At 6:15 on Tuesday, November 13, 2013, Vicki Sweetman stepped from life into eternity. When I wrote my article “No Little People,” there were few people on this earth that influenced me more than my Great-Grandmother. That influence came because of the way that she had surrendered totally and completely to be used by the Lord. Life isn’t over for Vicky Sweetman. Her life has just begun. Below is the prayer I prayed at her funeral just a few weeks ago. Father, We come to you today standing in the face of our dreaded and devastating enemy, Death. We are reminded and humbled today by the reality that our days, although they may seem long, are but a breath in the wind. Yet Lord, we also today find ourselves not grieving as those with no hope. Instead, Lord, we realize this morning that this woman was yours – she belongs to you. You, in your grace rescued her through Christ and You love her even more than we do. We know today that she is even now rejoicing in the presence of her Savior. It is because of the Gospel that we can today celebrate her earthly life. Christ has declared clearly victory and dominion over both sin and death. It was that message of Good News that my Great-Grandmother looked to and believed. It was the message that she lived out day by day through her life and her ministry. And it is the Truth that she is celebrating today and will be celebrating for eternity. And Lord, it is Your glorious gospel that encourages us even today. Christ is not just for this temporary and earthly life. Christ has died. Christ has risen. And Christ will come again. Lord, let these truths prompt us today to realize the gravity and urgency of our own lives. Let it force us to examine our hearts and to embrace the truth of the gospel – that we too were lost in sin, deserving of death and punishment, yet you have provided a perfect sacrifice for us in Christ. And Lord, let it encourage us that this life is not all there is. Eternity awaits. “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen – are eternal.” – 1 Corinthians 4:17-18
“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love.” -C.S. Lewis
“Universities that are bold enough to seek a new entrepreneurial model will become the ones that everyone else wants to emulate in the future.” – Eric Ries
On my shelf at home is a big blue book filled with letters. When I turned thirteen, my Dad enlisted all of the influential men in my life at that time to write me letters as I entered “mahood.” He put them all in this wonderful blue book. His letter along with all of those men’s words of wisdom and specific insight into my life as a young teenager continues to be influential. That book is one of my most prized possessions, something I reference on a regular basis. Directly beside that book is a red and ratty notebook that I filled during my college years. It contains notes upon notes specifically about manhood, leadership, marriage, ministry, and wisdom I collected from professors, pastors, and mentors. I look to that book again and again as well.
Recently I received a copy of Reformational Manhood by Greg Gibson, who I consider a friend. Greg is a man whose life reflects everything he teaches, and his new book is no exception. I couldn’t help but think about my big blue book full of letters and my ratty red notebook as I read through Reformational Manhood. Greg’s journey into understanding and practicing manhood according to Scripture has been similar to my own. Reformational Manhood was just like sitting down with one of my pastors or mentors and having them “teach me their ways.” It’s an experience that is both refreshing and convicting all at once.
One could argue that I say that only because I’m a friend to Greg, but I say it with all sincerity and honesty. I’ll speak clearly: this is a book worth putting on your shelf. I have very few hesitations in handing this book to a young man. My complaints are few and far from condemning this book. My concerns are two-fold: the book should be more concise and the layout is distracting.
When I picked up Reformational Manhood, I tried to read like (I think) the target audience of young men whom I might pass this book on to. I know many who are avid readers and can tear through any amount of pages, and anyone can argue that 121 pages is not difficult to read. I felt incredibly comfortable when Greg opted to short and concise lists – but when he talked extensively about statistics and had other extended portions of the book without much breaks it became difficult to read. That is tied to the second issue: perhaps a reformatting of the book might solve some of those issues. It’s more of an aesthetic complaint, but I felt that the font and formatting made the book unnecessarily hard to read.
I would have liked something formatted in the style of Don’t Waste Your Life or another book similar in length and content. All of that said, the strengths of this book are overwhelming. Few books dive deep into both Scripture on manhood and have such an extensive amount of practical advice. Greg strikes the balance well: I felt like I was sitting across from him as he opened up the Scriptures and offered specific advice to me. His chapters on being protector and provider were timely and convicting to me.
I learned how to honor my wife even better because of Greg. However, most importantly this book does not lose sight of the gospel and the example of Jesus Christ. Too often books like this can stray from the foundation of manhood and make it all about wearing camo hats and shooting guns. Greg consistently brings out the eternal, biblical and lasting definitions and shoots down cultural stereotypes. Get this book for the young men in your life.
They will thank you one day as they put it beside their often referenced blue books and red notebooks.
“A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.” – Dr. Keith Ablow
One of the beauties of technology is the ability to have a vast amount of tools that equip us to be productive. I believe God is greatly honored as we work, and we should be pursuing excellence in everything, including the way we use technology. CoolHunting.com has provided an excellent list of productivity tools including Flow and Smartr. Go ahead and view the full list here.
“This recognition of smallness is like finding childhood again. Stars are more dazzling this way, sleep feels more peaceful, and the breezes are sweeter. I am small; yes, small enough to see that my continued humming along in this vast expanse is a miracle.” — Hannah Farver
So often we buy into the lies of not only the world around us, but also our own “Christian” culture about faithfulness. Normal, nameless ministry is no longer acceptable. Small churches, although frankly the norm, are not considered something to pursue. For many of us who are young, we want to really change the culture around us any way that we can. The common belief is that those at “the top” are the game changers, the trendsetters, and the culture shifters. I don’t believe it for a second. And so I present to you four lies that we often buy about faithfulness.
Lie #1: My present actions hold no consequences This is completely false. If you spent time with any man or woman over 65, they would all tell you that their teen and early formative years proved to be extremely influential on who they are and who they became. What you do right now, the seeds you plant, will one day come forth and produce some kind of fruit. You will receive the consequences, whether good or bad, from the way you live right now. Don’t waste your time right now. Prepare yourself for the future by being faithful with what you have right now.
Never forget that humble, quiet faithfulness is truly great.
Lie #2: Big always equals great Faithfulness and true greatness usually happen in private. Being “big” or “famous” does not mean that you are “great.” True greatness is often found, and usually found, in the small and humble who are faithfully serving day in and day out. I could probably argue that the President of the United States is great – but what about his mother, or his teachers, or any number of people who have influences and affected him and helped him be the man he is today? Never forget that humble, quiet faithfulness is truly great.
Lie #3: Fame always means effectiveness Faithfulness doesn’t need praise or immediate results. It realizes that although it may seem that those who are famous seem effective, those who are faithfully plodding with have fruit that lasts for eternity. That’s not to say that fame doesn’t mean effectiveness. That’s not it at all. God uses people and places them in special situations to have influence. But it does not negate the fact that those who are faithfully with where they are and with what they have can have just as much effectiveness for the Kingdom of God as those who are effective as “famous” people.
Lie #4: Small people don’t make a difference in the world There are hundreds of stories that could expose this lie. I’ve told the story of my great-grandmother time and time again. She was a “nobody” in the general sense, yet I know hundreds of people have been changed through the ministry that she and my great-grandfather had with them. I am certain there are untold stories of faithful saints who have served in relative obscurity – yet they will be given the greatest seat when we enter heaven. Do not despair if you find yourself in a small place. Be faithful to the end.
Hannah Farver has published an excellent piece dealing with that feeling we’ve all had: incredible smallness.
I’ve never looked at Facebook before and felt small. Bored, annoyed, intrigued—yes. Never small. But as a couple hundred diverse lives updated their statuses on my feed, I suddenly felt, working from my couch, that my life was very unimportant. Businessmen in Korea are signing deals in right now. Children in Saudi Arabia are scurrying to school, as some hikers are probably lost in the woods somewhere in Wyoming, and some boat is probably taking on too much water while tuna-fishing in the Bering Sea. The world is like one gigantic beehive, with all our lives crammed together, humming away. I sit here, simply breathing, as lights flicker on And I am very, very small. It’s not so bad. I don’t mind being small. The whole spinning universe looks all the more magnificent when you know you’re an unnecessary part. But there’s the catch. Knowing we’re unnecessary doesn’t exactly give the warm fuzzies.
This is well worth taking the time to read as you consider the difficulty of “being small” in such a large world.