Book Review – Act Like Men: 40 Days To Biblical Manhood

Act Like Men: 40 Days to Biblical Manhood by James MacDonald

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all, if you are on the fence about reading this book because of the controversy surrounding the Author, James MacDonald, former Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago area; I want you to personally put it all aside. I don’t know the man, never met him, and probably never will. I went to a Men’s Conference at his church shortly before he was ousted, where his main speaker that weekend was Ravi Zacharias, who had controversies of his own — dying under the shadow of scandal. One morning at the conference I found a Sunday morning bulletin stuffed in a chair that showed MacDonald’s church financial status was over $2M in the hole. Trust me, I had reservations about this book. But the truth is — you need to read this book. James MacDonald needs to read his book, and I most certainly needed to read it. It is a fine work, and one that MacDonald needs to read; not as the author — but as a man reading it for the first time.

With that said, this is an excellent book for men, for teens through the elderly. I chose to go through it by myself, and frankly took me much longer than the 40 days. Can it be done in 40? Sure. But it is filled with such deep and profound information that I wanted to soak it in. I wrote all over it, highlighted it, and personally made it my own. I implore you: get a paperback copy, mark it up, take lots of notes, add personal things of your own; because I’m sure you will frequent it more often than you’ll like to admit.

The book starts off kind of slow at first, talking about the need for biblical manhood. If you have been awake and alert, you know there is a problem, not only in the world, but the church is not immune to this either. Nothing we don’t know. But as I moved through the book it gained speed, I was taking more notes, and really diving in headlong. By the time I got towards the end, I was broken. I had so many aha moments that I was finding myself journaling. In the end there are two things men need the most: community (true biblical fellowship) and everything to be done in love.

Men don’t like community, being together, and talking about feelings because men hate being vulnerable. Men are designed to be protectors, and nothing hits a man harder than protecting his self image as a man. Like I said in the article, “Why Do You Write,” that every time someone asks me what I do for a living I absolutely cringe. Because I feel my self worth is attacked and I have to explain myself to the point that makes people uncomfortable. I have fears of being misunderstood, looked at as useless, and worse — lazy.

The Apostle Paul had everything he ever wanted. Fame, position, status, and security. He was the perfect Jew. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning righteousness which is in the law, blameless (Philippians 3:3-6). He was the perfect Jew.

But what did he do? He was smote on the road to Damascus where the Lord met him, and changed his entire future.

“Jesus force-fed Paul the error of everything he had ever done, all that he ever wanted to do or be. Paul was crushed by the revelation of his wicked heart and altered for all time. Pride gone, he revered to himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Superiority gone, he called himself “the least of the apostles,” (1 Corinthians 15:9) and his mission changed to where “he who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” (Galatians 1:23)”

MacDonald, James. Act Like Men: 40 Days to Biblical Manhood. Chicago, Moody Publishers, 2014, Pg 236

Paul said of himself in his flesh he was a “wretched man” (Romans 7:24) where nothing good dwells (Romans 7:18) and filled with evil and sin (Romans 7:17, 20–21). Paul came to the end of himself and God met him in that. Paul had a good estimation of himself, for apart from Christ, he could do nothing.

This is no difference than the other Apostles who forsaken all to follow Jesus. The Lord went to fishermen and said, ‘Leave your nets behind and follow Me.’ To another man He said, ‘Leave your tax collector booth and position and come follow Me.” Peter even said, “We have forsaken all and followed Thee (Matthew 19:27). They left everything behind: their families, fortunes, homes, good names, even their very lives. Men no doubt mocked and laughed at them, their families probably didn’t understand, and to the world they were throwing their lives away and identified themselves with a man who claimed to be God’s Son and nailed to a cross! Thank God that it didn’t stop there, right?

But what makes me so different? Why do I still struggle with people who seem to look down at me? Because more of myself still needs to die (Mark 10:21; 1 Corinthians 15:31).

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV

Which brings me to my final conclusion that I learned from the book that wasn’t even explicitly taught. “You know when you conquer fear? When you have nothing left to lose, because you are nothing in and of yourself apart from Christ. Paul learned this; he lived it. Instead of Elf On a Shelf, I need to put Self on a shelf, and use him for target practice.

Next book on the agenda: “Absolute Surrender” by Andrew Murray. Because as Blackbeard used to say, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

View all my reviews

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