Boys: Just Defective Girls?

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Character, Culture, Venus and Vegas | 0 comments

Man, I love it when sharp women “get” men and boys, without any hint of dishonoring their own gender. I say Men Matter all the time; and the same is true for women. They matter profoundly. Sadly our culture too often chooses to honor women by demeaning masculinity wherever it shows up. Women who are assured of their own value and gifts welcome the unique qualities that males offer, and the needs we have in order to be trustworthy, healthy contributors ot society. In 5 minutes, Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute provides clear and persuasive evidence that American schools, in particular, need to change how they guide and instruct boys, or the consequences will continue to be severe for our culture. Click here to watch her comments: War On Boys....

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Deep Impact

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Fathers, Hope, Leadership, Legacy, Significance, Venus and Vegas | 0 comments

If you’re a man, I have good news for you, and I have sobering news for you. The good news: you matter. Despite the questions our society often raises about the value of men, and especially fathers (think Homer Simpson), you have a deeply important calling as a man. Your presence and your words have an enormous impact on those around you. The sobering news: you matter. Your words and presence have impact, but that impact can go either way. It can bring life, security and blessing into the lives of others, especially our wives and children—or it can bring fear, shame and violence. Glory or ruin. In my work as a minister to men, I regularly encounter men who question their value and competency. In fact a deep, hidden doubt in their ability to effectively manage the requirements of their lives is one of the most common traits I see. A few years ago I met a 30-something man who seemed to have the world by the tail. He was the hotshot CEO of a growing company; he had a trophy wife, a beautiful home in the suburbs and a red convertible Porsche he drove at ridiculous speeds to work every morning. He apparently had it all. Then one morning he called me. “Craig,” he said, “I’m on the shoulder of the expressway. I’m heading into a meeting with my board. They know everything. They know my lies, my cheating and my cover-ups. I can’t pull this thing off any more. They know the truth about me—I’m ruined.” Then he burst into tears. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) had it right when he said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation…” That’s just as true today as it was in his time. The only difference is that the desperation is not as quiet. How else can we explain the unbelievable risks so many men take to pursue that forbidden affair, to pad their wallets while their employees lose jobs, to bilk others of billions of dollars in pyramid schemes? What’s going on here? Intrinsic Value What’s going on is that men have fallen for the lie that their value is defined by performance, position, power or possessions. Too many men believe that they matter to others solely because they have the world’s external badges that prove their worth. At the same time they know the truth beneath the surface: they wrestle with fear, anger, confusion, exhaustion. The internal conflict these men live with, the demands of keeping the secrets or keeping pace with expectations, results in men who either passively give up or violently take their rage out on those who least deserve it. You may know some men like this. You may be this man. In Psalm 139, we learn that all men and women have deep intrinsic value because we were knit together by the God of the universe. Even before we were born, God knew us and formed us uniquely, regardless of gender. But when God chose to reveal himself to mankind, he did so as a Father and as a Son. When I did training for a mission agency several years ago, my colleagues and I had the dual roles of preparing those candidates who would go to the field and holding back those who should not. Invariably, some had unhealed emotional wounds that profoundly affected their ability to relate to others in a healthy way. Over the years I saw a consistent pattern in those who were deeply wounded, whether men or women, single or married: almost always, the factor that most heavily influenced...

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World’s Toughest Job

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Character, Heroes, Venus and Vegas | 0 comments

Ever wonder about what the toughest job in the world might be? President of the U.S.? Brain surgeon? Sewer cleaner? Nope. Here’s pretty good evidence of the toughest: World’s Toughest Job.  

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“Amazon Feminist” Defends Masculinity

Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 in Courage, Culture, Venus and Vegas | 2 comments

When was the last time you heard an avowed ardent feminist stand up in defense of masculinity? I’m not sure I ever have. That’s no longer true. In the 70’s and 80’s one of the strongest voices for “militant feminism,” in Wikipedia’s words, was Camille Paglia. Never one to mince words, her views and language were so aggressive that she managed to offend virtually everyone on both sides of the feminism debate going on at the time. Paglia has made the news again, most recently in the March 24, 2014 issue of TIME magazine, where she honestly admitted the poor choices made during the sexual revolution of the 60’s by writing, “My generation of baby-boom girls boldly rebelled against the cult of virginity of the Doris day 1950’s, but we left chaos in our wake.” Even more surprisingly, she made some controversial comments not long ago in the Wall Street Journal. In a complete contrast to the perspective and opinions most feminists have had in the past, Paglia once again stood up for her own views, regardless of whether they fit the expectations of either side of the issue. She urged our society to hold on to the important masculine qualities that define men. You can see her comments and the reaction of Breakpoint Commentaries here. Feminism certainly looks different today than it did 30-40 years ago, but it is still common to hear women fighting that battle. Where I agree with them is in the innate value and significance that women have, equal to men, and how often that value has been over-looked and even demeaned; sadly, no place more so than in our churches. I grew up in a conservative Evangelical background known as the Plymouth Brethren movement, which some called an oxymoron. By my observation and experience, there were countless ways that girls and women in many of those “assemblies” became convinced that they were second-class citizens of the Kingdom in men’s eyes, and more destructively in God’s. I don’t know how those women could possibly have avoided hearing that message. That desperately needed to change dramatically, and in some of those places it thankfully has. Where I disagree with traditional feminists is in two areas: First, that there really are no differences in males and females; that any distinctions we see between men and women are a result of sexist teaching by schools, churches and our culture at large. And, secondly, that masculinity (for those who might be willing to admit that it does exist) is at its root harmful and destructive. Paglia, too, would apparently disagree with both of these points. Scripture is clear that God created man, and saw that it was not good for him to be alone. (Gen. 2:18) When He made woman he added some physical features that clearly differentiate her from man. Virtually all cultures throughout history, and those parents who have raise both girls and boys, would also say the differences are absolutely beyond body only, and into the areas of heart and soul, as well. When we deny gender differences we deny God’s design, and we deny the beautiful ways in which men and women each reveal an aspect of God’s image that the other gender doesn’t. “…in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27). I don’t know what Paglia believes about God, but based on her recent comments, she’d agree there are differences between men and women and we need to honor those differences. What do you...

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Adventure Porn

Posted by on Sep 12, 2013 in Character, Courage, Culture, Heroes, Significance, Venus and Vegas | 2 comments

Numerous authors, Dr. Larry Crabb among them, confirm that two of the deepest longings for men are sexual intimacy and victorious accomplishment over a challenge. Call them intimacy and impact, or sex and significance, they have the same soul-deep pull for boys and men. We are well aware of the draw that sexuality has on males from an early age, and the vulnerability that most men have to the temptation of lust, sexual promiscuity and pornography. Many years ago Dr. Harry Schaumburg coined the term False Intimacy in his excellent book of the same title. False Intimacy is the pursuit so many men experience when they go after the God-given longing for sexual relationships, but choose false, ultimately shallow, forms of satisfying this deep need. Disconnected sexual promiscuity and online surfing for pornography are such common examples they are often viewed as being healthy rites of passage for any young man. Pornography provides the lure of the beauty of the female body, but it can’t come through on its hidden “promise” of relational fulfillment. It’s false intimacy‑ the girl in the photo or on the computer screen is admittedly enticing; she’s available and she won’t say, No. She won’t turn you down, but she always leaves you wanting more. Any boy or man who has gone after her knows very well that she does not satisfy the genuine longing for deep connection and mutual love. The thirst isn’t quenched. Far from it. What is not as apparent is that the vulnerability males have toward sexual porn is similar to another kind of temptation. I call it Adventure Porn. It comes in the form of video games that provide entertainment, but also the sense of accomplishment and victory over a challenge that men find so enticing. We long for significance. The draw toward sports or warfare video games for boys (and increasingly, girls) is obvious. Just about any parent who has raised a boy older than 10 knows how compelling the challenge and reward of seeming victory are for boys. As with a lot of our sources for entertainment, video games in themselves are not innately sinful. But the promise of false adventure they offer, the inordinate time they can consume and even the route they can take to actual addiction are indicators that they appeal to something deep inside a boy or man, and it’s going out of control. Just like the false intimacy of sex porn, the adventure porn of video games promises more than it can deliver. Take on an opposing football team or army; step into battle; defend your turf or those you care about. It’s thrilling, manly stuff. But lose the game or get killed…hit Reset. Start over. There are no real consequences and no real risks. As a result they offer no real rewards, just false adventure. I don’t recommend we prevent our sons from enjoying the legitimate companionship and fun that video games can offer. But I do urge us to view it for what it can become—a source of isolation from real relationships, a means of escaping real challenges and an empty way of building a sense of accomplishment and significance. It’s like filling a broken well with cold water to satisfy a God-given thirst. The well leaks and cannot hold water. (Jer. 2:13) It’s not real significance and it’s not real accomplishment. It’s Adventure Porn. Have you experienced the pull of false adventure in video games, or seen it in your son? What steps do you recommend as way of dealing with that in a healthy...

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“You’re Never Going to Be a Looker”

Posted by on Jul 18, 2013 in Character, Culture, Fathers, Venus and Vegas | 0 comments

Friends, I’m happy to welcome guest blogger, Jim Hughes, staff member of Peregrine Ministries in Charlotte, NC. It was a telling moment when a BBC sports-caster commented on the newly-crowned women’s Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli, “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘You’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight’?” How was Marion’s lifetime of commitment, excellence and accomplishment summarized with such a belittling and irrelevant comment? As a husband and father of two daughters, comments like this fill me with sadness, anger and regret. Dustin Hoffman, who many years ago portrayed a woman in the movie “Tootsie”, expresses similar emotions in an interview that speaks directly to us as men about this issue. As I watched this Dustin Hoffman interview, through tears, I had to wonder . . . do men have to walk this path of regret? Is there a way to encourage and train the next generation of men to see the wonder, value and beauty of women as made in the image of God – rather than the superficial way our culture so often portrays them? I think there is, and it starts with each of us men living as we were truly designed to: as those who bring honor and blessing to others, especially the women in our lives. What are some ways we buy into the world’s lies about women, and in what ways can we offer them the respect and anointing they...

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