Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Navs FB Group and Emails

Soooooo it's been a little while since I've updated the blog. Specifically, it's been since April. I seem to go through cycles like that with my blog, my journal, really any kind of regular writing that I have to do. Don't know why, but it just seems to happen. 

But I'm back. I'll be updating the blog semi-regularly, even if it's just to post snippets and have short updates. 

There are two resources I'd like to direct you to, though. This blog doesn't quite have the reach that my ministry group on facebook does, so I'm planning on shifting updates relating specifically to Navs at CSULB to that blog and to monthly emails I'll be sending out.  

So first of all, here's the link to that Facebook group if you aren't a part of it: ---> Josh's Navigator Ministry at CSULB <---

And second, here's a form where you can sign up for my emails if you don't already get them: ---> My MailChimp Navs Prayer Updates <---

Thanks for your support! Look for this blog to be updated more regularly! Promise! :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Forgiveness is a Choice

Lisa Gungor (from Gungor! haha) shares on forgiveness and letting go in a beautiful post over at the Worship Together Blog: "What rock are you holding tight in your fist?"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Setlist- 04/15/12

This weekend I had the privilege to lead worship at Centenary United Methodist Church in Modesto, CA, with a group of amazingly talented friends. The core of the band (Rachel, Brian, Christopher, and myself) is the same as the group that led worship for our regional Navigator conference back in the Fall, and the new additions (Peter and Katie) are welcome ones :)

As we thought about where to take the set and planned it out, Rachel and I chose to concentrate on God's name. Isaiah 26:8 has been a guiding verse this past year. It says:
In the path of your judgements,
O LORD, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul. (ESV)
We also aimed to mix more familiar songs with newer songs. The thread that ran through the songs then was opening with adoration and blessing God's name, singing and shouting his name, exalting him as the Name Above All Names, declaring that our hearts will sing no other name, and literally singing and extolling his name again before closing with a request to stir us up again.

1. "Blessed be Your Name" by Matt Redman (A)
2. "At Your Name" by Tim Hughes and Phil Wickham (A)
3. "How Great is Our God" by Chris Tomlin (A)

4. "Forever Reign" by Hillsong (B)
5. "Your Name" by Paul Baloche (B)

6. "Consuming Fire" by Tim Hughes (E)
7. "Come Thou Fount" (E)

The weekend was both a ton of fun and very successful! Thanks to everyone that helped make it happen!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Relating with Women-Men of the Beach week 3

After laying the foundations of Biblical Manhood in week 1 and considering the ways sin has marred those foundations in week 2, we heard from Daniel and Ken this week on the specific topic of relating with women. Here are the notes from Daniel's portion:

Amnon and Tamar

Amnon was David’s son, a royal son in the house of the king, one among many.  Of his upbringing, knowledge of God, and interaction with his father, the Scripture is silent.  In his first appearance, he is introduced as follows: “In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David” (2 Samuel 13:1).  By this, the Scripture means that Absalom and Tamar shared the same mother, though all were the offspring of David.  Tamar was Amnon’s half-sister.

We are concentrating more on the pattern of interaction here, but note that as her brother, it was not lawful for Amnon to desire Tamar.  The Bible uses the phrase “fell in love,” which in general does not share the same touching significance of the modern use of the phrase.  In NASB, it says simply that Amnon “loved her.”  This is similar to Jacob’s desire for Rachel and Samson’s for Delilah.  It is what we might call an infatuated lust, like that of the foolish man enticed by the wanton woman in Proverbs.  It is lovesickness, that preoccupation with another person which in itself is not a bad thing.  But it is dangerous in its effects.

Listen: “Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill.  She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.”

The Bible is very straightforward about the heart and desires of man!  Amnon wanted to possess her.  He wanted her, and denied her, he became ill, physically ill.

Now then, chart the course of his actions:

“So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill.”  In this way, he manipulates Tamar into being alone with him.

“But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, ‘Come to bed with me, my sister.’”

She tries to dissuade him, “but he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.”

With that, there is a switch, “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred.  In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her.”


1.  Amnon became infatuated with Tamar.  He saw her and desired her.  This in itself is natural, normal, healthy even.  It is the course of things, the way God has made men and women to be.  When a man looks at a woman, he sees the beauty and he is drawn to it.

2.  However, these passions and desires are unregulated in the sinful heart, disordered, chaotic.  What control we have over them is the product of upbringing, environment, and culture, all easily broken.

3.  Amnon, in being led by these desires, takes increasing steps to satisfy them.  He wants to get her alone, he wants her to satisfy his desires, so he manipulates the situation to give him the opportunity to enjoy her.  But after setting this up, she still remains unwilling.  So he takes what he wants through his greater physical strength.  He forces her to give him satisfaction.  The blunt physical nature of this forcing is the culmination of his efforts and is fully in line with them.  In other words, his rape is not an aberration, but the results of the method by which he chose to satisfy himself.

This, then, is the pattern that is set before us in this story: Man desires woman, not just ordinary admiration, but a lustful, infatuated desire that controls and motivates him.  He takes whatever action is necessary to have what he desires, with no ultimate regard for her. She is simply an object for him to satisfy himself with.  As the barriers and restraints are stripped away, the act culminates in rape.  After raping her, and finding his desire ultimately unsatisfied, he hates her.

Now, I am going to say something intense, perhaps even offensive to some.  This pattern is the normal pattern of sin; this story is meant to represent to us the pathways of our heart.  Can you apply this to yourself?  Are you standing aloof from Amnon, as if you and he did not share the same sinful nature?  holy self-doubt

Are we Amnon?

First, how is our story different?

1.  Culture and the “thinkableness” of rape.  The reason we tend to see this as a distant story is that the culture that most of us were brought up in (and I include not just the broader American culture, but also the family and church environments) this culture distances us from the thought of rape.  If I asked you, would you ever rape a girl?  I am sure that all of you would answer no without hesitation.  This, believe it or not, is to a very large degree a product of the lingering effect of the intense Christianization of Western society during the 16th-17th centuries.  After raping his sister, Amnon continues to enjoy all the benefits of being a royal son.  We, on the other hand, would be subject to ostracism, social pariahhood, rejection by peers, etc.

2.  Fear of the law.  As a royal son, Amnon had little fear of the effects of his rape, provided he could do it privately.  He is half-right.  His father, when told about it, does nothing.  Ultimately, Absalom does revenge his sister though.  For us, rape would most likely result in prison and a track record to follow us the rest of our lives.  This, of course, is one of the primary reasons for the existence of government: to constrain the natural impulses of sinful man through fear and punishment.

3.  Finally, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit is at work in us, controlling and acting in opposition to our flesh.  Can I get an, “Amen!”?  Without the Holy Spirit, our restraints are fear and culture, both of which our sinful natures can and do overcome.

So, if we remove these differences in culture, we begin to see that we might be a little more like Amnon than we initially thought.  Now, how does Amnon’s pattern express itself in our culture?  Our culture is saturated, near infested, with sexualization.  Everyday, television, magazines, and movies all tell us about how our sexuality is desirable and good.  So what are its faces?  I will name a few:

1.  The highly sexualized representation of women in popular culture.  Women are constantly being put forth as sexual models.  We see this in advertising and other visual media.  For us as men, this can create an expectation of the women we know.  Their model becomes our norm and we can expect the women we know to adhere to it.  For women, it can put pressure on them to conform to this image of womanhood.  They see that to be a woman means dressing and acting provocatively to attract men.

2.  Pornography.  In our generation, pornography is incredibly accessible.  I would not be surprised to find out most of us in here have looked at pornography and lusted after the women on display.  Pornography reeks in its similarity to rape: we know what we want from these women and we take it without any concern for them.  We devalue them as God’s children.

3.  Rape itself is still common in pockets of our society, and other forms of rape exist such as date-rape and pressurized sex.  Even in our society with the cultural stigmatism of rape and the powerful laws against it, it is still practiced.  The heart of man is that of a rapist.

So, we ask ourselves this question then: are we Amnon?  Are we any different?  In general, we see that we are not, but how much of this is due to God’s common grace for us in creating government and a moral society to grow up in?  We have safeguards in place to keep us from being Amnon in deed, but are we still Amnon at heart?

Two Things to Understand

1.  In entering our relationships with women, we bring with us unresolved desires. These are the issues that affect us as we relate to women in our own particular way.

Think of it this way, we are driven by our problems and issues related to women, such that we tend to seek out something from them. This is the “Barney Stinson” man, the man who has experienced hurt or rejection or something that makes him seek out the approval/love of women.

This is stronger or weaker in us according to our experiences. But this is the pattern that touches on every interaction we have with women! So whether this is a large, addictive pattern in us, or a subtle and small pattern, it is present! The pattern is this:

Being created to desire women, the desiring of women tends to bring us pleasure, the illusion of satisfaction and wholeness. As we seek after pleasure outside of what is good as a result of our desire to find completion and wholeness, we desire women. This takes the form of real relationships, both ones that  look fine on the outside and ones that look problematic. It can also the form of abstract, or imagined relationships. This is mental fantasy.  In our day, pornography is common.

Finally, this pattern can be weakly sexualized or non-sexualized. The pleasure can take the form not of sexual pleasure, but the pleasure of being admired, respected, that component of a male-female relationship that mocks the provider/helper created model. Thus, where no sexual misconduct is occurring, relationships can still acquire the pattern of Amnon: man acquiring from woman the satisfaction of his desires, the created desire to be complemented in women. Thus, even man in whom sexual desire is repressed (homosexual) or absent (eunuch, or rarely in others) seeks to bring fullness and satisfaction to himself through women.

We must first examine DEEPLY this pattern in our own life, seeing it in the women we interact with. I guarantee that it is present in all our lives. I find it constantly cropping up in my own life.

2. The solution is not to try and control every interaction with women, to establish a whole host of rules regarding them, but to first of all be fulfilled in Christ, finding satisfaction in him so that we do not need to run to woman IN ANY WAY to feel satisfied.

This, of course, is the solution of the New Creation, being reformed in Christ. But as we studied last week, from this new condition, this new creation, we must take off the old self and put on the new self. But only in the context of this full satisfaction can we bring healing into our relationships with women.


1. We need to re-enter the identity we have been made for. The distortion is using women for our pleasure and satisfaction. The created identity is our protection and caring for women. How can we do that in this ministry? How can we make the women feel protected and cared for?

2. The number one way we can protect them is by guarding their hearts. This means what exactly? It means that we don’t create imitation relationships with them. It means that we act towards them with boldness and clarity. It means that we communicate with them and do not fall into relationship with them.

3. We have to value women as co-equal to us. With the fall, the chaos of the sinful world made men powerful and has long taught us that hierarchy is value, that primacy makes for increased worth. This is ungodly and false. We have to give our sisters the value they deserve, listening to them, valuing their thoughts.

4. We have to lead the ministries, families, etc. that we are a part of.

5. We must flee from passivity in our relationships with women.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Goodness of God

We must never tolerate an instant's unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same. -C.H. Spurgeon 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Walk in the Light-Men of the Beach week 2

Yesterday I posted the notes to the talk that Cavin and I gave last week. Today I'm posting the notes to Greg's talk that he gave yesterday morning: "The Dangers that Lurk Within: Walk in the Light."


Men, you are not as strong as you think.
I repeat:  you are not as strong as you think.

Last week, Cavin and Josh covered the Biblical Foundation for masculinity, showing us that true men:
1)  Walk in submission and obedience to God
2)  Take responsibility toward work and woman
3)  Practice initiation and accept leadership

Easy.  Now you know it, go and live it.  Piece of cake, right?  Wrong.  Already, we’ve exposed two ways we deliberately reject this design, with embracing an exaggerated parody man on one end of the spectrum and outright suppressing our masculinity on the other.  This week we will elaborate on this point and we will see even more ways and reasons we struggle to live inside God’s design for men.  Obviously we can’t cover the entire breadth of masculine experience, but we will expose a few key areas and experiences that could have corrupted your fundamental understanding of what it means to be a man.  We’ll also talk about what to do about it all, so that you can be equipped and encouraged in your pursuit of righteousness and a healthy understanding of masculinity.  But first, I need to make one point clear:

As was mentioned last week, at the root of every perversion to our understanding of masculinity is sin, and this sin not only contradicts God’s truth, it also weakens our honest efforts to walk according to His plan.  I don’t care how strong or mature you think you are, sin has had more impact on your mind and heart than you yet realize.  Its stains run deep, and it is only through careful consideration that sin’s full corruption is brought to light.  The process of exposing the consequences of the Fall and the weakness sin has wrought in our lives has only just begun.

This week I am here to challenge you.  I challenge you to grasp what we mean when we say to practice the attitude of Holy Self-Doubt.  I challenge you to realize that you are not as strong as you think.  I challenge you to realize sin has had more impact on your life, heart, and mind than you yet realize.  And I rebuke the pride in your heart that blinds you, that prevents you from acknowledging the corruption sin has wrought in you.

Take heed:  Proverbs 16:5—
The LORD detests all the proud of heart.  Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

Hear me now, men:  Are you mightier than Saul, that you can ignore this warning?

Yes, Saul, who would become the first king of Israel.  He was a mighty warrior, kingly in bearing, impressive in every way.  He stood a full head taller than the tallest men of Israel; he was without equal.  He came from a famous clan, hailed for its military prowess.  The circumstance of his ascension was a mighty act of subjugation:  he united the tribes of Israel, led them personally against the Ammonites, and claimed a great victory.  For this he was hailed and confirmed as king.  The beginning of his reign is spectacular—he is a mighty man, a powerful leader, full of the Holy Spirit, acclaimed by the prophet Samuel and celebrated by all the people.

But this does not last.  By the end of his life, Saul is rejected by the Holy Spirit, abandoned and denounced by Samuel.  Where once he was a mighty warrior, at his end he is routed by the Philistines and separated from his men on the battlefield, at which point he succumbs to a failed suicide attempt out of cowardice and fear.  The last night of his reign as king he consulted a witch.  He was widely discredited, known as a man of anger, jealousy and frustration.  His main rival humiliated him time and time again.  Victory on the battlefield eluded him unless David was with him.  His attempts to harness the entire power of his kingdom to hunt down a small band of men were both futile.  His firstborn was more loyal to his rival than to him.  He dies a man rejected by God, foolish, weak, and alone.  With him his line dies too, and the kingdom passes to another.

Why?  Why does this happen?  Why does Saul fail when at first he burned so bright?  We can see several patterns in his life.  He is fearful and passivity at critical junctures, such as when his army stands at an impasse with the Phillistines and daily endures the taunts of Goliath.  Other times he is overly concerned with maintaining appearances, like when he begs Samuel to perform the sham of honoring him before the people, despite the rejection that Samuel has just pronounced.  He shows a profaneness with the things of God, like early in his reign when out of fear he fails to wait for Samuel to perform the sacrifice, or when he disobeys God by keeping the best of the animals alive when God had instructed him to kill them all.

What we see is a man who on the outside seemed powerful, strong, and confident, but who on the inside was full of fear, pride, and vanity.  The reality of the inner man eventually overcame the brave warrior, and Saul ended his days in disgrace.

Indeed.  Are you mightier than Saul?

Or are you closer in your walk with Christ than Judas Iscariot?

Judas was elected as one of the 12, Jesus’ closest companions and disciples.  He was commissioned to go out into Israel working miracles and calling the people to repentance.  He was discipled by Christ Himself for three years, during which time he lived in closest fellowship daily with the very people who would impact the entire world for Christ.  He was even trusted and respected enough among them to be given the formal responsibility of handling the disciples’ finances.
Yet by the end he was overcome by darkness in his heart.  He became a traitor, a liar and a schemer.  Most likely he feared men and loved their good opinion.  But above all he became greedy, a lover of money.  When he approached the Pharisees about betraying Jesus, he asked “What will you give me?”  They did not offer him status, nor did they offer him accolades or privilege; instead, they immediately knew exactly what he wanted:  money.  And money he received.
Meanwhile, he lied to the Disciples, hid his sinfulness and scheming from them, such that as he left from the Last Supper to actually betray Jesus, the other Disciples thought he was going to get something for the feast or to give something to the poor.  They had no idea what was truly in his heart.
And you know the end of the story.  He betrays Christ, hands him over to the Pharisees, and is overcome with shame.  He ultimately rejects the very money he once coveted, at which point he is belittled and dismissed by the very Pharisees he sought to help.  He is lost and alone in his shame and remorse, and ultimately he commits suicide.

In both of these men, I want to point out that their sinfulness did not overcome them quickly.  Both of them started well, with respect among their peers, but neither of them confronted the sinfulness in their hearts, nor did they recognize the weakness that sin produced in them.  Despite the strength that their outward gifts suggested, the weakness that was inside ultimately overcame them.

Men, I call you to sober humility, the second attitude we mentioned last week, and I plead with you:  avoid their fate.
Now, before I give you practicals about how to do this, I want to equip you to expose the depths of sin’s impact in your own life.


I’ve mentioned this idea of the weakness that sin brings into our lives.  With suppression and parody man, we had two examples of what it looks like to outright reject God’s design for masculinity.  But what does it look like to live with a weakened or corrupt idea of masculinity?  Where does it come from, how does it manifest?

The issue at hand is the woundedness that we all experience.  Woundedness in this context can be defined as sin you have committed or sin committed against you that has perverted your understanding of what it means to be a man.  No one is free from this, though there are many types of wounds.  And the thing to know is that just as with Saul and Judas, these wounds, this inner brokenness, cannot stay hidden forever.  If they are not exposed and confronted, they will one day overtake you.

So let’s expose them:

The Wounds:
1. Distorted view of man from absent or abusive father
This can be either physically or emotionally, and this is extremely common.  Think about it:  if anyone is going to model for you what it means to be a man it should be your father.  His actions or lack thereof will silently define how you understand what it means to be a man.  Beyond this, it is our fathers who affirm us as men; they are the ones that welcome us out of boyhood and initiate us to manhood.  If they don’t fill that role, who will?
2. Overbearing/Controlling mother
--The emotionally manipulative mother often works hand in hand with the absent father. This can keep a man in a perpetually emotionally constrained state, a state of perpetual childhood in other words.
3. Rejection by peers
--Rejected not just by certain people, but as a male. Common for unathletic boys.
4. Sexualization wound
--This is increasingly common as pornography has become widely available. A significant number of people our age, including, I imagine, a good portion of us in this room were exposed to porn in middle school or younger. This is a gap even between us and men in their early 30’s. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says that sexual sin is against our body and “wages war against our soul.” Significant soul damage is done here.  Other forms of sexualization include sexual abuse, early sexual activity, and homosexuality.

And men, I regret to inform you, this is not an exhaustive list:  there are other ways that we have been harmed or wounded, and other ways we have been sinned against and are still sinning.  In order to unearth them, you must be constantly vigilant, and you must avail yourself of honesty and humility.  Basically, make Psalm 139:23-24 your prayer:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
And as you invite the Spirit to investigate your heart, you must ask:

1. How has my view of manhood been distorted? Remember:  This is a lifelong process and it involves the careful application of the Word.
2. What wounds have I received? How have I been wronged?

Men, it is God alone who can redeem us from our brokenness, and it is to Him I commend all of you.

Let me be specific:  the way we fight against this inner brokenness is to Walk in the Light.
But what does that even mean?  Check out Ephesians 4:22-24—

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitudes of your mind; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Men, from this passage we will draw a number of practical ways to walk in the light, but I must begin by reminding you that fighting our woundedness and walking in the light starts with God.  We point to Him and rely on Him.  The third attitude we mentioned last week is to have a thirst for God!  Also, don’t forget that both knowledge of self and knowledge of God are revealed knowledge:  we rely wholly on God not only to provide a proper and healthy understanding of masculinity, we also rely on Him to expose sin in our lives, just like we looked at in Psalm 139.  With this, don’t forget that He is the only One who sanctifies us, who puts us through this ongoing refining process to make us like Him in righteousness and holiness.  Remember the words of Philippians 1:6--that God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ; never, ever let your pride fool you into thinking you must rely on your own power to accomplish this work.  It is critically important that as we look at these practical applications that we do not forget our reliance on God.

Now, in this passage, we see this process. First, to put off the old, perverted self, which is being corrupted.  Here this word “corrupted” means being slowly eaten away and weakened from the inside. You see, if we do not put this self off, no matter what we put on ourselves, there will be an internal source of corruption that will eventually overwhelm us. The inner man must be confronted.

Second, we are to be renewed in our mind. This is the process of transforming our minds through the Holy Spirit working through his word. As we understand ourselves and God through the lens of Scripture, our minds are made new, and we are equipped for this putting off and putting on. Finally, we are to actively walk in the new revealed ways, to put on the new man, to conform ourselves to the vision of manhood presented in the Scriptures.

Men of the Beach, the call is clear:  to walk in the light we must be vigilant and wait on the Lord as He chooses to reveal to us the darkness of our hearts.  When He does so, we must not shrink back and ignore the issue.  Rather we must enter into our woundedness and in humility recognize and acknowledge the dangers of our sin.  We must confront the distortions that we have absorbed, and we must reconcile the conflicts between what we receive from our environment, our family, our culture, and even our churches, and what is true.

So, some applications:

1.  Be vigilant:  Do not forget the warning:   There is weakness in your heart, as a man. You are not strong. Do you think that those men, Saul and Judas, and all the thousands of Christian men who have been overcome by the sin that lay in their heart, do you think all of them willfully ignored their sin? No, most likely in their pride they did not realize it was there. They imagined themselves beyond falling.

Judas travelled with Jesus for 3 years before his greed and pride overcame him and he fell. Saul reigned for 42 years before his sin ultimately wrought his end. Sin will withdraw from you, lie dormant, pretend that it is absent, while all the time it waits for you to forget, to let down your guard.

2. Live in Community:  There is a God-ordained way for us as men to deal with our weakness, and to deal with it together. This is a way that you will never outgrow, that you will never move past your need for. This way is the depth and power of mutual encouragement, and this too is how men walk in the light.

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

All our weaknesses, all our flaws, all our problems and issues, all of them must be worked out in the light, not by us alone, not by our own strength, but on the mutual strengthening that we have only in community with others.  And let me reiterate:  following God’s command to work these things out in community is an expression of trusting and relying on Him to save you from your woundedness.

3. Start now and do it till the day you die:  Living in community this way is not for today, not for tomorrow, not for college, not for our youth, but for all the days of our life. As long as we are susceptible to sin, we need men looking into our lives, examining it, and watching over us. And we need to do the same to others.

Some of us are doing this. Others have done this in the past. Others have never done it.

4. Don’t Hide:  Sin has power when it is hidden. The hardest time to share is the first time. We have to permit each other access. They have to see us. What front are you putting up to your brothers? How are you obscuring yourself, hiding what is shameful?

If you get nothing more from this message than this one thought, I will be happy:

You must, throughout your entire life, allow men to see your life, to rebuke you, and you must do the same for them.

5. Let Nothing Stop You.  Here are a few obstacles that you must avoid:

A) The cursed passivity of men. Men are passive and can live side-by-side with each other without ever knowing each other. You must be the initiator. Don’t wait for others!

B) Fear of rejection, shame. This is understandable, but a lie. In our attempts to hide our shame, we achieve the opposite. Just as with Saul and Judas, their hidden sin eventually overtook them, and the very shame they sought to hide became clear to everyone.

C) Perceived absence of men to share with. Moving to a new area, a new church—any transition, really. Can you commit yourselves to this in the long term?

You will only perceive this as urgent so far as you are aware of your sin and weakness. James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  Therefore men, humble yourself, in your self-conception.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Foundations: Men of the Beach Week 1

This month at Long Beach we're doing a thing called Men of the Beach where a group of 25 or so guys are examining Biblical Masculinity for the month of March. As part of that, each week we have hour long talks at 6 AM on Thursdays. I'll be posting the notes from the various talks. It's at this time that I feel I need to acknowledge how much of a debt we owe to Steven Crawford for this whole program. This first week especially, but for all the talks overall, we are heavily indebted to him and the notes that he left from last time (which all we really had to do was tweak them a tiny bit).

And now, without further ado... Biblical Foundations for Masculinity:

I. Introduction

What is a man?

**Let’s start with the verse we put on the cards we handed out at Navs: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

A short verse that seems fairly straightforward...but what does it actually mean? Even looking only at the instruction to “be men of courage”....what does that mean? What is Paul saying? What does it mean to be a man? Where do we look to for our “template”?**

A good place to begin is to draw a distinction between one half of our population and the other half.  Elisabeth Eliot has a quote that will help us in this: “Men are men. They are not women. Women are women. They are not men.”

This simple-sounding quote is quite profound. Men are men. What this means is that they have certain innate characteristics that cannot be changed or altered no matter what culture they live in, no matter what environment they were raised in, no matter what education was given them. You are all men, a simple fact of creation. When God made you, he made you as a man and not as a woman. This fact has real meaning/significance.

However, just because we were made in a certain way does not mean that we understand ourselves. John Calvin says that there are two types of knowledge: knowledge of self and knowledge of God. It is important to remember that both types of knowledge are revealed knowledge, given to us in Scripture. Just as there are certain types of things that we can know about God from observing the creation (Romans 1:19-23), there are certain types of things that we can know about ourselves from self-observation. But even these things can be denied or suppressed, perverted or misused.

We also live in unique times. Now is one of the great times of gender confusion, self-misunderstanding, and the widespread suppression of the innate differences between the sexes. In academia, you can be fired for even suggesting that there might be differences between the sexes beyond the physical plumbing. This message has trickled into every area of thinking, from the church outward.

In the church, the 20th century was a great time of retreat from the uniqueness of each gender. The charismatic movement, with its emphasis on personal experience of the Holy Spirit, led the way with many charismatic women ministers leading large ministries and congregations. Add into this mix, widespread acceptability of homosexuality, a powerful unifiying popular culture, and you have a potent brew of confusion.

It is important to note that the things that are happening in our culture are not new. Homosexuality was common and unremarkable in Ancient Greece. The denial of gender differences has happened many times before. But the rise of science has diminished the effect of the natural greater strength of men. Few men in the west labor in a field in which women are physically incapable of performing. The effect of this has been to call into question whether the differences between men and women does go beyond the merely physical. The feminist movement of the 20th century argued that the physical superiority of men had for centuries kept women in a subordinate position so that men could exploit them. There is a great deal of truth to this.

At any rate, in order to understand man, we must return to the revealed truth of Scripture to guide us. It is God who made man, and therefore he alone is to be trusted to instruct us on what a man is.

You have to understand a few things:

1. Your view of man has been perverted by the culture. This has strongly affected, and will continue to affect the way you view yourself, the way you interact with other men, and the way you interact with women. KNOW THIS!!!!

2. The church has been remiss in addressing this deeply. In this, they have been complicit in the acculturation of our understanding of men. The result is the absence of strong male leaders in the church.

3. You need to filter not only your thinking, but also your emotions through the Scriptures, testing them and discarding what does not align.

4. The thing that lies in back of all this is our sin, our deliberate rebellion against God.

What is the purpose of Men of the Beach?

1. To give a compelling vision of Biblical Manhood.

2. To encourage the repentance and faith that allows us to restore ourselves to this vision.

3. To give you the tools you need to grow in manhood throughout the rest of your life.

Men of the Beach is a beginning. The restoration of your manhood will continue for the rest of your life and remain incomplete until the day when your flesh is remade, unstained by sin. Remember this: When you are remade, when you are raised from the dead and appear before God, it will be as a man, not as a woman!

**I’d like to make a note at this point and acknowledge that there are those of us in this room who were here two years ago for the first Men of the Beach here at Long Beach and there are those of us who weren’t. Let me repeat that Men of the Beach is a BEGINNING! This month will not transform us into perfect men! Rather, it will help to instill, either for the first time or as a re-emphasis/reminder, Biblical understanding and practices into our hearts. **

Appropriate attitude for entering into these things:

1. Holy self-doubt

You are much more wicked and rebellious than you can yet imagine. Your heart, your emotions, your patterns of thinking, all are stained by sin and will lead you astray if you trust them.

2. Humility

We must come into the word to be instructed, to be taught. Our cry to the Word of God must be “Change me! Transform me! Teach me!”

3. Hunger for God

At the bottom of all this is the desire to know God. And to come before him, we must come as we were created. We must come as men.

The Biblical foundation:

Genesis 2, Obs.

1. Man is made first, from the dust of the ground.

2. God breathes into man.

3. Man is given a task to do. This is what man was made for. He is not made to simply relax in the garden, but for a specific task. God gives him work to do.

4. God commits a command to man. This shows that man was made to live in submission and obedience to God. He works before God as his image in the world. As his image in the world, he rules over all creation.

5. Woman is made from man because man alone is an incomplete image of God. Alone, he does not reflect the fullness of God. Women completes man because their relationship is a mirror of the Trinitarian relationship.

6. Man looks at woman and names her. He identifies in her a complement.
--J.I. Packer: “Two sexes perceiving the other as having in it that which completes what each individual, male or female, is at present.
-Sexuality—men and women are different and complementary and thus desire each other.

7. When they are placed in relationship, a certain pattern of interaction comes inevitably from this. Woman is the helper, men takes her on as his responsibility to protect and care for her—this is what happens when he says “she is flesh of my flesh.” Paul refers to this in Eph. “love your wives as yourselves.”

Let’s sketch out the full picture:

A man is a creature designed for work in the context of submission/obedience to God. When he works in submission to God, he is fully satisfied.

He is presented with a perfect complement in which his role in the interaction is to lead and protect.

Here we bring out the full picture of what it means to be a man:

Obedience/Submission to God
Responsibility in work and towards woman

This is what a man is designed for. To be the initiator towards woman. To be responsible for work and woman. To submit to God and obey him in all things. This is a man.

Summary of Chapter 2, this is what it means to be a man:

Submission and obedience to God
Responsibility toward work and woman

What happened?

Genesis 3, Observations from the fall

1) Adam was with her. God gave Adam responsibility for the garden and the woman, and he allows both to come under attack. He rejects his design as protector. His role requires action, and he chooses inaction. He chooses to be passive.

2) He ate the fruit. Make no mistake, Adam sinned as well. The rejection of his responsibility culminated in his direct disobedience of God’s command.

-- 1Timothy 2:14 says that Adam was not the one deceived.

3) He is ashamed. He hides from God because he was naked and afraid that God would see him in his nakedness. He doesn’t want God to know what he has done. Guilt, shame, self-condemnation.

4) In his passivity, he rebels against God. He openly states that he will not do what God has created him to do. There is a sin of commission when he eats the fruit, but long before that there is the sin of omission.

Observations from the curse

1) To dust you will return. God promised that if they ate from the tree they would die, and God is true to his word.

2) He was created to take care of the earth, and now the earth is cursed. He will eat of it only through painful toil, it will fight him, and he will work until he dies. He can find no life or satisfaction in his job.

3) There is a pattern here. He is created for a task, and that task does not change. It is cursed.

Summary: Man’s design is to be responsible for the woman and the garden. He sins by rejecting that responsibility. His design does not change. He is still responsible for the woman and the garden. But now his design is cursed. He cannot find satisfaction in his design. He toils in it until he dies.

Bringing it home:

1) Adam’s story is our story. As men, we were designed for these things:

Submission and obedience to God
Responsibility toward work and woman

2) We cannot change our design. This is who God designed us to be, and in our natural state, it is still who we are. Think of the things that bring you pleasure. Think of the joy you feel at doing a task and doing well. The satisfaction you feel after a hard days labor. The excitement of pursuing a woman, trying to win her heart. These things are natural to men because they are a part of our design.

3) The problem is that we disfigure our design through our passivity and sin. Isaiah 53 describes us as sheep who have gone astray, turning to our own ways. When we turn to sin, we turn from God in hatred. You have to believe this about yourself.

We reject our design in two ways:

i. We deny and suppress our design
ii. We embrace a parody version of our design

This is not a black and white scale. Both of these things are present in all of us, although we do tend to lean toward one or the other. Know that we will never find satisfaction in either of these extremes.


Parody man:

Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) from fight club. The main character, played by Edward Norton, epitomizes Durden as the ideal man. Durden is ripped, he is funny, he is great with women, fights well. People respect him, he does what he wants and he lives free from the control of authority.

Parody man seeks satisfaction in his work. This is the lawyer who works 70 hours a week to be the best. They want to be the best at what they do. Society and pop culture epitomize them.

Like James Bond. He is always competent, always has a plan, always has a girl. He answers to know one, and he gets what he wants when he wants. He has to be the best at everything he does because…

Parody man is haunted by a simple question: Am I enough?

It haunts him, drives him crazy. He feels that he is not enough and so he hides behind his accomplishments. This is Adam, afraid because he was naked, so he hides. This question haunts us all. Am I enough?

He never finds satisfaction in his work, he never feels like he is enough, and so he hides. He is afraid of not being man, of disappointing, of being ridiculed, of being disrespected.


The other side of this coin is suppression. This is the man who denies his ambitions, who closes the door completely to the responsibility of men.

Jim Halpert from the office. It’s not that he doesn’t work. It’s that he is passive. He has no ambition. In his relationship with Pam, he lacks initiative. He is quiet, and doesn’t stand up for what he knows is right.

Other more comical examples include Homer Simpson, Peter Griffen. They are incompetent, lazy, and it is obvious that their wives are in control, not them. We laugh, society applauds, but what does it tell us about men? Is this what manhood has become?

It is important to note that homosexuality has its roots in the suppression of our design. This is not necessarily a conscious decision. Often it has its stems from some deep hurt that a man experienced as a child, usually from his father. Someone who does not understand his role as a man, begins to deny his manhood because he does not view it as a part of himself.

Two extremes. Suppression and parody man. Sadly, we see these played out all too often in our culture. Suppression of our design and rejection of our responsibility leads to addictions such as pornography, alcoholism or drugs. Parody man, thinking that women will fulfill him, view them as objects and abuse them.

Where does this leave us?

Man is defined by these three things:

Submission and obedience to God
Responsibility toward work and woman

All three of these are fatally weakened by sin. As fallen men, we follow the pattern of Adam, we reject our design, and embrace passivity. We need to be aware of these things. We need to know the Word of God, and what it says about our design as men. We need to realize our tendency to suppress this design or embrace the parody. We need to be honest with ourselves. Scripture warns us of the dangers of self flattery:

Psalm 36:2 For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.

We need each other. We need to repent. We need humility. We need to wipe the slate clean and start over. What does it mean to be a man? What does the Word tell us? Will we listen?