A few weeks back, I had the privilege of speaking to the men of Terrace Lake Community Church, a sister SBC church, in our association. We had a great time considering what Scripture teaches about manhood, and I wanted to lay out a few books, resources, and websites that would help them (and anyone else) continue to grow in masculine godliness. Consider it a Man’s Spiritual Toolbox.
# 1 : Manly Dominion (book)
Don’t be a passive, purple 4-ball! In a world of chaos and disorder, Pastor Mark Chanski challenges men from Scripture (specifically, Genesis 1:26-28) to live with the God-given mandate to take dominion in their spheres of influence. He addresses a variety of subjects, ranging from decision-making, to vocation, to the pursuit of romance. We are using this book in our monthly men’s breakfast our church (Calvary BC in Seymour, IN). If 1 Corinthians 16:13grips you– “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong”– than this is a great book to motivate you to forsake passivity and pursue manly dominion under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
# 2 : Masculine Mandate (book)
Richard Phillips is a gifted exegete and author who continues to write books for the edification of the church. This book, however, did not come from his pulpit ministry, but from a passion to reach men. He takes his “masculine mandate” from Genesis 2:15, which instructs Adam to cultivate and guard the garden. By extension, he argues from Scripture that men are to embrace this work of cultivation in everything they do, especially in the home, in the workplace, and in the church. This book is similar to Manly Dominion, but has enough biblical exposition and different material that it is worth reading, as well.
# 3 : The Council For Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (website)
This ministry promotes the biblical view that men and women are made equally in the image of God, but with different roles. This “complementarian” view of men and women is expressed most fully in the Danvers Statement, drafted in 1988 to counter the rise of evangelical feminism permeating North American churches. CBMW’s website has countless biblical resources and practical guides for cultivating a complementarian view of men and women in the church and Christian homes.
MARRIAGE, WORK, CHILDREN
# 4 : Married For God (book)
A few years ago, in a research project, I read through about 20 different books on marriage. There are many good books out there on marriage (John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage, Geoffrey Bromiley’s God and Marriage, and Dave Harvey’s When Sinners Say I Do are at the top of the list), but Christopher Ash’s was, in my opinion, the best. It takes many of the Edenic principles laid out in Genesis 1-2 and shows how marriage is not an end in itself. It is not simply designed to ameliorate loneliness or quench the burn or youthful desires–though it does both of these–rather it is designed by God to radiate his glory and to catalyze his gospel. Be fruitful and multiply undergirds the Great Commission mandate to “Go and disciples” and Ash’s books shows from Scripture how husbands and wives can live for something bigger than their own marriage–namely the glory of God–and thus in the process their are more united and satisfied in their own nuptial union.
# 5 : A Biblical Theology of Work (blog post)
Justin Taylor, as always, provides a bevy of resources to motivate men to work hard for the glory of God. Piper’s chapter from Don’t Waste Your Life is the place I would begin, and then to look at all the other resources to show how a man’s work is not disconnected from the work of God in the world. Another resource for Christian businessmen is Wayne Grudem’s Business for the Glory of God. For anyone who devotes minimally 40 hours a week to a job, and more likely the number is like 50-60 hours, it is vitally important to understand how to pursue your vocation in a way that please God and pushes you towards Christ, not away.
In these two books, Tedd Tripp outlines a number of biblical strategies for raising children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. They contain both biblical truths which will renew your mind and practical tips to help implement things like discipline. They have age graded sections as well to help shepherd children in all phases of life. Stuart Scott and Martha Peace’s book The Faithful Parent is another excellent resource. See my review of that book at TGCReviews.
WARRIOR-SHEPHERDS WHO WIELD THE SWORD WELL
Finally, in our weekend retreat, we talked about the need to think biblically and intelligently about events that are occurring all around us. For instance, how should one think about the recent slew of homosexual teenagers who killed themselves because of harassment and bullying?. Parents, particularly fathers, must be able to help lead their families to think “Christianly” about such things. Pastors have the burden of helping their congregations interpret the world, but so do fathers. Every father is the pastor in his own home. Too many men have abdicated this role, but men who take seriously their masculine mandate will not just be strong providers or able defenders, they will also be warrior who ably wield the sword to defend their families from Satanic error, and gentle shepherds who know how to feed their families the promises of God’s word.
It is with this image of a warrior-shepherd that I include the 4 final tools for the toolbox.
# 7 : ESV Study Bible (book)
More than any other single resource today, the ESV Study Bible is a wonderful tool and study guide to help you understand the Bible better. It has excellent study notes on every chapter of the Bible, compiled by many of today’s best evangelical scholars. It has an online feature that is second-to-none. You can adjust the settings to how you like them, you can store your personal study notes online, you do advanced searches in each book of the Bible or across the whole Bible, and all of its articles on doctrine, archaeology, ethics, and dozens more are available online. It is a must-have for every serious churchman (and pastor).
# 8 : New Bible Commentary (book)
Going one step beyond the Study Bible, this single-volume commentary is a resource worth owning. It provides solid exegetical commentary from an evangelical position. The comments are not lengthy, but are illuminating. It would be a worthwhile addition to your personal library–something every Christian man should develop over time for the sake of his family. Listen to Rick Warren as he talks about building a Christian library in his Desiring God National Conference talk, “The Battle For The Mind” (less than 3 minutes from -37:30 to -35:00).
Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology is a modern classic in theological and devotional literature, but despite its daunting size, it is not beyond the reach of any maturing Christian. Rather, it is simply phase 2 spiritual training. It is for those mature men (and women) who already possess an established pattern of Bible Reading. If that describes you, than this book is for you!
Reading a volume of systematic theology is like preparing for a marathon or losing 75 pounds. It takes planning and a Spirit-empowered determination to conquer the opposing challenge–if this is a problem (see # 1-2 above). To be honest, Grudem’s book is a massive undertaking. Still, its biblically-saturated contents are worth the investment. They will take you through every major doctrine in the Bible and present you with a systematic presentation of the Bible that will help you navigate circumstances in life with a more thorough grasp of God’s word.
The facts: Systematic Theology is 57 chapters in length, broken into 7 sections, which include sections on the Word of God, God (Theology Proper), Humanity and Sin, Christ and the Holy Spirit, Salvation, the Church, and the Future. A simple reading plan could be 1 chapter a week for 57 weeks. In 13 months, you could finish this book that would open your eyes to behold the wisdom and beauty of God stored in his word. Don’t read it alone; recruit 3 or 4 or 30 likeminded brothers and challenge each other to read it together. Just like working out with football team in high school, this biblical workout will strengthen your faith and trim the fat of your theological error– Yes! Right now, you and I have theological error crouching in our hearts and minds that need biblical excision. If the 1100+ page Systematic Theology is too much, check out Grudem’s slimmer version, Bible Doctrine (34 chapters and less than 500 pages).
Albert Mohler is the president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and to interpreting the world in light of the Bible. Among all the things that he does, sometime in wee hours of the morning, he records a 10-15 podcast that provides cultural commentary from a Christian perspective. I try to make this a regular stop each day, to listen to his reflections on the political, cultural, educational, legal, and other social fronts that are regularly endanger the church and Christian families. Mohler’s “Daily Briefing,” along with other resources on his webpage, AlbertMohler.com, would be a weekly stop to help you think biblically about issues that you and your family will face.
There are so many other resources available and things that could be on this list (maybe, that should be on this list), but this is a start. If someone takes seriously their “masculine mandate,” they will sacrifice to get such resource. Acquiring these resources means intentionality and investment (time and money), but ask yourself: “What is more important?”
I would posit that there is nothing more important. Some day, we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:1-5; 2 Cor 5:10), and every word we ever spoke will be examined by our great King (Matthew 12:36). In that moment, what will matter is the time we spent getting to know Jesus and the time we spent learning to walk in a manner worthy of his calling and sharing his good news with others.
For men, devoting yourself to a lifetime of growth in godliness as a husband, father, grandfather, employee, employer, company president… whatever, requires that you pursue it by the renewing of your mind. God calls us to excellence and he provides us with everything we need for life and godliness. Too many men, make up their masculinity as they go, instead of learning from the wisdom (and mistakes) of others– others who have learned from the Scriptures and will help us better apply God’s truth to our lives.
These resources will serve you well as men, husbands, fathers, and laborers for Christ. I pray God will make you strong and fruitful men, who do everything in the love of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss