Monday, June 30, 2014

Manly Monday

If you pay attention at all to the fitness industry or are just a general strength enthusiast, then last week was a big week. Am I talking about the World Cup? Wait, what is that picture below mean any ways? 

No, soccer is not really my thing. Are there strong soccer athletes? I guess so. The guys with beards have some redeeming qualities. But I am talking about strength. Like powerlifting, powerbuilding, or strongman strength. 

Photo courtesy of Kareemadel

Now we are talking. So back to last week in the strength world. Well, last week two great resources became availabe, one free and one not so free, but well worth the price. Last week, Dave Tate released his deadlift manual, over 80 pages of phenomenal content, for free. This is the kind of experienced, master level instruction, guaranteed to raise your Testosterone level (if you deadlift-yeah it's science) kind of content that most fitness experts charge lots of money for. And Dave Tate over at is giving it away for free. Take advantage of it. Your hamstrings will thank you (and your back, traps, core, yoke, etc.). 

In the not so free instance, but equally, if not more valuable (sorry Dave); Josh Bryant released what some would say is his magnum opus, Built to the Hilt. While Josh has released other great manuals, this is probably one of the most complete and currernt books dealing with all tthings strength. 

If you want to get bigger and stronger (and why wouldn't you), then I say go with the experts. Go big or go home. Check out these great resources and go get after it.

Disclaimer: I definitely don't get anything from referencing these people or products. I just get excited about strength stuff and want you to know about the best stuff out there. Enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Week in Review

Tweet of the week: Russell Moore takes this week's tweet of the week. A funny reminder that kids soak up more than we realize.

1. N.D. Wilson makes a compelling call for modern day prophets. I would add my voice to his call. We need Christians who stand on the bedrock of biblical authority and not the sinking sands of cultural relativity.

2. Thanks to my seminary friend Steven Lee for the link on this one. Sound words of wisdom on how to have a blessed marriage. Yep, still working on these. 

3. Continue to pray for Meriam Ibrahim. She and her family continue to be persecuted in Sudan. In the course of a little over a month, she was arrested, freed, and then re-arrested again. Christian Post provides a helpful timeline with updates.

4. In related news, the New York Times surprised this week by highlighting the ongoing story of Josef, an Afghani believer on the run from his Muslim family. This is a compelling piece and is another good reminder to pray for persecuted Christians around the world.

5. This wasn't really from the past week, but it's close enough and too much convicting goodness to pass up. Check out Clint Archer's prognosis for a healthy church.

6. Finally, this week I saw the link to this interview with Kevin DeYoung. Prophetic words for our time, "We don’t have to make the Bible come alive. We need living ears to hear." In a time when people clamor to hear the latest expert or tune in to their own subjective/experiential impressions, DeYoung's newest book is a vital read. Read his interview. Then go buy and read his book. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Resolution 9

Resolution Nine: Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

While Jonathan Edwards was still a young man, he penned a series of "resolutions" for his life. These resolutions would shape the trajectory of his coming years and the godly character he became known for. While Edwards grew frustrated at times with his failure to keep his resolutions, they demonstrated the fervency with which he lived his Christian life. 

Recently, I was preparing to preach a sermon on John the Baptist's death in Mark 6:14-29. I came across by Edwards' ninth resolution and was struck by it again. Listen to this, "Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death." 

Society today would say that is a morbid statement. But Edwards did not focus on death for the sake of death itself. His goal in meditating on his demise was to spur himself on to greater holiness and Christ-likeness. 

Edwards meditated on his own demise to spur himself on to greater holiness and Christ-likeness.

Each Thursday, I will be posting a Resolution 9 segment on the blog. My goal is to offer the sober reminder that death is coming for all men and that all men of God should look to their future demise with the resolve to honor Christ today. 

I close with Paul's words. Words that fit Resolution 9. 

"For me, living is Christ  and dying is gain."

"Just one thing: Live your life  in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."

Philippians 1:21, 27

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dying for Jesus

On May 31, 2014, Bowe Bergdahl was released to US forces by a Taliban affiliate. He had been a "prisoner" for five years. He was instantly hailed a hero by Susan Rice, the acting National Security Advisor to the President. However, a group of fellow soldiers from Bergdahl's Army company saw things differently. To them, Bergdahl wasn't a hero, he was a traitor. 

The jury is still out on Bergdahl's guilt (he'll likely face a court-martial in the near future). But what frustrates his former fellow soldiers the most is why he would betray them, when in their words "we would have died for him." On the front lines of battle, all that mattered to these soldiers was knowing that they were loyal to one another, and would be willing to give their lives for one another if needed. It's a matter of brotherhood and loyalty. A willingness to pay the ultimate price.

Many Christian men today would say that they love Jesus. They express a certain amount of loyalty to the Christian faith. But would most men who profess Christ today, especially in the West, be willing to die for Jesus? As Bergdahl illustrates, making a profession and actually following through don't always go hand in hand. How can a man prepare and know that he would be ready to lay down his life for the Savior? 

John the Baptizer was a man prepared to die for Jesus. He was ready to pay that ultimate price. In Mark 6:14-29, he demonstrates that you will only be ready to die for Jesus in the future if you live for him and love him in the present. 

 You'll only be ready to die for Jesus in the future if you live for him in the present.

John lived for Jesus exclusively. The gospel of Mark and specifically chapter 6:14-29 show three ways John did this. John prioritized Jesus, preached Jesus, and practiced a life pleasing to Jesus. 

From his introduction in Mark 1:4 and following, John is focused on preparing the way for Jesus. At the height of his fame John pointed away from himself and toward Jesus. "He was preaching: “Someone more powerful  than I will come after me.  I am not worthy  to stoop down and untie the strap of His sandals" (Mark 1:7). Jesus would do the greater spiritual work (Mark 1:8) and John made it clear to his followers that all that mattered was advancing Jesus and making Him famous (John 3:30). Most people (men included) love to talk about themselves. Not John. Jesus was the priority of John's life. 

John also lived for Jesus in the present by preaching Jesus Christ. John gave up the comforts of ordinary life (Mark 1:6) so that he could go out and preach the gospel (1:4), the good news about Jesus. But he didn't just preach to the adoring masses. He remained faithful to preach even in the face of certain death.

John was faithful to preach even in the face of certain death.

Mark 6 indicates that John had the ability to regularly speak with Herod Antipas, the tetrarch (governor) of Galilee. Herod had sinned against God and against the Jewish law of his time by taking and marrying the wife of his half-brother (Mark 6:17). John boldly confronted Herod on this sin, and the text indicates this confrontation may have happened more than once. John preached and things happened. His words for Herod had consequences. 

Herod's illegitimate wife, Herodias, hated John for his righteous words . She hated him so much that she wanted him dead (Mark 6:19). But Herod had a grudging respect for John. Herod liked what John had to say, but he was conflicted. He wasn't willing to repent. You could say he was a bit confused. So confused that he arrested and held John, but protected him from Herodias. 

So while Herodias sat plotting his death in the background, John continued speaking the truth to Herod. The text indicates John was under arrest for some time (Mark 6:18, 20). With Jesus as the center of his life, it's not too much of a stretch to think that John was preaching Jesus to Herod. If he was willing to call out Herod to his face, he had probably told him about Jesus too. Jesus was the priority in John's life and John preached Jesus even in the face of death. 

But how did John gain the ear of a governor? Herod didn't just respect John for his speaking abilities. Herod respected him because John practiced a life pleasing to Jesus.

John practiced a life pleasing to Jesus.

 John was a righteous and holy man and Herod saw this (Mark 6:20). His holiness stuck. It was noticeable. And his holy life had an impact. John was so consistently righteous in his everyday life, that it took him places. Not into the limelight of stardom that so many seek today. Instead, his holy life gained him the ear of a spiritually bankrupt governor; a governor who at the height of worldly success was humbled by a righteous nobody like John. 

John was ready to die for Jesus because he had lived his entire life for the Christ. He prioritized Jesus, he preached Jesus and and he practiced a holy life for Jesus. Can the same be said for you? My prayer is that this tribute to John would be true of me as well. 

     "I assure you: Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." - Matthew 11:11, HCSB.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

gibor hayil, redux

I started this blog over five years ago now. My desire at the time was to post different things relating to manliness. Manliness from a biblical perspective. But as you can tell, not much happened in the way of blogging. Life got in the way.

You see, five years ago I was in the middle of seminary. We had just had our first child (of three) and I was working at Mercury Insurance as a claims adjuster. Life was busy to say the least. I discovered that writing a blog wasn't the biggest priority in my life at that time. The duties of manhood required other things take priority.

But seminary is done now. My family gets more and better attention now and I'm finally beginning to live my dream of being a pastor. God has blessed me richly. So now, I'm ready to return to blogging. A lot has happened over the last five years. God has done a lot of work in this sinners heart. Jesus has become more dear to me and I hope I can say I've become more like Him.

So that is why I want to write about being gibor hayil. If you've wondered what those different looking letters are at the top of my screen, that's Hebrew. Transliterated, it says gibor hayil; a man of valor (more on that to come). My desire five years ago holds true today. I want to be a man of valor, a man of God who has the courage and fortitude to live a life honoring to God before my family, my church, and the world.

In light of this desire, most of my posts will be slanted toward men. But I hope that what I write will be so rooted in God's word that anyone can draw encouragement and edification from it. To God be the glory!