Love Always Protects

The Real Men Challenge manual is focused on the Love Chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 as a template to help men in their relationships and provide insight and guidance for a world where family violence has become an epidemic.

“Love… it always protects …” 1 Corinthians 13:7
The Love Chapter says “Love Always Protects”. Here are some thoughts on that theme.

True love is a sacrificial love. 

Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

So question, men, what are laying down in your life to protect your relationship.

  • Your position as ruler of the home?
  • Your money?
  • Your job?
  • Your right to a Saturday night boozer?
  • Your right to sex whenever you want it?

What positive steps are you taking to fulfil the challenges of “Love … always protects.”

Protecting is not control. Who put you in charge anyway? Protecting is a partnership but for men, here are some guidance as to what non-controlling protection looks like in your love relationship.

  • Protecting your faith
    • quality time with God
    • Prayer (alone, with partner, with kids)
    • Bible reading
    • Worship
    • Service
    • Good works
    • Instructing the kids in the things of God
  • Protecting your wife
    • from your anger and frustrations – “In your anger do not sin: Do not Let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26
    • from her fears – “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” Colossians 3:19
  • Protecting the marriage bed  – “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure…” Hebrews 13:4)
    • from lust
    • from pornography
    • from the temptations of this world
    • from adultery
    • from neglect – “The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife …” 1 Corinthians 7:3
  • Protecting your children
    • from witnessing your anger – “Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
    • from your alcohol and drug abuse
    • from “helicopter parenting” instead of allowing them to take risks as they grow
  • Protecting your finances
    • You are your partner working together to ensure the needs of your family are met. This is not about the man being the sole provider but together with your partner ensuring the household finances are secure
    • Financial wisdom
      • Tithing to support the work of the Kingdom
      • do you have a budget
      • do you have control wasteful spending
      • do you have a saving plan
      • Avoiding the quick rich quick scams
    • Not being trapped by the love of money

One of the best books on managing fianances that my wife and I read and use is “The Barefoot Investor” by Scott Pape. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

What else in your life do you need to protect?

  • Protecting the peace in your home
    • “Blessed be the peacemakers” Matt 5:9
    • “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18

I hope that these thoughts will provoke self reflection and discussion in your home as you live out “Love … always protects.”

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Good Dads

An addendum to my Father’s Day thoughts:

Good Dads are Spiritual Leaders

  • Love their God
  • Love their Church
  • Love the Word of God
  • Love to Pray
  • Love to Worship
  • Love Righteousness
  • Love Holiness

Good Dads are Leaders in their Homes

  • Love their wives
  • Love their kids
  • Love to give

Good Dads are Leaders in their Community

  • Love their work
  • Love justice
  • Love the unlovely
  • Love sinners

Good Dads are Prophetic Leaders

  • Love the Truth
  • Live the Truth
  • Call out evil
  • Call out ungodly philosophies of the world

Good Dads are Leaders in being Healthy

  • Self-Reflective
  • Physically
  • Mentally
  • Spiritually

Each of these points need exploring in depth and self examination. How am I doing in each of these areas of life. I know that in some of these I fall short but being able to be self-reflective and seeing my own shortcomings allows me to try and improve and provide that example to my family and others.

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The Lost Path of Masculinity

I initially wrote these words while in the United States visiting my family when I went back through my old note books from that time and realised they were as important for now as they were then. It is timely I write this for Father’s Day.

Prayer

A Christian man is a man of prayer. One who stands in the game for their family in spiritual warfare and bringing the needs of their family before the King. Phil 4:6; 1 Tim 2:8; Eph 6:18; Col 4:3

Persistence in Faith

A Christian man is one who stands firm in their faith. Not tossed to and fro by the waves of post modernism, doubt or the temptations of the world. The Christian man provides the example to his family through his life of Faith. Love of Bible reading. Life of Prayer. Life of Service. Life of Good works. 1 Cor 16:13; 2 Chron 20:17; James 1:12; Rom 12:11-12; 2 Thess 2:16-17

Provision

A Christian man is one who knows his call from God. A call that that ensures his family is cared for. Ensuring their physical needs are met. (This does not automatically mean that men must be the main financial provider). Ensuring their emotional needs are met by being the “present” father, not the “absent” father. A man who knows how to deal with tough times by faith in God, trust in His word and Prayer. By ensuring his leadership as a Christian man shines through in his home, his relationships and his work place. 1

Protection

A Christian man always, always protects his family. Physically, being prepared to lays his life down for them. Spiritually, but standing in the gap in prayer for them when the tough time comes. Ps 46:1; 1 Pet 5:8; Eph 6:12-13; Ps 82:4; Matt 5:44

Purposeful

A Christian man’s life is a planned and purposeful life. Planned by God for good works, not accidental, not living for self, sin and pleasures. A life that is an example to his family, in his workplace, in his community. Eph 2:10; Jer 29:11

Peacemaker

The Christian man is a peacemaker. When conflict arises they shine in their Christian values of the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Being a peacemaker is not a sign of weakness but of inner strength from the Lord. The Christian man will still stand and defend those in danger and stand in the gap against those that want to inflict evil. Matt 5:9; Gal 5:22; John 15:13

I am challenged by reading and then typing these words again. In a world that has lost its way, men need to find the lost path of masculinity through their faith in Christ.

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Being kind in the time of isolation

There is no doubt that couples forced to live together 24/7 due to Coronavirus “stay at home” orders increases the risk of conflict and violence in the home.

That is why we need to all take an attitude stock take and look at two key words.

Am I being kind?

Am I being tender?

I was reminded about this during the week when I was at work (yes, someone who still had a part time job) and came into a dispute with a work colleague.

The very next day a friend sent me these words about tenderness.

I read these and applied them to myself and when next at work … worked hard to apply these principles. Try these for yourself and see how you go.

  • A gracious touch, a gentle spirit, an expression of kindness; someone who so values the worth of others that they refuse to be mean or spiteful or vengeful.
  • Hearts that refuse to remain hard, unmoved and disengaged; hearts that are full of compassion, kindness, warmth and gentleness.
  • Hearts that guard and nurture new life and new dreams welling up within.
  • Hearts that are receptive to listen, quick to respond,  ready to act, determined to obey.
  • Hearts that attract the presence and power of God and are catalysts for His transforming  grace to work in them and through them. What God can do and reveal through our tender hearts.
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Domestic violence – a horrific breach of God’s holy standard

From Australian Christian Lobby

The murder of Hannah Clarke and her children has again brought the issue of domestic violence into the spotlight. How do we respond to those who say that Christianity is somehow responsible for violence against women?

It’s time to talk domestic violence.

It’s a very difficult subject, but it’s the subject that’s on all of our minds.

It’s on all of our minds because of the terrible events that occurred in Brisbane with the murder of Hannah Clarke, 31 years old, and her three children by their husband and father, Rowan Baxter.

It’s just dreadful. There was a history of domestic violence in the family. There was a domestic violence order against Rowan Baxter, and he breached that order. He was due to appear in court in March as a result of that.

And there were family members who were helping Hannah get away from him, but what we know is that somehow he intercepted his wife’s vehicle as she was taking the children to school, and he got fuel on or in the car and on the children or on her – it’s not entirely clear how it all worked out – and he set them on fire.

He tried to stop bystanders from helping as they burned. And he then stabbed himself in the chest, killing himself at the scene.

The three children died there. Hannah was alive and got out of the car, but with burns to 97% of her body, she passed away later that evening.

An absolutely horrifying story that stopped the nation.

Now, there were some immediate comments along the lines of, “Well, we don’t know the whole story: don’t judge.”

But I will judge this man as a murderer, because that’s simply a statement of absolute and completely obvious truth.

And there is nothing in the world that could ever justify murder, especially the premeditated murder, in a devastating, painful and violent way, of one’s own wife and one’s own children.

There is nothing in the world that could mitigate responsibility for that; no kind of injustice that someone might perceive themselves to have suffered.

And there’s no evidence at all that anything like that happened to this man.

But to those who have said that we should not judge, or that something may mitigate his responsibility, I say: that’s crazy.

This story is so extreme. There’s a lot of bad news around us every day, and many bad news stories just bounce off us. Not this one. This sticks in your mind. It has stuck in my head and bothered me for a long time because it’s so terrible.

And there’s something particularly terrible about a father and a husband doing this. It’s like the whole universe turns in on itself and goes backwards, because he’s meant to be protecting and helping and looking after his family and his wife, and what’s he doing? He’s violating his duties as a husband, as a father and just as a man by doing this. It is absolutely horrific.

He’s done something horrendous. Let’s be very, very clear about that. And honestly, if that wasn’t your reaction to this case, a reaction of pain and grief, then there’s something wrong. There is something really wrong.

Now, there’s something I want to address about this.

It’s not the fact that a lot of people say, “Oh, this is a gender thing.” The statistics do show that intimate partner violence and filicide (that is, the murder of one’s children) isn’t particularly gendered; it is perpetrated by both men and women – although when men commit violence it’s far more serious, no doubt about it.

And I’m not going to address the family court system and its limitations.

In fact, I’m not going to address many important aspects that have come out of this, but there is one aspect I do want to address.

There’s always somebody who brings up the whole Christian thing. There’s always somebody who points the finger at Christianity.

Perhaps it’s because they think that this is a patriarchal Judeo-Christian society, and there are latent remnants of Christian thinking in general society, and therefore women cop it as a result; or perhaps it’s just an overt and blatant criticism.

Take this example from Independent Australia. Journalist John Wren wrote this: “So why does the Liberal government do so little to reduce violence against women and children? Part of the issue lies in Morrison’s Pentecostal belief system – it preaches that women must submit to their husbands, be subordinate to them.”

And then he says this, which is absolute rubbish: “Pentecostalism has many strains. In some, it is even acceptable to discipline an insubordinate wife with violence.”

Absolute rot. He later says, “Morrison’s faith is one aspect of the reasoning behind the lack of support for domestic violence action.”

Now, that’s just completely offensive to say that. A Prime Minister who apparently is going to be less moved to do something about men burning their wives and children to death in cars because of his faith?

There’s always someone like this who publishes commentary on the connection between supposed Christian violence and domestic violence, even though there’s no evidence that supports this.

But I want to say this for those who are ignorant or for those who may in fact be influenced by the things that are said in this vein.

I want to answer the question: what does the Bible actually say about how men should behave towards women?

Because this is important.

Here’s an intimidating but timely thought for men, especially if you’re married or if you’re in a relationship, and it’s this: when you meet God, as you certainly will – every Christian believes that absolutely, because it’s true – you as a man will be held accountable for the condition of the woman in your life in very important respects.

When you meet God, the standard applied to you will be the standard that is given to men in Ephesians 5, and it’s this: have you given yourself up for her? Is your love for her a sanctifying influence leading to her increased holiness? Is she free from blemishes inflicted by you, whether physically or spiritually?

There is no higher standard in all of human existence than the standard given in Christianity for how men are to treat women in their lives.

I once met a guy who struck me as a dodgy character. I just got the wrong sense about him. Unfortunately, I was quite young at the time and I watched as this bloke worked his way into a young woman’s affections. She was a very beautiful young woman, and innocent, but he corrupted her and made her just like he was and took her down a slippery slope into all sorts of awful things.

And then they got married and he inflicted violence against her, both physical and psychological. And that’s a tragedy that’s continuing even now.

When we see that sort of thing, we’re all disgusted. It’s something that is purely satanic.

I raise that story because it demonstrates the hallmark of a bad man: that those he claims to love are worse off for it.

By contrast, the hallmark of a good man is that the people who encounter him, who are part of his life, and whom he loves, are made better, are lifted higher, and are greatly blessed, especially in the area of sanctification and holiness. They are enriched in the most profound ways possible by his presence and by his actions, such is his living for others, and such is his influence on others for good.

And that’s the standard.

When you meet God, as you surely will, the woman you love is to be presented in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

And who has set that example from which we can draw? None other than Jesus Christ himself in his astonishing, selfless, sanctifying love for me and for you.

It’s his goal to present us to God in exactly that same way: sanctified, holy, without blemish. And he died for that; he gave himself up for that.

Now, if that’s the standard; if that’s what God asks of husbands with their wives; if that’s the ‘apprenticeship’ in which boyfriends and fiancés have enrolled – in fact into which all men have enrolled – then that standard should cause you to gasp and to tremble, because men will be accountable to God in the final judgement for this very thing.

Some are saying that family violence is the product of male power, and that men need to be torn down and demasculinised in order to solve that problem.

But power isn’t the problem: evil is the problem; wickedness is the problem. It’s the difference between a good man and a bad man in the way he behaves towards others, what he desires for others, and the way his presence enriches others or drags others down.

It’s the difference between a good man and a bad man, not a powerful man and a subjugated man.

And we’ll never be Jesus, of course, but with prayer and obedience we can inch closer to being like him, because this is our high calling.

One of the great tragedies in this debate is that people don’t think about character. They think that our badness or our goodness, our ability to be good or do good, is based on our sex, male or female.

It’s not. Character is equally accessible to all.

And yes, men and women are different, and those differences are innate. But goodness, virtue, character – which are equally accessible to all, regardless of gender or any other thing – are the most important things.

And the calling, the shape of that character, is given there in Ephesians 5.

Next time someone tells you that domestic violence is all the Christians’ fault, you can take great confidence in the fact that it is anything but true.

This is a society that has broken apart the family; that has championed easy divorce; that has promoted individualism, empowerment and independence at the expense of loving others; that has sexualised children as young as possible (which does turn young boys violent); and that claims that women have no unique dignity that is to be honoured or upheld by society.

Society has done all these things.

And when it all goes to custard and we see violence breaking out, people turn around and say, “Oh, it’s the Christians’ fault.”

No. I’m sorry, but this is not on us. There is no standard higher in all the universe than the standard that Christ puts upon men in this world. Fortunately, he also gives us the power to be able to inch towards that standard and fulfil it, otherwise we’d be, of all people, the most miserable.

There is no standard that’s higher than that. And this one is not on us. It’s on the world that has forgotten these great and priceless principles.

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