My initial post of this new year suggested we Downshift and Refocus to intentionally pursue God and the good life He offers. In order to help us grow as godly men, I will lead us on a journey through The MANual, an NIV Bible “written by men to men who are fellow travelers on this adventure called life.”
The MANual Bible provides honest and straightforward answers about our role as Christian men in the face of a culture that actively works against God’s will and the ways of Jesus. It includes 5 features that I’ll use to help us tackle the issues men face:
- Commonly, accepted Myths from the world.
- Examples of Men in the Bible who God used despite their failings.
- Ways of Knowing God so we can live as men created in His Image.
- Penetrating questions that cause us to “Downshift” and ponder.
- No-nonsense, hard-hitting, brutally honest truths called “At Issue” about sex, money, jealousy, and pride.
I will use some of these features and include questions to ponder in each post. I encourage you to respond in the Comment section below after each post so we can continue a fruitful dialogue to help each other grow as godly men.
So let’s get started on our journey!
In The Beginning…
The MANual appropriately starts in Genesis; the first of the five books of Moses. These books are called the Pentateuch (from the Greek words for “five books”) and comprise the first major section of the Old Testament. These books describe the creation of the universe, human beings, and their role in the world. The latter 4 books are also referred to as the Torah (meaning The Law) which describes and confirms God’s Covenant with His people to make them a great nation.
The 50 chapters of Genesis set the stage for the entire Bible. They record God’s creation story and His desire to have people become a nation who believe in Him. It’s also about the value of human beings. It shows the tragedy and consequences of sin but provides proof that God is always faithful, despite our failings.
We now come to the first feature in our MANual.
The first chapter of Genesis helps us understand how God created the Milky Way, the Painted Desert, the northern lights, the blue whale, and genetic codes that form our DNA which makes us unique yet so equal. He brought all of it into existence and gave people the instructions for living in His perfectly-designed world.
- Do you take time to think about just how incredible this world is?
- Does your self-esteem reflect the fact that you are a one-of-a-kind creation?
- Do you give other people the respect they deserve as the work of God’s hands?
These questions get to your belief in how God created the world and how you treat people.
The Pharisees were members of an ancient Jewish sect distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law. They commonly held feelings of superiority over most people because they knew the Scriptures backward and forward.
However, Jesus called the Pharisees on the carpet repeatedly for their failure to apply the truth of Scripture to their lives. He felt they were stuck in their old ways and lauded their knowledge over people.
Another feature is the myths that our everyday culture tells men about how to think and how to live. The first myth is about our spiritual maturity or how much “God-stuff” you need to know.
God didn’t give us the Bible so we’d have lots of great spiritual information. He gave it to us so we might undergo a transformation.
- Does your own spiritual maturity reflect a head full of “God facts” or does it reflect a transformed life?
Genesis also includes the stories of Adam and Eve, the “Fall of Man” (the original sin in the Garden of Eden), the world’s first sibling rivalry between Cain and Abel, (the first two sons of Adam and Eve), and God’s promise to Noah to never flood the world again. It describes God’s call of Abram, who was renamed Abraham (which means “father of many”) and how God gave Abraham and Sarah, a child named Isaac in their old age.
God tested the faith of Abraham when He asked him to sacrifice Isaac, instead, sending a goat at the very last minute. God declared that Abraham and all of his descendants will be blessed because he obeyed the commandments.
There is also the story of Abraham’s affair with Hagar, the Egyptian handmaiden that resulted in a son named Ishmael (who played a foundational role in Islamic tradition.)
This next feature starts with an open-ended question: “How far will you go?” which gets to the heart about our obedience to a higher standard for living. Your answer says a lot about your belief in God.
- Would you tattoo your face or spend a year in solitary confinement for a million dollars?
- Have you ever admitted to a secret affair or addiction?
- Would you risk your reputation at work by openly talking about your faith?
In addition to Adam, Cain & Abel, Noah, and Abraham, Genesis also describes the lives of Esau and Jacob, the twin boys of Isaac and Rebekah, and the grandsons of Abraham and Sarah.
Jacob has twelve sons (from four wives) who become the tribes of Israel. Esau also had numerous descendants (also from multiple wives, a cultural practice at that time), who became the powerful rulers of the land called Edom. These rulers would intermarry with the Canaanites and produced a tribe called the Edomites.
One of Jacob’s sons was Joseph, he of the multi-color coat who interpreted dreams.
Joseph’s brothers were jealous and sold him into slavery. He endured great suffering and spent many years in prison before becoming an overseer to the king of Egypt.
The wife of Potiphar, an Egyptian officer, attempted to seduce Joseph. But he remained a man of strong character and lived until the age of 110.
- Does your pride get in the way of how you treat your siblings?
- Does it affect the way you treat others, especially people of color?
The Bible includes many instances of ungodly behavior such as pride, deceit, and sexual temptation. Ever since the original sin in the Garden of Eden, humans are prone to sin. It’s the unfortunate result of our disobedience to God’s commandments.
- What temptations are hardest for you to resist?
- When are you most susceptible to sexual temptation?
No matter how dark your life seems or however bad your family circumstances, the book of Genesis explains how God created a perfect world and made you unique as a man for his bigger plans.
He also wants us to remain obedient to His commandments and treat others as equal members of one race: God’s human race. He also wants us to stop the generational sins that can impact our family for many years.
Focus of the Week
God Buddies help each other grow and mature in their trust and faith in the Lord to help advance their spiritual maturity. God does not want us to do life alone but desires us to have deep, authentic relationships that help us grow as men, as husbands, as fathers, and as Christians.
- Gather some God Buddies together and agree to study the Bible. Use the questions above to guide your discussions.
- Form an accountability group of trusted friends. Give each other permission to gently encourage the faithful pursuit of these higher goals.
Remember to comment below for this post and every week so we keep the conversation going and help each other become more godly men.