A Prayer for Mercy – Kevin DeYoung
Book Review: Good Man: An Honest Journey into Discovering Who Men Were Actually Created to Be, by Nathan Clarkson
Author Nathan Clarkson is a thirty-something actor, author, filmmaker, artist, poet, and full-time wannabe philosopher. In his latest venture, he sets out to tell men who and what they were meant to be. He identifies 15 characteristics of what he believes should be in every true man’s life.
In the Introduction, the author explains how he came up with his list.
For a long time, I’ve wrestled with this notion of what a good man is and how I can become one. Eventually, when it was evident the modern world didn’t have the answers it was looking for, I turned to the Creator of men to see if maybe there, in His words, I could find a more satisfying and complete picture of who I was trying so hard to become.
I went back to God’s Word and looked at what the Creator says, I went through history and looked at the men who made a positive difference in the world, and I looked at the men in my own life who I considered to be good men (there were not many). Then I began piecing together a new image of what a good man might truly be.
The author spends one chapter on each of the 15 characteristics in his list—Adventurous, Devout, Heroic, Honest, Brotherly, Healthy, Emotional, Authentic, Romantic, Wise, Ambitious, Fighting, Simple, Servant-Hearted, and Committed. He uses a number of stories from his own life and experience to illustrate his thoughts.
On the one hand, his list of characteristics is commendable. On the other hand, they are not necessarily biblical. They are good qualities to aspire to, but not ones necessarily commanded in the Scriptures. The early chapters are based more on personal experience and desire while the latter chapters do include some Scriptural content. Overall, however, the book feels more like Christian pop-psychology than a presentation of biblical manhood. While the author has some good things to say, I’m not sure a thirty-year-old single man has the needed life experience to speak authoritatively on the subject. But that’s just my opinion.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.
I remember back in the day when worship was so much better. We could sing and praise as we felt led. Everyone was welcome at church. We could enjoy rich, close fellowship. We could share coffee and donuts and talk about our lives around the table. We expressed our compassion by putting an arm around someone’s shoulder as they poured out their heart. Our children loved going to Sunday School and learning Bible stories from their teachers. We still have the crafts and lesson papers they brought home. Those were the good old days, B.C. (Before Coronavirus).
Now, we have to wear a mask when we go to church and we are required to sit six feet away from the next person. We have to plan ahead and register our attendance and hope there is still room for us. We have to rely on Zoom conversations instead of being close and present. We cannot share food and conversation before or after the worship service. There are no children’s programs because of all the restrictions and guidelines. Worship was so much better when we could pass the offering plate instead of putting it in a box by the door.
It’s just not the same. Worship was so much better before all this happened!
The complaints we feel today and the longing for yesterday is not new to this generation. Almost 2,500 years ago, a group of people expressed a similar anguish and longing for the past. The Jewish people built the first temple and dedicated it under the leadership of King Solomon. 400+ years later, the nation was carried off into exile and the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. After 70 years of exile, God allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. When the foundation was laid for the second temple, many of those who had worshipped in the first temple wept (Ezra 3:12).
It is very easy to fall into the comparison trap and give into the idolatry of nostalgia. On the one hand, we should grieve for what we have lost. On the other hand, we should give thanks that God is still in control. On the one hand, we should acknowledge that church and worship have to be done in a different manner than before. On the other hand, we can rejoice that God’s mercy is new every morning. On the one hand, we should mourn that life has changed and things are different. On the other hand, we can give thanks that we have a message of hope that we can share with the world. On the one hand, we can complain that we have to make one more change. On the other hand, we can rejoice that God is still in the business of changing hearts and lives.
Yes, the Coronavirus has changed how we do church and how we worship. But we still have much to praise God for.
We can weep or we can rejoice. Which will you do today?
May 31, 2020 Worship service at First Central Bible Church – 1 Samuel 16:1-13 – “A Change of Perspective”
This was our first Sunday back together as a congregation at First Central Bible Church. Not surprisingly, we had some technical challenges. While the audio quality if not quite up to par, we were able to record most of the music portion. I begin speaking just part the 21-minute mark.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. They look at life through rose-colored glasses. Walk a mile in a person’s shoes before passing judgment on their life.
All of these metaphors speak to the topic of perspective. If you look at an issue from one direction, you will see one thing. But if you look at it from another direction, you will see a different picture.
What we think we need is quite different from what we really need. How we see the world is vastly different from how God sees the world. How we choose leaders is often the polar opposite of how God chooses leaders.
1 Samuel 16:1-13 presents the story of God sending Samuel to anoint David as the next king of Israel. It emphasizes the point that we need a new perspective. We need to see life and people from God’s viewpoint.
Plan B: A king chosen BY Israel (1a). The story begins by explaining that God had rejected Saul as king. Saul had been chosen by the people (8:18; 12:13) rather than by God. If you study the previous chapters, you discover that God had a different view of Saul than the people did.
The people thought Saul was a take charge leader. God viewed him as impatient (13:8-12). People viewed him as decisive while God judged him as rash and impulsive (14:24-30, 39, 43-45). People liked Saul because he thought for himself while God saw his actions as disobedience (15:1-3, 8-9). The nation viewed Saul as analytical while God saw that he rationalized and shifted blame (15:15). Instead of being a man of the people, he was really a people pleaser (15:24). To people Saul looked very impressive, but God knew that he was over image conscious (15:25, 30).
Plan A: A king chosen BY God (1b-13). God instructed Samuel to stop grieving over what might have been and instead, set out to anoint the man God had chosen as the next king. While Samuel was initially reluctant and fearful, he obeyed God and carried out the task.
Samuel journeyed to Bethlehem under the pretext of offering a sacrifice. While there, he invited the family of Jesse and his sons to join him. Samuel thought each of Jesse’s seven sons looked like kingly material. However, God rejected each one of them. Instead, God explained, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
Samuel learns that Jesse had an eighth son who was caring for the sheep. Not only was he the youngest, he was also the smallest of the boys. Since he was not included in an adult gathering, David was possibly 11 or 12 years old at the time. Following God’s instructions, Samuel anoints David and the Holy Spirit takes us residence in his life from that day forward.
We can gain several principles about perspective from this story. In the darkest of times, God is still at work. We need to trust his plan. When God gives us a task, we need to obey his instructions and carry out the task. Since God views life and people from a different perspective, we should ask him to open our eyes. Since God chooses leaders on the basis of their heart, we should ask God to increase our desire for him. Lastly, if God calls us to a task, we should rely on his provision to equip us to be successful.
This is the synopsis of a sermon preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on May 31, 2020. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the life of David. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.