I am always amazed by the way God works. In the past month I have received two books on one theme. The theme is Biblical Manhood. The books are Real Valor by Steve Farrar and The Masculine Mandate by Richard Phillips.
"It is remarkable to me how easily precious things can be lost." Rick Phillips writes in the first chapter of the Masculine Mandate. "An individual can quickly lose precious possessions such as innocence, integrity, or a good reputation. The church can lose precious things, too, and this seems to be happening today. One ideal we may be losing is that of strong, biblical, and confident Christian manhood...This book is written for Christian men who not only don't want to lose that precious biblical understanding, but who want to live out the calling to true manliness God has given us. We need to be godly men, and the Bible presents a Masculine Mandate for us to follow and fulfill. But do we know what it is? My aim in writing this book is to help men to know and fulfill the Lord's calling as it is presented so clearly to us in God's Word."
Adam was given two charges in Eden. To Work the Garden and to Keep it. These same charges that governed the man's work in Eden govern his work today, and govern his love for his wife, his care for his children, and his friendships. To Work and to Keep are the charges in every portion of a man's life. Working and Keeping are the Masculine Mandate.
This is not secret knowledge, nor a magical, mystical thing, or a spiritual revelation gleaned from studying the original language. It is Scriptural, practical truth.
"Work. To work is to labor to make things grow. In subsequent chapters I will discuss work in terms of nurturing, cultivating, tending, building up, guiding, and ruling.
Keep. To keep is to protect and to sustain progress already achieved. Later I will speak of it as guarding, keeping safe, watching over, caring for, and maintaining.
The term work signifies God's broad mandate for a nurturing and cultivating masculinity, which causes people and things to grow and become strong. The second term, keep, refers to man as a watchman and defender, keeping safe those under our care. By diligently observing the work-and-keep mandate, men fulfill their calling by building up and keeping safe."
When all of life is lived out in terms of this mandate, men can be confident and bold as an Ambassadors of Christ. Men can be tender and gentle as Shepherds.
Working and Keeping will be a man's charge at home, in his field of work, and in his Church. And this will be the result: "In our families, our presence is to make our wives and children feel secure and at ease. At church, we are to stand for truth and godliness against the encroachment of worldliness and error. In society, we are to take our places as men who stand up against evil and who defend the nation from threat of danger."
In Masculine Mandate we read that man was created to work; to marry and to multiply and fill the earth.
I enjoyed his chapters on Work. Men are made to work, and anyone who wants to know what makes a man tick must understand: Man will find his identity in his work to a great extent.
A healthy nation will be full of men at work. Digging ditches, building houses, writing music, butchering cows, putting out fires, planting fields, wiring and plumbing houses. And their work will have value, not just because it accomplishes a good purpose, but because God gave work value.
"Why does labor have this inherent value? Because we were made for it. God placed Adam in the garden and put him to work. Therefore, because God is good and has chosen to be glorified through our labor, we are able to enjoy work and find a significant part of our identity in it."
I loved his chapter on singleness and marriage. Going straight for the heart of the issue, Rev. Phillips calls on single Christians who don't intend to stay single all of their life (the gift of singleness) to step up and marry. Our culture glorifies singleness that is selfish and has nothing to do with Kingdom building. We must return to a full picture of God honoring marriage.
Listen to him describe why God called Eve a helper, not just a mate or a companion.
"God said Adam needed a "helper" because it places the primary emphasis on the shared mandate to work and keep God's creation under the man's leadership."
My favorite chapters of all were the ones on the way a man Works and Keeps his wife's heart. The command to Nourish and Cherish our wives is part of the masculine mandate of Working and Keeping. Isn't Scripture full of beautiful parallels? Nourish-Cherish, Work-Keep.
A great deal of a man's duty to his wife is his ministry of God's Word to her heart. Texting her with Scripture. Speaking Scripture's blessings over her. Defining all of Life's experiences in Scripture's Words. Giving her God's Word from her husband's lips. "So when a husband knows his wife is weighed down under the burdens of child-raising, he might say to her, "[cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). A husband who knows his wife feels unlovely or depressed can minister the balm of God's Word to the bruised spot in her heart: "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing" (Zeph. 3:17). A husband who knows his wife is grieving a loss might encourage her to take her heart to the Lord: "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18)."
I also loved the chapters on Working and Keeping our children's souls. This means giving them our hearts, our love, our mercy, our pity, our time, our gentleness, our firmness, our discipling, our discipline; dispensing God's Grace and Truth.
"If I had to pick just one verse on parenting from the book of Proverbsâ€”the main source of our biblical wisdom on this subjectâ€”it would be Proverbs 23:26. Here we have the very pulse of the Bible's teaching on a father's relationship with his children, including God the Father's relationship with us, His sons in Christ. This verse provides the perspective behind all the wisdom passed from father to son in the Proverbs. In it, the father simply pleads, 'My son, give me your heart.' This is the prime aspiration of a true father toward his children. All the advice and commands found in Proverbs flow from this great passion: the desire of a loving father for the heart of his child, and for that child's heart to be given to the Lord."
Masculine Mandate is a book that returns us to Scripture's truth, truth that is both delightful and everlasting.
It is so good to see men living as God made them to: Working and Keeping, under their King.
I am grateful to Reformation Trust for sending me a copy of this book to review. Another blessing to add to my family's library!
Every once in a while I come across a book that not only exceeds expectations but challenges me in areas I thought I was doing well. Richard D. Phillips book The Masculine Mandate is one such book. Seemingly on every page is an aspect of my life as a man that Phillips turns up-side-down. I won't soon forget this book.
Phillips purpose is to challenge the popular ideas of what a man is supposed to be by taking us to Scripture, specifically Genesis 2:15 where we read God's instruction to man. It goes as follows, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." The two charges God gave each man are to work and keep. The book begins by examining in detail those commands. Phillips then shows us how to live out this mandate first in our marriages, then as fathers, as friends then as servants of God.
The book is written in a humble way. Phillips makes it clear that he doesn't have this mandate perfected in his own life which makes the book more personal. That doesn't mean that he holds back his punches. We men need that.
I can't recommend this book enough. Any person of the male gender needs to read this book. And more than once. Your life will be transformed which will result in a better marriage, being a better father, a better friend, a better servant of God.
Richard D. Philips has done the world a great service by writing this book. While many "men's" books cover all kind of masculine topics, Mr. Philips begins where any discussion should begin - the Bible. This is a gospel primer on men. Opening up Genesis and showing his readers how God formed man in the garden to "work" it and "keep" it, we see a true picture of the kind of men God has made. Written in two major sections, the first section of the book helps us "Understand the Mandate" given to men by God. In this section he explores the topics of "working" and "keeping" based on Genesis 2:15, these two words define for us how a man fulfills his mandate. Ultimately, by fulfilling these two tasks we fulfill our complete God-given purpose - to glorify God. "That is the Masculine Mandate: to be spiritual men placed in real-world, God-defined relationships, as lords and servants under God, to
bear God's fruit by serving and leading."
The third chapter on work was very enlightening. Being one who quite often hates his job, this chapter made me reflect hard on what I do and my attitude about it. This chapter really caused me to re-evaluate my perspective on work and I was shown from a biblical point of view that I was wrong. The scriptures Mr. Phillips uses reproved, corrected, and trained me towards biblical exegesis of work. This was very rewarding.
The second section of the book deals more in the praxis of manhood. Topics that are covered are marriage, fatherhood, friendships, and servant-hood in the church. The section on marriage seems to blow a fresh wind up on this age old doctrine. We may have heard all there is on this subject, but Mr. Phillips does men a great service by reminding us in fresh language this mandate and its importance.
The section on fatherhood reminded me some of Ted Tripps book Shepherding a Child's Heart. If fact Mr. Tripp's book is referenced a few times. Mr. Phillips has a very godly way of looking at fathering, much like Ted Tripp. A view that is not shared by most modern parenting books, even the ones in Christian bookstores. I say this as a compliment to Mr. Phillips and Mr. Tripp. These men are godly-men who know the Bible and come at it this topic in a bibilcally strong fashion.
The book contains group questions which I found to be very encouraging. This caused me to begin to think about how I could use this book as a manual in my church. I appreciate this addition to the book. It makes the book relevant and applicable, and not just all theory.
I would encourage anyone to grab this book and take a read.
This book was given to me by Reformation Trust in exchange for my fair review.