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Just finished reading Kingdom Man (kindle version) by Tony Evans. It was a book that I pulled a few ideas from for my sermon this past weekend at Revolution Church on "Marriage & Men."
One of the driving forces of Revolution Church from day one has been to challenge men to step up to the plate and be the men God has called and created them to be. Dr. Evans gets it right, you can trace many of the problems and issues in our culture back to the home and absence of men.
Here are a few stats:
-70% of all prisoners come from fatherless homes.
-80% of all rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes.
-71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
-63% of all teen suicides occur in homes where the father was either abusive or absent.
-Virtually every adult social pathology has been linked to either fatherless homes or homes with a father and/or husband who was absent, abusive, or neglectful.
In this book, Dr. Evans looks at this problem, but unlike many authors he doesn't stay at the problem He quickly moves to the solution, and that's what the book is about. He traces the biblical story, how men are created to lead, have dominion under God's authority. The reality that we see in Genesis 3 and then in Romans 5 is that men are primarily responsible for what happens on their watch. They are given primary responsibility for their families, to lead them well. As Dr. Evans says, "As a man, you are ultimately responsible for those within your domain." The concept of domain or dominion is important and easy to misunderstand. The biblical concept of dominion, or rule, is neither a dictatorship nor a posture of domination, but rather it entails exercising legitimate authority under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Legitimate authority entails all that God provides for and permits a man to do, but not all that a man wishes to do. Dr. Evans is calling men to fulfill their biblical calling, step up to the plate and lead and oversee as God has called them to do.
Here are a few things that jumped out from the book:
-A kingdom man is the kind of man that when his feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, "Oh crap, he's up!"
-When a kingdom man steps out his door each day, heaven, earth, and hell take notice. When he protects the woman under his care, she can do little to resist him. His children look to him with confidence. Other men look to him as someone to emulate. His church calls on him for strength and leadership. He is a preserver of culture and a champion of society to keep out evil and usher in good. -A kingdom man understands that God never said a godly life would be easy, He just said it would be worth it.
-If you are man, like it or not, you are a leader by position. It could be that you are a horrible one by practice, but by position, you have been called to lead.
-Every area of life should feel the impact of a kingdom man's presence.
-Any man who blames his wife for the chaos in his home without simultaneously accepting responsibility for addressing it is publicly declaring his lack of biblical manhood.
-Pornography use is one of the greatest indicators that a man has lost touch with his own manhood since he has to piggyback on the intimacy of others.
-When a kingdom man rules his realm well, everyone benefits.
-As a man, when you have demonstrated to a woman, children, or people within your sphere of influence that you are dependable, responsible, and that you take ownership to fix, solve, or simply carry the burden of that which cannot be solved, you have freed them to rest. You have freed them to relax because they know that they can trust the man who has proven to them through past actions that he's got it.
-If a man is out of alignment with God's prescription for kingdom manhood, it not only messes him up, but it can also mess up anyone or everyone else who comes into contact with him, especially if they fall under his authority.
-Being a kingdom man involves exercising authority and responsibility along with wisdom and compassion. A kingdom man intentionally aligns his life, choices, thoughts, and actions under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
-While it is the rare woman who will admit her age, it has become the rare man who will act his age.
-What woman wants to be intimate with someone whom she has to clean up after, wake up for church, and babysit. Her rationale is that if he can be a man in bed, then why can't he be a man in the living room, at the office, with the finances, as a father, or in the marital relationship?
-Headship isn't about essence or being; it is about function.
-Headship and covering work both ways. A man covers a woman because Christ covers a man. To hold a woman accountable to something that you yourself are not willing to do is a double standard, and it is one of the major reasons that cause the breakdown of the family. If a man is expecting a woman to be answerable to him, she should see him modeling that same principle by being answerable to God's headship as well.
-A husband is to be his wife's savior in the sense that he sacrifices his life for her well-being.
-Along with being your wife's savior, a husband is to sanctify his wife.
-To sanctify something means to set it apart as special and unique. A man sanctifies his wife over time through discipling her and providing a place where she is safe to grow and develop into the creation God made her to be.
-A kingdom husband satisfies his wife.
-The first step to learning how to satisfy your wife is in understanding her. Study her. Get to know her. Find out what makes her tick, what motivates her, and what inspires her. Discover what her dreams are and how they connect with your own.
-The time you spend with your family as a man should never be a second thought. It should always be your first thought.
While there are more and more books on what biblical manhood is, this one hits it on the mark. Definitely worth picking up if as a man you are struggling to figure out how to lead your family well.
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We Do Need Kingdom Men
We need a focus on charging men to take their Biblical responsibility as such seriously. Tony Evans takes this seriously and for that I'm glad. He begins by setting the stage,
The impact of lowered standards leaves its scars no matter what race, income bracket, or community a person is in. The outcomes may be different depending on the location, but they are just as devastating. Promiscuity, emptiness, depression, chronic irresponsibility, family breakup, misuse of finances, divorce, violence, chemical addiction. overeating, indulgence, bankruptcy, low self-esteem, and general aimlessness plague our society as a direct result of the abuse or neglect of biblical manhood. (p. 2)
I've never read any of his other books but it seems we share the same foundation of a complementarian understanding of men/women relationships. However, I fear in Kingdom Man that masculinity is confused with athletic prowess. I love sports but many men don't and for those men may find relating to Tony's message difficult because his favorite metaphor is athletics. Even for a guy like me who loves sports, the analogies wore me out by the end of the book. We have to do a better job communicating what true manhood is without falling back on sports as our primary analogy. Often I would argue that professional athletics have contributed heavily to the abuse that Tony is arguing against.
Kingdom Man is broken up into three parts which each build upon each other. In Part 1 ("The Formation of a Kingdom Man"), Tony begins by establishing the basis for his kingdom theology. He argues for the need of kingdom men to focus and glorify God (an emphasis throughout the book which I found refreshing see p. 6). There's also a strong emphasis on being great and fulfilling our destinies of being great for God.
In Part 2 ("The Foundation of a Kingdom Man"), Tony delves into how we exercise our rule and authority. He rightly reminds men we rule under God and often delegate responsibility and the need for an ezer (help-meet). The final chapters in the this section to are dedicated to examining the dominion covenant (name it and claim it).
In Part 3 ("The Function of a Kingdom Man"), Tony structures these final four chapters around Psalm 128. He applies the theology he has developed in the previous chapters to a kingdom man's personal life, family life, church life, and community life.
A Call to Greatness or Self-Help?
In Part 1 ("The Formation of a Kingdom Man"), a lot the practical advise ended up veering too much into the self-help category. In my estimation, this confusion could have been resolved with a more robust connection to the gospel and the person of Jesus. For instance, Tony says
Whether we are comfortable enough to admit it in spiritual circles, men want to be great.
I'll admit it; I don"t mind--I want to be great.
And if you were brutally honest, I would be bet that you also want to be great.
But what may surprise you, and what I would suggest, is that far from what we often hear in the biblical teaching on servanthood and humility is that God wants you to be great as well.
Not only does God want you to be great in His Kingdom, but He has destined you for it. (p. 38)
This concept is supported with some squishy exegesis (pp. 40-44 especially the discussion of John 14:12 and Matthew 20:25-26). I was glad when Tony cautioned "Men, what you never want to do in your desires to be great is to try to steal or usurp God's glory (p. 40).
My number one disappointment with Kingdom Man was the lack of direct connection with the gospel. When Paul talks about biblical manhood, headship, and submission, he always connects it back to the created order (which Tony does) and then to the gospel in Jesus (which Tony doesn't at least not explicitly).
The Dominion Covenant: Naming For God's Kingdom
At the root in developing the dominion covenant or what Tony calls naming (p. 108) is bad exegesis. He begins by examining the story of Adam naming the animals and then looks at the significance of names given to people in the Old Testament (pp. 109-10). He then recommends "to think in terms of your divinely given authority and responsibility. Take hold of creation; grab the piece of creation that God has for you to name" (p. 113). There's a logical leap made--because God had Adam name animals at creation that we should name things within the spiritual realm of our authority. Tony shares this anecdote,
I remember driving by this property one day and deciding to to pull my car right up in front of the vacant and now run-down building. Years passed since God had put it on my heart that this building was going to be used for His glory. So while looking at the building, I said, "God, I name that. I name this entire place for the good of others and your glory. We don't have the money for it right now, but God, hold it for us. Because I name it in Jesus' name." (p. 114)
He then goes on to explain that the Spirit laid the story of Joshua treading around Jericho and so he tread over the entire property naming it for Jesus. I was glad when he guarded against using this theology for personal gain:
It's important, though, to realize that naming does not mean claiming anything and everything you want. Neither is naming something solely for your personal benefit. Naming--like everything man is supposed to do--is always toed to God's glory and the expansion of His kingdom. (p. 115)
I was very grateful for his focus on the glory of God as the end. However, this much needed warning doesn't discount the fact the foundation for the practice of naming is on shaky exegetical ground. We dare not presumptuously claiming anything except the promises of God. We must be faithful in claiming these and only these.
For the reasons stated above, I can't give Kingdom Man a full-throttled endorsement. There was too much poor exegesis/theology mixed in with a right message (men need to step up). Biblical manhood is important and I'm glad Dr. Tony Evans understands this but I wish there a clearer connection with the gospel and also less of a mixed bag theology.