Category Archives: Commentary

If You Are a Christian, Please Stop Doing These 5 Things

If You Are a Christian, Please Stop Doing These 5 Things

If you’re a Christian, please stop doing these 5 things.

1. Telling people “I’ll pray for you” without actually praying for them.

Guilty as charged. I can’t think of anybody who hasn’t done this at one time or another. And while most of us don’t actually mean to forget, it’s probably best that we just set aside time on the spot to pray for people. Are we really so busy that we can’t stop and pray for someone’s needs? We need to make sure we are fulfilling our duties as Christians and actually follow through with them. One prayer could be the tipping point to someone coming to know the love of God. Don’t miss the opportunity to speak life into someone because you don’t think you have time.

2. Attending Church on Sunday, but ignoring God’s voice the rest of the week.

Ouch! This one stings a little. Many of us get in the habit of making God just another addition to our weekly check-list, but the reality is that our entire lives should revolve around him. God deserves #1 priority in each of our lives, and to treat him any differently would go against the foundations of the Christian faith. Evaluate the way you are spending your time, money and energy. If you want to see a change in your life then you need to begin giving God the place of honor he deserves. Stop treating God like the last kid picked in doge-ball.

3. Praying for God’s provision when we have yet to use what he has already provided.

Way too many of us tend to treat God like a personal genie. Prayer was given to us as an open line of communication between us and God, but the harsh reality is that way too many of try to use it like a drive-thru at a fast-food restaurant. You don’t get to pick and choose the way God provides, but you do get the opportunity to trust his plan and have faith in his promises. I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve ignored God’s provision because it wasn’t wrapped the way I intended it to be. Every time we purposely ignore God’s provision, we are indirectly telling him, “I don’t trust your plan.”

4. Trying to be so relevant that we actually hurt the message of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with trying to be relevant, but we need to understand that there is a BOLD line between being trendy, and then completely disfiguring the message of Jesus. We can’t expect to bring any change to the world when we don’t look any different from it. I’m a firm believer that Jesus came to reclaim culture and not abolish it, but this doesn’t mean we need to water down His message so that it’s easier to swallow.

5. Telling people that “God will never give you anything you can’t handle.”

Why should we stop saying this? Because it’s a lie. … We’ve completely twisted 1 Corinthians 10:13, as this verse is pointing toward temptation, and even then it states God will be there if things get too tough. The reality is that God just might give us things we can’t handle so that we will gaze toward him for the extra help. Mind blowing right? Realize that not everything is going to go the way you plan, think or hope. Sometimes stuff is going to hit the fan, and in order for you to get through it, you are going to NEED to rely on God’s comfort, peace and understanding. We weren’t meant to do life alone.

7 Common Reasons Churches Have a Dramatic Decline in Attendance

“Where did everyone go?”

A business executive asked that question when she returned to her church after some extended international travels. In the four weeks she was out, the attendance at the church had declined from nearly 600 to under 400. The attendance had plummeted in that short time by 35 percent!

To be clear, such rapid declines are aberrations. Most declining churches go through incremental, not dramatic, reductions.

We consider a church to be in dramatic decline when the average worship attendance drops by 20 percent or more in three months or less. What causes such unusual declines? Here are seven common reasons:

A scandal in the church. The two most common are sexual and financial scandals. Either of those can cause immediate erosion of trust and send members out the door.

Sudden departure of a pastor or staff person. I am familiar with a church where the average attendance dropped from 1,250 to 850 in just a few weeks when a malevolent power group in the church forced the pastor out. The congregation never heard a reasonable reason for the departure because there was none. The church has not recovered.

Closure or decline of a major employer. Some communities are highly dependent on one or a few employers. When any one of those employers close, people who are members of churches in the community will often depart rather quickly. I saw this reality transpire many times during the great recession and when several military bases closed.

The church changes its position on a major biblical/moral issue. When a church makes a major doctrinal shift, many members often exit quickly. That exit is often exacerbated if the doctrinal change is related to a moral issue.

A power group continues to wreak havoc in a church. The story is not uncommon. The same power group opposes any change again and again. Pastoral tenure declines due to the leaders’ frustration with this group. At some point a large group in the church declares “enough” and departs en masse.

Another church moves close by. The new church or newly located church offers ministries and programs the affected church does not have. Often these ministries are particularly appealing to families who still have children at home. Those families move to the new church to try to keep their children interested and excited about church life.

A highly contentious business meeting. These churches have typically experienced conflict for some time. The conflict comes to a boiling point in a business meeting. Large numbers leave due to anger, weariness or both.

Admittedly, this level of decline is not common, but I am seeing it more frequently. It is my prayer that these seven reasons can also serve as seven warning signs.

It is incredibly difficult for any church to recover fully from such a massive exodus.

This article originally appeared here.

The Missing Elements of Modern Worship – Tim Challies

What's Missing in Modern Worship?

I once paid a visit to one of the most mega of America’s megachurches. It’s a church whose pastor is well-known, a church known for its innovation, a church held up as a model for modern evangelicalism. I went in with as open a mind as I could muster. I left perplexed. I was perplexed not by what was said or done in the service as much as what was left unsaid and undone.

Since that visit I’ve had the opportunity to attend many more churches and, as often as not, they have been similar, missing a lot of the elements that used to be hallmarks of Christian worship. Here are some of the missing elements of modern worship.

That church I visited all those years ago was the first I had ever attended that was almost completely devoid of prayer. The only prayer in the entire service was a prayer of response following the sermon. “With every head bowed and every eye closed, pray these words with me…” There were no prayers of confession, of intercession, of thanksgiving. There was no pastoral prayer to bring the cares of the congregation before the Lord. This is a pattern I have seen again and again in modern worship services, with prayer becoming rare and minimal instead of common and prominent. Conspicuous by their absence are any prayers longer than 30 seconds or a minute in length.

Scripture Reading
Another element that has gone missing in modern worship is the scripture reading. There was a time when most services included a couple of lengthy readings, often one from the Old Testament and one from the New. But then it was trimmed to one and then the reading disappeared altogether in favor of mentioning individual verses as they came up in the sermon. But what of Paul’s command to Timothy that he devote himself to the public reading of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13)? In too many churches this element has gone missing. In too many churches the Word of God is almost an afterthought.

If a worship service includes no prayer and no Bible reading, can we even recognize it as Christian worship?
Already we do well to pause and ask the question: If a worship service includes no prayer and no Bible reading, can we even recognize it as Christian worship?

Confession of Sin and Assurance of Pardon
Traditionally, Protestant worship services included a confession of sin and an assurance of pardon. Sometimes the congregation would confess their sins by reading a text or a liturgy or by silent prayer. Other times the pastor would confess the sins of the congregation on their behalf. It was a solemn moment. But then there would be the assurance of pardon, where the pastor would bring God’s own assurance that those who confess their sins are forgiven. Solemnity was replaced by joy. This pattern of confession and assurance naturally led to thankful worship and a desire to grow in holiness by hearing from God through his Word as it was read and preached. These elements came early and set up the rest of the service. Yet it is rare to encounter them today.

Expositional Preaching
When Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy he instructed him to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5). Christians have long understood that the best way to preach the word faithfully is to preach the word expositionally—to preach in such a way that the point of the sermon matches the point of the text. That is, the pastor needs to understand not just the wording of the passage, but the author’s intent in writing it. This leads to the most faithful interpretation and application. While there has been a great revival of expositional preaching in recent years, this element is still missing in so much of modern worship, replaced by topical sermons that wander from book to book, text to text, translation to translation. I am convinced that a congregation grows best when they are fed on a steady diet of expositional sermons.

Congregational Singing
The purpose of the band is to serve and facilitate, not perform and dominate. An element sadly lacking from so many churches today is singing that is truly congregational. Ironically, modern worship services focus on music more than ever before, but little of it is congregational. Congregational singing is more than a crowd singing along to a band. It is singing dominated by the voices of the people—all of the people. The purpose of the band is to serve and facilitate, not perform and dominate. You know you are experiencing congregational worship when the voices of the people rise higher than the instruments and the lead worshippers. Churches have turned away from hymnody, songs that at their best had deep truth set to simple but beautiful melodies. Instead, they have adopted modern worship which, at its worst, is shallow, repetitive, and set to difficult melodies. Not every song—not even every good and biblical song—is suitable for congregational worship. Wall-shaking, roof-lifting, band-driven worship is no substitute for the beauty of the human voice singing praise to God.

It’s not that every one of these elements has to be prominent every week (and it’s not like these are the only elements that have gone missing). There is a time and place for topical sermons. A confession of sin and assurance of pardon may not be necessary every week. There can be a time for special music that is not well-suited to congregational singing. Well and good. But there was a time when each of these elements was prominent in Christian worship. Where have they gone? Or, perhaps more importantly, why have they gone?

I am convinced that most of these elements have gone missing for pragmatic reasons—they do not accomplish something the church leaders wish to accomplish in their services. Instead of searching God’s Word to determine what elements should or must be present in a worship service, leaders are judging elements by whether or not they work (according to their own standard of what works). Yet each of these elements represents a significant loss because each in its own way expresses obedience to God and brings encouragement to his people.

Source: The Missing Elements of Modern Worship – Tim Challies

Why Homosexuality Is Not Like Other Sins •

Homosexuality is not the only sin mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

It’s not the only sin mentioned, but it is different from all the rest, at least right now.

At this moment in history, contrary to the other sins listed here, homosexuality is celebrated by our larger society with pioneering excitement. It’s seen as a good thing, as the new hallmark of progress.

To be sure, the masses increasingly make no bones about sin in general. Innumerable people are idolaters, not to mention those who are sexually immoral, or who commit adultery, or who steal and are greedy and get wasted and revile neighbors and swindle others.

It happens all the time. And each of these unrepentant sins are the same in the sense of God’s judgment.

They all deserve his wrath. And we’re constantly reminded that “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Concerning Popular Opinion

But as far as I know, none of those sins are applauded so aggressively by whole groups of people who advocate for their normalcy.

Sexual immorality is no longer the tip of the spear for the progressive push. Adultery is still frowned upon by many. Accusations of greed will still smear a candidate’s political campaign.

Thievery is still not openly embraced, and there are no official initiatives saying it’s OK to go steal things that don’t belong to you. There’s no such thing as a drunk agenda yet.

Most aren’t proud to choose a beverage over stability, and there aren’t any petitions that the government should abolish the driving restrictions of inebriated individuals. Reviling others still isn’t seen as the best way to win friends and influence people. Swindling, especially on a corporate level, usually gets someone thrown into jail. In fact, the infrastructure of the American economy depends upon, in some measure, our shared disdain for conniving scammers.

Perhaps excepting fornication, these sins are still seen in a pretty negative light.

But not homosexual practice, not by those who are now speaking loudest and holding positions of prominence.

According to the emerging consensus, homosexuality is different.

What to Be Against

As Christians, we believe with deepest sincerity that the embrace of homosexual practice, along with other sins, keeps people out of the kingdom of God.

And if our society celebrates it, we can’t both be caring and not say anything. Too much is at stake.

This means it is an oversimplification to say that Christians—or conservative evangelicals—are simply against homosexuality. We are against any sin that restrains people from everlasting joy in God, and homosexual practice just gets all the press because, at this cultural moment, it’s the main sin that is so freshly endorsed in our context by the powers that be.

Let’s hope that if there’s some new cultural agenda promoting thievery—one that says it’s now our right to take whatever we want from others by whatever means—that Christians will speak out against it.

The issue is sin. That’s what we’re against.

And that’s what should make our voice so unique when we speak into this debate.

Some would like to see this whole issue of homosexuality divided into two camps: those who celebrate it and those who hate it. Both of these groups exist in our society.

There are the growing numbers, under great societal pressure, who praise homosexuality. We might call them the left.

And there are people who hate homosexuality, with the most bigoted rationale and apart from any Christian concern. We might call them the right.

Those Glorious Words

The current debate is plagued by this binary lens. Those on the left try to lump everyone who disagrees with them into that right side. If you don’t support, you hate. Meanwhile, those on the right see compromise and spinelessness in anyone who doesn’t get red-faced and militant. If you don’t hate, you support.

But true followers of Christ will walk neither path. We have something to say that no one else is saying, or can say.

Distancing ourselves from both the left and the right, we don’t celebrate homosexual practice, we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin; and we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them enough to not just collapse under the societal pressure.

We speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, “That’s wrong,” and, “I love you.”

We’re not the left; we say, this is wrong. And we’re not the right; we say, you’re loved.

We speak good news, with those sweetest, deepest, most glorious words of the cross—the same words that God spoke to us—“You’re wrong, and you’re loved.”

God tells us we’re wrong, that the wages of sin is death, that unrepentant rebellion means judgment, that our rescue required the cursed death of his Son (Romans 3:23; John 3:36; Galatians 3:13).

And God tells us we’re loved, that even while we were sinners, Jesus died for us, that while we were unrighteous, Jesus suffered in our place, that though we were destined for wrath, Jesus welcomes us into glory (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:1–7).

You’re wrong and you’re loved—that’s the unique voice of the Christian. That’s what we say, speaking from our own experience.

As Tim Keller so well puts it, “We’re far worse than we ever imagined, and far more loved than we could ever dream.”

That’s our message in this debate, when society’s elites despise us, when pop songs vilify us, when no one else has the resources to say anything outside of two extremes, we have this incomparable opportunity to let the gospel shine, to reach out in grace: You’re wrong and you’re loved. We get to say this.

That’s why homosexuality is not like other sins.

Source: Why Homosexuality Is Not Like Other Sins •

How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently

When it comes to spiritual formation and discipleship, African American Christians are in it together.

Black believers are more likely to position their growth in Christ in the context of community and fellowship, while white Christians take a more individualized approach, according to a study released this week from Barna Research.

The survey found that twice as many black Christians as whites were currently being mentored or discipled by a fellow believer (38% vs. 19%). Over a quarter of black Christians also served as mentors themselves, compared to 17 percent of white Christians.

The prevalence of such relationships relates to traditional models of leadership and lineage in African American churches. In an interview with CT about his book Reviving the Black Church, pastor Thabiti Anyabwile described how “most of our pastors were in some kind of apprenticeship in preparation for the ministry. They would sit under another pastor or have a ‘spiritual father’ who would pour himself into them.”

Black Christians also preferred group-based discipleship to one-on-one (32% vs. 22%), while white Christians favored being discipled on their own (39% vs. 31%), according to Barna. They are four times more likely than white Christians to list study groups as “very important” to their spiritual development.

Barna Group

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, a mentoring coach and author of Mentor for Life, numbers among the churchgoing African Americans who see group mentoring as essential.

“In a mentoring small group, your learning is going to be enhanced because you’re not just hearing the philosophy of one person; rather you are drawing near to God by sharing in the diverse experiences of the group,” she wrote. “When we mentor people and intentionally make disciples in this way, we also create safe places for people to learn and grow, to love and be loved well.”

Barna researchers pointed out that fellowship was a particularly strong component of mentorship for African Americans. “There are plenty of similarities in how both groups define the primary goals of discipleship,” the report stated, “but black Christian leaders are more likely to say ‘deepening one’s faith through education and fellowship’ is a goal of discipleship (85% compared to 71%).”

The group mindset among African Americans also stems from church history and current racial tensions. Black churches and denominations formed when their members were excluded from white fellowship. Given that Martin Luther King Jr.’s observation on Sunday morning segregation mostly still holds true, believers continue to view these congregations as “a necessary place of refuge and resistance” in the aftermath of racially motivated violence and systemic injustice, CT columnist Christena Cleveland wrote.

About a third of black Christians and more than a quarter of white Christians say getting through tough times motivates them to pursue spiritual growth.


These realities add significance to fellowship found in churches and small groups. While white Christians are more likely to label their spiritual lives as “entirely private,” African Americans see their spiritual lives as intertwined with the social and political situations they face. Almost half of black Christians (46%) believe their spiritual lives impact society at large, compared to 27 percent of white Christians.

“There’s something powerful about being together. It reminds me of a Henri Nouwen quote about the ministry of presence that suggests we underestimate just what being together means,” said Cleveland, discussing a retreat held for Christian women of color last year. “Often we want to preach eloquent sermons or produce some sort of amazing artistic expression to touch people’s hearts, and that’s great … but a lot of it is laughing and knowing that we’re not alone.”

Source: How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently

Boo! A Madea Halloween

Ghosts? Goblins? Things that go bump in the night? They’re no match for a mad black woman.

That’s right—Madea’s back. And if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from the dozen or so movies she’s appeared in, she doesn’t scare easily.

Oh, sure, she fears the police—but what woman with so many outstanding warrants wouldn’t be a little wary of the po-po? She’s shown a certain reluctance to go to church—but maybe that’s prudent, considering the threat of errant lightning. But should a vampire try to stick his fangs in Madea’s ample neck, he’ll spend the next few months sipping hemoglobin through a straw. And she sure isn’t scared of any smart-mouthed teen.

Good thing.

That’s because Brian, Madea’s soft-spoken nephew, is raising just such a truculent teenager. Tiffany’s her name, and, at 17, she’s perfected the dismissive eye roll. She feels like she knows all the world’s secrets and is ready to make her own decisions. So what if her father doesn’t want her sneaking off to a nearby frat house for a wild Halloween party with her friends? If Tiffany wants to do it, Tiffany will see it done.

Brian, divorced now and raising two kids by himself, is at the end of his parental tether. He can’t stand guard on Halloween. He tries to get Tiffany to spend the evening at her mother’s house, but the teen balks at that idea. As a last resort, Brian phones Madea and asks her to make sure that Tiffany stays put. Madea agrees (once Brian offers to pay her) and brings her posse to help: Aunt Bam, who smokes more marijuana than Seth Rogen; Hattie, a shortish woman with a speech impediment; and her oafish brother, Joe.

But Tiffany—with her own reluctant friend, Aday, in tow—refuses to be cowed by this geriatric cartel. There’s a party to go to, after all, and go she will. So she decides to spin a story of how the family home’s ghost, Mr. Wilson, comes out to play every Halloween—always looking for new souls to add to his collection. There’s only one sure way to survive the evening, Tiffany says: to lock yourself in a bedroom and just stay put.

Bam and Hattie are inclined to believe Tiffany. Joe’s just too stoned to care. But Madea knows a thing or two about sneaky kids. When she opens up Tiffany’s bedroom door and finds the room empty, she’s not surprised, and she’s certainly not scared. The child went to the party, Madea knows. There’s nothing for it but to go to the frat bash herself.

And soon everyone learns that, to paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, there is nothing to fear … but Madea herself.

If you’re familiar with Tyler Perry’s Madea character, you know she’s no role model. But if folks listened to what she said more often (while ignoring nearly everything she does), they might be better for it.

Madea believes that folks should be strong. Self-reliant. Unfailingly courteous to old people. And she’ll try to instill those traits in those around her, even if she has to beat them to the point of death to do it. In Boo! A Madea Halloween, she, Hattie and Bam encourage Tiffany to recant of her whiny teenage ways.

She also spurs Brian to act more like a dad. Brian admits that he’s read parents should be their kids’ friends. Madea has no respect for such nonsense: Kids don’t need their parents to be friends, she says; they need parents. And that means that parents sometimes have to put their foot down and dole out punishment—sometimes harsh punishment—if need be.

[Spoiler Warning] Madea and Co. then turn on the still disobedient Tiffany, pulling clothes out of her closet and telling her that if she’s not going to obey her pops, she might as well be on her way. They tell her that everything she “owns” was pretty much paid for by Brian, and thus not really hers. Brian joins in the packing, reinforcing the well-worn notion that if Tiffany’s going to live in Dad’s house, she’ll have to listen and obey the dad who pays for it.

While folks might quibble with the threat of throwing a 17-year-old girl out on the street, the lesson underneath this demonstration of tough love is a valuable one. Madea also tells Tiffany it’s important to cut her parents some slack, too. “They are not God,” she says. “They’re parents,” and thus prone to mistakes of their own.

Aday, Tiffany’s friend, is a pastor’s kid. She talks about how her family doesn’t typically celebrate Halloween, but they do have a celebration over at the church. Last year, she says, she dressed up as the Holy Ghost.

Apparent zombies chase Madea into a church, where she meets Aday’s mom and dad. “Help me, Jesus!” Madea shouts repeatedly as she barrels down the aisle. Aday’s mother tells Madea that she’ll be fine if she just accepts Jesus into her heart as Savior and confesses her sin. Madea agrees to the first part, but declines the “confession” aspect of salvation for now: She doesn’t think that the congregants (or perhaps even the walls of the church itself) would be able to deal with hearing all of her sins. She does wind up getting “saved,” but when she hears that the zombies outside were actually frat members, she immediately starts backsliding. Madea longs to curse inside the church and shouts, “Cussing demon, I bind you!” She plots her revenge against the frat. And when the pastor reminds her about Jesus’ command to “turn the other cheek,” Madea says she aims to kick some cheeks Jesus didn’t have in mind. She finally leaves the church and the frustrated pastor, saying that sometimes salvation just doesn’t take.

We hear many references to God, Jesus and church. Aunt Bam, Hattie, Madea and others often implore God for help, with Bam suggesting several times that a little prayer wouldn’t go amiss (especially when they’re all being attacked by supernatural entities). A Jack-o-Lantern outside Bam’s house is carved with “I (heart) Jesus,” though Madea wonders why Bam is giving candy to “heathens.” Madea claims she had all the lights on in her bedroom because she was reading the Bible. When asked where that Bible is, she says, “On the table in my heart.”

There are references to demons and devils, too. Tiffany trots out a “game” designed to contact the dead (obviously a knock-off Ouija board), which Madea insists should be put away immediately. “Keep playing with the devil,” she tells Tiffany, “He gonna show up.” She also talks about how voodoo was “everywhere” in her hometown of New Orleans.

Brian doesn’t want Tiffany to go to the party for obvious reasons. “Those boys wants just one thing,” he tells Tiffany. (When her younger brother asks what that is, Brian lies, saying “to pay their student loans.”) Tiffany doesn’t care. She wants to keep pace with a couple of popular, risqué friends who wear crop tops that show, as Aday says, “what the good Lord gave them.” Aday goes to the party dressed fairly modestly, but the other three do not—wearing outfits that display lots of cleavage and leg. One of the girls, Leah, wears a thong over some rear-embracing leggings, and she spends a good portion of the party (that we see, at least) twerking and giggling as she waves her backside to the camera.

Guys usher Aday and Tiffany into private bedrooms, with the suggestion that they’ll be able to get more intimate there. The couples never kiss or make physical contact. When the frat brothers learn that both are just 17, they recoil in horror and kick the kids out of the party. (Their friends, Leah and Rain, lie about their ages.)

Madea exposes her breasts to frat brothers (though her shirt hides them from the camera) and encourages them to touch them. They do, and when they realize they’re “real,” the young men are horrified. Madea makes references to her younger days when she was a stripper. When she begins dancing against her will to the music, she says it’s her “inner whore” coming out. Rain and Leah dance sultrily together for a second or two in the background. Joe makes references, some with gestures, to masturbation, prostitution, group sex and oral sex.

People ogle each other and make crude comments on how they’d like to see various bits uncovered. Revelers wear revealing outfits. Criminals being taken to prison crudely come on to same-sex characters, much to those characters’ discomfort.

Tyler Perry, Madea’s creator, plays Madea himself, of course: There are a few winking references to how “manlike” Madea is. (Joe, for instance, suggests that Madea may actually have a prostate hidden somewhere under the dress.)

Even the bravest parents feel timid about discussing sex with their 8- to 14-year-olds! This resource offers reassuring, humorous, real-life anecdotes along with reliable information to help you with this challenging task.

A body is found in the frat house, its throat sliced open and blood dribbling down the front. There’s a huge fracas on a bus, where several people fight.

When it comes to scary situations, Madea’s fight-or-flight reflexes are predominantly set on “fight.” She punches apparently evil clowns in the face. (Joe knocks one out with a cane.) She hits a frat guy or two, as well.

Both Madea and Joe regularly laud the effectiveness of corporeal punishment, encouraging Brian to beat some sense into his daughter. (Aunt Bam and Hattie also affirm physical violence against wayward kids.) They remind Brian that they often gave him “love taps,” and that they never hurt him. Brian remembers some of those “taps” a bit differently: They recall the time when Madea beat him so badly that it necessitated a trip to the emergency room. “But,” she adds, “I’d at least take you to the hospital.” Joe, Brian’s father, would do no such thing: One day Joe apparently pushed Brian off a roof, and somehow his scrotum got skewered by a pencil.

Brian reminds his elders that this is a different time—that people can be arrested for those supposed “love taps” these days. But later, he suggests he’s willing to go to jail if launching into a little corporeal punishment would help his daughter.

We hear about 20 uses of the s-word and four or five of the n-word. (Brian scolds Joe for using that sort of language in Brian’s house.) God’s name is misused once, while “Lord” is used a half-dozen times in contexts that could be heard either as profane exclamations or spontaneous prayers. Milder profanities are hurled with the sort of rapidity one would expect from a particularly profane Gatlin gun: “H—” is used upwards of 120 times, and “d–n” another 75 times. We also hear “a–,” “p-ss” and “b–ch.”

Joe and Bam both use marijuana, complaining when various apparent ghoulies interrupt their high. Joe is shown smoking a joint. Whenever someone discusses or questions Bam’s pot habit, she reaches inside her dress and whips out her medicinal marijuana card. She brandishes it in front of police officers, bragging that she’s completely legal. (She also complains about getting the “munchies.”) Police find marijuana in the frat house. Madea and others light and smoke cigarettes.

Bam’s bathroom habits are a source of conversation. Madea reminds her that she wets herself a little when she gets scared (prompting Bam, who was startled in her front yard, to walk into her home to change her underwear). But later, she complains of her inability to urinate more than just a couple of drops at a time. When she learns that Brian’s own privates had a literal run-in with a pencil, she suggests with a giggle that he must have a more difficult time than she does.

Frat guys apparently vomit after touching Madea’s breasts. Aunt Bam steals candy from trick-or-treaters. Tiffany spends a lot of the movie talking back, disrespecting and disobeying her father.

Ah, Madea. Love her or hate her, there’s no one quite like her. I think a lot of people like Madea for the same reason that people like Old West gunslingers or shoot-first detectives. Madea represents a kind of no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners justice. She’ll get folks to act “right” even if she has to beat them to do it.

But the very thing that makes her attractive also makes her, and her movies, so problematic. Madea demands respect, but she doesn’t give it. She believes that the Golden Rule, that “doing unto others,” is a great thing as long as it’s others that are doing it.

Now, I know that Madea herself would never hold herself up as a role model. She’s a comic character, oversized and exaggerated in every way. We’re not supposed to view her as a blameless saint.

But just because we know who she is doesn’t excuse all that she and her cohorts do. All that cursing, sexual innuendo and drug use doesn’t disappear just because we’re not supposed to take it seriously.


With Denomination on the Edge of Apostasy, Methodist Pastor Makes Big LGBT Push

You remember Frank Schaefer, the Methodist pastor whose ministerial credentials were yanked in 2013 after he presided over his son’s gay wedding.

Now he’s back with a vengeance, even as the Methodist church continues to debate over same-sex marriage. In May, 15 United Methodist clergy candidates came out as “lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer” members of the New York Conference.

“While I understand that I risk my standing in The United Methodist Church with this public step, I do so following the way of Jesus,” said Lea Matthews, director of ministry operations at St. Paul and St. Andrew, who will be commissioned as a deacon in June. “I do not walk this path alone. I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, made up of my fellow signers, our brave allies in this conference and my church family at SPSA, who offer prayerful support. I sign in solidarity with those on the letter, and acknowledge that there are many others across the denomination who are not as fortunate as we are here in the New York Annual Conference.”

In an open letter released May 3, two boards of ordained ministry challenged others to allow many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people to answer “their call into ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church.” Rev. Charles A. Parker for Baltimore-Washington and the Rev. William B. Pfohl for the New York Conference jointly signed the letter.

The next nine days will see the Methodists make some vital decisions about where the denomination goes from here on hot-button issues. Schaefer is fueling the fire with a new documentary called An Act of Love. Here’s part of this story:

“At the beginning of his career, Schaefer had no intention of getting involved in the controversy over gay marriage in the church. However, several years into Frank’s ministry at a small church in Pennsylvania, his eldest son, Tim, began to quietly struggle with his sexual orientation. Amid fear of rejection from his church and his family, Tim became withdrawn and teetered on the verge of suicide.

“Once the Schaefers assured their son that they accepted and loved him regardless of his sexual orientation, a new fear arose—what would Frank’s congregation in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, think? Tim never felt comfortable in Lebanon, so he moved to Boston for college in an effort to live in a more progressive area. It was in Boston where he met his future husband. After college, they were married in a private service in Massachusetts, where Frank officiated. The Schaefers knew that having Frank officiate Tim’s wedding was a risk to his career, but they figured, since it was a private family affair, that it wouldn’t ruffle any feathers.”

Although Schaefer was defrocked, he started a six-month speaking tour in churches and landed on several national TV shows. An Act of Love follows Schaefer and his family on that journey to change the Methodist church’s long stand for traditional marriage from the inside out. It’s called propaganda, folks, that’s working to destroy the third-largest denomination in the United States.

If we’re going to condone the practice of homosexuality, what’s stopping us from allowing pastors to commit adultery without rebuke? Why not let drunken revilers lead kids church? Why not give greedy thieves and extortioners the responsibility for church finances? The point is, practicing homosexuality is not the only sin the Bible calls out in this verse, as so many gay rights activists like to stress. So why does the sinful practice of homosexuality, then, get special protection?

If we’re going to let our pastors engage in homosexuality at will, condone it and have the audacity to declare that it doesn’t contradict God’s will, what’s preventing us from throwing the Ten Commandments out of the window? Why bother to have natural laws against crime, either? What’s the point? The point is we all have to answer to God.

Too many Christians are lovers of themselves instead of lovers of the truth. A strong delusion is sweeping over the land—a tsunami of perversion is rising—and some in the church are falling into its trap. Our response is clear: Continue to speak the truth in love, guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and refuse to compromise with an anti-Christ agenda. Always keep in mind, a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9).

The urgency that’s in my heart is painful at this point. People who started out loving God with all their hearts, all their minds, all their souls and all their strength are giving into seducing spirits. Practicing sinners, in clear defiance of God’s Word, are leading churches in the name of Jesus. We need to pray. We need to make intercession like never before. Lives depend on it. Christians are falling away at a rapid clip. We can’t just stand by and point fingers of disdain and watch. Join me in crying out that a wave of repentance will sweep the church—and the nation. Just pray.

Jennifer LeClaire


4 Steps to Giving a Death Blow to Your Nagging Sins

“Here are four strategies for maintaining vigilance in the fight.”

The Bible portrays sin as a powerful, ever-vigilant enemy. Sin deceives (Genesis 3:13), desires (Genesis 4:7), destroys (Genesis 6:7). Even forgiven sin within the Christian is powerfully active, waging war (Romans 7:23), lusting (Galatians 5:17), enticing (James 1:14), entangling (Hebrews 12:1).

Many Christians struggle with “nagging sins”—those entrenched, persistent, difficult-to-dislodge sins that continually entangle us in our efforts to follow Christ. Sometimes we struggle for decades, with bouts of backsliding and despair recurring. Most godly Christians, who have made true progress in their pursuit of holiness, can sing with feeling “prone to wander, Lord I feel it,” or share the lament of Augustine: “I have learned to love you too late!”

The gospel gives us hope that all sin, even nagging sins, can be both forgiven and subdued. But because sin has such persistence and power, we must be vigilant in our struggle against it. As John Owen puts it, “If sin be subtle, watchful, strong and always at work in the business of killing our souls, and we be slothful, negligent, foolish … can we expect a comfortable event?”

Here are four strategies for maintaining vigilance in the fight, drawn from John Owen, and particularly in relation to a nagging, persistent sin—that kind that keeps on tripping us up and entangling us in its grip.

1. Hate it.

We are accustomed to using the gospel to relieve the guilt of our sin. But sometimes—especially in the case of persistent, nagging sins—we should use the gospel first to aggravate our guilt. John Owen puts this challenge quite vividly:

Bring thy lust to the gospel, not for relief, but for further conviction of its guilt. Look on him whom thou hast pierced, and be in bitterness. Say to thy soul, “What have I done? What love, what mercy, what blood, what grace, have I despised and trampled on! … Have I obtained a view of God’s fatherly countenance that I might behold his face and provoke him to his face?”

If we do not feel the magnitude of our sin, if we are not gripped by its stench and grossness, if we pass over it lightly with glib affirmations of grace—we will probably never get around to the serious vigilance required for killing it. Truly subduing it requires properly grieving it.

This is particularly so with nagging sins. Nagging sins are those we are most likely to become numb to, and therefore we have to work extra hard to continually re-sensitize our consciences to them in light of the gospel, saying things like:

• This impatience is part of what Christ had to bear on the cross.

• This worldly ambition would lead me to hell, but for the grace of God.

• This lingering resentment grieves the Holy Spirit within me.

Often this means really slowing down and really examining our hearts. In a lesser-known passage in his Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis, reflecting on the distinction between enjoyment and contemplation, observes that “the surest means of disarming an anger or a lust (is) to turn your attention from the girl or the insult and start examining the passion itself.” Defeating nagging sins often requires this uncomfortable, honest reflection and acknowledgement on what the sin is doing within us.

Nagging sins can survive our annoyance and mild dislike. Only hatred will fuel the needed effort.

2. Starve it.

In one of my favorite films, a man is diagnosed with schizophrenia and told that several of his lifelong friends are actually not real. He genuinely misses talking to them, but knows he must stamp out all delusions in order to move toward health. So he simply chooses to ignore them, calling it a “diet of the mind”—and as he does, they gradually recede in their influence over him. Even at the end of his life, he still sees the delusions, but they have lost their destructive power over him.

There is a similar principle at work in our struggle against sin—the more we indulge in it, the more of a grip it gains over us (even while we understand that grip less and less). But, as with any addiction or animal, the less we feed it, the weaker it becomes. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Choose not to acknowledge your sinful desires—starve them of your affections and your attention, and they grow weaker.

One of the most important principles involved in this starvation process is to act quickly: Don’t let sin get even the smallest step. Don’t say, “I will give in this much, but not that much.” That never works. As John Owen puts it: “Dost thou find thy corruption to begin to entangle thy thoughts? Rise up with all thy strength against it, with no less indignation than if it had fully accomplished what it aims at.”

3. Corner it.

Sin, like any other enemy, thrives among its allies (unhappiness, exhaustion and discouragement are some that come to mind). To wage effective war against sin, therefore, we must deprive it of the opportunities and occasions it makes use of. John Owen is helpful once again:

Consider what ways, what companies, what opportunities, what studies, what businesses, what conditions, have at any time given, or do usually give, advantages to your distempers, and set yourself heedfully against them all. Men will do this with respect unto their bodily infirmities and distempers. The seasons, the diet, the air that have proved offensive shall be avoided. Are the things of the soul of less importance? Know that he that dares to dally with occasions of sin will dare to sin. He that will venture upon temptations unto wickedness will venture upon wickedness.

This means we need to study the particular triggers of sin in our lives. It could be a geographical location (like a bar if you’re a recovering alcoholic), but I find it’s more commonly emotions and unhealthy habits that we need to avoid. Lust is greatly weakened when it cannot appeal to fatigue, emotional need, loneliness and shame. It’s more difficult to succumb to envy when you’re soaking your heart in your heavenly inheritance. Sinful anger often melts away when you are spending time with exceptionally kind, forgiving people.

In short, an effective fight against a nagging sin will often involve thoughtful consideration to your sleep, exercise, diet, emotional life and relationships.

4. Overwhelm it.

In the gospel, God has given us the resources that we need to deal with nagging sins. Let me just mention three: patience, pardon and power. The gospel means that God has “perfect patience” (1 Timothy 1:16) for us even amidst our struggles with nagging sins. To truly kill a nagging sin, we need to know that God has not given up on us. Even when we have lost patience with ourselves, he is still there, like the Prodigal’s loving father, calling us back to obedience and joy.

The gospel also means that God pardons our nagging sins. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). Only when we see our nagging sins through the gospel—as right now, before it is subdued, already forgiven in God’s sight—will we make true progress against them. As William Romaine wisely wrote, “no sin can be crucified either in heart or life unless it first be pardoned in conscience. … If it be not mortified in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power.”

Finally, the gospel means that God provides us with power, that we might overcome nagging sins (2 Timothy 1:7). His Spirit gives us strength beyond ourselves with which to fight, and his all-satisfying presence gives us the promise of a superior, lasting joy. However strong our nagging sins may feel, it is truly possible in Christ to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). As John Owen counsels us:

Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of thy sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and thou wilt die a conqueror. Yea, thou wilt, through the good providence of God, live to see thy lust dead at thy feet.
Gavin Ortlund

Gavin Ortlund (@gavinortlund) is a husband, father, associate pastor at Sierra Madre Congregational Church, and PhD candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Prince a Christian?


Dear Mr. Barger, The world is really sick. I remember you wrote a great book back in the 1990s about rock music. I have a link I’m sharing with you regarding how they claim Prince was a conservative Christian!?!

Link to Washington Post article here.

They supply lyrics to boot. I know you’re a busy man, and I pray for your wife and you. I’m very glad your eye is OK.

Could you please comment on the article, or send me a link to something you’ve written that counters these lies. A lady I know was gushing about how “Christian” he was, so any info you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

In Christ,


Eric’s Response

Hi John,

Thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate the encouragement.

You are correct that the world is sick and getting worse. Jesus is the medicine but they have rejected what could heal them.

The Washington Post story you linked me to is so offensive and fraught with issues that it might take me a while to dig through its problems. It’s just another example of how the secular world doesn’t know what Christianity really is, confusing it with cultic theology, and then using any opportunity to just bash anyone they perceive are Christians, framing believers and others in such a way as to say that we have no values different from theirs. As we are seeing so often, many in the culture relish the opportunity to express that in effect, “Christians are just like the secular world.”

Regarding Prince, he was not a Christian. That is abundantly clear and it’s not just the opinion of one. He was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness. Remember: the JW’s do not believe in a triune God, nor do they believe that Jesus is God incarnate. One can sincerely believe in “a Jesus” until they are blue in the face, but if it’s one of the many false Jesuses being taught by cults and world religions (see II Cor. 11:3-4), then that person is still lost for eternity without salvation and without God.

Here is just one source on Prince. He confirmed that he was a JW during at 2009 interview with TV host Tavis Smiley.

When Prince told Smiley that he didn’t vote in political elections, the singer explained saying, “The reason why is that I’m one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and we’ve never voted. That’s not to say I don’t think … President Obama is a very smart individual and he seems like he means well. Prophecy is what we all have to go by now.”

A Christian Post article goes on to say, “In another 2009 interview, Prince told People, ‘My mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore,’ and she said, ‘Why?’ and I said ‘Because an angel told me so.'” (Read source here)

For anyone who believes in any kind of supreme being, it is in our human nature to hope someone who passes on is safe on the other side. People make statements about an individual who has died “being in a better place.” Yet the truth is that if the deceased was not an authentic born again Christian they are surely NOT in a better place but quite the opposite. Our culture – and astoundingly much of the perceived Christian world – has adopted a catastrophically false line of thinking that treat bliss in the afterlife is somehow a foregone conclusion for every person. I believe our failure to refute and correct this fallacy are eternally detrimental to everyone involved. Usually, based on whether we liked someone or were related to them or various other reasons, people all around us within the church setting give the world the distinct impression that talent, charm, family ties, or other factors somehow play into an individual’s eternal condition. Our silence, probably fostered through the fear of what people might think of us for being so narrow and “non-inclusive,” strengthens and allows this myth to be repeated and spread without even a mention of the reason and purpose of the Cross. While we don’t have to necessarily declare the departed being discussed as “in hell,” we surely need to warn the living that there is only one way any of us can escape it and that’s through the blood of the Lamb of God.

This issue is not just about God’s final judgment and the reality of hell. The pressure of the culture and our human desire not to be viewed as “narrow” have led some identifying themselves as Evangelicals to fall into the trap of become fuzzy or noncommittal about the path to Heaven as well. This is apparent as universalism has steadily become more accepted, justified, and form-fitted into Christianity. This has transpired because those who’ve fashioned their own theology about death – instead of God’s – are allowed to go on unchallenged. Our human hopes, which in this area could be called “self deception,” along with the popular unbiblical teaching that portrays God only as a “God of love” in the New Testament, lead us to believe He couldn’t really be serious about final judgment. The problem with this notion is that, if God is not also a God of justice, then whoever the deity being referred to is could not be the God of the Bible. If God’s love negates His justice, then Jesus died a needless and horrific death and we humans can just pick our own route and our own terms by which to have fellowship and eternity with whomever we perceive is God. The awful failure of believing that God is going to save everybody automatically or that particular individuals are given special treatment based on who we see them as (great humanitarians, social workers, even musicians, etc.) is biblically inaccurate. One simply has to ignore vast amounts of the Bible to arrive at this conclusion. This common misconception is once again our human hopes and fallen nature at work that says, “If I’m just good enough, then God will accept me based on my own righteousness.” In Prince’s case, we can’t even say his works were overwhelmingly good. Instead, the opposite is true, according to Scripture. People are trying to preach him into Heaven based on his talent, charm, or mystique. He may have been an excellent, even prolific musician as far as the culture around us is concerned, but can we say he was righteous because he lived a sold-out life dedicated to the Jesus of the Bible? I think not.

Since mankind’s fall into sin recorded in Genesis 3, man has been separated from God and is due the justice and punishment of that rebellion. However, God showed His supreme love for mankind when He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the propitiation, or substitute, for our sins. It is, as Prince once tried to sing about, at the Cross where judgment met love. However, God’s salvation comes with the price of repentance on our behalf. Now it is our individual choice to accept God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus’ once-for-all redemption for our sins or to reject it by continuing on our own path.

Now, we should recognize that God can and will eternally save whoever calls out to Him by faith, but the doorway is solely Jesus, not the Watchtower, the LDS Church, Buddha, Vishnu, or our good intentions, etc. There is but ONE way to salvation. So, based on his own testimony of being a Jehovah’s Witness, and the Watchtower’s own failed and counterfeit plan of salvation, trying to fit Prince into authentic, biblical salvation is just so much wishful thinking and ignorance about God’s precise plan and how to enjoy its intended eternal benefits for us. It’s true that we don’t know what may have happened in Prince’s last weeks, days, hours, or even seconds on earth. But one very rarely has an instantaneous reverse epiphany about the false teaching they have followed for years. Thus, Christians and others who try to talk or rationalize Prince “into Heaven” are exercising wishful thinking not based in biblical truths. People won’t want to hear that, but the facts don’t change just because we want them to.

I could go back through what I wrote here and attach Scripture after Scripture to what I said. For the sake of time I won’t do that now but anyone the least bit versed in the Bible can do so. Hope that helps, my friend.

Bless you as you contend for the faith and present the hope and love of God’s plan as the alternative to the coming judgment awaiting all who reject the Savior.

Take A Stand! Ministries

10 Traits of a Real Man

3.29 real man

The picture of “real” our culture paints for men is just as ridiculous as the picture of the perfect body for women.

What does a real man look like in 2014? Think about the definition our culture gives to us. Look at the movies. Read the magazines. Listen to the music. What are the constants? I see three … muscles, money and women. A real man is tough. He doesn’t show emotions. He can handle his own business. A real man has money. Who cares if he blows it on trinkets? The point is he has it. A real man has women. You can’t be a real man and not have a girl.

But what if our culture is feeding us a lie? What if our culture is grossly misleading us when it comes to the nature of a real man? Our high schools, colleges, workplaces and homes are filled with men that are trying to be legitimate. The problem is we are looking for legitimacy from a culture that changes daily … hourly. A culture that is predicated on promiscuity. Infatuated with the almighty dollar. One day our culture tells us to dress one way. The next day it is completely different.

The picture of “real” our culture paints for men is just as ridiculous as the picture of the perfect body for women. It is a facade. Smoke and mirrors. We must wade through all the charades and cultural stigmas. It is a lot of wading. But once we dig below the surface, something different is exposed. Something divorced from the cultural nonsense. Something grounded in the Truth and not a perceived one. Something … real.

Here are 10 traits of a real man in today’s culture.

1.) A real man always treats people with respect.

A real man doesn’t trash talk or bad mouth other people. “But Frank, what about my teacher at school? Or what about my boss at work? They deserve everything they are getting from me and others.” Right … so tell me again what you deserve for all the awful things you have done to others? See … a real man finds no value in tearing down other people. He realises these people are not much different from himself. He also realises God is not glorified in the tearing down of others.

2.) A real man honours his wife and friends.

I grew up in an environment where wives were not honoured. I was around too many people who used outings to the bar, the golf course or the hunting camp as opportunities to talk about their wives’ failures and downfalls. They would also throw in the failures of their friends for good measure. But show me a man who builds up his wife and friends … and I will show you a real man. Why? A man who honours his wife and friends can only do so because he is confident in himself.

Men, when was the last time you complimented your wife in front of others? When was the last time you made her feel important? A real man makes a habit of honouring and building up his wife and friends.

3.) A real man never leads women on.

Guys, let me be real with you. If you date girls just to have a girl or you want sex … if you have no intentions on a legitimate relationship … you are a coward. That’s direct, yes. But it’s true. It’s real. If this is you, stop it. End the relationship. A real man respects the feelings and dignity of women. He does not see women as objects to fulfil his desires. He does not date because having a girl is fun or expected. There is intentionality behind his relationships. A real man gets this.

4.) A real man works hard, but never chases a paycheck.

Laziness is plaguing our country … no doubt. But the pursuit of a paycheck is also plaguing our country. A real man is not lazy. He works hard. But a real man also never allows the almighty dollar to be the purpose for his hard work. A real man works hard because he works for the Lord. The pursuit of a paycheck is turning men from husbands and fathers into distant figures whose lives have no greater purpose than to lust after a large number in a bank account. How ridiculous. A real man doesn’t get caught up in the lies of our culture.

This allows him to work hard while working. But this also allows him to rest hard, play hard, be present as a father and husband, and nurture his relationship with God. Make no mistake. Pursuing a paycheck at the expense of a family and God doesn’t create a real man … it creates a wasted life.

5.) A real man never allows hobbies to be more important than marriage and family.

I love golf. I would play every day if I could. But I also have two kids and a wife. I have a full-time job. I go to school. I have a blog. There are 24 hours in a day. Something must go to the back burner. A real man understands that “something” is not his wife and kids, his job, or his relationship with God. There are seasons of life where your golf game, fishing, hunting or fill in the blank are going to take a hit. Hobbies are just that … hobbies. They are extra. On the side. A real man never sacrifices quality time with family or God to nurture a hobby.

6.) A real man values purity.

I just returned from a trip to Las Vegas. My first trip to Las Vegas. Wow. The insatiable drive for sex and money was indescribable. It was everywhere. Women wearing next to nothing begging for the attention of those around. Billboards. Shows. Sensuality and the objectification of women (and men) were impossible to ignore. We live in a sex-crazed world.

A real man doesn’t use this as a crutch to feed his sexual appetites. He values purity in his thoughts, conversations and relationships.

For much of my life, I struggled to keep my mind pure. I thought it was just natural. Lusting. Pornography. Those are just normal for guys. Boys will be boys, right? Wrong. Now that I am on the other side, I see that God’s intention for my life is not for my mind to be filled with lust. It’s not God’s intention for your life either. Lust is sin. A real man takes the steps necessary to keep his mind and actions pure. Purity is a virtue. It is something God values. A real man pursues it.

7.) A real man is in control of himself.

If someone else can force you to react, you are not in control of yourself. Write that down. So, if another person’s actions force your hand … someone else is in control of you. That’s dangerous. A real man is not controlled by emotions. He is not controlled by others. Despite the lies of the world, this is true strength. Strength that comes from within. Strength that comes from God. Self-control breeds a life with less regret and more stability. A real man values self-control.

8.) A real man finds his strength in the Lord.

A real man doesn’t look to the world for his identity, sense of worth and strength. He draws strength from the Lord. God is the only source of lasting strength, and a real man acknowledges this reality. He then uses this strength to lead his family, run his business and interact with his peers at school in a way that glorifies God. Go ahead and look to other sources for strength, identity, and sense of worth. But don’t be surprised when you find the ride exhausting and the goal unattainable. Riding cultural waves is dangerous … especially when you don’t know when the next wave is coming. Real men don’t ride waves.

9.) A real man celebrates the successes of others.

If you can’t celebrate the successes of the people around you something is wrong. It’s toxic. This dog-eat-dog cloud that hangs over our culture is a lie. A real man celebrates with his friends, wife and co-workers when something positive happens in their life. He is only able to do this because the successes of other people have no effect on who he is. A real man is confident in his own abilities and talents, so he is in a position to celebrate with others. A real man works hard, competes hard, but is able to shake the hand of the other team if he loses. He can tell his co-workers congratulations when they get a promotion … and mean it. He can celebrate with his spouse when she excels at her job. Who cares if she makes more money or has a more important title? A real man isn’t in competition with his friends and spouse.

There is more than one seat at the table of life. Pull up a chair and let others sit down.

10.) A real man is just as honest when no one is around as he is when the world is watching.

Consistent. This word, maybe above any other, describes a real man. His relationship with God. His treatment of others. His actions and thoughts. Consistent.

A real man is honest and ethical. Doesn’t matter how big or small the decision might be. Doesn’t matter if no one is watching. Doesn’t matter if no one will ever know the outcome of his decision. A real man doesn’t cheat. He doesn’t cut corners. He doesn’t make unethical business decisions.

Here is why. A real man doesn’t live for others or for the cares of this world … he lives for God. You see, a man who operates one way when no one is around and another when the world is watching does so for one reason … he is more concerned with the world than God. He is too concerned with the approval of others. Too concerned with the cares of this world. Saving money. Preserving a reputation. Being accepted. These are reasons to be unethical and dishonest.

A real man doesn’t sacrifice honesty on the altar of acceptability and approval. Even if honesty and integrity cost him a job, money or a grade on a test. He won’t compromise. He is consistent. He is dedicated … to the Lord.