"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."

- The Apostle's Creed
Real Men Don't Complain. They Fix.

"True manhood will only be found inside the Body of that One New Man, Jesus Christ. What are you waiting for?" (quoted in this previous post).

I write this carefully. I don't intend to offend anyone.

But. It's kind of turning into a rant.

If I've heard this said once I've heard it 1,000 times: "The church is just too feminine for me"

Ok. Message received, loud and clear. Now, let me send you a message:

WHAT DO YOU INTEND TO DO ABOUT IT?

Church is too girly for you? OK, fine. So what's your answer? Run home and hide behind the TV? Make your wife do all the spiritual heavy lifting in your house? Is that really your answer?

Too girly? You know those "feminine" church guys you're always bashing? You know what they are doing? Many of them are working to build the kingdom of Heaven while you sit at home and talk about why you hate going to church and hanging out with them.

Too girly? What are you doing about it? Real men don't complain. They fix. Remember your dad? If you're around my age, your dad was born in the depression, experienced a world war and several other lesser wars, grew up with about 1/100th of the luxuries and extravagances you and I have and, by gosh, when something was broken in your home he knew how to fix it. Because he hadn't been coddled. In those days you either knew how to fix stuff or you went without. And if you went without, you didn't complain.

My dad could and can fix the crud out of anything. Fix a car, build a room, wire a building, pour a slab, you name it. I only wish I had those skills. But I am of the later, coddled generations that didn't have to.

So, OK, assuming you're right. What are you doing to fix the church? What's your excuse for its current feminine state (if that's really the state of the church and not just your favorite excuse for your absence)? If you are evangelical, every single formal position of power in your church is most likely held by a man. If your church is anywhere near normal, it is begging for men to come help and lead. How on earth is it feminized, short of you not doing your job? You're a man. Your pastor's a man. All the deacons are men. If your church is painted in soft pink pastels, I don't know what to tell you, my brothuh. Maybe you were asleep at the switch.

You want to de-feminize the church? Get in there and lead! They want you, dude!

Work side by side with those guys who you think aren't as manly as you are. Maybe you'll be surprised at the spiritual strength some of those guys have. Maybe they are warriors but you never saw it because you were too busy blasting them because they aren't as manly as you are. There's more to being a man than being able to down a couple dozen hot wings and ten beers while watching football at Hooters. Lots more. You might be humbled at the spiritual depth of some of the non-hunters and non ex-football players at your church. You won't know until you get in there and bleed and sweat with them for awhile building the Kingdom. And they might be able to learn something from you too.

God looks at the inward part, not the outward. The goal of a real man is to be like Christ, not like the culture's stereotype of manhood.

Some aspects of real manhood, from my point of view (and I fall short in every one of these categories):

1. Real men have vision: They can see the truth in situations. They see with God's eyes. They see people as they really are, not as they seem. They see people as they will be, not as they are. They don't write people off because they appear useless. They know that every child of God is their brother or sister, and they will lead the rescue mission, leaving the 99 to find the 1. Real men also see themselves as God does, and they throw aside every weight and entangling sin and they run, with their vision firmly set on Jesus.

2. Real men train: How are our spiritual disciplines doing? Spiritual disciplines are how we train for battle and, frankly guys, the women are kicking our pasty white behinds in this area. Our goal, our destiny is to be like Christ. We need to be working toward that goal. To become "those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:14). Bible study is not just for chicks, men. Dig in.

3. Real men are brave: Brave, not full of bravado. Look at the life of Jesus. Jesus was brave. Brave enough to sacrifice it all. He's our model. And - no - he didn't spend every day turning over tables, although you wouldn't know that from reading some of the Manly Christian books out these days. But he did speak the truth to the powerful. He called a spade a spade. That took guts. If Jesus saw something that was wrong, he dealt with it. He didn't shrug his shoulders, run home, and get comfortable in his easy chair and his excuses. He also reached out to the undesirables. He was willing to commit social suicide to help the ones no one else would touch. And he was man enough to preach astonishing humility and astonishing generosity.

4. Real men sacrifice: The human mind is wired to make excuses. You can't go to church, because it's too feminized. Look at that statement for a second - do you see the circular logic embedded in it? Men, you RUN THE CHURCH! Why are you running from it? If it's feminized, it's your fault. Maybe the real reason is you're not willing to expend the energy required. Maybe sacrifice scares you (it scares me too). But it there's one thing shouted from the New Testament about men it's that we are called to sacrifice.

5. Real men know the meaning of "nice": Frankly, I'm tired of seeing that good word dragged through the mud. "Nice" is not "weak". Sometimes weak masquerades as nice, but that's a different issue. Perhaps a better word is "kind". Kindness is a fruit of the spirit, which means it's a trait we all should be developing. Even if we think being kind is for wimps. Even if we shy away from fruit. Jesus was the perfect mix of firmness and gentleness, and it's no mistake that the trait of gentleness is so highly spoken of in the New Testament. It's the mark of a truly strong man. Self Control. There's another good trait. If you're always flying off the handle in manly rage, maybe you need to get your manliness redefined.

6. Real men don't complain, they fix: God may be calling you to sacrificially pour yourself out in service to others in your local church. If you're a real man, you'll answer that call. Without complaining.

Ok, I'm done.

Want To Be A Real Man? Be a Southern Baptist!

A commenter, Jason from over at Godfidence, wrote a post that references an article in Christ In Ya'll entitled why men don't go to church. I read the article and found it to be a good one (and, thankfully, not what I expected). This section was very surprising, especially since I myself am a member of the much-maligned denomination referenced:

The fly in the ointment of Podles’ thesis [Ed: Podles wrote The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity] is the Southern Baptists. Step into a Southern Baptist church (especially an urban example), and you will often find as many men as women. Why is this? Rather than address this peculiarity of the largest Protestant denomination in the world, he dismisses the whole group as irrelevant because they do not fit his definition of "mainline" Christianity. Perhaps Southern Baptists are too "low church" for his taste. However, we must ask what draws men to a Southern Baptist church so successfully.

As one who grew up in (and left) this tradition, I can easily say: There’s just so much to do in a Southern Baptist Church. They form committees for everything, delegate leadership for numerous and varied functions, and just about anybody can become a leader of something. In a highly liturgical church like a Catholic or Episcopalian church, only the minister and one or two others get to do anything that "matters." In a Presbyterian church, there can be a handful of elders who share leadership responsibilities. But almost any and every man in a Southern Baptist church can become a Sunday School teacher or a deacon, both of which involve the same kinds of responsibilities that are found in the presbytery (and to some degree, the priesthood). Even the ministerial staff of a Southern Baptist church has been expanded to include everyone from the music leader, to the preschool director, to the Business administrator. In short, a person stands a much better chance to FUNCTION in a Southern Baptist church than most other places. No wonder men are more likely to attend a Southern Baptist church than a Catholic one.
Aw yeah. Come to the SBC, where men are men and the gatorade flows dark green, baby!

All joking aside, he has a good point. We men are most energized, most passionate, most alive when we are fighting and striving toward something that really matters. That's just the way we're wired.

Read the whole article - it's a good one. The ending in particular is hammer, nail, BLAM!
I challenge you to find a place where everyone significantly contributes to the meetings, the planning, and the "ministering" of the church. Seek out a brotherhood of men who are truly involved in one another’s lives, then join it. Most of all, find a place where the Lord’s cross is meaningful beyond the mere forgiveness of sins, and where the Lord’s house means more than anyone’s personal agenda. When you find that place, sell everything and move there. True manhood will only be found inside the Body of that One New Man, Jesus Christ. What are you waiting for?
There is a followup post coming on this . . .

Now, if you're desiring to become a real man, please don't be an idiot about it. From a Newsweek Article about the recent GodMen conference:
“People think that you have to be a goody-two-shoes to be Christian and I hate that,” he says. “This has strengthened me. I am a man and I can stand my ground and I’m not afraid to show my impurities and if someone has a problem with that, that’s their problem.”

When the GodMen band seized the stage again, they tore into an anthem called “Grow A Pair!”: “We’ve been beaten down/ Feminized by the culture crowd,” they sang. “No more nice guy, timid and ashamed/ We’ve had enough, cowboy up/ In the power of Jesus name/ Welcome to the battle/ A million men have got your back/ Jump up in the saddle/ Grab a sword, don’t be scared/ Be a man, grow a pair!” Said Tholstrup, as he surveyed the crowd: “If 200 men are feeling this, other men are feeling it too.” Which ought to provide enough testosterone for plenty of GodMen gatherings to come.
Look for "Grow a Pair" to hit a worship service near you . . . (and don't forget to bring a raincoat. There'll be a lot of testosterone splatterin' all over the place).

On the other hand, maybe we should just grow up and be men, leaving this chest-pounding nonsense in the toychest where it belongs.

Best Worship Album: Results

Thanks to all who answered my call for the best modern worship albums. I received thirty-three recommendations, but only four albums were mentioned more than once.

The four worship projects receiving more than one mention are:

1) Indelible Grace was mentioned three times.
2) Skillet's Ardent Worship was mentioned three times.
3) David Crowder's A Collision was mentioned twice.
4) David Crowder's Illuminate was mentioned twice.

Turns out my wife can get a lot of this stuff from her vendor reps, so I'm looking forward to checking out the albums that seem the most promising. (Definitely going to get some David Crowder.)

For a list of all the one-time recommendations, make the jump . . .
Read the rest of this entry . . .

Astonishing Generosity

David Wayne, a.k.a. The Jollyblogger, highlights a post from Tod Bolsinger today on the mandate Jesus gives to His followers for generosity, specifically in relation to the Christian's reputation with restaurant waitstaff.
It's a subject we've discussed a few times before.

Bolsinger, inspired by Tom Wright, writes:

In the middle of my sabbatical, while reading through a wonderful, thick tome on the ministry of Jesus by N.T. Wright, I stumbled across two words that were used to describe a key characteristic that Jesus’ expected of his followers: “astonishing generosity.” I liked the phrase. I rolled it around in my brain. But I also found myself disturbed by it. It seemed almost impossible.

The quote itself was a reference to Matthew 5:38-42, when Jesus tells his followers “to turn the other cheek” when struck, “give their cloak” when asked for a coat, or to carry a load an “extra mile” when a person makes you haul something for one. He is saying in effect, that even when people use or take advantage of you, they in the words of Bishop Wright, “must be met with astonishing generosity.” (Jesus and the Victory of God, p. 290)

Wayne writes:
One of the things [Richard Pratt] challenged me to do was to become a regular at the Bistro across the street. He said I need to go there often and our church members need to go there often. And, we need to be such excellent guests and tippers that waiters and waitresses want to fight over who gets to serve us.

This is a hot button issue for me. On more than one occasion I have heard and read people who say that wait-staff in restaurants do not have particularly good impressions of Christians and that for some, Sunday is the worst day of the week because of the church people. The church people are generally seen to be rude, demanding and poor tippers. So, Pratt's exhoration to me was to do my part in changing the reputation of Christians in that regard.

Sunday evening, Becky and I were dining out, and our waiter messed up our order in a few ways. He was very nervous for having done so. He ended up giving us a free appetizer and a free dessert. And even so, I could tell he was fearful of the compensatory repurcussions of his mistakes. I decided to give him a 50% tip, because even if he didn't know we were Christians, I wanted him to be astonished by grace after we'd left.

I don't say that to brag but merely to encourage you to think of small, practical ways you can extend grace to people. Not necessarily to "evangelize" or further your or the Church's reputation, but just because it is a Jesus sort of thing to do.

Scott Adams Get His Voice Back

I wasn't aware of this, but evidently Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, lost his ability to speak 18 months ago.

He now has his voice back (and evidently a recovery of this type is unprecedented). It's a neat story of how he worked with his own brain patterns to train himself to talk again. The comments thread is very inspiring, too.

An excerpt:

The day before yesterday, while helping on a homework assignment, I noticed I could speak perfectly in rhyme. Rhyme was a context I hadn’t considered. A poem isn’t singing and it isn’t regular talking. But for some reason the context is just different enough from normal speech that my brain handled it fine.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.

I repeated it dozens of times, partly because I could. It was effortless, even though it was similar to regular speech. I enjoyed repeating it, hearing the sound of my own voice working almost flawlessly. I longed for that sound, and the memory of normal speech. Perhaps the rhyme took me back to my own childhood too. Or maybe it’s just plain catchy. I enjoyed repeating it more than I should have. Then something happened.

My brain remapped.

My speech returned.

Not 100%, but close, like a car starting up on a cold winter night. And so I talked that night. A lot. And all the next day. A few times I felt my voice slipping away, so I repeated the nursery rhyme and tuned it back in. By the following night my voice was almost completely normal.

When I say my brain remapped, that’s the best description I have. During the worst of my voice problems, I would know in advance that I couldn’t get a word out. It was if I could feel the lack of connection between my brain and my vocal cords. But suddenly, yesterday, I felt the connection again. It wasn’t just being able to speak, it was KNOWING how. The knowing returned.

I still don’t know if this is permanent. But I do know that for one day I got to speak normally. And this is one of the happiest days of my life.

Kinky Friedman Will Be The Next Texas Governor

. . . according to leading "unscientific polls." At least that's the Friedman campaign's response to recent poll results showing him running fourth in the Texas gubernatorial campaign with about 10% support:

[Friedman spokeswoman Laura Stromberg] said Internet polls, radio station polls and a survey run by an ice cream shop in Denton all had Friedman in the lead.

"Every unscientific poll we've seen has Kinky in the lead," Stromberg said.


A Saturday In Indiana

This is who I heard speak today. All in all, I gotta say, it was one of the cooler Saturdays I've had in awhile.

YEAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! (Part 2)

I don't think one "expert" picked them but....

THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS ARE WORLD CHAMPS!!!

This has been one heck of a year for me with the Steelers and now the Cards! Man is this fun. It is so cool to live in the city. I remember telling my wife after the Steelers won that it would be so much better to live in Pittsburgh to celebrate. Now we do. Look for me on the parade route!!

Congratulations Cards!!

Things That Are Not Good Ideas

1. The energy drink named Cocaine. I'm guessing the marketing executive who came up with this had a smidgen of the real stuff in his latte.

2. Using your real estate license to cultivate a unique clientele: people who want to buy homes just to use them to grow marijuana. Because drug dealers never rat out their accomplices.

3. Building a "border fence" along one third of the U.S.-Mexico border. (A) I still don't understand who's going to build it, since the Mexicans build all the good fences down here (B) I'm having flashbacks to childhood-- this reminds me of the old cartoon gag where, say, the Tasmanian devil couldn't get to Bugs Bunny, even though the house had collapsed, because the front door was still locked (C) Mentioned the fence thing to an illegal alien I know a few days ago. He wasn't impressed (D) I'm still struggling with what to call this thing. Is it even a fence if it only goes a third of the way across?

On Loving Your Enemies

My daughter was reading the Bible aloud to me the other morning, as is part of our homeschool habit. She came upon this passage:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies


Whereupon she became quite animated and blurted out:

Love your enemies?!?! That's impossible!


It's all to easy to glance over these words, treating them with all the gravity of a recipe for chicken pot pie. So I'm glad she reminded me.

Lost: Every Man For Himself

Here we go with another Thinklings live-blogging Lost experience . . .

*** This thread contains spoilers ***
Read the rest of this entry . . .

Best Worship Album Suggestions

Okay, I don't know jack about the current worship music scene. Couldn't name a Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, or Dennis Jernigan song.

But I'm interested. So this is where you come in. I'd like you to think carefully and then tell me what you think are the three best modern worship albums. Or, if you feel unqualified to name the best, just tell me your three favorite. Or, if you think you know my tastes and preferences in a roundabout way, name the three you think I would like best.

Just to give you an idea, I like old school Vineyard worship stuff, especially David Ruis and Brian Doerksen, and my absolute favorite worship albums are Caedmon's Call's two In the Company of Angels albums. Also, I tend to favor more upbeat and theo-centric type songs than slow-going "Me and Jesus are parking at Inspiration Point"-type songs, but one or two of those latter kind are okay.

But in general, just tell me which three you think are best. The only catch is, I don't want you to leave your choices in the comments. E-mail them to jaredcwilson [at] yahoo [dot] com.
That's only so I can get a true sampling of individual recommendations and gather a real consensus from that, rather than having a bunch of folks going "Oh yeah, I like that one that so-and-so mentioned."

I'll share which ones got the most "votes" soon.

Update:
Okay, guys, thanks for the recommendations. Keep them coming. So far, I've received over 20 album suggestions, but only 2 albums have been mentioned more than once (one twice and another three times).

If you can, please try to limit your recs to three. I know that's hard, and it'd probably be hard for me too. But the reason is just that, when everyone's suggesting ten albums or whatever (and not everyone is, but a few of you are), it's hard to know which ones you really think are the very best, and it's also hard to make a list I think is representative of the best. If six people respond and I've got 60 album recommendations, I'm pretty much right where I started -- not knowing what to look into. So thanks to the folks who are recommending, like, one CD. That evens things out a bit. But everybody else please try to limit yourself to, for instance, which two or three you'd take to a desert island.

Also, your odds of getting me to check out the CD you like increase when you recommend something somebody else might recommend. Because, really, what I'm doing is seeing which albums show up on more than one list. (Again, that's only 2 so far.) So recommending the worship CD your church put out is cool (and in fact, the one guy who has done that described it in such a way that I am inclined to check it out anyway), but probably not going to make me shell out some cash to listen to it. Unless you can "sell" it well like the guy I just mentioned did.

In a future post I'll share the results and will list all the recommendations I received. So your suggestion will get "aired," and then other people can then say "Yeah, that one's great" or whatever.
Cool? Cool.

A Night To Honor Syncretism

Or is syncretism even the right word for an "I'm okay, you're okay" Christian view of Jews who reject Jesus?

Sunday night thousands crowded into John Hagee's Cornerstone Church in his "Night to Honor Israel," in which he and his congregation joined with Jewish leaders to express their undying devotion to the nation-state in Israel.

Hagee holds to the "two peoples of God" view (with his own peculiar flavoring), which means that Christians are saved by trusting in Jesus, and Jews are saved by holding to the Pharisaic spin on the Old Covenant, all the while giving the finger to Jesus.

Read the rest of this entry . . .

Sorry I'm Late

I figured, what with Halloween being a week away, there was still plenty of time to wait before debating this topic.

But it looks like I'm behind the times. Apparently Christmas season is in full swing, and Halloween has pretty much passed us by. At least judging from what I saw at the store today. So I apologize for being out of step with the pace of the modern world, but I just have to get this in, even if it's yesterday's news.

CHRISTMAS IS OF THE DEVIL!

Carry on.

Heard on the Radio This Morning

James Dobson interviewing Ann Coulter for Focus on the Family.

Me Encanta a Mirar el Television

Es verdad.
Read the rest of this entry . . .

Congratulations Quaid and Jen

This has been a great weekend. Our very own Honorary Thinkling Quaid (aka, Randy) married the lovely Jen Friday night. This capped off a two-day celebration that I was honored to be a part of (I was a groomsman). They held an awesome rehearsal dinner Thursday night followed by a fabulous overnight stay at a lakehouse for the groomsmen and the wedding pastor (Chris Mayfield, our former Student minister and now pastor of Seattle's Journey church). It was great to be reunited with all the great Journey people.

The wedding was held on Friday. It was one of the best weddings I've ever been to. The music in particular was wonderful (Randy and Jen have a number of very talented friends). Journey worship leaders Matt and Stephanie sang the processional "Here is Love", and another friend, Jenny, sang a song during the communion that she had written as a gift to Randy and Jen. It was amazing.

And the reception was a blast!

If you know Randy, you know that he is a Godly man, a dedicated minister to students, and an overall great guy. He and his lovely bride are in Italy now, enjoying their honeymoon. May God bless their new life together.

Quaid and Jen 1

Quaid and Jen 2

On Taking Nietzsche at His Word

Rene Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, p. 175.

To bury the modern concern for victims under millions and millions of corpses-- there you have the National Socialist way of being Nietzschean. But some will say, "This interpretation would have horrified poor Nietzsche." Probably, yes. Nietzsche shared with many intellectuals of his time and our own a passion for irresponsible rhetoric in the attempt to get one up on opponents. But philosophers, for their misfortune, are not the only people in the world. Genuinely mad and frantic people are all around them and do them the worst turn of all: they take them at their word.


Systematic Theology and Menstruation

From Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, p. 47.

(9) Theology is a "Victorian" enterprise, neoclassically bright and neat and clean, nothing out of place.

Whereas the Bible talks about hair, blood, sweat, entrails, menstruation and genital emissions.

(10) Here's an experiment you can do at any theological library. You even have my permission to try this at home.

Step 1: Check the indexes of any theologian you choose for any of the words mentioned in the section 9 above. (Augustine does not count. Augustine's theology is as big as reality, or bigger.)

Step 2: Check the Bible concordance for the same words.

Step 3: Ponder these questions: Do theologians talk about the world the same way the Bible does? Do theologians talk about the same world the Bible does?

Snip, Snip

Cafe Hayek quotes a John Tierney essay:

Planned Parenthood’s policy of relying on voluntary birth control was called a “tragic ideal” by the ecologist Garrett Hardin. Writing in the journal Science, Hardin argued that “freedom to breed will bring ruin to all.” He and others urged America to adopt a “lifeboat ethic” by denying food aid, even during crises, to countries with rapidly growing populations.

Those intellectuals didn’t persuade Americans to adopt their policies, but they had more impact overseas. Under prodding from Westerners like Robert McNamara, the head of the World Bank, countries adopted “fertility targets” to achieve “optimal” population size. When an Indian government official proposed mandatory sterilization for men with three or more children, Paul Ehrlich criticized the United States for not rushing to help.

“We should have volunteered logistic support in the form of helicopters, vehicles, and surgical instruments
,” he wrote, and added: “Coercion? Perhaps, but coercion in a good cause.”


Yikes. I'm squirming in my seat just reading that.

Gives the term "black helicopters" a whole new meaning.

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