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The Masculine Mandate: God's Calling to Men [Hardcover]

Richard D Phillips
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  • Hardcover: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Ligonier Ministries (29 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156769120X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567691207
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 468,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars simply life changing! 7 Mar 2014
By cnneji
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of best books I've ever read on biblical manhood. Well-thought out and scripturally sound. This is a book that could change your life if the numerous nuggets of wisdom contained within are applied.
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161 of 190 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbalanced 19 Sep 2011
By Gary Templin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
While greatly benefiting from Richard Phillip's fine exposition of The Fourth Gospel as it applied to Christ's Gospel witness in his book Jesus The Evangelist, I was quite disappointed in his topical treatment of God's design for men in The Masculine Mandate.
After laying down a theological foundation in the first 5 chapters, based primarily upon Genesis 2, the author then addresses the practical implications in chapters 6 through 13. This section of the book contains many solid truths and wonderful practical applications on being God's man in roles as a marriage partner, father, friend and servant in the local church.

The problem is within chapter 6 where he attempts to convince his readers that marriage is paramount to Godly Manhood. In my view, the title of the book should be properly changed to: The Masculine Mandate for Married Men. The author needs to drop all those extra biblical imperatives to single men in chapter 6. Instead of addressing singleness in an extremely marginal and biased way, he should have left this subject to another treatise or author.

Here are some quotes from the author and my take on them:
"it is imperative for your well being that you be married, to move beyond the "not good" status of single adulthood" (pg59).
This entire presentation in chapters 7 through 13 is based upon the false assumption that marriage is the foundation in becoming God's man.

"And the first step for many of us in becoming the men God wants us to be is to become married, so that we will leave behind our selfish ways and begin fulfilling our masculine calling through our relationship with our wives." (pg64)
He has this wrong, we should leave behind our selfish ways before marriage.
Character makes the marriage, being married does not automatically make character.

"It does not work very well when a man remains unmarried" (pg57)
What an untrue statement. Do we not know many single male Christians who bear much fruit, growth in character, have healthy relations with both sexes and love The Lord?

"to realize how vitally important it is (in the vast majority of cases) that you become married" (pg59).
Here is an imperative command that is extra Biblical.

"Today, when God looks on single males and says, Not good, He undoubtedly has in mind a long list of truly unfit helpers, among them the pornography, video games, sports obsessions, and empty pizza boxes that are intrinsic to so many young adult male lives, even among Christians" (pg60).
While I totally agree with the author that our society promotes a free, anything go, Christ-less lifestyle without personal responsibility, I would suggest that these struggles are not unique to singles, but can be true of married men as well. What we actually have here, in his attempt to combat the problem, is an overreaction to the state of our current culture.

"The best thing a young Christian man can do... is to marry a godly woman" (pg59)
Is not the best thing a young Christian man do is totally immerse themselves in the person and work of Christ?

"If you have shied away from marriage, let me urge you to reconsider and (perhaps)
to commit to the necessary growing up" (pg59).
On a personal level I find these comments quite disconcerting since its effect is to shame. It is not balanced in affirming Paul's teaching that both sanctified singleness and marriage are good in God's sight. Biblically sound books on singleness respect marriage, why could not this author respect singleness the way Christ (Matthew 19) and Paul did (1 Corinthians 7). Instead of expounding on the virtues of a clean and holy single life he just makes token mention of the gift of singleness as if it were possessed by the super especially gifted few.

"God says the same thing about single adult men today. He looks into their apartments and refrigerators and sighs, Not good" (pg57)
I find such a comment to be prejudicial insinuating that single males live in apartments not in houses. All single males are not losers.

"But it is especially good to have to rise up in masculine virtue and strength for the sake of my wife, leaving behind a self-focus that was, at best, only intended for a temporary season of singleness" (pg64)
Is selfishness exclusive to singles only? Are married males really less self-centered?

In questions for Reflection & Discussion at the end of the book the author asks "If you are single, what is keeping you from marriage? Pray for God to enable you to take a wife and for God to provide you with a wife." (pg158)
Such a comment stands in opposition to the Pauline teaching on contentment (Philippians 4: 11-13) in view of the total sufficiency of Christ. Instead would not a better way to pray for a male who is currently single be; Lord, give me wisdom and if it be your will provide for me a wife, but most importantly help me in my current condition to rest in the total sufficiency of your person and so grant my soul true peace and contentment.

The author has completely misunderstood the significance and application of the covenant of grace. While both the Old and New Testaments recognize and affirm that it is both a blessing and normative within God's covenant for a man to find a wife, to marry and to procreate (Genesis 2, Proverbs 18:22, Matthew 19:4-6, 24:37-38), Scripture does not mandate the specific command given to Adam, Noah and others as imperative for all (Nehemiah 1, Isaiah 56:3-5, Jeremiah 16:1-2, Daniel 1, Matthew 19:11-12, Luke 20:34-36, 1 Corinthians 7, Revelation 14:4). To be blessed spiritually in the kingdom of God never required marriage or children (Luke 11:27-28). For Paul, one's status within the family of God is neither diminished nor improved through marriage (I Corinthians 7:17-24). The kingdom of God is present beyond singleness, marriage and family. Marriage has never been explicitly associated with the blessings of the covenant of grace (Mark 1:15). Christ will ultimately make marriage and singleness obsolete in the joy of his eternal presence (Luke 20:27-40).

Are we seeing here some parallels to foundational Mormon doctrine?
*A cultish elevation of marriage where singleness is a most undesirable condition.
*A second-tier citizenship for singles, which ultimately results in a denial of eternal rewards.
*That Christ himself ultimately failed in his mission on earth, in that he failed to physically marry and therefore failed to propagate his physical seed to further generations.

This doctrine opens the door to many practical questions including:

Is it therefore wrong to thank God in prayer for one's singleness, if this is an incomplete state?

Is completion found squarely in The Person & Work of Christ alone (Colossians 2:10) or is it found in a marriage partner or in a combination of both?

If marriage is the "first step for many of us becoming the men God wants" would it not logically follow that one should do everything in one's power to make this a reality, and happen as quick as possible including leaving a smaller congregation for a larger church where more opportunities for a partner may be available?

Are all widowed men instantly now incomplete?

Is it "vital" that widowed or divorced men, obviously men who do not have the gift of singleness noted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, remarry & remarry quickly?

Is not the 2nd Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully man, our ultimate example?

If a partner is so vital and the foundational step in manhood, why do we never find in Paul's prayers, Paul praying for marriage partners for completion?

Why are their no explicit New Testament imperatives to marry?

Is the female, whether called to the mission field or called to her professional career, wrong in being content in her singleness, since she might be depriving some man an opportunity for his completeness?

Does the gift of singleness just apply to those in full time Christian work?

Are there not many single Christians who due to circumstances, physical issues, and personal make up find that marriage is not the best option for them?

Has Genesis 2 become prescriptive for every person instead of being prescriptive for Adam and many?

Why is it that in the most comprehensive discussion on marriage and sex within the entire New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:12 - 7:40, Paul strongly and clearly affirms the value of singleness in the Christian life within the constraints of sexual purity?

In an age where evangelicalism struggles with the role of singles in the local church and where many singles perceive themselves as 2nd class citizens, that they don't fit the mold, are less-than, or even worse, that something is wrong with them and therefore unable to ultimately fulfill God's plan for their lives
it is most disappointing that The Masculine Mandate only contributes to this false viewpoint in a most explicit way.
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biblical and Helpful 29 Jan 2010
By John A. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you have read Rev. Richard Phillips' earlier book, Jesus the Evangelist, you know that instead of developing his own theories, passing on worldly wisdom, or even quoting great theologians, he teaches straight from the Bible. His new book is no exception. There is almost enough Scripture in The Masculine Mandate for it to be called a commentary.

What is the masculine mandate? Phillips says that, "Rather than following the American stereotype of cold, macho masculinity, Christian men should seek to grow in their ability genuinely to bless others." He points to this mandate in Genesis chapter 2, which "shows that God created man for a purpose. God ordained that Adam would bear His image both in his person and in his work, and God put Adam in the world to work it and keep it--to be a cultivator and a protector."

Men today, like Adam in Genesis chapter 2, are called to "work" and "keep." "God put Adam in the garden `to work it and keep it' and the only difference between Adam's calling and ours lies in the details of how we seek to fulfill it." What are some of the areas where men are called to be workers and keepers? The author concentrates on five: employment, marriage, children, friends, and the church.

Men have the responsibility to work hard to glorify God through employment. They are to be good husbands, loving their wife "as Christ loved the church." They are to be godly fathers who both disciple and discipline their children. They are to be friends to the men whom God has put in their lives. And they are to serve and lead in the church.

Though all are good and helpful, my favorite chapters are the two that deal with a man's responsibility toward his children: "To Work: The Discipling of Children," and, "To Keep: The Discipline of Children." Notice the difference in discipling and discipline. A man should, as the leader of his house, disciple his children. The most important matter is to win their hearts. Love, affection, and attention are essential:

"The great issue of parental discipleship is directing the hearts of our children to the Lord. Instead of a mere focus on behavior or bodily presence, wise and loving parents seek to touch and win the hearts of their boys and girls....Our children must gain from us what they most desire: our affection, our approval, our attention, our involvement, and our time."

Another favorite chapter is the one on friendship. Phillips puts this easily overlooked aspect of faith in its proper perspective:

"One of the best ways for us to serve the Lord, to reflect His glory in the world and fulfill God's calling on us as men, is to step off the sidelines of life, to offer our time and compassion to friends in need, and to speak words of truth and grace that lead them to (or back to) the Lord. In this way, we will also grow more and more in the likeness of Jesus Christ ourselves."

The Masculine Mandate has several strengths. The author is clear about where he stands on issues. He writes with authority. If men want to learn to be leaders, they need strong leaders. Richard Phillips fits that role. And he does so with humility. It's clear where Phillips derives his authority. Nearly every idea is backed up by and flows directly from Scripture. There are few quotes from other books (only 25 total footnotes), but there are Bible passages on nearly every page (the Scripture index is four pages long). And Phillips has the gift of teaching and applying them.

There are specific applications. The pastor teaches the theology, but he also gives the reader clear, specific ways to apply the teaching. It is a practical, helpful, and realistic book. Phillips realizes that men are, after all, men. We have limitations. We aren't fully sanctified. And he admits that he isn't, either. But he sets the goal before us. Another plus: at the end of the book are questions for reflection and discussion from each chapter, making this book ideal for a men's group study.

This is a good, needed book. I recommend it to men, young and old. And I plan to read it again. I've already identified several areas of manhood that I need to work on.

In our culture, we have a messed up idea of what it means to be a man. We need books like this to point us back to what's important:

"A Christian man should live, work, and play with an eye on the coming glory of Jesus Christ. His return in glory is not a fable, a fantasy, or science fiction. It is certain future history--it is going to happen, and relatively soon. How should we then live? How should we measure things happening in our lives? The answer is that we should live now in the light of the future that is certain to come."

I received a review copy of this book from Reformation Trust.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biblical, masculine, a must read! 22 Jan 2011
By Jeremy Oddy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In Chapter 1, "Man in the Garden," Phillips begins with Genesis 2 as the foundational chapter in Scripture to describe four essential things about man. First, man is a spiritual creature, uniquely created with "hands-on" care. Second, man was "put in the garden, into the world of covenantal relationships and duties, in order to gain and act out his God-given identity there." Third, man was put in the garden to be a lord and servant. Fourth, man was to obey God by working and keeping. In summary, "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."

Chapter 2, "The Masculine Mandate," introduces us to the masculine mandate of working and keeping. To "work" is to cultivate, build, and grow. Whereas to "keep" is to protect, stand up to, and keep safe all that the Lord has put under our care.

In Chapter 3, "Man's Sacred Calling to Work," Phillips develops a good biblical purpose of work. Since we are made for work, "we are able to enjoy work and find a significant part of our identity in it. In fact, as we keep work in proper balance, retaining our primary identity in Christ, God wants us to invest significant passion in our work and find true meaning in it." Phillips provides helpful questions and expands on them to consider regarding our work:
* Does this work glorify God?
* Does it benefit my fellow man?
* Do I consider myself called to this work, or can I at least do it well and find enjoyment in that?
* Does it provide material needs?
* Does it permit me to lead a godly and balanced life?
The author then ends the chapter on what it looks like to please the Lord in our work.

Chapter 4, "Man as the Image of God," is about what it means to bear God's image. While the image of God in our lives has been marred and damaged by sin, men who have been redeemed from sin through Jesus Christ have been freed from the bondage of self to live for the glory of God in all things. Therefore, for the Christian man, his chief end in life and his fondest desire is that others would see something of the glory of God - His mercy, His faithfulness, His power, His grace - in him.

In chapter 5, "Man as Shepherd-Lord," Phillips describes what biblical leadership for a man looks like. It is by God's design that lordship, or leadership, is intrinsic to the male calling in the world. Even though there is a leadership crisis in America today, men are still called to lead. The author writes, "If there is one image in the Bible that sums up God's model for leadership, it is that of the shepherd watching over, protecting, and leading his flock of sheep."

Chapter 6, "God's Astonishing Design for Marriage," begins by recognizing how little most men know about marriage, how it is design by God, or what its purpose is to be in our lives. Men were designed incomplete. Only a woman, our wife, can complete us, for she is good for our physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual well-being. She is the one companion who fulfills God's intention in our lives. Phillips describes the wife as a suitable helper who is equal in worth as the man, yet she is different. The author also shows us how the Bible teaches the husband how to love his wife.

In chapter 7, "Marriage Cursed and Redeemed," Phillips teaches how sin corrupted what was good. Yet, through Christ, marriages can have renewed hope and redemption. The author writes, "God has cursed the marriage relationship with a poisonous desire for control by the woman and a self-absorbed focus outside the relationship by the man." The good news is that the Christian couple who is forgiven and sanctified by God in Christ, are able to show compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience toward one another.

Chapter 8, "Marriage and the Masculine Mandate," explains how the husband nurtures and protects his wife according to the Scriptures. This chapter teaches men how to cherish their wife and making his first concern his wife's spiritual well-being. Phillips writes, "...a husband is called to build up his wife's faith and hope in Christ through his ministry of God's Word in her life." When it comes to protecting, the biggest threat to the wife is the husband's own sin. The husband "protects her so she feels safe from verbal abuse, ridicule, and scorn - especially his own - for these are darts that pierce her tender heart."

Chapter 9, "To Work: The Discipling of Children," is about how the father is called to work the hearts of his children that they might become fertile soil for the gospel and devotion to Christ and for the father to give his heart to them as well. The author writes, "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." Phillips also provides four simple categories for fathers to spend quality time with their children: read, pray, work, and play.

In chapter 10, "To Keep: The Discipline of Children," Phillips teaches us on how we are to keep our children's heart through loving discipline. He writes, "The gravest threat is spiritual - the dire threat of sin's power at work in their own hearts." As we seek our children's obedience, we need to also exercise self-control. In fact, the most common way to provoke our children to anger is by erupting in anger ourselves. The author then gives practical advice on keeping the child's heart by both physical reproof and verbal reproof. A rule he tries to follow is: "I will always be on my children's side, even if I am punishing. I will never be against them and I will never speak to them with contempt."

Chapter 11, "Men in Friendship," is about the importance of friendship for men. Phillips bases this chapter on the friendship of the biblical story of David and Jonathan. The author wisely comments, "The best friend is always one who turns our hearts to rest upon the Lord." If you want to serve Jesus well in your friendships, then "stand by your friends, speak to them the words that strengthen faith, and, in Christ's name, share in their troubles and sorrows."

Chapter 12, "The Masculine Mandate in the Church," teaches about the importance of male leadership and servanthood in the church. Men are called to build and strengthen the body of believers through their spiritual gifts. In addition, men are called to stand watch for the safekeeping of the church and its people by protecting the church's practice and doctrine.

The last chapter, "Servants of the Lord," Phillips writes about what it looks like to be a servant-disciple of Christ. The model of service to Christ is one that includes one's calling - a key principle, joy - a key attitude, and humility - a key resolution.

In conclusion, I believe Phillips does a huge service to the church by providing a thorough masculine book that is biblical, wise, readable, and needed. His themes of "work" and "keep" as the masculine mandate make it helpful and easy to apply and remember in all of life as a man. Phillips fleshes these themes out well in the key areas of manhood. All men, young and old, need to read this book. May this book counter the influences of our culture today that are prevalent: men who are characterized as brutes, wimps, lazy, neglectful, selfish, irresponsible, and/or passive. I hope this volume can be redemptive in the lives of men who are either ignorant of, or rebellious to biblical masculinity.

[I will receive a free copy of this book as compensation for doing this review.]
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Much Needed Book in our Day 24 Sep 2010
By standing for the truth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There is great confusion among Christian men concerning what it means to be a man today. There are a number of different reasons for this, but what it comes down to is that unbiblical models of masculinity have shaped Christian men more than God's Word. Over the past 2 decades, this "crisis of masculinity" has been well documented and a flood of literature has filled our Christian bookstores, while numerous "men's ministry" organizations like Promise Keepers were started to help men fulfill their God-given mandate. Some of these books and organizations were helpful while others were not and only served to further the confusion among men. Having just finished Richard Philips "The Masculine Mandate" I am delighted to report that this is the best book I have ever read on masculinity.

In this book, Phillips uses the first 5 chapters to build a biblical and theological framework of masculinity (Understanding our Mandate) and then takes the next 8 chapters to practically flesh out what it means to be a Christian man (Living our Mandate). In the first chapter, Phillips explores how a man's primary calling is connected to Genesis 2:15. "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it." God intended for Adam to "work" and to "keep" the garden and so bring glory to His Creator. He defines "work" as laboring to make things grow through nurturing, cultivating, tending, building up, guiding, and ruling. And to "keep" is to protect and sustain progress already achieved through guarding, keeping safe, watching over, caring for and maintaining. In the remainder of the book, he shows men how we can "work" and "keep" in our jobs, our marriage, through raising our children, in our friendships, and in our churches.

The greatest strength of this book is the fact that it is rooted and grounded in the scriptures. Too many popular Christian books (ie Wild at Heart) that deal with this subject are good at inspiring men, but lack a biblical foundation. There are few places (if any) where Phillips says anything without first providing a Scriptural basis for it. I would heartily recommend this book to any Christian man seeking to understand his God-giving masculine calling. This is an excellent book that I am certain any Christian man (young or old) will find helpful.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Alternative to the "Wild At Heart Fallacy" 13 Jan 2011
By John Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dr. Richard Phillips' book, The Masculine Mandate, is a refreshingly biblical addition to the genre of books on Christian manhood. Right off the bat, Phillips sets his book over against what he calls the "Wild at Heart Fallacy", referring to popular books by John Eldridge and others which reduce "manhood" to a quest for adventure and free-spirited independence. While there is some truth in these other books, they tend to be long on pop psychology and short on support from Scripture.

Wild at Heart begins by claiming that Adam was created outside the garden (because Genesis 2:8 says that God "put the man" into the garden), and that therefore a man's soul belongs in the wilderness and not in the cultivated garden. Phillips, on the other hand, reasons that it is precisely because God put Adam in the garden that we are able to discern our calling as men. When God put Adam in the garden, He gave our first father covenantal relationships and duties by which he was to "act out his God-given identity". We see these responsibilities stated in Genesis 2:15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it."

It is from this verse that Phillips extracts the "Masculine Mandate". The book is largely spent defining the verbs "work" and "keep" and applying them to every aspect of masculine living. By their most simplistic definitions, "to work is to labor to make things grow", and "to keep is to protect and to sustain progress already achieved".

The motif of working and keeping is developed by first of all building a healthy theology of work, and of our role as image-bearers of God. Men were created to work, and to bring God glory and ourselves enjoyment through the fruits of our labor. By exhibiting a good work ethic, and bringing our God-given talents to bear within whatever context we are placed (we are not all placed in a garden, after all), we cultivate the things and people in our lives to produce growth. As Phillips says, "we are to invest our time, our energies, our ideas, and our passions in bringing good things into being".

In addition to our role as cultivators (the "working"), we are also to be protectors (the "keeping"). Men have a responsibility to safeguard the fruits of the work of ourselves and of others, which includes far more than merely physical safety.

"To be a man is to stand up and be counted when there is danger or other evil. God does not desire for men to stand by idly and allow harm, or permit wickedness to exert itself. Rather, we are called to keep others safe within all the covenant relationship we enter. 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."

After building the foundation for our understanding of this mandate, Phillips quickly moves to practical application, which makes up the bulk of the book. Three chapters focus on marriage, "one of the great callings in all of life and the relationship in which our Masculine Mandate has its most intimate and potent expression". Much care is taken here, because of the general lack of understanding most Christian men seem to have of "what marriage is about, how it is designed by God, or what its purpose is to be in our lives".

The author then moves on to fatherhood, and of our great responsibilities of "working and keeping" in the lives of our children. The practical outworking of the gospel and the Masculine Mandate in our marriages pours over into our parenting; in order to be good fathers we must first be good husbands. In the first chapter on parenting, Phillips focuses on the "work" aspect of raising children: discipling them. The second chapter then looks at "keeping" them through the means of discipline.

The final three chapters explore a man's need for friendships with godly men, our lives and responsibilities in the church, and living a life of humble, servant leadership. All along the way, Phillips shows us in God's Word how we are to work and keep the world the Lord has given to us, and to point people to Him by the work we do and the manner in which we do it.

A relatively short but excellent book, The Masculine Mandate is well worth the few hours it will take you to read it. I highly recommend it for all Christian men who are not satisfied with what the world tells us about what it means to be a man.
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