This is a call for breaking a “spiritual sweat” for the sake of Spiritual Discipline, i.e., 1 Tim. 4:7 — “Train yourself to be godly.” Connotes casting off all that is getting in the way of godliness; disciplining yourself so you are unencumbered.
Men, we will never get anywhere spiritual without a conscious divestment of the things that are holding us back. What things are weighing you down? The call to discipline demands that you throw it off. Are you man enough? (p. 14)
We must check our motives for spiritual discipline.
For many, spiritual discipline means putting oneself back under the Law with a series of Draconian rules which no one can live up to — and which spawn frustration and spiritual death. But nothing could be farther from the truth if you understand what discipline and legalism are. The difference is one of motivation: legalism is self-centered; discipline is God-centered. The legalistic heart says, “I will do this thing to gain merit with God.” The disciplined heart says, “I will do this thing because I love God and want to please Him.” There is an infinite difference between the motivation of legalism and discipline! (p. 15)
Section 1 – “RELATIONSHIPS”
Author brings up the most important areas for which a man needs to be disciplined, i.e., personal purity, marital faithfulness/discipline, fatherhood, etc. The author does not skirt around the important issues but brings them up right away and addresses them head-on.
Chapter 2 – Disciplines of Purity
The story of King David’s sexual sin with Bathsheba, and his subsequent breaking of all the rest of the 10 Commandments, is a sober reminder that no one is above temptation (2 Samuel 11). Be humble and never let your guard down. Beware of “rationalization”.
Just when we think we are the safest, when we feel no need to keep our guard up, to work on our inner integrity, to discipline ourselves for godliness — temptation will come! (p. 24)
Chapter 3 – Disciplines of Marriage
Break a spiritual sweat and discipline yourself in marital faithfulness. Also, do not take your wife for granted. Marital love ought to be a sanctifying love, a love that is efficacious. A benchmark for godly disciplines within marriage:
Is my wife more like Christ because she is married to me? or she like Christ in spite of me? (p. 38)
Men need to strive for excellence in the discipline of communication in their marriages. Husbands need to be disciplined listeners.
The stereotype is the husband buried in the morning newspaper at breakfast, preferring to read a news agency report of the latest scandal in a European government, the scores of yesterday’s athletic contests, and the opinions of columnists whom he will never meet rather than listen to the voice of the person who has just shared his bed, poured his coffee, and fried his eggs, even though listening to that live voice promises love and hope, emotional depth and intellectual exploration far in excess of what he can gather informationally from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Christian Science Monitor put together [Quotation from Eugene Peterson’s Working the Angles](p.41).
Chapter 4 – Disciplines of Fatherhood
We must discipline ourselves so that our hearts are turned towards our children. Scripture demands that we not exasperate our children, therefore, we must put on the discipline of “tenderness.” Being “busy” is not the same thing as being disciplined. This truth especially applicable to fatherhood.
Men, time is the chrysalis of eternity — there is no other time but the present. I realize we all go through periods in our lives when we have little time for our families — it is part of the natural rhythm of life. But excessive “busyness” must not be by choice — as it so often is! We must beware of packing our schedules by saying “yes” to things which mean “no” to our families. Now is the time to take time. There is no other! Will you do it? (p. 54)
Chapter 5 – Disciplines of Friendship
Jesus Christ is the chief example for the discipline of friendship — Christ’s example teaches us that Christian friendship is efficacious, it elevates others.
The deepest of friendships have in common this desire to make the other person royalty. They work for and rejoice in the other’s elevation and achievements. There are no hooks in such friendships, no desire to manipulate or control, no jealousy or exclusiveness — simply a desire for the best for the other” (p. 62).
No matter what our disposition, we need to work at friendliness. We need to be consciously cheerful. We need to ask questions. We need to place ourselves in situations where friendships happen. . . . Men, we must place ourselves in the ways of friendship: an adult Sunday school class, a home Bible study, a men’s Bible study, a men’s breakfast group, men’s retreats, and, especially, a service in some ministry of the church. Women are so much better at this than men. We must learn from them to take the initiative (p. 65).