Grandpa used to tell me that there were 2 types of hats: “winter” hats and “summer” hats. Winter hats had cloth all around them; summer ones had the mesh. I thought he was making it up. Sure enough these are universal terms…leave it to me to question the wisdom.
There are more than just 2 types of course. Cowboy hats (straw for the spring/summer; felt for fall/winter; palm leaf for a Kenny Chesney concert); stocking hats; welders caps; pirate hats…the list could go on and on. The hat fits the job being done. What hat you have on is important.
“You are a man of many hats” so the saying goes and nothing is more true of men.
This came across my twitter feed minutes ago.
Trust me, I understand that women have the same deal going. The job description of a Mom is endless and often times overbearing. What hats women wear are too numerous to count. But here in lies the difference, women hats are all viewed the same. If they are changing the oil in the car; it is viewed in a caring and nurturing manner. If they are changing a diaper; it is viewed in a caring and nurturing manner. A woman, regardless of whether they have children or not, are viewed the same way.
Men on the other hand are not.
In a recent study, two groups of people were given a list of the same traits (i.e. “caring”; “aggressive”; “confident”). One group labeled the traits ‘positive’ and ‘negative’. The other group was asked to rate how much of the trait was shown in men, women, mom’s, and dad’s. Two conclusions were revealed:
Men had the most negative traits attached to them in the study.
The deviation between men and dad’s was far greater than that between Mom and woman.
So men are bad and father’s are good? At least that is how this study concludes people’s views. It’s like trying to wear two hat’s though.
To be a father is to be a man.
Wounded father’s raise wounded men as John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart reminds us.
“Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow in the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and even more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father.” (62)
If the gap in how men and father’s are viewed widens, then fatherhood will become more like motherhood. Let me explain. In his book, No More Christian Nice Guy, Paul Coughlin conducts a similar experiment with his readers. Two columns of traits are given and asked which ones apply to Jesus. The exercise is to show how Jesus is portrayed as a meek and mild…dare to be said “feminized” man. But a case study of Jesus full identity would lead another direction to a dangerous and confrontational Savior. The same has been done for Dad’s at Church and in Society.
This is why in David Morrow’s words: “Men Hate Going to Church”. Churches knock all the danger, excitement, and passion out of the Gospel to keep it safe and grounded.
One of the worst things that can happen to Fatherhood would be to lose the very meaning of being a man. Unifying the two, fatherhood and manhood, is the only way to raise a family. Healthy women/wives/mothers; healthy sons; and healthy daughters. Hat’s off to the men leading families with their heart!
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things will never be shaken. (Psalm 15)
Praise Day Bible Camp went by smoothly (outside of the Kindergarten kid who decided to jump and land on my foot). I was in charge of the Bible Story. I recruited three young men to help me out and to make the day go quicker. I can’t say enough good things about these young men. Maddix, Max, and Caleb (with no advanced warning mind you) led small groups and Kagan activities, played the part of bouncer, and people listened. I guess I shouldn’ be suprised that they taught like Maddix’s dad who is coaching his sprinters at state track; they disciplined and crowe control like Calebs dad, a county sherriff; and when they spoke to both students and adults, they listened, just like Max’s father.
“Like father,like son” can be a blessing or curse. I was blessed today in sharing ministry with good men, because their fathers are good men.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6.4)
I inherited an 8n tractor. Inherited is probably not the correct word. Dad upgraded and the 8n became yard art. It hasn’t ran since the upgrade and if I can drive it off its mine. The engine, a 4 cylinder, needs some work. I think it will run, but not fully. At least one of the cylinders has a compression problem (I think!). If you had to use it, it would probably work, but wouldn’t be able to do the things it’s supposed to be able to do; the things that made it the most popular tractor in American history. I wonder how many of us aren’t running on all cylinders.
The saying “running on all 6 cylinders” alludes to an engine where the injectors, spark plugs, pistons, and values, are working in proper timing and coordination to move the drive train, which inturn drives the transmission, which drives the car/truck/tractor. If just one of all the parts is ineffective, out of time, or out of commission, the whole system suffers and thought the machine may run, will prove to be lacking in performance. How often in life would you say you spend running on all 6 cylinders? Part of the problem is that we often don’t know what the cylinders are. Human beings, like legos, were created to be in relationship and community. In the same way that you can’t play with a single Lincoln log, lego, or eat a single Pringles chip, humans don’t do well in isolation. We were made to have certain relationships. When one of our relationships goes bad, the entire system suffers. Though it may still work and run, it isn’t performing at peak performance. So these relationships help our lives run at peak performance:
Our relationship with God. When Adam and Eve sinned they hid from God (Gen 3.8-10) and we have been in hiding ever since. Sin and disobedience have clouded our relationship with God.
Our relationship with family. Adam and Eve…Cain and Able…James and Jesus. Nearly every page of Scripture save the first and the last is riddled with family strife. Sin took the family apart piece by piece. The same can be said for our own families.
Our relationship with self. Shame entered the world with Adam and Eve. They sowed leaves together to hide their nakedness. Shame and pride are inward emotions. So sin distanced us from God, from others, and from ourselves.
Our relationship with others. The world has 6.8 billion people on it and there is more strife than ever before. With Babel in Genesis 11, the world was divided by thoughts, language and worldview. We are divided by oceans, continents, and seas, but our greatest divide is worldview.
Our relationship with Creation. Creation was God’s gift to us to explore, work and learn from. Now creation is marked with disasters, tragedies, and struggle. We fight it, use it up, and toil against it.
Our relationship with Culture. Society, music, media, and communication are areas that were taken captive after sin entered the world. Sin has tainted our relationship with the arts, creativity, and expression. Messages are lost, mistranslated, and under communicated because of the distance because of disobedience.
We went from a six cylinder fine ride, to a bike without pedals. From a high performance engine to a Fred Flintstone foot-powered mobile with a single decision of disobedience.
How do we get back to running full speed, full power, on all cylinders? Jesus says “…I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10.10b) John uses the greek word for life [zoe] thirty-six times in his book. The word is most often used in reference to the life given by a person’s proximity to Jesus. John writes the purpose of his book is: “these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20.31) Many times we thing about the life that Jesus offers is life after death, but with John it is so much more. Life, as described in the book of John, is not just a life like the one we have now with no end, but a quality of life that is promised. This is adventure; it is excitement, contentment, and joy. The life promised in John, as a gift from Jesus, is fulfilling and sustaining like bread (John 6.35-49), refreshing and quenching like water (John 4.14), illuminating and focusing like light (John 8.12), and directing and true (John 14.6).
My life needs some maintenance work. I have ran down a few cylinders for a while, mostly because I think I can solve and diagnose my own issues. Jesus promises the life that I want, the one I need. The beauty of Jesus words and his story is that no one is beyond restoration.
What do Will Turner, 9-year-old Bruno from “The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas”, and a Colin Ferrel character have in common? A haunting dilemma concerning their fathers.
Bruno’s Father is an officer in the German Army in 1942 who has just been transfered to operate Auschwitz, where 1 out of every 6 Jews killed by the Nazi’s lost their life. Throughout the story, Bruno is left in the dark about what his father actually does, but as the reader the question squats between the lines: How can a man who kills thousands a day remain a good dad to his kids? He is a loving father to his kids and devoted to their well being, yet at the same time murdering fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. Bruno slow discovers what’s on the other side of the fence.
In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is dangling precariously from a boom above the thrashing waves. Captain Jack Sparrow, at the helm, has turned the boat into the wind, scraping it across the deck, forcing Turner to hang on for dear life as the boom stopped over the sea. Sparrow says to him: “Now as long as you’re just hanging there. The only rules that matter are what a man can do and what a man can’t do. For instance, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man, or you can’t. But pirate is in your blood boy and you’ll have to square with that some day…” Turner struggles with having a good father who’s job wasn’t featured at career day.
James Clayton (Colin Ferrel) is a CIA recruit who is mentored by Walter Burke (Al Pacino) in The Recruit. Clayton has been searching for the truth about his father since he disappeared over a decade prior. Unbeknownst to Clayton, Burke served with his father in the CIA. When Burke hints at this, Clayton puts two and two together and is flummoxed. Burke says: “So he told stories. That’s what your father did; doesn’t mean he didn’t love you.” Clayton is confronted with the fact that his father lied about his career, his exploits, his activities, but was still his father. These scenes aren’t unfamiliar these days. With some of the kids I deal with regularly, this is the dilemma they have. For some dad may sell drugs, run in a gang, illegally trade guns, or even worse. Do their father’s love them any less? Can a father be a good father if his business is crooked; even illegal? I know it takes a man to be a father, but how much does a job make the man?
Around the turn of the 20th century, the XIT was one of the largest cattle ranches in the world. It was just over 3 million fenced in acres in the panhandle of Texas and was home to around 150,000 XIT branded cattle. Of the 100 or so cowboys that worked the spread, the most important job was saved for a select few. Their title was “the windmillers”. Where as many of the cowhands would retreat at night to camps and shelters, the windmillers were seen once a month at headquarters to pick up supplies. They lived out in the open year round with only a chuck wagon as their home. In summer swelter and winter chill, they were responsible for the upkeep and care of the 355 windmills that gave water to the cattle of the XIT ranch (Evetts, 96). The most impressive windmill on the ranch and in the world at the time rose 130 ft catching the west Texas wind (Evetts, 167).
Though they got their name from what was above ground, the real purpose of a windmill took place below ground. Though the usually didn’t stand very tall, many of the XIT windmills pumped water from well below the surface. They averaged a depth of 125 ft, with the deepest pumping water from 400 ft below ground. “Sometimes you have to dig deep to find water” is a sentiment not only shared by the wind millers of the XIT but also Solomon, the author of many of the Proverbs.
Near the end of the Proverbs that Solomon wrote, he offers up an ambiguous gem of thought. He writes:
“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” (Proverbs 20.5)
A man’s heart can be many things, especially in the book of Proverbs. In our scientific thought and western philosophy, the heart is full of emotions and feelings. Occasionally, the heart is equated with desire and passion, ‘follow your heart’ and ‘what the heart wants’. But in the Biblical world, the heart was so much more. It was the mind, the will, the emotions, the passions, the decision-maker, and the life giver of the person. The heart held their personality and character, their morality and their center. So when Proverbs talks about the heart it contains so much more than just the emotions; it entails the man. “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” (Prov 27.19)
“Purposes” have filled this man in Proverbs heart. The hebrew word translated “purposes” is oft used and inconsistently translated. It can mean “advice”, “counsel”, “verdict”, “judgment”, or “consulted”. To cover the range of translations, the noun seems to indicate “a prescribed course of action”. Reheboam, for instance, receives a “consultation” from his elders, then rejects their “counsel” and accepts the “advice” of the young men he grew up around. The decision would ultimately, cost him the entirety of the Kingdom. This illustrates an issue that arises often in Scripture: the origin of the “advice” or “plans”. When the “counsel” came from the Lord or one of His Agents, universally the outcome was positive, however, when man made the recommendation, it almost always turned bad. It remains to be seen as to whether the purposes of this heart are from God or from man.
The heart has its own “prescribed course of action” and they aren’t visible on the surface. The text says they are like “deep waters”. The word for deep, ‘amoq, is used in Psalm 64 where the wicked are plotting for David. There the mind and heart of man are described as cunning [‘amoq] (Psalm 64.6). Here the wicked are obviously not led by the Lord but by the counsel of men. The cunningness of the heart is not lost in the book of Proverbs where the heart can be full of deceit, envious, and led astray. Like Jeremiah said: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure…” (Jer. 17.9) The heart can play games, its waters are deep; however (and thankfully for this man), it is not the final authority. This man in Proverbs 20.5a seems to harboring his own plans and actions that are cunning and hidden well below the surface; ones that are not in line with those of God and it would be of serious issue if they welled up and remained there.
Thankfully, the plans of a man’s heart, made in the heart of man, are clearly in submission to the thoughts and plans of God. Proverbs reminds us:
“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (16.3)
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (16.9)
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (19.21)
Since the Lord’s way prevails, it seems as though our hearts ought to align with his purposes, passions, and paths. This is where the man of understanding comes in.
Like the windmills that pierced the West Texas dirt, the purposes of a heart must be uncovered. The perfect person for the job is the “man of understanding” (Prov. 20.5b). He “draws the purposes out” of the heart. Two things pertinent to this discussion are made abundantly clear:
The qualities of a man of understanding. This study began as I tried to figure out the type of man Bezalel was in Exodus 31. He was filled with “ability” which is most commonly translated as “understanding”. Solomon gives background to the type of man Bezalel was by weaving a description of a “man of understanding” throughout the book of Proverbs. He is a patient man (Prov 14.29), who delights in wisdom and good conduct (Prov 10.23) and holds his tongue (Prov 11.12), with an even temper (Prov 17.27) and the ability to make keen judgments, keeping his course straight and on track (Prov 15.21). All these qualities lead to a blessed (Prov 3.13) and prosperous life with God (Prov 19.8).
A man needs community. Proverbs makes many claims to the need for counsel and advice, which only comes from life in community. It is the wise who seek advice, guidance, and counsel from their brothers (1.5; 12.5; 12.15; 13.10; 15.22; 19.20; 20.18). A man of understanding seeks help from others and counsel from friends. It is only those who can bring his true motives, his “prescribed course of action”, to the surface. Without that process, hearts are easily corrupted, ambitions ignored, and motives overlooked. Only in an accountable relationship, is a heart truly understood.
A man of understanding is the man that can draw out the deep waters of another’s heart and honestly take stock and examine what lies deep underground. It was the words of a mentor that showed me how selfish my ambitions were, as I desperately wanted to speak in front of thousands of teenagers about God. The ultimate goal was praiseworthy, but my ambitions were corrupted. It took the honest assessment of a true friend to point out that my dream of being a PRCA Bullfighter had much more to do with pride, than it did with serving God. It was the same man who, as I mourned my own lack of measured success and achievement in the world of Rodeo, pointed out the ministry that God has given me at this point in my career, and the awesome people I spend all summer elbow to elbow with in the arenas and back pens during the summer. These were “men of understanding” who drew out, from the depths of my heart, the “purposes” that I had, and analyzed them.
I spent 3 weeks thinking about this verse because I made every effort to show that the “man of understanding” was able to draw deeply out of his own heart…but the text seems clear to itself. My heart easily fools me and as much as I desperately want to be the man who studies, guides, and asses my own heart, it takes another to do that. I wanted to be in isolation, because I still struggle to see manhood as a group endeavor…but it is. It is a community, a brotherhood, a squad that makes men better, as much as I tried to make it not so.
Haley, J. Evetts. The XIT Ranch of Texas: And the Early Days of the LLano Estacado. (University of Oklahoma Press: Norman) 1953.
“You never know what to live for today, until you know what you would take a bullet for tomorrow.”
Weeks have a tendency to fill up and fly by. Hours of freedom and relaxation get shrunk down into minutes and minutes become seconds. A week without plans, gets filled with everything imaginable. Seasons of life go by in fast forward and years rush by. Time has a way of speeding along and the bystander is powerless to stop its moment and trajectory.
Hunters have “woods time”. It is a documented fact (used in the loosest sense of the term) that time moves slower in the deer woods. Deer don’t run on schedules, attend meetings, or rush to appointments. They move at their own pace and show up (sometimes) in their own time. The same can be true of horses. The time it takes a horse to learn something new or master an obstacle isn’t set in stone. Some horses have better minds, more athleticism, or better conformation, that makes picking up new skills and training easier. To put a deadline on that is to handicap the horse, rush the process, and stress the trainer.
In the fast paced American culture, where time is money, the speed limit is 5 above posted, and the 3g internet is too time-consuming, living life at a deliberate pace is a battle that was lost long ago. Speed is dictated by scope. A narrow-scope of life, living to get through the next day, hour, minute, causes hurry and stress. But a life live with a wide-scope, a larger view, a higher vantage point, keeps the end in mind and prioritizes the important. The quote at top was by Mark Scott during a sermon to middle school students about their legacy. Legacy is taking a wider scope. Legacy is determined by thinking about the future, now. I often wonder what the legacy I leave will look like. I hope mine is like Joseph’s.
Because of the way Joseph lived his life, he left a legacy that lived well beyond his children and his children’s children. To the point that he shows up in an event that he really had no part in.
Exodus 13.19 breaks into the story of the release of the Hebrews by adding this:
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’
Joseph’s life was marked with being faithful to God, providing hope to his people, and a giving a future to his offspring. He saved his family from drought, starvation, anonymity, and alienation. Just before his death he gave them hope for a future. “God will surely come to your aid…”, Joseph reminded them (Gen. 50.24). The hebrew word paqad is doubled in this phrase to give its meaning. It gives the sense that God has already come to the assistance of the Hebrews [paqod in the qal perfect sense]…but hasn’t completed the action yet [yipqod in imperfect]. Joseph is taking a wide angle view of life, telling his lineage of God’s working already and in the future, especially as it pertains to the oppression and the Exodus.
Looking at Exodus, the of doubling the word paqad, showing God’s interest and action on behalf of the Hebrews, appears another time. Sandwiched between Joseph’s words on his deathbed in Genes 50 and his quote during the Exodus, God speaks to Moses. While the Hebrews are suffering in Egypt, God tells Moses, in the desert from the burning bush: “…I have watched over you and have seen [paqod paqad] what has been done to you in Egypt.” (Ex. 3.16)
At the lowest point of the story of the Oppression in Egypt, as the chosen deliverer is wasting away as a shepherd in the desert and the people are toiling under ruthless rulership, God reminds them that he has “watched and seen”. He is acting and will act. He is aiding and will aid.
And when God acts, like Joseph was sure He would, he wanted to make sure he went with his people, out of Egypt to home. Its one thing to ask it to done (Genesis 50.24) but its another to have a people centuries later, to whom you are a distant memory, follow the request (Exodus 13.19).
So as they carried their plunder (Exodus 12.36), their armament (Ex. 13.18), they carried the bones of Joseph (Exodus 13.19); an honor and testimony to a faithful and hopeful legacy. A legacy that took care of his family, was faithful to his God, and was diligent in the Lord’s work. Joseph’s wide-view of what God was doing cemented his place in the train of people leaving Egypt. A legacy like Joseph’s, one that lives well beyond his generation, begs for a bigger-scope of life.
So what legacy are you leaving? What will your great-to-the-8th grand kids hear about you? Is there something that needs to change today, to reserve your place, to change your legacy? I know some of my actions and priorities need some tweaking. My family and wife needs more of my priority time, my students need a more gracious and consistent mentor, and my quiet times need more depth and devotion. A few years back I wrote an Obituary for myself. It was an attempt to keep me on track, change my actions daily, and live with the end in mind. (I have attached my obit here Travis Long–Obituary). It was a great chance for self-reflection. If you have some free time I would suggest you take a second and write some things down…and then wait many, many years for it to be printed.
These are things that I say I would take a bullet for tomorrow, now its getting me to change, today.
A friend of mine came home the other day just after his son had found a tiny horse shoe. He had watched his dad enough, a journeyman farrier, to know where it belonged. Putting two and two together, the kid crawled underneath the bouncy horse and started putting the shoe back on. Hammer and nails weren’t handy, but his toy toolbox with a standard screwdriver was. Despite his dad’s advice on shoein’, he had a method that he had decided upon after all screws hold better than nails. He was determined to put a shoe on his bouncy horse. My thoughts: “better the bouncy horse than trying to shoe the dog.”
I have known this kid since he was born, he wants to be just like, be around, and be next to, his daddy.
Another friend, this one an electrician, had been working in his coverall’s when he came home to his son traipsing around the yard in his new work boots and coveralls. In his words, he “just wanted to be like daddy.”
All over my facebook are videos of 3-year-old bull riders, 4-year-old ranch hands, and 5-year-old team ropers, who hone their skills for no other reason than they watch their daddy’s do it. They want to know everything about what their dad’s do and why they do it. What an opportunity that “why?”is.
Pharaoh has finally given in. In order to save his people (Ex. 12.33) and his land, he let the Hebrews go. The Egyptians were so scared that they handed over their wealth and possessions to make them go (Ex. 12.36). Like the last couple KU football coaches were paid millions of dollars not to coach, the Hebrews were paid a bunch of money to not work any more and to leave. So they took out from Egypt. Before they got too far out of town, God had some teaching to impart.
What’s the first lesson they learn on their own, out from under the dark shadow of Egypt? Don’t forget the first things! God wants the “firsts” of our lives. He wants the best offerings, the best time, the best gifts, the first portions, and to be the first priority. God desires our very best; our very first. These were the ones he took that night of the last plague.
At midnight the Lord Struck down all the firstborn i Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. (Ex. 12.29)
God took from Egypt and he asks from the Hebrews. Still the most interesting part of this teaching comes near the end. In verse 14 of chapter 13 it says:
In days to come when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every firstborn in Egypt, both men and animal. Thsi is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand. (Ex. 13.14-16)
“WHY?” is a question that didn’t just start with middle schoolers in the 21st century. The Torah is full of places where God explains how to answer “WHY?”. The responsibility we have as father’s is to help our kids understand the “why’s” of life, to journey alongside them as they ask (Deut 6.5), and to live as an example to them. Your sons already look up too you. They dress like you, walk like you, talk like you, and live like you. But still, the hardest question for me to answer is often “why?”.
The other day I was showing a middle school student how to cut down a tree using a chain saw. I showed him how to cut a notch, hold the saw, run it safely, and where it was going to fall. When it came to what part of the chain to cut with it was pretty easy to give a why! “If you don’t you will cut your leg off!” He didn’t have a response. It was much more difficult to answer his “why” question about youth group and church. I should have been more prepared.
Dad’s, heed the Lord’s advice and be prepared for the “why?” questions. The why questions are part of why we are here on this Earth. Answer with patience, answer with honesty, and answer with integrity. Think about the Dad in this passage who’s son asks him: “What does this mean?” (Ex. 13.14) Can you imagine the emotions and the joy with which the Father is able to recount to the son how a bunch of slaves plundered the mightest man on earth because their God fought for them? Can you hear the crack in his voice when he recalls the toil? Can you sense his pace quicken as he tells his son about the plagues? What meter does he have when the final plague hits and his former masters rush to his house to beg and plead with him to go? What a story this is that a father can share…someone should make a movie about it.
Think of the stories you can share with your kids when they ask a “why” question: a blessing story, a story of God speaking, a story of God’s faithfulness, a verse from God’s word. Our kids look up to us not because of some percieved image, but because we are their Dad’s (a central teaching relationship to scripture). I don’t know about you, but now I can’t wait for the “why” questions!