, journalism, churches and in our very own homes, everywhere around us male leadership is failing. It’s time to stop that ride.

How do we do it?

I can’t tell you there is any single answer to this, there is no magic bullet. but there are most definitely steps I have taken in my own journey.

And because I don’t have all of the answers, I have much more to learn and many more steps to take, but here’s a start:

  • Serve. All the time. You don’t earn (or deserve) respect by being served but by serving and setting examples.
  • Be quick to admit when your at fault, then proceed to make things right.
  • Be even more quick forgiving others of their faults.
  • Be a giver; a giver of your self, your energies and especially your time. There is nothing more valuable that you could give.
  • Speaking of time, value the time you are given to spend with those you love. It can disappear in a flash.

If you are married:

  • Treat your wife as the absolute one of a kind, irreplaceable treasured gift that she is. Even when she’s not acting like one.
  • Be the decision maker but above that, consider carefully the ideas, opinions and especially feelings of your wife. Marriage is a team sport and the decisions we make, men, do not simply affect us. But they do reflect on us.

April 11, 2013

Jesus Applies for a Church Job Opening

Filed under: Church, Jesus — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:33 am

Today we’re honored to feature the writing of David Murrow author of Why Men Hate Going to Church (now revised and updated), The Map, and What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You.  Heck, we even got written permission to use this. (Hope everybody else doesn’t think we’re setting a precedent.) This appeared at David’s website Church for Men and we encourage you to read it there — honest, take a field trip day — where you can visit the rest of the site.  This appeared under the title Jesus Christ, Job Applicant.


[CHURCH OFFICE SETTING. TWO MEN SEATED ACROSS A DESK FROM ONE ANOTHER.]

Jesus InterviewINTERVIEWER: Your name, sir?

JESUS: Jesus.

INTERVIEWER: Your full name?

JESUS: Jesus of Nazareth.

INTERVIEWER: Jesus F. Nazareth. All right Mr. Nazareth. Tell me, why do you want to work at First Church?

JESUS: I’m here to proclaim the good news to the poor, freedom for the captive and sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

INTERVIEWER: Well, that’s a rather ambitious agenda. But at First Church we like employees who think big! So how to you plan to accomplish these lofty goals?

JESUS: I’ll recruit a dozen men and lead them through a series of challenges over the course of three years. I’ll show them how to minister to others. I’ll test them at every turn, to see whether they have true faith.

INTERVIEWER: That’s it?

JESUS: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: And then what?

JESUS: They’ll change the world.

INTERVIEWER: I’m sorry Mr. Nazareth, but I’m having a hard time seeing where that kind of ministry fits into our church’s strategic plan.

JESUS: Strategic plan?

INTERVIEWER: First Church adopted a strategic plan two years ago. We’re targeting young families with children as a key growth demographic. Parents and kids are under such pressures today and we want to help them be healthier.

JESUS: An admirable goal. How do you hope to achieve it?

INTERVIEWER: We’re rapidly expanding our offerings for children. We’ve hired two new youth staff and recently broken ground on a new youth building.

JESUS: Why are you doing this?

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Nazareth, don’t be naïve. If we don’t offer quality children’s and youth programs, women will choose another church. As you know, women are the religious decision makers in the home. And if we lose women we also lose our volunteer base.

JESUS: What about your men? Are they being actively discipled?

INTERVIEWER: We have a men’s ministry. They meet for a monthly pancake breakfast in the church basement.

JESUS: That’s not what I asked.

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Nazareth, I believe I’m conducting the interview here. Now let’s say we hired you to challenge twelve men for a few years. What about all the other men? Won’t they feel left out?

JESUS: Some will.

INTERVIEWER: You see, that just won’t fly around here. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible. Our slogan is, “There’s a place for you at First Church.” We don’t exclude anyone – and we don’t put any limits on God.

JESUS: If you never single a man out and call him to greatness, he will never become great.

INTERVIEWER: Excuse me?

JESUS: I tell you the truth: every man secretly dreams of being called into an elite group and molded into something extraordinary. That’s what I intend to do with a limited number of men.

INTERVIEWER: Elite group? You make it sound like the Navy Seals. What if your challenges are so tough that men drop out of your group? Won’t these men feel alienated from our church? They might go around and spread lies about us, accuse us of being a cult, that sort of thing.

JESUS: Many are called but few are chosen. One cannot be faithful to God’s call without incurring criticism. Yet I tell you the truth: if you call and train a handful of faithful men you can change the world. In a generation, you will have the healthy families you seek.

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Nazareth, we are totally down with your good news to the poor message, but I can’t see how you get from A to B. How does working with one small group of men result in the outcomes you’ve described? How can we lavish limited church resources on such a tiny number of members, who quite frankly, being men, just don’t offer the R.O.I.?

JESUS: As these men change, the church will change, and your city will change. And at the risk of appealing to your flesh, your church will double in size over the next five years if you do the things I’ve told you.

INTERVIEWER: Well, Mr. Nazareth, I need to be at a planning meeting for the upcoming youth retreat in a few minutes. It’s been very nice to meet you and we’ll be in touch. [REACHES OUT TO SHAKE HANDS] Ooooh, that’s a wicked scar. How did you get that?

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