Monthly Archives: May 2006

New Column at 9marks.com

I recently began a new column at 9marks.com that is called “Shaping Timothy.” The column calls for pastors to begin discipleship of young men in their churches. I make the argument that pastoral discipleship is as much a pastoral responsibility as preaching, teaching, and evangelism. This claim is based in the example afforded us by both Christ and Paul, who made it their business to train men for ministry. I am excited about the column and grateful to 9Marks for the opportunity to write it. If you like, you can read it at http://www.9marks.com/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID314526CHID598014CIID2209928,00.html

There’s also a ton of other good stuff at the site. Here’s the teaser.

“The most dangerous attacks on the people of God often come from within our city walls.

This has happened before. Church history speaks to this fact. Not too many decades ago, the church wrestled with humanist modernity, cloaked as progressive scholarship, that attacked the most precious tenets of the faith. The effects were manifold. Many fell away, seminaries went liberal, and the churches fell into twentieth-century malaise. Nowadays, the situation has changed. The opposition is more subtle but just as dangerous. Today, it is soft religion that wars with the church, loosely held religious commitment that is no commitment at all. Pastors, entrusted with the church’s care, dumb down biblical doctrine, take their cues from secular business practices, and evangelize based on earthly benefits, not spiritual responsibilities. Divorce is rampant among the pastoral corps, pornography a common vice, and the culture pities the church as much as it sneers at it. From the high post of fidelity, the church has slid into a puddle of malfeasance. Sadly, its shepherds are leading the way.

In their wake follows a young generation of men raised on doctrinal sugar water. They lack the theological, ecclesiological, and missiological beliefs necessary to faithfully lead the church of tomorrow. Their lack of biblical training will work its effect in time. Ours is not a modern-day Troy yet. But the enemy has entered the city.”

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Models of Manhood

There are two other models of manhood that come to my mind. The first is the playboy. This type of man could really care less about scholarship, or financial success, or family. He’s concerned about three things: himself, the opposite sex, and the intersection therein. That’s it. He holds down a job, of course, but he doesn’t find his identity in it. He has friends, but he doesn’t define himself by them. No, the playboy defines himself by how much attention he gets from girls. He devotes lots of attention to his appearance and in fact often spends more on it than on any other aspect of his person. The newest clothes, the coolest gear, the bronzest tan–such are the pursuits of the playboy. His is a hedonistic existence, measured in contact with the opposite sex. His attitude only grows with each encounter, yet his satisfaction only diminishes.

The misfit, well, doesn’t fit in with any of the five other models. He is generally the one who kept to himself in high school, and could have well worn some kind of face makeup to school in that period. He has a strong connection to music, for some reason, and spends long amounts of time listening to his favorite bands. He doesn’t dress by everyone else’s standards, he’s weird, and he’s usually interesting and nice when you get to know him. The misfit has little sense of social restriction and so is often flirting with danger. The misfit is generally intelligent though not motivated. He is perhaps the saddest of the models, because he is not hostile to others, usually, but is generally the victim of neglect.

Each of the models present a unique evangelistic challenge. It could be an interesting exercise for Christians to think through which group they most belong to, and then to think through ways they could show kindness and friendship to that group of people. Of course, sometimes it is with opposites that we are most able to build friendships, but all the same, thoughtfulness never hurts. How beautiful it would be to reach men of all these models and introduce them to the supreme model, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave His life for the redemption of all kinds of jocks, normal guys, and misfits.

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Models of Manhood

The third model of manhood that sticks out to me is the scholar. The scholar defines himself by at least one of the following: his SAT scores, his GPA, his college alma mater, and the last twenty, nay, thirty books he’s read. He sniffs at the boyish conquests of the animal kingdom that characterize the sportsman. He has forgotten entirely how many points he scored in high school, unlike the jock, who can tell you by the game how many he scored. No, the scholar occupies a higher sphere, the realm of the mind. Many scholars do in fact practice an unconscious Platonism in which they devalue the body and exalt the mind. There’s some good to the scholar’s lifestyle–he certainly learns much and works hard on intellectual things. But he has a tendency to snobbery.

The fourth model of manhood is the normal guy. This is the guy who hasn’t killed any moose in the last year, who didn’t make even the junior varsity team, and who didn’t take any AP classes. He plugged his way through school and now has a solid job. He works hard, maintains a close relationship with his family, and likes watching sports. Generally, this is the guy the beer commercial advertisers target. The normal guy is the least likely of the four to talk about himself and the most likely to dislike those who do. The normal guy usually votes red (Republican), likes slightly cheesy movies, and is the type to loan you a wrench when you need one. He’s never going to push his way up the achievement charts, but neither will he cut you down as you try the same.

Next: more models of manhood.

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Different Types of Men

In doing some research on manhood, it has occurred to me that there are a number of different types of men, and that there is no monolithic ideal of masculinity. Here are a few that I thought of. Each group expresses one unique trait of masculinity, the desire to prove their masculinity, in different ways. It’s interesting to think the different types through.

The first model is the sportsman. The sportsman roots his manhood in outdoor activities. He views himself as the ultimate man because he lives in the state of nature–literally and figuratively. He has discovered life at its essence: hunting, fishing, and doing what it takes to survive, albeit without modern conveniences. The sportsman will often look down on other men because he sees himself as most purely expressing masculinity. Men who do not kill or journey are not fully men, and cannot be fully trusted. However, he does fulfill part of the ideal of the biblical man, in that he provides for his own and is not shy about claiming dominion over the earth.

The second model is the jock. He roots his manhood in his athletic prowess, real or supposed. The jock views himself as the ultimate man because he excels in those fields which modern society pays great attention to–the fields of sport. The jock will often look down on other men because he sees himself as most purely expressing masculinity. Men who did not play sports are inferior because they were not able to do so, as he was. For the rest of his life, the jock will subtly direct conversation to athletic matters and inform fellow conversants of his past athletic prowess. He will also reduplicate his athletic drive in his children. At least he’ll try to. The jock fulfills part of the biblical ideal in that he cares for his body and enjoys competition and engagement with others. Many virtues are encompassed in sports. However, he will have a tendency to overvalue the life of the body and look down on those who were not athletic.

Next–two more types.

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One Son’s Remembrance, Pt. 2

College brought major changes to my relationship with Mom. It must, of course, and it did. Yet I remained very close to Mom and continued to experience her unconditional kindness. In a busy first year, care packages stuffed with my favorite granola bars, nonpareils, and a nice note brought a smile to my face and memories of yesterday to my mind. The college years were great. My family took ski trips to Sugarloaf in Maine and Mt. St. Anne in Quebec. Bonds were strengthened amidst the swirl of snow and the chill of winter. Mom wasn’t the fastest skier, but she was steady, careful, and ever mindful of my sister and I, even as we whizzed ahead of her. In many ways, those slopes provide a metaphor for her love for us. Steady, thoughtful, and others-centered. A mother’s love.

It is interesting to see what post-college separation does to a parent-son relationship. I have found that being apart from my parents has only deepened my bond with them. The silly arguments have disappeared; there is a deep mutual respect; and I am on my own, leaving them to trust me. When I do make it back to Maine, I find that I thoroughly enjoy myself. Sure, it’s a bit melancholy. My relationship with Mom and Dad has changed, and it will remain that way. It must. There is a bit of sadness in this, but there is great joy when we are together. Years and years of unconditional love, much kindness, and thoughtfulness have yielded a strong affection between Mom and I.

This affection will not pass with marriage. I am currently preparing for marriage to a wonderful girl, and the prospect of a life together overloads my senses. Yet though this act marks my decisive “cleaving” to another, my love for Mom remains. The years pass, the seasons change, but my love for Mom remains the same. I am not there to tell her this, but she knows it. The Lord has allowed us to experience very strong feelings in this life, feelings that transcend words, and this love falls in that strange category. There is a love that transcends speech. This is the love I have for Mom.

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One Son’s Remembrance, Pt. 2

College brought major changes to my relationship with Mom. It must, of course, and it did. Yet I remained very close to Mom and continued to experience her unconditional kindness. In a busy first year, care packages stuffed with my favorite granola bars, nonpareils, and a nice note brought a smile to my face and memories of yesterday to my mind. The college years were great. My family took ski trips to Sugarloaf in Maine and Mt. St. Anne in Quebec. Bonds were strengthened amidst the swirl of snow and the chill of winter. Mom wasn’t the fastest skier, but she was steady, careful, and ever mindful of my sister and I, even as we whizzed ahead of her. In many ways, those slopes provide a metaphor for her love for us. Steady, thoughtful, and others-centered. A mother’s love.

It is interesting to see what post-college separation does to a parent-son relationship. I have found that being apart from my parents has only deepened my bond with them. The silly arguments have disappeared; there is a deep mutual respect; and I am on my own, leaving them to trust me. When I do make it back to Maine, I find that I thoroughly enjoy myself. Sure, it’s a bit melancholy. My relationship with Mom and Dad has changed, and it will remain that way. It must. There is a bit of sadness in this, but there is great joy when we are together. Years and years of unconditional love, much kindness, and thoughtfulness have yielded a strong affection between Mom and I.

This affection will not pass with marriage. I am currently preparing for marriage to a wonderful girl, and the prospect of a life together overloads my senses. Yet though this act marks my decisive “cleaving” to another, my love for Mom remains. The years pass, the seasons change, but my love for Mom remains the same. I am not there to tell her this, but she knows it. The Lord has allowed us to experience very strong feelings in this life, feelings that transcend words, and this love falls in that strange category. There is a love that transcends speech. This is the love I have for Mom.

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One Son’s Remembrance, Pt. 2

College brought major changes to my relationship with Mom. It must, of course, and it did. Yet I remained very close to Mom and continued to experience her unconditional kindness. In a busy first year, care packages stuffed with my favorite granola bars, nonpareils, and a nice note brought a smile to my face and memories of yesterday to my mind. The college years were great. My family took ski trips to Sugarloaf in Maine and Mt. St. Anne in Quebec. Bonds were strengthened amidst the swirl of snow and the chill of winter. Mom wasn’t the fastest skier, but she was steady, careful, and ever mindful of my sister and I, even as we whizzed ahead of her. In many ways, those slopes provide a metaphor for her love for us. Steady, thoughtful, and others-centered. A mother’s love.

It is interesting to see what post-college separation does to a parent-son relationship. I have found that being apart from my parents has only deepened my bond with them. The silly arguments have disappeared; there is a deep mutual respect; and I am on my own, leaving them to trust me. When I do make it back to Maine, I find that I thoroughly enjoy myself. Sure, it’s a bit melancholy. My relationship with Mom and Dad has changed, and it will remain that way. It must. There is a bit of sadness in this, but there is great joy when we are together. Years and years of unconditional love, much kindness, and thoughtfulness have yielded a strong affection between Mom and I.

This affection will not pass with marriage. I am currently preparing for marriage to a wonderful girl, and the prospect of a life together overloads my senses. Yet though this act marks my decisive “cleaving” to another, my love for Mom remains. The years pass, the seasons change, but my love for Mom remains the same. I am not there to tell her this, but she knows it. The Lord has allowed us to experience very strong feelings in this life, feelings that transcend words, and this love falls in that strange category. There is a love that transcends speech. This is the love I have for Mom.

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One Son’s Remembrance of His Mother

Mother’s Day has come and gone with its typical stealth. I am not deterred, however, by Hallmark and its scheduling. I want to take a day and celebrate my Mom, post-holiday.

The Lord did me a great kindness in selecting my mother, Donna Dustin Strachan, to care for me in my youth. It is an awesome thing to look back through time and realize that before this earth was, God had paired my mother with me. He did this in order that I would experience her kindness, her sacrificial love, and her warm, wonderful personality. My association with Mom, then, begins not in 1981. It begins in an age for which there is no date. For this I have divine providence to thank.

I was not around to witness the weaving of threads that one day brought Mom and me together. I was, however, around in the early 1980s, when my father and mother showered me with love on a daily basis. They were young parents then, making a home in small-town Maine, Dad working as a forester, Mom working in a small-town library, both attending a small-town church. Those were simple days. Being the first child, I received all sorts of attention, which I despised. Okay, I’m kidding. I loved the time with Dad and Mom. Mom took me to the Library with her. I crawled all over the nineteenth-century structure and eventually discovered the children’s books section in the basement that smelled of forgotten creativity. Mom nurtured that love for reading and learning by reading to me often. One consequence was that one of my greatest joys as a child was to have my parents read two books with me before I went to bed (only to think of those books when I should have slept). Mom and I forged a special connection in those early years. She cooked chocolate chip cookies, took me on my first shopping trips, and supervised from a distance my first friendships. She had much love to give. I received a great deal of it, and was forever changed as a result.

Adolescence often marks the beginning of a wedge between a boy and his mother. He moves more into the territory of masculinity and discovers that it’s not cool to talk about your Mom on the playground. I did branch out and make friends like other kids, but I retained my strong bond with my mother. Mom understood me. She laughed with me, challenged me to excel at school, and encouraged me in the difficult days of junior high. We still went on our pre-school shopping trips, still enjoyed a good laugh, and watched Homicide, Dateline, and the X-Files together. In these days, Mom’s mettle showed itself. How many basketball games–high school, college, and pro–this woman watched I could never guess. Way more than she bargained for, I assure you. Yet on many a night, she was content to sit on the couch, knitting and perusing books to purchase for the library, while I watched one game after another. Mom didn’t need a deep connection to the current activity to be engaged with me. Her love was enough. Here was the thread that lasted through all the years, all the hurt, all the adjustment, all the joy. Love was enough.

High school brought a new phase and sustained expression of Mom’s love. Two things stand out about those years. First was Mom’s attendance at seemingly every event I participated in during high school. Band concerts, plays, basketball games, baseball games, cross country meets, and much more. Mom was always there, it seemed, and always wholeheartedly cheering me on. She was a wonderful fan, and this filled me with purpose, happiness, and trust. I knew she was there for me. A boy cannot say what that means for him. I couldn’t then, and I try now, and even now, it means more than I can write. Thanks, Mom.

Come back tomorrow for more.

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One Son’s Remembrance of His Mother

Mother’s Day has come and gone with its typical stealth. I am not deterred, however, by Hallmark and its scheduling. I want to take a day and celebrate my Mom, post-holiday.

The Lord did me a great kindness in selecting my mother, Donna Dustin Strachan, to care for me in my youth. It is an awesome thing to look back through time and realize that before this earth was, God had paired my mother with me. He did this in order that I would experience her kindness, her sacrificial love, and her warm, wonderful personality. My association with Mom, then, begins not in 1981. It begins in an age for which there is no date. For this I have divine providence to thank.

I was not around to witness the weaving of threads that one day brought Mom and me together. I was, however, around in the early 1980s, when my father and mother showered me with love on a daily basis. They were young parents then, making a home in small-town Maine, Dad working as a forester, Mom working in a small-town library, both attending a small-town church. Those were simple days. Being the first child, I received all sorts of attention, which I despised. Okay, I’m kidding. I loved the time with Dad and Mom. Mom took me to the Library with her. I crawled all over the nineteenth-century structure and eventually discovered the children’s books section in the basement that smelled of forgotten creativity. Mom nurtured that love for reading and learning by reading to me often. One consequence was that one of my greatest joys as a child was to have my parents read two books with me before I went to bed (only to think of those books when I should have slept). Mom and I forged a special connection in those early years. She cooked chocolate chip cookies, took me on my first shopping trips, and supervised from a distance my first friendships. She had much love to give. I received a great deal of it, and was forever changed as a result.

Adolescence often marks the beginning of a wedge between a boy and his mother. He moves more into the territory of masculinity and discovers that it’s not cool to talk about your Mom on the playground. I did branch out and make friends like other kids, but I retained my strong bond with my mother. Mom understood me. She laughed with me, challenged me to excel at school, and encouraged me in the difficult days of junior high. We still went on our pre-school shopping trips, still enjoyed a good laugh, and watched Homicide, Dateline, and the X-Files together. In these days, Mom’s mettle showed itself. How many basketball games–high school, college, and pro–this woman watched I could never guess. Way more than she bargained for, I assure you. Yet on many a night, she was content to sit on the couch, knitting and perusing books to purchase for the library, while I watched one game after another. Mom didn’t need a deep connection to the current activity to be engaged with me. Her love was enough. Here was the thread that lasted through all the years, all the hurt, all the adjustment, all the joy. Love was enough.

High school brought a new phase and sustained expression of Mom’s love. Two things stand out about those years. First was Mom’s attendance at seemingly every event I participated in during high school. Band concerts, plays, basketball games, baseball games, cross country meets, and much more. Mom was always there, it seemed, and always wholeheartedly cheering me on. She was a wonderful fan, and this filled me with purpose, happiness, and trust. I knew she was there for me. A boy cannot say what that means for him. I couldn’t then, and I try now, and even now, it means more than I can write. Thanks, Mom.

Come back tomorrow for more.

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One Son’s Remembrance of His Mother

Mother’s Day has come and gone with its typical stealth. I am not deterred, however, by Hallmark and its scheduling. I want to take a day and celebrate my Mom, post-holiday.

The Lord did me a great kindness in selecting my mother, Donna Dustin Strachan, to care for me in my youth. It is an awesome thing to look back through time and realize that before this earth was, God had paired my mother with me. He did this in order that I would experience her kindness, her sacrificial love, and her warm, wonderful personality. My association with Mom, then, begins not in 1981. It begins in an age for which there is no date. For this I have divine providence to thank.

I was not around to witness the weaving of threads that one day brought Mom and me together. I was, however, around in the early 1980s, when my father and mother showered me with love on a daily basis. They were young parents then, making a home in small-town Maine, Dad working as a forester, Mom working in a small-town library, both attending a small-town church. Those were simple days. Being the first child, I received all sorts of attention, which I despised. Okay, I’m kidding. I loved the time with Dad and Mom. Mom took me to the Library with her. I crawled all over the nineteenth-century structure and eventually discovered the children’s books section in the basement that smelled of forgotten creativity. Mom nurtured that love for reading and learning by reading to me often. One consequence was that one of my greatest joys as a child was to have my parents read two books with me before I went to bed (only to think of those books when I should have slept). Mom and I forged a special connection in those early years. She cooked chocolate chip cookies, took me on my first shopping trips, and supervised from a distance my first friendships. She had much love to give. I received a great deal of it, and was forever changed as a result.

Adolescence often marks the beginning of a wedge between a boy and his mother. He moves more into the territory of masculinity and discovers that it’s not cool to talk about your Mom on the playground. I did branch out and make friends like other kids, but I retained my strong bond with my mother. Mom understood me. She laughed with me, challenged me to excel at school, and encouraged me in the difficult days of junior high. We still went on our pre-school shopping trips, still enjoyed a good laugh, and watched Homicide, Dateline, and the X-Files together. In these days, Mom’s mettle showed itself. How many basketball games–high school, college, and pro–this woman watched I could never guess. Way more than she bargained for, I assure you. Yet on many a night, she was content to sit on the couch, knitting and perusing books to purchase for the library, while I watched one game after another. Mom didn’t need a deep connection to the current activity to be engaged with me. Her love was enough. Here was the thread that lasted through all the years, all the hurt, all the adjustment, all the joy. Love was enough.

High school brought a new phase and sustained expression of Mom’s love. Two things stand out about those years. First was Mom’s attendance at seemingly every event I participated in during high school. Band concerts, plays, basketball games, baseball games, cross country meets, and much more. Mom was always there, it seemed, and always wholeheartedly cheering me on. She was a wonderful fan, and this filled me with purpose, happiness, and trust. I knew she was there for me. A boy cannot say what that means for him. I couldn’t then, and I try now, and even now, it means more than I can write. Thanks, Mom.

Come back tomorrow for more.

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