• The Demise of Guys

    I have just finished an amazing E-Book called The Demise of Guys by Phillip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan. It is a book outlining why guys are not performing as well as they used to and what we can do about it.  To whet your appetite have a look at the TED talk that Zimbardo did below and if you like it buy and read the book. I think everyone (yes everyone) should read the book!

    You may also like:

    The Great Porn Experiment

    What’s Wrong With Our Young Men?

    What I wish I knew before I got married: You will always marry the wrong person!

  • What’s Wrong With Our Young Men?

    There is something wrong with a lot of young guys today. A lot of young guys don’t seem to have drive, enthusiasm, commitment or courage. And these are the things that older generations prized in men. I have been reading a brilliant book that everyone should read (no that is not hyperbole) it is called The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan. They say this about guys today:

    Consequently, many guys lack purposeful direction and basic social skills. They’re living off, and often with, their parents well into their 20s and even 30s, expanding their childhood into an age once reserved for starting a family and making a career. Many young men who do manage to find a mate feel entitled to do nothing to add substance to that relationship beyond just showing up. New emasculating terms such as “man-child” and “moodle” (man-poodle) have emerged to describe men who haven’t matured emotionally or are otherwise incapable of taking care of themselves. Hollywood has caught on, too, to this awkward bunch of dudes, who appear to be tragically hopeless. Recent films such as Knocked Up, Failure to Launch, the Jackass series and Hall Pass present men as expendable commodities, living only for mindless fun and intricate but never-realized plans to get laid. Their female co-stars, meanwhile, are often attractive, focused and mature, with success-oriented agendas guiding their lives. The sense of being entitled to have things without having to work hard for them — attributed to one’s male nature — runs counter to the Protestant work ethic, as well as to the Vince Lombardi victory creed (“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”) These guys aren’t interested in maintaining long-term romantic relationships, marriage, fatherhood and being the head of their own family. Many have come to prefer the company of men over women, and they live to escape the so-called real world and readily slip into alternative worlds for stimulation. More and more they’re living in other worlds that exclude girls — or any direct social interaction, for that matter. Over the past decade, this pattern has escalated into adulthood where grown men remain like little boys, having difficulty relating to women as equals, friends, partners, intimates or even as cherished wives.

    Guys are pushing their adolescence into their retirement but what is the cause of this? The cause is, understandably, porn and technology:

    We believe this demise can be traced to the rise of technology enchantment. From the earliest ages, guys are seduced into excessive and mostly isolated viewing and involvement with texting, tweeting, blogging, online chatting, emailing, and watching sports on TV or laptops. Most of all, though, they’re burying themselves in video games and in getting off on all-pervasive online pornography.

     

    The authors quote some disturbing statistics about guys and pornography:

    One in three boys is now considered a “heavy” porn user, with the average boy watching nearly two hours of porn every week, according to University of Alberta (Canada) researcher Sonya Thompson.15 And that’s the average; just imagine what the outliers are doing! Add to the mix older guys watching adult videos online, at work, at home or in hotels across the country and around the world.

     

    As they go on to state that guys have become addicted to games and porn and this is changing their brains and ruining their lives:

    This new kind of addictive arousal traps users into an expanded present hedonistic time zone. Past and future are distant and remote, as the present moment expands to dominate everything. And that present is totally dynamic, with images changing constantly. Boys’ brains are being digitally rewired in a totally new way to demand change, novelty, excitement and constant stimulation. And their brains are being catered to by porn on demand and by video games at a flick of the switch or a click of the mouse. That means they are becoming totally out of sync in traditional school classes, which are analog, static and interactively passive. Academics are based on applying past lessons to future problems, on planning, on delaying gratifications, on work coming before play, on long-term goal setting.

    The church needs to step in and teach young men what it is to be a man again today. Young men need to be taught that being a man is not about sex, violence and getting drunk.  What is a man? 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 are great verses on this issue:

    Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

    From this verse we see a man stands firm in his faith. He is not swayed by the winds of teaching. He knows and loves his Bible. Act like men can be translated be courageous like a man. So a man has courage, he may be sacred but he does the right thing despite his fear. Strength doesn’t refer to physical strength but it refers to strength of character, a man does what he says he will do. And finally a man loves selflessly and sacrificially.

    Let’s teach our young men to be men like this.

    You may also like:

    The Great Porn Experiment

    What is a biblical man?

    7 Resources you can use to Fight Pornography

     

  • 7 Resources you can use to Fight Pornography

    Pornography is one of the biggest issues facing many Christians, male and female, today. Over the past few weeks the issue of pornography has come up over and over again in pastoral conversations that I have had. I also have had different friends in ministry asking me about dealing with this dreaded issue in the lives of their people.

    How do you deal with pornography if you are addicted to it?

    How do you help someone else in their addiction to pornography?

    The following are some resources that you might use in your fight:

    Here are some videos about dealing with porn addiction that you should watch:

    In this one Don Carson talks about temptation but the example he uses is pornography

    John Piper has a few clips about dealing with pornography. One about unbelief and porn addiction. In this one John Piper is talking to a bunch of youth about pornography. Both are fantastic!

    In this one John Piper, Tim Keller and Don Carson talks about how the gospel and accountability conquers the sin of Pornography.

    If you struggle with pornography you need to get some kind of monitoring software. I use Xwatch Pro which costs 7 dollars a month. You can get the free version here

    Mark Driscoll has written a book called Porn again Christian. It is very blunt and very frank but very good.

    Pornography looks so good and yet it never delivers what it advertises it will. It promises gratification but that gratification is quick and shallow and ultimately it leaves people empty. But more than that, when we look at porn, even free porn, we are playing our part in the victimization of the women and men who do porn. These men and women are created in the image of God and therefore should be loved and respected.  And because porn distorts our self image as well as our view of sex and other people we are alspo destroying our lives. But most of all God hates porn and we should too.

    The answer, as the guys say in the various videos, is not to give yourself a list of rules. If you are trapped in this sin you don’t need another list of do’s and don’ts, you need to realise that your greatest joy will not be found in sex but in Jesus.

    When realize that, and this truth becomes central to your being, you will have overcome pornography.

     

  • What I wished I knew before I got married: You will find other people attractive

    Being attracted to people is part of being human. It is easy to find a beautiful person or a funny person or an intelligent person attractive. It is also quite easy to want to spend more time with that said person or desire to enter into a relationship with that person. But what if that relationship is more than friendship and what if you are married while you want a relationship with that other person?

    I never thought I would be married and find other people attractive. Thankfully there hasn’t been anyone yet who I have been tempted to run off with, but older wiser people have told me that there will be at least one person at some point that will capture my eye, mind and possibly my heart. But there will also be many people that I will find myself being attracted to even though I love my wife. What do you do when you are attracted to someone you are not married to?

    Here is what I do when I am faced with the very rare situation where I find someone other than my wife desirable.

    1. I remind myself of the gospel and my marriage vows. I remind myself that just like God has been faithful to me in the gospel, I have made a covenant to be faithful to Kate and therefore the gospel and our marriage vows remind me who I am called to be.
    2. I remind myself of all the things I love about Kate. This is a very easy thing to do as there are so many things I can think of that I love about my beautiful, intelligent, godly, fun wife. After I have recalled the many things that I love about Kate, I pray thanking God for each one of them and I also ask for divine assistance to help me constantly see the many great qualities Kate has.
    3. I tell myself that the picture I have of this other person is distorted. When we are attracted to people we are generally only thinking of their good points like the way they look, their humour, their sporting ability, etc. We never really focus on or even remember their faults. This gives a distorted picture and so I need to tell myself what I am really attracted to is not a human with good points and bad points but a fantasy, and reality will be a lot less desirable. I also pray that God would give me a real picture of the person and not a fake one.
    4. I analyse what is happening in my life. It is not surprising that when I am down or feeling sorry for myself or that I am not as content as I should be that attraction to women other than my wife is more likely to happen. With that in mind I make sure when attraction to other women does come I analyse my situation and I then make myself understand the link between my circumstance and the attraction.
    5. I then confess my sin to a brother in Christ. I am blessed with brothers in Christ who will hold me accountable and who will remind me of how great Kate is and also how this other person will be nowhere near as good of a fit for me as Kate is.

    Every time I have gone through this process, I have found myself loving and appreciating Kate more and more and I have found my attraction to the other person to go away. I never thought I would be married and be attracted to other people but this process has helped me overcome it on the very rare occasions that it happens.

    Did you ever think you would be attracted to anyone other than your spouse?

     

  • What I wish I knew before I got married: You will always marry the wrong person!

    “You will always marry the wrong person” – Stanley Hauerwas

    When it comes to marriage, one of the most destructive myths that many people believe is the idea of “the one”. I have written about it before but it bears repeating that the idea of finding “the one” who is perfect for me in every way and will always make me feel special is a myth that is extremely destructive. What do we need to counter this myth with?

    We need to remember that we are sinful and so is the person we marry.

    I was asked in the first few months of marriage how married life was. I sarcastically quipped, “It is going great! Kate likes to cry and I seem to be able to make that happen!” The first few months of marriage were hard for me as I kept coming up against how sinful I was and how much my sin hurt my beautiful wife. I am sure if Kate had any notions of her marrying “the one” they were dashed in the first few weeks of marriage!

    Kate and I have a great marriage but we both do things that bug each other, we both communicate in ways where the other one doesn’t get what we mean, we have different likes and dislikes and different personalities. All these things can, and sometimes do, bring tension into the relationship and it is easy to think, ‘If I was with that other person I wouldn’t have these issues.’ That could be true but if I was with that other person we would have a bunch of other issues.

    Kate is the “wrong person” for me and I am the “wrong person” for her because neither of us are perfect for each other. But no one else is perfect for us either!  Realising that we are “wrong” for each other helps us not look to the other for contentment and identity but find our contentment and identity in Jesus. It also means that we work doubly hard on our marriage because we both realise that we need to, and that Satan wants to take our differences that are small and make them insurmountable. So we work hard. The result is that we are in love and that we talk openly about our issues and we ask for forgiveness a lot and we forgive readily. I think that because Kate and I realised very early on about our sinfulness and what that brings to our marriage it has helped us craft a stronger marriage than if we held onto the notion of the other having to be “the one”.

    The great thing about marrying the “wrong person” is that God will use that person to sanctify you and mould you so that you will be more like Jesus. It will also cause you to work on being a more loving person because sometimes you have to love when you don’t feel like it.

    I love that I have married the “wrong person”. If I knew on my wedding day what I know now, I would have still said ‘I do’ and I would have still said that I will be with Kate ‘for better, for worser!’[1]

    I love you Kate and am so thankful that you are my wife! I am the most blessed man in the world!

     


    [1] This is not a typo. We memorized our vows and I stuffed them up. I literally said “For better, For worser; For richer, for poorer!”

     

  • Tough questions from a girl who was hurt by adultery

    Last year I sat down with a friend of mine who was at Bible College. A few years ago a mutual friend of ours had committed adultery and was disqualified from ministry. It hit us both very hard but I think it hit her harder because he was her youth minister who led her to Jesus and the girl he cheated on his wife with was her best friend.

    I found myself asking a question that I am not sure I wanted to know the answer to. I asked:

    “What do you think I can learn from this situation?”

    She said I should ask myself these questions:

    Do I think I am above it? She said that no one is above it and to think otherwise shows we are arrogant. But if we think we aren’t above being committing a sin that disqualifies us from ministry we will make every effort to guard against it.

    Do you admit that you are wrong? Her youth Pastor was challenged about the relationship he had with this girl before the scandal came out and yet he never admitted that it was wrong. In fact, he never he admitted he was wrong about anything. Pride does come before the fall.

    What’s in your closet and who knows about it? She said everyone has junk in their closet but what kind of junk is it? A porn addiction? Do you lust after girls/guys in your church or youth group? Who knows about the junk in your closet? If no one knows then no one can hold you accountable and if no one can hold you accountable the sin will overcome you.

    Is your wife involved in your ministry? She said that our friends wife didn’t know what he was doing in his ministry, she didn’t know the relationships that he was forming or where he was most of the time. She said partnering with your wife in ministry is not only helpful to you in ministry but is an added level of accountability.

    If God took away your title as pastor would you still be a Christian? Her ex youth pastor and my friend since the indiscretion has since walked away from Jesus and yet she told me a touching story about seeing him and how he said he still has sermons to preach and  how he loved being a youth pastor. He said that he wished he could all take it back. She reminded him of the gospel and how Jesus loves him and died from him. But he hasn’t come back to church. Maybe it is because of the shame of his sin but she thinks he was more in love with the title of Pastor than Jesus. This is a question of identity. Where do we find our identity? Is it in our Job/title/role or in Jesus? If it is in our job we will want to be needed/wanted by our people if it is in Jesus we will create proper boundaries in our ministry and pastor those people by pointing away from us as their functional saviour to their real saviour Jesus.

    These are very tough and yet timely questions.

     

  • Pastor Fashion?

    Pastor Ed Young Jr. has a new website for Pastors it is called Pastor Fashion.com. (No I am not lying click the link!)

    Here is the first blog on the site:

    “Pastors aren’t typically known for their fashion. Most people don’t think of the runway leading up to the pulpit. But why not?! Why can’t the men and women of God set the standard for the rest of the world in fashion as well as faith? That’s why we’re launching PastorFashion.com. We want to set the trends.

    Check back with us regularly, as we’ll be posting things like what not to wear, fashion tips, the latest trends and so much more!

    We’re not trying to be like the world…we just want to be fashionable while we try to change it! Have fashion tips, things you’ve seen done (whether right or wrong)? This is the place we’ll keep the conversation going and the trends growing!”

     

    Now a couple of reflections are worth considering:

    1. There is really nothing inherently wrong about pastors wanting to look good or giving each other advice about what to wear or not wear if that is what floats their boat and as long as looking good doesn’t define them. In fact I have seen in some churches Pastors dress down as much as possible in reaction to a tradition where pastors have to wear a dress and a collar. This is an overreaction which communicates more than dressed down pastor wants to communicate.

    2. What we look like communicates a hell of a lot. If I go to church in my daggiest clothes what is communicating? If I rock to church in a suit or robes or a footy Jersey what is it communicating? What I wear communicates how I want people to treat me, what I think of myself and in some sense what I think of God. If drag some clothes off the floor and sniff them to make sure they don’t smell too bad and then put them on and go to church I may be seen to be saying “I don’t care about how I look” Or “I have no self confidence” or “Meeting with God and his people isn’t a big deal”. Conversely, if I wear a really expensive suit I may seem to be saying “I care a lot about what you think of me” Or “My God is a blingy God who will bless you!” What we look like communicates a hell of a lot.

    3. In the Bible women are told that they shouldn’t be known by what they wear but their inner character (1 Peter 3:3, 1 Timothy 2:9). This command surely has to be applicable to men also. What a website like pastor fashion does is take our attention off what the bible says should define us as pastors (godliness, theology, love for people etc) and put the attention onto the very thing that shouldn’t define us i.e. what we look like. So even though we have to be careful that what we wear communicates the right things about us we cannot fall into the trap of making something that should be far on the periphery come to centre stage.

    4. It is a sad day when one of the most well known pastors in the world launches a new website for pastors and it is not about theology, joy in God, pastoral skills or something else that God is concerned about but fashion, which is something that the world is deeply concerned about but which God doesn’t care about. But this gives us pause to reflect on our own lives. If one very intelligent pastor who wants to reach people for Jesus is spending his time talking about periphery are we doing the same?

    What do you think?

     

     

  • Christian girls, Facebook and sanitized pornography

    Recently I sat down with a young dude who is struggling to be a Christian. Not struggling because he has some doubt or struggling because he has gone through pain in his life but struggling because he has sin in his life.

    He has the sin all guys struggle with. He has the sin of lust and that sin creeps up every time he goes on Facebook. You see the girls he is friends with on Facebook seem to have their profiles laden with photos of their latest trips to the beach where they are in their bikini’s or photos where they are posing provocatively for the camera.

    I want to ask the question: why if you are a Christian girl why would you put a photo on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet of yourself in a bikini or a provocative pose when you know it is going make a brother in Christ stumble?

    Sure, my friend has a lot to work on. He needs to work on his theology of sin and atonement as well as working on having a huge dose of self control as well as a revved up prayer life.

    But really girls do you need to have that photo on Facebook?

    Do you need to prove to the world how sexy you really are?

    God loves it when women dress modestly.  (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

    That doesn’t mean unfashionably.

    That just means that you realise that your body is not your own and you are to honour God with your body(1 Corinthians 6:20). You also realise that your body is meant to be for your future spouse not for every person to ogle at.

    Girls and guys please lets us not cause our brothers and sister to struggle. Go through your Facebook photos and please delete any pictures which could cause someone to stumble

    Do this because you love your brothers and sister in Christ and you want to honour God with your body!

     

  • Who should I date?

    When you look at the media and what it thinks are desirable qualities in a mate it seems like the qualities are very shallow.

    If you are looking for a girl you want her to be thin and yet stacked, flawless skin and yet look like that in the morning etc. She must always ready for sex, always funny, never angry or moody and be dressed like she is trying to be the next Paris Hilton and yet be sweet enough to be taken home and charm your mother!

    If it is a guy you are after, he is meant to have the right kind of facial hair, a six pack, he must wear no shirt like McConaughey and be manly enough to go bear hunting with a twig and come back with seven carcasses and sensitive enough to write a poem about his feelings about killing the bears!

    The issue is that looks fade. The bag and sag hits everyone’s body and so in 10 or 20 years we will not look as good as we did now let alone when we were 18.  The only option is to become a gym junkie or have so much plastic surgery that we end up not looking our age or our species. And the people we will be with will not look as good as they did when we met them.

    So if you are single you must train yourself to be attracted to and date people who have qualities that are more than skin deep.

    When  you look at the ideal wife in the bible (Proverbs 31) there is nothing to do with her looks, her body or the fact that she is a fun chick to be around. No what God says men should go for is a woman of wisdom and character.

    There is not a similar list for the ideal husband in the bible but there is a list of characteristics that a leader of a church should have (1 Tim 3). It is a list which I think should be the list of things single woman train themselves to be attracted to.

    So who should you date if you are single?

    Someone of character who loves Jesus.

  • Guest Post: Fifteen Ways To Get A Single Woman’s Attention by Ally Spotts

    For those of you who don’t know me my name is Ally Spotts and I’m a writer and blogger from Portland, Oregon. I’m single, a committed Christian, and I also happen to write a lot about dating and relationships. If you’ve never been to my site, you can visit me here!

    Last week I wrote a post titled, “Why Christian Women Date Non-Christian Men,” and Hans found it when one of my more dedicated fans [thanks dad] posted a link in the comments of his blog. Before I knew it he was asking me to write a post about what I, as a single woman, am looking for in a man.

    The problem is (I realized, after I agreed) I don’t have a list of things that I’m looking for in a man. I mean, I am looking for some things, I guess – mostly that he is also a committed Christian – but somewhere along the line I realized that the actual or mental lists I was keeping were making me really prone to selfish, unrealistic expectations for what I wanted in a husband. So I ditched it.

    So I’ll give you a different list, instead. It isn’t a checklist, and it isn’t a list of ideas I’ve picked up from romance novels or fantasies from Hollywood. It’s just a list of things I’ve noticed the men I know sometimes do, things that tend to catch my attention.

    Again, it isn’t a checklist. I don’t expect any man to be all of these things all the time. But it is a list of real things that real men have done. I’ve witnessed them. In real life. Not a novel or a romantic movie.

    These are the things that, as a single woman, really get me thinking…

    1. When a man treats all women well, not just the ones he wants to date. The men in my life who are most protective of (and kind toward) me are often men who have no intention of asking me on a date. My brother, for example. My dad. My friends’ husbands. My brother-in-law. And when I see an available man treat his mom or his sister or a close friend with tenderness and care, it is a huge head-turner for me.

    2. When a man’s actions match his words: Some men have really good intentions but not much follow-through; and while this can seem impressive at first, I’m ultimately distrustful of a man like this. I am much more prone to notice a man who is faithful in the little things. He says he’ll call and he does. He shows up on time. He doesn’t commit to things unless he knows he can finish them. If a man is consistent, the littlest things can make the biggest impression.

    3. When a man has a strong work ethic. There is something unbelievably sexy (am I allowed to say that here?) about a man who works hard. It can be physical, mental or emotional labor. It doesn’t matter. A man who has drive and stamina and perseverance toward a particular task is bound to catch my eye (in fact, he might even catch me staring…)

    4. When a man is committed to open and honest communication. I am so impressed when a man is willing to initiate difficult (but necessary) conversations with me and with others around him. Hard conversations are (wait for it…) hard to have but I’m always impressed with a man who is up to the challenge.

    5. When a man asks good questions. A man who asks good questions demonstrates selflessness, compassion and generosity, not to mention a wiliness to connect with those around him. Those qualities are really, really attractive to me.

    6. When a man is good with a grill. Hey – a girl has to eat… right?

    7. When a man is generous with his money. Several months ago I was at a restaurant with a large group of people and a friend of mine excused himself to the restroom, gave his credit card to the waitress, and paid for the meal before any of us even realized what happened. For the rest of the week I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I admired that simple act of kindness.

    8. When a man is generous with his time. Some men don’t have the means to be as financially generous as the man I described above, but that’s okay. I find it equally attractive when I see a man offer his time, sacrificially, for the good of the community. Men I know volunteer their time to lead and inspire youth, help their parents with yard work or other chores, or give up their Saturday to help a friend move. These are all things that make me stop and go, hmmm…

    9. When a man doesn’t flirt with every girl woman who flirts with him. One of the most impressive things in the world to me is watching a man who is selective with his flirtation. This doesn’t mean he never flirts, or that he only flirts with one girl his whole life (flirtation can be a necessary and important part of determining romantic connection) it just means that he doesn’t respond to every beautiful girl who happens to blink her eyes at him. I think that single-mindedness can demonstrate a man’s strength of character, self-confidence and conviction.

    10. When a man has a positive attitude. This is especially true of a man who is faced with difficult circumstances, and still chooses to speak positive words about life, about himself, and about other people. When I see a man who approaches life with grace and gratitude, I definitely stop and take notice.

    11. When a man has a plan: I went on a first date awhile back with a man who planned the whole evening ahead of time (a flexible plan, but solid enough that there weren’t a bunch of decisions for me to make) and I was really surprised by how comforting that was for me. On a broader scale, I’m really impressed by a man who has a 5-year or 10-year plan for his life. Even if his plan never comes to fruition, I’ll do pretty much anything for a man who knows what he is called to do with his life, and knows that he wants to do it with me.

    12. When a man is competitive. I hesitate to include this because not every woman would find this quality attractive, but it is my list, so… what the heck. I love watching men play sports or games, or watching their competitive nature come out in business. I find it attractive when I see a man who doesn’t feel the need to apologize for his masculinity.

    13. When a man carries his Bible: Recently I received some bad news while I was writing in a coffee shop and a friend who was sitting nearby saw my reaction and immediately went to the scripture to offer me some encouragement. I’m not saying a man always has to carry his Bible (that would be weird) I’m just saying that I find it impressive when a situation calls for it, and he has it on hand.

    14. When a man takes responsibility, even if he’s not sure it’s his. I was with a man recently who took the blame for something that may or may not have been his fault, and I felt oddly impacted by that. It was such a small act in retrospect, but the truth was that no one really knew whose fault it was; and I felt oddly comforted knowing that he was willing to take the blame – and the consequences – to protect the rest of the group.

    15. When a man can admit his weaknesses and is willing to work on them. Guys. If you don’t remember any other item from this list, remember this one. In fact, if I had to reduce the list to one item, it would most definitely be this.  None of us are perfect. We all have areas where we need to grow. And there is something profoundly attractive about a man who recognizes this reality, is a little introspective, and is humble enough to admit when he is wrong and keep working toward the man he wants to be.

    Okay, I’m just one woman, and not the authority on the subject. I need some other ladies to jump in. What do you think about my list? Any changes or additions?

    And MEN. Call me selfish but I’m dying to hear from you. How can a girl catch your attention?