MEN AND WOMEN
The Final Four – Part I
April 7, 2002
I’m not sure if you have noticed lately, but there has been a lot of man bashing going on. It’s popular these days to rip men apart. It used to be the dumb blonde jokes years ago. Now, it’s the dumb man jokes. People are after us, guys. It’s unreal.
I ran into some of these comments this past week and I want to share them with you. Here is what some women are saying about men as they bash us.
Here are seven things you will never hear your husband say, ladies.
Number Seven: “Here, honey. You use the remote.”
Number Six: “Oh, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. That’s one movie I have got to see.”
Number Five: “While I’m up, can I get you anything?”
Number Four: “Sex isn’t that important. Sometimes, I just want to be held.”
Number Three: “Oh, forget Monday Night Football. Let’s watch Ally McBeal.”
Number Two: “Hey, could I hold your purse while you try that outfit on?”
Number One: “We never talk anymore.”
I also found out that a lot of women think that their problems are all about men. This one woman says that you can trace the origin of all her problems back to all the guys in her life. She says, “MENtal illness, MENtal breakdown, MENopause, GUYnocologist, and when I have real trouble, it’s a HIStorectomy.” I think that might give evidence, guys, that we are in serious trouble.
I think that we could get together, though, and file a class action lawsuit for slander, don’t you? It’s getting ridiculous. Go card shopping or listen to the comics. They are always ripping on men.
I am in a brand new series called “Men and Women.” This series is dealing with real masculinity and real femininity. The goals of this series are three-fold.
Number one, we want to understand who we are as men and women.
Number two, we want to celebrate our uniqueness.
Number three, we want to learn how to negotiate around all of our uniquenesses and differences. We learned that we are made in the image of God. We learned that when God made man, he stamped us with his masculine character qualities. When he made women, he stamped women with female character qualities. Thus, when we look at God, when we know God in a deep and intimate way, we will know what it truly means to be a man or woman.
But the bottom line is this; a lot of us don’t know who we are. We are looking for masculinity in the wrong areas and, ladies, we are looking for femininity in the wrong areas. We want to clear up the confusion and see what the Bible says about what it means to be a true man or woman.
Today, we are talking about men. We are talking about the guys. I have entitled this talk, “The Final Four.” I’m going to talk about four things, men, that we need to know about ourselves if we are going to be freed up to be the kind of guys that we should become.
Also, these are four things, ladies, that you need to know about men if you are going to communicate and connect with us.
Have you ever been stamped by something? Maybe you have had your hand stamped or maybe you have stamped a book or something. We have all seen that. The stampee, takes on the impression of the stamper. The stamper marks or puts something on the object or person that is being stamped. The Bible says time and again that we are stamped with significance. We are stamped with the image of God, stamped on our souls.
The Stamp of INITIATIVE
The first stamp that we have got to look at is the stamp that is important. I am going to spend the lion’s share of my time talking about it. Guys, we are stamped with initiative. Why are we stamped with initiative? I’ll tell you why – because God is an initiative-taking God. We dropped the ball. We messed up. We committed cosmic treason. God didn’t sit there twiddling his thumbs. He did something. He took the initiative. He sent Jesus Christ as a sin sacrifice on the cross for our lives. The Bible talks on and on about the initiative of God.
1 John 4:19, tells us where it came from, “We love because he first loved us.”
Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So, this initiative that has been stamped on my soul and my spirit and yours is a good thing because it is a God thing. It’s good. We should applaud our initiative. Ladies should applaud initiative in men. The Bible tells us that God is a leader. God is an initiative taking God.
2 Corinthians 2:14, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
Here is the deal, men. We are leading because we are men. We are taking initiative because we are men. But the question is, where are we leading and where are we taking initiative? A lot of us are leading and taking initiative, but where? A lot of us have initiative and leadership in the wrong areas. That’s obvious as you look around our culture today. Men are taking initiative, a lot of us, in the wrong areas.
Look at three of the greatest social ills today, pornography, abortion and domestic violence. It’s the men who are buying up most of the porn. It’s the men who are impregnating the ladies. It’s the men who are doing most of the violent acts.
We’ve got initiative. We’ve got leadership. But so often, we are taking initiative and using leadership in the wrong areas.
Scripture strikes and it says this in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.” See the initiative there? We will leave. We will be united. We will become one flesh.
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives.” We are to take the initiative. The ball is in our court. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Biblical leadership and biblical initiative begin with service and end with sacrifice. Initiative is a good thing because it is a God thing.
I have read a bunch of books over the last several months on men and women. I have really gotten into it. A lot of these books have been good. They have told me some descriptive words about men and women. But many have fallen short concerning how the stuff looks. I have read books about men taking initiative and men being leaders and I wanted to say, “Okay, that’s great, but what does initiative look like? How can I become a man of initiative?”
Here is how the Bible says we can become men of initiative. Right up front, guys, we need to take some spiritual initiative. We are hardwired for initiative and we need to step up and take the spiritual initiative.
The Bible says in Genesis 3:16, “Your desire (talking to the wives now) will be for your husband.” The word “desire,” you might want to circle that. This word in the Hebrew, one of the translations, means that women will have the tendency to attempt to usurp or control or manipulate their husbands. Because of your sin nature, you will have that tendency, ladies. That’s just what the Bible says. Don’t get mad at me. If you have problems, get mad at God.
But I don’t want to leave the guys hanging here. It continues, “And he will rule over you.” Do you know what the word “rule” means? He will have a tendency to be a tyrant, to try to dominate you. That’s the problem. You’ve got a leadership problem. You’ve got man and you’ve got woman. You’ve got both husbands and wives saying, “No, I’m going to lead.” God says that he has given man the role of leadership. Not in form. We are equal in form. The playing field is level at the foot of the cross. In function, though, God has given men that leadership role.
For example, to name drop for a second, before President George W. Bush threw his hat in to become President, he met with ten of us in a little room here at Fellowship Church. I was nervous meeting George Bush.
I’m thinking, “George Bush? Wow. He wants several of us to pray for him about this decision?”
When I met him, I even wore a suit and tie. When I looked at him, he had a little bit of dandruff on his suit. That helped me, because I thought that this guy is a normal guy. His shoes were scuffed up and his socks didn’t really match his shoes. I think he is a great President. I really do, but that helped me.
In form, we are alike. In function, though, he has the responsibility of being President of the United States.
Ladies, I know there are some wonderful female leaders in this church and in the Bible. That’s great. That’s wonderful. You are wired for leadership in a lot of ways, but when it comes to marriage, your husband is the leader.
Here is where we have dropped the ball, guys. We have not stepped up spiritually. We have not really been the leaders. Because we have delegated this and run from this, and because we have used initiative in the wrong way, ladies have had to step up and lead because of this leadership vacuum. Are you being the spiritual leader in your household? Do you want to have a great marriage? Do you want to have a great life? Become the spiritual leader.
“Ed, how do I do that?”
I’ll tell you how. Spend time with God. Guys, there is no way we will ever understand how to take initiative in the proper areas, unless we meet regularly with the author and the finisher of initiative and leadership, which is God. We must be tethered to him every single day. That is why I challenge you, men, to use that first burst of offensive energy every morning to pray and to read the Bible. Just spend fifteen minutes.
Just say, “God, I want to get on the offensive. I am going to be intentional. I want to give my energy to you. I want to know what you want me to do today.”
God will begin to change your life. If you are kind of behind spiritually, he can mature you as give that time to him daily, because he so desperately wants us to lead. The evil one does not want us to lead. That’s why so many guys are fouled up. That’s why so many guys are taking initiative in the wrong areas and are leading in the wrong area, because the evil one fears us. He fears you and me because he knows what we can become when we lead.
Pray with your spouse. Talk about spiritual things to your kids.
“Ed, I don’t know Bible stories.”
Buy a Children’s Bible. I have one. Learn along with your kids. Pray before mealtimes. A sad message, guys, is when church ends up being a third or fourth option as opposed to the first option on the weekend. Sadly, most of the women drag their husbands to church.
“You gonna be here for this series. Ed’s talking about men and women. You gonna have your rear right here.”
We’ve got to take initiative spiritually. We’ve got to lead out. We’ve got to be involved in the church. We’ve got to be involved in the things of God because he will show us once again where to take initiative and where not to take initiative.
There is something else we should do under this whole heading of initiative. Men, we have got to take romantic initiative. Can you believe that? Romantic initiative. A lot of these books are whacked out about romance because they try to make guys into girls. We are not girls. There is no way I am going to think, act and feel like Lisa. There is no way she is going to ever think, act and feel like me. I am different. So are you. We are different from the opposite sex. That’s why it is called the opposite sex. That’s crazy.
I like what Dr. Phil McGraw said about romance. I heard Phil say one thing and I thought this was great, “If I decided to get romantic and drop rose petals from my front door all the way to my bedroom and my wife, Robin, walked into the house, do you know what she would say to me? She would say, ‘Phil, who is going to pick those rose petals up’”
That’s greatness right there. That’s exactly right. Do you know what romance is? Romance, guys, is when the trash is piled up, and before she says, “Would you take the trash out?” you take the trash out.
Romance is saying kind words. Romance is entering her world. Romance is doing those little things. That’s romance. Guys, how about a date night? Are you doing that?
I talked to a couple several weeks ago, a Christian couple, and they shared with me that they had not gone on a date night in a year. They have a couple of teenage sons and they are the quintessential kidcentric family. Everything revolves around the kids, their sports, their school. How about you guys?
The best thing you can do for kids, parents, is not to have them in select sports, is not to have them in this group or that group. That’s fine and dandy. But the best thing is for you to give them a wonderful marriage, because 24/7, your children are watching you. How do they know about communication? How do they know about forgiveness? How do they know about love? How do they know about spiritual things? They are watching you, Mom and Dad. We have got to keep that connection.
Guys, we have got to lead out. We have got to take the initiative here. A date night at least twice a month. You make the call to her, guys. You set up the childcare. You make the plans. You show some PDA, Public Display of Affection, nonsexual touching. You walk with her and not ten feet in front of her. You open car doors for her.
You will not believe what will happen in your marriage. I am so thrilled about what is happening at Fellowship Church. So many couples from all ages are doing the date night thing. Lisa and I have a date night every Thursday and it’s like an oasis in the middle of the week. It’s wonderful.
This couple I talked to, the guy, is kind of one of those controlling guys, kind of real tight. He told me, “The reason I haven’t had a date night is because it’s just so expensive.” I wanted to laugh. I thought, “If you don’t spend money on your wife, one day you are going to spend it on an attorney. ” You are.
Let me talk to the single ladies for a second. Single ladies, and I am talking to students now too, when you date, this guy you’re dating should open car doors, he should defer to you, he should plan it, he should be creative. If he is not, read my lips, head for the hills, get out of town, leave him. Because life is too short.
A lot of women say, “Well, once they throw rice on our heads, then it will be romantic and marital bliss.” No, it won’t. It will not. You better watch him now. That’s why you have courtship and dating.
Let me talk about sex for a second. I woke up a couple of guys. “What? Did he say sex?”
I’ve always said that you should hear about sex in two places, in the home and in the church. We have been too scared and silent to talk about a subject that God was not scared or silent to talk about.
In 1 Corinthians 7:5, the Bible says, “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent.” We should never use sex as a reward or as a weapon. Never. If you are hearing a constant diet of “No, no, no,” in the bedroom, whoever is saying, “No,” is sinning before God. They are wrong.
I talk about my dogs all the time. I have four dogs. Three of the dogs weigh between 135 and 160 pounds. They are monstrous, strong dogs and a little bit scary sometimes. They cannot be held back by a typical fence. So, we had to put in an underground electrical fence in our yard and they have shock collars. When they get near the fence, it warns them and if they step over the line, it will shock them. It’s not cruel. They are huge. They can take it, but if they get near the fence, they are going to get shocked.
When it comes to sex, a lot of ladies have a shock collar on their husband. The husband tries to initiate, “Come on, baby, tonight is the night.” Shock.
After awhile, we can turn the shock off and the dogs don’t even know it. They won’t even go near the fence. A lot of husbands won’t even go near her because they are afraid they will get shocked again. It’s fine to say, “No,” but say it with a caveat, “No, but how about tomorrow.” But if you are feeding your spouse a constant diet of “No,” then you are sinning before God.
Here’s the other side of the coin, guys. Some of you are treating your wives so poorly, what do you expect. Leadership in the Bible, spiritual initiative again starts with servanthood and ends with sacrifice. It starts with servanthood and ends with sacrifice. You start serving and sacrificing, you watch and see what happens.
Let me talk again to the singles. Guys, as you are dating, are you using this girl as a means to justify the ends of your desire and your ego, or are you pointing her toward Christ? Are you taking initiative in leading? Where are you leading? Just a thought. I just thought I would throw it out there.
The Stamp of RISK
Let’s talk about another stamp, the stamp of risk. That’s a huge stamp. We are made in the image of God. God is a God of risk. God is a risky God. What did he do? He made you and me in his image. He didn’t make us like robots. We have a freedom of choice. God showed us his hand. He laid it on the line. He could have said, “Well, the people made in my image sinned against me. I’m just going to cash in my cosmic chips and go somewhere else.”
God didn’t do that. He risked it. Men, we are risk takers by nature and it is from God himself. When I walked up to begin this talk, a lot of you laughed. You laughed at my green shoes.
You said, “Look at those shoes. Are those hideous or what? I would never be caught dead in those shoes. What was he thinking?”
It’s a fashion risk. I ordered these shoes off the Internet and I didn’t realize they would be this green, but you have got to go with it sometimes. Men are risk takers.
I remember when I was a kid, we went on vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. There was a little golf course near these condos where we were staying, a little par three. I found out there were alligators in these ponds. I was ten years old and I was walking up and feeding these alligators crackers, seven footers, just right there. I was whacking them on the head with palm leaves and stuff. It was crazy. Boys will be boys. Boys have this adventuresome, risk-taking stuff about them. We have it, don’t we, guys? It’s a good thing. Women, you should applaud initiative and you should applaud risk in the right areas.
We are risk takers because God, himself, is a risk taker. What does it mean to “risk?” We risk in a lot of areas, don’t we? A lot of us risk in the business world. The risk-reward stuff. We risk assets for the reward of this return. Or a lot of us are adrenaline risk takers. We snowboard, hang glide and all these extreme things just for the reward of the adrenaline rush.
Let’s just bring it down to where we can understand it. Where should we risk, guys? It goes back to God. We talk to God, our initiative-taking God. We talk to God, our risk-taking God. God will show us where to take risk and show us where to take initiative. A lot of us need to take a faith risk right now, a faith risk. It’s amazing how guys will roll the dice in the business world, we will do the deals and step out, but when it comes to things of God, we will put the dice away. People say, “Well, if I knew for sure, Ed, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and rose again, if I knew for sure that every word in the Bible was true, if I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would be there. I would be on God’s team. But I am a little unsure. I have a couple of doubts.”
Oh, really? So, you want to be assured of everything. So, you are sure you are not going to get in a car wreck going home. You are sure the food you are going to eat in a couple of hours is not going to make you sick. Are you sure it doesn’t have a bunch of amoebas and parasites in it? You are not sure about that. Are you sure that the plane you are going to board this week to take that business trip is really going to land where you think it’s going to land? It could crash. Are you sure about your next breath, your next heartbeat? You don’t know, nor do I.
I could argue a great case for Christianity from a historical perspective, a rational perspective, and I think it would overshadow an argument for evolution or humanism. But at the end of the day, you have got to make the faith step, which is risk. Think about the reward in the Christian life. A lot of guys are turning their back on the reward, eternal life, forgiveness, power in the midst of weakness, focus in your marriage and families. But a lot of guys are saying, “No, I just won’t risk it.” What are you turning your back on, eternity with Jesus, forgiveness, focus? If you don’t risk it and take that faith step, the Bible says you are going to be in a heap of trouble. A lot of you are just one risk away from knowing Christ personally, from understanding who you are as guys.
We also need to take righteous risks. The Bible says we are to live stand-up lives. We are to live lives of commitment and courage. What do you do, men, when peer pressure begins to circle you like a school of tiger sharks. Do you fold your Christianity up and put it away because you want to be one of the guys, you want to be included? Do you cave in to peer pressure or do you stand up and say, “This is who I am. I am going to be a man. I am going to be tenacious and tough. I’m going to be a man of initiative because my God is a God of initiative. I’m going to be a man of risk because my God is a God of risk.” Are you going to do that? Or are you going to play soft and just go along with the crowd?
When we stand up, guys, there is so much power in being a man. Men mark others. They mark women, children, companies, teams, schools, businesses. We don’t have to be chameleons. We are people who stand up.