Men in Their Own Skin–Chapter 4: Men and their Bibles

Well, I’ve got to be honest. This is going to be a short, sweet blog, because it’s a short, sweet chapter. This chapter was not so much one that you can interpret how you like it (none of this book is really that way, anyway) but it’s basically an overview of what the Bible is and what it is not.

Men, if we ever want to walk as men of God, that is–need the Bible. We absolutely cannot operate in full authority without God’s perspective on history–the Bible. The authority of the scriptures–the reason they have endured through the ages and even though the Bible has come under full attack–is because Jesus is the authority, the ultimate backup of the Bible. He’s the purpose of the entire book. Every story in the old testament reveals Him in some way and everything in the new testament is meant to be read through the lens of Christ’s coming, death, resurrection and eventual second coming.

The point of the Bible can be easily misconstrued, also. There are some common misconceptions…

-The Bible is a good luck charm.

We hear these heartwarming stories about soldiers in war being shot but the Bible in their front pocket protected them from dying. Or that having it around will keep bad things away.

-The Bible is a book of moral stories and lessons.

I’ve been hearing this for a long time and every time it makes more and more sense–we can’t read an old testament story and say, “we should be like so and so.” For example, if we read the story of David and say, “We should be like David. He was a man after God’s own heart, he worshiped God, he was undignified before the Lord–let’s be like David!” The problem is that we’re overlooking David’s imperfections. If we really want to be like David, we’d have to send someone’s husband off to war and sleep with his wife. Reading the Bible looking for someone to be like (other than Jesus) is the wrong reason to read.

There is a list of other misconceptions of the Bible, but I encourage you to read it for yourself (the book…and the Bible, ha!)

Ultimately, the call of this chapter is for men to take a stand and take back their Bibles. To drop the misconceptions and to see the ultimate authority of the Bible: Jesus. To understand the Bible as our way of having Jesus revealed to us. His story is how we grow, change, and walk in authority as men of God. Jesus’ authority is the authority that we are invited to stand upon, and Jesus’ authority is revealed in the scriptures.

Father, help me to be a man who stands on Your word. Help me not to look to the Bible for anything but a full revelation of the Son, and help me to never walk away from the Bible seeing the same way I did before, but through the lens of Jesus Christ. Help me to stand on Your authority and nothing else. In Jesus name.

Another Journey.

In the last couple of years, I have learned a brand new lesson.

The whole Bible is about Jesus. No, I really didn’t know that before.

I used to think Old Testament stories were just moral stories we should learn from. Seriously. It has been very recent that I have been hit with the truth that Christ is revealed all through the old testament. So, I think it’s time to wrestle with some truth and discover some.

I was talking to my friend Erica tonight about how freeing and adventurous it is to know that everything in the Bible tells us something about Jesus—so if we want, we can take a random story and study it and pick all of the truth off of its meaty bones and learn more about Jesus.

I have decided to do that very thing with a good ol’ popular Sunday school character–Samson.

If you had asked me three years ago what Samson’s story tells me about God, I would have said “that God can make us strong.” But there’s so much more to that, and I’m setting out to find out what’s there. I’m going to blog my progress, and I welcome comments, additions, and comments about things you don’t agree with. Welcome to my journey through Samson!

Men In Their Own Skin–Chapter 3

So after a semester of extreme business, of going to class at 9 am, then going to work and not getting off until 9 PM, I finally have found some time to read, and even blog about it! I made a summer reading list–part fiction, part non-fiction, and continuing this book was at the top of the non-fiction portion of my list.

That said, let’s dive into the content! The third chapter of Dudley Hall’s book deals with “A Man Who Could Marry My Daughter.” I suppose this is a timely chapter for me, not because I’m about to be married, but because I’m getting to a season where (hopefully) marriage is coming soon, and this is really good time to prepare myself for that, so this chapter gave me some good ideas of what a father wants for his daughter.

The content is put into 4 simple categories:

1. Secure in his identity

2. Solid in his integrity

3. Grateful for his story

4. A disciple of Jesus Christ

The identity of a man, Dudley says, is rooted in what God says about him. God’s Word frames the way he thinks, the way he acts, what he believes–everything. Men who try to answer the demands of a culture on them will never be secure in who they are. Dudley says that we become secure by being validated and initiated by our father or a group of fatherly men. It’s easy to want to take an identity from other things–a job, an education, athletic ability, other skills and talents, or other life events such as sex, or buying a house, or get in a fight. The problem with any of those are that they demand continuation. A man who derives his identity from his job will feel like a failure if he loses it. A man who finds worth in athletics will feel like a failure if he gets injured and can’t play anymore. The difference between finding worth in something we have or something we can do and finding our worth in Jesus Christ is that Jesus is never going to fail us or leave us, and He doesn’t change with a fluctuating economy or with a drastic sports injury. Dudley shares great stories of seeing men be initiated by their fathers or by a group of fathers and then noticing the change in them–a change in responsibility and confidence. “Boys don’t make good husbands,” writes Mr. Hall.

The next important characteristic of a man is that he is solid in his integrity. Integrity, simply defined, is matching words with actions. Integrity is not something we can achieve on our own. Let me let Dudley say it (he always says it best)

“But if a man’s heart is right with God, if his mind is being renewed by the Word, and if he’s obeying God and following His plan, he’ll bear great fruit in all of his relationships.”

Living from the inside out, really. The truth of God’s word cuts us to the core and changes us, and the way we live completely changes because of it. It begins with hearing and believing God’s word, and then obeying Him and living it out. It’s simple, really.

The third characteristic was the one that impacted me the most. Dudley says that a man who can marry his daughter must be grateful for his story. The second sentence that he writes under this section is why it’s so powerful to me–“He (the suitor) must avoid comparing himself with others and coveting what he does not have.” God had begun laying that on my heart before I even read this chapter. Quite frankly, I struggle with the sin of comparison. In ministry or in school, or just plain in life–I find myself wishing I had come from a certain background so I could relate to some people better. Or I wish that I could move out and get an apartment so that I could feel more responsibility (reality check: if you’re not responsible at home, you’re not going to be responsible anywhere.) I catch myself comparing a lot. “he’s better at introducing himself to strangers than I am” or “he knows the Bible better than I do” or “he can play that solo better than I can.” compare, compare, compare. or wishful thinking–“what would life be like if I had gone to Berea College instead of EKU?” or “if only I hadn’t spent money like I did last summer, I wouldn’t be in debt!” But none of this is productive. The reality is, my life is where it is because God must have meant for it to happen. Maybe I didn’t grow up in an eastern Kentucky pentecostal background because God wants me to relate to people who are from the city and never had any super-radical, super-Pentecostal experiences (I’m pentecostal, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never been in a church with lots of shouting and running and such, which is what I mean, ha!) Maybe (and not even maybe, definitely) God is using my debt to teach me something about finance (I don’t really believe finance is a part of the plan of God, I think He uses it to teach.) Being grateful for my story, I believe, comes out of being secure in my identity and learning to appreciate God’s metanarrative. It comes, I believe, from years of walking with God and seeing Him work things together for good. There are two more great points Dudley makes in this section that are too good to pass up…he says that a lot of young men are fixated on what they don’t have, and they don’t believe that life is fair because they don’t have what they “deserve.” Then Dudley makes an awesome perspective change–

“But the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that He has faced injustice, forever paid the debt of sin, and defeated the sting of death. Having been raised from the dead He now gives the same Spirit that raised Him to all those who believe. So we are no longer vicTIMS of life. We have the opportunity to be vicTORS in life.”

Finally, he says that “a true sense of significance comes from taking what has been given and using it for the best possible results.” He shares the story of his dad, who never needed a better truck or a bigger TV or anything like that. He decided to “like what he has rather than want what he doesn’t have.”

Finally, a man must be a disciple of Jesus Christ. None of the above characteristics are achievable without the life-changing power of the gospel. No man is going to be perfect, says Dudley, but he must be committed to God’s plan and process. Men who are intentional about discovering their identity, doing what he says, using what he has, and following Jesus with passion.

This was a great chapter. It left me thinking a lot. The truth really resonated with me, but also left me thinking, evaluating, and asking the Lord to change me.

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to make me brand new, to make me a new creation. Help me to be a man who is secure in his identity, solid in his integrity, and grateful for my story. Help me not to fall into comparisons, but to appreciate what I have and where I’m from. Thank You for empowering me to be a disciple and to follow after You with everything in me. In Jesus’ name, amen.