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You Need Nathan

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DesertJourney

I have been exploring the ‘mid-life crises’ of David and Solomon.  They both started so well.  Each man experienced God in amazing and life-changing ways.  Both were exceptional.  David was ‘a man after God’s own heart.’  Solomon was literally the wisest man ever.  Ever!  God had spoken to each of them and through each of them.  And yet…

And Yet

David and Solomon give me hope.  Their brokenness encourages me, because it shows me that I am not alone.  They were both warriors in God’s kingdom, and yet when they reached their 30’s or 40’s they stumbled.  They faced a life transition, and they faltered.  To use an automotive metaphor, they didn’t make the turn.  They couldn’t shift into a different gear.  David left the battle.  He chose safety instead of adventure.  He coveted other beauty instead of being content with the beauty that God had given him. Solomon ‘exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the Creation instead of the Creator.’  When Solomon built a home for himself that was greater than the home he built for God, it was the perfect outward symbol of his inner state.  He lost sight of the adventure and battle that God had given him.  The beauty and joy that Sheba admired was not enough for Solomon.  He coveted other beauty, and that beauty turned him away from God.  And he had no one to stop him.

The Life-Changing Difference

You see, Solomon created the bar graph of his priorities for everyone in the world to see, and he did not have a Nathan to ask him about his heart’s motive.  Solomon had begun to believe his own resume.  His press releases had skewed his view of himself.  Everyone in his known world worshipped him.  Every woman threw herself at him.  He was not strong enough to resist, and he had no one to tell him “You are wrong!” (2 Samuel 12) And no one was there to set him straight.

David’s life could have ended just as tragically as Solomon’s.  After all, he not only committed adultery but then tried to cover it up, even to the point of having his best friend murdered.  He could have easily kept going down the path, stubbornly refusing to admit he was wrong.  But instead, he came to his senses and repented.  Why?  Because he had a friend and ally who was brave enough and close enough to tell him the truth.  Nathan saw what David was doing and boldly told him that he needed to stop.  Because of Nathan, David’s flaws led to a confrontation, and he finished well.

David made his mistakes and wrote Psalm 51.  Solomon made his mistakes, and he wrote Ecclesiastes…many years later.  Instead of immediate repentance, Solomon’s was an end of life lament of the futility of it all.  It is tragic irony that the author of the book on romantic love (Song of Solomon) and the book of wisdom (Proverbs) ended up wasting his life on shallow, selfish love and foolishness.  Yes, he came to the correct solution:  “Fear God and keep His commandments.”  But he had to live through the futility of his poor decisions and a life half-wasted to get there.

Are You David or Solomon?

Men, you will be tempted to leave the battle.  You will be tempted to maximize safety and sacrifice adventure.  You will covet other beauty.  You will feel like going passive.  Be vigilant!  Be alert!  Make the right choice!   But as we make small shuffles down the slippery slope, do you have someone to set you straight?  Do you have a man or a team of men to urge you in the right direction?  You need a Nathan, or your future just might turn out to be meaningless.

 

Related Posts

OPL: Mid-Life Series 1 – Allies and Answers

OPL: Mid-Life 2- X Marks the Spot

OPL: Mid-Life Series 3 – From Duty to Desire and Devotion

OPL:  Mid-Life 4 – Tower of Babel or Excavation

OPL: Mid-Life 5 – Weary Warrior

OPL: Mid-Life 6 – Pleasure

 

OPL: Mid-Life 8 – Shame, Validation, and Identity

OPL: Mid-Life 9 – Halftime

Accountability – Guard Rails 

Accountability – Vulnerability 

MidLife Temptations – Pleasure

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DesertJourney

 

King David, a man after God’s own heart, ran into trouble as he passed through his late 30’s and early 40’s.  He gave in to the midlife temptation to step out of the fight.  Unfortunately, his son Solomon also had his own set of problems, but his main temptation was pleasure.

Imagine being the wisest, most popular, richest man in the entire known world.  Solomon was set up with the unprecedented ability to have everything that his heart desired.   Literally everything.  If he could dream it up, he could buy it.  He sent traders to the most distant lands to bring back the most exotic of everything.  He collected horses, chariots, gold, silver.  He even collected women as if he were trying to collect the whole set!  What do you buy the man who has everything?  More of everything!  He had it all.  Continue reading

Midlife Temptations – The Weary Warrior

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DesertJourney

Last week I explained that a lot of guys build their own Tower of Babel in their 30’s and 40’s.  Although not made of stone and mortar, this tower has the same causes and the same effects.  We do what we know how to do, we work hard in our own strength, and we build ourselves a little corner of safety, success, and self-sufficiency.   God has made us to be builders, and Noah was a recent example of how God loved for his people to build.  But there is one giant difference: the ark was built from God’s blueprint, and our Towers of Babel are not.

In the same way, here is another core areas of masculinity that can go haywire at this age. Continue reading

Tower of Babel, or Excavation?

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DesertJourney

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”  (Genesis 11:4) 

Ah, the Tower of Babel.  One of the ancient Bible stories that many of us learned when we were kids.  Simple story, simple ending, but I think it perfectly illustrates the path that many men take as they finish their 30’s and 40’s.  As I’ve pointed out here and here, this is the time in a man’s life when things are really starting to get rolling.  More money, power, and success.  At this point you have figured quite a few things out and you are no longer the amateur at everything.  And so we find ourselves at a fork in the road.  Continue reading

From Duty to Desire and Devotion

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DesertJourney

I have already pointed out that my mid-thirties feels like a transitional period.  Here is one more attempt to describe why.

From Duty to Devotion and Desire

For some people, this 30’s to 40’s phase marks a transition from a life of vague belief to a life of taking action on those beliefs.  You know, deciding that instead of just sitting in church for a couple hours per week maybe they should put their faith into action in every element of their life.  This may be you.  The Bible says that faith without works is dead, and it is time to get to work!  Time to stop living as a prodigal son and come back home.

But for me, I have been acting dutifully for a long time.  And that is the key word: Duty.  A slave serves dutifully.  A son is different.  A son works hard, but he works from a different motivation.  A son loves his father.  A son is in on the big picture…knows the plan.  Living and working like a son is less selfish in some ways, because the service is out of love and devotion to his dad.  But it is more rewarding too, because the son gets a share of the kingdom.  We are actually working for ourselves, in a paradoxical way.  It is refreshing to know that we aren’t simply martyrs, laying down our lives like sheep.  We are important leaders and co-heirs in this great Kingdom.  Let’s not get out of balance; duty is the place where we are to begin.  Duty is good.  But if we do not mature beyond duty our hearts will be stunted.

I have noticed it in my prayer life.  One of my rote prayers I pray frequently is “Lord, help me to serve you today with my whole heart.”  And that is a good thing.  But now I pray, “Lord, help me to love you and serve You today with my whole heart.”  I have been devouring The Sacred Romance, by John Eldredge.  I’ve been reading and enjoying the Psalms in all of David’s emo mushiness.  I’m digging into what it means to love God the Father and be loved by Him as a son.  (If you have good resources or can describe it for me, please leave a comment below or message me!)  As Bob Buford said in his book, “Halftime is the perfect opportunity to shift from trying to understand God to learning to know Him.”

Worldly Arenas

I’ve also felt the pull in my marriage.  I don’t want to just serve Dana because it’s ‘the right thing to do.’  (And vice versa.)  I want the passion back that we had in our honeymoon years.  I need my marriage to move from duty to desire.

Last, I’ve felt this shift in my career as well.  I have less internal pressure now to make the career move “I ought to make,” and less satisfaction with simply making progress or succeeding.  I am starting to feel the beginnings of the question:  “What do I actually want to be doing?”  In other words, desire.

This Is THE Defining Question!

Have you lived the last decade or two as the dutiful son, more or less a slave in your own Father’s house?   Or as a prodigal, knowing who you are but not acting like it?  This is the time in our life where we evaluate our current status and make the necessary changes.  Be careful guys – this is a crucial transition to make!  The path of duty starts out beautiful, but it ends up ugly. Passionate young Jews turned into wizened old Pharisees because they never made this transition.  We would be wise to learn from their mistakes.  Do not spend the rest of your married life, spiritual life, and work life locked into the dutiful drudgery of a slave.  Continue to do what is right, but do it from a heart of devotion and desire.

I’m interested – what advice do you have for me?  What resources can help me with this journey?  

Other Resources:

OPL: Mid-Life 1 – Allies and Answers

OPL: Mid-Life 2- X Marks the Spot

OPL:  Mid-Life 4 – Tower of Babel or Excavation

OPL: Mid-Life 5 – Weary Warrior

OPL: Mid-Life 6 – Pleasure

OPL: Mid-Life 7 – You Need Nathan

OPL: Mid-Life 8 – Shame, Validation, and Identity

OPL: Mid-Life 9 – Halftime

Bob Buford’s Halftime

 

X Marks The Spot

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XMarksTheSpot

“You Are Here”

I have spent quite a bit of time in reflection over the last 6 months.  Not because I particularly want to, but because I have needed to.  A couple weeks ago I introduced you to the questions that I’m wrestling with here in my 35th year.  I told you that I feel as if what got me here won’t get me where I need to go.  I am planning to write several posts about this idea, but the first question I want to answer is:  “How did I get here?”

One of the answers to this question came to me when I was at a Wild at Heart retreat in early March.  After one of the sessions I was sitting in the spring sun, thinking, praying, and reflecting.  We had 45 minutes of free time to spend in reflection, and I wondered when was the last time that I had sat quietly for 45 minutes listening to God.  It certainly has been a while, maybe years.

That’s not good.

I really enjoyed the 4 day retreat – it was amazingly refreshing, and it reminded me of the InterVarsity week-long camps we attended during college at the end of each school year.  They were a chance to refocus and refresh my spirit, soul, and body.  A time to rekindle my passion and purpose.  When is the last time I have taken 4 consecutive days to do that?  Again, it had been years since I have been so purposeful in taking time to seek God, refocus, and refresh.

That’s not good. Continue reading

Warning Husbands: T Minus 8 Days to Valentine’s

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Valentines2

Hi guys,

As I was trying to figure out what to post , I realized that Valentine’s Day is only a week away!  So, as a public service announcement, I wanted to pass the word along to you so you are not surprised.

Here are a few appropriate posts for the season.

Wooing

WeddingRings

 

GodLovesYou

 

MaintenanceRequired

Maintenance Required

 

Communicate

Communicating and Receiving Love

 

100_1145

Guys – Creative Date Nights

 

WeddingRings

Fun Games to Play – Spouses Only

 

Learn more about OPL’s take on love and marriage by clicking on the Guys-Husband or Gals-Wife menu.  Or search for Marriage in the search box.  And don’t forget to follow us by email by putting your email address in the Subscribe box on the right.  One step and you’re done!

We All Need Somebody To Lean On

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Handshake

I was a member of a men’s vocal quartet in high school, called The Perfect Gentlemen.  (Unfortunately it was before the days of YouTube, so our talent remained undiscovered.)  We sang old classics like “In the Still of the Night,” tunes from Billy Joel, and of course the Boyz-II-Men “Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” for graduation.  And like any self-respecting men’s group we sang “Lean On Me.”  It is a great song, always a crowd pleaser, and it holds a good message that guys in particular should remember:  We all need somebody to lean on!   Continue reading

Truth In Advertising

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TV

Here are some commercials that illustrate deeper truths to me.

 

Distraction in Communication:

The other day Dana was sitting in the living room, talking to me.  Directly behind her and over her shoulder was the TV, with sports on, full volume.  I am sure that she was saying something really important, but I didn’t have a chance. Continue reading

Guys!

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Men are leaders…leaders in their home, church, and community.  I am passionate about equipping men to be effective husbands, dads, and leaders.  Guys, even if you have delegated much of the child-raising, decision-making, and housekeeping to your wife, it is still your responsibility to provide leadership, encouragement, and companionship.  It is still your responsibility to get in there and be present.  (I’m not saying that you have to attend every field trip to the zoo.  But, you need to prioritize time with your family, and when you are with them you need to be there.)  And sometimes you may have to fight for them!  I encourage you to use this blog as a starting point for many good discussions with your wife.  She wants to connect with you.  She wants you to lead! Continue reading